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If a writer does not generate hostility, he is dead – Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, Nobel Laureate in Literature (2001).
In any man that keeps silent in the face of tyranny, the man dies – Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nobel
Laureate in Literature (1986).
Those who vote (in elections) decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything –
Maximum Leader Josef Stalin of the now defunct USSR.
Those who fail to learn from history are often condemned to repeating its mistakes – George
After the uprising of the 17th June/The Secretary of the Writers’ Union/Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinalee/Stating that the people had forfeited the confidence of the Government/And could win it back only by redoubled efforts/Would it not be easier in that case/For the Government to dissolve the people and elect another? – Berthold Brecht.
First they came for the Socialists/And I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist/Then they
came for the Trade Unionists/And I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist/Then they came for the Jews/And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew/Then they came for me/And there was no one left to speak for me – Pastor Martin Niemoller.
Each of the quotes above speaks to the Nigerian situation. Death for “hate speech” notwithstanding,
conscionable people must still speak out because, speak we die; keeping silent we also die. Stalin,
were he to be alive, would marvel that in Nigeria, not even those who count the votes determine the
outcome of elections but political thugs backed by partisan military and consenting INEC. In all of
this, we pretend not to know that previous democratic experiments got truncated on the twin altar
of election malpractices and corruption, both of which are not only rife but also at an
unprecedented level, the pontificating of the ruling party notwithstanding. With the way elections
go today in Nigeria, the electorate have already been dissolved by Government. And those who
acquiesce, defend, promote, rationalise and overlook the shenanigans of today because they are
beneficiaries or are not yet the victims should know it is turn-by-turn. Their turn will come, by which time there will be no one left to speak out for them. What goes round comes around!
Nigerians generally are not analytical and methodical but flippant and flimsy. Sentiments – and not
reason – gauge our actions. We are the people Leopold Sedar Senghor, erstwhile Senegalese
president and author of “Negritude”, had in mind when he posited that reason is Hellenic
(White/Euro-American) while emotion/sentiment is African/Black. Like Aime Cesaire, you, too, may disagree with Senghor but the facts speak to the point.
Do we have a sense of history? Obasanjo as military Head of State started on-going destruction of
public education (witness the 1978 Ali Must Go students’ protests). He handed over power in 1979
knowingly to the worst set of civilians, saying the best candidate may not win in an election. Are they destroying the judiciary today? It started with Richard Akinjide’s 12 two-thirds of 19 states. The Supreme Court gave a judgment but said it should never be cited as precedent! Obasanjo handed the presidency over to Shehu Shagari and NPN. Oh, how they ruined Nigeria!
Lacking a sense of history, we allowed the same Obasanjo back into office in 1999. This was after he
had consented to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Obasanjo went to South
Africa to quip that MKO Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed. He probably would have
headed the Interim National Government but as editor of The PUNCH/Saturday PUNCH at that time, we got wind of the story and slammed it. The wily fox beat a quick retreat only to make a come-back in 1999. Handing over again in 2007, he chose the worst of three sick fellows. He paired him up with a nincompoop who barely knew his right from his left. Again, better candidates were shoved aside.
Nigeria almost collapsed as a result of the constitutional crisis engendered by Umaru Yar’Adua’s ill-
health and consequent death in office.
Obasanjo foisted Goodluck Jonathan on Nigerians. Between 2007 and 2011 we saw enough of
Jonathan to know he did not possess the guts, ability and agility to run the country. Yet, we gave him the nod on sentiments. He wobbled and fumbled till 2015 when the desperadoes hounded him out of office. As bad as Jonathan was, Muhammadu Buhari by his antecedents should not have been an option. Like Obasanjo! We, however, did not, again, do due diligence.
Buhari was a dictator in his first coming. He is a worse dictator now. Buhari had no mind of his own in his first coming, relying on the now late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon whom I described as his brain box.
Today the same Buhari relies on a cabal that rule from behind a scantily-concealed veil. Religious
bigot, ethnic jingoist, clueless and incompetent – everything that Buhari was in 1983/1985 he has
been today with renewed vigour and vitality. Our calamity is self-inflicted.
How can PDP/Bayelsans weep that Jonathan dashed his home state to APC? If Jonathan could let the presidency slip through his fingers in 2015, how dare you think losing a mere state would mean
anything to him? As our people would say, he who steps on his own dress would not mind shredding another man’s dress. We need to pay more attention to people’s antecedents before entrusting them with positions of responsibility.