By Dele Sobowale
“When all think alike; no one thinks very much”. Walter Lippmann, 1889-1974. (VANGUARD BOOK OF UOTATIONS p. 245).
What a coincidence it has turned out to be. Just last week under the new addendum to my columns “CHIP SHOTS”, I made reference to the fact that the President of Nigeria had ten aircraft in his fleet; more than any other President in the world. Bearing in mind that our country is ranked 39th in the world in terms of GDP, and one of the poorest on earth, when we take into account that 70 per cent of our people live below the global poverty line, Nigeria’s Presidential Airlines should enter into the Guinness Book of Records for presidential impunity.
At Unijankara, while sharing in the national anguish that President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, is our duly elected leader, we take solace in the fact that we warned Nigerians not to vote for him. Even highly intelligent people responded with the refrain, “I voted for Jonathan; not PDP” – as if it made any difference.
Now we all have him and like every decision made by human beings we are confronted with the consequences of our majority decision. The crash of the Navy helicopter had revealed to us, at Unijankara, that while we were ahead of everybody else at recognizing the economically corrosive impact of the Presidential Airline, even we missed the point that the fleet might be more than ten.
Now, we know that it includes anything presumed to be airworthy apparently owned by the Federal government of Nigeria; but in reality, privatized by one individual, who can deploy them on errands as he wants. So Nigeria’s Presidential airline is actually larger than we thought and we would not know how big it is until an audit of Federally owned aircrafts is undertaken.
It is a pity that it has taken the death of some people, one of them not innocent, to reveal to all of us, perhaps, a serious crime that had gone unnoticed for so long. The Yoruba people have an adage for this, “Ojo gbogbo ni t’ole; ojo kan ni to ni’un” [everyday for the thief; one day for the owner].
One thing is certain; this is not the first time that military aircrafts would have been deployed to go and ferry birthday cakes, cows, and Captain’s Soup to remote areas of Nigeria in order to please some politician or public official – at great expense to the rest of us. Well, you voted for this nonsense. So enjoy it.
Comparatively, Obama, President of the USA, who is the Commander of the Armed Forces of the USA, cannot, and would not ask the Navy, the Air Force or the Marines, America, to release a helicopter to convey guests to the funeral ceremony of a cabinet Secretary or Adviser – because it is a strictly private affair. Military aircrafts are procured to handle the nation’s security affairs; not to convey public officials, with over-bloated egos to private functions.
In fact, if Obama were to lose his senses as to order such a deployment of military aircraft, the Chief of Staff of that unit would have bluntly refused. If pressed further, he would have resigned his appointment. But, here, the “public” officials go along; they willingly obey each and every unconstitutional instruction in what is supposed to be a republic of human beings but is more like a zoo of docile sheep.
Pictures in newspapers showed highly placed individuals shedding tears – crocodile tears. As Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, has warned us, “It is the wisdom of the crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour”. It is very possible while “Fellow Nigerians” [read mugus] are being treated to an African Magic type production of tears, another aircraft is on its way to the location to retrieve cutlery left behind. The sooner we accept the fact that our military aircrafts are not meant solely for the defence of our territorial integrity, the better for all of us.
Reading the newspapers one would get the impression that a serious probe into the incident is underway. Anyone foolish enough to think that way should step up for the Unijankara ANNUAL FOOLS’ AWARD. Virtually, all the top officials of the National Assembly; governors who have not bought their own jets; top functionaries of the PDP, Ministers, Security top brass etc have enjoyed the services of the Presidential Airline. Nothing will come out of it.
0805-204-5674: We deserve the insult even abuse. I was one of those foolish enough to vote for Jonathan not PDP.I have not stopped regretting. BONNY.
P.S. Dear Bonny, take heart 2015 will arrive soon enough. Then, it will be payback time. Dele.
0803-696-7538: It’s a fact that the boy who walked bare-footed to school in a village called Otuoke then is now running Presidential Airlines..yet he keeps a fleet of jets and smiling while we senior citizens keep dying of hunger and penury.
P.S. Uncle, I warned the pensioners not to vote for GEJ but you all ignored me. Sir, pensioners who voted for Jonathan are reaping what they sowed. Pity. Dele.
It gives me great pain that despite the repeated statement that I don’t want to use this page to get into the Achebe/Awo dispute, people who I regard as intelligent still want to convince me that there are some “truths” known to them that I must read. I have read over thirty books on the civil war for God’s sake. Am I to spend the rest of my life on this one issue? Invariably, on both sides, they say nothing new or original and some of what they write are actually laughable. For the last time, please leave me out of your “truths”; which are almost always half-truths or outright lies. Go and dispute your “truths” with someone else. Politeness ends here please.
As usual, I am lost for words at this time of the year. It seems like only yesterday when the year started and here we are just a few days to the end of it. We all deserve to thank the Almighty God for preserving our lives to the end of the year.
This had been the most traumatic year in Nigeria’s history; in some ways even surpassing the agonies of the Civil War, whose wounds have not been allowed to heal. But, while the war ended in three years, the demons that we have unleashed this year will torment us for years to come.
For those in governments – Federal and States – irrespective of political party, this year challenges all of them to think anew about how to save our nation.
All of them, without exception should stop listening to the propaganda of their appointed officials. Neither the President, nor the Governors receives the truth and the whole truth from his close associates. That is a tragedy which will consume all of us eventually.
I thank our readers for their patronage. We don’t always agree; but we all want the best for Nigeria. Have a great Yuletide and we meet again, oddly enough, on New Year’s Day.