“History has been made as America witnesses its first black president…” This was a statement made by a CNN reporter and it dawned on me that it was real. That statement are the kinds of words you hear spoken in a movie that tries to capture a political scenery, but this time it’s no movie. This is not just a freak in history, but a calculated attempt by an unseen hand to effect his agenda in the lives of men. As I sit here brooding over the last one year and my conversations and my disbelief, I stand to say I was wrong throughout the time and I am not ashamed to admit it that I was. I now believe more strongly that absolutely nothing is impossible under the sun.
My entry into the floodwaters of American politics started sometime in 2006, when myself and my friend Bayo Akomolafe were reading the news in the university library. He showed me a Time magazine story on Obama and he said to me “Reginald, do you know that he may become the next president of America?” My reply of course was that which every other person even Obama’s wife could have given. “Bayo, America ain’t ready for that yet!” I had to wake Bayo from his sleep in Nigeria and swallow my words to his delight. He was a silent prophet then with a lone voice in the wilderness who was even despised by his closest friend. Oh foolish me!! I forgot that ‘impossible’ was a word invented by men and will be redefined by the same men. Today I look back to that day and see the events that time has spurned and I wonder if there was not a pre-design already in place before all the hullabaloo. Well… that may be the case, but I today I have learnt that small is powerful, and weak is wonderful. The smaller you are, the greater your inner power and this is what Obama utilized. Let me show you a few things I have learnt from this wonder-filled process.
First, God does not make great things from big things. He creates big things from small things. This is why I despised Bayo’s convictions that day because it was small in my eyes. I wanted a major event or a break in the sky for an announcement that the American status-quo had changed before I would consider the possibility of Obama becoming the president. But forgot that nothing that is solid in history ever starts big. In his words yesterday, he said he was the most unlikely person to succeed, and started his campaign not in the corridors of power, but in the parlor of a ordinary person. As young man, having nothing but a a dream and a few people whole believed in him, he rose to build the most phenomenal campaign in history.
Second, don’t go to the mighty when you are starting out, go to the humble. The mighty can only see from the perspective of their greatness, but the humble can see the ground and no where the hurdles are to cross. Obama came to the lowly in society and made his case. They took him in and worked their heart out for him. For those who are not in the US, I can emphatically tell you that I have never seen that kind of political passion before. You could see that these people had nothing but their strength to dissipate, and they did it joyfully, causing an infectious hope across whole populations. Can you imagine that on the eve of the elections, Obama grassroots mobilizers knocked on 1 million doors encouraging people to vote. That is amazing and points to the fact that the humble are powerful and will do what they promised they will do. You remember David in the scriptures? The men that came to him in the desert after he ran away from the persecution of Saul, were outcasts of the society, broken men without hope. But later, it was on record that they became the ‘Mighty Men of David’. So make the humble your friends in the journey of life.
Third, refuse to give up your message. You are what you believe, and your message is what reveals to others what you believe. Obama stuck to his message of hope and refused to give it up even in the face of Smearing attacks of a Rovian order. Even when your character is called into question, keep the focus, for it could be very easy to un-sheath your sword and go after the throat of your enemies. Even David when given the neck of Saul refused to revenge. I have learnt that when you refuse to move your position and reduce yourself to the class of politically disheveled men, you retain your class and gain a premium in the hearts of those who hear you. Obama made it clear that this is a lesson for history.
Fourth, disconnect yourself from success. the danger of success is that it can create failure. Paradox aye? Success places you on a pedestal that slams you with so much self satisfaction that it may blunt your sensitivity and blur your sight. Therefore, remove from you the hold and elements of success and go down the hill and see what can not be seen from the elevations of success. Obama struck that note when he stated in his victory speech (paraphrased) “This election victory is not the change we need, but a chance to get the change we need…” This can only come out of a man who inner confidence comes not from outer positives, but from deep seated convictions. I pick this wisdom and hold it close to my heart.
