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Nigeria, Stop the Crocodile Tears on Mandela

And so Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela eventually became a spirit ancestor of the Xhosas. He has transformed from being the reality of our time to becoming the legend of future Africans. People like him are created, not born. He was the best leader Africa ever had and will probably remain so for another millennium before another remarkable African comes along. Every bit of his 95 years on earth – failings and successes – is an instruction to all African leaders on how not to lead their people. It is a manual on how to free up the African continent from shackles of poverty, disease, ignorance and tyranny of leadership.

Of all the eulogies pouring out by the minute on Madiba from world leaders so far, I like the one credited to Tony Blair (former Prime Minister of Britain) the most. He was quoted as saying:
"Through his [Mandela] dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal."

Indeed, I have never read, heard or seen an African personify human dignity, grace and heroism on behalf of Africa more than Pa Nelson did. Madiba was the best mirror Africa has yet reflected to an earthful of races in its modern history.

If the meaning of Blair’s eulogy sounds figurative, its literal translation will be that Mandela’s passing through Africa at all makes bad governance, corruption and interminable tenure in leadership positions anywhere in Africa, idiotic.

Knowing us in Nigeria, our leaderships are most likely going to miss the most instructional lessons from Madiba’s life altogether. The crude Nigerian political class is already in a frivolous frenzy, looking for the cure of guinea worm instead of attending to the condition of leprosy that this somber time betrays. Already, Nigeria has declared a 3-day national mourning for the great African. That will be fine. It is quite in line with our proprietorial claim of helping South Africans against Apartheid, which sometimes sounds more like we actually got rid of Apartheid for South Africans. Forgetting that the whole struggle against Apartheid was so overwhelming for Africa at one point that Obasanjo, a general in our military, proclaimed sometime in the 1970s out of frustration that only ‘epe’ (curse) could rescue Africans from the Afrikaners. Go figure.

Mandela’s state funeral will naturally attract thousands of government representatives from across the globe. It wouldn’t therefore require much imagination to expect that the Nigerian leaderships will use the occasion to plunder and launder our national resources. I could see thousands of Nigerian government mourners attending the funeral in Jo’burg. I would be surprised if every unviable state in Nigeria was not represented by all of the memberships of each state assembly and each governor’s cabinet, plus of course our president himself with some 250-member contingent. After all, Mandela is dear to Nigeria, the giant of Africa! Without Nigeria, Mandela would probably still be in prison. Such jazz.

Each official Nigerian mourner would probably stay in the most expensive hotel suit in town or collectively, they might even book out whole floors of major hotels across South Africa as they did in Beijing. Each mourner would need to stay in his/her befitting profligate accommodation for a few weeks. No, not for the estacodes (traveling allowance per night payable in US dollars), but for the need to commiserate with Mandela’s family and village according to some newly made-up African culture.

But Madiba lived for a cause. He went to jail for a third of his life. He emancipated his people to the first of many milestones in human development. He did his bit and ultimately left the world much better than he met it. If anyone cares to ask for my opinion, I would say that one major lesson our kleptomaniac leaderships in Nigeria ought to extract from Madiba’s life is to find a larger cause they can live for, as opposed to singular ambition of acquiring unscrupulous wealth on the fat of the Nigerian polity.

Leadership positions – president, governor, even LG chairman – have now become critically dangerous in Nigeria. But not in the sense of a do-or-die first to get to the mango tree race that they are looking at it. Not that. It is in the sense that people vying for our leadership office should be ready to die in office defending our dignity and aspirations against all varieties of so-called evil cabals. Not the nonsense we continue to see with our leadership class licking the leprous fingers that put them in office; opening the barn of corruption for unpatriotic cronies, lackeys and acolytes; pardoning and defending unconscionable crooks; dipping their hands in state coffers to pay off godfathers and dashing anyone they want because they can; flying themselves, immediate and extended families including concubines to foreign hospitals to cater for as little as dysentery; etc.

Mandela didn’t live for that kind of impoverishing leadership nonsense and it has got to stop. He certainly didn’t live for modern slavery of Africans by Africans. Moving forward, whoever wants to become our president, governor, LG chairman has got to be ready to die for us. Otherwise, stay home and let those who are prepared to do the job as needed come out to do the job. In the words of the Guinean president, Alpha Conde, over the ongoing human degradation in the Central African Republic, "We're appreciative of France, but we know that 50 years after our independences, France is again required to come in as a fireman to save us — it's not right. It's a humiliation for Africa that 50 years afterward, we are not at all able to manage our problems ourselves."

The claim that Nigeria is only going through growing pains as a new nation and that it would stabilize over time, is hogwash. It is a putative logic that simply rationalizes continuing group stupidity. Besides, gargantuan incompetence and willful cannibalization of national resources ought not to count as teething problems. It is about time Africa started taking personal responsibility for its inability to get off the floor. Africa’s past history of fatal weakness is exactly why Africans should not spend as much as it took other civilizations to get out of its own darkness. The combo of transatlantic slave trade and colonization should have evoked the most determination and creativity out of African nations to run (not crawl), the moment they got out of captivity from their colonizers. This dishonorable reality should have been deployed in a common strategy to devitalize our inherent obstacles, particularly ethnicity and religion, to progress.

In its 53 years of existence, Nigeria has cut its teeth in practically all scenarios that could challenge a new nation. It has already gone through cycles of senseless military coups and tyrannical leaderships, fought a brutal civil war in which millions were killed and it has always enjoyed a good endowment of material and human capitals. It is indeed already a big humiliation for Africa that a lucky country like Nigeria has not got it right 53 years after flag independence, 43 years after the civil war and over $500 billion in oil revenue.

No, Madiba didn’t live and die for bumbling leaderships anywhere in Africa. Nigerian leaderships should do Mandela proud and rededicate themselves during the 3 days of mourning to begin doing the right things. Cage corruption so public money can be freed up for true development, enforce our laws, banish impunity of any form of irresponsible leaderships, implement sensible policies and uplift Nigerians from the bondage of poverty, misery and deplorable living conditions.

Cut the crap, dam the crocodile tears.

Source: Sahara Reporters

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