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Home Latest Idiolizing Contemporary Arewa Leaders: An Extravagant Generosity – By Malam Naini Musa
Idiolizing Contemporary Arewa Leaders: An Extravagant Generosity – By Malam Naini Musa

Idiolizing Contemporary Arewa Leaders: An Extravagant Generosity – By Malam Naini Musa

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Idiolizing Contemporary Arewa Leaders: An Extravagant Generosity – By Malam Naini Musa

In the book “THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GENTLEMAN – The life and times of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa” Trevor Clark said that the prime minister once said “If these people (Nigerians) want me to go, all they have to do is give me two hour notice. I will pack my bags and leave.” Trevor went on to comment that sadly, he never got those two hour notice. However, in that quote is the summation of a man devoid of the greed for power and all that it harbors.

The first crop of Arewa leaders are by far the best Arewa had ever seen. That is not contestable. Never in their times, and certainly not now had they achieved movements prefixed with their names. Today we see the rise of what I call the “iyyas”. These movements are designed around the sole political ideology of one man. Ironically, these men have no clear ideology, at least not a clear one. Gradually, these movements are springing up in numbers. It started with Kwankwasiyya, now we have accumulated Masariyya, Gandujiyya, Buhariyya and many more. Are we witnessing the rise of political serfdom? If so, what are the implications of travelling that road?

It is natural for men to gravitate towards that which favors them. This is why farmers pray for rain while the market women despise it. For the farmer it will mean the growth of plants, while for the market woman it means low customer turn out. While mere wishing is not harmful, can we argue the same for the recent organized political movements idolizing subpar leaders?

Have you noticed that the rise of these movements have coincided with an abject failure in leadership. We are witnessing the deterioration of all sectors of our lives, the economy is failing and is in a free fall, leadership quality is declining, infrastructure quality is declining and there is anarchy in every corner of the Nation. While many of these factors cannot solely be attributed to the rise of movements idolizing leaders, it could be argued that if we have collectively demanded for better governance, we will not be in this situation. Could it be argued that it is our complacency in setting the bar high that led to the subpar performance we are enduring?

Alexander the great had to battle world superpowers and forcefully wrestle power from them before the city of Alexandria was named after him, Buddhism got its name from a prince who left palace comfort and lived in abject poverty, imposing extreme austerity on every facet of material life and thereby achieving enlightenment. Isn’t it a little callous to celebrate contemporary leaders and make them mythical, even going as far as naming a movement after them? To elevate them and give them a status that had only been achieved by emperors and religious deities. Is it then surprising to any of us that they sit back and absorb those flattery rather than aim to better our lives?

This culture of celebrating leaders also leads to something I call the Khaleesi-effect. Khaleesi is the name of a righteous queen in the TV Series, Game of Thrones (GOT). She began as a child bride offered to a King just so her brother could acquire an army. She later found herself with a powerful army when her husband died unexpectedly. The good queen waged a good war based on the ideals of freedom and a better world. She garnered so much support, love and loyalty from the people and her soldiers that she interchanged those virtues which she was celebrated for with her person. And when in the end she went to war with her biggest enemy, she did not mind burning an entire city, the people included. When people are hailed and raised over and above human levels, they can push the boundaries of norms and ethics however they want and justify them because they themselves are the parameter for virtues.

You can clearly see the effect of these attitudes when someone can openly admit that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is the greatest president Nigeria has ever produced. People do not even bother to back up their extravagant claims. The Nigerian Politician no longer has to put up monumental effort to appease, the barest minimum will suffice. A bag of rice, a carton of Indomie, Spaghetti and bars of soap can be compensation for months and sometimes years of neglect. We keep the cake and offer you the crumbs. Who got the better deal?

Anyone can subscribe to any ideology, it is the beauty of a free society. You are free to believe whatever you want, however ridiculous as long it does no damage to our collective wellbeing. It could be argued that it is a little bit scary to witness the rise of a dangerous phenomenon, especially a growing one. If you get enough people who subscribe to a dangerous idea together, if that number can be raised however small, consistently over time, they could do great damage. That is how an obscure Nazi Party in Germany was eventually able to grab power and lead the world to a tragic period.

Good leaders deserve credit. Any job done excellently should be applauded. Excellence is rare, and when encountered, it must be given its due respect. Examining these movements however, one rarely comes up with the satisfaction that excellence is being celebrated. Very few contemporary leaders in Nigeria deserve applause for anything really. If you compare and contrast with leadership standards of well governed states, they fall short in every aspect. And I am not just arguing quality of outcome, I am arguing quality of effort. We do not have to enjoy roads as good as that of California, but we must not be left out in efforts to utilize available resources to achieve roads within the constraints of our means.

Any man worth putting up on a high pedestal must have a legacy. What legacy can be argued for these contemporary leaders in Nigeria? The worth of a man to be idolized should not be so flimsy as that with they are celebrated for. When Mahatma Gandhi died, he had 10 items to his name. Salah Uddin Al-Ayyub was an emperor who died leaving a horse, sword and very little money to his name. Imagine that, the king of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Egypt died with so little while local government chairmen in Nigeria are worth a fortune. Is it not a little bit too generous for anyone to disproportionately allocate outrageous credits to men who have barely achieved what is required of them?

On a moral stand, in a society that is rapidly changing and leaving outrageous number of people behind without provision to better their lot, how have these leaders earned the right to be celebrated? In a society where people died in scores due to hunger, while the leaders withdrew from relief funds and excluded these suffering people from access to the relief items sourced in their names, how have these leaders earned the right to be celebrated? In time of decline in quality education, when the children of the poor are educated in overcrowded classroom by unqualified teachers, where these leaders intervene only by saving their children from such mess, how have these leaders earned the right to be celebrated?

Mallam Naini Musa

Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and social critic.

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