Before We Get To Bangkok By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let me confess that I’m a great fan of Thai restaurants and whenever I’m opportuned to visit one of so many in London, I enjoy myself. The Thai cuisine is awesomely refreshing. I’m also a lover of Thai massage and wherever I come across their energetic therapists, I indulge myself. Those girls are incredibly dexterous; they tip-toe on your backbones like cats, and with uncommon tenderness make you fall into slumber and snore away sonorously as they chase out all the stress in your tendons.
I would have really liked to visit Thailand long ago but never had the courage to risk their Immigration stamps on my passport. The myth was that you were always a drug suspect if you ever visited Thailand. And there’s a red alert against your passport wherever you go, especially the United States of America. It is for almost a similar reason I have not been to Cuba. Cuba is so unfortunate to have incurred the wrath of America as a Communist State. I detest the idea of Homeland Security keeping me for hours at American ports and asking all manner of questions so I have tried my best to avoid those pariah nations.
There is even a more fundamental reason I’ve not visited Thailand. I hate their politics which is very similar to ours. Thailand has had the unenviable record of plotting and executing more coups than most other nations on earth. Theirrestive and impatient soldiers waste no time in sacking their reckless and irresponsible politicians. What if I’m there and a coup occurs? I’m that paranoid. But as much as I hate military regimes with a passion, there are times nations arrive at the crossroads, or in between the Red and the Blue Sea, and there is no escaping the tidal waves. Their politicians leave little or no room for compromise, and the country is bleeding fervently to death, so the Troops get called out! At that stage, you will agree, an umpire must be called in when all breaks down and there is no further chance for negotiation, to avoid all hell breaking loose.
This is the sad reality in some countries where Democracy is yet to take firm root and politicians are incorrigibly naive and self-centred. There would be no lizards crawling all over the place if there were no cracks in the walls. This is the dilemma we face in our world today as we totally condemn the latest military putsch in Thailand. It is tragic that some countries still experience such misfortune and return to anarchy at this time and age. Even our own continent is not immune from such bondage. Egypt is one of our ugly examples. We also saw it in Mali. Sudan is close to it. Nigeria is only lucky so far not for want of overstretching our luck endlessly.
The reason is very simple. Politics is taken as a matter of life and death. Politicians never appear to learn any useful and compelling lessons from their own or world history. Their memories are so short and their vision unimaginatively myopic that they studiously forget the labours and rigours of our heroes’ past and misbehave with reckless abandon. We behave like compulsive gamblers who are ready to throw away everything we possess in a jiffy. Unfortunately everyone suffers the consequences of our foolishness.
The meat of my epistle today is to warn our leaders about how close we are to the abyss since we often live in denial and behave like we are in control of heaven and earth. It should be obvious by now that we are in very serious trouble and that these problems won’t just vamoose by mere wishful thinking or lazily assuming things will suddenly return to normal in a fit of abracadabra. All the things we thought could never happen to us are happening at the speed of light. Nigeria has joined the league of the top ten most dangerous and troublesome countries in the world. Before our very eyes, our country has been on a roller-coaster of destruction and we are sinking irredeemably towards the bottom of the ocean. It is as if our leaders are determined to fulfil doomsday prophecies that were long foretold. I read one recently. In case you missed that particular prediction in reference, made by PrimateTheophilusOluwasanuOlabayo, and published in The Guardian of Nigeria on March 24, 2014, I shall oblige you by summarising it on this page for your reading delight.
The full page story was entitled “Security challenges will force Jonathan out of office, says Olabayo.” And it had a sub-heading: “Remember how I warned Abiola, Abacha and still warning people today.” I sincerely thank The Guardian for the courage to publish such a volatile interview and the man of God for finding the voice to speak up when many of his colleagues are afraid to properly advise those in power. We must commend those who voice their concerns at moments like this because it is not often easy for hunters to get the attention of dogs that seem desperately determined to get lost in the wilderness.
Nigeria is in such a critical mess that those that matter must tell the truth to our leaders, especially Mr President, who seems to have frittered away most of the goodwill he garnered in 2011. It is difficult for a leader to find true friends in our kind of society where making money is inherently dependent on government patronage and generosity. The safest thing to do in such circumstance is usually to play along and acquiesce to whatever the Master wants. That is why most of our leaders, if not all, always get it wrong.
