How to Ruin a Bright Monday Morning
It’s a beautiful Monday morning. It’s 7.30 AM, and I’m sitting here at the lagoon lounge of Radisson Blue hotel, Victoria Island (V.I), Lagos, waiting for my business meeting to start at 8.40 AM.
I am looking through my WhatsApp to see what messages came in over the night. The first on the list is rather an embarrassing one. It’s a graph from a friend in Uganda; a chart showing the degree to which African countries are “heading in the right or wrong direction.” She was worried that her country Uganda is headed 58% in the wrong direction, but now, according to her, “I saw yours and got consoled”. Apparently, from the data, Nigeria is heading 95% in the wrong direction. (Source: BBC Africa Youth Survey).
I’m not so shocked at the data. But rather, the fact that this rude reawakening is now set to ruin what was meant to be a beautiful and bright Monday for me. I’m disturbed we are now the world’s most fascinating laughing stock. The mockery, the ridicule, and the disrespect keep soaring unabated. Would there ever be a way out of this mess??
But here I am, sitting by the breath-taking coastlines of Lagos lagoon that encapsulate Lekki, Ikoyi, and Victoria Island; offering a rare, wide, majestic view of the city. As someone who’s seen many beautiful places around the world, I can only agree with my thoughts: the beauty in Nigeria is mesmerizingly incredible. And this beauty cuts across the entire country. What about creativity? What about natural resources?? We are one of the most endowed in the world. But why? Why so much poverty? Why is life so hard here? Why do we top the chart in poor education, poor healthcare, corruption, and insecurity? Why is an average Nigerian home unable to boast of 8 hours of power supply a day, 170 years since electricity has been discovered? How did we get here? Is there a way out? How soon can it be??
It’s past 8.00 AM; my meeting should start in a couple of minutes. I can’t go in this bothered and burdened. Too many questions I can’t find answers to are ruining my Monday morning! I must find some closure. I thought deeper and realized, it appears everything revolves around leadership. Quality leadership. Selfless leadership.
2023 election is around the corner: is there any presidential candidate who offers this hope? Atiku? Tinubu? Peter Obi? In my opinion, the first two guys were part of the reason we found ourselves here. I doubt they have the audacity, sincerity, and capacity to get us out. Thinking about Peter Obi; he is not perfect, but definitely a new kind of promise and a breath of fresh air. I have serious worries for him though. My greatest worry is, despite the seemingly huge support he’s amassing from the educated and informed voters, there’s an additional (majority, 75% of Nigerian voters) class of voters that pose a high-tension, unfortunate threat to Peter Obi’s chance of victory – the uneducated, the impoverished and the brainwashed. For over 60 years, Nigerian politicians and government, like in many other African countries, have weaponized these tools (illiteracy, poverty, and propaganda) to cultivate this class of its citizenry – and they wield these tools whenever necessary to undermine the will of the 75%; to buy their loyalty and keep them perpetually vulnerable. On Election Day, the highest bidder (with cash, say, N5000 -$8) at each polling unit, will emerge winner. A very sad and disturbing reality it is. Nigeria has 120 million people in this category. This class of people is Peter Obi’s biggest setback. The lack of education and abject poverty has kept their reasoning faculty at bay. Nothing you explain to them makes sense, except you are able to guarantee their next meal.
There must be a monumental revolution for Peter Obi to emerge. An aggressive combination of all strategies – foot soldiers in all 774 local governments of the federation; MONEY; some more MONEY; voters and votes monitoring on election day; the participation of an unprecedented, large amount of election observers from around the world; advance technology and manpower to market Peter Obi and provide surveillance on election day. Everyone making up the 25% of the electorate, who are on Peter’s side should personally adopt 20 families each in every local community and/or polling unit closest to them and preach the message of hope to them in the local dialect they understand. They should offer them support where necessary (financial, healthcare, education, food, etc.) and keep a close eye of love on each family to ensure they do the right thing on Election Day. This way you prove that you care more than the regular politician who only shows up with money on Election Day. You will drive home a more believable story – the promise of hope.
And finally, Mr. Obi needs to get serious. I’ve seen a lot of his interviews and speeches; he sounds to me like a dreamer or wishful thinker. Someone needs to wake him up. In an interview yesterday, he was asked for his manifesto and he responded “that’s just a paper…many politicians have deceived the people with paper in the past”. Sir, the paper counts. Put your action plan in detailed writing and make it available to everyone. I browsed through his website www.peterobi.org last week and I was utterly disappointed. One of the poorest websites I’ve ever seen. It opens with your browser giving you security warnings. Looks like one of those do-it-yourself $5 WordPress websites. No SSL, nothing. Zero content. Running a presidential ambition without simple tools such as a professional website sounds like a joke to me. He needs a team of well-meaning, passionate, bright minds, young and old, to design and execute cutting-edge strategies. His two major contenders are not jokers. They are ruthless principalities. They would stop at nothing to clinch power.
My meeting guest walks in. I have to go now. Sigh of relief! “Good morning Mr. Akapo nice to see you again.”
~ Akapo Emmanuel
Founder, Tenstrings Music Institute