By Femi Aribisala
FOUR gravely ill Nigerians went to see their doctor. One was Hausa, another Yoruba, the third Igbo and the fourth from Niger-Delta. They all had very high temperatures and could hardly walk and talk. They had the same complaints: chest-pain, high blood-pressure, migraine, vomiting, stomach-ache and heart-palpitations. They had all lost considerable weight and were skin and bones.
The doctor examined them one-by-one. Then he decided to ask them a few routine questions. “Have you not been eating? Why are you all so lean?” he asked. “We don’t have any appetite,” they replied in unison. “Besides, we have great difficulty keeping anything down.” “How long have you been feeling like this?” asked the doctor.
“That is the most worrying part of the whole thing,” they replied. “We have been feeling like this since you became our doctor. We are convinced there is something seriously wrong with the treatment we have been receiving from you since 2015.”
The doctor became very agitated. “You are all liars!” he shouted. “There is nothing wrong with you. You are just determined to ruin my reputation. What I want to know is this: who sent you? Who paid you to do this?”
“Are you not a doctor?” they replied. “Can’t you see for yourself that we are sick? Have your tests not confirmed this? You may be a doctor, but you cannot tell us how we feel. You cannot tell us we are not sick when we are literally dying right here before your eyes. Is it possible to pretend and have high temperatures? Can we pretend our weight loss and hair loss? Why are you so determined to deny the truth?”
The doctor would not be moved. “Let me tell you something. You can’t fool me. I am too knowledgeable; too experienced for this kind of trickery. You are not sick: you are just pretending. Everyone knows I am the best doctor in this country. There is no doctor North or South; East or West that can be compared to me.”
“When I give a diagnosis, it is authoritative and final. This is my diagnosis concerning the four of you. You have never had it so good. I prescribe that you take a public holiday on June 12 so you can be refreshed and come back to your senses. Then you will realise that you have never felt better. Please leave my office now before I call the guards to throw you out.”
Last week, leaders and elders of the Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, held a meeting in Abuja to deliberate on the situation in Nigeria. They resolved to push for a more visionary and dynamic government in order to redeem Nigeria from the captivity of poverty, insecurity and bad government.
The meeting was attended by “timber and calibre” politicians from the different geopolitical regions of Nigeria, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Edwin Clark, Ayo Adebanjo, Professor Ango Abdullahi, Umar Ghali Na’Abba, Adolphus Wabara, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed.
In their communique, they said: “Today, the economy is characterized by significant loss of output, massive youth unemployment, a rising level of poverty, instability and irregular migration of skilled and unskilled labour. In fact, according to the World Bank, the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased despite its purported exit from recession in 2017. This is a national embarrassment and a disgrace to a country that is endowed with abundant resources.”
“According to World Data Laboratory, Nigeria overtook India this year as the poverty capital of the world. In addition, Nigeria’s ranking on the human development index was one of the lowest in the World, standing at 152 out of 188 countries surveyed in 2017.
They also noted that: “Despite the present administration’s war against corruption, the highly acknowledged global monitor of corruption perception, Transparency Intentional, has adjudged Nigeria to be more corrupt today than it was in 2015. It is disturbing that Nigeria has in the last three years degenerated from the 136th to the 148th place out of 180 countries surveyed for corruption perception in 2018.”
“The kleptocratic nature of governance and appointments to public offices and institutions, as well as the carefree attitude of government to citizens’ discontent, have resulted in breading deep divisions and inter-communal distrust. This is a development that is of grave concern to all Nigerian patriots.”
They observed furthermore with great alarm: “the flagrant abuse of and disrespect for the rule of law as well as the systematic violation of our electoral processes. These infractions are steadily eroding public confidence in our hard-earned democracy.”
In a speech by Obasanjo delivered by the former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the former president berated the harm that “the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, by his action and inaction, has done and is doing to our commonwealth and our common heritage. Nigeria, in recent times, has not been so divided along religious and regional lines as it is today with inexcusable killings and devastating poverty and with government’s wringing hands and apparently incompetent to stem the tide except giving one unrighteous and unacceptable justification after the other.”
