A LETTER TO THE GOOD CITIZEN OF NIGERIA

The global community is worried about what is happening in Nigeria and the danger it portends to Africa and to the black race generally. For instance, the report of the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty worldwide, which comes out on 17th October each year, as well as similar reports from the Brooklyn Institute, the World Bank, the Financial Times of London and that of the 178-year-old Economist, published on October 23, 2021, all paint uncomplimentary picture of Nigeria, concluding that the country is today facing intractable security challenges and economic woes.

With a GDP of approximately $432.3 billion, the country is the largest economy in Africa and home to the richest people in the continent. According to the data gleaned from the National Bureau of Statistics, the nation’s unemployment rate which stood at 33.1% in 2015 has now climbed up to 53.40%, meaning that more than half of the population of the country is jobless, thus confirming that the country harbours the largest concentration of people classified as extremely poor by World Bank standards.

In his 2021 annual report, the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Adolphus Aghughu revealed that the Ministries Departments and Agencies of government (MDAs) could not account for a whopping sum of N4.97 trillion in their annual returns up to and including 2019, and that huge amount is believed to have been lost through dubious spending, payment of unapproved allowances, payment for services not rendered, payment of ghost workers, procurement of goods not delivered, local and foreign tour allowances unaccounted for, fraud, embezzlement, etc. Various newspaper reports also point to the disappearance of almost 200,000 units of sophisticated arms and ammunitions from the nation’s armoury suspected to have been sold or rented out to terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, and armed robbers, instead of using them to protect and defend Nigerians. Very senior public officials have confessed to aiding and abetting drug smuggling and are in fact part and parcel of drug cartels operating worldwide.

Barely 35 years ago, Vono Products Nigeria, Bata Nigeria, Singer Nigeria, Dunlop Nigeria, Michelin Nigeria, Sanyo Nigeria, United Nigeria Textiles, Sapele Plywoods ltd, Delta Glass ltd, Ado Textiles, Oluwa Glass Factory, Arewa Textile Mills, Cocoa Industries ltd, IsoGlass Ltd, Ferrodo Ltd, Exide Battery Nigeria, Leyland Nigeria, Anamco Ltd, Steyr Nigeria etc, all had manufacturing facilities in Nigeria churning out products, creating employment opportunities and producing tractors, car batteries, windshields, cocoa powder, fabrics, domestic fans, radios, refrigerators, shoes, air-conditioners, vehicle spare parts, etc. They have all closed shop and relocated to other climes because of the systemic rot, inefficiency, fraud, misappropriation, collusion and deliberate heist that went on unchecked in those organizations.

The opaque nature of works and services in the oil and gas sector, at the commanding heights of the nation’s economy, concerning the production, sale and accounting for crude oil; the importation of petroleum products and the outrageous figures declared as daily local consumption pattern which nobody believes; payment of trillions of Naira as subsidy for imported products while the nation’s refineries lie comatose; astronomical cost of the turnaround maintenance of the refineries which take forever to complete; repair of line breaks at exorbitant rates; procurement of production equipment, MROs and services applying questionable procurement methods; etc, is so mind-boggling and is better imagined than experienced.

It is also common knowledge that insider abuse, foreign exchange round-tripping, money laundering and such other fraudulent under-hand dealings by bank officials has been creating instability in the financial services sector of the economy.

Unscrupulous Nigerian businessmen go abroad to import fake and sub-standard pharmaceutical products, electrical/electronic items, building materials; many of which endanger the lives of fellow Nigerians. Not forgetting how our people senselessly cut and steal electric power supply cables; guard rails installed to protect moving vehicles; clips, tackles, bolts and nuts from fast-track standard gauge rail tracks; and how armed robbers shoot at moving trains fully loaded with fellow Nigerians; how CCTV cameras installed to detect the movement of robbers and terrorists are stolen; theft of street lightening fixtures installed to provide illumination for all; theft of portable water copper and aluminium pipes; etc.

And how about those irresponsible parents who buy leaked WAEC and NECO examination papers for their wards?

Or the judges who take bribe to pervert the course of justice?

Or the snakes said to swallow billions of Naira notes kept for basic infrastructure development?

Or the so-called crème de la crème of the society who disobey traffic lights with impunity.

Or the surgeon who forgets his surgical instrument inside the body of his patient after an operation.

How about the case of the elected officials who corner and squander the nation’s wealth earmarked for constituency projects while also making outrageous financial demands from hapless government contractors and Service Providers under the guise of carrying out their official oversight responsibilities?

