Having been in the writing-for-public-consumption business for a total of almost 20 years, albeit with a break, I ended my weekly essays for a Nigerian newspaper last Christmas. I knew – and did inform readers – that it was not yet a final goodbye to writing. Last June, I put together the idea for this blog with encouragement from one of my kids. She had gone through several copies of Emotan, the now rested women’s lifestyle magazine that I published and edited from 1977 to 1984, and thinks quite many of the materials need to be aired in a permanent online home as a contribution to the evolution and growth of lifestyle publications in Nigeria. She got the blog ready for me as far back as June last year.
Even though I continue to be an avid devourer of magazines, including lifestyle ones, I thought I was not interested in doing more blogging than I do in two Nigerian newspapers and an online political forum, Sahara Reporters at the moment. She convinced me that my participation in those online sites would be even enhanced while at the same time fulfilling the primary goal of sharing the old magazine materials and ideas with a new generation.
What finally did it for me is Nigeria’s coming elections which I believe need the opinions of all of us who have written about the political debasement of the last twelve years since the return of “democracy”. I sent in my opinion on why I think of all the candidates, retired General Buhari offers the best hope for the country and have been amazed at responses from readers of my old essays who reached out to me to speak out more on the elections, that I stopped writing “at the wrong time”, etcetera. There are just a couple of weeks left but hundreds are already dead in electioneering campaign violence; vote rigging are already at advanced stages in various parts of the country and the paid foot soldiers of those who hold the country by the jugular, are using ingenious means like opinion “polls” to confuse people.
Whoever becomes president – I’ve avoided using the word “wins” – cannot bring much change to people of my generation although it would be wonderful to live the rest of our lives in a just and orderly society. The country needs a leader who can bring hope to the youth of this country; a leader who can harness the incredible human resources of an energetic people into purposeful direction; a leader who will see to the building of new societal institutions and strengthening of existing ones; a leader who will ensure that the enormous petroleum wealth that the country generates would be used for her development and not just for top civil servants and politicians, and a leader that would ensure that those who break the law: looting, rigging and corruption of any kind, would have to face justice.
There are enough laws on the books to handle all the criminal behaviors that presently pass as political rascality.
In the skewed “federalism” that Nigeria operates, the presidency is very vital and its holder would dictate what happens at other levels. In Nigeria today, local government chairmen steal hundreds of millions of naira with nary a slap on the wrist. The judiciary has become cash-and-carry; high court judges lobby – yeah, bribe – to get on election tribunals because it’s a veritable cash cow.
Retired General Buhari – warts and all – stands heads above everybody else in the presidential race. He is stern, might have put drug couriers to death, clamped down on the press, etcetera while military head of state but he has the legislative arm to contend with this time PLUS, he’s the only one who can stare the corruption monster down and slay it. Nigeria’s greatest impediment to greatness, we are all agreed, IS corruption.
Welcome to my blog. After the elections, I should start operating the blog as hoped and planned. The home page will be jazzed up but will reflect its antecedents!
London, England, March 30, 2011.