That candles be brought
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.
You have touched on most of the points that I have been making over and over again.
Most of the eecisi9ns we take in this part of the world is based on emotions rather than facts and we depend on people to tell us what is right and wrong without taking the time to look at the issues critically ourselves to see how the points are of benefit to us or otherwise hence it’s either against or ethnic bias or religious upbringing and we close out minds to it.
A lot of the political class oppose legislation and projects mainly due to personal benefits but they sell it to us as being bad to us and willy nilly we follow blindly without looking at the issue critically and like you pointed out, we are quick to organize protests and marches without asking of what benefit are they?
I can go on and on but I think I get weary of all these shenanigans and it’s just impossible to reason with someone who has decided not to listen.
Lastly though, a lot of them do it out of frustration for their own condition in a foreign land when they feel they could have something better in their homeland.
Don’t be surprised if you do not have any rejoinders to your missive or the rejoinders that you do get does not address the points you raised
Permission to share?
Please do and thank you
Thank you for kindly capturing what many people are thinking. Food for thought for everyone (including me)
Thank you for expressing your view on the protest my brother. It will be absolutely hypocritical to attempt to stifle your voice when freedom of speech and expression are among the major changes that we are yearning for. Please, feel free to make your choice and voice heard. You don’t have to explain anything to anyone. It is your fundamental human right.
You have outlined most of the problems that we are facing at home. My questions is, as Nigerians in Diaspora, is it not appropriate for us to speak out against these anti-developmental trends? Is it not within our rights to call for good leadership? The Nigerian government has failed, and it is obvious. Do we sit in a corner and blame ourselves? Do we stay silent and allow the dictatorship in Nigeria to win? Im sure you agree that we need legitimate civil action both home and abroad. That, is why we need to make our voices heard through this protest.
To your points, I have the following to day:
1. We are not seeking for foreign aid or support. We are telling the Nigerian government that they have failed woefully. That is the aim. An appropriate means is being devised to get the message to them. The way foreign interests perceive it is their business. If foreigners want to partake, they are free to do so. Anything that will help in mounting some pressure on the Nigerian government to improve or get out of power is welcomed. However, seeking for the opinion or support of foreigners is not the primary objective of the protest.
2. I don’t know what leadership theory mandates that we have to have some form of moral justification to demand for good leadership. If I did not vote in the past, I was probably not mandated to do so. In Australia, if you don’t vote, you will face some penalties. Is the same applicable to Nigeria? It all links back to bad leadership. The same way they are too inept to regulate or direct the citizens is the same way they have absolutely no clue about how to solve the retrogressiveness in Nigeria. This is exactly why the country is disintegrating right in front of them and they are busy blaming Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu. It all boils down to bad leadership. That is what we are going to protest against.
3. The Citizens actively participated in the elections that brought Buhari and his political crew to power. The electorates played their parts. The problem here is that Buhari and other leaders have failed the electorates woefully. They have disappointed them so much that the people that voted for them are now being killed everyday like chickens in hands of bloodthirsty hoodlums. The fact that the politicians that were trusted and voted into power are serving themselves does not mean that the electorates should sulk and blame themselves. The onus is on Nigerians to call for their resignations. We, in Perth, will need to play our parts.
4. The protest is not just about Buhari, that is why is it called “END BAD LEADERSHIP IN NIGERIA”. All retrogressive politicians in Nigeria are bad leaders. It doesn’t matter where they are operating from. Unfortunately for Buhari, he is the no. 1 among them. He is the president. He will have to feel the heat. If he can’t bear it, he should get out of the kitchen. The Nigerian constitution entrusted him with so much power. I wonder what he is doing withhold enormous power? How can he be concerned about ensuring the creation of Cattle Routes when villages are being attacked in Plateau state and scores are being killed? Is that not a confused leader? We need to speak out in protest against him and the current leaders in every part of Nigeria.
5. My brother, you may need to check how much Nigerians invest in Nigeria from Diaspora again. Start from Forex remittances by Nigerians in diaspora. It runs into billions of dollars. Just as the Lebanese and Chinese are running to Nigeria for business opportunities, Nigerians are also running to countries like Afghanistan and even South Sudan for business opportunities. It is simply a reflection of the principle of comparative advantage. Obviously, seeking for basic opportunities overseas is another sign of bad leadership. I am sure that if we had the most basic infrastructures like constant electricity, good pipeborne water, security of lives and properties etc, many of us here would have stayed back home. These things are non existent.
