When it comes to
That was similar to what Nuhu Ribadu said in
I was tempted at Achebe’s Colloquium to ask Soyinka, who will bell the cat? Who does the bell toll for? I was tempted to say, “As a Nobel Laureate, you’re self-actualized. You have the international name recognition. Why don’t you lead in this fight? Why don’t you do it for the redemption of your ‘wasted generation’?”
I pulled back from asking Soyinka the question because of something Eddie Madunagu told me in the early 90s. I was a cub reporter jumping around
Despite their successes and failures, we have to concede that Soyinka’s generation has given the Nigerian struggle and the Nigerian project their best. We can no longer sit down and wait for them to lead us. We have come of age and it is now out time to take a stab at leadership.
Here are the reasons why coordinated action is the only way to rescue that dithering country of ours.
Firstly, for many of the players on the Nigerian stage, their driving force is not about nation building or the welfare of the people. For them, it is all a game. It is as meaningless as a game of checkers (draught) played by the trio of Obasanjo, Babangida and Danjuma while Abacha watched. (If you have never seen the picture, there are a lot you need to know before you know how little you know). The only problem with that perspective is that people die while they play games.
Secondly, for some others not playing the game, what they are giving is essentially their honest best. They have serious handicaps. They may want to but they cannot surpass their limitations. It is sad when you listen to people like this. I felt that way listening to the Managing Director of the Guardian Newspaper, Mr. Emeka Izeze, as he answered my question about the Guardian’s chairman of the editorial board, Rueben Abate. Izeze defended Abate’s acceptance of
It was the same reasoning that I heard when I asked the Chief Whip of the House of Representative, Mr. Nkem Ihedioha why they have refused to pass the Freedom of Information Act. This former journalist gave me an answer that almost made me puke.
Thirdly, we cannot wait. During the Civil Rights Movement, many concerned about the radical change to the American society that the movement was demanding asked for incremental progress. Some argued that certain things should wait. In his reaction, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the book, “Why We Can’t Wait.” We can’t wait for the Iboris and the Ubas and the Obasanjos to repent. We cannot wait for their visions and their reforms to take us where we want to go. They can only take us to where they want us to go. And we have seen them in action long enough to know that where they want us to go is not good for us.
Fourthly, that we do not take action to steer our country in the direction we want does not mean that the villains are stuck in the inaction mood with us. In fact, the opposite is actually the case. They are operating on full throttle. During Festus Okotie-Eboh’s time as the Finance minister of the
Fifthly, we must act now because it is a full blown emergency for millions of our people. Our time is here and is passing by. Now is the time to do things that will provide us with answers to the questions our grandchildren will ultimately ask us. “When
Finally, no group ever relinquishes power when it is still comfortable to retain it. Barry Goldwater noted that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. The only reason those opposed to Civil Rights Movement listened to Martin Luther King Jr. was that they saw the alternative as represented by Malcolm X and it scared the hell out of them. For the Nigerian political elites to do the right thing, we have to show them many undesirable alternatives. It has to be scary enough that they will abandon their goal of exhausting all the possible combinations and permutations of bad choices.
In our heart of hearts, we know that action is what we need. Why we have not taken that path is because it is not an easy one. It requires personal sacrifices. It will take us away from our comfort zones. We will need to trample on our people, on our culture, and on our worldview. It will not endear us to the establishment and the largesse that they share. It will make us vagabonds in their society of bandits. It will get many of us KILLED. Not many of us can withstand such a life where being misunderstood will be our daily bread.
Luckily for us, not many are needed to begin the battle awaiting us. The only trouble is that it is hard to find the few needed to answer the call.