TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ROOT CAUSE

There is always cause to an effect. When certain things fail and are not working, there is underlying causes. Nigeria project has not been working; and to put it on the progressive lane, we must find out the foundational problem.

The real problem with Nigeria is not the citizens or the leaders per se; though for ages each side of the divide has been pointing accusing finger to the other. The problem with Nigeria is in its foundation.

Have we not wondered that thousands of new leaders emerge during every new election years? Those new leaders were once normal average citizens but when they get to the center, they are swallowed by the system; like the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. So our ill fated leadership experimentation has continued till date without yielding expected dividend for growth and a sustained change.

This is the evil of the colonial masters: they put too much of power and resources to the central government. The stronger ones fight to take it and the rest who could not get to the corridor of power look helplessly waiting for the crumbs that fall down from the table of opulence. This evil is further entrenched and made us think we cannot change for better.
We have come to term that government is unquestionable and cannot be held accountable – above board and above the law. We have come to think that citizens are pawns to nourish the existence of government and those who hold the rule.

We became independent as a nation bodily but our souls are still enslaved to the pattern of government used to govern the colonized nations.

The colonial masters have a different system for ruling their subjects back in their native land and another yardstick of government in their colony.

In their native land, the government is positioned to serve the people, to satisfy their interests, wellbeing and advancement. The leaders see the people in their native land as their own citizens and are respected, ensuring that their self-esteem is preserved. Citizens of the colonial masters are protected in any part of the world. In return, the citizens are ready to give back whatever they have to preserve and move forward their common interest. Thus, this fulfills the law of give and take.

Down in their colony, the colonial masters do not go there to serve but to plunder. They colonized nations to usurp power and take advantage of the weak nations. The sole purpose of colonization is trade and exploitation. Thus the people in the colony are seen as errand boys, servants and the low class; the inferior people. The colonial masters see themselves as the superior race (the elevated citizen of the world) that must be worshipped.

In order to perpetuate their dominance, they apply force and cruelty. Goods and resources are moved from the people’s domain back to their central government in their home country leaving the nations they governed impoverished. The expression of their governance clearly shows that they are not out in the interest of the people of the colony; instead the people are seen as tools to sustain the government of the colonial masters.

This was the kind of government handed over to Nigeria in 1960. What changed was the skin colour of the leaders in government, the white man is gone, the black man turns in but the heart is the same. We kept doing things the same old way: for the art and objective of governance remain the same; to plunder.

A son who all his life watched his father bully his mom may not know any other way of handling a woman. If he does not undergo a personal rebirth or reorientation, when he gets married, he will think that the only way to win a woman’s submission is being high handed.

The first generation leaders were tutored about the art of governance by the colonial masters. Through observation they learned so much from the white men. When the masters were gone, they took turn to loot, exploit and steal from the people. They saw the white man taking advantage of the vulnerability of the citizens, so they learn to do the same. The new leaders after 1960 see themselves as the new “white” who must be served and not to serve. It has become seemingly incurable syndrome growing in magnitude by the day.

The average kid today sees leadership in any sphere or sector of the nation as an opportunity to loot and enrich oneself. To further grow the expanse of greed, we keep making the center of leadership attractive with “unlimited” opportunity to wealth and power that it becomes easy to miss the mark of leadership as a call to serve.

Going this way, we will never get it right. It is time to make the needed shift from aristocratic style of government leadership to people centered leadership.

It is time to unfold a new kind of change – The sustainable positive type!

THE PROBLEM: FLOW

In Third World, nations the leadership is designed in such a way to create control, to accumulate resources to the center, wanting to hold on in a way that everyone is placed at the mercy of government. The resources of the third world and the advanced nations is not much of a difference; the difference is in the distribution or what I call flow. The health of a nation is the ability to create a flow of resources and benefits in a just and fair manner.

When a river is stopped and dammed, it begins to gather volume and weight until it grows into a massive and impressive proportion. It gets to a volume size that it becomes dangerous to the neighbourhood. This is how large and impressive our leadership system looked like, large and impressive but dangerous to the society.

Whenever a river keeps its flow, it serves much useful purposes. It creates more life around it. A flowing river may look lean compared to the dammed one but at the end, it serves much useful purposes.

We need to keep a lean government and make it less attractive by creating a new kind of attraction. We need to change the rule of play in a way that it will attract more participation from the citizens. We need to device means of sharing and distribution in the spirit of fairness and equity. We need to get things done by the right person and get certain and equitable dividends across to the right person. A contented man in his own world is not easily enticed by hazardous adventure of militancy or terrorism no matter the fortune entailed. I have come to know that the average man is easily satisfied once his basic needs are met.

Terrorism is spawned by poverty and imbalances.

