I grew up to understand that “words of our elders are words of wisdom” and that shaped my thoughts, behaviour and dealings with my elders. They are next to God, at least in the physical world. They are parents to all. I was also made to understand as a little boy that a man or woman in the same age bracket with one’s parent(s) should be accorded the respect we accord our parents. In other words, any man or woman old enough to be one’s father or mother is automatically his or her father or mother. There is a Yoruba adage that says, “you must address your father’s girlfriend as mother irrespective of her age.”
But today our elders have continued to shock me and people of my generation with provocative comments and utterances which most times make me wonder if truly their words have remained words of wisdom. I begin to imagine the wisdom in the words of an elder who says, “if power does not shift to the North in 2015, we will break-up Nigeria” or the one that says, “I am in Abuja ready to go into boxing bout with anyone that stands against Jonathan in 2015” or another elder that tells the new PDP chairman Adamu Muazu, “we do not want certain people re-admitted in PDP in Abia State”
Are these the kind of elders whose words the present generation should take as words of wisdom? Are these elders not literally asking the people of this generation to look inward and begin the search for true leaders since they have failed the nation? Are these elders not supposed to be shipped from the capital cities where they reside and forced to relocate to the villages where they came from? Will the younger generation ever know the truth with this kind of elders?
There is no gainsaying that these kind of elders are the ones the Igbos describe as “an old woman who struggles for soup while eating with a toddler.” When an elder resorts to signing an open letter written by his political associates which is now a norm, condemning a particular senatorial district or zone and insisting that it cannot produce the next governor of the state since there was no written agreement that the seat of governor should be rotated among the three senatorial districts then something is fundamentally wrong with these so called elders. It is either they are so used to the sweet national cake that they don’t want to let go or they are just haters of change. It is not surprising that most of them take new wives young enough to be their great-grand-children.
It is however sad that when the so called elders give advices to our leaders they take them hook, line and sinker. Their advices are based on ethnic and tribal linings. Their advices are on class and religious differences and they advice on how to amass wealth to protect or secure the future and interest of generation unborn. These elders are the real enemies of Nigeria. Surely if Jerry Rawlings were to be a Nigerian and if we are to drag the hand of time backwards to 1981certainly the ‘Rest In Peace’ (RIP) of these elders would have been written long ago.
The idea to allocate our God given oil wells to family members, political associates, friends and cronies came from these idle elders. The idea to sell our collective properties and national symbols to their private companies and friends all in the name of privatization came from these elders. The idea to zone our one and only beloved country into six geo-political zones came from them and today that monster called zoning is tearing every local government, state and Federal government apart. It is the real danger threatening the unity of this nation. As it gradually grows metamorphose into a vampire especially as we approach 2015, I hope it is the blood of these elders that it will suck and not that of the innocent young and poor Nigerians.
When Late former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was sick these same elders were the ones that tore his mother and wife (First Lady Turai) apart on how best to handle the health challenges of the sick leader. These elders fed the ignorant old woman with a different story and Turai with another. In the fullness of time, history and posterity will reveal all that transpired before, during and after Yar’Adua’s death particularly about the ailment that eventually cost him his life. The management of Yar’Adua’s health challenges will remain a topical issue any day and of course it will be a stunning revelation to all Nigerians. Recall that the clerics who eventually went to see our dearest Late President were also old men who came out to tell the rest of 150 million Nigerians lies that the sick man was recuperating and that in fact he was not looking sick and soonest he would return to his office. Accusing fingers have been pointed at these so called elders of ours for standing behind the militants in Niger-Delta and also they are behind the Boko Haram insurgency.
When our acclaimed June 12 1993 Presidential election winner, Late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola died in jail and a group of elders from the South West were asked to come to Aso Rock on invitation of Gen. Abdulsalaam Abubakar to discuss the way forward and the political future of the South West and by extension Nigeria, the so called elders some of whom are no more sold out. They came out from that meeting telling angry Nigerians that the country is bigger than one man (Abiola). A very bitter truth just as bitter as the pill they gave us to swallow. In fact they were double speaking as their tongues and lips were too slippery to control the sweet oil and drops of stew all over their mouths running down their jaws. The elders could not speak the truth, they could not stand by the truth and they were not ready to lay their lives for the future of their children and the better of Nigeria at large like Abiola did. Today some of them claim to be saints thus enjoying Late Abiola’s sacrifice. Today their children and family members occupy exalted offices and positions even at national level. Some of them are seeking contracts flaunting all manners of CVs shamelessly in Abuja.
My question then are –do you dear reader have an elder around you? Who is he or she to you? What kind of advice have you been getting from him or her? Are their words truly words of wisdom? Do you trust their words? Can you kill for them? By the way where are their children? After providing answers to these puzzles you will understand that perhaps there are a handful of true elders around us. We are indeed surrounded by elders who will tell you that there is nothing wrong in receiving a derica of rice and N500 note to vote for a known thief rather vote for a saint who has nothing to offer you at the moment after what the bird eats it flies with.
In the land where there are no true elders or where the few truthful elders have been overwhelmed by the majority of liars it will not be surprising to have a country with corrupt and visionless leaders from the Local councils to the national level, after all in the land of the blind one eyed man is always king.