Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Don’t cry for me Nigeria!

Don’t cry for me Nigeria!
April 07
15:02 2019

I’m going be very unironic and blatant here: Nigeria may be totally finished, if good men and women do not step out and step forward to cause, make or lead the change we desperately need. Generally speaking, things are getting worse. I actually thought otherwise, but you’ve got to forgive me because I am only human. Am I not? We are in big trouble-bigger trouble,if we do not join hands to take this big elephant out of the room. I will thank you to patiently read this because it is a rather very long post. Thank you.

After a looooooong Friday, I thought I would simply take a shower, jump into my Orthopaedic bed and sleep under the influence, having had my due earlier. But No. I couldn’t. I was restless instead. Something was bothering me. I could not immediately discern or figure it out until I elected to do what my doctor warned me not to do: facebook while in bed! And that was it! Nigeria, my Nigeria.

And so, the first post I saw was that of my Egbon and mentor, Olusegun Patrick Odegbami, yes, the same Segun Odegbami better known in his hey days as “Mathematical Odegbami”. A skillful footballer, a gifted writer and a talented presenter, Egbon decided last year to dabble into the murky waters of Nigerian politics. I remember the night he invited me to Pa Tunde Oyelana’s Club in South East London. Having missed an opportunity to watch England’s last game at Russia 2018 with him days earlier, I could not but honor his invite. And I’m glad I did. He and I and Dayo Olomu, Wole Odegbami (his younger brother) and a host of other Nigerians had a good time sipping from Baba Oyelana’s divine tapestry of great home music while sipping as ardently at our unique choices of “poison”. Right there in the din of the music, banter and alcohol, we had time to talk about his plan to stop complaining and do something serious about leadership in Nigeria, starting from his home state, Ogun.

Was I impressed? Absolutely. Was I concerned? Most definitely. Did I express my feelings? Trust me. One thing actually inspired me to believe that Egbon knew what he was doing. He said and I want to paraphrase him, since I can’t recollect his exact words: Let it not be that we just stood aside and watched things go from bad to worse! I liked that. I thought that was a very wise saying indeed, a great thought. It reminded me of another wise saying: “evil prospers when good men do nothing.” I wished him well, took his words for it, took him aside, took his measurement for some Ethelberts and took off. It was indeed a good night.

Not long after our return to Nigeria, he launched his governorship campaign under the umbrella of Labour Party. I don’t know where he gets his energy and inspiration from, but Odegbami published a diary of his political activities, which came almost daily at a time. He was probably the only one who did. Others may have kept theirs but he religiously published his. I never missed reading his diary. How could I even do such a thing, when he (and I) have the good fortune of good social media skills-and so told his story on Facebook and shared it via WhatsApp. It was unputdownable! Segun Odegbami wrote with amazing dexterity akin to his incredible runs down the flanks during his days in IICC Shooting Stars and the Green Eagles. He told his story as it unfolded, as it is, making sure he metaphorically took you along his political journey, vivid, lucid, believable, emotive.

I followed the twists and turns of his foray in politics. In a way, it sounded mostly like a tale of woes. Perhaps, it was, because it all ended woefully. Still, it was a delightful experience following him through his stories. The games, intrigues and disappointments which culminated in his failure to win will make for an excellent case study in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Or a book.

Looking at the total picture of what eventually happened in Ogun State and indeed across various states in Nigeria, Segun Odegbami’s story is a story worthy of being documented in book for beginners in the game of politics. He himself calls it Rapid Results College of Politics so named after the now extinct Rapid Results College, Lagos, which provided educational materials for private students studying for both O (Ordinary) and A (Advanced) Levels of the GCE (General Certificate in Education) Examinations. I remember my father studied for A Levels with the assistance of Rapid Results College and I had the good fortune of inheriting his books and notes when I went to Government College Owerri for my A Levels and registered for Religious Studies and Government, two of the subjects he studied in his own era.

Lest I digress, Odegbami’s experience in the Rapid Results College of Politics is a lesson to most of us, bystanders, who may want to throw our hats (and hearts) in the political ring now or in the future. Just so I can end this commentary without tiring you out, let me recommend for your serious contemplation to read him, especially his latest “My Political Diary-Day 50” as well as Day 49. I had the goose pimples reading through them just like I did when I read the chilling story of how he was snookered by the Labour Party-and he had to hurriedly dash to Ikenne, in the dead of night, to the home (read tomb) of the late sage, Pa Awolowo, for consolation and inspiration.

