By Sola Ebiseni
THE President’s Independence Day speech writers pitifully chose to disrobe him of the warmth, candour and inspiration of the father of the nation and clothed him in the puerile frigidity in which monumental incompetence is wrapped for the deliberate befuddlement of the governed.
The excessive, seven times, use of “fellow Nigerians” made popular by military adventurers in power, was probably to intermittently wake up listeners in the cause of the drab and uninspiring address or jolt them to the reality that the speaker is not strange to the use of the phrase in the history of Nigeria, with demonstrable capacity to enforce his declaration that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable.
Anyone familiar with the workings of government in Nigeria, would note that the speech was a poor processing of disparate sectoral reports hurriedly synthesised and handed over to the boss who delivered same hook, line and sinker to the world audience unmindful of its structural harmony and semantics.
For instance, in deference to Mr. President’s sentiments and body language, the speech draftsmen deliberately shied away from linking scarcity of food with activities of terrorist herdsmen but in the process, goofed unpardonably when he meaninglessly said “similarly, on our approach to food security, I am proud to announce Nigeria has commenced its journey to pharmaceutical independence”.
Another faux pas is the thought, from the pit of hell, that “as our food production capacity has increased, food prices have been going up due to artificial shortages created by middlemen who have been buying and hoarding these essential commodities for profiteering.” How pathetic could the Buhari government further be in shielding herdsmen who have continued to drive farmers out of the farms and production.
Like a weeping baby, the Nigerian leader lamented that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable noting that “we cannot afford a situation where a handful of countries keep the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations as if producing nations owe us a duty of care at the expense of their citizens.”
On the resolve “to arrest and prosecute all persons inciting violence through words or action” the government needs not look far. The President has them in large numbers, including some of his unbridled spokespersons who only see national issues from sectional and sectarian perspectives heating up the polity thereby.
They are quick to condemn legitimate actions of peoples and governments of the constituent states other than those from whence they and the President come, as illegal and unconstitutional. They provoke and promote bad blood when they indulge in falsely dressing ethnic cleansing by terrorists in the garb of farmers/herders clash.
They are the same liars and hate speech merchants who included in the President’s speech that “between 2015 and 2020 Nigerians access to potable water is 71per cent”, when the real figure is less than seven per cent for which drilling of private boreholes and production of sachet water are some of the most popular businesses in Nigeria.
A government that continues to harbour men who have been exposed by the international community as bigots with undeniable facts and figures cannot be taken seriously when it tolerates the logs in its own eyes while seeking specks in the eyes of its citizen, merely to call them bad names in order to hang them.
On Igboho and Kanu
It is doubtful if the President and his handlers are aware of the great damage they do to the image of Nigeria when the President condescendingly declared that “the recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals” noting that government was vigorously pursuing these financiers including one identified as a serving member of the National Assembly.
In civilised climes, this government should have, in the least, apologised for its crime against humanity in the attack on Igboho which has been condemned by a court of competent jurisdiction as an invasion with gross violation of his inalienable human rights for which the sum of N20 billion was awarded against the Federal Government and its agencies in punitive damages.
If the court adjudged the activities of Igboho as peaceful and permissible in a democratic society, the search for its financiers amounts to what the Yoruba call arodan, an exercise in futility. In the same vein, a presidential address on the occasion of the nation’s Independence is not where to cast aspersions on Nnamdi Kanu, which activities are a subject of judicial trial initiated by government. Such contemptuous commentaries on a matter that is subjudice merely portray us, as a nation, as being uncivilised, even at the highest level.
It should be clear to the Federal Government by now that neither threat nor force can deter men and women whose cause has been articulated and developed into an ideology.
Kanu was kidnapped, abducted against international protocols and dumped into detention without any visible determination for trial. Yet while Kanu remains in detention, the security situation in the South East has degenerated to a stage when no one or institutions, save the barracks, can fly the Nigerian flag in the DOT territory. If the president sees the activities of Igboho and Kanu as being personal to them and some youths who believe in their causes, killing them is not the solution.
The solution lies in several Yoruba philosophies such that no parent sets up his errant child to be consumed by the Tiger. Rather if a child is chastised with the right hand we are enjoined to cuddle him with the left, lest in our over reaction we become condemned like the proverbial tortoise who tied his father-in law to the big tree on the way to the market and who was mocked by all for stealing from tortoise. The condemnation, however, shifted against tortoise when in the evening times the father-in-law was still found on the stake.
On the other hand, the president ascribes the separatist agitations to the ethnic nationalities of the dramatis personae, like his reference to the activities of IPOB as of the Igbo which territory he derisively referred to as a landlocked dot on the Nigerian map. In that case, hurting the agitators is an excruciating injury to the concerned nationalities and by extension a sizeable part of the Nigerian state. Thus, when the president forecloses dialogues on the Nigerian situation, it is only invariably calling its corporate existence to question.
Sanusi and his ‘useless presidential candidates’
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and erstwhile Emir of Kano is no doubt a Nigerian of immense stature and status whose views on national issues could not be easily dismissed. Thus, as guest of the Arise Television last week, he deliberately veered off his economic analysis on the petroleum subsidy regime to take a swipe at those campaigns for power shift to the southern region of the country.
According to the sacked Emir of Kano, “zoning the presidency to a particular region may leave the country with “two useless candidates” in 2023, adding that “this whole thing is to corner the presidency to one part of the country and the big masquerade will come out and that is why at the end of the exercise, you end up as Nigeria… presented with two useless candidates. Those who want to be president should show their face either from the North or the South.”
Whether in search of quality candidate like the Sanusi warped thesis or reference to alleged superior voting strength, the end is a detest for power shift from the North and when they so argue, their North is the west of it. Sanusi was one big instrument for the agitation of the extreme North that power should return to it in 2015.
The most calumnious campaign in discrediting Jonathan and his government to the advantage of northern power seekers was the false allegation by Sanusi that 20 billion dollars oil money was missing and unaccounted for by government.
He mischievously stamped the allegation with the authority of the governor of Central Bank and hell was let loose. Just as Jonathan was half-heartedly suspending a man he should have immediately dismissed, Sanusi was compensated with the position of the Emir of Kano in spite of the disapproval of the leadership of the emirate and the Kano hoi poloi.
While the call for power shift may not be the solution to the Nigerian structural problems, in the interim, it gives a sense of belonging, and puts a lie to the perverted mentality of “born to rule” in a federation where people who are just first generation from Mauritania seek to lord themselves over the indigenous nationalities. Until the federation is properly restructured in its true federal sense, the omniscient Sanusi may have to endure the rule of useless presidents. Nigeria, we hail thee.