Nelson Mandela and the Weird Case of Nigerian Politicians

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Articles
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By Chime Justice Ndubuisi

Nelson Mandela, Goodluck Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida

Nelson Mandela, Goodluck Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida

It’s almost harmattan and the wind is dry.
I’m a near-blind traveller
On that crowded road called life.
“What hope is there for the world?”
I soliloquised anguishly, turning left.
“There is no hope on that road.”
I want to be far from the blind crowd,
So I turned right and it proved right!

-Chime Justice Ndubuisi “The Right Road is Always Right (After Nelson Mandela)”

Most of us think that it’s natural to exist, but I think it’s weird to exist. It’s not weird that things are existing. It’s only weird that they had to exist in the state they are. Let us take a cursory look at Nelson Mandela and Nigerian leaders, using them as our case studies.

It’s weird that our politicians (I call them politricktians) think of Mandela as a great man and a people’s leader; a thought which informs the unceasing and highly rated tributes and requiescat they pour and keep pouring on the diplomat, Noble Prize for Peace winner and father of modern day South Africa. But the big questions that keep haunting the mind of well-meaning Nigerians are: since they are so much swayed and awed by his person, why can’t our self-praising politricktians try to imitate Nelson Mandela’s leadership qualities, his personal humility, simplicity, service and unbiased love for his people and for those who once hated him and incarcerated him for twenty-eight years? Why can’t they put into practice the things they say about him in their dealings with the hoi polloi? Why can’t they see him as a pacesetter and try as much as possible to trail behind him?

On the contrary, our politricktians can be likened to the proverbial man who makes noise inside the bush and comes out on the road to ask who made the noise. They are like the king who is misleading his people by constantly crying foul of the invasion of a lion on his household, but when the people comes out, to their chagrin, they finds the king hale and healthy. The implication of his far cry is that the people lost hope in him and when lion came for real and he was crying, nobody came out to help.

Now, let us consider the sharp contrast between Madiba and our self-righteous politricktians:
Unlike our self-serving and power-hungry politricktians who would “rather die than commit suicide” on top the seat of power, Mandela set a legendary record, and avoided the lures of power intoxication when he voluntarily and unselfishly handed over the reins of power after just one term in office. What other definition can one give as the meaning of patriotism?

Mandela made the ultimate sacrifice by trading his freedom so as to better the life of his people, and to crown it all, he preferred to die inside his own country, surrounded by people he loved and those that loved him. On the other way round, and unfortunately, apart from those that died in an auto crash or air mishap, accidentally, most of our politricktians would rather be flown abroad to die and be brought into Nigeria in grand styles to be fabulously and exquisitely interned.

Mandela did not deem it fit and or necessary to be flown abroad to United States of America, Great Britain, Germany, China or India to be hospitalised and be treated, rather he preferred a South African hospital throughout his protracted health challenges. The reason could be because their hospital system is not sick, and he has confidence in the ability of South African doctors to take care of him. But because Nigerian hospitals are sick and dilapidated and none of our politricktians care to cure or alleviate it, our leaders and the well-to-do individuals, the cream de la cream of the nation prefer to travel to overseas hospitals for medical checkups and or treatments of even the most common ailments such as headache and stomach upsets. A sufficient example is the overseas trip embarked on by our current president last month in London.
From the foregoing, it would be safe to borrow the words of Okoye Chukwudi Charles: “Patriotism is one word that is lacking in the dictionary of Nigerian politricktians”. They constantly make reference to the Nigerian dream and project, but mocks it through their actions and in-actions.

Also, while Mandela did not die a sumptuously or an extravagantly wealthy man, he died a much contented and very much loved man who did not own any oil rig, goldmine, diamond mine, private jets, bullet-proof vehicle, expensive mansions, etc, at the detriment of his people, but in sharp contrast, our kleptomanic, self-aggrandizing and egocentric politricktians are busy fighting themselves over our oil rigs, looting and bleeding our national treasury to death, and “masturbating themselves in the corridors of power”, so much so, to the discomfort of the poor masses.

Mandela was not known for his religiosity nor did he worship wealth or his stomach. And even when he had every opportunity to enrich himself, he opted to surround himself with love for his people, especially the downtrodden of the society. Unlike our overly religious and hypocritical politricktians who have many spiritual fathers and leaders praying for them both in public and private places, yet refuse to better the lots of the people whom they claim to serve. Madiba never attended any ceremonial and or nationally broadcast-ed Special Services and or Holy Ghost Services. But as a humanist, his religion was the service of humanity. He served his creator through service, diligence, discipline, love, forgiveness and kindness for his people, not excluding those who wished him dead by putting him away in prison for twenty eight years.

Following the above, it’s not out of place to call it a thing of shame on all Nigerian leaders, past and present who are shedding their terse crocodile tears and paying special tributes to Mandela as a great man but could not follow his giant footsteps. They appreciate good things of life but would not make it happen. They go overseas and witness first-hand what civilisation entails; they appreciate it, but would never make it happen in their own home country. It is indeed a thing of shame!

By way of conclusion, I strongly suggest that instead of allowing themselves to be compared to Mandela by political leeches, factotums and jingoists, or merely saying it in words of mouth or putting it in writing, our politricktians should pay tribute to Mandela by becoming imitators of his out-of-the-earth philosophies on leadership, they should learn from and put to practice his ex-orbit-ant (in the sense of outside the orbit) personality.
They should alleviate the people’s poverty by first showing love to the people they govern. They should start seeing the people as people and not animals. They should value the lives of the people by providing those basic amenities they need, like good water, constant power supply, good roads and adequate security. Then gradually, they should fix our hospitals, so that there won’t be need for them to always fly abroad for medical treatments. Gradually also, they should provide quality education for the masses, so that there won’t be any need for them to send their children overseas to study.
Our politricktians should stop terrorizing and frustrating Nigerian. Nigerians are not so hard to please anyway, they are not barbarians. You only need to give then a sense of belonging and you’ll see the best in them.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

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