I used to picture in my mind the kind of tumultuous and overzealously religious crowd that must have welcomed the very young Jesus who performed so many spectacular miracles, the sort we’ve never seen again.
But despite the big reception he got, Jesus did not indulge those who had turned the temple into a market place. He chased them out because, according to him, they had turned it into a den of thieves, just like some politicians have turned Nigeria into a colony of armed robbers at this moment.
This is one lesson I hope you brought back on this trip.
I’ve never been to Jerusalem, or anywhere near Israel for that matter, but your visit has generated enough hoopla and substantial attention that I can’t wait to board the next plane ASAP to go on my own pilgrimage. Such is the awesome influence of a President, more so that of Africa’s most populous nation.
Sir, you cannot blame them for this cynical attitude. Most Nigerians today are generally stressed and would pounce on anyone for sweet revenge. They have largely traced their misery to the lack of good governance. While they might not be able to hold you personally responsible for these woes, they think you’ve have not shown sufficient capacity and determination to lead us out of the doldrums and the suffocating quagmire we’ve buried ourselves in. It is that lack of trust that has permeated all the negative attacks that you tend to get with regularity these days.
Going to Israel at this time was therefore seen as another wasteful jamboree of no useful gain other than a photo opportunity to distract the people from the many terrible problems confronting them.
Since you’re not likely to be properly and truthfully briefed by your friends and aides about the real reactions of the people, please let me volunteer to tell you a bit of it. The picture that generated the most hits on the social media was the one where you were being prayed for in what seemed to be a marathon supernatural session.
Many wondered why the same faces they were familiar with back home were the same people laying hands on you in far-away Israel. What happened to Israeli priests, the original custodians of the Christian Faith? Was this an attestation to the fact that our land has become too desecrated by evil and wickedness that it would be too difficult, if not impossible, for prayers to be answered? They wondered why none of the many holy lands that dot the landscape of Nigeria could not be used for this spiritual exercise.
While that debate raged on the clincher was the picture of the Governors who accompanied you and the expression of piety on their faces as they prayed right in front of cameras. The most famous question on Twitter at that time was if the Governors would be able to convince God that 16 is now higher than 19 in Nigeria, a veiled indictment of their role in claiming a victory in an election that was lost before God and man.
Most of the commentators believe no man can seek and find the favour of God until he’s willing and ready to change his ungodly way. Their position is simply that God is omnivident and cannot be deceived by dramatic acts of atonement when in reality nothing will change and things might even get worse.
One other question that featured prominently was if you will seize the opportunity of this spiritual excursion to reconcile with all your enemies as directed in the scriptures where you are expected to forgive seventy times seven times. Your fellow citizens were also concerned and visibly agitated by the unprecedented prodigality going on at all levels of government in Nigeria.
No amount is too big to be wasted on frivolous projects by those entrusted with our common wealth. Our people are wondering if your trip to Israel would open up your eyes to the abysmal suffering of Nigerians in the midst of plenty and open up your heart to their bitter wailing and tears. They were praying that the teachings of Jesus Christ and his humble disposition would rub off on you as you visit historic sites in Israel.
On a very serious note, Nigerians expect to see some visible changes in your style of governance henceforth. It would be nice and rewarding if you can rededicate your life to serving Nigeria with all your faith and strength and no longer by mere words. To achieve this would require painful sacrifice and on the part of your family, friends and associates.
You’re the barometer by which most of our leaders measure and copy bad or good manners. No nation is led by a multitude. A nation is controlled by one great or useless shepherd. If you are frugal, most of your operatives would notice and struggle to follow your template.
But if you’re profligate, it is natural for everyone to adopt a reckless disposition to power and the finances that go with it. Power is often abused in a state of lawlessness.
There is no country in the world that would have frittered away trillions of Naira on a phantom subsidy and life would still go on as normal. Such possibilities send wrong signals to sensible people that it does not pay to be reasonable in a place where warlords control all the perks.
It would also be nice to see how you will handle the matter of your second term ambition. Will you leave it entirely in the hands of God who has brought you this far without ever lifting a finger or transfer the project into the hands of infidels who would do anything and everything to attain and retain power. If you ask my free opinion, I will suggest you follow your original pattern where good things drop on your laps without ever fighting like most of your peers.
