By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
Shehu Sani, the social crusader, ate his cake on the floor of the Senate. But he wanted to have it at the APC primaries. Others defected after burning their bridges.
But he stayed. Shehu Sani had quietly waited in the shadows of righteousness for a ticket without contesting in the primaries. He didn’t mind that the ticket belonged to another Sani. Shehu Sani who hates cabals and jackals and hyenas, prayed fervently that a new friendly jackal could make the kill for him.
But Shehu Sani wasn’t the real travesty. Oshiomhole grew up fighting for the oppressed. But anyone who watched the recently concluded APC primaries and the arbitrariness and skulduggery that defined them would worry for the party leadership and its reputation. The party collected money, huge sums from some aspirants, disqualified them overnight, so that certain other aspirants can be given automatic tickets.
The Oshiomhole of the labour union days would have acted differently. He would have told those he planned to exclude not to buy forms. That was when he feared no one and never wanted to be seen as slippery. He would have welcomed accusations of being a tyrant if that meant he would not be accused of deception. In some states, Oshiomhole’s national working committee was truly brazen.
They didn’t disqualify aspirants. They allowed them to contest and win. Then they simply erased their names and filled in the names of their anointed candidates. Oshiomhole followed no ground rules. His firmness and perhaps good intentions now seem swallowed by pervasive arbitrariness.
Rascality has seized Buhari’s party. In Rivers state, Senator Abe does as he pleases. In Zamfara, the governor threatened to butcher party officials from Abuja if they dared come into his state to repeat the cancelled primaries. In Ogun, the governor wanted to be treated like a Jagaban. He got a kick in the groin. APC stalwarts now go on television to stab the party, gleefully. Buhari and Osinbajo, watch and say nothing.
But what will you say of Obasanjo. When I was a child I used to think our leaders were all serious men. In September, Obasanjo said Atiku was too corrupt to lead. In October, he said Atiku was an economist, a master job creator, the redeemer of a doomed country. If Obasanjo still had a little of his candor of the 70s he would have simply put his hands up and told the nation that he couldn’t form the coalition of rescuers that he had promised in January. That would have been honorable. It was painful watching Obasanjo, at his age, go through twists and turns that will test young contortionist all because he wanted to endorse Atiku and teach Buhari a lesson.
Let’s leave Obasanjo and receive Atiku. Atiku has proven an instant miracle worker. Hate speech has reduced. Before he came many had sworn in churches that the nation was doomed with any old president. They said the old was inevitably sickly. Father Mbaka said that a sickly president would make the economy sick. Many went to mountains to wail, not about their miseries, but about medical tourism. Some pastors said that the problem of the nation would end when a Fulani stopped being president. Many bitter and bigoted political loudspeakers have suddenly dropped the word Fulani from their vocabulary.
Since Atiku arrived many things have changed. Age is perhaps back to being a mere number. Certificates are no longer centre stage. Atiku, despite his acclaimed intellectual capacity possesses only a diploma in law. The sin of medical tourism is no longer a cardinal sin. Atiku went to rest in Dubai.
Peter Obi pontificates at every opportunity. Only a chameleon can make the adjustments he has to make now without bleeding. Let’s leave Peter Obi because he is a good man. He is now the running mate to a 72-year-old presidential candidate who is perhaps a medical tourist. Let us be graceful. When we discover little lies he has told about how many houses he owns we must also understand that he is human. But it is hoped that he studies his new boss carefully. So that he doesn’t come out someday ringing a bell and preaching the sinfulness of polygamy or of engaging in private businesses while drawing salaries from public service.
At the NHIS, it’s been another spectacle of comedic proportion. A reformer is being pursued by those he had assembled for reformation. They are intent on reforming him first. The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been reformative. He never ceases to tell of how he has gone after blood suckers in the insurance scheme. But he wouldn’t tell us if he actually inflated contracts as claimed by the board of the NHIS. Again, Buhari who launched a war against indiscipline in his youth watches in old age as his appointees fight dirty and confuse a beleaguered public.
Well, President Buhari is never in a hurry. He was ensconced in Asokoro while the DSS fought the EFCC for a whole day on the streets of Maitama like rival thugs in Mushin. It’s perhaps just a little disheartening that Osinbajo, a professor of evidence law, sits by Buhari and savours this comedy without bothering about the moral confusion it leaves on an impressionable public. No one is actually surprised that this Executive Secretary who is a professor cannot resign even out of anger.
An appointee who feels the president hasn’t lent him and his crusade vocal public support in the face of intimidation ought to resign in protest. What makes the NHIS matter more ridiculous is that our erudite health minister had once suspended the executive secretary. The executive secretary took his time,dressed down the minister, shredded the suspension order and returned to his office.
But wait for it. The supreme leader of Biafra is back. He had been gone for a little too long. While he was in a hole, he allowed some decent men tell lies about his death in the hands of the army. His re emergence at the wailing wall in Jerusalem was aired on facebook live. But Israel has dismissed that broadcast as another deceptive scheme. Israel says the supreme leader hasn’t been in Israel recently.
Well, persistent mendacity could be a strategy in the struggle for freedom. While he was gone the election season came. And many of those that once carried his bags and kissed his feet in Umuahia and on social media have defected to Atiku. That was obviously not negotiated. So when he came out he had to begin by reciting the old song—‘No referendum, no election.’ But they had gone too far to hear the former falconer. They simply declared him a meddlesome interloper who had come to finagle crumbs from the season. And one of his former aides found the the temerity to announce that he had been deposed.
That made me realize why he clutches ever so tightly the ‘supreme’ in his favourite title. Being supreme puts himself beyond the reach of these lousy attempts to scrutinize, condemn and perhaps depose him. May God grant him the fortitude to bear the painful loss of Jack, a supreme dog.