I sometimes wonder why Nigerians are attracted to the worst of the West. We are attracted to people who have virtually nothing of substance to offer other than negative vibes. In 2013, a Nigerian R&B crooner Darey Art-Alade invited Kim Kardashian to Nigeria. She was reportedly paid $500, 000 for offering bad vibes; even President Barack Obama once stated in 2011 that he doesn’t like his daughters watching “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”! Yet the reject of the West is celebrated, embraced and cherished in Nigeria.
One of our artists invited Kim Kardashian, now our politicians have invited another political Kim Kardashian. The All Progressives Congress (APC) the political party of Muhammadu Buhari, the President elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has invited Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, to be the key note speaker at a conference tagged “Implementing Change: From Vision to Reality”. Tony Blair of all people? What is the moral platitude for this invitation? And upon what moral platform can Tony Blair actually stand to advocate for positive change? The honorable Desmond Tutu, one of Africa’s most illustrious leaders, withdrew his participation from a conference in South Africa in 2012 because Tony Blair was also invited as a speaker. He declined the invitation on the basis of the role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Again, just as Obama wouldn’t want Malia and Sasha to be watching the Kardashians, towering figures like Desmond Tutu sees no credibility in Tony Blair. Unfortunately the reject of ethical leaders enjoy the status of deification in Nigeria. There are countless Nigerians with unflinching credibility and tested reputation that could fulfill this purpose and talk about positive change that we desperately crave. This development of inviting Tony Blair is beginning to make me doubt the kind of change APC will offer Nigerians. If the messenger is wrong, the credibility of the message will be tainted. Message matters, and more important is the messenger!
As a student of leadership, I know too that leadership and morality are indivisible. And if truly good leaders are supposed to be the custodian of morality, then Tony Blair is the wrong messenger for positive change. The root cause of Nigeria’s present malaise is colonial mentality and until we are healed from all the vestiges of colonialism, we will continue to attract the personae non gratae of the world.