2022 and the day of judgment – Tribune Online


We all cautiously stepped into the uncharted dawn of 2022 in hopes of making sense of its greedy threats. Jonathan Swift, 18th century satirist and author, wrote on “The Day of Judgment” when “the graves deliver their dead” and “thunder roars and lightnings fly” and “the foolish business of the world is now over”. This new year, 2022, takes Nigeria a giant leap towards this day, the end of “pranks” and “conceptions”. The year before last was a year of terror and death; locks and isolationist locks and keys. Then came 2021 and we challenged pandemic fears, but the daydreams of terror and banditry were never-ending. Nigeria was powerless last year; but it always has been. What we do this year will determine what next year will be. I mean 2023, its ambiguous promise and the uncertainties of today.

When the leader carries a shield wherever he goes, it is obvious that there is no peace in his domain. The king failed in his primary duty to protect his subjects. It has been a very long night for us as a country. Nigeria will not cease to be the tomb of peace and joy for its peoples – or what the Yoruba call a child of tears. Bad things won’t change unless the head is good. We are humiliated and insulted and we ignore everything as if nothing had happened. The Singapore-based Chandler Institute of Governance, in its first Good Government Index (CGGI) published in April last year, said Nigeria is the third most poorly governed country in the world. He said our country only beat Zimbabwe and Venezuela on its infamy list. It was a crown of fecal thorns, it reeked of shame and pain. But our leaders got that verdict and as usual passed into a darker darkness. As the Nigerian Tribune editorialized on May 3 of last year, Nigerians have resigned themselves to being wantonly sandwiched between the banditry of outlaws and the violent recklessness of those responsible for ensuring Security.

There is a saying about the cockroach wanting to rule over the chicken. The only way to do this is to hire the fox. And that is exactly what we have. Every clan in Africa has a proverb linking the leader’s chi with the fate of the conduit. But in Nigeria we appoint captains from a group of stranded sailors and then complain that the ship is drifting into danger. The human strain in Nigeria is different from what you see elsewhere. We plant the same seed every year and pray that the fruits will be different. When a year deteriorates, we pray quickly that it will end. We enter a new year thinking that the end of December is the end of the cross we carry. Then we will sink into agony as the wheel of anguish rolls and the cycle of disappointment continues its orbital journey to another December. We forget that the main reason for our failure is leadership. If you see a happy people, look for their king. The Congolese people say that a good leader is a forest of fruit, everyone who goes there brings something good back home. Our fate has been horrible.

This year is the dawn of what will ultimately become of this country in 2023 and beyond. If the eyes were patient in their concentration, they would see the nose and its highway of nostrils. For example, there are two governor elections this year – in Ekiti and in Osun. These two polls are the gateway to what’s to come. They will have an impact on you no matter where you are from in Nigeria. I urge you to pay attention to both states; especially, pay attention to Osun and his strange occurrences. Politics is played out there as if everyone was made up of wars and conflicts. Everything that happens to national politics in 2023 will be predicted by this state. The seismic rumblings in his jungle are not for nothing. All the principalities of Nigeria are already converging, drawing lots. And I should know. Today, there is no party in Osun State, what moves are interests. Nothing is clear there; interests intersect between conflicting platforms. In this anomic state, I see PDP in APC; I see APC in PDP. Look at this space.

Leadership matters if a people is saved. An old man was once asked to explain why a people needed a good king. He pointed to a messy army of black ants. At their best, these creatures marched through the jungle in disciplined battalions. But those before the old man were not. The old man said they were not seen in the orderly columns because there was no leader. “Without a leader, even black ants are confused,” he said, citing a Ugandan proverb. A group of hunters who come home with good game will not appoint a bad tired leader. Nigeria does not have this wisdom.

There is an old story of what wise people look for when they appoint leaders. My favorite folkloric re-writer, “The Sons of William the Conqueror” by James Baldwin, is my story here, reproduced verbatim:

Once upon a time there was a great king of England called William the Conqueror, and he had three sons. One day King William seemed to think of something that made him very sad; and the wise men around him asked him what was going on.