There are four things I have stated above, but far much more I have learnt not just from the candidate, but also from his opponent. In the making of history, you don’t just learn from good stuff, but also from bad stuff. Because these two coalesce to form a celebrated outcome. McCain has shown me what not to do. Palin has taught me the issues women have to overcome in our world as they play the role the world awaits them to. McCain’s campaign also taught me that there is nothing like a single eyed purpose not compressed by the tyranny of the urgent. David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager has shown me that you don’t have to appear on TV to be seen as hard working. Hillary Clinton advise me never to walk the paths of desperation, for you will see yourself become warped by the devils of desire.
Friends, when history is made, you can either be a victim of the present or you become an advocate for the implications for the future. I hold this history close to my heart, for I have a chance to use its wisdom and the dimensions of its accompanying mystery to remake history in my own little corner of the world. What more is there to see but to warn all of us that there is a lone voice still calling right now in the wilderness, pointing to a little things or persons that will still remake history. When history is made, it makes us realize that history will always be made.
I have just watched the Tennessee with fellow students and my professors and boy!! what an exciting time it was. We spent time quietly analyzing the issues as both candidates threw down their points and ascertaining whether there was something new about what they were proposing to do. At the end we sieved through all the rhetoric to find something voters can chew and digest in finding energy to rise and cast their votes for a candidate. Frankly, I admire the intelligence of both men in how they lay out their points. It takes an awful lot of reading to keep abreast with issues and also an extensive mental capacity to align ones thoughts with a multiplicity of intentions, considering the complexity involved in the American system.
I had to imagine myself there and admitted humbly… “this thing no be joke ohhh!!” In alluding to the fact that both men have done a lot of preparation in getting to this stage, I also will say that the preparation has led to a manifestation (hmm…rhymes…in my mind ohh) that effectively situates both candidates in two seprate pedestal. Ones preparation has placed him with the Ordinary League of Boys while the other’s preparation has put him in the Extraordinary League of Gentlemen.
Without doubt or begging the question everyone seems to see clearly that John McCain has consistently shown that his groundwork of his campaign is fundamentally faulty and the foundations which he has built for himself seems to be seriously obsolete considering the nature of 21st century challenges which leadership has to deal with. Barack Obama on the other hand, while not the finished product of natures perfection has inspired many with common sense and a modern reality which seems to deconstruct existing mindsets and offer simpler and plain strategies in clearing the mysteries surrounding America’s politics.
For instance McCain is still espousing a totally free market approach to the economics of the country yet still pandering to the voters with a populist policy which mistakenly dropped out his mouth during the debate when he said he would ensure that government buys back all the bad mortgages. And this is the same man saying the government should get out of the way of Americans. Obama while stating that free market has its merits, but advances that it doesn’t work all the time and for that reason, government should play a role in ensuring that this free market plays by the rules to protect people from the adversities of capitalism. The old fable that allow the market to determine and create wealth then it will trickle down to the bottom of the system has been refuted time again. Thus Obama shows that he is identifying with the plight of the base in society, while McCain thinks that the ‘Invisible Hand’ will regulate things. You mean people are still thinking like that in this century? And come to ponder, has the market really determined wealth for a larger percentage of a country’s population? NO!!!
You know boys somehow believe that things will be alright without wanting to accept the responsibilities of making sure it really gets alright. Men will face the issues and say where the problem is and be willing to creatively proffer solutions to logjam situations. This is one way men have been separated from boys from this debating season. McCain has yet to be direct on what exactly his economic policy is other than freeing the economic turkeys to soar to heights unknown and when thanksgiving comes, no birds on the table. It is pretty encouraging to go into http://www.barackobama.com/plan and see a clearly articulated plan on every facet a government is involved with.
