It is said that a people deserves the leaders it receives, but one wonders if Nigerians deserve their leaders. Since 1960, when Nigeria gained its independence, Nigeria has gone from one mediocre leadership to another. People often long for transformational leaders, but somehow, they keep getting disillusioned. Between February and March of this 2023, Nigeria will go to the polls again to elect another president as well as legislators, state governors and state legislators.
With the sorry state of Nigeria’s economy and security, most Nigerians believe that this year’s elections are decisive: they have the chance to offer Nigeria the chance to break with its past of waste and mediocrity and begin the arduous task of rebuilding the country. . But to achieve that, Nigerians are expected to choose leaders based on their pedigree and ability rather than their status as “power brokers” or ethnic and religious allies.
One factor that has contributed greatly to Nigeria’s setback and troubles is the people’s obsession with material possessions. If any presidential candidate who is elected this year does nothing to change that, then that person will have accomplished nothing of substance for Nigeria.
Nigeria’s current attitude towards material possessions is cancerous. It has eaten deep into Nigeria’s internal organs and created some of the serious problems that have paralyzed Nigeria. Money has become the god of Nigeria for some decades now. Most of the churches and mosques preach and worship it week after week. Even when they say they don’t promote materialism, the constant pressure they put on their worshipers and the special attention and honor they give to big donors still say out loud that money is the king and the god of Nigeria, and those who have a large amount and distribute it profusely get all the praise and honors.
It is the same in social or communal life. Nigerian society has made it clear that only those who have money and flaunt it deserve respect. They are the ones who obtain all the titles and awards of cacicazgo. They are celebrated at every opportunity as examples of success.
The sad thing is that, unlike in the past, in Nigeria the origin of people’s wealth is no longer questioned. Until the mid-1980s, Nigerians still questioned the source of people’s wealth before celebrating it. Parents would not accept monetary or material gifts from their children if they were not sure of the source of their children’s wealth. People tried as far as possible to disassociate themselves from those who were perceived as contaminated.
In recent times, due to the desire to be rich and influential and to be famous, crime has continued to rise in Nigeria. That many Nigerians become involved in the drug trade, even in countries where the drug trade attracts the death penalty, is due to the consuming desire to get rich by any means. Many people say that it is better to die trying to be rich than to be alive without being rich and famous.
The same goes for kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, and Internet scams. There is no revulsion for these crimes anymore. Those who engage in them even create justifications for them. They blame society for not providing them with jobs, even though most of them would turn down jobs because no job in Nigeria will pay a young man millions of Naira every month like crime does. There is also the justification that those in political office steal much more.
The continuous increase in the level of corruption exhibited by those in the civil service and even those in the private service also has its roots in this cult of money. When most people talk about their tenure in the civil service, government, judiciary, media, public relations, advertising, marketing, manufacturing, banking, etc., it is usually as one without blemish, but when the salary and other forms of remuneration of such people are compared to the amount of money and assets they have accumulated, a clear disconnect is seen. There is no way that all of their earnings can lead to the amount of wealth they have accumulated, no matter how savvy they are at investing.
One associate faced such a challenge and pressure based on how much money his fellow citizen working at the same organization was donating at home and the assets he was acquiring. His father asked her why she was not doing as well as her relative who worked in the same office and advised her to get closer to him and learn how to progress in his life. Every time the man contacted his relative to tell her how he was making such great financial progress, the response he got was, “My brother, work hard, invest, and trust God.”
This continued until something led to an investigation into his activities in the public relations department where he worked. It was discovered that she had been fleecing the organization for years. She would raise a budget of cash and in-kind gifts for reporters, editors, and publishers in order to garner consistent positive media reporting. But much of his money went into his bank account and that of his colleague in the same department. And just as security funds are treated with secrecy, fostering corruption, so are public relations funds. And this is rampant because the Nigerian media, which should be watchdogs, also joins the corruption of demanding or accepting gratuities to kill negative stories and publish positive stories. Although some outlets frown on such practices and punish journalists who engage in them, many journalists still find clever ways to engage in them.
Nigeria has been so badly infected that it has become virtually impossible for one to survive here without being contaminated. Corruption is so entrenched that the few who really want to avoid it are seen as misfits. The more they try, the more they are victimized and the more obstacles are put in their way, to make them succumb. Even their rights like pension, gratuity, property, liberty, life, etc. are attacked to make them succumb to corruption. Their family, friends, and religious leaders even tell them to “apply wisdom” by giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God, all in an attempt to make them play ball like most people and stop losing what is. his right Therefore, anyone who lives in Nigeria but is not completely tainted by corruption is an extraordinary human being: almost a saint.
Wealth without business has impoverished Nigeria and created despair in Nigerians. There is a belief that after you have acquired wealth by any means possible, you can always make large donations to religious organizations, the poor and different institutions as a way of ‘cleaning’ your money. One can even build a church or a mosque in the hope that it will be a suitable atonement.
So pulling Nigeria out of this pit requires a firm and strategic reorientation led by trusted leadership. The leader must be someone who can lead by example and show that money is not the be all and end of life. Such a leader will also be one who will take practical steps to catch and prosecute those who are tainted by corruption or crime, even if they are his cronies. That is why it is vital that Nigerians elect someone who has the ability to destroy the current compromised Nigerian foundation and build a new one. This new foundation will require Nigerians to rekindle their faith in the country and take ownership of Nigeria. It will require Nigerians to raise the alarm every time a big gun tries to jump the queue.
Such an attitude will help restore sanity and hope in Nigeria. It will not be easy to achieve but it is possible. All that is required is that Nigerians have a leader they can trust and work with, a leader who makes sacrifices while telling Nigerians to make sacrifices.
– Twitter: @MarcaAzuka