By Ahmad Deedat Zakari
I am not unmindful that weeping public officials and politicians are viewed with the lens of suspicion. However, the ineptitude of politicians and activists who cried their way to public offices is the main reason critics dismiss their weeping as mere optics and grand hypocrisy. In the case of the Minister of Communication, Isah Alih Pantami, I think most of his critics are only disappointed, having held him to a higher standard of character. Most of them think he should not be silent amidst our many challenges, particularly in the North. Therefore, they view his outburst of tears as giving attention to a lesser evil.
Pantami wept for what he deemed moral decadence while passing a message in a religious gathering. The sincerity of his tears was questioned and debated, but the concerns raised with those tears remains incontrovertible. As unpleasant as it sounds, a nation whose youths and citizens stole from a mall consumed by fire has lost its moral compass. Pantami acknowledged this sad reality with those controversial tears. We should all cry for our collective woes.
Like it is common with almost all societal problems, finding solutions starts from the sober admittance of the anomaly’s existence and recognizing the need for deliberate actions. In this situation, orientation is the way to go; it is necessary to teach the youths with model examples from leaders that life should not solely revolve around the craze for illegal acquisition of material things. And that there are nobler causes that make the world a better place. To be fair to Pantami, his message in that gathering was not less of an orientation. However, there is a need for a larger and more diverse platform for a more significant impact.
There are many issues worth our tears and palpable concerns in today’s Nigeria. For instance, we are riddled with devastating security situations up North and secessionist threats down South. Moreover, young people who should be under the warm protection of their parents and in classrooms roam the streets freely, demonstrating what extreme poverty is. All these amidst a biting economy, and governments at various levels appear to be in slumber.
It is undeniable that nations worldwide have challenges and problems peculiar to ours. The only difference lies in the actions of the governments and citizens of these nations. Sadly, we dwell more on trivialities than issues that uplift our country from the abyss of wreckage done to us all, especially our leaders. As thought-provoking as Pantami’s tears became, the genuineness or otherwise should not elicit serious attention; because we have more problematic issues that bother our survival as a nation.
It undoubtedly remains our right to express our misgivings and hold our leaders accountable for all their actions. However, building a dream country is far beyond talking too much and minor actions. Simply put, we are yet to captain our ship and take our nation’s destiny into our own hands, at least by my honest measure. Just like Pantami wept over what he considered offensive, we express our dismay regarding every issue we believe our country’s problem all the time.
But like JF Kennedy poignantly postulated, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” He used this historic sentence to call on Americans to civic actions and responsibilities. I believe the mindset of patriotism and owing one’s country civic obligation, plus deliberate actions like registering to vote and encouraging others to do the same, is the catalyst that will propel Nigeria to greatness.
Ahmad is a 5th-year Law student at the Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.