Published On: Fri, Dec 16th, 2016

It takes one man to change a country from lootocracy to democracy

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

FRIDAY Column by Farouk Martins Aresa

Nobody would argue that Fidel Castro changed Cuba. Whether it was for better or worse than he met it depends on your economic and political persuasions. No matter what, Fidel Castrol made a pivotal impact since his influence is felt throughout the world. Africans have their share of remarkable leaders: from Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Albert Luthuli to Idi Amin and Abacha. They and many others influenced and shaped their countries in different ways.
So one writing that went viral claimed that ten Buhari could not change Nigeria. We all seized upon it to make our points whether to give up on Nigeria or keep on trying until we die. Some of his frustrations were shared by most of us, whatever position we took. Nigeria is a mess that has not risen up to its potential or expectation as a regional power. So much was expected in the sixties after Independence. Some even claimed if it was Nkrumah that headed Nigeria, Eh!
The point of one man that wrote the piece was that as a qualified Engineer, he had to beg and bribe his way at every level to get a contract with every Sule, Nnamdi and Tunde that never went to school or had the foggiest idea of the work to be accomplished in the contract. Before he could get paid, he had to bribe at every level again. It is the normal way of life in Nigeria and would ever remain the same, even in the face of ten Buhari as the head of that blessed Country.
Some of us wondered if he was around during the first coming of Buhari/Idiagbon or the short life of Abacha in power. Of course he was, that was military, unsustainable in democracy. Well, no one believed OBJ could retire all the military politicians, “marginalized” the old Northern power brokers with the concentration of all Armed Forces chiefs in the North-Central, establish ICPC and EFCC, bring Igbo into prominent posts since the war and would still serve two terms.
Oh please, Obasanjo used ICPC and EFCC to hunt his enemies and Ribadu used EFCC to hunt only some of Obasanjo’s friends. The points the guy made about Nigeria still stand because after all these, Nigeria has degenerated into abysmal failure where most of its leaders have either been indicted or convicted for one crime or another but are still seating pretty, holding on to their posts in the face of one Buhari. So what could ten Buhari do?
When Nzeogwu struck in Nigeria, these are the same people that claimed he was too brutal and some of his colleagues betrayed his cause anyway. But when Jerry Rawlings struck in Ghana the same people justified his action. Only that we could not see how such low-level officers would succeed in Nigeria. While most Nigerians agree that we need a leader with iron fist to succeed, probably with some military experience, Nigerians abuse the benefit of doubts in democracy!
However, we do not have democracy in Nigeria. Those in favor of the writing that went viral would agree that what we have in Nigeria is lootocracy! We spent so much energy and time indulging in self-deception as if we are practicing democracy. The only time looters cry in support of democracy is when they are caught red handed with tons of foreign cashistics in their sewer, farm, house helps’ account, foreign banks and places only crooks would think of.
Who is fooling whom? Let a hungry man steal food from the market and watch angry people transfer the punishment they should have administered to their politicians, bankers and now judges of due process; to poor people. There are no souls left to fight against jungle justice to the poor men and women that needed actual due process and rule of law in a democracy.
The problem with the guy that decided to check out of the country because he had lost all hope that ten Buhari could fix the problem in Nigeria is that, he condemned system that he exploited so much, he made enough to take off to establish in Australia. He never disclosed how much he made from the rotten system to anticipate that he would live a better life in a new country. His false hope is that with his money he would be well received. He is not going there to toil afresh.
Let us remind him that Umaru Dikko and Akinloye had more money than him but could not wait to come back home. Actually, Richard Akinjide had very viable law practice in London but could not live as comfortably anywhere else. There are many more that made either clean money or gained from the corruption in Nigeria only to take off, hoping never to return home. When they miss African hospitalities, accolades of praise singers, friends and family shower on them, nko?
There is a difference between the desperadoes that could not survive or get one or two meals a day crossing the deserts and those that benefited from corruption in the system. Even many of those perished in the sea before they get to their dream paradise. Yes, there is nothing good to say about a country that feeds its talents to the seas and deserts like feeding their infants to the lions. But those that get trained on life scholarships and exploit the system must think twice.
Someone that benefits from the corrupt system like the guy that wrote about ten Buhari, can’t survive abroad. The life they dream of and think they are going to live may be too expensive to maintain unless they can come back home to milk our corrupt system some more, the only way they know how. If you cannot change yourself in a country, you cannot change any country.
Africans coming abroad in their adult life have never struggled like those that came as youths to work and pay to go to school, on minimum wage forcing them to cut coat according to their size and suffer insults and discrimination even when they are at the height of their careers. Most may have avoided ghetto where many minorities live, endure sounds of gunshots in their sleep or wake up to one more dead body in the neighborhood daily. Think before you check out O!
The salvation of Africans and black people wherever they are in this world will not be achieved until Africans achieve it at home for which everyone can point to and be proud of. We can export as much American dollars and British pounds, we neither print nor mint, as we want. We will be seen and will remain the descendants of underachievers everywhere we go forever.
The amount of talents in every field Africans possess and waste outside will be used to develop other countries. Individual rewards in return will be minimal compared to what we could gain if achieved, built on and sustained by African youths. Election of Donald Trump is not an accident, not based on policy or vote. They want to protect their country from outsiders. If we messed up ours so much, which country is going to let us in; so that we can mess up their countries too?

Aresa can be reached through faroukomartins@aim.com

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