Let’s not deceive ourselves!
By DONU KOGBARA
HAPPY 2021 my dear Vanguard readers. You are hearing this New Year greeting from me for the first time in the middle of January because this column has only appeared sporadically in recent weeks.
I hope you will forgive me for this lamentable lack of consistency because there were mostly good reasons for my multiple absences from this page…one good reason being the fact that my 25-year- old son Oliver and I both had COVID-19 in December and early January.
Fortunately, we were extremely lucky. We didn’t catch the worst version of the dreaded and potentially deadly virus that has turned the entire world into a crisis zone. We just had moderate coughs, fevers, headaches and body pains. I also lost my sense of smell.
But many COVID-19 sufferers who start off with mild versions of the disease suddenly deteriorate and basically fall off a cliff as in wind up dead or struggling to breathe on ventilators for long periods of time; and it’s very difficult to concentrate on work when you are worried about your health and not in great shape physically.
I’ve endured other mishaps in recent weeks – like my laptop deciding to collapse at a time when buying a new one was an expense I did not need. But never mind. Let’s just be glad that I am still alive to write and grateful to God that you are still alive to read my writing.
Let’s all say “onwards and upwards!” loudly…and pray that the coming months will be a whole heap better than the past few months.
MANY excellent Nigerian and foreign TV and print journalists have spoken and written zillions of thought-provoking words about the toxic antics of President Donald Trump and his awful riff-raff fans, who stormed the American Capitol last week and caused five deaths.
My esteemed media colleagues in Nigeria and internationally have said it all about Trump’s pathological inability to accept electoral defeat, his deranged supporters’ motivation and the ways in which the expert rabble-rouser and his dangerous cohorts can be punished.
But I don’t think enough has been said about the difference between how American and African systems react when things go wrong.
Many Nigerians have indulged in Schadenfreude (deriving pleasure from others’ misfortunes). They say that last week’s disgraceful incident in Washington proves that Americans are no better than us.
I beg to differ. Any mentally unbalanced individual or group of unhinged loons can throw a spanner into the works in any country. But what the crazy individual or group do does not matter as much as how a society’s institutions deal with the challenge.
Trump has a lot of acolytes. But they will not be allowed to dictate the agenda; and their ability to create more mayhem will be vigorously fought by Trump’s own subordinates in the armed forces.
Trump is the Commander-in-Chief, but he cannot persuade law enforcement officials to do his bidding because, as far as they are concerned, the American Constitution is sacrosanct and more important than any President. Even the shamelessly supine Republicans who are sychophantically defending Trump will only go so far.
Vice-President Mike Pence, for example, is unwilling to participate in attempts to unseat his boss. Senator Ted Cruz, for example, is spouting cynical, self-serving rubbish about the November election being rigged by the Democrats and President-Elect Joe Biden.
But neither of the above will join Trump if he goes totally rogue and tries to prevent Joe Biden from being sworn in because Cruz and Pence are just playing games to save their nutty leader’s face one last time and avoid attacks from his psycho grassroots followers.
As they stand by Trump, they are secretly eagerly waiting for the day – January 20 – when Trump’s grandstanding will have to end.
Meanwhile, an impeachment process is underway in Congress. In Nigeria, it’s a completely different story.
No matter how incapacitated or just plain useless a Nigerian President is, the whole country will be held to ransom for him and Nigerian power brokers will never robustly try to impeach him.
Opposition senators and House of Reps members may grumble about the President’s shortcomings or inability to do his job. But they will, when push comes to shove, do nothing meaningful to change things and come up with all manner of slavish, cowardly, ridiculous excuses for permitting a highly unsatisfactory status quo to continue.
When the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was comatose and incapable of communicating, only one Minister in his Cabinet (the late great Dora Akinyuli) earned the right to be described as “Honourable”.
Mrs. Akunyuli courageously attempted to break the deadlock caused by the vacuum that Yar’Adua’s terminal sickness had created. She was a lone voice in the wilderness.
When the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, quite rightly sacked the former DSS Director for illegally sending armed personnel to the National Assembly when President Buhari was abroad receiving medical attention, many of his fellow APC members carried on as if Osinbajo had committed a heinous crime.
In a normal system, 90 per cent of APC stalwarts would have hailed him for taking appropriate action. Instead, most of those I talked to at the time criticised him and have been trying to viciously undermine him ever since.
Farewell to Sam
SAM Nda-Isaiah, the late proprietor of Leadership newspaper, was my friend. Many wonderful tributes have been delivered since he became yet another grim coronavirus statistic late last year, so I won’t repeat a long list of his many fine attributes.
Suffice it to say that he was a great conversationalist with a great brain and great sense of humour and very kind-hearted…and that the domestic staff in my Abuja residence were absolutely devastated when I told them that Uncle Sam would no longer be visiting us.
We argued a lot. I shall miss our lively quarrels about the pros and cons of the Buhari administration(which he supported) and other issues including gay rights (which he annoyed me by opposing).
May he Rest In Perfect Peace. May his beloved wife and family develop the strength to cope without his larger-than-life presence.