Perhaps it’s a good time to bring this up. John McCain should stop imagining that America can go anywhere and do anything it wants anyhowly (permit that please). The reality of the way the world is now is that no single nation is absolute in its capacity to influence events on the globe. Therefore nations need other countries to carry out an effective foreign policy in international politics. America cannot unilaterally fight terrorism in the world and it will be foolhardy to think this is possible. But Mr. McCain has unwisely refused to show the place of diplomacy in getting things done. Obama has consistently said that we cannot cut off other countries, we have to engage in tough diplomacy even if the country’s name is Iran. This is what the world needs today, not the ancient practice of international thuggery, which was characteristic of empires and monarchies. I was at the UN when the Iranian Ahmadinejad address the Plenary session and guess what? Bush stood up and walked out of the meeting. What kind of boyishness is that? And this is what McCain is patterning his foreign policy on. If it hasn’t worked for all these years, what will make it work into tomorrow? Again we see how and man is distinguished from a boy.
I have so much to say but let me wrap this up and leave the rest for my readers to determine and I will respond appropriately with other issues I have to table. I will finally point to what happened in this latest debate in establishing the Boy-dom of Mr. McCain. This man has an unacceptable way of talking down on people. By referring to Obama as “That one”, he registered his membership in the class of uncultured persons and at best he should be declassified from the honour of statesmen. Also suggesting that what he doesn’t know is what Americans do not know is a serious blasphemy against the country. All these are mounting references to who is really prepared and who is not.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that Barack Obama has satisfied every necessary condition for assuming the role of one of the most powerful men on the planet. However, for what is on the play ground, one has elevated his profile by leaving the things that belong to boys and taken up the main challenges and appurtenances of manhood, while the other has swindled himself unknowingly into a game of losers. If as it is, Barack Obama doesn’t win this election, it wouldn’t be on the fact that he wasn’t qualified on the issues, but it will be because of some other extraneous variable which we all know of… you judge for Yourself my friend.
As I sat down thinking of what to wear in attending a dinner tomorrow in honour of my beloved country, I was knocked over by a news item in the Punch Newspaper which read:
“Sallah: Group berates N3m bonus for each Rep”
The news piece by one Bisi Olaniyi also claimed that the Senators were taking home 20 million and the Reps were taking home about 12 million naira monthly. If these claims are through, then I am utterly shocked at the impunity with which our elected officials are un-authoritatively allocating scarce resources to themselves as the epitomes of the wellbeing of their constituencies. You mean these things are happening under our very noses and no one is rising up to challenge the status quo? What is the basis for giving such largess to Assembly members? Are they all Muslims who require such motivations to celebrate the season as a prerequisite for acute judgment in dealing with the complex issues of the country? Or maybe the non-Muslims collected this as a symbol of one Nigeria: “what they get we get”? I mean can someone please tell me what is the justification for these monies transferring from public ownership to private pockets? Or can someone explain to me where these resources where taken from?
It seems to me that there is a deliberate conspiracy by leadership against the entire country. I say this because no where else in the world does this happen in a professed democracy. It may be condoned in a monarchy, since the king in that case is the sovereign, but even the Queen of England cannot call the House of Common and the House of Lords and show them her appreciation by doling out from the Royal treasury about 13,000 Pounds for each to celebrate Christmas with. Nigeria always seems to blaze the trail with dangerous traditions and precedence and we always seem to have an explanation for every brutal policy meted out against the Nigerian people. Someone indeed had identified this as a “Rogue Republic” and I differed on the basis that it was an extreme characterization of the Nigerian polity. But now I am already slanting the seesaw of my opinion in that direction because I cannot seem to understand how our leaders think.