Or the Company Secretary who deliberately misinterprets contract awards just to create loopholes and bend the rules to help Service Providers cheat government and empty the nation’s treasury?

 Societal rot and indiscipline seen everywhere in Nigeria is responsible for the dysfunction of the railway sector where trains run out of fuel or breakdown in the middle of nowhere, exposing stranded citizens to marauding bandits. It is also responsible for the complicit negligence of that auto technician who chose to test-drive a faulty car on the nation’s premiere airport runway and headed for a direct collision with a fully loaded Boeing 737 aircraft taking off at supersonic speed. Things have gone so bad that thieves feel no qualms to break open and steal luggage loaded in the cargo compartments of arriving aircrafts taxiing to the apron.

Sadly, the youths we look up to as leaders of tomorrow are even more engrossed in the pervasive rot. The nation’s tertiary education system has been brought down to its knees by the activities of young cultists, secret societies and ritual murderers who have turned the precious town and gown of yore, discotheques and open parks to slaughterhouses. According to the New Telegraph report of January 28, 2022, by Michael West, the craze for quick money, fame and material wealth is driving the inordinate propensity of our youths into despicable and fetish practices like diverse blood rituals, eating of excreta, incestuous sex, sacrificing blood relations, spraying money in the public for rituals, bathing in the public spaces, eating human body parts, consuming hard drugs and fetish concoctions, walking naked in the open among other bizarre rituals. How the Nigerian youths got to this mindless desperation for money without working to earn a living on their own is frightening.  A video went viral recently which led to series of warning posts on social media to parents on the need to warn their daughters against befriending Yahoo boys. The girls are also warned to desist from attending parties not held in public places like event centres and open fields.  In the video, girls in skimpy dresses were seen begging for mercy while some were being dragged into the inner part of the party venue. Their boyfriends had suddenly turned to ‘demons,' clothed in red wrappers, tied red bonds on their heads with daggers firmly held in their hands to butcher the girls.  Now, the girls were begging for their lives to be spared by the guys they accepted to be with. While the beginning drama was going on, music was blaring at the highest volume to overcome the screaming and cry for help by the unfortunate girls who became preys in the net of their Yahoo boyfriends. Like the devils that have no mercy or value for human life, the girls were stabbed several times, slaughtered, and beheaded. Pleadings by the dying girls fell on deaf ears because their heartless lovers had to perform the rituals. As far back as 2009/2010, only one or two institutions of higher learning were generally acknowledged as the training ground for what was then known as Yahoo plus. Today however, virtually all institutions have become breeding grounds for the heinous crime.

In another editorial page on February 12, 2022 on the notorious scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria, ThisDay Newspaper said as follows: ‘Killing for rituals has become the crime of the moment for many desperate young Nigerians angling for quick wealth. And in the past few months, many of these criminals have sent their girlfriends, mothers, fathers, friends and many unfortunate others to their untimely graves. Last month, a 20-year-old man was arrested by the police for allegedly killing his girlfriend, a University of Jos’ 300-level student for ritual purposes. The lady’s body was found at a hotel with her eyes gouged out and some other body parts missing. Barely five days later, the body of another lady was found around the Plateau Radio TV Corporation in Rayfield in Jos. Her eyes and some sensitive body parts were also removed. Similarly, a 300 Level undergraduate of Delta State University was gruesomely murdered by a gang of four Yahoo boys. Others were reportedly drugged before their vital organs were removed, but this girl’s murder was horrifying and vicious. The assailants allegedly took the young lady to a bush where they plucked out her eyes while she was still alive and screaming. Amid the prevailing poverty in the land, many have resorted to doing anything, no matter how weird, for wealth. Superstition and ritualistic practices feed on one another. They work together to create a presumed reality that rests essentially on the belief in the magical and inexplicable, based on the notion of wealth without work and conscious effort. This is not helped by the avalanche of religious leaders and motivational speakers whose preachments breed a growing population of young citizens who now see the pursuit of quick wealth and material pleasure as the only things worth striving for. The near deification of wealthy individuals, some of them with questionable means of livelihood, by traditional rulers, religious leaders, and the wider society, has not helped matters. Chieftaincy titles are now given to people with the deepest pockets. Mammon is now enthroned in the hearts of many who find themselves in places that are presumed to be the house of God. Besides, the movie industry, has also thrived on popularising the practices of money rituals in some poorly scripted, low-budget movies and has been a massive tool of communicating these superstitions to a vast demographic of impressionable and gullible people.

