Daily Trust (Abuja)

14 November 2012

Nigeria: Obama and Dreams for a Better Nigeria

opinion

In print, audio or video, Obama inspires. His delivery is classic and his oration is suave and laden with urbane finesse. Obama is a movement which time has come.

After the insanity of senseless war and strife, the last two US elections witnessed moments of global introspection - it was like the world was voting. While the main characters debated, the world watched with keen attention wondering where the only surviving global power would take the flotilla of peace in the next four years. America wields enormous power and influence and its glocal politics are of interest to mankind. America's polls are global tests of the elasticity of democracy. Yes, the outcome does not automatically translate to uhuru for the despairing and the despondent of America and the globe, it is pregnant with the potentials of hope.

Being close to the American border comes with its sadness and joy forcing a painful quest for comparison that invokes despair. Nigeria has flown a flag for 52 years, America for 200. Some would argue there is no basis for comparison. God bless us with people with a clearheaded people with vision to lead; a mission to accomplish, and the determination to get us there. America is blessed, but Nigeria is more blessed.

America has leaders, Nigeria has rulers. Leaders lead, rulers lord it over their servants. Leaders seek the mandate of the people and so have to convince them of their individual and joint capacity to deliver. Based on that, they are elected. But rulers are accountable to godfathers and cabals with no pact with the citizenry. Nigeria needs leaders who regard public office as the highest form of trust - too sacred to be abused. Nigerians need clearheaded leaders to rally them with potent words and swift action; not parrots of arcane dicta or puerile dogma. Nigeria needs leaders with clean hands and pure hearts that loathe corruption; are accountable and willing to make their appointees accountable. Nigeria needs people propelled by the desire to serve and not those who use impunity to rob, pillage and plunder, and exploit the widening gulf as weapon of division.

America has nothing but intellectual and technological capital, yet with zeal it has built an empire worthy of note. Nigeria has 36 solid minerals it could harness for rapid transformation but is content with the commission from one leaving the rest in the hands of wanton pirates. Our citizens help build the fastest cars abroad, 14 year olds invent urine-powered generating sets, but we are known as a nation of scammers. Nigeria needs the leadership that can identify talent and grow them into innovative employers of labour.

America found Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant audacious enough to hope and adopted him; Nigeria stops a qualified judge from taking oath of office because she is married to an 'indigene' and not born one. Nigeria needs men like Obama pregnant with the audacity of hope and committed to transplanting the DNA of hope to ginger despondent hearts and minds. Obama's success rekindles the need for national recommitment to unity rather than rally round the apostles of break-up. Obama rekindles in every African the need to fight for the respect of pride and dignity.

Obama's country reminds us of the need to revolt against rampaging scavengers who live on looted common patrimony and display wanton wealth to the chagrin of otherwise loyal and dynamic citizenry turned into mummified masses of despondent dependents on global hand outs. Obama inspires a new crop of politicking different from the current that sees electoral mandate as tickets for the exertion of perceived reparation owed to a tribe or region. His campaign forces us to demand mandates built on naked truth instead of tricks; policies instead of politricks and to treat the electorate like the masters and serve instead of lord it over them.

There is popular American culture to avoid like the plague and we need not belabour that here, but there are ideals. The American congress just signed a bipartisan cohesion pact putting America first above party affiliation. Nigeria looks to the day when its parliamentary agenda derives from the wishes of the people and not the fat allowance that goes with constitutional projects without direct bearing to the needs of the people. We look to the day when public schools are good enough for the sons and daughters of the executhief governor as they are for the children of the messenger. We look to the day when governors build motorable roads rather than fly over gullies. We look to the day when electricity drives production and private enterprise rather than see darkness generate overnight millionaires who build their millions importing sub-standard generating sets.

We look to the day when defence spending taps into local talent and its manpower is not used for the protection of the economic enemies of the state. Perhaps to end, we look to the day when the tithes and offerings of the congregation is devoted to building schools, clinics for the poor and not jets for the pastor. Maybe that day would come, when preachers can gnaw at the deadened conscience of political power rather than massage the ego of looters for their percentage of the ill-gotten wealth. Yes, Obama imbues me with the potentials of hope.

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