The warning from Primate Olabayo should not be taken with the traditional cold shoulder and blatant indifference. The Primate did not say anything different from what many Nigerians have been discussing in whispers behind closed doors and curtains. Wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered the topic of discussion is about the present imbroglio and how it is likely to end. The opinion in many circles is that Democracy has become a burden on Nigeria and a complete nuisance to the wellbeing of the people.
Let me now share the relevant and cogent specifics of Primate Olabayo’s explosive interview: “The situation is alarming, as lawlessness has taken over. He is not in control any longer.People just go to him with different kinds of concoctions to cajole him that all is well and he will give out money. Journalisats are also not being fair; they are not saying the truth. The other day, some of his ministers were saying that the country is moving forward, but there is poverty in the land… There is crisis upon crisis and yet you want to continue in power. What solution have you proffered? People are suffering and you are busy going from church to church, where they are telling you all is well, when in actual fact, things are not well…
“Those saying that Buhari was the cause of Boko Haram should go and apologise to him. To start with, Buhari has no money… These people are well fortified. Governor Shettima was shouting the other day that these people have more sophisticated weapons than the military. President Jonathan cannot win this battle…
“I’m not supporting them. But I think we should ask this question: How were they able to cross to Nigeria without anybody knowing? Now, they’ve entered the country and you think to dislodge them will be an easy task? There’s more to it than meets the ordinary eye. Look at what happened in Nassarawa and Adamawa states, where there are crises everywhere. Don’t you think this is the time for him to leave the stage? He will not listen to the truth from us. He’s only listening to those he has given oil wells. You know there is no way they will give you oil well and you turn around to criticise. They gave them aircraft; they are enjoying and their children are schooling abroad. NIGERIANS ARE YET TO SEE KIDNAPPING; THEY SHOULD BE READY TO EXPERIENCE MORE OF IT, AND TERRORISM TOO. (Emphasis mine) I have been saying it and people don’t believe me…”
The Primate said so many other things about the dangers ahead and I think the President should not take it lightly. I was born in an Aladura church and we were told that revelations are signs that imminent dangers can be averted if certain corrections are made. If I were the President, I will do the following but he doesn’t have to since many vested interests will certainly kick against my ideas.
One. I will suspend all activities over my re-election bid. What shall it profit a President if he has to rule over dead or walking corpses? All the puerile adverts on television,under all manner of pseudonyms, should be put in abeyance. I will allow my party to organise a free and fair convention where others will be permitted to exercise their democratic rights. It would not be too much to even step aside and concentrate on fulfilling a few of my electoral promises and face the war on terror very squarely. There is nothing more to achieve in this life. Getting a second term is merely a bonus and not a big deal. Mr President should read the story of former American President Jimmy Carter and pick a few lessons from it. Even the story of Africa’s greatest statesman, Madiba Nelson Mandela, who spent only one term as President of South Africa, should be didactic. It is not how long you rule that matters but how well you govern. And it is not a mark of weakness to quit the stage when there is still some ovation.
Two. I will urgently reconstitute my cabinet and convene a government of national unity embracing even members of the opposition and mainly technocrats. The days of winner takes all are over. I will not appoint never-do-wells and near-illiterates into my government just because they are capable of rigging elections for me. I will attract a star-studded cabinet of those with proven records of excellence and monumental achievements.
Three. I will declare a major war against illiteracy by overhauling our educational sector. The present state of education in this country is too abysmally low and unarguably preposterous. First I will assemble the best educationists globally to come to our aid and remove politicians from running our education. Some of the existing institutions would have to be merged to pave way for fewer administrators and lesser bureaucracy. I will put an embargo on creating more unproductive schools whether private or governmental.
Four. I will devote total energy to ending the inexplicable jinx in our power and energy sectors. I will ensure that all obstacles placed in the paths of private investors are removed speedily. Any leader who can fix electricity in Nigeria would remain an eternal icon with a possible deification in tow.
Finally, I will work towards reducing the many useless and totally profligate system of excessive duplication of political appointments. Nigeria definitely can’t afford the current burdensome style of governance we carry. The manner we are squandering our meagre resources on a few political operators will never allow for proper growth and development in our nation.
I’m sure some of you readers must be wondering why I waste my time and energy on advising people who seem have crossed the Rubicon and can never turn back until they end up like others before them. My response is that my effort is meant for posterity and not for any form of gain-glorification. It is a child the mother loves that she chastises regularly.
I probably love our President more than myself and his so-called supporters, of course, may never be willing to admit and acknowledge.
But time will tell as always.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
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