The few people who dare to be different from the madness going on are often bullied, criticised, blackmailed and marked down for elimination. The case of a determined and entirely patriotic lady who chose to return unspent billions of Naira to government treasury is worthy of note. Rather than allow the money to be pilfered by greedy civil servants, the lady who had been a successful Banker all her life, accepted a government appointment after rising to the pinnacle of her career. Having been so badly heckled, pushed and shoved on account of her patriotism, this great lady has vowed never to accept any Nigerian government appointment again in her lifetime.

By the time we add all of these absolutely horrifying pains to the natural disaster caused by global warming, desert encroachment and the near extinction of Lake Chad; which has resulted in the loss of several million hectares of arable land in all the States lying in the northernmost parts of Nigeria; with the attendant loss of some 25 million peasant farming jobs, plus another 25 million jobs in the fishing industry, and for which leadership has no ready solution, then we begin to see the clear picture of a country at the nadir of her useful life where everyone is hungry, angry and totally disgruntled.

We have thus come to that point at which right-thinking people across the globe have come to the conclusion that the consequences of inaction by Nigerians will lead the country to her inevitable destruction. I will not be sounding as a crazy alarmist therefore if I say our dear country Nigeria is dying off installmentally before our very own eyes. Sheer frustration has given rise to threats of secession and balkanization of the country.

It is an open secret that nearly everyone is aware that the underperformance of Nigeria is hurting every African and the entire black race across the globe. It is also not in doubt that the rising of the sleeping giant and the propulsion of the legendary vision of her people, their strength, creativity, innovation, sophistication, doggedness, and indomitable spirit which runs deep, is all that is needed to permanently transform the entire black race. That’s the main reason why all hands must to be on deck to rescue Nigeria. She must not be allowed to go to wrack and ruin.

And whether we believe it or not, cogent explanations exist for all the foibles and incredible madness people are condemned to witness daily to the shame of all Nigerians and there are ready-made solutions for them.

Haiman Raees, in his Life Lessons published on 27th March 2021, says the Greeks of old believe there are three types of people on earth: namely:

- the idiots,

- the tribesmen, and

- the citizens.

Raees says that studies show that only 10% of Africans are citizens. The remaining 90% are either tribesmen or idiots. He goes further to clarify that when the Greeks used the word "idiot", they did not use it as a curse word. Idiots are people who just don’t care. If they write exams, they will cheat. If they are in government, they will steal. An idiot does not care at all, if he eats bananas, he throws the peels anywhere instead of putting them in a trash bin. Raees says the Greeks believe that some societies have more idiots than tribesmen and citizens.

The next set of people are the ‘’tribesmen".  These are people that look at everything from the point of view of their tribe. They are people that believe in you only if you are a member of their tribe. It can be terrible to have a tribesman as a leader because he will alienate the rest of the population. Raees again clarifies that when the Greeks talk about tribes, it’s not just about ethnicity, they also consider religion as a tribe. The Greeks posit that a great percentage of Africans (and therefore Nigerians) are tribesmen, because they view everything from the point of view of their tribes. They look down on everyone else but trust only their tribesmen.

The last group of people are the "citizens". These are people that like to do things the right way. They will respect traffic light rules, even if no one is watching them. They drive within speed limits. They respect the laws of the land and won’t cheat in exams. In government they won’t steal. They are compassionate and give to others to promote their wellbeing. Citizens often promote projects that benefit everyone. The Greeks believe that some countries have more citizens than tribesmen and idiots. Other countries (like Nigeria?) have so many idiots.

The good news however is that the Greeks believe a tribesman can become a citizen through learning and practical orientation. And an idiot can also become a citizen by training and constant enforcement of the rules and regulations. This means that tribalism and idiocy are mere inherent traits of the poverty of the human mind.  It is a demonstration of the palpable deficiency of vision. To think you will steal or kill with reckless abandon just so you can escape future poverty is preposterous. The money you steal or obtain by illegal means and stash away will never cure your poverty; it can only give you a temporary reprieve. What stops poverty is not money. What stops poverty is hard work and vision. Every family, every nation and every race that has ever made sustained progress in life has been led by people of vision. We’ve never heard of stolen wealth that successfully passed from one generation to another. But money and fame will continually pursue visionary and hardworking people from generation to generation. The more people steal, the more they and their generations are condemned to remain on the same spot.  Despite their arrogance, idiots and tribesmen are to be pitied rather than envied or celebrated. They always end up attracting animosity to themselves and members of their lineage. What’s more, they always end up spending the rest of their lives paying for what they denied others. They end up coming face-to-face with the absolute helplessness of money.

