Mandela’s Message To Nigerian Leaders- and the Collateral damage done to Nigerians by poor Nigerian Leadership
You know I am not very happy with Nigeria. I have made that very clear on many occasions. Yes, Nigeria stood by us more than any nation, but you let yourselves down, and Africa and the black race very badly. Your leaders have no respect for their people. They believe that their personal interests are the interests of the people. They take people’s resources and turn it into personal wealth. There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that should be unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians are not angry than they are.
“What do young Nigerians think about your leaders and their country and Africa? Do you teach them history? Do you have lessons on how your past leaders stood by us and gave us large amounts of money? You know I hear from Angolans and Mozambicans and Zimbabweans how your people opened their hearts and their homes to them. I was in prison then, but we know how your leaders punished western companies who supported Apartheid.
“What about the corruption and the crimes? Your elections are like wars. Now we hear that you cannot be president in Nigeria unless you are Muslim or Christian. Some people tell me your country may break up. Please don’t let it happen.
“Let me tell you what I think you need to do. You should encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making personal wealth. Corrupt people do not make good leaders. Then you have to spend a lot of your resources for education.
Educate children of the poor, so that they can get out of poverty. Poverty does not breed confidence. Only confident people can bring changes. Poor, uneducated people can also bring change, but it will be hijacked by the educated and the wealthy...give young Nigerians good education. Teach them the value of hard work and sacrifice, and discourage them from crimes which are destroying your image as a good people.”
******* The Great Nelson Mandela (RIP) in an interview with Nigeria’s Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed’s in 2007 excerpted from an article, first published in Peoples Daily.
You see that at the funeral of this great African legend, Nigerian leadership did not show up because they were not invited in the first place. On the Memorial ceremony (oration) day on Tuesday 10th December, 2013, the Nigerian leadership was conspicuously absent at the big Table. Even though President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo were on the invited guest list- and turned up “lonely and isolated, avoided like Lepers,” they were nowhere near the podium where lesser graded countries ( by Nigeria’s size and status) presidents, including Cuban president, Raul Castro, Malawian president, Mrs Joyce Banda, Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn; Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, not to mention British Prime minister, David Cameron (the enhancers and enablers of Mandela’s oppression during the apartheid regime, for which Mr Mandela reconciled with even before he came out of unjust prison); Chinese president and the “giant” of them all and also a “beacon of hope” to the black race all over the world, President Barack Obama of the USA, were all seated and accorded recognition. What a moving speech, as usual, did this equally gifted orator, Barack Obama, made at that epoch event, where the whole world paid attention! To add salt to Nigeria’s festering wound, Nigerian president or even the garrulous Obasanjo were NOT invited to QUNU, Mandela’s home town where the funeral was conducted yesterday Sunday 15th December, 2013. Not that they wouldn’t have loved to be there; they were simply considered “worthless,” by the organisers of the final passage to grace the lay down of the greatest African leader of all time- a man of integrity, forgiveness, love and champion of human rights and equality for all race, gender and culture. Yes, why should “Scoundrels” near such an iconic figure?
You would have thought Jonathan and Obasanjo in particular would take centre stage at Mandela’s funeral considering the enormous help Nigerian government, particularly the Murtala/Obasanjo first military administration between 1975-1979, gave to subdue Apartheid SA. That government not only doled cash to the ANC to fight the racist apartheid regime in South Africa then, but went further to cripple South African and their British enablers interest by a spate of Nationalisation and seizure of such interests. Remember British Petroleum (BP) nationalised to become African Petroleum (AP); Barclays bank became “UNION Bank;” and Standard Bank, became “FIRST Bank” in 1978, all in solidarity with ANC and the fight against British and Apartheid interests.
But why would Nigeria, a very big player in Africa, if not the global front, be so conspicuously treated with such ignominy and disrespect by the South African authority? Well “our leaders don shit full body,” and in the process rubbed that “Shit” on every Nigerian (it doesn’t matter whether you carry British or US citizenship as well) wherever we may find ourselves. Nobody respects Nigeria and Nigerians anymore. If your top leadership commands no respect at the world stage, who the heck are you and I, to be accorded respect anywhere else outside Nigeria. The sad story is more poignant on those of us unfortunate enough to be called “Diaspora Nigerians” We are tarred with the “corruption brush” even before we mention “pim,” until you can prove, most times in futility, that you are not a fraud like the other Nigerians they have met.
The great man, Nelson Mandela, has set the template for Nigerian leaders to follow, but will they learn from that icon of a man- one of the best soul ever to come out of this globe, never mind Africa? Will they learn that public funds must be used to serve the people you lead instead of “converting” them to personal use and those of your cronies? Will they learn that you don’t need to rig elections to force yourself on “unwilling followership?” and that if you show love to the people you lead, and they can see that, they have no choice but to love you back, by giving you their votes, freely and willingly? Common Jonathan, the points raised above by Nelson Mandela in his interview with Dr Buba-Ahmed in 2007 is still very much relevant. Read and listen!