Another way to unravel the mystery of chronic stagnation that Nigeria endures, fifty seven years on, is by understanding that Nigerians live only in the past and the present. Tomorrow hardly features in our why-list. On all fronts, we carry on like a people totally oblivious of the ‘karmaic’ potentialities of tomorrow. It is the reason we are where we are, as a people and as a country; swinging insanely in fits and starts like a pendulum that no longer works.
This is a general weakness; suffered across board by our leaders and the citizens. We act mainly out of vindictiveness occasioned by a certain wrong perceived to have been done against us or our family. We live in the present, deploying our current office or connection in a manner that shows we either don’t know that tomorrow exists or don’t care. This is a top-and-bottom mindset that bedevils our leadership and followership.
Ever wondered why the internecine inter-ethnic Cold War, that continues to damage the fundamental fabrics of Nigeria, has lingered for this long? Ever wondered why the major and minor ethnic groups that constitute Nigeria languish in eternal suspicion of each other? Ever wondered why tenure after tenure and administration after administration, our country engages in perennial frog jump that only generates a little motion and even littler movement?
Wonder no more. We are stranded in this cycle of stagnation because we have persistently stuck with the wrong formula; namely, working for the past and present and never once factoring in the future. Take our dear President Muhammadu Buhari, for instance. Here’s a man who, after three attempts, came into office on a high. But who, with just one year seven months to the end, cannot deny that his many lowly, undemocratic and if you like, ‘unbuharic’ missteps and verbal slips are likely to become blots on the escutcheon of his integrity ever after.
And, why do you think a Buhari who had the golden opportunity of becoming the Nelson Mandela of Nigeria sacrificed that forever-sweetness on the altar of bitterness, nepotism and the same politics played by nearly all of his predecessors; the same politics we swore was beneath him? The man simply forgot to remember tomorrow. Imagine his un-presidential comment about how he can’t treat his people up-north who gave him 97% votes and the lesser Nigerians down-south who insulted him with a paltry 5% equally. That’s not a man who’s got a thing for tomorrow -and history!
Imagine our no-nonsense Buhari (a retired army general) descending into the arena with a much younger Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); openly abusing his untold powers as president of Nigeria. Imagine also the same President Buhari so ‘donaldtrumpishly’ directing a visiting World Bank team to focus on the north rather than the entire country. Imagine -for the road- the king of anti-corruption fixating on ‘Old Testament’ while ignoring a rotten current testament snowballing right under his watch!
The only way to explain away the horrible memory that our president is constructing for his post-Aso Rock years is to say that he either has forgotten that future exists or doesn’t care a hoot about it. But, he should. Alas, the president is not alone. An alarming majority of Nigerian leaders, past and present, treat(ed) their future disdainfully; buoyed on, I suspect, by their understanding that our dwarfish memory would always make us to forget easily and childishly.
But, for how long? Would President Buhari get away with how he has blatantly ignored the future? What about Gov. Rochas Okorocha, who enticed all of us with populism, only to transmogrify into something we cannot describe the moment he found himself in Imo state government house? How would the future memorise a man who leads his state backwards? A man who is said not to have taken that much care of his people or even half-tackled the challenges facing his state falling on all fours to the temptation of satanic audacity!
Pray, how would posterity react to Okorocha building an insanely-exorbitant effigy for President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma of South Africa in Owerri, the capital of Imo state of Nigeria, just because the latter’s private foundation paid his some money for educational scholarships? Also, since hawk-eyed posterity never misses a thing, don’t Zuma’s corruption troubles at home coupled with his criminal negligence which has led to hundreds of Nigerian fatalities -no thanks to xenophobic attacks- tantamount to adding salt to injury? Or, is there more to this statue than meets the eye: say, politically?
Thankfully, we can reverse this crying shame. We, the people, who are also quite guilty of undermining the future, should begin by re-engineering our mentality. The idea of siding on with leaders in order not to be labelled wailers or opposition, even when the circumstances call for boos not applause, is repugnant to posterity. In the same vein, the vehement refusal to support government because of party differences or for fear of being tagged a sycophant, especially the few occasions it manages to put a foot right, is as unpatriotic as it is antithetical to posterity!
As leaders and as followers, we must remember tomorrow at all times. If I were President Buhari for instance, I would be guided by the knowledge that my successors would quote my actions and words as precedents; and how the people should remember me differently. If I were the people of Nigeria, I would start paying more attention to the future by appropriately documenting the past and the present. Remembering the inevitability and -if you like- the indomitability of the future is the panacea for the disastrous leadership and followership that our country has endured. God bless Nigeria!