By Ochereome Nnanna
The Japanese have a proverb which says: “Revenge is a delicious dish best eaten when cold”. There are people (and cultures) that have the capacity to harbour ill-will against their neighbours and would never let go of their quest for vengeance until they get the opportunity to get their own back, no matter how long it takes. Some would even call their children, embellish the grievances and enjoin them never to rest until they have equalled the score.
This, to me, is a cowardly disposition. If someone does you a bad turn you have two choices. If you choose to forgive, then forgive and let go, with lessons learnt for the future. But if you choose to retaliate, do so while the issue is still warm, and then, let go. The world moves on, and so must we.
But unfortunately, here in Nigeria we move in circles. History keeps repeating itself. We keep recycling leaders, and when they come back, they disturb our peace with public displays of vengeance against their private enemies.
We brought back General Olusegun Obasanjo as our elected president in 1999 and he spent much of his time hunting after a demised enemy, General Sani Abacha and his hit-man, Major Al Mustapha. Eight years after, we have brought back another former military head of state, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Right now, he is perched angrily on the prostrate form of retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, battering him with the use of state instruments of power and coercion, and we don’t care.
We can understand how Buhari feels towards Dasuki who, as a junior officer, allegedly humiliated him in detention after he was overthrown. This long forgotten Sambo Dasuki was brought back by former President Goodluck Jonathan as his National Security Adviser, NSA and presided over the expose of Buhari’s certificate scandal during the campaigns for the 2015 presidential election.
When Buhari was sworn-in as the elected President on May 29, 2015, most Nigerians expected his first duty in office to include the sack of Dasuki as NSA. But he did nothing of the sort. He kept the man on the job for six long weeks. He held many security meetings with him in attendance even when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was excluded. The President travelled with Dasuki to Niger Republic where the terms of our northern neighbour’s continued involvement in the Multi-National Joint Military Task Force, MNJMTF, were perfected.
Some thought the President had risen above his personal affronts at the hands of his kinsman, Dasuki. Our newly elected leader had gone to see one of his main international supporters on his way back to power, US President Barack Obama. He gave profuse undertakings to follow the due processes of the law in his avowed fight against corruption and recovery of looted public funds.
However, the ways that Dasuki has been persecuted since his sack on July 13, 2015 shows Buhari is like the Japanese who wait with cold-blooded patience to settle old scores.
If Dasuki ran foul of the laws of the land as NSA under Jonathan he should be brought to book following the due processes of the law as Buhari promised Nigerians and Obama. Buhari’s advisers should have urged him to ensure that the due processes are strictly followed to prevent his being accused of helping himself to personal vengeance. But we know the kind of advisers Nigerian leaders usually get: people who only tell the leader to do what they know he already wants to do, thus adding no value.
Even The Washington Times, one of the Western media that were very enthusiastically supportive of Buhari’s presidential aspiration, has cried out loud against the use of dictatorial methods in handling Dasuki’s case. Washington Post, you will recall, wrote a number of nice articles in Buhari’s favour before and after the elections. Buhari became enamoured with the paper to the point of publishing an opinion article on its OP-ED page in its July 20th issue, where he broke the news that he would appoint his ministers in September.
In its November 19, 2015 issue, The Washington Times published an article entitled:
“Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari dupes the U.S.”
The article started with these rather uncomplimentary words:
“With the glitter of fool’s gold, Nigeria’s recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in the United States in July uttering time-worn democracy vows to President Barack Obama and his administration….to combat graft with procedures that would be “fair, just and scrupulously follow due process and the rule of law, as enshrined in our constitution”.
The paper lamented how the President has kept Dasuki in house detention ignoring the repeated orders of the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola to release him on bail and allow him to travel outside the country for cancer treatment.
Not only that, Buhari had requested for the secret trial of Dasuki and personally issued orders for his arrest even while he is still in the clutches of the Directorate of State Services, DSS. Worse still, a committee set up to look into defence contracts from 2007 till May 2015 indicted Dasuki and the Jonathan regime of spending billions of US Dollars on the purchase of military equipment “with nothing to show for it”.
Meanwhile, Dasuki claimed he was not invited to state his own side of the case, and proceeded to release a list of military equipment purchased under his tenure to the public. Former president Jonathan has also debunked claims that he ever approved the award of contracts to buy arms to the tune of over $2 billion.
These are happening under our very noses and we don’t care. We have abandoned Dasuki to his arch enemy to do as he wishes, only for a foreign newspaper to feel concerned enough to cry out. Dasuki could be a dress rehearsal for a re-launch of 1984 reign of terror on our collective civil liberties disguised as a fight against graft.