by Farouk Martins Aresa
We have to stop thinking of what is in there for me, myself and I: to move Africa to its potential. If it is beneficial to Africa, it also elevates you and I. But no matter how you succeed at Africans’ expense, the picture of gloomy children of Africa will still reflects on you. Unfortunately, this is what it is when most people think of Africa. That you are not one of those poor and desperate, living in abject poverty trying desperately to flee to greener pasture does not exalt your image.
Beneficiaries of our corrupt system false sense of aggrandizement is the reason they fight tooth and nail to justify inept governments in power, even when they know it has failed majority of the people. Africans had too many false saviors taking over countries through rigged elections, coup d’état and looters; justified by Awards that defy critics, activists, called prophet of gloom.
Others pointed out that we all want change but nobody wants to die for change. The irony of that logic is that people are willing to die with their own children crossing the deserts, sinking in the oceans or falling from the sky or from the cargo area of planes. So sad when even graduates from colleges and universities with others prefer prostitution because they lack guts to steal or become armed robbers. And armed robbers would rather die fast by bullets than from hunger.
Nigeria bleeds the most. We talk about increasing middle class and falling poverty: out of 700m people, 627 came from China, not Africa. “More money flows illegally out of developing and emerging countries each year—facilitated by secrecy in the global financial system—than they receive in foreign direct investment and foreign aid combined. Beyond bleeding the world’s poorest economies, this propels crime, corruption and tax evasion globally.” Learn more about us
When we ask for change, the last change we want was from nationalistic Government of Congo headed by Lumumba to a military government of Mobutu installed by enemies of Africa. We were happy with Rawlings on his first coming in Ghana until he overstayed his welcome and got complacent. So Nigerians celebrated Ezeogwu’s cause till his colleagues’ ulterior ethnic motives betrayed him. Yet, they fought civil war without borrowing a kobo but later got broke, anyway.
Staying with Nigeria as a case in point: the whole Country regardless of ethnic loyalty elected a leader from deserved minority with high hope that our day of progress has come. Since most of Nigeria foreign income from oil is produced in their area, expected the leader would be mindful and more vigilant in the fight against corruption. However, the attitude was: it’s our money, can spend it anyway we want. After four years, environmental degradation and pollution got worse.
In fairness to former President Jonathan, many billionaires were created, many joined middle class that was dying anyway, railways and oil refineries improved. They were never enough and could not have been enough to raise even the minorities in a country of almost 200 millions out of poverty. As stated in the beginning, it is not individual or class greed that raises a nation; it is collective goodwill that gives a child an opportunity to rise above and beyond those before her.
There is no reason former President Jonathan should not have been re-elected for second term. Rarely did many leaders get the mandate and the goodwill he got in 2011. Yet, the reason he lot that goodwill has plagued African countries for so many years and left us in the ditch. African leaders believe too much in their handlers who fight for their own selfish interests before the interest of the masses by justifying any misdeed they created, shielding leaders from realities.
It is better to err underestimating oneself than to err overestimating personal prowess. When aides and handlers that surround you aggrandize and exaggerate your power as a leader, one needs to enter bare reserved room of his castle and remind himself of a humble and difficult climb to power. Many of us wrote on those that had pushed former President Jonathan astray and blamed them for corruption in high places. But they were only looking out selfish interest.
Consequently, we learned the hard way that even once military governments, no matter how benevolent, enmeshed in the same corruption they tried to clean up: do change! They provided short euphoria with grand and ambitious inauguration speeches only to fall by the wayside. As angels mix with politicians, certain primordia needs surface from their humble beginning. They see better stars in politics than in the military barracks and corrupt the system even more.
Most of the energy needed to grow individual countries, needed for inter-regional trade and cooperation in Arts, Science and Technology are wasted fighting one another. Sectional or party greed has never elevated a country, yet we waste so much of our intellect justifying fraudulent acts that hinder progress as a people and disappoint the world of goodwill cheering for Africa.
What we missed is individual responsibilities and legacy of the uneasy head that wears the crown. A leader must be strong enough, not only to discipline himself or assign that role to his wife, husband or a close associate; but must be able to discipline those around him. After he lost, it is not surprising President Ebele said most aides deserted him. He should have expected most of those that made him lose election would jump to greener pastures to spend their loot.
This same problem has hindered African head of states. They die miserably and lonely in exile, in jail or spend the rest of their lives running away from those hunting for their heads. Those that have made billions under Jonathan will never get the peace of mind to spend it well. They could have lived peacefully with much less money, can still live well by declaring their loot or spend their loot dodging from one hunter in a foreign country to another.
Buhari must learn from President Jonathan’s handlers. He must use his golden opportunity to bring back Nigeria by plugging sources of income loopholes, no country can afford as foreign aid.