8th September, 2010
On the 11th of November 2009, the United Nations declared 18th July of every year â€œNelsonÂ Mandela International Dayâ€ to be celebrated all over the world. This resolution was adoptedÂ by the 192-member General Assembly to commemorate Nelson Mandelaâ€™s long standing commitmentsÂ to promoting racial equality, human rights, global conflict resolution, universalÂ brotherhood, reconciliation, international conflict resolution, gender equality and standingÂ out to challenge a vicious and brutal state apparatus with an unflinching stoicism that hasÂ upwardly scaled human endurance to an unfathomable level.
Mandela who is globally regarded as the father of modern South Africa is also revered allÂ over the world and has become the most respected man in the world by this unique honourÂ bestowed on him by the worldâ€™s most powerful and respectedÂ body â€“ the United Nations.
There is no record of anyone alive who has been so honoured by the United Nations. TheÂ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Mandelaâ€™s 91st birthday had this to say:Â â€œNelson Mandela is a living embodiment of the highest values of the United Nationsâ€.
Mandela weathered the storm to freedom through excruciating pain and suffering, spendingÂ over 30% of his present lifespan in jail especially the unforgettable 18 years at RobbenÂ Island which were designed to break his will. But Nelson Mandela did not give up, rather heÂ got more divine inspiration and strength from God and with a Christ-like humility bore theÂ â€œcrossâ€ of apartheid with renewed energy and vigour.
Mandela was released from the Victor Verster Prison on 11th February 1990 and on 27th AprilÂ 1994 voted for the first time in his life at the age of 76. And in the election thatÂ followed Nelson Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela was unanimously elected president and on MayÂ 10 1994 was inaugurated president of a democratic South Africa.
Mandela also known as the MADIBA declined a 2nd term in office when his tenure expired inÂ 1999 despite the clamour for his 2nd term by a great majority of South Africans.
After his 5 years tenure, Mandela emerged even poorer as he ceded most of his salary to theÂ very poor people of South Africa. Mandelaâ€™s love for poor people all over the world isÂ legendary and this has accorded him global accolades.
Even though he has 3 Foundations to his credit, he is neither a millionaire nor is heÂ executively affluent.
In 2004 Mandela retired from public life to spend more time with his family and friends andÂ to engage in quiet reflections. That Mandela is a great leader, motivator andÂ Commander-In-Chief is not in doubt.
When the African National Congress (ANC) formed its Armed Nucleus,Â Mandela became itsÂ natural Commander-In-Chief. Listen to Mandela as he reveals one of his strategies of war: â€œIÂ chose to tell no one what I was about to do. There are times when a leader must move outÂ ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people inÂ the right direction.â€ Mandela is a great war tactician and strategist in the hue of Sun Tzu,Â the worldâ€™s most erudite Chinese military theorist and strategist. In deed, Mandela is aÂ Sage Commander.
I have ruminated all through life, but I have not identified how, when and where Nigeria gotÂ it all wrong. Why has corruption become a synonym for our dear great country, Nigeria?Â Nelson Mandela served his people for 67 years (5 of them as President), but he is not knownÂ to be a millionaire. Mandela does not own a private university as some of our formerÂ Presidents, Vice Presidents and even governors in Nigeria. He does not own a secondaryÂ school; not even a primary school.
Mandela has three foundations which he set up after stepping down in 1999. These are:
â€¢ The Nelson Mandela Foundation
â€¢ The Nelson Mandela Childrenâ€™s Fund and
â€¢ The Mandela-Rhodes Foundation
In Nigeria incumbent presidents and governors and their wives set up foundations forÂ siphoning both private and public funds into their private foreign bank vaults. In NigeriaÂ business moguls compete strenuously to beat each other with single donations nearing the N1Â billion mark. Of course these businessmen get government concessions and waivers to cushionÂ these weird donations in return.
Why is it so difficult to produce a Mandela for Nigeria? Consider the fact that Mandela isÂ the product of a wicked and vicious environment and yet he came out of it with so much love,Â charisma, a great sense of humour, and a lack of bitterness over his oppressors. Yet he didÂ not become wicked or contaminated by the system that produced him. Rather he was refined andÂ purified by the impurities of the apartheid system thus partly explaining his extraordinaryÂ global appeal.
It takes just a few hours for a Nigerian president to become a $billionaire. Perhaps theÂ Nigerian fiscal system makes it very easy for the president to steal and enrich his privateÂ foreign bank account with what belongs to the whole country. A good example here is the gulfÂ war oil windfall of $12.4 billion which a Nigerian ruler deposited in a dedicated accountÂ and was the only authorised signatory to draw from that account. And the $12.4bn was used upÂ before you could say â€œMariam Robinsonâ€. And that discredited former military president stillÂ wants to lead this nation in 2011 as a civilian president despite his murky andÂ irretrievably corrupt antecedents.
TodayÂ Mandela is the most important human being on earth. This is a great pride to allÂ black people even in the Diaspora and especially to Africans and South Africans inÂ particular. It is heartening to note the height that an African has soared to in spite ofÂ the fact that Nigeria has not even taken off yet.
