By Donu Kogbara
A PDP member girlfriend I love dearly has just paid me what I regard as the highest compliment a journalist can be paid.
She told me, last night, while we were discussing the upcoming elections, that I frequently disappoint her because I never provide her with unconditional support, even when we agree on fundamentals.
For example, we are both “Atiku people”. But, according to her: “You are so irritatingly objective by nature that nobody can count on you to completely toe any party line or unquestioningly back anyone to the hilt,” she grumbled, pointing out that I’ve publicly expressed the view that Atiku is not a saint, recently lavished praise on Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, the Young Progressives Party, YPP, presidential candidate on this page and am always implying that Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the All Progressives Congress, APC, VP, will be a competent head of state if he ever gets a chance to do the job.
Lavishing of praises
Vanguard readers who regularly accuse me of being unfairly biased in one direction or the other will not agree with my miffed girlfriend. And I’m certainly not arrogantly claiming to be a pristine paragon of virtue who possesses no weaknesses and never makes mistakes.
But how my friend described me is how I want to see myself!…as a halfway decent journalist who cannot be persuaded to rigidly support any camp or individual, pretend as if my preferences are flawless and demonize everyone who happens to belong to a different group or happens to have a different belief system.
Even if I sometimes fall short of this ideal, we should all constantly aspire to honesty; and I pray that total truthfulness – to ourselves and on behalf of our country – will motivate voters to make sensible and patriotic choices tomorrow and on March 2.
John Maynard Keynes, the famous British economist, supposedly once said that whenever the facts changed, he changed his mind. Those who share Keynes’s willingness to walk away from previous positions when new “evidence” emerges are often accused of shameless inconsistency, disloyalty or flip-flopping. But I see no merit in doggedly clinging to convictions, theories or political allegiances that can no longer be morally or intellectually justified.
Perfection will never be possible within the context of the human condition. But it is our duty as citizens to vote for candidates who at least appear to be less imperfect than their rivals.
Long story short: Mr President has good days; but there are also bad days when he looks exhausted and sounds confused on TV and at rallies. Mr. President used to be a tough guy who couldn’t be manipulated by subordinates. But his exasperated wife now tells the world that shadowy, sinister individuals are running his show.
So even if you have admired Buhari for decades because of his anti-corruption stance or for whatever reasons, can you please admit that nobody is strong forever and not kid yourself that he’s still mentally and physically capable of taking Nigeria to the next level?
Anti-APC/Buhari elements have been gloomily predicting for months that this administration is so desperate to stay in power that it will ruthlessly rig the elections and flatly refuse to go if rigging fails.
Perhaps naively, I very much doubt that the President’s Men will disgrace themselves to this extent at a time when the country is full of the highest-level foreign election observers imaginable.
Dame Patricia Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, is here, alongside former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, who is heading the Commonwealth observer mission.
The former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is leading the ECOWAS observer mission. Festus Mogae, ex-President of Botswana is heading the Democratic National Institute team.
Other visiting dignitaries include a Ghanaian ex-Minister of the Interior, a South African magazine editor and a former police chief.
A bunch of super-senior resident foreign diplomats are also involved in the election-monitoring exercise; and I’ll be very surprised indeed if Buhari’s Boys take the risk of blatantly misbehaving in front of such august witnesses. I could be wrong but I reckon that violent incidents and skulduggery around voting will be minimized.
Punishments that can be meted out to electoral miscreants by the international community include a) depriving thugs and vote-stealers and their families of overseas study opportunities and holiday visas and b) reporting them to the International Criminal Court.
Electoral malpractices and acts of thuggery are not restricted to members of the ruling party, by the way, so I daresay that the PDP chaps will also try to avoid the ignominy of being accused.
Let’s see how it goes!
Iyabo Obasanjo’s refutal
I recently received an article that had Iyabo Obasanjo’s name attached to it. It was an attack on Buhari and his government.
Iyabo has asked me to tell anyone who might be interested that she has not written any article attacking anyone and is tired of her name being used by fraudulent peddlers of fake news.
Deaths at APC rally in Port Harcourt
Several people died in a stampede that occurred at the APC rally in Port Harcourt earlier on this week.
Someone who was there told me that he counted 17 corpses. But the number of fatalities may be higher.
Photographs of the poor souls who lost their lives are all over the internet and moved me to tears. Some of these pictures show them alive and happy, others show them sprawled lifeless on the stadium ground, their clothes disarrayed.
May the victims of this tragedy rest in peace and may their deaths be investigated properly; and if negligence is proved, may heads roll.
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