Opinion

Olumuyiwa Babatunde Amao: The Impoverisation Of The Mind And The Failure Of Followership: Lessons From TAN

To be sure, my aim in this piece is not to downplay the rights to peaceful assembly and association of the so-called TAN group, I rather intend to assist them in realising the foolery of their campaigns, and the crass irresponsibility which they have exhibited so far in all their state-sponsored adverts and rallies, and in the ones that are still to come.

Motivated by the above, I wish to address today an issue which seems to be fast gaining momentum; unsurprisingly though, given that the general elections are fast approaching. At the epicentre of this charade is a group known as the ‘Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN)’; a political movement which, over the last few months, has been at the forefront of a series of sponsored rallies and campaigns, ostensibly aimed at setting the stage for the inevitable declaration of interest by President Jonathan, to run for a second term in 2015. The group has an army of unemployed youths who, in their right senses, ought to be marching towards ‘Aso Rock’ to chase away a government that has failed to guarantee their present and future.

As an avid follower of politics in Nigeria, organisations like TAN are by no means new comers in Nigeria’s political space. The most recent of course, was the ‘One Million-Man March’ led by one Daniel Kanu, under the pseudo name of “Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha” (YEAA). Their mission (then) was to gather at least one million youths and signatures, which were to be delivered to the late Emperor Sanni Abacha, on the basis of which he would run for the Presidency. As fate would have it, Abacha died before the signature collation could be completed; and the like of Daniel Kanu, who was an emerging power-broker during the murderous Abacha regime (as it then was), is nowhere to be found today.

This is the lesson history teaches us; a lesson human beings find quite difficult to imbibe. Many years after the Daniel Kanu-inspired YEEA movement, Nigerians are once more confronted with an organisation with all the trappings of the Kanu group, the only difference has been that, unlike YEAA, The TAN, led by one Prince Chidi, (who may also very likely end up the way Kanu did) are a group of people living in denial, and wallowing in what I call an ‘extreme poverty of the mind’ and ‘self-delusion’.

In terms of similarities, The TAN, (as the YEAA group did) are advocating for a common cause; which is to appeal to President Jonathan to run for a second term through the gathering of signatures. Secondly, both the composition of YEAH and TAN are largely Youth-based. Thirdly, both groups were and are being financed from our Collective Wealth; and lastly, but more importantly, the TAN group are lurching in ignorance, exposing in the process a despicable gullibility akin to the Stone Age.

Like the YEAA group, they argue that having achieved so much within in his first term in office, he surely deserves a second term, which in their own words, “is to complete the good works he has started”. Among the achievements often cited by the TAN group are: (1) the remodelling of the nation’s international airports, (2) the dredging of the River Niger, (3) resuscitation of the railway sector, (4) distribution of fertilizers and seedlings to farmers, (5) economic revitalisation, and a number of other basic things a functioning government should not be celebrated for.

However, they have failed to mention the fact that President Jonathan has been unable to fulfil the most important and basic obligation expected of any responsible government—which is the defence of the territorial integrity of its country in general, and the protection of the lives and properties of its citizens in particular. This indeed is the hallmark of a responsible government. Any government which fails in this regard is deemed, in international and local parlance, as a total failure, and unfit to govern; regardless of other secondary considerations.

To be sure, my aim in this piece is not to downplay the rights to peaceful assembly and association of the so-called TAN group, I rather intend to assist them in realising the foolery of their campaigns, and the crass irresponsibility which they have exhibited so far in all their state-sponsored adverts and rallies, and in the ones that are still to come. This has become particularly expedient, given that the foot soldiers of these movements are youths, and are also unfortunately, the main victims of the misrule they appear to be celebrating.

Of particular concern is their shallow mindedness, especially the equation of the execution of the expected responsibilities of an elected government, to mean a political achievement in office, which deserves a second term. More than anything else, this foolery, as asininely evidenced in the TAN group, is a further demonstration of the poverty of the mind and the effects which the many years of irresponsible leadership in all facets of Nigeria’s political offices have had on majority of the #bringbackjonathanin2015 movement.

How a group of people can base their support for an individual on the basis of a minute (and sub-optimal) delivery of the essential necessities of life to its citizens is more than worrisome. Celebrating irrelevances such as Airports’ remodelling, fertilizer and seedling distributions, dredging of Rivers, etc. as opposed to genuine issues such as adequate security, employment generation, transparency and accountability in governance, and the availability and implementation of social security for the teeming unemployed youths in Nigeria is a question which only the gods can answer.

What this TAN group and their cohorts seem to forget, or better still choose to ignore, is that when one situates the amount of revenue that has accrued to this government over the last 4 years, within the confines of its much hyped performance, there exists a far cry from the normative and positive scenarios which are now playing out. In essence, most Nigerians will agree that not only has this government underperformed, it has done so with reckless abandon; demonstrating in the process tell-tale signs of non challance and disdain for its millions of hopeless and extremely poor citizens.

For example, this government has presided over one of the most prolonged industrial actions ever embarked upon by labour unions in our educational system, with both the ASUU and ASUP leading the fray. Under this government, corruption according to the Presidency has been declared a ‘no offence’ and rebranded as ‘mere public stealing’. More than ever before, more Nigerians now go to bed (that is if they actually have one) hungry, because of the lack of liveable jobs.