How can leadership, in whatever capacity bold-facedly use public funds to rub the backs of our servants? Don’t we pay them salaries more than we pay ourselves? Don’t we already furnish them apartments in the capital city and give them cars and all kinds of allowances to ensure they focus on policy making? What else should we do as a people that we haven’t done already? When we sent them there, if at all we did, we looked forward to an assurance that our collective interests were being catered for and that they will prevail on leadership to open up opportunities for us and our children. So just like that almost a billion naira was spent securing the few days of Sallah holidays for these legislators? Does anyone know that that amount alone can successfully create a huge plantain plantation somewhere in the country that can secure our local consumption and expand the export frontiers for the product? I am really upset right now because a sensible mind would assess the situation in terms of the opportunity forgone to better the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Give me that money and I can get 10 health centers in 10 rural communities, or provide a 100 boreholes in the rural areas of Northern Nigeria, or build 5 Secondary and 5 Primary schools, or establish a good science laboratory for 10 schools, or………………
Now I am, beginning to see how revolutions starts in societies. If I can feel this way, I can begin to imagine how many more people are getting frustrated by the kind of men who lead us. The day that the streets are covered with people whose endurance has thinned out, then that day will be that of judgment; when everyone that has robbed us and conspired against our existence will be made to pay for what they have done. As we say in politics: “Time does not run against the state.” Even if they die, time will stand on our side and exhume their actions for appropriate measures. See what they do… see them frolicking around with wealth gathered by squeezing the sweat off the labouring man and then making them pay again to sustain his irresponsibility. They are bold to speak now, and are bold to splatter their flamboyance on the pages of glossy opulent magazines……. Let somebody warn them please. The monkey is not assured of retuning from the market square, thus it should find alternate routes to do so.
Let me at this point give an advice to our legislators who may not have those they are accountable to. In the words of Lee Kuan Yew: “Leaders must have a sense of trusteeship that they are only temporarily in charge of the destinies of their people, and that their duty is not only to discharge that trust, but also to pass it on to equally trustworthy and competent hands.” They shouldn’t forget that our destinies are tied to their performance during their tenures. If they fail, we have have failed, and if they succeed we have succeeded. However, I am sure these men already know right from wrong, but something else guides them other than servant-hood. With time we will discover and know who the axe will fall upon.
As we celebrate a country at 48, I thought foolishness drops from the pocket of a forty year old. But it seems to me we still carry a couple of them; not in pockets this time, but within our national structures. As for this kind of foolishness…..we need badly A ‘ROD’ OF CORRECTION!!!
I am one of those who think the West has actually demonized Robert Mugabe. As one of Africa’s renown freedom fighters and opposer of colonial exploitation, I had his fury etched on my breastplate and registered with the fathers of the liberation movement. Whether we like it or not Mugabe will continue to remain in the hall of fame of those who gave Africa a voice when it was mostly oppressed.
But you know, if you don’t leave the stage when the ovation is loudest, you end up dancing to a strange song and the people cannot figure out the rhythm. Now our man is misbehaving so badly that he acts like a badly brought up child. In the face of blatant truth, this man is hijacking an entire nation for his personal agenda, while unwriting the beautiful history of The Struggle. Now a whole country is stranded because of a blind ambition and an evil desire that impoverishes his people the more.
Zimbabwe which once was a hub for the food industry is now begging for food. A land blessed with so much natural resource and human resource, is now wriggling in the wallows of a stifled hope and a bleak future. Who will deliver the nation from this man? Who will set free again a people that have enjoyed liberty and tasted of the satisfying wine of self reliance? I put it to you Robert Mugabe that you are a disgrace to the African personhood. You have lost your sense of value for the humans you claim to lead and you are blinded by you obsolete thoughts.
I have now come to the point where I am courting a military intervention in Zimbabwe to forestall a human catastrophe. If the CIA could assassinate Patrice Lumumba those days, then technology has made it even easier to, as we say in Nigeria, ‘kpafucate’ this man before the entire nation is plunged into the 16th century. All other African governments must prevail on him to step down and vanish from that country. Although Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation, what is this political concept in the face of a decimated population? Throw away sovereignty please and save lives at what ever expense.
Please can someone stop Robert Mugabe before he stops time in Zimbabwe?
