October 24, 2020

Time for real change

Emeka Obasi

By Emeka Obasi

Our leaders, from Local Government to Abuja, need a full dose of History just before assumption of office. President Muhammadu Buhari must write his name in gold now. He came to power in 2015 promising change. It is not late to put things in order for the country to move forward.

Our hearts bleed for the genuine protesters who were killed by the barrel of the gun. They did not die in vain for those compatriots are part of the movement of History. Their names will continue to be heard and read across the globe.

I just want to offer some lessons down memory lane to guide all of us especially those in power. Since many of our so called leaders do not read or appear not to show interest in learning about the past, they must be told some home truth.

Let us visit twentieth century South America. Precisely the 1970s. Bolivia had Hugo Banzer Suarez as President. In Chile, there was  Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. We saw Alfred Stroessner in Paraguay and the man in El Salvador was Carlos Humberto Romero. They were all generals.

Gen. Banzer who ruled from 1971 to 1978 was supreme leader of Bolivia, ‘El Supremo’ and addressed as ‘El Excelentisimo’. Those who controlled wealth were less than two per cent of the population and were branded ‘Santa Cruz Mob’ by the larger population.

Banzer did not care about the welfare of the people, he ruled with iron fist. Decree 11947 declared strikes illegal. He planned to import 150,000 white farmers from Rhodesia to further oppress the majority.

Pinochet was a maximum dictator whose sole mark did not go beyond toppling the government of Salvador Allende, the Chilean democrat. To protest during the years of ‘El President’ was to face imminent death.

In Stroessner’s Paraguay, Supreme Court Justices must belong to the ruling party and they were appointed by the President himself. Under that setting, the strong man was the law, lord and  leader who must be obeyed at all times.

What happened at the Lekki Toll Gate reminds me of  Plaza Liberdad, San Salvador when Romero reigned as ‘King’ of El Salvador. In February 1977, soldiers attacked protesters in the night after elections were rigged by his National Coalition Party. Scores were killed, factories burnt and schools shut.

ALSO READ: Why we relaxed curfew in Lagos — Sanwo-Olu

In the Far East, Pol Pot is a name to remember and forget as well. He turned Cambodia to Kampuchea through the communist party, Khmer Rouge. One striking feature of that regime was that it was controlled by people who were closely related. Citizens found a name for them-’Gang of Six’.

Pol Pot’s wife was the sister of Social Action minister, Ieng Thirith. The Foreign minister, Ieng Sary, was the Social Action minister’s husband. Yun Sat, Youth and Culture minister, was wife of Defence minister, Son Sen.

This paints a picture of Nigeria right now. We have the tiny population called the ‘Cabal’. Let’s refer to them as ‘Abuja Mob’, just like Bolivia had ‘Santa Cruz Mob’. Protesters were killed in Chile, they were killed in Lagos. Our Supreme Court Justices have cause to defend themselves even if they were not trained in Paraguay.

After going through this historical journey, our politicians should think deep and ask themselves questions. They must also find out what happened to the dictators, from Chile to Cambodia. This will help their ministry, like they say in Warri.

President Buhari must listen to Nigerians. Things are really falling apart and he must not allow the centre to scatter. His wife and children know the truth and have been saying it through their body language. Those who keep the first family away from the bread winner are looking for selfish bread and butter.

President Goodluck Jonathan is the closest former president to Buhari. He knows and pockets the story of Buhari’s emergence as President. Let him go to Aso Villa again to talk to his new buddy. Nigeria is boiling. Something has to be done for good.

Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo should not be seen as an enemy of progress now. Buhari should engage him and get this country out of trouble immediately. Love him, loathe his guts, OBJ is one man you cannot ignore all the time. Buhari needed him in 2015, he needs the ex-general once again.

The National Assembly must change tactics. Members should cut their jumbo pay, they must come down to our level. Pay cut is not peanuts. These servants of the people should fix something close to minimum wage or lose many of us completely.

This government must reduce fuel price, stop multiple taxation, halt increase in electricity tariff, overhaul the scam called National Identity Card so that we all will heave a sigh of relief. We are also going to visit the Road Safety section. Why must one pay so much to renew Driver’s licence?

Our soldiers must take a break from civil duties. I am one of the greatest supporters of the Nigeria Army. Whoever took them to Lekki has done a lot of damage. Did soldiers not support protesters in some areas before the bloodbath in Lagos?

We have to bring Lagos back to life. Mr. President should make sense out of the protesters demands. For now, let us involve the Navy, Air Force and Civil Defence in Lagos patrol. The Army should be on leave until calm is restored. There are wonderful officers and men who feel bad with what happened at the Toll Gate. This I know.