To light our paths in these dark hours

Being my response to a planned protest by certain members of the Nigerian Association of Western Australia, planned for 30th September 2021 in Perth.

Having a dissenting opinion is not a ground for us to be uncivil. As such, I will like to crave the indulgence of all on this forum that may disagree with the thoughts that I will be expressing below, to be civil in expressing their disagreements. With that said, please find below my thoughts regarding this planned protest:

All foreign interests in Nigeria are exploitative, no nation comes to Nigeria (and none ever will) out of being magnanimous to help Nigeria become better. So, nobody is going to build Nigeria apart from Nigerians themselves – you and I.

Being convinced that we need to begin with the end in mind, I ask, what is the intent of this planned demonstration against bad leadership in Nigeria, on the streets of Perth? Is it to cause the Australian government to intercede in Nigeria? To levy sanctions against Nigeria or what?

I don’t know the answers that the organizers have but I struggle to understand how this planned demonstration will do Nigeria or her citizens any good. First, except there is an economic incentive, no government will intercede in the running of Nigeria. Second, if ever, sanctions are levied (which will not happen because of the exploitative relationship), I still don’t see how the common man on the streets of Ibadan or Auchi is well served. However, if the intent is to increase the level of despise the average Australians have for Nigerians, this is definitely a great way to achieve that. So let’s go ahead.

On a wall in an alley in downtown Perth I came across this inscription “Every country has the government it deserves.” I agree. Our government is a reflection of the larger majority of Nigerians. We won’t vote, we won’t volunteer for office, yet we want “the government of heaven on earth” but not one akin to that of Sat Guru Maharaji as one enters Ibadan! Where does this ever happen?

As Jesus asked those that were about to stone the woman caught in adultery, may I say that for anyone amongst us to have a moral standing to protest, such a person must have voted in the last elections. If your argument is that you have been away from Nigeria that long, please show that you have voted in previous elections while you resided in Nigeria. Now, the list of protesters has suddenly grown smaller.

This call for protest is against bad leadership in Nigeria. Peradventure, have we considered protesting against bad followership? Good governance doesn’t happen overnight, it requires two things, which we were taught in our Social Studies classes in secondary school – (a) Citizens must actively participate in electing their leaders and (b) they must hold their leadership to accountability. In these two responsibilities of a citizen, many of us have failed. We don’t hold leadership accountable by protesting in Perth, we hold each level of leadership accountable by asking them to account for their actions.

We all have elected representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Recently, these people voted to deny the electoral commission (INEC) the power to transmit results of elections electronically. As members of the diaspora, this should be concerning. Fortunately, we do know how each member of the house voted and thus have enough data to hold them accountable for their vote. Did we get back to our representatives asking them to explain why they voted the way they did? Are we noting these self-serving acts against the time they come again for re-election? These are the simplest things we can do to ensure we have the right leadership and yet, we leave them undone.

All the cries are about Buhari this, Buhari that. However, the majority of issues that affect us as a people are best addressed at our local level – the LG and states. The bad roads within Enugu affects the common man more than the bigotry in Abuja. The youth joblessness in Oshogbo is something within the powers of Gboyega Oyetola to fix. Each month, the FAAC meets in Abuja and money is doled out to the states. When Rivers State receives its allocation plus the 13% derivation, what does it do with it? Has the Ikwerre man looked into why the roads in Port Harcourt are in the sorry state and the once enviable garden city has become so dirty? Do we know and relate with our Councillor, our local government chairman, our governor ….. in that order? We surely don’t but we are quick to jump all these and put the blame in Abuja.

What have we learnt regarding the open grazing issue? We have learnt that most of our issues can be fixed at the local level. After crying against it and with Abuja offering deaf ears, what smart states have done is to institute laws prohibiting open grazing within the borders of their states. Whether Abuja likes it or not, no Fulani man can run his cattle on the streets of Benue now, he will be promptly arrested and his cattle confiscated for free suya meat. I see this as a very effective way through which this issue of grazing routes has been addressed.

Economic well-being gives voice to the voiceless. Good government results when the majority of the citizens have a voice. In essence, where poverty is endemic, good governance will remain a mirage. The reason why I don’t know of any nation with a high poverty rate that is ranked high on the Human Development Index (HDI). The politics of stomach infrastructure is easily curtailed when economic opportunities are provided to the electorate.

Many have abandoned Nigeria to itself and only pay lip service to investing in the country citing high level of crime, lack of infrastructure and all the social ills that currently bedevil it. To show the heightened level of hypocrisy, some are going around seeking international entities to come and invest in a country where they, as citizens, have considered it suicidal to invest! Yet, the flights from the middle-east to Nigeria are always full of Chinese and Lebanese going to Nigeria which make me to ask – What are they seeing in the country that we are not seeing? And, how come we abuse and criticize these folks for their harsh employment conditions when we are not providing an alternative? Please don’t get me wrong, I do not support enslavement employment conditions in any guise. Basically, what I am putting forward is that there is a way to address bad leadership through providing gainful employment opportunities for Nigerians so they have a voice and look away from selling their votes for “Naira-in-Bread”. How many jobs have we created for our folks back home and on what morality do we judge them not to sell their votes to the highest bidder?

In summary, my point is that, we need to look before we leap. Let us answer the question – how will this demonstration in Perth help to achieve the aim of good governance in Nigeria. We should also consider the myriads of things that are currently available for us to do that we have left undone.

Comments are welcome and I entertain all civil rejoinders to this. May Nigeria be blessed.