Nigerian politicians need to be reminded of what happened in Ghana back in 1979. Then Flight Lieutenant John Jerry Rawlings decided to have a say in the power equation of Ghana by shooting to death two former Heads of State, Generals Ignatius Acheampong and Fred Akuffo. Nobody is recommending here that a coup plot is a surefire solution to any nation’s problems, but the reality stares us all in the face that where leadership fails violence can always supervene.
Nigerian politicians always lamely assert: “It can never happen here. Nigeria is not Ghana bla… bla… bla…” We only need to be reminded that there is always a first time. Democracy should not be reduced to blackmail as is being currently done in Nigeria. Things are going mightily wrong here, and the leaders appear not to notice.
Hunger has reached unprecedented levels in the history of the country. During the Second Republic then Transport Minister Umaru Dikko infamously said that there was no hunger in Nigeria, as the people had not started eating from the refuse dumps. Nobody in their right mind can deny that Nigerians are today scavenging for food from the refuse heaps behind the homes of the rich and powerful. Cost of living is now out of the reach of the so-called average Nigerian. Little wonder most people now take refuse in eating refuse and in the new-fangled churches promising all kinds of miracles.
The other day President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was lamenting the non-invitation of Nigeria to the G-20 gathering in London. It appears as though Mr. President is not in the know that much of the world views Nigeria as a joke, a lost cause. Every report emanating from all cardinal points point to the fact that Nigeria is actually a failed state.
The Niger Delta insurgency has proven to be beyond the ken of the Nigerian government, whence the lame-duck amnesty stratagem. Kidnapping is now the rule rather than the exception. The cankerworm is fast spreading across the nation. Mindboggling robberies take place with the police running for their dear lives. Security which ought to be the first guarantee of the government is only observed in the breach. For every Nigerian, it is now OYO: “On Your Own!”
Something needs to give now. The government must immediately wake up to its responsibilities or risk an upheaval that would truly be unprecedented. When Acheampong was carrying on in Ghana with the largesse of incumbency he thought quite little of the danger that Rawlings represented. The initial mutiny of Rawlings was of course thwarted and he was thrown into prison only for his group to upturn the apple cart which led to the public execution of Acheampong and Akuffo on charges of corruption. The old proverb talks of the necessity to prophesy about the coming of the rain as requisite preparation for the actual rainfall.
While the party is on PDP chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor can jolly well wax eloquent on the boast that his party would be in power for all of 60 years. It is a kind of Magna Carta that the Nigerian electorate has no say over. When in a so-called democracy free and fair polls are not guaranteed the people are more or less left to embracing self-help. The over-confidence of the leaders of the PDP reminds me of a passage I read in the trashy fiction of my teenage years, to wit, James Hadley Chase in The Sucker Punch: “It is only when a guy is so full of confidence in his ability that he is wide open to the sucker punch. I have seen it happen again and again in my racket. A guy commits murder, fakes an alibi and thinks he can cover up. Then wham! And he is flat on his back. Only he has damn sight worse than a busted jaw.”
Our politicians remind me of the ungainly crooks in the genre thrillers of Hadley Chase. They will like all the fictional characters come to a tacky end in the archetypal mode that stresses: Crime does not pay.
We need to be reminded that the democracy that Ghana is being praised for today came at a steep cost. Rawlings was the man who made democracy possible in Ghana. Nigeria needs the shock treatment of the make of JJ Rawlings.
Of course it is not too late in the day for Nigerian leaders to tell themselves the home truth and thus avert the doom that the Rawlings treatment portends. Covering up corruption in the name of fighting corruption, as the EFCC is currently doing, amounts to self-deception of the most puerile kind. Some Monday for sure our sins will catch up with us. A word, they say….