By Tony Uranta
“I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art.”…Kahlil Gabran

Dear Fellow Nigerians,

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is reported to be getting better by the day, thank God, and we are told that he will return to Nigeria this week, and/or we will hear him broadcast to the nation before the week runs out.

This must be great news to his family, and to millions of Nigerians, including this writer, who have spent time praying sincerely and fervently for his good health. But we must not let this heartening development, when it comes to be, make us lose sight of certain sobering lessons of the past fortnight or so.

One of such lessons is that there are still folk who would rather have all Nigerians remain zombie-like docile and ignorant, than witness the progressive search for knowledge and truth that made many of us wonder if our President was well enough as to continue to lead us efficaciously in the right direction, especially at this pivotal stage of our budding renaissance.

That there still exist feudalistic power-cliques that believe our erstwhile “silence to be ignorance”, or our tolerance of their unceasing “chattering, to be knowledge”, still astounds one.

We are appalled that there are still people who feign to love Nigeria, and President Yar’Adua, more than the millions of Nigerians whom fate has kept from the corridors of power! Afterall, he is all Nigerians’ President, and not just the putative Leader of the PDP..

Our affection for the President, as exhibited by most Nigerians wishing Mr. President well, is evidence of our humanity, our depths or heights of compassion, our very African-ness which mandates us to be the best keepers-of-our-brothers there are on this planet.

Why are we therefore hearing of conspiracy theories from alarmist leaders who think we do not have a right to decide how our future should be shaped?!

Why must we be expected to cringe when some government big-shot scowls at us whilst attempting to browbeat us into silence, merely because they are seemingly garbed in robes of power?

What, for example, gives a Senate President David Mark the right to attempt [though he failed woefully!] to berate NBA President Rotimi Akeredolu as being a mischief-maker for merely echoing what every common Nigerian has been mouthing, namely that it is neither in President Yar’Adua’s interest nor the nation’s interest that the President continue to hold onto power if he is unfit to preside over this nation’s affairs? Is that not simply common sense talking?

Does that make Mr. Akeredolu less of a patriot than Senator Mark? In fact, does Senator Mark’s defensive attack qualify as patriotic?

This writer knows that the majority of Nigerians, especially Niger Deltans, fervently pray that President Yar’Adua returns certified fit to keep up the novel processes he has flagged off in the Niger Delta with his bold Amnesty Deal.

They are not sure that the many hawks in Abuja would not devise ways to strangulate the post-amnesty process if Mr. President were to hand over the reins of power…even if he were to hand those reins to a Vice President Goodluck Jonathan [either temporarily or permanently] who is a true son of the region.

However, Nigerians are tired of attempts to cow us with the threats that we may be labeled fifth-columnists or “treason-conspirators” should we merely exercise our rights to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of choice; freedom to stand up for what we believe in, and against what we abhor.

Nigerians need true democrats, prepared to run Nigeria as a federal state, not men who think they are any more special than the populace they claim to lead. No amount of glowering by some selected men-in-power shall deter Nigerians from continuously striving to live in a free, just, equitable and democratic federation.

Many of us, not least of all this writer, fought hard and paid dearly to bring Nigeria out of the dark ages of military autocracy; and we shall not yield these few freedoms gained….especially not to to exponents of speciously arrived at conspiracy theories.

Is this to say there are no conspiracy theories based on truth or/and fact? No. Of course, we all know that there are many conspiracies afoot in Nigeria…the most evident being the conspiracy by some ex-Generals to perpetually rule us as serfs, in the guise of trying to impose a one-party authoritarian fiefdom on over one hundred and fifty freeborn Nigerians…blissfully ignorant of the growing critical mass of opposition to their impositions, especially in the Niger Delta, the Middle Belt, the South-West, the North-East, and the South-East.

Common Nigerians are the ones who should be accusing their imposed leaders of conspiracies to oppress and repress the populace.

They are the ones who have been lied to severally by their leaders, by their governments, by the very people who are supposed to be looking out for their interests…the very leaders who should be ensuring that the machinery of state works for the common good.

Now, what do we have? The noble Yoruba race takes every word spoken from Abuja with more than a spoonful of salt; remembering that they supported “their son, OBJ” and got egg in their collective face for it. The Tiv have no real equality with their Hausa/Fulani brethren.

Do we really believe that the proud Ndigbo have accepted their lot as no-class citizens? And, of course, we all know that something substantial must be done, and fast, to consolidate on the tenuous peace in the Niger Delta…or else…. So, who’s fooling whom?

An example of a major conspiracy theory, currently making the rounds among common Nigerians, is that some people plan to use all administrative guile available to them to move oil assets [including NAPIMS, the NNPC’s investment arm] to Abuja and the rest to the north, even though oil is yet to be discovered there; and at a time when Niger Deltans are rationally demanding that oil and gas institutions should be domiciled within the region to boost job-creation et al!

Another peoples’ conspiracy theory is that the untoward speed with which the FGN is embarking on the dredging of the River Niger, even without having carried out the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of the action on the Niger Delta communities, is to ensure that the north has direct access to the sea, as soon as possible, before seeking “Araba”!

Even rifer is the popular theory that Abuja’s proposed 10% Community Equity-holding is to be so skewered that even non-Niger Delta communities that bear oil and gas pipelines or other installations (e.g. in Kaduna State) will benefit.

And who is to say that is not the plan, when the oil ministry is dominated by northerners, with a few southerners holding token positions without the concomitant powers, and nepotistic placements obviously favouring a particular part of the north.

Who can deny knowledge of the theory that the “Federal principle” was invented to suit certain interests’ wish to hold on to power by all means.

If Nigerians are not on the warpath over these more salient “theories”, let nobody insult them into revolting by tweaking their noses through the espousing of ridiculous conspiracy-theories in attempts to intimidate the general populace. We no go gree dem bad plan for this our Nigeria…Never again! Egberi fa. Shalom.

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