Three issues first. First, a blog is meant to be a sort of precis of ones thoughts on any matter. I pratically always struggle to summarize my thought in such a way that people will be adequately informed of my position without any misconceptions. So I end up leaving much to say out of my discusson. But thankfully, others usually cover up such yawning gaps by their intelligent contributions to the discourse. Second, I usually feel incompetent to write on issues that I have not been an inside player. This is a valid stance because experience can not be traded for something else. Third, I hate being emotional in my discussions, because it numbs the senses and walks the path of darkness when seeking to address crucial points of human interests. However, despite these cautionary dispositions of mine, something does overrule them and behoves upon me the urgent responsibility to act or at least make my voice heard. Commonsense is what casts aside any inadequacies we feel about making a contribution in whatever capacity we can. It is out of this self same “uncommon” commonsense that I will try to highlight my arguments on the evil relationship between money and politics in the Nigerian context.
If indeed money answers all things, there is one thing it will always fail to buy, and that is credibility. The credibility of Nigerian politics has been absolutely mired by the role money plays. Not that money is evil in itself, but its use in the pursue of power has broken the fragile conscience of even the youngest breed of the Nigerian citizen. Prior to an era of wanton and reckless showmanship of mammonism, politics was about a good and revered name. I remember the Aikiwes, the Awolowos, the Eyo Itas, the Enahoros, the Margaret Ekpos, and those in their exclusive class. These men were not fabulously rich, but with a good name and an undying passion to deliver their people from the shackles of colonialism and imperialism they fought their way up, and cast a spell on the British oadministrators with their fine rhetoric and sound arguments. Oh that we should regain the virtues of these children of our land, when the even air produced an innocence that created a desire for mutual benefit accross the land.
But from the adventure of the military into our civility, we have only witnessed a gradual putrefaction of our patriotism and the seeds of corruption being sown in the soil of a strong emotional attachment to money. money became the only way men could secure their living and how to get this was the predominace of thought. The lives of mere men became stepping stones and ladders for devilish souls to climb to the ungodly heights of plucking public wealth while their commodious appetite became insatiable. Yes, in certainty, many were drawn into this fallen nature and the society suffered for it. A necessary trajectory which events took was the subsequent urgency for men to secure their territory, and political power was the only way people could afford to either enhance their aquisitions or protect their purchases from the malls of corruption.
Today, what we witness is the blatant hijacking of the Nigerian politics by self serving money bags, who wield their lilliputian intellect to swindle Nigerians of their right to decent living. They spray their ill-gotten wealth on the political terrain to lumber their way into political office and commit more offense against Nigeria. What can be done? Nothing. As long as INEC places a heavy price tag on those seeking public office, money will always mes the process up. As long as the regulation requires a huge monetary commitment by those who want to serve, our system will hardly be rid of dubious men. All that this has produced is more and more business politicians, who invest money to gain power and reap a harvest of funds for the public good. Did I hear someone just remind me of the concept of god-fatherism played out by Chris Uba and Dr. Ngige? That was the messiest evidence of politics of trade by barter going o in Nigeria. Chris Uba even had the effontery to declare war on the Ngige government because his monetary investments were being threatened. What insult on the Nigerian people. Nothing was done and these men stil walk the streets of the nations as though they owe us no explanation.
Oh…c’mon!!! $16 Billion for the power sector mismanaged? I can hardly breathe! Siemens bribed our government officials?? What’s happening here?? Iyabo Obasanjo did what???? You mean almost all the governors paid their way in there??? NOw I need a gas tank to breathe!! I am a Nigerian and our politics is choking me!!! Who will rescue us and divorce our politics from money. It is impossible to marry the two and not expect the twin children of corruption and poverty. We will not be delivered from this imbroglio and uncanny men will continue to dominate our politics and jump on tables to trade punches in place of decent positive argument communication. I am raising this discussion not because I intend to provide answers by myself, for that would be sheer mockery on my part. But I do this to stimulate a viable discussion that an generate the necessary consensus to press hard upon our leaders to absolutely regulate if not remove enirely the element of money from our politics. Like I said earlier, I still want to pour out, but I must cease here to make the rest of this discussion possible.
First of all I must say that Hillary has a lot of supporters that are heavily passionate. You can feel how their fervor exudes from their speech and gesticulations on their position on the present state of things in the Democratic Nominating Process. Approximately 70% – 80% of her supporters are women, and among the women population, approx. 70% of these are older women. I was keen on observing this trend as I stood outside the hall for 2 hours waiting to get into the venue of her much anticipated speech.
