Nigeria after Fareed Zakaria….Nothing changes…

On 17th November 2012, Fareed Zakaria lived to his billing – a good orator with sharp insights of the undercurrents that shape politics and economy. I am pretty sure that neither Airtel (the organizers of the Night of Influence) nor the 500 influential men and women that attended the event were disappointed.

Fareed came, delivered his message, (most likely collected his speaker’s honorarium) and has since left the shores of Nigeria, maybe never to step back. What I find disheartening is that there is simply nothing new that Fareed has told us that we did not know about. To be fair to Fareed, this was not due to lack of research or preparation on his part. No! Simply put, there is nothing new that we need to hear as to how to fix our country.

A couple of months ago, I was at a professional conference in Abuja. The invited speaker was asked to come and speak to us regarding corruption. This wise sage, who has also grown weary about being invited to lecture on corruption, came to the podium and announced why he was invited to the conference. Thereafter, he asked the question whether there was anyone in the audience that did not understand what corruption was. No hands came up. Thereafter he followed with the question – “Is there anyone that does not know how to stop corruption”? Still, no hands were raised. As a courtesy, he said he will help us, in case there was anyone in the crowd that doesn’t understand how to stop corruption – do not give and do not take bribes. Thereafter, this man went back to his seat and told the conference organisers to continue with the agenda.

We all know what our problem is in Nigeria – we have leaders who are epitomes of corruption and we have followers who are indifferent and too weak to demand accountability from the leaders. If we simply address these, we need no Fareed nor any sage out there to lecture us on “Political Economy of Africa: the Challenge of Leadership”. Fareed was on point in terms of the weakness in leadership but this is not a new lesson to us. The greater question is how do we address this and are Nigerians really ready to change this? I think the answer is “NO” – Nigerians are simply too resilient, cowardly and will rather continue to be onlookers until the nation is completely plundered.

One maxim that comes handy and that I expect Fareed and everyone that really want to help Nigeria to preach is this – “They only deserve freedom, who are prepared to defend it”. The question is are Nigerians prepared to defend a corrupt free Nigeria? The lesson from the Arab Spring that forced the rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen from power is that when the people are really ready for change, change will definitely come.

Thanks Fareed Zakaria, but we as Nigerians need to step up and determine our fate.

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