By Josef Omorotionmwan
IT was in the spring of 1974. My letter of admission to Mercy College, DobbsFerry, New York, to study Criminal Justice arrived our Bronx residence, in the presence of an American friend, Meredith. This letter produced an open ambivalence: while I was obviously elated, my friend was totally pensive. Her feeling emanated from the fact that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, to which she belonged, had predicted that Armageddon – the apocalypse that would consume the world – was coming in the winter of that year. She rued the prospect of anyone wasting money and time, entering into a venture at the edge of a precipice.
At that time, I was a neo-convert to Christianity. You can trust a Jehovah’s Witness. She produced superior argument, siting relevant Bible verses, to support the calculation that Armageddon was really coming that year. She did everything to persuade me from going to college.
I wished she knew that education was the only thing that brought me into their harsh weather. I bowed to her superior argument but quickly informed her that to God, nothing good is impossible. I then placed a demand on her – to ask the church to intercede on my behalf that God should tarry a little. I also prayed fervently. All those who doubt the efficacy of prayers should see how God, for my sake, has kept the world out of destruction. Forty years after, Armageddon has not still come!
All elections in Nigeria, including even those local government fixtures, have become major wars. In our courts today, if you took away the caseloads coming from inconclusive elections in our professional associations, our judiciary could be perpetually on recess.
We once referred to our general elections as undeclared wars but we now know that they are declared hostilities. The only difference with other wars is that these ones start raging many years before the declared dates and the casualties are not necessarily concentrated in the battlefields. For instance, the 2015 hostilities started years ago, ever since the trickery of President Goodluck Jonathan’s suitability to contest took centre-stage.
It is not a prediction that matters but our attitude to the prediction. A few years back, the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, pronounced an Armageddon of sorts on Nigeria by 2015. This is where the country should have taken a cue from some of us. Rather than remain calm and find out the basis of their prediction with a view to averting the impending doom, Nigerians preferred to procure all available razor blades to cut off the lips and tongues of the predictors.
The moral equivalence of our national approach in my 1974 experience would have been for me to slap Sister Meredith. If I did that, I would have ended up in the hands of those rookies at the New York Police Department who, after dealing with me, would have handed me over to the US Department of Immigration for immediate deportation to Nigeria. Most importantly, this world would probably have ended ever since.
Double standards are major causes of failure in war. As we speak, Mallam El-Rufai, a former Minister in the Obasanjo years, might still be in the hands of the State Security Service, SSS, for purportedly insinuating that there would be mayhem if the 2015 elections were not free and fair. But this is the same thing that Muhammadu Buhari, a former Head of State, who apparently commands greater audience than El-Rufai, has always said before every major election, without being arrested.
Come to think of it, if your motives are not clandestine, why arrest a man for asking you to conduct free and fair elections? We have said, perhaps with monotonous regularity, that bad elections are the very albatross of this country and things cannot continue this way. Those who abhor bloodshed should better begin to work hard on producing free, fair and credible elections because if you lock up all the El-Rufais of this world and throw the key into the Atlantic, you will achieve nothing if your elections are still bad.
Who says the war has not started in Rivers State since the past one and a half years with Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu’s reign of impunity? And we seem to be enjoying the situation where somebody who is supposed to be on professional calling has become a bully, thus dragging the names of his profession and his nation into the mud.
We are laughing in a situation where a Police Commissioner who should take instructions from the State Governor has become the alternate Governor, in utter defiance of our so-called Constitution. The situation in Rivers State is by far already worse than what they had in Mushin and the Wild-Wild West of 1965-66. Those enjoying the imbroglio in Rivers State today should be reminded of the law of nature, which translated in its elemental form, means that the cane reserved for “Iyale” (the first wife) will one day be used on “Iyawo” (the new wife).
The new phase of the 2015 war is this amorphous National Conference that hopes to achieve in three months what its forerunners couldn’t achieve in one year; a Conference in which President Jonathan is nominating about one-third of the members. Can’t we see this benevolent democrat nominating those delegates from the ranks of the APC? Ha, ha!
At first, the President promised that there would not be “No-go” areas but last week, he reversed himself when he said that the unity of the country is not negotiable. That’s the first “No-go” area. Will that be all? No matter the method of selection, let the President wait till they begin to consider thorny areas like the Sharia and resource control. This is yet another N7 billion flushed down the drains. That’s a major war expense!
Jaw-jaw is better than war-war. Although the drum-beats are not encouraging, we believe that a viable Nigeria is still possible. Let us march into 2015 with an iron determination to win based on superior programmes, not the do-or-die approach.