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2017: Diary of a columnist (2)

By Mohammed Adamu

Continued from last week

Ignoble Laurel

“…it was at the Prague Conference that I first heard the phrase ‘grand corruption’, symbolising perhaps a malignant stage of corruption from which it is said that a dangerous alliance can happen between humongously-corrupt politicians and organised business crime groups with the inevitable result that a nation is perpetually held to ransom -as we see in many parts of Latin America. Yet it was on this subject of ‘grand corruption’ that another moment for Nigeria came up again at the conference; this time alongside Russia. The two countries were singled out for special mention as destinations where corruption had reached ‘grand’ level and that therefore the threat –in these countries- of the emergence of power groups stronger than government was not only likely, it was nigh and nigh”. –From ‘GRAND CORRUPTION’ 04/20/17

In Defense of the Offending Party

“And as if merely being in an insensately thieving and retrogressive PDP was not ideologically de-flowering enough for a man of the caliber of Lamido, -hitherto respected as one of the ‘last few men standing’ for the NEPU/PRP legacy, my friend Sule was to become even more catholic than the Pope in his defense of the so called ‘fortunes’ of PDP -a political party whose retrogressive ways were the exact antitheses of the principles that Lamido once proudly represented, and personified.” –From ‘WHAT DOES LAMIDO WANT?’ 04/27/17

Jonathan, Our Rasputin

“In the days of his Acting Presidency up to the early period of his Presidency, Jonathan was still an innocent tail wagged by these medley of uninspiring attributes; until the hawks and the hyenas of his political party suddenly began to discover the silver lining inherent in the Jonathan style of profligate, Father-Christmas kind of attitude to governance. And when every covetous knee in PDP shamelessly began to bow before Jonathan’s imprudent munificence, and when they pretentiously began to eulogise the ‘heroics’ of a grossly under-performing Jonathan, it was then that the man lost his rustic, Otuoke innocence, and suddenly gained the manipulative Rasputin image of an outwardly-benevolent ‘divine’ but who was always sneakily in pursuit of the politically devious. It was at this point that we began to see a Machiavellic Jonathan who would have no qualms projecting the desperate idea that ‘A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for.” From ‘THE JONATHAN WE CREATED -05/11/17’

Competing for the Skies

“And sometimes that is just the problem with the weddings, especially of the ‘insanely rich’ and the ‘superbly powerful’. Like a gathering of giraffes, they tend always to attract too many tall egos that end up neck-sizing as they compete for the skies. And no matter how long-necked or short-necked they come, in events like that, every giraffe is bound to meet its match, or even its better. And so, sometimes those who can’t humbly hang their low necks beneath the shadows of longer ones, simply come early, brandish their ‘impala necks’ to be sure they are not counted ‘absent’, and then run. Or as the Yorubas would say, tuule!” –From ‘IBB: THE RICH ALSO WED – 05/18/17’


“Someone posted on Face book a hypothetical scenario: he wanted to know what his Facebook friends would do if they came upon a cache of millions of dollars in some derelict graveyard, a rundown soak-away or any of the ubiquitous hide-always that have bizarrely come to symbolize the search for looted funds in Nigeria today. Would they blow the whistle and be content with a ‘meager’ five percent, or would they –if they could get away with it- rather keep all? And nearly seventy percent of those who responded said ‘to hell with 5%!’ They’ll rather keep every dime of it. One said -with some kind of righteous indignation- “Me, blow whistle ke? I be referee?” And you wonder what kind of people we are, Nigerians? We are offended by corruption but only because it is not us or our own that have the opportunity to perpetrate it. We are disgusted by obscene wealth but only because it does not belong to us or to someone that we are beneficially connected with.” –‘ HOW PATRIOTIC IS THE WHISTLE BLOWER? -05/25/17’

True Recognition

“A day should long have been set aside to commemorate this great man; not a university’s hard-earned name mangled to mock him!…For a man whose martyrdom watered the tree of the democracy that we enjoy today, true recognition consist only in declaring him President-elect posthumously –which will only be reaffirming that which he was, baring the annulment. And then also to substitute ‘May 29’ with ‘June 12’ –which again will not be a gratuity because it will merely recognize the date for what truly it is worth. Then and only then will the anger of the democratic gods be assuaged, and the unsettled spirit of the late MKO properly reposed.” –‘ OF JUNE 12 AND MAY 29 -06/01/17’

No Absolutes

“In any case, it is common knowledge that most sovereign states do not recognize the right to self-determination through secession in their constitutions. In fact many constitutions expressly forbid it. By the way in liberal constitutional democracies it appears the principle of ‘majority rule’ effectively subsumes the right to secession; such that the Supreme Court of the United States held that secession could occur only “through revolution, or through consent of the States” –a majority of them. And which brings us to the unpalatable conclusion that there is no absolutism in the gratuity of ‘self-determination’ by means of secession. Self-determination is a gift to the few by the many -in peace, or a costly ‘apple of discord’ to be won or lost -in pieces!” –‘ BIAFRA: IN PEACE OR IN PIECES -06/08/17’

