By Alinnor Arinze A.
Many of us were born in very remote settlements in the ‘Third World’. These
communities, and some now cities and islands were not accessible before now but
for bridges. The bridges opened up those places to the benefit of ‘both sides’.
These bridges had lifespan or periods under which they must be closed for
repairs or reconstruction to make for continued usage. Most of the bridges in
the developing nations or third world countries were built by the developed
Looking at those bridges, many would believe that they were built to help
improve the living standard of people in the third world. But in most cases
they only helped the developed economies get more return on their investment in
those places. The interest of the masses who were hitherto alienated from the ‘other
side’ was never the reason for the bridges.
If we take a look at the countries seen or regarded as Third World, all were
former colonies of the developed economies. They all literally granted their
former colonies their plea for political independence but never allowed them
economic independence. They do not only build and repair bridges and other
major infrastructure but would want to continue to do so to the detriment of
the people; they would not allow the people to develop the capacity to do those
No wonder the Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang ‘Teacher don teach
me nonsense’. In his song, Fela remarked that it was the responsibility of the
teacher to correct his students whenever they made mistakes. But in the case of
our former colonial masters, they never bothered about correcting our
innumerable mistakes which emanated from what they handed down to us, because
our despicable situation bettered their economic status. Many people back in
the days had accused the Abami Eda of acute verbal diarrhea, but we know better
Our people used to have their traditional concept about leadership and
politics. But our teachers made us discard them and gave us theirs perceived as
superior. Their redefinition of this part of our life had only helped destroy
us; they gave us democracy. They said it meant government of the people, for
the people, and by the people. But Fela Anikulapo Kuti looked analytically at
it and said it meant ‘demonstration of craze, or crazy demonstration. They
claimed that the system would make government or governance closer to the
people. Take another look at most of the countries categorized as Third World
and all you would see are imprints of the colonial masters; civil rule and not
The bridge they built for us was meant to connect the leadership and the
followers. But it has not translated to anything meaningful in terms of the
development of the people and our teachers are ‘silent’. Our teachers are not
unaware of the situation in all their former colonies but prefer to sit on the
fence and mend it. They have people in different places in each of their former
colonies who update them. They set up different organizations and agencies who
they make look like they are out to fight or cushion the effects of the
absurdities and the abuse of human rights. After all, it is safe to say that
slave trade was not evil but purely and strictly business with our forefathers
who gave our people in exchange for perishable items.
It is said that, ‘if you say you’re leading and nobody is following then
you’re only talking a walk’. John Maxwell also said that everything rises and
falls on leadership. In this vein, we are sort of only replicating what our
teachers taught previously which cannot be called leadership. The truth is that
leadership in this part of the world had been ineffective because of the faulty
foundation our teachers laid. Even now, our teachers would always meet with our
‘leaders’ but just to bargain and make sure their vested interest is protected.
In the past, we had a few people who were in the front line of the crusade
for the welfare of the people. Most of these people have had the privilege of
being elevated (selected or elected) to take positions of leadership either
because of their commitment to the cause of the people or for being
‘garrulous’. Our teachers also were in most cases the forces behind the
elevation. The very moment these ‘our people’ got to those positions of
leadership, the bridge that once existed between them and their people ceases
to exist; the only existing bridge would be the one between them and our
teachers. The same people who were championing the cause of their people
changes like chameleon; their pronouncements, stance, and policies all of a
sudden become elitist. They no longer feel the pulse of the people, then there
is no longer a bridge.
Our teachers must have advised our ‘leaders’ on how to appear to be close to
the governed. Their advice I guess must have prompted the creation of offices
without portfolios. For our ‘leaders’ to be effective or appear to be so they
must hire loads of aides. These aides would serve as the bridge that should
have existed. What a great idea! No wonder we have senior and junior bridges.
The senior bridges should be able to carry or convey what the junior bridges
cannot. In every sphere of life, there must be a Special Assistant, then a
Senior Special Assistant. All the Assistants (Junior, Senior and Special) must
all have their own bridges while they were brought to serve as bridges. So they
the Assistants are also entitled to Personal Assistants for smooth and
effective coverage of fields of endeavour.
At this juncture, let us ask, why is the teacher silent in the face of all
the mistakes and absurdities? The teacher may actually be enjoying sitting on
the fence and mending the same. I do not think the advice of the teacher to our
‘leaders’ to construct those bridges was a bad one. But if the revelations from
Wikileaks are anything to go by, we would then understand that there is no
bridge because our teacher is the bridge having influenced the building,
appointment or selection of the bridge.
If there must be meaningful development in the third world countries
especially in our part of the world, the bridges must be in places where none
existed and reconstructed in other places. A bridge in the real sense should
not be an ostrich. Failure in most assignments starts from not understanding
the actual role one is called to play. From all indications, most of the people
appointing or selecting the bridges do not understand why they are doing so
aside rewarding political loyalty or the seeming loquacious. And the very ones
so appointed or selected do not also know what their roles are.
No leader succeeds or governs effectively when there is a disconnect between
the leader and the followers. It is obvious that most leaders do not read local
newspapers, watch local television stations or listen to local radio stations.
How then do they claim to know what happens to their people? Their claim is
based on the report of the ‘bridges’ who are no bridges. You are left to wonder
whether these bridges actually read the newspapers or have time for television
and radio stations and their programmes which they have to relay to their
From all available records, it is clear that most people in this clime live
on less than one dollar bill a day. Invariably lack, hunger and abject poverty
can be easily perceived. The folks who are so appointed or selected seek to
first quench their thirst and hunger before looking behind their shoulders. In
order to avoid having their butts kicked they resort to organization of
solidarity visits and praise singers; to tell their principals sweet tales.
Every other person or group with divergent opinions is seen as a detractor and anti-progress.
There would not be any meaningful change until our ‘leaders’ stop seeing from
the distorted lens of these middlemen.
The bridge looks like the missing link based on the aforementioned. If the
leaders cannot reach their people because of ‘security protocol’, then the
bridges must be bridges and must be seen to be so. The bridges are not these
folks who suffer from acute verbal diarrhea and never mindful of the use of words
when addressing the people. The bridges are not praise singers; they are
actually to feel the pulse of the ‘people’ and report same. They are not the
folks who label people with genuine concerns detractors. Certainly, the bridges
cannot be the ones who call the governed useless critics, senseless agitators,
never do wells and all sort of names. I am sure the bridges are not these ones
who speak from both sides of the mouth and who stop at nothing in disparaging
When there is no bridge, there is no effective communication. When there is
no effective communication, visions are misunderstood. When there is no bridge,
the pulse of the people is not felt and there cannot be said to be real or
meaningful development but impoverishment.
(Arinze A. can be reached on: Arinze198@gmail.com,
www.arinze198.wordpress.com, Tel: 08098001782)