Written by Ochi Ogbuaku, Nigeria
I believe that corruption is the bane of our existence as a nation. Indeed corruption is antithetical to leadership – they cannot co-exist, they do not belong together. Corruption diminishes and incapacitates any leader and breeds inefficiency. It makes a leader blind to the plight of the people he or she swore to lead and deaf to their cries. But how did we get here?
…Over the last 40 odd years, Nigerian politics has shifted from the ideals our founding fathers stood for. Most politics of today is only about money. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY not people but money. and how they can siphon more of it, by any means necessary.
But the real currency of exchange for today and the future remains IDEAS. I believe for us to have a Nigeria that works for all her citizens, we must go back to our basic values.
We need to go back to the kind of politics practiced by our founding fathers, the kind based on progressive ideas. The kind of politics that drove Sir Ahmadu Bello ( then premier of Northern Nigeria )to found the University of Northern Nigeria (now ABU Zaria). As the first Chancellor he said:
“The cardinal principle upon which our University is founded is to impart knowledge and learning to men and women of all races without any distinction on the grounds of race, religious, or political beliefs. This principle is enshrined in the University Law. Only through freedom of membership and freedom of enquiry and research can a University be drawn into the full ferment of thought from which new knowledge comes. Only if it adheres to those freedoms can it become truly great. If our staff and students are drawn from all parts of the world, then the mixture of international minds working together in an atmosphere of academic freedom can produce a University true to its ideal and meanings.”
At their peak, ABU Zaria, University of Nigeria Nsukka and University of Ibadan was ranked among the top universities in the world.
My brother, my sister, irrespective of ethnicity, religious leaning or party affiliation, ALL NIGERIANS suffer the cost of bad leadership. In the same vein, ALL NIGERIANS will enjoy the benefits of leadership.
Wether we like it or not, the fact is that condoning corruption only erodes the values of ANY people.
The time has come for a new kind of politics. A politics of ideas. We have indeed seen the politics of money. See where money politics have brought us – unemployment, incessant strikes, pensioners dying in queues while waiting for their pensions, death and destruction.
Corruption is not peculiar to or synonymous with any tribe or ethnic grouping, religion or geo-political zone. Corrupt leaders are corrupt because they chose to be, simple and short.
It will take a leader with ideas and strong political will in Aso rock to turn things around in Nigeria.
Martin Luther King said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
Our struggle for change has begun. No politician is going to ride our back this time. Enough is enough.
Ochi Ogbuaku is Founder of the Change Nigeria 2011 Coalition
Visit CN2011 at http://changenigeria2011.org