It doesn’t matter how you want to look at these issues, it still boils down to the quality of political leadership in Nigeria. We may not be in Nigeria, but the onus is on us to speak out in protest instead of accepting the unfortunate fate bestowed on us by the emergence of inept and very useless leaders. It will be unfortunate if we accept mediocrity on the basis of our morality and culpability. If we are criminals, the government should arrest and prosecute us fairly according to constituted law, not in the basis of our political affiliations, religion, tribe or electoral region. That is how a functional government operates. No more “siddon look” and “plenty complaint” attitude. We need to embark on a civil actions to demand for good leadership. We are in Perth. Let us start from here.
God bless you abundantly my brother.
My brother, you have summarised it all! Well detailed too. I believe and think that awareness is very important of which protest (peaceful or not) does help. Just like Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho did in their own ways. Protests in diaspora doesn’t mean it must change things immediately or drastically at various home countries but it adds to solving those issues in one way or the other. ‘If you are helpless at least you shout so that a help may come’ it doesn’t mean that the shouting must bring help but it may help. We all agree on one thing, and that is ‘Nigeria is bad’ ‘leadership is bad’, ‘everything is bad’ about Nigeria. So every little contribution from any angle in creating an awareness and/or assisting should be welcome 🙏. apartheid in SA even used music just like own fela always did. Nawaooo e don tey wey we de suffer….when will this end? Since I was born it’s been the same story, now my kids are born the same story…..very frustrating and demoralising really!!!
Very good write ups and to support you, some of the leads are worse than the leaders, for instance, i belong to one association, during the covid -19 parlative sharing it was so unfortunate that those that are executives and very few members cornered everything to themselves whereas we are have widows and very less privileged among us that needed to be assisted. The situation even led to a stage that they are witch-hunting themselves with juju and automobs. Now, if these sets of people are in government, what do we expect. Then, those people in abroad organising protest against bad governance, which time have they seen any other countries organising such in another country, you see people that are being used by some unscrupulous elements to achieve their goals. Anyway, there’s is reward for anything we do just like during endsars, those that were allowed to be used then, are counting their blames now. Yoruba ni ” eni tiwon ba fori ri fo agbon, ko ni je nibe.” If you are allowed your head to be used to break coconut, such a person, will not live to eat from the coconut. Good days and happy new month.
Thanks Bimbo for this masterpiece. You nailed it. I don’t think I can say this better. We have gone the path of demonstration in the past and given what I know now, it is not the solution to our problems. However, I wish the demonstrators all the best. CoNAPA will be releasing its consultative meeting communique in few days and neither NAWA nor CoNAPA will be endorsing the demonstration. However, people have the right to free speech, free assembly and I wish the demonstrators all the best.
Seun thanks for this write up. I agree with a good number of the points you raised. My dissenting opinion is on leadership. While followers are contributing massively to the Nigerian problem the leaders should be held accountable. Leadership is everything. No entity be it a family, organisation or country can grow above its leadership. The speed and direction of growth of any entity is determined by its leadership. The reward for good and bad actions in any entity is determined by leadership.
For instance Nigerians including fulanis have been living together in peace before 2015 though there have been farmer herder clashes all along but suddenly immediately PMB came the fulanis herders suddenly became landlords everywhere throughout Nigeria. They started destroying farms openly killing and kidnapping for ransom. All these aside, Alhaji Baraje a top member of PDP now who defected from APC openly said as at 2014 when he was in APC, they including the Nigerian President now brought in fighters from across West Africa to come and fight to take over from Jonathan. It is those fighters that are the bedrock of the mountain top insecurities Nigerians are facing now. You and I continue to hear new things why the fight against Boko Haram now is nothing but a drama show. A protest in Australia against bad leadership is just to put heat on the bad leaders and let them know that the whole world see their bad leadership and expect a change. They should know that all criticisms against their governance is not only from opposition parties or ‘disgruntled elements ‘