Odegbami is a master storyteller who knows how to grab and keep his readers. You will not regret reading from number 1 to 50 of his diaries. You will not only get a foretaste of the unforgiving, slippery, treacherous, wicked and dangerous world of Nigerian politics, you will learn useful lessons to help you avoid some of the mistakes he made. Believe you me, “My Political Diary” is a book right there.

Most importantly, I direct you to the unfortunate fact that we, Nigerians, are obviously not ready for democracy. We are not ready for change. We are not interested in the future, both our own future and the future of our children. We do not even care about now much less then. I mean tomorrow. Read Odegbami:
“I have wholeheartedly devoted the last 15 years of my life trying to uplift the people and to develop the environment. My determination, then and up till now, has been to make Wasimi Orilea great environment, the best rural community to live, work, school and invest in Ogun State, so that my people may prosper and find true happiness. The Wasimi Orile election became my ultimate litmus test. If I was going to lose every other election, not this one.
“For the sum of some 10 to 20 thousand Naira to each voter, promised them on the eve of the elections, they sacrificed their son, their benefactor for 15 years, who brought them an access road, a borehole, electricity to the environment, a school where their children get free education, jobs for the men, financial support for the women, and with a lot more development to come as the Creator provides.”

Now, how do you explain this to anybody? Or rather, how does one justify this kind of wickedness, treachery and meanness? But then, it is what it is. Many other politicians have been through similar experiences and many more will go through it. However, is this the way our cow will get to Umuahia? Hell no! I once read about Osita Chidoka’s gubernatorial campaign in 2017 in Anambra. A well-packaged campaign with all the attributes of excellency, brilliance and determination but devoid of raw cash, it collapsed like a pack of cards. Like Odegbami, young Chidoka couldn’t muster anything reasonable in terms of votes, even from the volunteers team that worked for him.someone said his votes were less than half the number of the volunteers meaning that the volunteers were not registered voters or they were not from Anambra State or the just didn’t vote for him or did not vote at all! Now, that’s tragic.

Thinking through Odegbami’s very emotional words, one would think again before investing in his people. The reason reason people make social investments, we were told, is to earn the goodwill of the people and the blessings of the Great Architect of the Universe. Let’s say the Great Architect has blessed Odegbami in many ways. Why won’t his people reciprocate his good gestures by rewarding their son with their votes? Rather, they ditched him and pitched tents with politicians who bought their conscience with some Naira and some Kobo. It cannot be denied that the people are hungry neither can be concealed that politicians have deliberately kept them so hungry they can come whenever they like with tokens to buy their votes, their conscience, their birthrights. Sad. Shameful.

See, my dear friends, we have to change Nigeria or it will go up in smokes before our very eyes. The signs are there, telltale signs: money politics, badly or poorly managed elections, political violence, ethnic and religious intolerance cum bigotry and a disappointing tendency by the masses, the poor, the followers, to compromise on every honorable tenet and collude with their traducers to ensure that good men, good women, do not get into public service. Add to these the ballooning population due to poor or non-existent family planning culture. We have a ticking time-bomb right under our feet, ladies and gentlemen.

In closing let me say, the experiences of people like Odegbami or Chidoka or even Festus Odimegwu and Pat Utomi will not and should not deter good people from getting involved. We will not run away from a battle because of the fear of death. We will not feed our chicken to the wolves because of noise of their cries of hunger. As we say in Mbaise, if we storm hell in large numbers, we will use our feet to stamp out the fire. Let us go there!!!

Things are well and truly getting worse. The followership is acting no differently from the leadership-and that is extremely dangerous. I don’t feel. I don’t feel good about what happened to my brother, Segun Odegbami, but then the fall of Constantinople, for those of you who studied European history, is indeed a blessing in disguise. He who fights and runs away, they say, lives to fight another day. Bro, there’s great plenty yet to come from you. So, do NOT give up. Congratulations for staying till the end! I’m proud of you. Do not forget to cash in on this one-with a book. I can be your publisher or marketer.


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