The God who has brought you into this stupendous achievement will never abandon you in the lions’ den, if you abide by his injunctions. But if you decide to continue with the business as usual inclination, you will fail woefully like most of your predecessors.
Nigerians are not asking you to raise Lazarus from the dead but they expect you to uplift them from abject poverty and horrible ignorance that has encircled our national life. They are requesting and expecting you to deliver on some of your campaign promises if not all. We are tired of promises that would never fly because a few people with access to power have cornered what belongs to all.
I will suggest again, with all due respect, that you urgently embark on cost-cutting moves. The world will applaud you when you show that you’re not in power for your personal aggrandisement but to diligently serve man and God.
The country has already provided maximum comfort for you and your team; you need not go overboard by frittering our resources away as if money is going out of vogue. What is written all over your government and supporters today is an attitude of it-is-our-turn-to-share-the-national-cake-and-God-forbid-anyone-trying-to-stop-us-from-eating-it-well-or-even-totally-afterall-the-oil-is-ours! That is so sad.
You promised last year to reduce how you used to travel before the fuel subsidy crisis but your trips have actually increased as if with a vengeance. No leader is ever respected when he hardly sits at home to mind the business for which he was elected. It is a sign of lack of seriousness to gallivant about while leaving behind our magnitude of gargantuan problems. No sincere leader who cares for his people would feel comfortable to go on a binge while university students have not attended schools in over four months and those on campus are being slaughtered like rams by Boko Haram.
It is to our eternal shame that we seem to be seeking relevance abroad when our home is sinking deeper and deeper into the cesspit of irrelevance and shame. I therefore plead with you sir to put on the toga of love for Nigeria above the convenience of escaping to countries that have taken the pains to develop their environment. Most Nigerians who migrated abroad would prefer to live at home if ours was relatively conducive. Please, let your aides check for you how many leaders travel the way you do and you will be shocked at the results.
You must have read of a man called Chairman Mao of China. He went through so much deprivation to set his country on the path of greatness that it has attained today. Every nation on earth is looking towards China today but we all conveniently forgot the incredible discipline that made the miracle possible.
The same can be said of India. The country bears a lot of resemblance to Nigeria and we’ve had many generations of close interactions. But India has become a major power by investing in intellectual pursuits while we are killing the brains of our naturally-gifted youths. Indeed, we now run to India for most of our medical needs and challenges. That is a pity!
Let me give a few more examples. Brazil was once declared bankrupt before our very eyes. The same Brazil has emerged from its seemingly fatal economic woes to become one of the most ambitious industrialised nations in the world. Even if the country has its own contractions and upheavals, it has certainly started its powerful journey towards recovery. It is not funny that we are not able to produce and provide the basic needs of our own people.
I was glad when I saw you on television the other day talking about how Lee Kuan Yew was able to turn Singapore from a Third world to a First world country. Lee’s background is very similar to yours.
He was not born with a silver-spoon and had to struggle most of his life. This ostensibly toughened, prepared and propelled him for the role he later played in transforming the lives of his country. Nobody would remember him today if he used his power to acquire billions of dollars.
He would have been just one of the billionaires. He’s remembered, and celebrated globally, for his epic struggle to make what seemed impossible possible. I would want you to actually read about this great leader rather than be presumed to be regurgitating a prepared script and see if you can borrow some tips from his personal character, vision and actions.
My last example will come from Rwanda. You must have read about the genocide which ravaged that country in 1994 when the Hutus massacred the Tutsis and the world was aghast with the horrific pictures of dead bodies that floated everywhere.
The story is different today. Rwanda is blessed with visionary leadership, just like Ghana was rescued from the brink by Jerry Rawlings. It should give you hope that if you play less politics and concentrate on things of substance you may still be able to wipe out the tears and hopelessness of Nigerians.
You will never achieve anything tangible if you carry on with your psychedelic and feel-good approach to Nigeria. Our problems have reached a stage where the musical chairs of periodic elections may never work again.
The only way to avert the death of our hard-won democracy is for all of us to change how we do things from the top to the bottom. You must lead the way for that to ever happen, Sir.
I fervently pray that now that you’ve gone to Jerusalem and back, you will see the light and become born again!
You are always in our thoughts and prayers.