PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU :Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fellow Nigerians, once again I’m compelled to go into Roman history to seek a title for my column this week. I believe that most of us would agree with the Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, a veteran of many wars, both physical and metaphysical, that our country is indeed in a state of war. Those who live habitually in fool’s paradise may continue to delude themselves that all is well. Truth is, all is seriously far from being well. Nigeria is now permanently under siege. We are battling all manner of malevolent forces on all fronts. And it is unclear by what stroke of magic or miracle we hope to wriggle out of this evil grip on our nation. If anyone says he knows how this debilitating war of attrition would climax, let alone end, please help me tell such a prophet he’s a big liar. As the valiant Roman soldiers of yore would say to the Emperor before they took to the field of battle “we who are about to die salute YOU!” All I see before us is the destruction of gallant and courageous souls in the defence of the integrity of their beloved country.
Nigerian leaders have collectively boxed us all into a tight corner. And my brutal prediction is that this boat is headed for the rocks. This is not based on any unrestrained pessimism. Whenever a rudderless ship flounders recklessly the way ours has been doing, it doesn’t take much of clairvoyance to see the direction it is obviously headed. It can only hit something like the Titanic and sink or explode into smithereens and disappear like a comet.
I’m willing to take a bet that our solution is nowhere in sight. As we slowly but surely approach the proverbial 2015, the drummers behind this macabre dance will certainly increase the tempo of their music of death with the agility of a horse. What we are witnessing at the moment is only a dress rehearsal but the grand Command Performance will soon hit us like a box-office drama on Broadway. Those who think Nigeria will continue to rotate in this circus of madness are poor students of history.
If I had any iota of doubt about the impending gloom and doom, it evaporated a few days ago after reading what the Lion of Niger Delta, our indefatigable Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, had to say in his most rambunctious declaration to date. In this nation of squeamish citizens, it is noteworthy to find a man of audacity. I have taken time over the years to study this self-professed and well-advertised militant and I have come to the conclusion that he’s in a class of his own. Militants the world over are usually self-evasive but Alhaji is in a different world. He understands the use of PR in modern warfare and deploys it to maximum advantage. When he moves, he goes with his coaches in tow with the speed of a bullet train. It is impossible not to notice that Alhaji is somewhere around whenever and wherever he makes his stylish appearance.
If President Obasanjo was described by his detractors as a bully, he met more than his match in Alhaji. Myth and fable had it then that President Obasanjo was gently persuaded all the way from America to grant audience to this man who had succeeded in crippling the outflow of oil from the Niger Delta. Let me say I do not know the veracity of such mythology but the Dokubo-Asari saga was too juicy not to be savoured. The man himself has confirmed in his latest tirade against the Nigerian nation that he once reduced the daily output of Nigerian oil to about 700,000 barrels per day. Who are we to doubt the oracular assertion? He has vowed to return Nigeria to that comatose state if his current wishes are not met.
And what are these requests? Alhaji insists President Jonathan must serve two terms. It does not matter to him if the man contests and fails to win. Is it not then instructive enough to ask Professor Atahiru Jega: why bother to conduct the 2015 Presidential election when Alhaji has already declared the result two years ahead? By what authority is INEC going to contain Alhaji’s open threat when the beneficiary of his volatile rebellion is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces who has the monstrous powers to turn day into night and man into woman? My honest opinion is that there is no basis for any election when one party is virtually celebrating victory before the first vote is cast.
Alhaji did not mince words about his mission and intention. He said what Nigeria is enjoying now is a temporary reprieve courtesy of our Lord and Saviour President Jonathan, an original son of the Niger Delta, under whose merciful benevolence there is peace in Nigeria. By Alhaji’s projection and avowed time-table, we shall return to status quo, as soon as Jonathan leaves power, after two compulsory terms. He forgot to add a redemptive option. Perhaps, we may avert such a return to anarchy if a Niger Delta son or daughter is at all times the President of Nigeria. I’m breaking these issues down to brass-tacks in case many of you missed the combustive interview or had no time to digest and regurgitate what Alhaji had to say.
The last point Alhaji made that I must point out is this. In case you are thinking the man has committed a treasonable offence and you believe he should roast in his own stew of perfidy, he warns of dire consequences, if and when that happens. In fact, Alhaji is so cocksure of his magnificent invincibility that he said Nigeria will literally disappear from the world map if anyone was fool-hardy to attempt such. As I write this, no one in government has dared to raise a voice against this open declaration of war.
I have meticulously combed every news organ to see if there has been any cogent response from the Nigerian Police, the Army or the State Security Service but nothing has surfaced yet. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Alhaji Dokubo-Asari wasn’t being flippant, petulant or delinquent when he uttered those words. He clearly knew what most of us did not know; that there is a new power and force in Nigeria and that it did not just emerge overnight from the groves. It is a carefully planned and well-orchestrated rebellion that was designed to inflict maximum pain on most citizens of Nigeria who have nothing to do with power-politics but are just minding their own agonising lives.
