In the book ACCIDENTAL SERVANT, written by Mallam Nasir Elrufai, Governor of Kaduna State, the author narrated an exchange that took place between him and former President Obasanjo while the then president was in search for a successor.
He recounted how Obasanjo had told him that the more one appears smart in Nigeria, the more such a person will miss the opportunities needed to become prosperous in his or her quests.
Not too long ago, I visited Seun Kuti and a conversation ensued that got us talking about his very many travels across the world which has pretty much established him as the most travelled Nigerian Artiste in history. Feel free to take that up, if you will.
The conversation got to the point where we talked about what it takes to be successful in an environment like Nigeria and the gentleman said something that touched my heart.
He said ” In Nigeria, people do not succeed, they are given success.”
Now this is not so much of a revelation as it it is a realisation. To a great extent, it touches deeply on how business and governance is delivered.
You can’t get anything done unless you know somebody in this country. Just in case you don’t understand, unless you have someone powerful pushing a license, supporting your project and projecting your candidacy in private sector jobs and in elections , you cannot achieve anything major.
You cannot just approach CBN, NCC and other regulatory agencies and get permits. We know, even if you like to argue. Well, maybe if you want NAFDAC Pure water Registration and production permit. Even at that, “you will see oba” as Benin people use to say.
To get a patent, a license, a contract or even eat Jollof Rice at parties, you must just have what is called ” connections”.
It is neo prebendalism at its apotheosis.
It is how things work in this country. And it is the truth.
Most successful men and women in Nigeria do not work to raise more successful men.
They look for people they like in their churches, Mosques, villages and communities to give success.
They do so with the clear intention to control such a person and not for the person to really go on to achieve greater things on their own.
This is why HYPOCRISY is the biggest industry in Nigeria. You must pretend to like people you don’t like, conform to madness and operate like a robot just to appear compliant and suitable for pseudo success.
If you look at public service and the various succession planning style of most Governors and Presidents, you will see it clearly.
It is why they are hardly in alignment. They hardly agree on succession planning and the quality of persons to lead government.
When Obasanjo was leaving office, he deliberately brought in a sick, weak and intellectually decrepit Yaradua to take over from him in a country where Nuhu Ribadu, Nasir Elrufai and other Northern Public servants who were much more capable existed.
When Yaradua needed a Vice from the south, there was a Donald Duke who was a smart guy in a better position to fill the space, Obadanjo who was the most powerful PDP person at the time went for a Goodluck Jonathan who appeared more controllable and less ambitious, and not necessarily the most suitable.
When in 2015, Nigeria needed a new President, we had very many splendid and eminently qualified aspirants who wanted to be president.
Alas, the man that the ” elite citizens” converged to put in power was a man who left office in 1984 without embarking on any major mission, academic pursuit or even take time out to write a newspaper article, talk more of a book to document his experience and knowledge for the purpose of expanding the frontiers of knowledge.
OH YES! It was another intellectually atrophied man that was chosen ahead of the many intellectual, business and corporate big fishes in the sea of candidates.
In Lagos state for instance, you cannot become Governor if you appear ambitious.
All those who have come out on their of their own volition, like Jimi Agaje, Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi and others in the APC and the PDP, have not been able to achieve success in their quest because they appear smart and confident and not usable by the powers that be.
Now look at Bayelsa State!
They have a new Governor-Elect. Since watching his victory speech this morning, I have continued to ask with the hope to know who screened him in the APC and what the criteria is for selecting leaders in this society really is.
Nigeria is a hard country. It is not home to reason or logic. It is home to grace, which is an euphemism for corruption and getting unmerited victories and successes.
This is not a place for normal human beings. Your spirit must condone hypocrisy and tolerate injustice to be able to survive in Nigeria.
This is a place worse than a zoo.
To live here happily, you do not need a soul.
You need a conscienceless spirit.
If Nigeria likes, let it succeed.
If it likes, let it fail.
Everything will take shape eventually. We are an accidental people anyway and on an individual level, it is really reasonable to begin to look beyond Nigeria.
As nature rules over itself, evolution will happen again and we will metamorphose from apes into real human beings.