Nigerians are perplexed by their political and economic misfortunes. This is an understatement of our condition. It is the reality of our existence that despite the bright minds and enviable natural resources that this country is endowed with, nothing seems to be working for the people. All tested political and economic theories that have worked elsewhere and have produced results do not work in our country. Somehow, they just do not work here and no one seems to understand why. Some blame the leadership while others have put the responsibility on the followership.
Our leaders travel to all parts of the world to learn how other countries operate their legislative, judiciary, economic, scientific and existential systems, but they either forget what they have seen and learnt immediately when they return back home or they put all their efforts to figure out the unworkability of their new knowledge in Nigeria. We do not see any signs of their acquired knowledge either in their conduct or in their political or economic decisions. They simply travel for traveling’s sake.
Sometimes, these same leaders bereft of any ideas despite their extensive travels and seeking to silence the challenging vocal diaspora employ some bright and high-flying experts from among the diaspora to bring new ideas and try them out in Nigeria. They make them team leads and rely on them for guidance. But as soon as these experts arrive, they metamorphose into worse versions of their employers. They bring nothing; they take everything and leave the people worse than they found them. When challenged by the people, they flaunt their CV’s in their faces, and when the heat becomes too much, the experts from the diaspora pack their bags, now loaded with our money and travel back to what they call their “bases” in foreign lands.
The battered followership is fed up with the disconnect between the highs of electoral campaigns and the subsequent lows of post-election governance and leadership. They have realized that their investments in goodwill and hope every four years do not bring any yields. The leaders waste the capital and impoverish the mind and intellect of their followers. Largely inarticulate and when not incoherent due to the enormity of their predicament in their demands for a better life, the followership resorts to religion for solace or to arms for redress. Neither works for them. God will not do what he has given intellect to man to do. Neither will a small cache of arms in the hands of some overpower the arsenal of a state.
It appears that the Nigerian state has reached a dead end. We know the problems, we know the “why” (leadership and disoriented followership), but we do not know from where the problems arise. What changes a good and God-fearing man during the campaign into a monster after winning the election? What transformed Abacha? What changed Obasanjo of a socialist orientation in his first coming into a disciple of Graham Sumner of the infamous “it is not the function of the State to make men happy” in his second coming? What blinded and deafened a honorable man like Yar’Adua? What changed a shy, decent and God-fearing Jonathan into a political fiend and corrupt wastrel? What do these men of diverse backgrounds share in common that could be at the origin of their misrule? It is Aso Rock !
A person can be jinxed. A process can be jinxed. A house can be jinxed. A town can be jinxed. A people, either in small groups or as a whole can be jinxed. Jinxing transcends science. It is a reality of life. It cuts across all cultures. The chances may be one in a million, but it happens. And it just happens and no one knows why it happens. It is an unexplainable phenomenon where two and two can make five or make zero; a mathematical conundrum where all equations end in the negative sense. Nothing simply works even in the best combinations known to the human mind. Logic becomes illogic. Forward is backward; backward is backward at double pace. Ratio transforms into confoundment.
The jinxed may not know that he is jinxed. An observant person that moves into a jinxed house or into a process may notice a reversal in his fortunes and realize that something has gone wrong. If the house is status-linked or the process is a potentially profitable one, then the person looks for help either from his pastor or his imam in order to keep himself in his position even when the odds are stacked against him.
In the case of a jinxed state institution, no good decisions that affect millions of people can be made in such a building as the occupant with his family and his team are confounded. Their intended good becomes evil and causes pains. Good intentions that enter the building become bad or become twisted. Their utterances become weird and incoherent. Promises made are not kept. The occupants can neither see nor hear the cries of the people that they have sworn to protect.
In Aso Rock, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the first beneficiary of the current democratic dispensation, sought to undermine the constitution with an alleged third term agenda; Umaru Yar’adua allegedly handed over power to Turai and her cabal; and Goodluck Jonathan turned the Central Bank of Nigeria into a private property. That something happened to these people while they were resident in Aso Rock is attested to by the fact that soon after vacating the building, the scales appear to fall from their eyes. Olusegun Obasanjo sees and writes on deficits in governance; he challenges corruption and advocates for a sensible and sensitive government. Jonathan, who sought to buy votes while resident in Aso Rock, now sees virtue in transparent electoral process. Yar’Adua and Jonathan probably suspected something was amiss during their tenancy in Aso Rock. Yar’adua had a retinue of marabouts; Jonathan surrounded himself with pastors of all shades and colors, but these prayer warriors were all saying the wrong prayers. The smart ones among the marabouts and the pastors allowed themselves to be jinxed too. They saw wealth and influence in the jinx.
Dear Mr. Mohammadu Buhari, it appears that “Change” of election campaign period has undergone “transformation” since you took up tenancy in Aso Rock. It is not your fault, Aso Rock is simply jinxed. Many Nigerians want you to succeed. They want to see, feel and live the change that you promised them.
Mr. President, you are a decent man living at a wrong address. You can’t overcome the Aso Rock jinx. Find yourself a new address and lead the people with your decency and integrity.
Abimbola Lagunju is a writer and author of several books. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.