Ironing the creases

“The law suffers a form of juristic injustice in the hands of conservative judges who impose on themselves ‘incapacity’ to navigate the labyrinth of the legal system in order to arrive at justice. But it can even be worse in the hands of ‘liberal’ judges who leave it prostrate at the foothill of unconscionable scavenging lawyers. Without necessarily being conservative, liberal or radical in their judicial world view, most Nigerian judges have this uncanny ability, always to arrive at ‘unjust’ decisions! (They) are either constrained by ‘illiberal provisions’ of the law to wrought injustice or they are overwhelmed equally by ‘liberal provisions’ still, to arrive at injustice. Head or tail what we get always is ‘judgment’ without ‘justice’… The idea that the ‘hands’ of a judge are ‘tied’ by ‘unjust provisions’ of ‘law’ so that he can only rule in a manner that does not achieve ‘justice’ is lame, escapist and untenable… if the ‘law’ contains impurities which do not conduce to the attainment of justice, it behooves a judge not to surrender to those impurities but to ‘interpret’, ‘construe’ or ‘construct’ the law until it works justice. Said Lord Denning, although a “Judge must not alter the material of which (the law) is woven”, yet “he can and should iron out the creases”. –From ‘JUDGMENT WITHOUT JUSTICE -06/22/17’

Neither here nor there

“How much less of a ‘federation’ any country can allegedly be said to be merely because it exudes partial ‘unitary’ attributes or because such country is unable to transit from ‘power and resource’-sharing to the granting of ‘substantial autonomy’ to its constituent parts, is a matter more for the contemplation of political science than it is for the consideration of constitutional law. And so the term ‘true federalism’ essentially is a misnomer, whether it is applied strictly in decrying a nation that ‘shares power and resources’ rather than grant ‘substantial autonomy’, or it is applied trivially in the condemnation of a ‘federation’ that still exhibit unitary attributes. Nigeria is not any less a ‘federal system’ than any of the world renowned practitioners of it. It is fundamentally wrong to suggest that a system is not a ‘true federation’ because its two levels of governmental administration are not ‘co-ordinate and  independent’ politically or economically; or that because the extent of the autonomy of the federating units over certain basic issues like resource control, tax administration, security are not profound or absolute.” –‘ MUCH ADO ABOUT ‘TRUE FEDERALISM’ -07/06/17’

His wit, His wisdom

“Maitama Sule was not a man of idle epigrams. He weighed his every word. He spoke the English language as effortlessly as he spoke his mother tongue. And although he was not a man of clichés or catchphrases, he spoke with aesthetic resonance and with reasoned alliteration. His usually long-drown but enchanting oratory, had always proved the masters wrong, who say that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. Brevity was not the soul of Maitama’s kind of ‘wit. The hallmark of his usually extempore speeches was length and repetition. Yet his asset was more his ‘wisdom’ than it was his ‘wit’. For, whereas wit, as they say ‘is quick, sharp and laughable, wisdom is ‘calm, composed and sober’. And whereas wit ‘is the gurgling mountain stream plunging over a jagged waterfall’, wisdom ‘is the serene’ sea abiding in quiet solitude. Wit is the ‘language of the jester’ where ‘wisdom’ is the language of the sage’. And although Maitama was master of all, it cannot be denied that he breathed ‘wisdom’ into every sphere of our national lives.” –‘ STILL ON MAITAMA -07/20/17’

Politics of Health

“And the question is asked, ‘when exactly can the President be said to be ‘incapable’ of discharging the functions of his office? Is it when a ‘sick’ –or maybe even healthy- President, for whatever reason, feels himself incapable of discharging the functions of his office; or is it when a cynical, or maybe even genuinely critical public, believes, rightly or wrongly, that the President is ‘incapable of discharging the functions of his office? Or is it only when medical diagnosis confirms that the President is ‘incapable of discharging the functions of his office’?” –‘ ON BUHARI: ‘SICKNESS’ AS CONSTITUTIONAL OFFENCE -07/27/17’

Going Ultravires

“When you cut too many corners in making a ‘square’, they say you can only end up with a ‘circle’. The NASS, although it is empowered to ‘make’, ‘amend’ or ‘abrogate’ laws, it is not so empowered, by mere quorum-regulated sittings, to legislate to ‘annul’ the Constitution or by the mere adoption of two-thirds majority, to vote to give to ‘the people’ a brand new one. It trivialises the sacredness of the whole idea of ‘constitution-making’; that a few people by the incidence merely of having been elected to parliament, routinely to make, amend or abrogate laws for the order and good governance of the nation, should now arrogate the power to transform into a ‘constituent assembly’ with a fresh mandate radically to alter the system.” –‘ A ‘RE-MAKE’, NOT AN AMENDMENT -08/03/17’

The Dog wags the tail

“Call it dictatorship of the majority. Or the despotism of the ‘many’ over the contrived subservience of the ‘few’. It is not necessarily in the merit of its choice or in the morality of its position that the majority is entitled to ride roughshod over the minority, it is merely in the greatness of its number that a ‘right’ accrues to it legitimately to oppress the minority. But does it not make even moral sense to suggest that the ‘many’ alone should have a right to decide the fate of the ‘few’ and not the other way? To the dog is a natural right to wag its tail, and to the tail is a duty to be wagged. For, as the British philosopher A. N. Whitehead asks rhetorically “What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like”…. The minority is a ‘tail’ in the democratic enterprise. It is not equipped to wag the dog. Said Edmund Burke “Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent…. do not imagine that those who make noise are the only inhabitants of the field.” –‘ IS THE MAJORITY ALWAYS RIGHT? -08/24/17’

To be concluded…






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