Some of Nigeria's past and present heads of State. L-R: Ibrahim Babangida, Muhammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, and Goodluck Jonathan.

Only yesterday, I watched a video clip of the Ghanaian President delivering a keynote address to the National Governors of American States. I was at once proud that he was found worthy to deliver the keynote address and sad at the same time that Nigeria will probably not be ready for that kind of respect, recognition and honor in the next 50 years. Why do I say so? The mood in the country right now is hopeless and no one, it would appear, is ready to explore the options for solving the problems that weigh us down in a very practical and intelligent manner that leaves a smile in our faces. There are very simple problems that we have but for Nigerian leadership, every problem is only seen for the money making opportunity it may avail.

Let us take Boko Haram for example. How does a ragtag army without training hold a country down for 10 years? How? The answer is simple: Corruption!!! Our country stinks. Money meant to procure arms and ammunition ends up in the pockets of the people who are supposed to make decisions about our security. I have no sympathy for the Military commanders who are being tried for diversion of funds meant for our troops. They mindlessly send our young men and women with 60 bullets in their dane guns to confront Boko Haram fighters armed with Anti-aircraft guns and slinging 5,000 rounds of ammunition. That, my friends, is the very definition of treason and we should call it what it is. These men should be court-martialled and sent to the guillotine. The regular courts should not handle issues of military corruption. These men will walk and they do not deserve to walk.

In 2014, I went on a business trip to Niger State. I was sad. I was sad for the Nigerians in the North. I saw children scavenging for food from refuse dumps in a restaurant where I was waiting for my host to pick me up. The children ranged from ages 5 to 14. My heart began to bleed. I did not quite understand the magnitude of what I was looking at until my host explained to me that these were almajiris. He told me that they were considered the dirt of the earth and would never amount to anything as that was their programmed destiny. I asked him to explain. He went on to say that the feudal system in the North is the problem of Nigeria. He said that a very important King in the North at one time instructed a Northern Presidential candidate to expunge free education from his manifesto if he wanted their support. When the candidate who is still alive asked why, the King replied, “If they are educated, they will no longer listen to us. Look at you, do you listen to us? Look at the Ibos, do they listen to anyone?”

Mallam Aminu Kano of blessed memory tried to fight the system. He was a young man burning with hope for his people. He began a seismic shift in the hearts and minds of the Talakawas. His success, though limited still reverberates today. Kano is one state where a man without money but with honor can win an election. There is no other State like Kano in Nigeria and it is because of the work Aminu Kano did. 

Beautiful and well-meaning people of Nigeria, there you go. If we do not fix the feudal system in the North by educating and empowering the people, we cannot fix Nigeria. Our country, just like any organization or system can only be as strong as its weakest link. Every time I see a grown man carrying a tray of Kolanut worth not more than Five hundred Naira pounding the streets, walking more than thirty miles a day to make a N500 sale, my heart bleeds. Every time I see a 14-year old pounding the streets for a whole day looking for shoes to shine, my heart bleeds. Every time I see a man pushing a wheel barrow full of tubers of yam for the entire day, my heart bleeds. Every time I see a man carrying several jerry cans of water to sell, my heart bleeds. Why should millions of people be so subjugated in 21st Century Nigeria? Why should millions of people through no fault of theirs but just by reason of being born to the ‘wrong’ family be perpetually condemned to be drawers of water and hewers of wood? This cannot stand. This should not stand. This must not stand. Does Buhari understand this? If he does, is he willing to set the people free? There’s only one pathway to freedom—educate the people!!

When you think of it, this is even sadder when you imagine that, with the North having produced Tafawa Balewa, Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Buhari (1), Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalam, Yar' Adua and then Buhari (2), it took a President from the South in the person of Goodluck Jonathan to understand that the people of Nigeria in the North needed to be educated and very quickly too? He built 252 schools to educate the almajiris. I understand that ‘they’ say the schools are too beautiful for almajiris and that many of them have been converted to schools for the children of the rich. Does Buhari know this? Does Buhari understand this? If he does, is he willing to do something about it? If he is willing, is he able to do something about it? Since his people say they are monitoring social media, please monitor this and give answers to my questions. I need answers. The people of Nigeria need answers.

This is why I am sad tonight and this why I write about Nigeria. I am sad. I am happy for Ghana. Their President is clearly a 21st century President. Fit for purpose. We have a President who needs to be sent home to retirement next year, honorably. We ought to thank him for stepping in to clear some rot in the system. However, his vision is not big enough for our country. We need a bigger vision.

Are we ready for a man with a big vision who understands the urgency of our situation? Are we ready for a man who believes that we can strive to build a great society that works for all of us--- where every child has an equal chance to be educated; no child goes to school hungry; where every young man and woman who needs a job can find one; the sick do not go untreated for lack of money; where senior citizens are provided for; where the nation gives value to human life and everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness? I have my doubts and I predicate this on recent events. Did anyone see the mammoth crowd that came out to welcome Buhari a few months ago when he went to Kano? Did anyone see the gargantuan crowd that came out to welcome him when he visited Nassarawa a little while ago? Did anyone see the mind boggling crowd that came out for him in Yobe a few days ago? This man is a god to these people. You know what? He will run in 2019 and he will win. All Presidential wannabees like me and my ilk who think that by writing articles, enunciating great visions and making great speeches, we will move the needle, had better begin to do a reassessment. It’s simply not going to happen. Nigerians appear to enjoy the yoke of oppression. They love their oppressors. This is why I do not think that the quality of leadership we see in Ghana can happen here anytime soon. This is why I am sad. I rest.

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