Nigeria with one of the greatest natural endowments in the world today imports everything upÂ to tooth pick from countries like China with its defective mass production technology. ThereÂ is an armada of Chinese generators imported into Nigeria with a maximum lifespan of 6Â months. Chinese are now building roads and bridges in Nigeria and the first Chinese bridgeÂ (along Igando-LASU Expressway) collapsed less than six months after use.
Nelson Mandela had over a billion opportunities to enrich himself but he did not choose anyÂ of those paths. His three Foundations do not have obsequious and subservient heavy donors,Â seeking government waivers and oil blocks as in Nigeria where some businessmenÂ single-handedly donate N500 million in one fell swoop in anticipation of government rewardÂ from an incumbent president.
Nigerian leaders have the opportunity of setting good standards and records for posterityÂ yet unborn but unfortunately none has chosen this path of honour. Nigerian leaders are onlyÂ interested in what they can scoop from the Nigerian goldmine.
Our divine blessings from God have been turned into an unbearable albatross by our corruptÂ and shameless leaders. Good leadership is even so close to Nigeria in nearby Ghana but ourÂ leaders have eyes but they cannot see. They have ears but they refused to hear the good newsÂ coming from Ghana. Their minds have become reprobate and their thoughts and actions vain andÂ inane.
Our crude oil is now the private property of a very powerful cabal holding the nation toÂ ransom. This cabal decides who gets the lucrative oil block contracts. These beneficiariesÂ are mainly outside the oil producing zones. They also decide who â€œSTEALSâ€ the nationâ€™s crudeÂ oil to their respective refineries within Africa. It is these same people who get theÂ allocation to â€œimportâ€ our petroleum and sell to us at International Price regimes withÂ government intervening with subsidies to cushion the excesses of the petroleum cabal.
In all these exportation and importation of our petroleum products, there is no reference toÂ the indigenes of the Niger Delta whose environment is polluted and bastardized. There is noÂ mention of the Niger Deltan who is exposed to all the degradations of cancer and famine asÂ his fishing terrain is polluted and relocation becomes inevitable. It is the wealthy retiredÂ Generals in Abuja and on the Mountain top castles who get the Oil blocks. It is also theÂ multi-billionaires from Kano who get the oil blocks at the expense of the frustrated andÂ abandoned Niger Deltans.
The cabal that controls power (electricity) is as vicious as the petroleum cabal. This cabalÂ ensures that the Electricity Power House in Nigeria (Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN)Â does not function at all or at least function poorly at its lowest capacity. However, to beÂ fair to the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, there is a surge in electricityÂ supply recently.
It is a wicked twist of irony that Nigeria which is the greatest crude oil producer inÂ sub-Saharan Africa now imports refined petroleum products from these African countries whichÂ do not even produce crude oil.
It is now customary for our state governors to flee the country and the long arms of the lawÂ only to return in the newly discovered plea-bargaining technique whereby a â€œthiefâ€ returnsÂ just about 5% of the loot to government coffers and relocates to foreign countries to enjoyÂ the 95%. This is gross injustice to the hapless Nigerian people. Corruption in NigeriaÂ stinks to high heavens and only a divine intervention can save this country. The saying thatÂ â€œHeavens help those who help themselvesâ€ is very appropriate here.
Nigeria should therefore commence a detailed study of the â€œMadiba magicâ€ and fine-tune it toÂ our Nigerian situation as we can no longer bring the old man to give us a face-to-faceÂ lecture on nation building. Some critics may say South Africa is different from Nigeria.Â This is true. This call is for national reflection on the pristine qualities andÂ characteristics of the â€œMadibaâ€ which include transparency, financial discipline, aÂ philosophical depth, a pure heart free of hate, bitterness and revenge. And above all NelsonÂ Mandela has a copious overdose of love of his neighbour than love of himself. Listen toÂ Mandela conducting his own defence during the 1964 Rivonia Court Room trial: â€œI HAVEÂ CHERISED THE IDEAL OF A DEMOCRATIC AND FREE SOCIETY IN WHICH ALL PERSONS LIVE TOGETHER INÂ HARMONY AND WITH EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES. IT IS AN IDEAL WHICH I HOPE TO LIVE FOR AND TOÂ ACHIEVE. BUT IF NEEDS BE, IT IS AN IDEAL FOR WHICH I AM PREPARED TO DIEâ€.
The â€œMadibaâ€ actually died a thousand times to remove the shackles of slavery and opprobriumÂ from his people. And today South Africa is highly respected in the comity of nations.
This is a great challenge to President Goodluck Jonathan as history beckons on him to seizeÂ the times and opportunities to choose greatness rather than wealth, to choose honour andÂ fame rather than curses and ignominy and to choose a good name rather than riches.
And I know President Goodluck Jonathan can succeed if he shuns selfish and demonic adviceÂ from self arrogated omniscient ex-this and ex-that.
God bless Nigeria.
â€¢Ben Nanaghan writes from Lagos. May be reached at: [email protected]