A few days ago, I watched again the video of late Sir Balewa being received in the United States of America by the vice President of same country and after his short and moving speech; I had to agree with late Chinua Achebe that indeed “there was a country.” You may openly disagree with late Chinua Achebe because of partisan-politics and crumbs that fall from the corridors of power’s table, but when you are alone, on the inside of your bed-chamber, when you are face to face with the reality of Achebe’s stance, you know he was right. There was a country—where men of excellence held sway!
During the lackluster and bland-reign of Obsanjo, when Femi Fani Kayode was speaking for him, Achebe was supposed to be decorated on a 1st of October, but he refused to accept the robe of honor that Nigeria wanted to use to cover his back. He reeled out the reasons for rejecting what many Nigerians would gladly pay millions of naira for. When Fani Kayode heard what the late literary giant said, he did not waste any time before lampooning him by reeling out non-existing statistics, pointing Nigeria to a state of Eldorado! This is what happens during every administration, since the birth of Nigeria. People are usually paid to lie to Nigerians, saying that Nigeria is working when obviously she is critically sick. Instead of Obasanjo’s administration to respond positively to what Achebe said, they attacked him, saying he was playing politics.
Also, during the reign of Goodluck Jonathan, Achebe rejected our national honor for the second time. This is the reason he gave for rejecting our national honor: “for some time now, I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay…I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.” Till today, individuals are still stronger than Institutions in Nigeria. And the law that binds poor people is still enthroning rich people.
Goodluck responded by calling Achebe’s refusal to accept our national honor, a regrettable decision, which may have been borne out of misinformation as to the true state of affairs in Nigeria…” For the umpteenth time, this is what happens in every administration. No one knows the true state of affairs of Nigeria—apart from those in power. When they are praised, they accept it, but when they are criticized, even objectively, they reject it. Some hours ago, a world-class organization spoke about the true state of things in Nigeria, relating to insecurity, but those who are being paid to speak for President Buhari said the organization is ignorant of the true state of things in Nigeria. Same inglorious-lines: from one administration to another.
Even when you say that the roads to your village are not tarred and that there is power-outage everywhere in Nigeria, those who are in power would still say you are wrong—that you do not know the true state of affairs of Nigeria. No one knows anything, with the exception of those in the corridors of power. Political power—that is transient—makes people live in denial. Till today, everything late Achebe complained about is still with us. We don’t solve problems in Nigeria, we play politics with them. And it is so sad.
Back to late Sir Balewa’s video that I watched. Even those who are drunk with the whisky of partisan politics would not attempt to compare the founding fathers of Nigeria with our present crop of political-leaders. In terms of quality of thinking and excellence-driven delivery, they are poles apart. Late Sir Abubakar Balewa was from the North, but his accent was world-class. He could speak from his heart, without either holding any paper or reading from a screen. This is very rare in this day and time. Today, people are being paid to write speeches for our people, but to read from them becomes a problem. What they are after is money, not service.
We had a country, when men of character were in power. There was a country, when our people could travel from one town and village to another without being afraid of being either killed or kidnapped. There was a country, when selfish people where not more powerful than Institutions of governance. There was a country, when naira was stronger than dollar. There was a country, when thugs were not in the corridors of power, governing Nigeria. There was a country, when the best of us were leading the rest of us. There was a country, when our leaders were not lying to us. There was a country, when foreigners were coming to Nigeria for medical checks. There was a country, when foreigners were coming to Nigeria to attend our universities.
There may be a country—when we can have another set of quality and sincere leaders, who are devoid of tribalism and greed. Remember, Nigeria can never become better than the collective quality of her leaders. Until the law that binds the poor also binds the rich, we can never have a true country. Until we begin to esteem the value of justice, we can never have a true country. Nigeria is currently ridden with injustice. This is why we are having too many crises on our hand. Wherever you see crisis, just know that people are not getting justice in that land. Violence takes care of itself when the value of justice is enthroned. Peace cannot reign without justice!