On Nigeria’s leaders and insatiable greed

Amidst the chaos and corruption in Nigeria, I strongly believe that there are still those who stand as beacons of hope. These are the leaders who, despite facing myriad challenges, remain steadfast in their commitment to uplift the nation and its people. Their unwavering dedication serves as a deep contrast to the rampant greed and self-interest that often circulate the political arena.

Yet, amidst the noble efforts of these few, there exists a pervasive culture of corruption and greed that threatens to undermine the fabric of our society. To those who prioritise personal gain over the welfare of the nation, I implore you to pause and consider the legacy you are crafting. For in the annals of history and in the eyes of a higher power, your actions will be judged not by the wealth you amass, but by the lives you impact and the integrity you uphold. It is never too late to heed the call of conscience and strive for a future where service to others reigns supreme.

When one looks into the realm of the current Nigerian politics, one often wonder why people vie for political seats? Is it to serve the nation and its people, or is it simply a means to amass wealth and power? The unfortunate truth is that for many, the latter seems to be the primary motivation. The political seat is far from being merely a luxury or a recreational spot for leisurely pursuits; it is, in essence, an institution designated for diligent work and devoted civil service. Can we envision a scenario where individuals or collectives emerge with a genuine commitment to public welfare, forsaking any allowances associated with governance? Consider the prophets of God, who delivered divine messages without seeking worldly gain, exemplifying a selfless dedication to their cause despite their poor state, a lot will clap back by saying that is their time. Perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift in the remuneration of government officials, redirecting focus from personal enrichment to altruistic service.

It’s no secret that the temptation of political office in Nigeria is often equated with a slice of the proverbial “national cake”, a euphemism for the opportunities to enrich oneself through corrupt practices rather than a genuine desire to serve the public. Think of our nation as a national cake realm, a cake that everyone must have their fair share of. However, instead of viewing political office as an opportunity to serve slices of this cake to the people, many politicians see it as a chance to devour the cake entirely for themselves. This insatiable greed has fueled a culture of self-serving leadership rather than one focused on genuine service to the nation.

Imagine if every politician approached their role with the mindset of a servant-leader, dedicated to improving the lives of their constituents rather than lining their own pockets. It would be a transformative shift that could reshape the trajectory of our nation for the better. But the problem doesn’t solely lie with our political leaders; it’s a societal issue as well. We, as citizens, must acknowledge our role in perpetuating this cycle of greed. Just as individuals jostle for a larger portion of food during palliative distribution or communal gatherings, so too do politicians maneuver to secure their own interests at the expense of the common good.

Even within religious institutions, the same self-serving mentality persists. Tithes and offerings intended for the upkeep of the church are often misappropriated for personal gain by those entrusted with their stewardship. It’s a sobering reminder that greed knows no bound and can corrupt even the most sacred of institutions. We must look beyond the teachings of our religious leaders, individuals who are meant to serve as role models for our political leaders. Yet, even within religious institutions, we see a prevalence of greed and self-interest.

We need to emulate the discipline and selflessness of historical figures like Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ, who lived modestly and prioritised the welfare of others above their own. While we may not reach the same level of their attainment, we can certainly strive to embody their spirit of service in our own lives and actions. Political office should be seen as a platform for service, not a pathway to personal enrichment. It’s a mentality that has perpetuated corruption and hindered genuine progress in our beloved nation. But it’s high time we changed this narrative.

Imagine if, hypothetically, serving in any political position only guaranteed an allowance equivalent to that of a senior-level civil servant. Would the corridors of power still be as crowded with eager contenders? Likely not. This hypothetical scenario underscores the stark reality that for many, the zeal of political office lies not in the opportunity to serve but in the promise of personal gain. Nigeria’s political leaders are among the highest-paid political office holders globally. Yet, their earnings do not commensurate with the development and progress our nation so desperately needs. It’s time for a paradigm shift—a shift towards leadership that prioritizes service over self-interest.

It’s imperative that we look to the examples set by our heroes, individuals like Nelson Mandela, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and the host of others who sacrificed personal gain for the greater good of their nations. These individuals sacrificed their own comfort and well-being for the greater good, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire generations. They believe that true greatness lies not in amassing wealth but in leaving a positive and lasting impact on society.

As political leaders, it’s incumbent upon us to leave behind a legacy of service and selflessness. What will you be remembered for as a senator, honorable, governor, or president? Will you be hailed as a national hero, servants of the people or slaves to our own greed, will your name fade into obscurity? Remember, the true rewards of heroism extend beyond this life—they await us in the hereafter. Let us strive to be worthy of such accolades.

Haroon Aremu, youth corps member at PRNigeria centre, writes via [email protected].