By Dele Sobowale
“In a sick country, every step to health is an insult to those who live on the sickness.” Bernard Malamud in THE FIXER.
Nigeria’s former military rulers want to continue to live on sickness.
On May 23, 2018, Buhari, an old Nigerian, whose only known career was in the army, once again tried his hand at remembered history in his self defence against another aging warrior, former President Obasanjo, aka Baba Iyabo, OBJ, Uncle Sege. At 74, I am closer to both of them in age and I was here when everyone of our history they are now trying to distort with disgraceful falsehood took place. I am not disappointed by both of them. I have now come to regard falsehood as their armour against the truth. None of them can talk about the past without deliberately misleading Nigerians about what happened. Permit me to start with Buhari.
“No matter what opinion you have about Abacha, I agreed to work with him and the PTF. We constructed road from here to Portharcourt, to Onitsha, to Benin and so on.”
To begin with, it is no longer an opinion that Abacha was perhaps the worst kleptomaniac as Head of State ever in Nigerian history. And, nobody has proved that more than Buhari who on his recent official visit to the United States went to negotiate the reparation of $325m Abacha loot. I know English is not one of Buhari’s strongest subjects, but he would be better advised to be careful of his choice of words. Anybody heaping praises on a confirmed mega-looter, a known thief, needs to be avoided at all costs. After all, it is still a truism that if you show me your friends, I will tell you who you are. So Abacha is Buhari’s hero and friend, we will remember that when he comes campaigning.
“The great masses of the people…will more easily fall victims to a great lie than a small one.” Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945.
The German dictator who ran a government without a human face, must have admired General Buhari, when in 1984/5 he also ran a junta – all covered up under a canopy that particularly lacked fidelity. His junta had people shot in cold blood in broad daylight for drug usage. If he still has his way, all those kids abusing codeine now would have been dealt with in his own way – instead of receiving help to rehabilitate them. The next most heartless regime was Abacha’s. So, it is not surprising that Buhari is so full of praise for the late looter. In fact, back in 2008, Buhari, in company of Generals Babangida and Abubakar, both retired, had visited Abacha’s widow – Mrs Maryam Abacha. Buhari had addressed reporters at the end of the visit to announce that “Abacha was not looter”. Standing next to Buhari as he was telling that false story was the man who had first declared Abacha a looter.
Abdulsalami Abubakar had in the last Decree 53 signed by him listed all the loot which were recovered by his government and forfeited to the Federal Government on May 28, 1999. Buhari has a lot of wet Senior Advocates on his cabinet of mediocrity, but they should not have difficulty finding the Decree. So, spreading falsehood about Abacha and the achievements of his government has long been his favourite past time; but he might not realize that there are some Nigerians with archives bulging with information to explode the falsehood.
Furthermore, what he told his audience, fellow travellers in the name of Buhari Support Organisation, about roads constructed from Abuja to Portharcourt under the PTF was a bogus something that has no proof. I have been on Nigerian roads since returning to the country from the US in August 1974 to start my first job as the Marketing Manager of Abbott Laboratories, then marketing SIMILAC baby food among other things. In no single year since then have I failed to cover at least three quarters of Nigeria working with four different companies. All the Nigerian roads that were not built before then were built literally under my feet.
All the roads linking Porharcourt, Onitsha, Benin and Abuja were built long before Abacha became Head of State in 1993. In fact, the coup of December 31, 1983, caught me in Akure where I was spending New Year with my in-laws. I traveled from Kano to Akure, via Lokoja, Okene, Auchi, Benin then branched off at Oluku junction to head for Sobe—Ifon—Owo—Akure. I also traveled to the East, at least once a quarter. That tour invariably included Enugu, Onitsha, Owerri, Aba, Portharcourt, Calabar through Uyo and Oron. There were roads then; they were not as wide as they are now, but, they were there. Bendel State (now Delta and Edo States), thanks to late Sam Ogbemudia had the best set of roads. That was long before Abacha and PTF.
