Buhari and other African lead­ers in In­dia

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Be­tween to­day and to­mor­row, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari and his fel­low African lead­ers would be re­turn­ing from In­dia one by one like the rem­nants of a dec­i­mated and ut­terly de­feated troop to some of their cheer­less, joy­less and de­pressed coun­tries some of whose economies are threat­en­ing to go into re­ces­sion. The se­nior pre­fects of Africa (you will soon un­der­stand why I call African lead­ers so)have been in New Delhi, In­dia since Tues­day at­tend­ing a talk­shop called In­dia-Africa Sum­mit. With In­dian Prime Min­is­ter, Narenda Modi, pre­sid­ing, they were ‘sum­moned’ there to dis­cuss poverty, dis­eases, ter­ror­ism and other pe­cu­liarly poverty and un­der­de­vel­op­men­tre­lated is­sues.

Luck­ily enough for the ego of some of us self-re­spect­ing Africans, hu­man rights, democ­racy and rape are not a part of the menu for this sum­mit be­cause it is held in In­dia and In­dia does not seem to have the im­age pedi­gree to lecture Africans on those is­sues; that seems to be the ex­clu­sive pre­serves of Western lead­ers. Those items would have been the main course meals on the menu if it is a Western leader that had sum­moned our se­nior pre­fects to go and lis­ten to him and re­port back to us.

Very soon, African lead­ers in their num­bers will again be in Bei­jing, China to at­tend an­other fo­rum called China-African Sum­mit. The dis­cus­sions, or more ap­pro­pri­ately the lecture ses­sions, that took place in In­dia will be repli­cated there, with only a slight em­pha­sis placed on the need for African coun­tries to re­turn to agri­cul­ture and with of course a rider that there should be a boost in the ex­port of their pri­mary pro­duce to, where else: China!

Per­haps next year, it will be the turn of Great Bri­tain un­der the aegis of the Com­mon­wealth of Na­tions to again sum­mon our men to one cor­ner of the far flung former Bri­tish Em­pire. There, a woman called the Queen of England will take pre-em­i­nence, re­mind­ing the mostly as­sem­bled men how they have been cas­trated and made ef­fem­i­nate in times past and how they are still in the mas­cu­line loins of Bri­tain fifty to sixty odd years af­ter the sun set on the former Bri­tish Em­pire that once boasted that the sun will never set on its do­min­ion.

Per­haps not long af­ter the Com­mon­wealth meet­ing, there will be an­other meet­ing called the African, Caribbean and Pa­cific (ACP) coun­tries where Africans will join other poor na­tions in Asia, the Caribbean and the Pa­cific Is­lands to dis­cuss what else, poverty, cli­mate change, dis­eases and ter­ror­ism. At this fo­rum, the Euro­peans who are called de­vel­op­ing part­ners, will send one man and he will pre­side and pro­ceed to lecture the 101 odd mem­bers in se­ries of meet­ings and sub-meet­ings on why they are poor and des­ti­tute. In the end, he will just tell the as­sem­bled poor rep­re­sen­ta­tives of poor coun­tries how much Europe is will­ing to as­sist them.

Af­ter host­ing the world last year to a foot­ball fi­esta and af­ter she is done host­ing the world again next year to the Olympics to an­nounce her emer­gence as a world power, I am cer­tain that Brazil will set her next sight on con­ven­ing the Brazilo-Africa Sum­mit to be held in Brasilia where a pe­ri­odic lecture ses­sions will take place to tell African lead­ers why they are fail­ing and what they need to do to make it.

If I had heard in time that PMB and oth­ers will be herded to In­dia, I would have re­pro­duced a piece I did some nearly eight years ago en­ti­tled The Head Master and the Se­nior Pre­fects wherein I lamented th­ese se­ries of de­mean­ing meet­ings where African lead­ers are sum­moned like se­nior pre­fects to lis­ten to the head­mas­ter or mis­tress at the as­sem­bly ground and told to pass the in­struc­tions on to the stu­dent body.