More than any time in our history, this government, which the likes of TAN now celebrate, have watched helplessly while over 20,000 Nigerians, and more than 600,000 others, have been displaced due to the activities of a group of God-forsaken criminals hiding under the cover of religion. Under the watch of this leadership, 276 young girls trying to define their future through education were kidnapped, and their case, as the President himself did prophesy in the last Presidential media chat, has now become “the missing Malaysian plane, which even with all the technology in the world has remained missing”.

Not only has this government been romancing terrorism, it has cultivated friendship ties with individuals with known links to Boko Haram (BH), and it has done so with reckless abandon and impunity. Today, all of the alleged sponsors of the BH insurgency are card carrying members of the PDP; with Senator Ali Modu Sherrif, Ali Ndume, and Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika topping the list. Yet the TAN group wants us to support a Presidency which cannot contain an apparent lack of military loyalty and its history of security negligence.

Under this Presidency, Nigeria has effectively been partitioned by Abubarkar Shekau, hoisting their flags and daring the Nigerian Army to a fight; while the Army, to put in the words of Gen. Chris Olukolade is busy making ‘tactical manoeuvres’ into Cameroon and other neighbouring villages due to a lack of ammunition, and poor motivation, while Nigerians are been slaughtered. The likes of TAN need to be reminded that even President Jonathan himself has admitted his unworthiness for a second term in office while speaking to journalists shortly after the Nyanya bomb blasts in Abuja.

On that occasion, the President Jonathan did concede authority to Abubarkar Shekau and his gang of criminals, when he confessed that: “I, as a President, I may not go to everywhere I would have loved to go, these are some of the challenges I have to face”. The TAN group and its sympathizers need to be reminded that under this same government, a sham in the name of recruitment was organised by its Ministry of Interior. Not only were jobs not given to anybody, the Jonathan-led government also exploited an already impoverished population, made up mostly of youths, through the collections of #1000 each from applicants; murdering in the process at least 18 Nigerians.

Today, the world appears to have forgotten about that sham, but can the families of the bereaved ever forget? And more importantly, this government have continued to maintain criminal silence on what has become of the over #700m realised from the sale of forms, while Minister Abba Moro remains untouchable. Pitiably however, I do understand the dilemma of the TAN, and other groups, clamouring for a return of this leadership in 2015; they are (like most Nigerians) victims of circumstance, impoverished both in thoughts and in purchasing power, having been initially stripped off of their sense of reasoning as a being through poor political leadership.

The only difference of course, is that unlike the TAN group and their committee of brainwashed fellows, a vast majority of Nigerians still have their dignity intact, and would not stoop so low as to celebrate the kind of mediocrity that this TAN group calls achievement. The more reason why they can afford to accept and engage in their macabre dance of shame for as low $50, is as result of their desperation and the demystification of their sense of reasoning. They have relegated themselves to the sole duty of endorsing whoever the PDP fields, making them eligible to work only once in four years!

Interestingly, TAN is not the only group guilty of this aberration, reports in the dailies has it that about 8000 other splinter groups of largely hungry and unemployed youths are presently competing for space and recognition by the Presidency. However, one previously prominent group among them is the National Association of Nigerian Students led by one Gbadebo Yinka; a purported diploma student in the Department of Local Government Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

This act by NANS, as led by characters like Gbadebo Yinka, further reinforces my belief that leadership, has gone to the ‘dogs’ in the students’ movement in Nigeria. To have elected/appointed an intellectually/academically backward character like him as NANS President is an incongruity that should not have happened in the first place. How can a body, hugely significant as NANS, be led by an individual at the lowest ebb of University study? How can?

Given his low level of intellectual/academic status, it is unsurprising therefore that NANS is singing the praises of a government which until very recently kept its primary constituency (Nigerian students) at home for over 9 months in the name of ASUU and ASUP strikes. Certainly, it takes a man with sight, to recognise a blind man, and the NANS leadership is obviously blind!

If not, how can the body premise its support for President Jonathan’s second term on what it calls “the administration’s infrastructural and social transformation agenda”, a basis for which the body is unflinchingly determined to put Mr President’s political detractors and evil geniuses to shame in 2015 through the singular and total support of all Nigerian students?”

To demonstrate their thirst, financial desperation and bleak future, Gbadebo Yinka and his clueless and futureless posse further presented a certificate of credence to Mrs Jonathan, supposedly in recognition of what it calls “ her pursuit of peace and empowerment of women and the youth in the nation”. How hopeless can a nation get if these are the accidents of history representing Nigerian youths?

I am certain the spirit of the late Moses Osakede et al will be turning in anger in his grave in protest against the bastardization of a once vibrant pressure group. The unfortunate reality in the expedition been embarked on by the likes of TAN, NANS misfits, and other characters advocating for the return of this government is that the followership, and not only the leadership, is the reason why we are not, and may never, move forward as a nation.

They are the oppressed, and yet the most reluctant to change, extremely conservative in thinking, highly parochial in judgement, and more disappointingly, tribalistic and religiously biased. These are the reasons why Nigeria keeps getting its leadership wrong. The quality of the followership itself is suspect, and in countries where a responsible followership is lacking, its people will continue to get this type of lame-duck leadership.

 

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This opinion on TAN written by Olumuyiwa Babatunde Amao a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Otago, New Zealand is culled from saharareporters.com

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