“I am thinking,” he said, “of what my sons could do after I die. For, if they are not wise and strong, they cannot keep the kingdom that I have conquered for them. Indeed, I don’t know which of the three should be the king when I’m gone.

“O king! Said the sages, “if only we knew what your sons admire the most, then we might be able to tell what kind of men they will be.” Perhaps by asking each of them a few questions, we will know which of them is best placed to rule in your place.

“The plan is well worth a try, at least,” King said. “Bring the boys before you, then ask them what you want. “

The wise men chatted a little among themselves, then agreed that the young princes would be brought in one by one, and that the same questions would be asked of each.

The first to enter the room was Robert. He was a strong willed boy and was nicknamed Short Stocking.

“Handsome sir,” said one of the men, “answer me this question: if, instead of being a boy, it pleased God that you were a bird, what kind of bird would you rather be?”

“A hawk,” Robert replied. “I would rather be a hawk, for no other bird is more reminiscent of a daring and gallant knight.”

The next to come was young William, his father’s namesake and pet. His face was cheerful and round, and because he had red hair he was nicknamed Rufus, or the Red.

“Handsome gentleman,” said the sage, “answer me this question: if, instead of being a boy, it pleased God that you were a bird, what kind of bird would you prefer to be?”

“An eagle,” replied Guillaume. “I would rather be an eagle because he is strong and courageous. He is feared by all other birds, and therefore is the king of all.

Finally came the younger brother, Henry, with quiet steps and a sober, thoughtful look. He had been taught to read and write, which is why he was nicknamed Beauclerc or the Beau Savant.

“Handsome gentleman,” said the sage, “answer me this question: if, instead of being a boy, it pleased God that you were a bird, what kind of bird would you prefer to be?”

“A starling,” said Henry. “I would rather be a starling, because he is well behaved and kind and a joy to all who see him, and he never tries to steal or abuse his neighbor.”

Then the wise men spoke a little among themselves, and when they agreed among themselves, they spoke to the king.

“We find,” they said, “that your eldest son, Robert, will be bold and gallant. He will do great deeds and make a name for himself; but in the end he will be overcome by his enemies and die in prison.

“The second son, William, will be as brave and strong as the eagle; but he will be feared and hated for his cruel acts. He will lead a wicked life and die a shameful death.

“The youngest son, Henry, will be wise, careful and peaceful. He will only go to war when compelled to do so by his enemies. He will be loved at home and respected abroad; and he will die in peace after having acquired great possessions.

Years passed and the three boys had become men. King William was lying on his deathbed, and again he thought about what would happen to his sons when he was gone. Then he remembered what the wise men had told him; and so he declared that Robert would have the lands he owned in France, that William would be the King of England, and that Henry would have no land, but only a chest of gold.

So in the end it happened just as the sages predicted. Robert, the Low Court, was bold and reckless, like the hawk he admired so much. He lost all the land his father had left him, and was eventually locked in prison, where he was kept until his death.

William Rufus was so bossy and cruel that he was feared and hated by all his people. He led a wicked life and was killed by one of his own men while hunting in the forest.

And Henry, the handsome scholar, not only had the golden chest to himself, but he became the King of England and the ruler of all the lands his father had in France. He inherited everything.

End of the story.

Nigeria has all three types of prince. We have hawks. We have eagles. There are starlings, birds of wealth, freedom and strength. But what choice do we always make? What choices are we already making? If this prince, Henry, was a Yoruba, his name would be Iwalewa. It’s very easy to translate. It means “character is beauty”. But character is the least attribute that we cherish in our leadership. This is the reason for our ugliness. What will change our narrative starting in this new year is broad-minded and knowledgeable leadership that will tear down the cadres of iniquity and rebuild Nigeria’s flawed walls.

Good year.


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