Sev­eral years back, Buhari was a prom­i­nent part of a gov­ern­ment that pro­claimed it­self an off-shot of the much ac­claimed Mur­ta­laObasanjo Ad­min­is­tra­tion that was noted for its dy­namic Afro­cen­tric self-be­lief and pa­tri­o­tism. On the An­golan is­sue, Mur­tala had fa­mously de­clared that Africa had come of age and will not like to take dic­ta­tion from the USA or any­body else as to which of the par­ties con­tend­ing to lead An­gola to in­de­pen­dence Africa should back. He led Africa to back the late Au­gustino Neto.

Forty years af­ter Mur­tala dis­played courage, sa­gac­ity, self­con­fi­dence, in­de­pen­dence and op­ti­mism to show that Africa is in­deed ca­pa­ble of self-lead­er­ship, African lead­ers-suc­ces­sors seem to have re­gressed ter­ri­bly into timid­ity, lack of self-re­spect, pes­simism and the de­vel­op­ment of a kind of herd in­stinct. If they are sum­moned any­where where there seems to be hope of raw cash or mere prom­ises of other forms of aid, in a jiffy, they pack some of their finest clothes, as­sem­ble a large del­e­ga­tion, en­ter some of their ex­pen­sive pres­i­den­tial jets and head there to be lec­tured to and hec­tored by a Cau­casian or Asi­atic-look­ing man. The one man or woman will act as the head master and they as the se­nior pre­fects lis­ten­ing with raft at­ten­tion to cap­ture the high­lights of the lecture.

Once again, destiny has favoured Buhari to lead Nige­ria at a time there is so much hope that Nige­ria will spear­head the rise of Africa. What is more, he came pro­fusely pro­fess­ing change so there is much hope of Nige­rian and African re­nais­sance. My hum­ble ad­vice to PMB there­fore is that na­tions are not de­vel­oped by the num­ber or fre­quency of sum­mits their lead­ers at­tend. China, In­dia, Sin­ga­pore, South Korea and oth­ers be­fore them be­came de­vel­oped by the in­tel­li­gence, self-dis­ci­pline, self-con­fi­dence, pru­dence, com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion of their core lead­ers.

With the di­vine dis­pen­sa­tion I have se­cured in an­swer to my prayer for longevity, I still have about 45 more years to live here on earth. I do not wish to spend any more of th­ese years read­ing about African lead­ers at­tend­ing sum­mits on poverty and un­der­de­vel­op­ment. I have heard enough of that. A pos­i­tive work ethic, dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed and self-be­lief are some of the key in­gre­di­ents for suc­cess of any peo­ple any­where in the world. Talks and more talks will not get any­one any­where.

PMB has done one nice thing by in­sist­ing that all fed­eral rev­enues and in­comes should go to one Trea­sury Sin­gle Ac­count (TSA). When he comes back from In­dia, he should re­ally sit down with a small team and take stock of how much Nige­ria is worth. With that knowl­edge, he should fast and pray to God for guid­ance and form a small team com­pris­ing highly knowl­edge­able, dis­ci­plined and pa­tri­otic Nige­ri­ans cut­ting across tribes, re­li­gions, par­ties or re­gions to think, plan and ex­e­cute a master plan for the growth and de­vel­op­ment of Nige­ria.

If PMB wants me to re­main his friend, he should stop at­tend­ing all meet­ings such as the ones listed above that tend to de­mean Africa and achieve no real pur­pose. In­stead, let him choose to roll his sleeves and bury his head in real hard and smart work with a bi-par­ti­san, bi­tribal, bi-re­gional and bi-na­tional back­stage team to or­ches­trate the de­vel­op­ment of Nige­ria. I here sug­gest a few names that should make that team: Nasir elR­u­fai, Chi­weinzu, Dr. Oba­diah Mailafia, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Uche Ugorji, Ba­batunde Fashola, Pat Utomi, Bo­laji Ogun­sewe, Nkemdilim Nno­lim, Fa­ther Matthew Has­san Kukah, Kabir Yusuf, Audu Ogbe, Adamu Adamu and Fola Ade­ola. They rep­re­sent some of the ablest, most knowl­edge­able, most thought­ful and most con­cerned and in­volved Nige­ri­ans around. Space would not al­low me to elab­o­rate on them and why they should be among a team of plan­ners and ex­ecu­tors of a new Nige­ria.

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