Take away frustration from your people, give them their land, and give them their place and what is due to them. This is what the average man will always demand: enough to live by and power to express self when there is need. This should be the soul of governance and when this is done; loyalty and patriotism to national cause soar higher while retrogressive and vicious acts will be minimized.

When the people are well catered for, their interest brought to the fore and are empowered to be more and to do more, a nation rears up to become optimized for productivity with far greater output than the initial invested input. Once there is a flow, most conflicts and agitation will naturally subside.

HOW THE ANGEL OF DEATH WAS REARED

Government has become a lucrative power house where the greatest robbery has been instituted to steal from the people. The government should be for the people but in our case, it is the reverse whereby the people are to serve the government; a service that deify the government and the holders of power. It is noteworthy to consider this: no one will know rest when things are run in disorderly manner.

The upsurge of Boko Haram menace in Nigeria is a reflection of what we are saying. It might seem to have started on the wing of religious extremism but a closer look revealed a people seeking for expression and recognition. They only create a camouflage through the religions platform. The leaders of Boko Haram have seen the picture of grandeur, wealth and power accorded to the central government, so they wanted a taste of that even though in a crude way; this was why they strived to carve out a caliphate of their own. To their followers, they gave a bloated picture of religious hopes but the inner circle knows it is a thirst for power and control. This is how you come to know the genuineness of their leaders: How many of the leaders ever take the task of voluntary suicide bombing expeditions? Thousands have died in the wake of the bedeviled giant called Boko Haram.

We need to remember that Boko Haram has politicians who sponsor their notoriety. It was said that some of their kingpins were once thugs of the rich politicians.

Not to go too far. In the South-South region of Nigeria we do have knowledge of how militancy was reared.

Some camps of politicians were jostling for the central control of governorship seat while the incumbent fought to retain the office and other contenders also fight dirty to take over. Each group went forth to fortify themselves by recruiting, training and equipping their mercenaries of death. It was thirst for power and control that gave life to the angel of death called militancy.

The list continues of the ills that non-serendipitously crept in from the government and style of governance.

THE ROOT

The colonial master when they were about leaving called for a referendum. They designed what government should be; we did not design the government system we are operating. It was handed over to us and we never questioned the content because the so called government was made to favour the center and the few fortunate ones. It is a government that allows greed and corruption to thrive. The clamour has remained: whosoever gets to the center controls the power, resources and the people. Because of this, the vast of African nations and the colonized worlds have not known rest, respite or progress. Ours has been a land for savages. The problem in the actual sense is not the people but the model of governance we are using.

Anyone who gets to the center would never be able to effect any meaningful change until we overhaul the present form of government. This will continue until we have strong leaders who would question such system of government and this will require sincere and selfless personalities.

When a government becomes too strong, it weakens its constituency. When much power is reposed in a government, it adapts most of its citizens into herds of communities; and everyone begins to think that his life depends on the central power. When much resources is taken to the center, it automatically create an unmatched grandeur and opulence for those who are fortunate to be at the center; thus making them assume the position of little gods to be worshiped. While those who are outside the corridor of power will go through any length of Machiavellian intrigues to be in power.

The name or type of government being practiced does not matter, what really matters is the content, fruit and dividend of governance. Most of the colonized world including Nigeria may adopt federalism, confederalism or democratic system but they have not been able to undo the subtle system beneath our government system. The strength of a structure is firmly attached to its foundation.

Until the foundation is visited and addressed, no change of worth can be achieved.

The Pot of Death

There is a stolen mandate that has taken away sleep from all of us and we are all awake by the same dilemma. The man in opulence could not sleep because of the marauder. The marauder in turn has no rest because he is hungry, for the man in opulence has taken over his inheritance. Sleep has been murdered, and to rest for both, there must be a middle ground for settlement!

To get the point home I will take a moment to tell us a very good story I heard when I was young. It is not about how true it was but the lesson it scored.

This is the story.

Once, there were three good friends. They had been together for years, no one ever heard of their quarrel, and if there was ever any quarrel, they amicably settled issues among themselves. Their status difference was nothing to them as they were all contented hunters and farmers. They took turn in one another home and had many things in common except their wives of course.

When they did not go to their respective farms they do go on hunting expedition together. In one of such hunting expedition, they had hardly gone far into the forest when a man ran past them like someone who was frightened as he kept shouting: Death! Death! Death!

Hunters in the olden days were trained to be bold and fearless; these three friends looked into one another eyes and agreed to move in the direction where the unknown man ran away from. They courageous inched forward and on the alert.

Almost the same time, they saw at a distance some brilliant bars beneath a tree. They gasped and prayed it should be real. They all rushed forward, felt the bars and smelled them. They lived in an age that used gold, so they agreed these must be real gold.

