Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde, star actress and multiple-award winner, recently stirred the hornet’s nest by saying it as it is, through a post to both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Said she: “The country under your watch is Hellish. The lack of money in circulation coupled with continuous assault and killings by uniformed men will make this country implode! It is unbearable. Do something. Insecurity, fear and desperation everywhere.”
As expected, the apologists of the current administration went on a tweeting spree, unleashing vituperations on the messenger instead of focusing on her poignant message. And as if they live in another country. How can we be comfortable with Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna, Borno, Yobe and Zamfara States – states turned into killing fields? What about the increased spate of extra-judicial killings coming out of attacks by some security operatives, erroneously taking laws into their hands and considering innocent citizens guilty outside the law courts?
Should we shield ourselves from the pervasive poverty ravaging our land? Has the World Poverty Clock not rated Nigeria home to the largest number of the extremely poor in the world? Has our dear country not been ranked as the sixth most miserable to live in according to Steve Hanke, an economist from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, United States?
This scary scenario raises the fundamental questions: Does the country belong to only those in authority, members of the party in power and their supporters to the exclusion of the mass of citizens? No! Should our political leaders be held in such alarming level of awe and fear, kowtowed to and worshipped instead of being loved on account of their people-oriented policies, programmes and performance? What is the role of the average citizen under a democratic dispensation if not to assist the leaders to actualize their dreams and vision, to meet their needs, from a bottom-up approach instead of ramming their greed-driven antics down their throats?
Should governance not be sustained as a continuous process, instead of the politicians remembering the electorate only during electioneering campaigns and elections? Does it not help our leaders to grow when their supporters highlight the failures of past administrations? Why make yourself available for political contest if you are neither prepared for nor going to make the desired change? This is one wrong mindset foisted on the pauperized people by the political elite that must be done away with. So good that Omotola has taken up the gauntlet.
She explained it thus in a recent media chat: “ It is very bad for people to want to compare negatives of different administrations, times and people…A lot of people follow the bandwagon…they have been programmed to only engage in comparison. They feel that it can never get better”. But she believes that it can and I do too. With good leadership and restructuring of the political economy in favour of the people, why not? Insecurity would have been better managed by community policing. Also, the gold wealth from Zamfara State now stolen by foreigners in collusion with illegal miners could have served the people much better.
If only our past leaders had listened to, and acted on the suggestions of great entertainer-cum activist such as Fela Anikulapo Kuti we would have been saved the recurring decimal of ‘Sorrows, Tears and Blood’, the politicians’ usual trade mark. And of course, from the hands of ‘Jeun kokus’ and ‘Vagabonds in Power’(VIP) still with us till today.
Perhaps, if they had watched and got touched by the gripping features film entitled: “Squandering of Riches” by Onyeka Onwenu on the massive waste of our oil wealth during the Second Republic they would have had a second thought before pillaging our common patrimony.
For instance, when in August 2017 the violent outbreak from a “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, led to the deaths of three people, with dozens left injured, several celebrities took to social media. They did so to share their outrage and disappointment.
In all sincerity, the government should listen to Omotola because she has spoken out of her love for the country.
––Ayo Oyoze Baje, Lagos