Raees believes that things will fall apart for a country that elects an idiot or a tribesman to lead them if he/she has not been reformed. What Raees forgot to say however is that this excellent body of philosophical knowledge by the Greeks, like so many others credited to them, belongs to Africa. It is our invention; we own the proprietary rights to it. You can quarrel with the implicit meaning or significance of that human classification plus the prescribed remedy thereof, for as long as you wish, but the 108 years history of Nigeria since amalgamation is clearly on the side of that super philosophical classification.

So, the question to ask every Nigerian is this:

Where do you belong? Are you an idiot, a tribesman or a citizen?

It is clear to me that many Nigerians who found themselves in leadership positions from inception, and who cannot point to anything of value they have added to the profit of the commonwealth, or who may even have contributed to the collapse of the ship of state, as seen today, are either idiots or tribesmen; only an infinitesimal few can define themselves as true citizens. The present circumstances therefore compel each of us alive to earnestly define the type of person we are and take corrective measures as necessary.

As things stand today, we must all bury our heads in shame, regret and weep for the horrifying outcome of the evil we have allowed to besot Nigeria and thrives so uncontrollably for such a long period of time. The solution is not to throw good money, time and effort into building on a faulty foundation. What needs to be done is for us to start from the basic principle, apply our creative minds, vision, self-help, self-discovery and self-motivation to the business of helping more Nigerians to become good citizens, wholly dedicated to doing things right.

We must start by creating agro-allied industrial clusters in every State of the Federation through self-help efforts for the purpose of mitigating global warming calamities while at the same time exorcising the demon of joblessness and poverty. We need to go back to the drawing board and start training and retraining ourselves. We must rebrand, we must start applying our co-ordinate advantages and natural strength, to ensure that the legitimate aspiration of every Nigerian can be nurtured for the collective benefit of all.

The task is gargantuan, but it is possible to achieve between the timeline of 20-30 years, starting with a core group of people who are committed. At the end of the long journey, it will be possible to confidently beat our chests and say we have raised people in positions of authority who are true citizens of Nigeria. Anything we put on these present abnormalities and into the hands of people who have not been reformed will go bad.

There is no doubt in my mind that Nigeria is blessed with a good collection of the Lee Kwan Yews of Singapore, the Mustafa Ataturks of Turkey, the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultans of Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Rashid bin Al Maktoums of Dubai. Going forward, we must be prepared to diligently search and discover such people within the populace and add to their number. We must also ensure that the attribute of anyone aspiring to lead Nigeria or any of the component parts thereof is on display for all to see.

During the intervening years of arduous preparation, the people in authority should willingly subscribe to free annual training workshops and certification for the purpose of creating awareness around the deep-seated propensity for this intolerable but avoidable human behaviour. Every Nigerian must subscribe to purging themselves of the dastardly scourge of idiocy and tribalism. The collective reward for this sacrifice is a country the black race will be proud to identify with.

I am therefore taking the liberty of this national inflection to bell the cat and present the Transparency Accountability and Sustainability project as a home-grown platform to midwife the coming together of the Good Nigerian Citizen (GNC) to undertake this mission. GNC is a movement for vision and national rebirth. It is not a money-making venture. It will be wholly dedicated to helping Nigerians discover and hone their in-born ability, develop their potentials, and deploy their passion towards helping everyone see reasons to stop from further weaponizing their bad behaviour to the disadvantage of Nigeria. It is not going to be about chasing academic laurels or honorific titles. Rather, it will be about harnessing the natural endowment of individuals who are able and willing to contribute selflessly toward proving that excellence, honesty, hard work and respect for the dignity of labour can indeed germinate, blossom and bear fruit in Nigeria. It is something that will unite rather than seek to divide Nigeria.    