There were ranting and screaming outside and many distributed various fliers stating different claims. Some were inviting people to a film presentation on Hillary in NY and others were fund raising. DENVER! DENVER! DENVER! broke the silent neighborhood and created a sort of slow traffic movement as motorists slowly passed by wondering what this madness was all about. The press also had a huge presence there and like ants scurrying away food for the winter, they garnered enough stories from supporters and picked on individuals adorning campaign tshirts for video interviews.
A twist in happenings outside came when an intruder came within Hillary’s holy flock. Wearing a bold OBAMA ’08 shirt and carrying a huge poster: DROP OUT NOW!!! he was a really bold man in the midst of wounded women. I really felt sorry for him for all the railings and invectives he got. The police had to call him aside and counsel him to move to a farther location to express his concerns. Interesting I thought. A lot of old women with walking aids loitered around and trying to make their shrill voices heard. I thought this was beautiful as democracy can get, for people to feel that they still mattered in the scheme of things.
Still outside, I stuck myself closely to a few commentaries people were giving outside. Of course they were comfortable around me as I quickly bought a $2 Hillary pin and got a sticker on my shirt. The crux of their discussion was that they have no idea who Obama is and where did he appear from. He has no track record and he only speaks about change without concrete evidences of what he can do. One conspiratorialist of a woman was busy propagating that there is a new video or picture of Michelle Obama and Louis Farrakhan wife posted on the web and that is going to sway the judgment of the Super delegates. She stated that by thursday, a huge number of them will move over to support Hillary and that will end the strife and she will become the nominee. Scary!!
Well, I eventually got in about 8:45pm after a long 2:50mins wait outside. The hall was not so big as it is the Baruch college basketball hall that was used, so at most about 15,000 – 20,000 people were around, but only about 2000 – 3000 people could access the hall and I was in the privileged few. Don’t ask me how. I sat in my house and received a invitation to the rally by an inside friend, so I got in smoothly. Of course there was shouting and slogans every corner as typical of a campaign. And we all waited expectantly for Hillary to appear. I knew that she would only appear when she has been confirmed winner of South Dakota as the exit polls showed. And indeed she appeared at 9:30pm to a rousing welcome from a hungry crowd of wild supporters.
Hillary opened the speech by declaring she had won the contest in South Dakota. She went on to congratulating Obama for a spirited campaign and ended there. The rest was a tribute to the wonderful campign she has had and who she is and what she would love to do for America. I was so disappointed by this speech because I knew that somewhere else, Obama was praising the virtues of the American people as a whole and placing them in the fore-front of a change he is offering. All Hillary could have done was to have warmed her way into the hearts of American by a speech that extends an olive branch to the Obama campaign like he had done towards her. But no, the people behind her were screaming to get to Denver and keep the fight going even in the face of serious disadvantages for the party. I felt the air seeping out of me and such an asphyxiating environment almost made me run off. I tuned off after a while and resorted to taking pictures and then managed to get myself towards the door so i could quickly escape before the mad rush out.
On my way out I stopped to buy a bottle of Sierra Mist to quench my embittered thirst and was inescapably grabbed by an Italian Newspaper and a Japanese Newspaper interviewers and for the next 15 minutes drained the ideas out of me on how the democratic party could achieve unity. They both obviously were supporters of Obama from the comments they made. I bore my mind to them on several issues and told them why a joint ticket is ill-advised. I ran off from them and escaped another TV interview and ran along at about 10:30pm. Phew!!! What a day!
I got home to the threat of my wife to PLEASE REMOVE THAT HILLARY STICKER NOW OR GO AND MARRY HER!!!……(She didn’t say that ohhh…was just the speech that I got from her looks…lol). I tuned into CNN and heard the speech Obama gave and said to myself, “this guy must have an adviser filled with the Holy Ghost!!