In Alhaji’s promise of fire and brimstone, a major revelation should also not be missed. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua obviously fell victim of super-advanced 419 when he set up his Amnesty programme. What he bought with all the billions of Naira were Dane guns and antiquated weapons. The more efficacious arms are still stockpiled somewhere beyond the reach of the Federal government.
I now have an answer to why the Jonathan administration has been awarding all manner of contracts to militants and the various Janjaweeds scattered across Nigeria. As our President and Commander-in-Chief he’s expected to have access to a goldmine of intelligence reports and must have realised that we lack the capacity to confront the monster we inadvertently built as a form of national compromise and reconciliation. Little wonder our territorial waters must now be policed by any means necessary including by the most fearsome militants and seadogs. Lord have mercy, our pipelines must be protected by regional warlords before our oil can flow. How much lower can a country descend? The tale reads like a verse out of Dante’s Inferno, an allegorical passage through Hell.
That is the heavy price a nation of neurotic leaders must pay for foolishly jettisoning brains for brawns. We have rubbished the intelligentsia and replaced them with mediocre privilegentsia. Sooner or later, the chicken must return home to roost. It is in such precarious situation that Nigeria has found itself.
Where then do we go from here? The answer is not so simple but I shall try to project into the future. The other regions of Nigeria are enduring the higgledy-piggledy without a whimper. Each and everyone concerned is secretly gauging and measuring the strength and capability of the other. It is certain the theatre of war is set. The Boko Haram has metamorphosed into several different forms. It has pervaded the whole gamut of religious, political and economic configuration and has become a formidable and combat-ready army for a future role. That includes the balkanisation of Nigeria into smaller nations of ethnic grouping.
No one knows how all these permutations would play out. But what I know is that most Nigerians want to live in peace and harmony. The greatness of Nigeria today, in the view of most reasonable people, is largely predicated on our size and population. The people causing all these gargantuan problems are not up to one million in a country of about 160 million. They have largely succeeded in their selfish pursuits and misadventure because of the power of money and coercion available to them. Politicians have become the biggest curse and liability on Nigeria and the onus is now on the rest of the populace to find ways and means of liberating themselves. To do nothing is to ensure that in the future our children are not going to be addressed as Nigerians. That would be tragic.
My kobo advice to President Jonathan as well as members of the opposition is that the world is watching our malicious bickering and wondering if we have not seen what became of USSR and Yugoslavia. What of the human calamity with so many unnecessary deaths of innocent people? Is that what our leaders and their cronies wish for Nigeria in order to hold on to power at all costs?
I strongly recommend to the President in particular that you should do everything to deepen the structure of democratic institutions. It is not how long you rule that counts it is how well you govern. Mr President, when you were growing up, I’m sure you never dreamt of becoming a Vice Chancellor not to talk of being the President of Africa’s biggest nation. But the ways of God are not the ways of Man. It has pleased God in his infinite mercy to elevate you beyond your imagination. Please, do nothing to invite the wrath of God. I used to think that General Obasanjo was the luckiest Nigerian until you came on the scene. Sir, it is in your interest to leave Nigeria better than you met it.
The time has come for you to stand ramrod and show your inner stuff. You do not need the services of ubiquitous politicians and mercenaries who know no other jobs but understand how to make profit out of chaos. I have said it repeatedly that when the chips are down you will be on your own. It doesn’t take much time for politicians to move on to the next bidder. It is in the character of undertakers to seek dead bodies. It will do you and your family well if you concentrate on building legacies.
If I were to be as privileged as you; I will tell the truth about my intentions to run for office again. It is nothing to be ashamed of. The real shame is when you pretend not to be interested but your subliminal actions and body language suggest otherwise. It is your right to contest, please feel free to so. But do not debar the progress of others by tying them down like Salah rams. Even as a President, you own only one vote in your political party. Please do nothing to misappropriate what belongs to a collective. All members of your party must be allowed access to a level-playing field even you won’t offer your boots to them. There is no point harassing them with worn-out tactics of police and EFCC intimidation.
I have a similar message for my comrades in opposition. We must conduct ourselves in the most decorous manner. The world expects to demonstrate the difference between us and the unruly gang we seek to replace. It is not in our interest to cause mayhem and destroy the nation we truly hope to make better. I know that majority of our citizens are sick and tired of the ruling party at the centre but we are yet to sufficiently convince them that there’s a marked difference between them and us. Let’s stop fooling ourselves that merger alone would do the trick. Less than ten percent of Nigerians belong to political parties. The other 90 belong to what I call the Floaters Party. Opposition needs to know what Chief Moshood Abiola did to penetrate their hearts and become a man of the people. Learning those statistics would be very germane to our ultimate victory.
If we take the people for granted and repeat the terrible mistakes of the past by fielding unelectable candidates, the people will surprise us by sticking to the devil they know.