Dateline: New Orleans, Louisiana; Thursday, August 18, 1988. Forty third Vice President of the United States of America, George H. Bush, accepted the nomination as the Republican Presidential candidate at the party’s National Convention.
From the plush podium, Bush blustered and boasted: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” It was a pledge not to tax the American people more than they already had been. The fiscally conservative Bush meant it. Americans believed him. Handily, Bush won 40 states against Massachusetts’ Michael Dukakis. He became the 41st President of the free world.
During his presidency, his inner strength vamoosed to a pile of pressure from the Democrat-controlled Congress which demanded an increase in the existing taxes as a way to reduce the national budget deficit. The Democrats had their way. In the 1992 Presidential election, Democratic challenger, Governor Bill Clinton, jumped on the “read my lips” phrase like ants over saccharin. He rattled the incumbent President out of the White House. Thus, with his own hands, Bush plowed and asphalted his exit freeway from the revered American presidency just because he buckled on his promise.
In developed countries of the world, it’s usually a man’s core principle, not necessarily charisma that draws people to him. The core principle is driven by human inner strength. For example, if a man known for fighting corruption or fighting for a cause loses his inner strength and compromises on his core principle, he is only leading with nobody following.
I never met former President Goodluck Jonathan, but I love his personal story from the beginning. A methodical track of his testaments should convince us that God’s hands were obviously on his life. In the 2011 Presidential election, I went all out encouraging many people to vote for him. In his 2015 re-election bid, Jonathan’s politics of docility and recumbence drove some of us in the opposite direction.
On Bloomberg TV in London recently, the former President spoke out about how the excess crude oil revenue account, which stood at over $20bn at the inception of his administration, was depleted to about $2bn when he left office on May 29, 2015. Jonathan blamed the state governors for regularly pressurizing the Federal Government to draw from the reserves fund to augment revenue allocations from the federation account.
The former President said that any time the earnings from crude oil dropped, the governors would turn to impelling dragoons and princes of pressure. The governors’ pressure overcame Jonathan’s principle. He buckled. Under pressure, the former President quit doing what he knew was right to do for Nigeria.
The very many fiery attacks and bombing of crude oil pipelines all across the Niger Delta area; the threat to attack government installations and Nigeria’s presidential palace, Aso Rock, with missiles; the threat by various groups to secede and cease sucking from mother Nigeria’s breasts; the uptick and step-up of acerbic ethnic vitriol from North to South and all across Nigeria today may actually be partly true freedom fights. But we all know that they are also tactics to get the leadership of this country to buckle on far-reaching fumigation endeavors of a rotten and rotting system. Nigeria may not have been even handed in treatment of the oil-rich region and its people; but if my neighbors are freely plucking the fruits on my tree in my backyard, do I have to cut off my tree? No! Severing the head is not the remedy for a migraine headache. The members of the Niger Delta Avengers are asking for a 60 per cent ownership of oil rigs in Nigeria, but bombing their patrimonies is not the answer. This writer is not into auguries of doom or prognostication of misery. Far from it! But be sure that this recurring poultice of violence and protests will get worse in months and years to come except our leaders display inner strength not to buckle or back down.
To lead anything in Nigeria is a daunting duty. The stench to clean up is deep. Architects of the mess are sleeplessly praying. They are reporting you daily to their avenging and revenging gods. And they are sacrificing and pouring out libations on your effigy to get you to die or live for them alone. They want liberation from your cleaning fingers and sanitizing hands. They want you down. And they want you out.
If you are trying to do right, they’ll tell you to take it easy and warn: “That’s not how it’s done here”. You may be the lone voice in the wilderness of wilderness. You may be the sole antagonistic voice in the corn field of corruption. You may be all alone; and you are on your own. You are fighting against the very mean and menacing many that will do anything to shield their pocketbooks.
The fight you wage in Nigeria when you lead is not just against flesh and blood. You are in an endless bout with principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness in high places. The war you fight is spiritual, physical and emotional. So, you’ve got to be strong! A vacillating leader is an indisputable creator of vegetative leadership. No vacillating leader can achieve much in a vegetative state.
Amidst persistent violence, Nigeria must not buckle. Forces of darkness are usually relentlessly louder than assuaging voices that intend to usher in societal comfort and peace. Nigeria is a distempered hectare of hydra-headed distemperature. The system is a surreal spread of disorder, malady and off-kilter ailments. But a leader who stands strong and pushes back on intimidation will effectively confront and conquer the strongman shackling Nigeria in a stronghold.
Why must our leaders stand strong? Because there are roads to build and lives to rebuild, so they must not be intimidated. There are the hungry to feed and the poor to lift up out of the ashes of despondency. There are hospitals to equip and doctors to retrain so that a strand of earache does not cause any Nigerian to hop on the next flight to London or Chicago in search of succor. There are schools to be made functional and teachers to re-train. There is infant mortality to halt and there is Boko Haram to banish and bury. There are thieves to catch and there is love of country to arouse in men. There is a country to rebuild; so, no buckle; no back down.
Every day with a good government is one day away from thralldom and into freedom. No one government can rebuild decadence like Nigeria even in 20 years; but a foundational continuum pathway into decency and orderliness can be entrenched. This is no time to retreat from warring at wickedness, or surrender to daring depravity. If the kooky coalitions and cohorts succeed in intimidating the country, they will have succeeded in exterminating Nigeria. God forbid!