“The obvious indication is that the government is seemingly confused and has got to the end of its tether and the nation is being left divisively and perilously to drift.”
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
The people who reached these conclusions are Nigerians. They live in Nigeria so they experience the Nigerian condition. They were not talking about the Nigerian situation or the Nigerian government in abstraction. They were talking from first-hand knowledge. Their point of view is easily confirmed by the overwhelming majority of Nigerians who live in Nigeria and are not members of the Buhari administration or the APC.
They belong to the recognized organs of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria; from East to West and North to South-South. Besides, they cannot be said to be implacable enemies of the Nigerian government. Indeed, some of them, like Ango Abdullahi and Obasanjo, were ardent supporters of the government.
Nevertheless, Tweedledee Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, did not take kindly to their criticism. He labelled the communique as: “the shedding of crocodile tears by selfish leaders, who felt alienated after a transparent and accountable system halted their disproportionate survival on resources of the state.”
Said Garba Shehu: “The Presidency urges Nigerians to ignore the unholy alliance by these groups who are stepping up their assault on the All Progressives Congress administration as it expands its national dominance and moves closer to securing an outright victory in the elections next year. The Presidency notes with dismay that the refrain about President Buhari not doing anything about security in the country had turned into the number one fake news item being peddled in the media.”
Garba Shehu then referred to a statement published by Tweedledum Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, which outlined some of the achievements of the government that are apparently oblivious to the generality of Nigerians:
“(1) Nigerian Army’s Exercise Ayem Akpatuma covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States launched in February to tackle cases of kidnappings, herdsmen/farmers’ clashes, among others; (2) Nigerian Air Force establishment of three new Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue States respectively, and deployment of Special Forces personnel.”
It was the same Tweedledum Adesina who opened his mouth wide and made one of the most outrageous statements ever made in Nigerian politics concerning the issue of Fulani herdsmen killing innocent farmers in order to graze their cattle on their land. Adesina said:
“You can only have ancestral attachment when you are alive. If you are talking about ancestral attachment, if you are dead, how does the attachment matter? So, if your state genuinely does not have land for ranching, it is understandable; not every state will have land for ranches. But where you have land and you can do something, please do for peace. What will the land be used for if those who own it are dead at the end of the day?”
Who are these people and why do they talk like this? How much are they being paid for this job? What happens when the job ends, as it must? Should they not be wise and prepare for the inevitable?
They need to be told what they should know: Nigerians are no fools. A doctor does not prescribe the condition of the patient: he prescribes a cure. Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina are wasting their time trying to convince Nigerians that all is well when we know different. The patient is dying, but the doctor insists he is well. This is nonsensical.
The tenant tells the landlord his house is on fire. But the landlord insists it is secure. This is idiotic. If the landlord cannot yet see the fire, surely, he can see the smoke. Surely, he can see that many people are running out of his house for dear life. They are throwing down their APC party badges and running out. If care is not taken, their flight might very well become a stampede.
But Tweedledee and Tweedledum see no evil and hear no evil. They fabricate their preferred version of reality. They specialize in feeding their boss, the president, with lies and falsehood. Does he not know that Nigerians are suffering? Does he not know Nigerians are hungry? Does he not know we are jobless? Does he not know we are being killed all day long?
How many jobs are created by rhetorics? How much electricity has anti-corruption generated? What economic miracles were achieved by the illegal pronouncement that June 12 is now Democracy Day?
All that Tweedledum and Tweedledee want to hear are lies upon lies. Femi Adesina’s twitter page is eloquent testimony to that. People are being massacred in Benue, what has he got to say about that? He compiles praise-songs for the president: “You don’t want any life lost. You are a man of swift action. You are a bold man, action man. -Gen Atom Kpera, retd, to PMB.” “Thus far, I salute your efforts in the areas of security. -Paul Unongo to PMB.”
This is really pathetic.