By CECILIA OLOGUNAGBA
NEW YORK- A U.S.-based Nigerian historian and Professor of Africana Studies, Apollos Nwauwa, has advised Nigerian politicians to learn from Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black President who gave all in the service of his country.
According to him, Nigerian politicians should learn from the humility, dedication and love of country and humanity as exemplified in Mandela.
Nwauwa, a Director of African Studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, U.S. gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York.
Nwauwa, who is the Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Movement (NDM), spoke on the sideline of the Nelson Mandela International Day, globally commemorated on July 18 to recognise his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom globally.
Mandela – affectionately known as “Madiba”, his Xhosa clan name – fought against the racist apartheid system in his homeland, and for equality and freedom for all people.
“Madiba neither allowed his fame and accomplishments to get into his head nor soiled his hands with ill-gotten wealth from the national treasury, a phenomenon which remains endemic in the Nigerian political clime.
“Of everything one may say about Mandela, corrupt personal enrichment is not one of them.
“Uniquely, Mandela is being celebrated internationally not because of his wealth in monetary term, for he had none of that, but for his love and sacrifice for humanity both in jail where he spent 27 years and in office as President of South Africa.’’
According to him, like Mandela, all candidates for the 2023 elective positions in Nigeria should vow and devote themselves to the ideals of love of country and service to humanity, and to serve their country without corrupt enrichment, settlement of personal scores.
Nwauwa further advised Nigerian politicians to eschew ethnic, religious, and parochial bigotry, which they often used as devious tactics in canvassing for support but which, like a double-edged sword, ended up in fanning embers of hatred and disunity in the country.
“Like Mandela, they should focus on true reconciliation by addressing the glaring issues of disunity orchestrated by marginalisation, inequity, and social injustice.
“Nigerian politicians should realise that greatness transcends the amount of ill-gotten wealth in one’s bank account.
“Today, Mandela is a global phenomenon based on his selfless leadership and dedication to humanity, and not because of numerous mansions acquired or limitless personal wealth accruing from politics, for he had none of that,’’ he said.
In addition, Nwauwa spoke about the unique virtues of the late icon, noting that he devoted his entire life to the service of his country, his people and humanity.
“Before he went to jail for anti-Apartheid actions, he said Mandela was a human rights lawyer who defended the helpless while in jail.
“He remained an unrepentant prisoner of conscience who only acquiesced to unconditional release and a pledge by the white minority regime to end Apartheid.
“Mandela, while in office as the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa, pursued a policy of truth and reconciliation rather than vengeance on those who had tormented him,’’ he said.
After he left the office, the don said Madiba became a crusader for justice, democracy, and international peace. Ironically, throughout his lifetime, Mandela was as meek as a dove, but as violent as a hawk.
“Yet he was so unique because he knew how and in what order and situations to deploy either peaceful protest or violent means to induce political change.
“Only analysts tend to remember that when it was absolutely necessary, Mandela used violence in pursuit of his service to humanity and social justice.’’
Once his sustained use of peaceful protests was met with violent killings of blacks, especially in Soweto and continuing brutal suppression of the African National Congress (ANC), he said Mandela resorted to violence to end Apartheid in South Africa.
“He was forced to go underground to become the “Black Pimpernel” and head of the dreaded “Umkhonto We Sizwe” (Spear of the Nation), a violent wing of the ANC responsible for bombings of targeted government establishments,’’ Nwauwa said. (NAN)