The Nigerian oxymoron – oil-rich poverty – boggles the mind. How can an oil-rich country be the abode to the greatest concentration of extreme, desperate poverty in the world?
The accomplishments of Nigerians in Britain are evinced by a young Nigerian-born British citizen, Kemi Badenoch, who is a member of parliament and in the prime minister’s cabinet, and was one of the contenders for the office of the British prime minister. Nigerians are one of the most educated and successful, with one of the highest incomes per capita, immigrant groups in the United States of America. And in the other countries of the world, we have distinguished ourselves across the entire spectrum of human endeavor. Apart from our international achievements, Nigeria is brimming with achievers, and brilliant, innovative, and resourceful citizens. But, paradoxically, Nigeria is in the boondocks.
This is because, over the years, in our perilous misconception of politics as a dirty game, we relinquished our politics, and, of course, our government, to evil men and women that unavoidably, ran the country aground. The solution to this self-inflicted political dilemma is in the eviction of these venal politicians with sordid ambitions from power, and the election of responsible, honorable and committed men and women to power. The February 23rd, 2023 presidential election provides a wonderful opportunity to reject the purveyors of dirty politics and the forces of greed and insensitivity, and elect a credible, capable and committed leader, Peter Obi, as the president of Nigeria.
In their natural proclivity for evil, dirty politicians must inevitably contrive and perpetrate evil. The scandalous consequences of the iniquity contrived and perpetrated by the pathological liars, questionable characters, drug peddlers, certificate-forgers, thugs, and brigands that we handed over our country to are heartrendingly palpable. Have they not looted and tore down the country, pandered inexorably to terrorism and banditry, destroyed public institutions, promoted violence and lawlessness, and spread and deepened poverty?
Despite the enormous wealth that accrued to Nigeria over the years, our social indices are pitiful and tear-jerking: one of the lowest life expectances, and highest maternal and infant mortality rate, in the world. The Nigerian oxymoron – oil-rich poverty – boggles the mind. How can an oil-rich country be the abode to the greatest concentration of extreme, desperate poverty in the world? How can the land of the proud, brilliant, gifted, creative, and ingenious be an awkward, blundering behemoth; the somnolent, big for nothing, giant of African, teetering terrifyingly at the brinks of total anarchy and economic collapse?
The redemption for Nigeria requires the involvement of the credible and principled in politics; and their election to power. The election of a president, of admirable character, committed to transparency, equity and the rule of law will be the beginning of a Nigeria renaissance. In the upcoming presidential election, the choice is clear. It is between a moribund, decrepit status quo and an invigorating, restorative new order. For the peace, progress and prosperity of the country, we must reject the status quo as personified by Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar; and elect Peter Obi the president of Nigeria.
In addition to those rare qualities of great leaders, like courage, gumption and vision, Peter Obi has, in the past, demonstrated an ability to edge out dirty politicians, and roll back the wicked legacies of their dirty politics. His involvement in Anambra politics was redemptive. As governor of Anambra State, he cleaned up the tangled mess left by Chinweoke Mbadinuju’s piratical thievery and murderous political intolerance and glossed over by Chris Ngige’s disingenuous, manipulative politics. He exemplified incorruptibility, transparency and political tolerance, and dramatically curbed waste in government.
In her book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous, the former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, wrote glowingly about Peter Obi. She extolled his financial honesty, financial prudence and fiscal discipline. In the amoral, profligate and hedonistic milieu of Nigerian politics, these magnificent qualities of his are misconstrued as “stinginess”. Interesting, it is the absence of “stinginess” – lavishness – in government that is one of the central problems of Nigeria. It is exhilarating to imagine what “stinginess”, that is, a drastic reduction in the misappropriation of public funds, and waste in the federal government, will do for Nigeria.
It will be momentous because it will challenge the unjustifiable wealth of a privileged few at the economic misery of the masses, and bring about a more equitable and principled distribution of the national wealth. It will free enormous amount of money, usually stolen and/or squandered, for more constructive and transparent utilization in education, health, security, and overall societal development. The personal example in financial honesty, accountability, and fiscal discipline by Peter Obi, as the president of Nigeria, will be transformational because an ounce of example avails more than a ton of rules, regulations and laws.
*Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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