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June 12’s enemy judges

Like one writhing from the pangs of judicial guilt, in a valedictory about a decade ago marking his retirement from judicial service, Justice Abdullahi Mustapha –one of a few infamous Federal High Court judges who presided over the treason trial of the late MKO Abiola- said that the winner of Nigeria’s freest and fairest election would not have died in detention if he had not refused the conditional bail his court had granted him. In fact, besides being proverbially an ‘after-death-the-doctor’ kind of self-praise, this unsolicited piece of irrelevant obiter dictum, merely reversed the aged-old saying that ‘the witch cried at night and the baby died at dawn’.

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The Trump-Hillary conundrum

THE expression ‘between Scylla and Charybdis’ came from the personification of two phenomenal hazards of navigation, both occurring off Italy’s narrow straits of Messina: one hazard named ‘Scylla’ was a ‘rock’ dangerously positioned against the ease of marine movement; the other named ‘Charybdis’ was a freak of perilous ‘whirlpool’ on the opposite side of Scylla and equally as threatening to sea-going vessels.

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OBJ: The nass he knows

In 1999 after fortune shone on the ill-fated political ‘prisoner’ who was fated thereafter to be President, General Olusegun Obasanjo was as greenhorn as political rookies can get when he grappled with the task of shedding the regimentation of garrison life in order to fit into the messy affairs of the ‘democratic process’. And worse still when he faced his baptism of fire at an even messier turf, the ‘legislative arena’. This is the one arena in a democracy that fatalists describe as a mystery ‘machine’ through which members of the executive pass usually as ‘pigs’ but always come out as ‘sausages’.

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Dictatorship and the legislature

Whenever theorists and men of learning postulate about the organic nature of ‘state’ and ‘democracy’ as a necessary dung of its bloom, the composite demon conjured always is ‘dictatorship’, especially of the ‘military’ kind which is imposed and sustained by the power of arms. And so it was about the military that Samuel Adams had warned that “A wise and prudent people” should “always have a watchful and jealous eye over”; because as he argued, “the maxims and rules of the army are essentially different from the genius of a free people.”

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Still on Buhari’s appointments

