The greatest tragedy of leadership anywhere in the world is the inability or outright refusal by that leadership to read the danger signals of its existence. The result of such indiscretion has always been fatal and definite. One of the reasons why leaderships fall into this trap is their tendency to take their people for a ride and assume that they can sustain themselves in power through the instrumentality of lies. Experience has shown that this strategy is prone to massive failures with serious consequences. As it is always said, you cannot deceive the people all the time.
Talking about deceiving people, I know that one of the most iconic novels written in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of WWII was “The Road that Leads to Nowhere” by Osbourne. After the war, the people were so disillusioned and the leadership was at a loss as to what to do to lift the confidence of the people. The government hit on the expedience of constructing a massive highway. The people were happy. At least, they had something to do.
They were ecstatic. They were occupied with the construction of the highway but midway in this project the people realized that the highway they were constructing led to nowhere. They began to disperse and consequently relapsed into despair and anger. Mehmet describes this type of leadership as a leadership anchored on deceit. He calls it “circus leadership of shame”.
It is important to remind us here that the death of every society is usually signposted by three fundamental events, at least at the temporal level. The first is the thoroughgoing collapse of the public institutions of that society. This is usually preceded by leadership inertia. The final stage is the recourse of that leadership to what Mehmet has dubbed “circus leadership of shame”. This last stage has been captured in the Igbo cosmology as the tragic dance of the spirits which they refer to as the “dance of surugede”. No mortal or society has ever survived this type of dance. It is a dance of death and not even the naïve okpoko could risk such dance of perdition to the rhythms of the spirits and death.
I am constrained to warn that the Nigerian situation has become emblematic of a country that is on the road that leads to nowhere. Nigeria has become like the man sitting on a barber’s revolving chair- the chair rotates but the person is sitting in one spot. In a manner of speaking, the person is moving, albeit in a circle, but he is not making any progress. This is what we refer to as “motion without movement”. Nigeria is dancing the surugede dance in a circle; with the political leadership in Abuja deluding itself that the country is moving forward. This is the worst type of mindset. One of the greatest dangers of human existence is for a person to tell himself lies. Typically, Nigeria is lying to itself.
Why do I say this? Today, it is evident that all the factors that herald the collapse of nations are writ large on the Nigerian state. How do I know this? First is the collapse of all our public institutions. Take a close look at all our public institutions and tell me which one is functional? Our hospitals have become glorified mortuaries; driving on our roads is like taking a ride on the highway to hell; power generation has dropped embarrassingly; the education sector has collapsed. The final death-knell on our public institutions is the collapse of the economy- our economy has recessed irredeemably. Secondly, we are presently encumbered with the worst leadership inertia since 1960. To cap all this up, Abuja has become a tragi-comedy theater without audience typifying in undiluted sense Mehmet’s “circus leadership of shame”; a group of buffoons wriggling their stunted legs to the deafening decibels of the surugede dance. Death for Nigeria looms large in the air.
Again I am shocked that even in the midst of all these absurdities, those in Abuja are still playing the ostrich; pretending that all is well. This is typical to the cricket that was thrown into the fire but instead of trying to escape, it deluded itself that the oily substance coming from its body was a sign of healthy living; not knowing it was being roasted to death. How can any right thinking person feel that this country is well? This is a country where an ethnic cabal goaded by religious fundamentalism and primitive accumulation has seized our people by the jugular and is determined to keep us in servitude irrespective of the glaring danger signals. This is a country that has been run on outright deceit especially in the last two years. The mission of this deceit is not hidden. This is what I call the rhapsody of tragedies.
And here I want to ask certain fundamental questions: Is it really difficult for any person to see that, presently, Nigeria does not have a president? Do we need rocket scientists to tell us that Nigeria is rudderless because there is an apparent leadership vacuum? Do we need to re-enact the Yar’Adua script just because some group of people feel it is their right and privilege to be in power? Do we need a prophet or soothsayer to confirm to us that Buhari is terminally sick and cannot continue in office? On numerous occasions, even before Buhari’s illness became public knowledge and took frightening dimensions, I have told Nigerians that a Buhari presidency is a recipe for hardship. How did I arrive at this conclusion?
In the first place, in 1983, Buhari was an energetic military general who bulldozed his way to power in a military coup d’état. It is a fact of history that in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and even Indonesia, emergent military dictatorships were used to lay the foundations for industrial development of their countries and created acceptable political structures which have endured to date. What did Buhari do? He conceived of nation-building and economic development in very queer terms and emasculated the people. Bottom line: he failed woefully even when he was strong and had the structure to weave a Nigeria of his dreams.
Secondly, I had alerted Nigerians that Buhari does not possess the intellectual and physical capacities to lead Nigeria in this 21st century. Buhari is deficit on both counts. Leadership demands physical and intellectual capacity. It also demands inclusivity and transparency. Again Buhari is deficit on these parameters. Buhari is not capacious in terms of intellect to superintend a complex society like Nigeria; he lacks the requisite intellectual acumen required to wade into the catacombs of the Nigerian economy and set it upon the path of recovery. Is it not obvious that his response or rather stimulus to the Nigerian economy has resulted in a woeful economic recession- the worst we have ever experienced in this country?
Again, and most crucial, Buhari lacks the physical strength required to function in the capacity, in which a combination of treacherous factors imposed upon him. This reality has been manifested in Buhari’s worsening health; for which reason he went to London recently for medical attention. For the avoidance of doubt, the nature of Buhari’s illness is no longer hidden. Buhari is suffering from terminal illness, which has ravaged his fragile frame; and which has also reduced him to a scarecrow. Buhari has lost the ability to communicate effectively; he has lost his sense of reasoning; he hardly can talk and take decisions on urgent state matters. This is a man that is living every minute on drugs and inserted robotic machines. Buhari has now become a hostage to the ravenous power mongers within the presidency. These power mongers are desperate to keep Buhari in power, even to his own detriment, for no other reason than to keep their stranglehold on the country.
Now the question is: How long do these power mongers think this charade will continue? Is it not obvious to these power mongers that Muhammadu Buhari can no longer continue in office as president basically because he is evidently incapacitated? Do these power mongers think that we are fools? When will these charlatans realize that Nigerians are not part and parcel of this cast of tragedy; and that any moment from now Nigerians will call them to judgment?
In all my life, I have never heard, read or seen a country managed in this manner. This is what I call voodoo political leadership; the kind of leadership that hoodwinks its people; sacrifices the innocent on the altar of Molech and pretends that all is well. This outrage and absurdity cannot continue.
Time has come for Muhammadu Buhari and his acolytes to do what is right. The right thing to do now is for him to abdicate power and hand over to a more purposeful person. That is the most honorable thing to do now. For the avoidance of doubt, Nigeria is on the wrong side of history. Present events in Nigeria forebodes catastrophe and dissolution of the Nigerian state. Let no one be in doubt of this.