To be sure they are not being careless, they went ahead a little for more search but could not find anything that represented death or danger. They came back to the tree and were happy about their new prospect of riches.

As they gazed on the large bars of gold, each of them began to imagine how to take ownership of the gold all alone. One of them went to town to buy wine to celebrate their fortune and he had it poisoned along the way. When he came, the other two shot him dead, and they drank the wine only to die from the effect of the poison. They all died around the pot of gold.

Our system of government is the pot of gold that is leading to the death and destruction of countless numbers. Take the pot of gold away and we will begin to live together in peace, love and harmony. The pot of gold has divided us along the line of religion, social stratification, beliefs, ideologies, and ethnicity. Each constituent or group wants to poison or destroy the other to get things closer to its own side. This has led to death, poverty, corruption and conflicts. The negative impact is growing day by day.

Free or unearned riches are death, the more surplus the more adversarial such becomes.

HINDSIGHT TO THE PRESENT STATE

Lord Luggard

When the colonial masters rule their citizens back in their native land, they rule with different strategies, principles and mindset. But to us, they sold inverted principles, strategies and mindset that made us fight, squabble and get ourselves corrupted on nothingness. They gave us a farce version of “government”.

The government becomes the little god we were all called to serve (government is a figment of imagination which takes its strength from whatever we imagined it to be).

The bigger we make the government, the weaker the society becomes. The much we depend on the government the more retrogressive we will become. This is why Nigeria and many of the colonized nations are where they are today – we depend overly on the government!

If we believe we have to wait on the government for virtually everything, we are likely not going to succeed or make much meaning out of life.
Deliberately or not we have been programmed to think in a certain way. Our creative power has been taken away. Our resilience and strength to strive have been subordinated at the altar of government. When you think someone else is there to carry your burden, you cripple the development of your own capability over time.

As long as we make the government the little god that sees to our welfare, determines our fate and solves most of our life’s problems we are in trouble.

I am not talking about the government being the problem; instead, I am talking about the perception and imagery of government and governance.

The perception of a shadow and the image itself are two different things. If we are frightened out of proportion, we can make a ghost out of a shadow. In reality a shadow is not synonymous to a ghost (perception issue). The perception of government and governance in Nigeria has contributed to why we are where we are today.

Government is neither good nor bad; it is what we make out of it that is important.

The Denomination

The denomination of a good government is this: the empowerment of the people.

The purpose of a government is to empower the people to become more; helping them to realize the best use of their potentials, to help the individual citizen look to self as the answer.

True government should not sap the people or reduce them in any way.
The government should enhance and not adapt the people.

To enhance is to help them become more, achieve more and gain more of what they could become or realize; providing an enabling environment to display their creative ability, talents, gifts and entrepreneurial ability and whatever they possess.

To adapt the people is to convert the people for a different use. This is about abusing the people, taking away their desire, dreams and aspirations because of imposed limitations. At the end, the people turn out to become an inferior personality of their real being.

Backward nations take power from the people and end up adapting them for lesser cause. Weak leaders believe that when you empower the followers, you end up losing them. This is what I call stinking thinking.
A corrupt government takes that which belongs to others; at the expense of the society and uses it for their own ego.

Also, a society that places the weak to rule over the strong is a perverted one; this is an adaptation of the trained hands and those with leadership ability to be subjected to the level of mediocre. As the day is far away from the night, any society that favours the weak at the expense of the strong can never know progress, advancement and greatness. In such situations, the strong is repressed and adapted or fashioned to act below their innate endowments while the weak that is promoted right in his weak state is denied the process of true growth and the satisfaction that comes from achieving what is truly ones due.

A child who gets everything free without his own input often abuse things and the good life itself. The more you pamper a child, the more you lose him. Expose him, let him fight his own battles and he will live to appreciate life. A nation, people, tribe and individuals who live for free things will never realize their true potentials. Just as a spoilt child is menacing, indulging and destructive so is a spoilt individuals who get things they do not labour for or things they do not deserve.

Give people the rights to earn their due and peace will be restored to our land. Injustice, inequalities, and non-equity are together troubling gangrene that is eating health out of nationhood.

A spoilt child will destroy others and finally destroy himself. Children who did not earn their worth often fritters it away through frivolity: bad relationships, waste and addiction. Of what use then is helping a child to destroy himself? In the same way, when we steal from one tribe or group to help a weakling to cover-up a facade of federation, we are only helping to destroy what we tend to pamper. Time to think deeply: there is nothing really free except what will end up gagging a man’s capability of a truly rich life.

Match opportunities with growth; create a level playing field as each is helped to become better. Let the citizens find their joy and satisfaction not in things but in the very process of becoming, sacrificing and giving.
A true government is positioned to empower its citizens to realize their potentials and to find meaning to their own lives through active contribution to the wellbeing of the world they belong.