- Category: Opinions/Interviews
- Published on Monday, 19 October 2009 13:36
- Written by Musikilu Mojeed
- Hits: 2067
Renowned writer, Chinua Achebe, has called on Nigerians to rise up in unison and challenge the bad leadership and looting of the country.
Speaking on Thursday when the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, visited him at his home in Bard College, an elite liberal arts university in the suburbs of New York, Achebe said Nigeria was doomed if its people do not act to halt corruption and ineptitude among its ruling elites.
“We should feel we have come around and that we missed the bus the first time and that the correction of the situation in our country is in our hands. We can’t call the British back even though some people have suggested that. But we can’t allow this to go on any longer. Already our people are getting used to living in that ugly style,” the professor of literature said. “This is the time to bring an end to it. If we do nothing, we are doomed,” he said during the four-hour meeting with Mr. Ribadu.
We must fight
He lamented that the world is getting completely disinterested in and isolating Nigeria, adding that the citizens need to act to stop their leaders from destroying their country. For a start, Mr. Achebe, who lamented that Nigeria had become a laughing stock in the international community, wants Nigerians to get prepared to stop riggers from stealing future elections, saying the country would never develop as long as the people are not allowed to choose the leadership they want.
He said: “We must fight for a clean election and insist that nobody play games with the result of elections. The power to enthrone leaders must clearly be in the hands of the people. We must save our ourselves, save our country, especially the poor people who have got nothing. There are people who cannot point at anything that Nigeria has offered them since independence.
There is a lot of training and reaching that needs to be done. Unless we do that, the danger of anger and violence will come. And we must not allow that. We must do it in peace because our people used to live in peace even before the white man came.”
Looking back, Mr. Achebe said Nigeria is the way it is because its citizens have been tolerant of bad leaders and have been docile in insisting that they should be governed effectively and transparently. “Part of the fault is ours. There are things we should know that we didn’t know. There are things that we should have insisted on that we didn’t. Now, we are paying the price for it,” he admitted.
He therefore challenged Mr. Ribadu to mobilize younger citizens to come together and straighten up the country and put Nigeria on the road to salvation. “The getting together of people like you across the country must be seen as the role of this generation. You must destroy the divisions that we have been taught to believe in and work together to save our country,” the writer told the former EFCC chief.
“Those who have cornered what is not theirs will try to block you if you try to effect change. But you must not waiver.” He promised that he would support any genuine effort to transform Nigeria for good, saying he would never abandon his responsibility to his homeland.
Earlier, Mr. Ribadu had urged Mr. Achebe to use his international clout to press for change in Nigeria. The anti-corruption activist argued that Nigeria, with its huge natural and human resources, would remain on its knees if corruption and fraudulent elections were allowed to continue.
He said the time had come for influential Nigerians at home and abroad to speak up and lobby the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian government to sincerely fight corruption, reform the electoral system and allow for fraud-free elections in the country.
“The struggle is not going to involve violence. We will only be appealing to the world to press for a free and fair election in our country. I am sure the world will be sympathetic to our cause,” Mr. Ribadu said.
The former police officer has been critical of the Nigerian government since he was removed from his post as chairman of the financial commission in January 2008 and hounded into exile. He now lives in Washington DC and London.
Mr. Achebe, author of the classic, “Things Fall Apart” which has sold more than 11 million copies and has been translated into 50 languages, has always criticised the way his country is governed.
In 2004, he rejected a national award, Commander of the Federal Republic, made to him by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, citing the harsh conditions in the country and the unresolved political crises in Anambra, his home state, as reasons.
Culled from www.234next.com