For Nigerians, it is anything but the common good.
Queues as tall as the hills of Idanre. Traffic jam everywhere. Passengers are stranded. No bus to board home. Hours of productive time is lost on unending journeys. The cost of transport and the prices of goods are skyrocketing. We are again at the mercy of the oil cabal. Yuletide does not come without fuel scarcity. Should you ever lose track of time, you need not fret. Wait till you see the long queues, wait till your neighbour groans of fuel scarcity, and you know it’s likely to be Christmas. Even without shortfall in crude oil production, fuel is made gold.
It is possible to have a smooth celebration devoid of pain and agony. But that does not profit the cabal. They will rather hoard oil, to sell at higher prices in the black market. It doesn’t matter if ordinary Nigerians are choking. They give no hoot. For them, it’s simply economics. Cut supply, let demand rise significantly, then watch consumers hasten to buy at increased prices.
This is really not new. But it isn’t just about oil marketers. It is also about you and I. In our little space we equally wield instruments of oppression. Whenever chance permits, we make those beneath us feel the weight of our might. We just don’t operate on the national stage yet. At the base of the problem of Nigeria is persuasive greed and selfishness. It is always each one for his own. We think, but only of ourselves. It is always my family, myself, and I. It matters not whose child slept hungry the previous night.
A civil servant in a ministry will insist on being tipped before doing his salaried job. If you decline payment, he will ensure your file is not found and you’re stranded. He is making you bear the brunt of his greed in his own sphere of influence. But he will complain hours later when he is driving home and the police man demands some money. He won’t make the connections that the officer is simply demanding his own cut in his area too.
Pick any sector of the economy and you will see how people exploit the system to their advantage. You will see how personal ambition is made to override the collective good. Nigerians are all about, trying to milk one another out of existence. It is the tiny drops of dishonest Nigerians, that make an ocean of corrupt nation.
The change begins with me campaign is rational, it would have worked, if President Muhammadu Buhari possessed the moral strength necessary to engender hope and inspire a new nation. There is indeed good reason to be wary of a leader who would not lead by example, but rather claims change begins with his followers. For example, though Buhari is the Minister of Petroleum and the fuel crisis is biting, the presidency is busy airing a documentary titled ‘The Human Side of President Buhari’, to ‘spice the holiday’ Buhari is supposed to be some form of deity, whose human side needs unveiling. That is perhaps, inspirational leadership.
Societal transformation can only occur when a critical mass of people stops thinking of self, outside of the collective good. The individual has to be at the core of any sustainable reform. When we yearn for good leaders we are not blind to this. What we need is a leader who will possess the moral character to serve as a symbol of such reform.
We need a leader who can teach the populace to make personal sacrifices for national development. Muhammadu Buhari, who wouldn’t even touch his country’s health system with a pole is clearly not that man. We need a leader who would respect the rule of law. We need a leader who will be impartial and would be able to wield the sword of justice even if his kinsmen are in line. Buhari has at least shown that though he is for everyone, he is for some more than others.
So friends, as the celebration continues, do not wish me a merry Christmas. I barely need your wishes anyway. Christmas stew is not dependent on them and Jesus – the supposed reason for the season, is a God of inclusion. Rather than your Christmas wishes, let me see your collective faces and be sure my children won’t have to inherit a failed country. Let me see your faces and know I have reasons to hope.
Do not wish me a merry Christmas, let me be sure I can trust you as colleagues to always shun evil, and seek the common good. Do not gift me goodies at Christmas, those are perishable anyway. Instead gift me confidence, that you won’t be easily swayed by bigotry, prejudice and selfish interest. Gift me faith, that when election comes you won’t vote the highest bidder, but will rather pitch your tent with rational arguments, critical appraisals and feasible plans.
Wish me not a merry Christmas, give me the gift of a just, egalitarian society, where everyone can aspire to greatness and where men are not judged by the weight of their pockets nor by the sound of their tongues. Give me a nation where it wouldn’t matter whether the president is from the North or South, where governance will be administered solely on the principles of equity, justice, and fairness. Give me a country where the chef master will only serve himself after his audience is well fed.
There is no need to pretend. This putrid smell makes pounded yam and egusi soup taste bland. So if you truly wish me a joyous celebration, do not greet me merry Christmas, treat this open sore of a continent.
Adeyoose wrote from Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]