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That they may learn from Prof Lumumba’s sermonisation

2 months ago
Herald News

The gathering was never an unusual one.

Neither was it a type that is different from others held in the past where critical national issues were brought to the fore with such a rare candour and painstaking audacity.

One distinct, microscopic attribute, however, was that the Guest Speaker came prepared.

Not only was he prepared, he was ready and bold to speak truth to power without minding whose ox is gored. Even the immediate family of the man of the moment, though deceased, was not spared.

But, would our so-called leaders, elites ever position themselves to learn from history? After all, they even deleted History as a subject from our school curriculum. 

Notably, it was the 10th memorial lecture in honour of former senate leader, late (Alhaji) Olusola Saraki where the Guest Speaker, a renowned Professor, Patrick Lumumba took his time to lecture Nigeria’s political elites, traditional leaders, and other government functionaries who had gathered at the event.

The lecture by Prof. Lumumba, a former director in Kenya’s anti-corruption commission, was so inspiring and heart-rendering that even those who could not make it to the event physically, felt the impact several miles away.

He was very blunt when he reiterated that instead of an economy hovering around N500 million, Nigeria ought to have a N4 trillion economy. 

Condemning the clandestine tactics to use ethno-religious sentiments by supposed leaders, Lumumba warned that the growing economic crisis in Africa, due largely to bad governance, might lead to an uprising against constituted authorities in no distant future.

He maintained that the continent continues to suffer leadership crisis, several years after gaining independence from colonialists.

He was of the opinion that Africa will never move forward if politicians continue to conduct the politics of money and moneybags – the very type political opportunists have used consistently to cage the people.

They have thus weaponised poverty to perpetually keep the people under economic subjugation; ostensibly for their own pecuniary gain.

Interestingly, participants at the session were drawn from various strata of the society. The political gladiators, surprisingly, put aside their political differences as they got yoked together momentarily. 

Noting that history has proven citizens are capable of toppling bad governments when they are fed up, Lumumba said: “When you are leading human beings, they are not like cattle. You may keep them in a particular direction. You may think that you have lured them into a false sense of security. You may think that you have deadened their minds. But always remember that one day, if you don’t do that, which is good and right for your fellow man, there is a day of reckoning.”

But to an average Nigerian politician, do they ever believe there is a day of reckoning?

Only recently, we saw how some presidential campaign spokespersons conducted themselves in public square; spitting venomous attacks at every twist and turn – in fact, in a manner that subjected the cords of our societal fabrics into public ridicule.

However, when these career politicians met at the venue of the lecture, they exchanged banters all day long without showing any sign from their immediate frosty, uncomplimentary past.

It is thus not certain if they ever took away any meaningful lesson from the session; of course, their preoccupation while the session lasted could easily be predicted – find a way to outsmart every other person by way of dishing out yet another false narratives which they have used over time to deceive the Nigerian people. 

Prof. Lumumba reiterated, “I am suggesting that Africa is not going to grow, as long as you are in a position of leadership and you have perfected the art of appealing to the stomach, rather than the minds of the men and women that you lead.

“I am suggesting that Africa is not going to realise her potential, as long as we continue to conduct the politics of money and money bags, not the politics of ideas.”

Here comes the complexity of money bags mentality – the very situation an average Nigerian politician coined to form part of what’s termed “Structure” needed to win an election.

Needless to say that stomach infrastructure which entails handing out freebies such as cup of rice, Ankara fabrics, petty cash to guarantee political patronage are some of the strategies these politicians employed to build the so-called structure for themselves. 

Beyond the exchange of banters and temporary suspension of political hostilities, one only hope they go with the meat of the session by situating the real issues bedeviling the country which Prof Lumumba has highlighted and take the initiative to address them head on.

Michael Ayotunde sent this piece from Lagos.

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