@PTO_Official: WHOM SHALL WE SEND?
I am most elated being able to live through two cycles of papacy. One forced through natural but more common means, while the latest, and surprisingly cut short by its occupant, has naturally generated shock-waves. Social media in all their generous capacity literally imploded with followers and leaders on twitter scrambling to beat each other to religious punditry, raising dust about possible conspiracies and what Benedict’s announcement might and might not portend for the catholic church.
The frenetic pace at which journalists (mostly European and American) put to paper their pen, minutes after this announcement, with accurate, educative and quite objective sets of citable lines, is interesting. This historic turn of events as any such would be, has raised a lot of issues. Some commentaries have drawn lessons of humility, care and the love of the church from the widely revered act of gracefully vacating the office of Bishop of Rome due to health reasons.
Talking about lessons. Learning. Being Learned. Variations of the word do not seem to create another meaning in what continually saddens my heart. First, will African leaders ever own up to ill health and abdicate office? Timothy Cardinal Dolan, of the archdiocese of New York had these to say: “The holy father…his resignation is another sign of his great care for the church, we are sad he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless service to the church. Look how many African leaders, have chosen to convert elected or forcefully taken offices to family dynasties. We need not look far off; domesticating this embarrassing trend is big enough a discourse. Only quite recently(precisely Sept. 19,2012), Sullivan Chime of Enugu State left the country without as much as a word to the electorate and tax payers, on whose bill he tripped- yes, that’s no News!, What is News- Sad News is that he came back into the welcoming hands of those whom he so slighted! What I saw was not a rented crowd, the people of Enugu state came out en masse to welcome an outlaw of a politician. This was definitely not a prodigal son’s welcome- It was more of kaabo se dada lo de (meaning, welcome hope you are doing fine).
What is it about the power?? If the guys we place so high in position are ‘sick’ shouldn’t we be a bit sane. Our nation has bi polar disorderliness so much so we all need to look inwards. Certain people- who love to answer to acronyms like media aide or attack dogs for these tricksters also conspire in this shame game. An example is Danbaba Suntai’s case. The desperation to show the world he is still fit is class. Reminiscent of Late Umaru Yaradua’s BBC broadcast. Doctored pictures, edited voice-overs, money changing hands in the fourth estate of the realm, for and on behalf of people who have mortgaged our future?!
Lessons again! The most similar characteristic of both post papacy era that I have witnessed is the level of banter about succession. In as much as I do not have first- hand knowledge of how the internal politics of the hierarchy work, I do know for sure that, within the precincts of the Basilica and amongst the princes of the church, there must be hushed conversations about the prefereti. Just after the death of John Paul II, there were names and now there are names pushed out. From Nigeria’s Arinze, Ghana’s Tuckson and the Brazilian Scherer, analysts have started hoisting different identities and brandishing their credentials, even though the final outcome of the election conclave may never be affected by all these. Local newspapers in Nigeria were not left out in these schemes, going as far as presenting the newly robed John Onaiyekan as a contender. The viability of any of the purported papabili is not my cup of tea right now. Obviously whoever emerges as the new Pontiff, even if a Nigerian cannot and will never have any direct impact on the livelihood of an average Nigerian not to talk of people around the poverty boundary. What strikes me is the pointer to our own situation.
The performance of the ruling party over the past fourteen years is self abdicating. I do not think anybody, except people feeding directly off the largesse at the center, and their cronies, will be hoping to vote them in come 2015. Perhaps for the benefit of doubt, we may need to reiterate the necessity for CHANGE.
If we then need to change hands, what I think we should bother ourselves with right now is a national discourse on who we need to push up front- a team that we can trust to start the turnaround we need. A group of people who have delivered goods in their private lives and businesses, people who will ride on the popularity of their past successes and evidence of selfless service to their community, not accidental, good-luck godfather foisted individuals who are not prepared for the onerous task that lay in wait.
In as much as this is a necessary discussion, at least in my own opinion, I recognize the fact that our divisive nature based on ethnic and religious sentiments will play a negative part in this call for massive opposition. People have without credible evidence in the past labeled notably credible candidates like Gen Muhammad Buhari as religious bigots and mastermind of bloodshed, and more recently, Nasir El Rufai, who helped his critiques to a field day by his unfortunate retweet. I have read people make a case for a younger crop of politicians and I ask who? Is It Dimeji Bankole, or Farook Lawan, who both represent a constituency of deceit and shame? Or should we cut the crap and say Pat Utomi and Nuhu Ribadu, who will both struggle with issues of popularity and acceptance at the grassroot?
I do not want to get into the temptation of calling names and doing a rating of whom I think the cap might fit. If we agree that it is best to continue as a TRUE federal entity, all I hope for is to be able to incite an all encompassing discourse which must converge in a consensus to produce a team that must lead this inevitable change.
I think we must start to think of a platform where a picture of our next set of leaders will be painted. It is said that time flies, but the good news is that we all are the pilots. We shouldn’t wait for when the period beckons on our doorstep or creeps up on us, and we start scrambling to get our acts together, because then, the drama on the tower of babel will easily replicate itself; we must start to understand each other’s thoughts now, so that with one voice, we can speak at the nick of time.