Plato, the Athenian Philosopher, and founder of the first institution of higher learning in the Western world once said ‘’We cannot expect to have better leaders until we have better followers.’’ In other words, you cannot build a great nation when most of the population are idiots or tribesmen. Even if we make an Angel of God President of Nigeria today, the followership will corrupt and make him fail spectacularly. The truth in this wise saying is better appreciated if we advert our minds to the fact that Plato, Aristotle and all the famous Greek philosophers of that time actually studied in Africa; at the world’s oldest universities of al-Qurawinyyi, founded in 859 in Fez, Morocco, as well as the Al-Azhar University founded in 970 in Cairo, Egypt; and Sankore University founded in 989 in the city of Timbuktu, Mali, where this philosophical idea originated. It is therefore a home-grown initiative.

We must stop deceiving ourselves thinking we can control what a man will do who has assumed the position of authority and has power in his/her hand to wield. But we have power to determine who gets into position of authority and how we respond to the actions of a bully. An idiot in power who has not been reformed will perpetrate his/her idiocy, no matter what people say or do. But the idiotic or the tribalistic leader cannot stop the good citizen from applying himself to the best of his ability and enjoy the fruit of his labour.

My conclusion therefore is that the need to overcome our inherent difficulties as a nation, and the need to stop embarrassing the black race across the world should motivate all the good citizens of Nigeria into digging their heels into the ground, becoming more assertive and more creative, rather than fleeing the country in search of the greener pastures. Nigerians must simply move on with their lives for the next few years, ignore the shenanigans of the elites and follow the path of dignity and honour already paved by the good citizens of other nations.

The Transparency Accountability and Sustainability idea has played very active role in collaboration with other good citizens to give an ‘eye’ and an ‘ear’ to Nigeria with the launch of the national space programme in September 2003. The platform also participated actively in giving a ‘voice’ to Nigeria with the rollout of the national eGovernment programmes in March 2004. The time has now come to deepen the hitherto salient provisions of the national eGovernment programme. In effect, the GNC platform already exist, the structure and appropriate manning level has been established in every MDA (albeit largely dormant), the mandate for its actualization and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is in place, preliminary works are on-going, some inventions have been licensed for the exclusive use of the Movement over a period of twenty years, full rollout is expected to commence with the admission of a few more good citizens. These modest achievements were made through the help of a few good citizens without taking a kobo from government. It is best to maintain this discipline and independence.

The Movement is a non-political, non-tribal, non-religious and non-parochial outfit. There’s no religion or socio-political setting that forbids vision, hard work, sincerity, and patriotism. GNC will therefore operate as a Pan-Nigerian Movement open to all religious and socio-economic persuasions. The only qualification required of a prospective member is to be a lover of Nigeria, to be passionate about righting the wrongs of the past and be ready to work hard to ensure the country sheds the toga of indiscipline, selfishness and avarice while striving to take her rightful place in the comity of nations.

True as it is that academic qualifications, professional laurels, and meritorious tittles are good credentials to possess, there will be no special recognition or specific reference to any of them in our work. Recognition will only be accorded the people who have talent, special ability, and a burning desire to put their God-given gifts to productive and sustained use for the good of all Nigerians. Originality, excellence, turnaround ideas and fairness are therefore not going to be a once-in-awhile exception for the good citizen, they’re going to be the prevailing, matter of fact and overarching article of faith with which leadership, nationhood, industrialization, growth, constitutionalism, and any related structural re-arrangement will be achieved to the satisfaction of all.

The Movement is not going to be used as a pawn in the game of power politics of Nigeria. It is going to examine and report objectively, factually, and fairly; separating those leaders and outfits who distinguish themselves and are serving the people well from those who are only there to steal and play the buffoonery.

We will never give accolades to or celebrate criminals who should languish in jail.

Instead, we will strive to develop a crop of good citizens and become the gold standard for the voice of the ordinary Nigerian in the overall efforts to freeze the field or make it too hot for idiots and tribesmen to seize and subdue it to their exclusive advantage.

We’ll be clear eyed about any infractions and go as far as accurately defining every top official, every corporate entity, organization, or body who operate or is desirous of operating in the Nigerian public space and whose activities will directly or indirectly impinge on the wellbeing of Nigerians. We’ll be truthful and objective, being guided by the maxim that says: He who seeks equity must do equity.

If you consider yourself a lover of Nigeria, ready to contribute your own quota to re-shape her destiny and re-write her narratives for the good of all, please join us today. Nigeria belongs to all of us. We must join hands to rescue her from the throes of death.

GNC is not just a good idea, it is a matter of the survival of the black race across the globe.

 

For information on how to become a member of this movement, visit: xxxxxxx

 

Signed

Felix Babatunde Obada. PhD.