Okwufulueze Daniel|6 May 2017
A lot has happened in our history as a people that one could safely theorize that by now, we would have shoved our "sidon-look" attitude aside and demanded a better reality for us and our children. The late Afro legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti observed a problem with the Nigerian people decades ago: Servile Complacency.
In his 1977 album "Sorrow, Tears, and Blood", he described the prevailing sentiment like this:
We no want die, we no want wound
We no want quench, we no want go
I get one child, mama dey for house
Papa dey for house, I want build house
I don build house, I no want quench
I want enjoy, I no want go…
Then he concluded about Nigerians thus:
We fear for the thing we no see
We fear for the air around us
We fear to fight for freedom
We fear to fight for liberty
We fear to fight for justice
We fear to fight for happiness
We always get reason to fear…
In another album of 1977 "Shuffering and Shmiling", he described Nigerians as suffering and smiling.
It's so disturbingly funny, there seems to be this strange unwillingness to hold leaders accountable.
One would think that by now, 40 years later, Nigerians would have risen up to demand a better life experience from their leaders. Unfortunately, in 2017, we're still discussing the fact that we and the adults of Fela's generation are not so different.
The silence of Fela's generation didn't pay off —corrupt politicians didn't change, living conditions didn't improve, power and good roads are still crucial components of election campaign promises, graduates are now unemployed even though they once were in those old days, foreigners still enslave us in our own country by the leave of our leaders, etc. If the silence didn't work then why do we think it would now?
Surely, we haven't learned from history.
With current happenings in the Presidency, one can draw so many similarities with past administrations. Few examples should suffice.
President Buhari coming to power despite the opposition stating then that the man wasn't physically fit reminds one of the late President Yar'Adua coming to power despite hints that his health was failing. Like in the Yar'Adua case, we accepted as president, a man whose health status was so controversial that his ability to handle the strenuous and highly demanding task of governing Nigeria was questionable. One would think that after the demise of Yar'Adua, Nigerians will never again vote anyone with questionable health credentials.
Unfortunately, we didn't learn from history.
President Buhari's illness and the secrecy surrounding it reminds one again of the late President Yar'Adua. One of the lessons we failed to learn from the Yar'Adua case is that a sick president's weak state can be exploited by his handlers. Unscrupulous persons in government can hijack the situation for selfish gains. It's not unusual for a sick man to be so weak that he is unable to make decisions with a clear mind, in which case he'll simply tell his handlers to make the decisions on his behalf. Now what kind of decisions do we expect an unpatriotic handler to make? Again, we haven't learned from history.
The existence of a cabal so strong that they can frustrate President Buhari's treatment plans reminds one of former President Jonathan's administration where a cabal frustrated his plans to remove fuel subsidy. While we may never succeed in doing away with a cabal as far as government is concerned, we can succeed in making the cabal feel and know for sure that Nigeria is bigger than them. We can succeed in resisting their advance and installing our collective will on our land. We failed to face the cabal in Jonathan's time, we appear to be unconcerned still. We haven't learned.
Indeed, there are Nigerians who don't have this "I don't care" attitude, who speak out against bad governance, and they are many. But the fact is that a team is as strong as its weakest member. The weakest members, in this case, are some Nigerians who contribute nothing to the struggle but discouragement and cynicism. Their servile complacency frustrates the efforts of activist Nigerians whether we like it or not.
The efforts of activist Nigerians in speaking out against bad leadership are highly commendable. Their work has increased the level of political awareness in our country. Nigerians became so aware that in the 2015 general elections, it was clearly demonstrated that a sitting government can be changed. Nigerians disrupting political rallies of politicians seen as corrupt keep making news headlines. Moves are now being made to recall senators that are seen to be underperforming. With time, we are hopeful that the "I don't care" group would see the need to join their compatriots in efforts to reclaim our fatherland from wicked leaders that have inflicted severe suffering on Nigerians.
Nigeria shall succeed!
Writes from Calabar