A tale of two tears: when tears are not enough…

It is their right to demand for leaders that care, leaders that are humble and leaders that understand the people; they should also define what kind of caring leaders they want. There is a caring leader urging them to touch fire and giving them bread after their hands are burnt and another one barking order to prevent them from going near fire. Both are caring leaders, your choice is final. …. Isqil Najim

As the election approaches, emotions were running high and the electioneering at its highest crescendo. Citizens divided while fear and anxiety became the primary motivation for assessing who will become their next president. On the other side of the wing are those who are polarized along ethno-religious sentiment. They came up with all manner of slogans and catchy phrases and fabrications. It worked, depending on what side you are. Outside these two boundaries, few bothered to look beyond rhetoric, and those few had their voices dimmed. They were never heard.

As the alliance between the two most selfish parties in Nigeria swung between reality and absurdity, the leader at the centre of the alliance, saw clearly through the scheme of things. The reality down on him: Optimism alone can’t win the election. Nobody wanted to make personal sacrifice; everything was about their parties, the leaders and the post-election sharing formula. At that instance, the welfare of the people and the future of the country took backseat. They talked about integrity of a single man, about religion, about fear of one man from dominating the next government and bringing his dirty past into the alliance, about vice presidential slot. Not a single time did they all put their selfishness aside and talk about the general interest of the 70% poor people who are bearing the brunt of misrule of the past. It was as clear as a moon in cloudless night that they are only concerned about their political fortunes. There were united by two things, lust for power and desire to wrest power from their common foe, PDP.

Then it happened. Few days to the election, the alliance predictably collapsed and the General wept, in public glare. A man known for his hard-talk and is bravadoes in war-front; a hardened General displayed his human side. Many thought he was heartless, cold and blood thirsty but this time, they can see that he is human. No one knew why he cried until recently.

….and the citizens’ response? Everyone gave interpretation that suited his perception of the man. . They all competed for honour in reading the inner working of the General’s mind. Most popular explanation was also the most ridiculous: He was crying because he sense defeat in the forthcoming election. His opponents celebrated his pain and his associates tried elusively to explain away the tear. Muted explanation was that he was a caring leader who meant well for the country.  The election came and the rest, as they say, is history. He lost convincingly, rigging or no rigging. His tears came too late.

Fast forward: 2012; at a scene of the clash of Dana airline, the president who won the election where his major rival wept; who was smiling over a year ago while coasting to pyrrhic victory is now in the news. No, it is election matter; He wept openly, when he saw the magnitude of the destruction that stared him in face. The pain of families and the sorrow and general mourning that overtook the whole nation becomes palpably visible. He had earlier declared three days of mourning.

With a power that can be described as one of the most concentrated in democratic Africa; the president who can hire and fire at will, who has both the legislators, ministers and the judiciary in his pocket; the man who can get things done at the click of a mouse or dial of a phone and in possession of such a intimidating power stood in front of the site of the Dana airline crash and wept. Standing at the wreckage of the crash, his failure confronted him squarely in face. His emotion boils over. Not even the permanent smile on his face could prevent the rain!

I realized that this man could have saved his tear and instead unleash his anger at anyone found culpable in the negligence. A truly caring and emotionally loaded man will, at impulse call for suspension of the minister in charge if not resignation. Action is what is needed and not downpour of tear that will return to Aso rock as if nothing ever happened.

Sadly, his supporters and spin doctors are quick to go on air.  Here is “the president that care” etc. For the first time since the beginning of the year, I lost my cool. I got angry at the people laundering his image for him… I have refused to get angry at him in the past despite the temptation. I strongly believe inside of me that he meant well. But he needs to clear some idiots around him... Too much faux pas not good for the system. Absent-mindedly, I broke the nearest bottle around me. I guess that did it.

I was angry at the realization that some people are always waiting to cash in on the sorrow of others, to make political statement. Press, media, activists, bloggers, politicians (as one of my friends, drummed it into me on twitter. He called it cheap political strategy) and many more; all to show that they are working and to emotionalize the moment, not because they actually feel the pains and pangs of the victims, but to ingratiate themselves into the heart of the gullible masses. “Leaders that care... Indeed.” Fools!

Inside of my mind, I was overtaken by a serene and tranquil state: My natural element. I can see clearly what is ahead of me and I can now understand.

The two leaders wept at different times in our nation’s history. At a defining moment that caught all the by surprise.  I can see two leaders with good intentions ensconced among super-stooges and sycophants, who tell them what they wanted to hear and whose opinions they value so highly that all of their decisions and indecisions depended on it. Both leaders gambled with their emotions and showcased their weaknesses before the world instead of taking decisive action which only need their will-power. The two tears are clear messages to Nigerians. They are neither artificial nor stage-managed., in my view. They call for sober reflection.

The first leader wept because he saw his dreams of making a difference evaporating right before his eyes. He soon realized that it is not in his power to get to that coveted seat. He needs the electorates and good advisers around him, not noise makers. So he wept for Nigeria and of course for whatever other reasons he may have in mind; the second leader wept because he had the power to change things; he has the mandate to turn things around, but clearly things are not working the way they should. Something just keeps going wrong. Seeing families plunged into sorrow is one of the highlights of his administration. We must also bear in mind there was a bomb blast in Bauchi that same day. I do not see this tear as sign of caring but as an emotional outburst that aroused after watching the magnitude of his (aviation) policy failure. This is clearly the reason he promised to appraise all the ministries within two weeks after seeing the failure in aviation sector.

Another observation; these two leaders may, indeed mean well for the nation and they are telling two different stories about our dear country and her people in different languages. Each episode, coming after the other and each ending/outcome directly proportional to the kind of advice they get from their advisers and the kind of people around them. In the final analysis, the people are the ones bearing the brunt of the miscalculation. Strangely enough, it is the choice that people made that is bearing fruits.( I will post my thought on this at a later date)

People can talk, rant, curse and even blame their leaders, but they have no one to blame but themselves. If they indeed have learned anything from the past history, they will NEVER let ethno-religious sentiment become the fulcrum upon which to assess the next person who will rule them.  And of course, they will listen to the voice of God and stop thinking all they need is trooping out to protest, or calling for change. They must turn to God, and also use their common sense. Yet, they must realize that God will not do for them, what they must do with their thumbs. It is their right to demand for leaders that care, leaders that are humble and leaders that understand the people; they should also define what kind of “caring leaders” they want. There are caring leaders urging them to touch fire and offering them bread after their hands are burnt; and another group barking order to prevent them from going near the fire. Both are caring leaders, your choice is final.

I pray the Lord console the nation!

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