IT is amazing nowadays the extent many of us can get in the blatant defense of ‘wrong’ or even in selectively moralizing about what is ‘right’. We seem to have ‘good reasons’ always why the right thing must not be done and we are prepared every time to array our might in defense even of what is palpably wrong.
When we say that ‘justice in the land must be done no matter whose ox is gored’, what we actually mean is that ‘it matters really if it is our own ox that is gored’. And often we make such a show of righteous indignation about a particular ‘wrong’ you’d never imagine we could also be the worst culprits of that of that very offence.
Those who once strained logic to disprove the ‘good’ inherent in the equitable principle of zoning’, were the same ‘pious priests’ of ‘geo-ethnic balance’ who vilified Buhari for not applying ‘federal character’ even in the appointment of his ‘personal’ presidential aides.
Yet you dared not to remind them that Buhari’s predecessor, Jonathan had in fact only one Northerner of note –namely his Principal Secretary- on the entire team of his own ‘presidential aides’. Yet you are the ethnic bigot who dares to bring this up and not ‘they’ who choose selectively to moralize about it.
Many have cited Jonathan’s ethno-centric appointments as worthy grounds to justify retaliatory measure even from a Buhari that is not known to be malevolent. But it’ll not be right to ‘trade a Rolland for an Oliver’!
In fact my grouse with Jonathan’s appointments was not so much for its geo-ethnic bias as it was the gross non-performance of his appointees and the brazen theft of our common patrimony which they had made the very purpose of governance. Baring that it should not have mattered that they all came from a section of the country.
Commanding heights
Jonathan’s team of presidential aides was virtually an ‘all-South-South’ list mostly of his Ijaw kinsmen with some gratuitous sprinkling perhaps of a few South Easterners many of whom now feel obligated to play the vengeful mourners-in-chief of his lost bid for a second term.
I have not the vaguest recollection that those who cried wolf over Buhari’s so called ‘sectional’ list of presidential aides had batted an eyelid over Jonathan’s all-kith-kin-and-kindred list. The English call this ‘straining at a gnat and ignoring a whole camel’.
Nor do I have any recollection of other geo-political zones splitting any hairs about the Jonathan tribe-team, or even the subsequent list of heads of forty key federal parastatals and agencies in which there were only four South Westerners and one Northerner.
The rest were virtually all South-South –mostly of Ijaws extraction- put deliberately at the commanding heights of key economic sectors of the nation –ranging from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Bank of Industry, Nigerian Content Development Agency, Consumer Protection Agency, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Railway Corporation, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Surveyor General of the Federation, Statistician General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor General of the Federation and others like NIMET, NIMASA, PENCOM, FERMA, NCC, NAMA, NCAA, FAAN, NCAT, NAFDAC, FIIRO, NESREA, NEPZA, NOA, MDG, NAN, NERDC, SON, NBC, ITF and NUC .
And now an NNPC Board list of eight members comprising five Northerners and three Southerners is made a point of by these same ‘pious priest’ of geo-ethnic balance, as an example of how incorrigibly ‘sectional’ Buhari is in his appointments. But if memory serves right, the same NNPC Board of eight members under Jonathan had only one Northerner on it. Yet you are the ethnic bigot who dares to bring this up and not ‘they’ who choose selectively to moralize about it.
Many have cited Jonathan’s ethno-centric appointments as worthy grounds to justify retaliatory measure even from a Buhari that is not known to be malevolent.
But it’ll be right to ‘trade a Rolland for an Oliver’! In fact my grouse with Jonathan’s appointments was not so much for its geo-ethnic bias as it was the gross non-performance of his appointees and the brazen theft of our common patrimony which they had made the very purpose of governance. Barring that it should not have mattered that they all came from a section of the country.
Equal opportunity
In fact, the irony of it is that it is those who make a creed of de-campaigning ‘quota system’ as retrogressive that are also preaching ‘federal character’ now as the veritable political correctness. Yet ‘quota system’ seems to me to be more morally justifiable for the reason that it ensures ‘equal-opportunity’ in the allocation of an inadequate resource and thus requires to be equitably –if not equally- allocated.
Federal character merely imposes a ‘duty’ strictly of service via appointment into public office, and therefore must not necessarily be squared up equally or equitably by tribes and tongues, religion or geography.
May be it was necessary in the past for political appointees to double as ‘dogs of hunt’ for their respective sectional or ethnic enclaves. But that should not be necessary any longer, especially with a Buhari in office who has sufficiently proved in just a year that governance will no longer be ‘business as usual’.
Nonetheless even that psychogenic foreboding of being left out because your ‘personal person’ had not been brought near the ‘cake’ was largely misplaced because in reality politicians brought near the national cake did not necessarily return home to share the loot with their people. It had always been ‘to every dog its day, and to every dog its bone’!
The justice we must seek should be the ‘equitable’ distribution of national resources and not necessarily the ‘equal’ appointment of those who distribute the resources. By the way what does it matter if ethnic groups are ‘equally’ represented in appointments but do not get an ‘equitable’ share of the common resource? Or what does it matter if they are ‘un-equally’ represented but are ‘equitably’ provided for from the common resource?
In any case if we are to distribute appointments ‘equally’ instead of sharing resources ‘equitably’, how do we go about it? By regions? Why not by zones? -to achieve balance. By states? Why not by local governments? -to achieve spread. By ethnic groups?
Why not by tribes? -to create a sense of belonging! Why don’t we do it by household? -to achieve the utopia of ‘EQUALITY’ we always wanted! That way, in no time we’ll get to a higher state of nirvana when every individual can claim a right to be his own representative as a political appointee of government.

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Biafra’s secessionist right revisited

Whether a constitutionally governed nation is to exist in perpetuity, sacred and inviolable even by the existential realities of irredeemable socio-cultural fault lines, is a matter for the conjecture of the jurisprudence of law and of morality. The question being: should a democratic society be presumed immune –legally-speaking or morally so- even from the rumbling dissent of self-determined minorities bent on opting out of the union?

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A clash of three powers

OF the many doctrines or rules that I am intrigued by in the ‘English law’, the ‘maxims of equity’ have a place uniquely their own. If you must know ‘maxims of equity’ are ‘short pithy statements’ used to denote the general principles of ‘equity’. Like the maxim: ‘he who seeks equity must do equity’ –which may have been founded from the religious moral which instructs the doing ‘unto others what one would wish done unto oneself’.

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