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Life after Madiba: Doing it Right

A commentator, Ayobolu I believe, in his usually lyrically brilliant weekly offering, raised the point of a critical paradox subtending about the enfeebling quiet of…

A commentator, Ayobolu I believe, in his usually lyrically brilliant weekly offering, raised the point of a critical paradox subtending about the enfeebling quiet of the President of Nigeria in South Africa when world leaders, including those who actually carried out policies that impeded the early termination of the heinous and inhuman Apartheid regime in South Africa, sauntered and waxed oratorically eloquent in showering richly earned praises on Mandela.
 The paradox lay in the fact that Nigeria made greater material sacrifice to the cause of the anti-Apartheid struggle led by Mandela than most of the world leaders that reaped moral and political capital from Madiba’s death, while Nigeria had no voice on the occasion and event that they had every cause to celebrate and lay historical claims to.
What is most important here is that, after all  the celebrations and political rituals that took place at the farewell obsequies of the great world icon, Mandela, is what lessons have we learned from the life and death of the man we all love to claim as our own; a model of humanity in at least half a century. Thinking about Mandela’s epitomization of the noblest and best human ideals, the following verse came to my mind; 
What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty!
In form, in moving, how express and admirable!
In action how like an angel!
In apprehension, how like a god!
This immortal verse from immortal Shakespeare is aptly applicable to the life and odyssey of immortal Mandela. Who among our current leaders in Africa, nay Nigeria can wear the attributive garment  that adorn the neck of Mandela as sculpted in the lofty verse above? Ayobolu also thought along this line when he recalled, with humbling nostalgia, the aplomb and pride that erstwhile heroes like Nandi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Obafemi Awolowo brought to Africa. He recalled the Africa-centred foreign policy of Marital Mohammed/Olusegun Obasanjo and the uplifting declaration of the thenceforth unfettered nature of African independence to the whims and dictates of external, multinational, capitalist hegemonies. Now, at the departure of Nelson Mandela, the ‘soul of Africa’ is in great tumult. Statesmanship is in criminal deficit. And if this situation will not continue unabated, the Nigerian leadership and governing elite must jolt themselves back to leadership with honour, integrity, vision, love and patriotism.
This is why some sober reflection ought to be the critical concern of our government today. What is the purpose and meaning of power which does not impact positively on the governed—power for its own sake; power that surfeits the appetite that can only sicken and atrophy? It is in this context that a significant aspect of the bombshell of a missive detonated by the former President of this country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo—irrespective of motive-imputation by interpreters and recipients of the letter—must serve as food for thought. I am talking about taking the worth of a message than the visage and mien of the messenger. He wrote, among many other things, of responsibility and accountability in power; the essence of a leadership shun of ‘personal and political interests’, dwelling more on ‘national interest’, making a demarcation between sycophancy versus patriotic and constructive criticism in leadership. Many have said, quite justifiably, that Chief Obasanjo did not leave according to the precepts he admonished his ‘godson’ to live by but that does not stand in the way of the merit in the admonition. One can learn from the adjudged or alleged failure of a predecessor who wizens up after the event and be greatly rewarded by it. Not everybody can be a Mandela, but great leaders, all through history, have picked their cues from either the example of past heroes, or from the wise counsels of those that came before. It is not for nothing that great literature reflects on the wise habit of great kings surrounding themselves with seeming fools who serve, in their simulated madness or foolery, to hold up the mirror to and give the true picture of their life which great Ministers hide from them. The Scripture counsels memorably thus: ‘Go to the ants, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise.’ I believe this admonition is also for the noble and the powerful in our land and world.
Now, a combination of the exemplary life of the immortal Mandela and the OBJ missive reveal the power of humility and forgiveness in governance, commitment to justice and equity, the transience of political power if not deployed in the service of humanity and securing the happiness of society. Where is the spirit of forgiveness in the chaos and confusion that is in abundant let in River State today where the State Assembly is in disarray and the Chief Executive is on one foot in the State House, all with the acquiescence, if not with the helping hand of the sitting President. Where is the sense of equity and justice in the way democracy is rubbished in the election and outcome of the Nigerian Governors Forum, where two winners emerge with different electoral scores—19 to 16? Where is the defence of probity and the intent to dislodge corruption in the way in which the strongly alleged fraud in the operation of the oil industry, including the subsidy scam, is not dealt with promptly and with demonstrable firmness at the Executive level? Not to talk of the un-abating terrorism and insurgent acts by Book Harem in the North East and the relentlessness of kidnapping, illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta, armed robbery, political brigandage and absence of internal democracy among political parties, unhealthy processes in cross-carpeting, alliances, mergers and inter-party tension. All of these tension and violence laden occurrences cannot ensure the happiness of the electorate in the build-up to 2015, which an American source once predicted to be doomsday for the nation’s coherence.
Life after Madiba should be one in which people in power continue to find out and respond to what great leaders of strong institutions did/are doing right and how to correct what they are doing that is not right.

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