By Tony Uranta

“The devil can cite scriptures for his purpose”…William Shakespeare

Dear President Yar’Adua,
William Shakespeare is acclaimed, by many, to be the greatest writer of all time, and one can hardly dispute that after enjoying quite a few of his plays and sonnets. Few know, however, of the many personal demons that tormented this great man.

Few knew of his compulsive_obsessive dispositions in the areas of wine, women and drink; let alone that he died from gluttony…literally from overeating!
But what no one can dispute is that Shakespeare was a master at reducing fundamental truths to succinctly stated simplicities.

One of such eternal simplicities is encapsulated in the one_liner quoted above, namely, that “The devil can cite scriptures for his purpose”. This is a referral to the devil’s botched attempt to tempt our Lord Jesus Christ by spinning scripture at Him; but it is still relevant in so many contemporary contexts.

Adolf Hitler’s Germany, for example, learnt this the hard way, when master propagandist Joseph Goebbels (extrapolating from this Shakespearean axiom) unleashed “The Big Lie” paradigm on a highly susceptible people.

According to Goebbels, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. But the lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

We thank God that Hitler’s ostensibly democratic [he was duly “elected”, like yourself, Your Excellency] and common good seeking [Hitler sincerely believed that his madly murderous schemes were good!], but truly evil fascist, regime is now history; but mankind is ever alert that the madness of The Third Reich be never replicated even to the slightest degree anywhere in the world.

That is why good governance in the 21st Century must be hinged on true democracy and transparency.Which brings us to where we are today in Nigeria, with democracy murdered courtesy of Professor Maurice Ewu’s Non-Independent National Electoral Commission and your administration’s struggles with legitimacy and transparency.

Even you, Mr. President, have repeatedly admitted that you attained power through a flawed electoral process (in itself, the basest form of fundamental corruption)…which is why you have deemed it necessary to start a process (even if merely salutary) of electoral reforms. But this is not our concern today, for the nation has resigned itself to your being Nigerian President….at least, till 2011.

What very few Nigerians have been able to accommodate, however, is your knack for mouthing platitudes such as the need to enthrone “the rule of law” and “good governance” [based on how you were tailored by the El-Rufais et al] without being compliant with the full-disclosure elements of commensurately mandatory transparency.

So, for example, we have had your administration loudly declaring “love” for the people of the Niger Delta: offering “armed militants” a dictated amnesty and telling all Niger Deltans to exhibit a submissive “perseverance, patience and hardwork” …without revealing what positive plans you have for the region?! All their demands for justice, and that you let them know your post-amnesty programme, have met with an insufferably condescending slowness of action to date.

You have not even deemed it auspicious to publish the long_overdue White Paper on the Report of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, which Your Eminence set up (as a favour?!) at the instance of the region’s people; notwithstanding the ongoing clamour [from militants, elders, youths, communities alike] that you do so immediately, in the interest of sustainable peace, as that would give the best idea of your time-bound plans for justice and development to come to the region!

However, you have no qualms or hesitation to fast_track the announcement and implementation of other policies and progammes inimical to the long_oppressed and beleaguered people of the region…such as vilely ordering a genocidal action against the innocent Izon aged, women and children of Gbaramatu kingdom; and the commencing of the further opening up of the north by making it gain direct access to the sea, via the dredging of the River Niger….[sans any credible Environmental Impact Assessments, and against the vociferous objections of the Niger Deltans who may have their communities washed away during the irresponsible dredging exercise!!!]

Before some hothead starts accusing this author of stirring up an anti-northern or unpatriotic hornets’ nest, we must remember that our national interest has so far been subsumed in our ethnic interests [despite the many recent claims by the vocal Arewa Consultative Forum to the contrary!]. All the Niger Deltans are demanding is justice, equity and respect within this contraption called Nigeria.

Contraption? Yes, let it be remembered, that it was the northern leader, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, who in his wisdom opined that “Many [Nigerians] deceive themselves by thinking that Nigeria is one….particularly some of the press people…..This is wrong.  I am sorry to say that this presence of unity is artificial…..

The Southern tribes who are now pouring into the North in ever increasing numbers and are more or less domiciled there do not mix with the Northern people….and we in the North look upon them as invaders.”

Whilst we all welcome peace in the Niger Delta [and by extension in Nigeria], Mr. President, let the truth be known: Peace without justice is an anachronism…it is equivalent to a Goebbellian Big Lie.

Those hawks misleading you into thinking that a graveyard peace is the same as the desired sustainable peace are merely singing for their dinner by citing “scriptures to suit their purpose.” Shalom.


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