As it is often said, the greatest calamity that could befall a man is self deception. It is a fact in history that since independence Nigerian leaders have been deceiving themselves, and by implication the Nigerian nation and Nigerian people. Nigerian leaders have been pursuing developmental programmes and policies on the TV and pages of newspapers. It does not go beyond their oesophagus because it is not concrete and original. Beneath them, all is corruption. That is the most concrete and original thing that underpins their initiation, conceptualisation and pronouncement. This is the deception that has helped cripple Nigerian potentials, character and contents.
We delude ourselves that we are the giant of Africa simply because the wealth of the masses is at the disposal of our leaders to dole out to other African countries that are in need. This is done without regard to the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens. Without putting the future of this nation into consideration, investible monies are squandered pursuing the big brother Africa status. They believe that the greatness of Africa lies in donating monies to other brother African countries. Some African leaders have acted patriotically in the repositioning of their countries to put smiles on the faces of their people. The role of such leaders like Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Amilca Cabral, Nelson Mandela and, of recent, Jerry Rawlings deserves special mention. They stood out not only because they had progressive ideas, but because they were honest, courageous and selfless. For instance, about two decades ago Nigerians fled Ghana because of the activities of corrupt leaders. Today Ghana dwarfs Nigeria in all facets of living. Ghana has today become Switzerland to Nigerian public officials. Major conferences that ought to be organised in Nigeria now hold in Ghana. Nigerian students, rich men and investors have relocated or are relocating to Ghana en-mass. The secret of Ghana's success is predicated on simple but responsive leadership initiated by Jerry Rawlings' political revolution – a tactical political surgery that eliminated those irresponsive elements that continuously mismanaged the common destiny of Ghanaians.
While Rawlings found it extremely important to eliminate them in order to pave the way for the advancement of the fatherland, Nigerians celebrate their corrupt leaders despite the worst atrocities they commit against the people and the nation. As they steal and plunder the commonwealth, Nigerians hail them as achievers and men of clout. While Ghana's achievement was rooted in the understanding that those that were responsible for the country's woes must give way, looting and corruption continues to hold Nigeria and her people backward in the face of a progressing Ghana.
Rawlings was in Nigeria recently to teach the challenges of democracy in Africa on the invitation of Media Trust, publishers of Trust newspapers. The chairman of Ghana's electoral commission was also in Nigeria to lecture us on how to conduct free and fair elections in Nigeria. Somebody from Ghana's national fire service ministry is billed to admonish Nigerians on fire safety in an upcoming seminar.
The lecture series is not limited to the political circle alone. Even the recently concluded FIFA U-20 World Cup was part of the lecture series. The Ghanaian team taught their Nigerian counterparts the role of commitment, discipline, courageousness and patriotism as a pre-requisite to success. This is the secret of Ghana's emergent success. Can the same thing be said of our own leaders? Which country will be so naïve to invite them to come and speak in their national seminars or conferences? Until we tell ourselves the truth, we will continue to rely on Ghana for now.