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NOW, IT'S THE DAY AFTER!

NOW, IT'S THE DAY AFTER!

By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Fortunately, we have not heard that the new President was a heavy drinker. So, no likelihood of hangover this morning - after the drawn-out May 29 inauguration festivities. It's expected that he is up at work right now, sifting through the paperworks plucked out by the just past administration.

President Muhammadu Buhari

We expect enhanced and prompt work ethics, a clear and urgent regime of administrative procedures; a stubborn devotion to tough actions; a relentless cleansing of our filthy institutions ...and so on  and so forth - because the helmsman is the last man in the office, and the first to arrive; because he wakes up early to listen to news (what the world is saying, apart from what is being fed him). Well, that is what we believe.

As he has said repeatedly, so much is riding on Muhammadu Buhari's second coming in the hearts of ordinary Nigerian people. The expectations that their lives and that of their children will change for better are quite high. What he has not said repeatedly is the cause: the psyche of the Nigerian people has been thoroughly bashed and marched by wrong-headed actions, lousy lifestyles and insensitive statements of past administrations that we now throw a song and dance when elected officials stress themselves to do the simplest things we vote them to do.

We hail them when they build roads and bridges (as we were expanding a village); we dance when they commission a complex of shops and renovate a thriving market. Our people have been so severely traumatised that we rejoice when we see electricity for four hours in four days! "At all at all na him bad" has become our wailing defence of our leaders' mediocrity and lack of vision.

It is always convenient for the critic to lay into our perennial national woes and boundless energy in pauperizing our people in spite of our embarrassment of riches. We never get tired of telling sick stories of our repeated struggles with unending failures in leadership succession.  The circle of self-oppression has been so vicious that the ordinary folks turn on each other, snatching whatever they can from the weaker ones. We have all lost it so much that some don't care whether they die while aggressively thrashing all that their religions warn them about afterlife and hellfire. The common joke is that what we are living with here in Nigeria cannot be much worse than hell anyway. Well, perpetuation of wickedness (either from the leadership cadre or amongst the teeming followership) cannot be an excuse for survival.

They push us down (perhaps because we mistake them for leaders), but we choose to stay in the mud on our own accord. People who made great nations didn't have it on a platter of gold, or with stars guiding their efforts. No. They rose from the same mud as we are now, and clawed their ways to greatness, first in their individual capacity, and thereafter corporately. While at it, they insisted their leaders live by the same dictates and toiling that confronted them. They chose to conduct themselves and their businesses with integrity, fair-mindedness, shrewdness and self-discipline.

Without an exception, they held a healthy fear of a Supreme Being whose pleasure they craved while doing thing right and proper. Call it what you may, these nation builders were no saints; they didn't always get it right; even in retrospect some of their actions might be defined as bigotry, inhuman, self-serving, churlish, etc. In their bumbling trek to greatness, they could not be charged with docility, cowardice, frivolity, profligacy, etc.

As the new leader said in his grueling English: "We have an opportunity, let us take it". President Buhari has shown a resolve to turn his back on the woes of our past and the fabricators of our anguish - in a colourful turn of phrase, he calls all that folly "the past is prologue". So, let's begin to write new chapters and fresh pages in rebuilding our nation. Let us as family units decide, like Daniel did when he found himself at the King's succulent table while in Babylonian captivity.

Let us tighten our belt, ignore the enticing lure of quick fixes and fast money, and plug our mindset into doing things right and proper... Dragging ourselves away from past deals that contributed to ruining this nation, and reverse tendencies and indulgences that needlessly gulp our finances and energies. When we seek after the common good; when we open up our hands to help and inspire others; when we desire that nothing corrupt or improper would be seen or found in our lives and conduct; when we look beyond immediate or clannish gains and perks... when we do the right things which deep in our hearts are as clear as the November Sun; then we can justifiably expect no less from those who lead us.

We, the led and the leading, will have seized this latest opportunity to make our country stand strong and proud; her citizens well fed and protected; her children bubbling with great ideas and enterprise; her women building great homes and wonderful institutions; her men building strong structures and doing great exploits at home and abroad. In no time, the world will see the works of our hands, and give the glory to the Almighty God that we all serve in different tongues and tablets. That will be a great nation indeed.

May He bless our President, our Nation and our People.

Femi Akintunde-Johnson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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