Home / Editorials / MANDELA’S NIGERIA: What Lessons For Nigerian Leaders? -By NkutJesus Ekpoudom

MANDELA’S NIGERIA: What Lessons For Nigerian Leaders? -By NkutJesus Ekpoudom

Whenever there is a discourse on the thoughts of African political thinkers-namely, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, known for his Philosophical Consciencism, Nnamdi Azikiwe known for his Neo-Welfarism, Leopold Senghor (Negritude), Obafemi Awolowo,
(Democratic Socialism), Julius Nyeyere (Ujaama), there is also a man whose name readily comes to mind and who is, even today
still respected by his people and througout the world. His name is Nelson Mandela, ex South African President(1994-1999) who was sentenced for life imprisonment (1963-1990).

Mandela, before his discharge and death, spent days in hospital in Pretoria unlike most Nigerian leaders, who, when sick, would have travelled to Germany, London etc, (Nigeria’s 37th State, perhaps) for treatment. He was
very comfortable in his native hospital. Perhaps to my mind, his work, Long Walk to freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (1995), is the best work to contain who and what this man of many parts was made of, for it is impossible to exhaust his
achievements here socially, politically and intellectually in this write-up.

Mandela, whose native name Rohihlahla means trouble maker, lived up to his name. He made
justifiable troubles with the whites till his people were liberated. He arrived this world
on July 18th, 1918 as the eldest son of a Temba Chief. Although he lost his father at the age of 12, he never allowed this to be an excuse for not becoming who he had wanted to be- a lawyer and president.

Blessed with 6 children, though four are alive (Mazkgatho, Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi),
Mandela attended the University College at Fort Hare (1938-1940) and studied Anthropology, English and Politics in his fist
year. He joined the African National Congress in 1944.

Mandela’s Philosophy of emancipation was a bold response to the discrimination,
subjugation, oppression, segregation and marginalization of his people by the whites.

He remains, even if in death,an anti-apartheid icon. But, if he were a Nigerian, what lessons
would Nigerian Politicians/leaders have learnt?

Mandela’s life: Any lesson for Nigerian politicians/leaders?

Mandela, indeed, was a great man, a man who made life worth living for his people. How many of such persons, let’s ask ourselves, do we have in Nigeria? Some of our Nigerian politicians (s)elected to represent us have disappointed us woefully. Having fought racist government, using the Mandellan approach, Mandela’s idea is pragmatic and
can work in Nigeria, a nation plagued by squandermania, corruption, looting, examination malpractices, cheating, sexual
scandals, electoral malpractice, and so on.

The list is endless. His ideas can be used to sanitise the Nigerian system.
It is at times permissible to make a critical evaluation of Nigeria especially as regards elections. It is the case that government is the servant of the people and must be
responsible to the people. This is what Mandela stood for. When shall we have genuine elections in Nigeria? When shall Selectocracy and Partycracy (Government of
the party, for the party and by the party), be dead and buried?

Can we say farewell to corruption, goodbye to embezzlement of public funds and even rest in peace to selfish,
greedy and callous elites? Sadly, it is mostly in Nigeria that we find one man making a single
public donation of money which exceeds his annual income, and in some cases his whole-life income.

He may be richer than the State
and no one cares to know his sources of wealth.

When Nathaniel Ndiokwere in his book Only in Nigeria wrote that it is only in Nigeria that Squandermania has become a cherished culture of a depressed nation, that Trillions, Billions, Millions of Dollars and Naira have been Squandered in unplanned, often useless and uncompleted projects, he was not
mincing words.

How many Nigerian politicians would have rejected the offer as Winnie, (Mandela’s wife) did,when she was,in December 1997, nominated as the ANC’s Deputy President,which she would have won? Do you know too that the philosopher, Mandela, hasn’t died a millionaire? To some Nigerian Politicians,this would be foolishness, I suppose.

Mandela didn’t crucify his political enemies unlike most of our Nigerian politicians. What
a lesson! It is high time our politicians repented. Perhaps when “Mandelaism” is fully
appreciated, Nigeria shall not only be growing but shall be developing tremendously.

Nigerians certainly need liberation. As we continue to pray for Mandela who has been
blessed with twenty one Grand Children and three Great Grandchildren, I have a conviction that Mandela is with the Lord. As my very good friend and mentor, Osondu Ahirika would say to which I concur, “Nothing beats a good name. No amount of riches can compare with it. Let that be a lesson from
Madiba to Nigerians”.

May his soul find eternal rest. Amen!

Written By NkutJesus Ekpoudom

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