It is pathetic that a President, not having any current achievement to claim to his credit, has to rely on a vague remembrance of history, as if he was alone in the country at the time, to gain the approval of “Know-Nothings”. What can Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) know about Nigerian roads in 1974-1990? Was he a regular traveler? So he accepts what Buhari says. I will never. I know more about those roads than Buhari because my livelihood and those of my colleagues in the various companies depended on my getting on those roads – sometimes up to seventy per cent of the time. I would generally clock between 100,000 and 120,000 kilometers per annum.
With respect to his hint that no roads were repaired after his PTF days, let me introduce only one witness who must honourably debunk that notion. Vice Persident Osinbajo is, among other things, a Pastor of the Redeemed Church with a Camp on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Can the Man of God please tell Buhari that the road now passing in front of the Redemption Camp is not the same he left as Chairman of PTF?
Buhari should get off the subject if he does not want to continue to embarrass himself.
“A truth that’s told with bad intent, beats all the lies you can ever invent.” William Blake, 1757-1827.
When Buhari, as usual, was getting entangled in his underwear with grammar, he managed to raise a serious question. But, like all of Buhari’s statements these days it was half truth delivered as gospel. Read what he said. “You know the rail was killed and one of the former Heads of State, between that time (and when Buhari did not say) was bragging that he spent $16bn, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power?”
Indeed, where is the power? But, one of the finest attributes of a great person is courage. In a great leader, it is indispensable. Buhari, as Nigerian President is alleging that someone he lacks the courage to name has swindled the country of $16bn. His ordinary duty as President demands that he should have the courage to tell us who was the alleged culprit and to inform us what steps he had taken to recover our funds. Even a fool, excluding his audience, knows that we can do a lot with $16bn. We can retire all of our debts – foreign and domestic – and we can have enough funds to establish one world-class hospital so that Buhari will no longer have to fritter away our foreign exchange earnings in London hospitals. He can even have his tuwo shinkafa fresh.
His patriotic duty as a Nigerian requires that he should think of Nigeria first and protecting the alleged scammer last. Several countries have demonstrated that a long retired President can be dragged to the courts to render account of his stewardship. Israel, France, Korea and Chile are examples. Buhari owes Nigerians a patriotic duty to reveal the identity of the alleged looter. (Incidentally, I know the guy and if Buhari wants him nailed he should send for several copies of my book PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED. The guy will not only be sent back to jail; they can throw the keys away. He won’t come back). Then, he owes us a duty to re-open the probe. The slimy fellow intimidated Yar’Adua and Jonathan, Buhari should exhibit the stubbornness of old age; refuse to be cowed and we can have the mother of all trials for a former Head of State.
P.S. Don’t go away. Wait for the revelations about the other “historian” and his gang of spokesmen. He makes me sick….
THE DOG IN THE MANGER INPOVERISHES EVERYBODY
“Economic growth shrinks to 1.95% in first quarter of 2018.”
National Bureau of Statistics, NBS. May 21, 2018.
One of my favoutire fairy tales at St Peter’s Primary School, Lagos Island, was AESOP’s, about 550BC, “Dog In The Manger”. It tells about a dog inside a manger full of hay. The dog did not need the hay but it stood resolutely at the gate to prevent the sheep and other livestock from eating. In the end, most of the farms animals starved to death. Aesop’s used animals to comment on his society – especially leaders. “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” warned Greeks about pretentious political leaders deceiving their people for their own selfish reasons.
Nigerians now have a somebody “in a rock” whose personal interests, now being vigorously pursued, will ensure that millions will starve to death.
Nigeria needs to grow her economy at five (5) per cent minimum per annum to avert decline into worsening poverty. In no single year since 2015 have we managed half of the growth required. With quarter one result in for 2018, we will certainly fail again to make it this year. By December 2018, Nigerians would have become poorer under Buhari and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Buhari is not helping and he won’t go. Now, you can see the problem.