I am concerned because I know the whole world would be paying close attention to Nigeria that day. I worry not just because of the import of the occasion but because some of the world leaders comprising Presidents, Vice Presidents and Foreign Ministers would be in Abuja as part of their country’s delegation. The Inauguration of a new President is about the closest Nigeria would ever get to hosting an international event like the Olympics or the World Cup or a papal visit or the visit of Her Royal Majesty the Queen of England. I recall the 1956 visit of the Queen Elizabeth the Second, 3 years after her coronation in 1953. The visit was flawless because it was organized by the then Colonial Administration.
Organizing such events is not new in Nigeria, but the times have changed. I am aware that due to the foresight and vision of Obafemi Awolowo, Nigeria successfully hosted the Dick Tiger /Gene Fulmer Middle Weight fight at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan half a century ago. The Lanlate Sattellite Station at Ibarapa Local Government near Ibadan had made it possible to beam the fight to the whole world at a time that Satellite technology was still in its infancy.
I recall Nigeria successfully played host to the celebration of African Culture at the stupendous Arts and Cultural Theatre at Iganmu, Lagos, during the Yakubu Gowon era. Yakubu Gowon had gleefully announced to the whole world that the problem of Nigeria was not how to make money but how to spend it. The oil doom has just taken hold and our one product economy has not begun to show its devastation like it is doing now when crude oil is now selling for less than 60 dollars a barrel instead of the more than 100 dollars per barrel it has been sold for during the close to 6 years of Jonathan as President of Nigeria. It is funny to me that President Jonathan as part of his handing-over formalities is taking Buhari and his Vice President on a tour of Aso Rock preparatory to his leaving office.
Can you imagine any American president taking a President-elect on a tour of the Peoples’ House otherwise known as “The White House”? Anybody who would be President of America would have been a frequent visitor to the White House either as a former Governor or Senator? The need to take them round would have been considered a sheer waste of time but it is arguably so in Nigeria because the opposition is not considered as the Government-in-waiting like is done in most civilized countries of the world.
Nigerian economy in the era of Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa and Obafemi Awolowo did not have a coordinating minister like we have now. Nigeria did not have a Harvard alumnus and a former Managing Director of the World Bank as Minister of Finance. Nigeria was able to host those international events because we had enough money to play around with and because we had devoted and dedicated bureaucrats, public servants and more honest leaders to steer the ship of state.
It is a completely new ballgame today when the total liability the Jonathan government would be passing on to the new Administration is projected to be higher than 60 billion dollars as revealed in an interview by the in-coming Vice President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo.
This inauguration will be happening at a time the petrol shortage that has more or less grounded public transportation in Nigeria is just about coming to an end. I worry about the inauguration and the poor impression Nigeria is going to give to the world if by any error of omission or commission some of our international visitors get caught in the fallout from poor planning on the part of the organizers of the Inauguration ceremony. That would be watching our dirty linens in the public so to speak.
When you hear all the noise being made on the airwave today about the elaborate handing-over formalities from President Jonathan to Buhari, you would think Nigeria is so organized and ready to do a flawless transfer of power. If you believe that crap, you will believe anything.
The PDP and President Jonathan are much more focused on how to sandbag and sabotage the incoming administration because it has just dawned on them that for the first time since our Independence on October 1st 1960 55 years ago, Nigeria has been ruled by the same cabal in different names including the military which ruled for a total of 38 years out of those 55 years. I call them a cabal because the military could not do it alone. They, more often than not, had to involve civilians who are drawn from the same cabal time and again.
This inauguration is the first time ever that the opposition in Nigeria has been able to dislodge a sitting Government from power in circumstances that many of the ruling oligarchy in Nigeria could not comprehend or envisage. I can tell you that Nigerian politics is so complicated that nobody is able to explain it off with a few sound bites or articles like this one.
The PDP and President Jonathan had more or less taken it for granted that the PDP could never lose an election in Nigeria. Individuals like Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and individuals like Obanikoro, Iyiola Omisore, and some of their cohorts in the Southeast and South/South never believed for a moment that the PDP could be defeated the way it was rejected by the great majority of the Nigerian voters on March 28 and April 11.
They never believed that individuals like Professor Atahiru Jega, an appointee of President Jonathan, could be so resolute to conduct a free and fair election to the best of their ability. They have assumed that money is the only open Sesame to electoral victory in Nigeria.
Jonathan actually believed he could spend his way to victory by bribing all of the king makers of Nigerian politics which includes the Church and the clergy, the traditional rulers, market women and those who have no other occupation or profession than politics. Jonathan was ready and willing to empty the Nigerian Treasury to keep himself in power for 4 more years. If Jonathan had won that election, he would have been telling Nigerians and the whole world that Nigeria was on top of the world because of him. He is now forced to own up to some of the inequities and shortcomings of Nigeria because he has nowhere to hide now. When the new sheriff comes to town and takes over the saddle all bets are off. That is the time the wind would blow off the feathers to expose the nakedness of the big hen.
I worry about this inauguration because Nigeria is running on an empty Treasury right now. Don’t be surprised if you hear later that Nigeria had to borrow money to stage-manage the inauguration. You would be amazed to hear about the billions of Naira spent on the inauguration ceremony. Jonathan has made so many attempts to sabotage the last election but only God and the resolute conviction of Nigerians had not let him. The Orubebe one-man show at the collation center at Abuja was designed to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. If Orubebe had managed to gain entrance to the Collation Hall with his fully armed bodyguards comprising of Niger Delta militants that were disarmed at the entrance, the collation would have been disrupted and the elections would have been declared inconclusive.
There would have been a call for an interim Government in Nigeria just to stop the opposition from ever having their day in the sunshine. Even though Orubebe’s last minute disruption had woefully failed, but the President still had a joker up his sleeves. He was not going to concede victory as quickly as he did because many in his party men and hatchet men had advised against it.
God and circumstances beyond his control had forced him to change his mind when he received three important telephone calls he could only ignore to his own peril. The first was from Ban Ki- Moon the Secretary General of the United Nations. The second was from Kofi Annan the first African black Secretary General and a highly respected world leader from the West African sub region. The last and not the least was a phone call on a secure line from the first black President of the United States and the leader of the Free World.
There were other pressures from the current leader of the ECOWAS and another from an insider in the person of our own Abdulsalam Abubakar, a former head of State and member of the Nigerian Council of State. General Abubakar had a whole lot of leverage as the only Nigerian leader who promised his regime would only stay a year and hand over to a civilian Administration and he kept his word to the letter.
Those who want to recommend Jonathan for a Nobel Peace award for conceding victory are ignorant Nigerians who do not understand the parameters and conditionality to be met by anyone who would be nominated or awarded the Nobel Peace Laureate. Jonathan would be the last person to be nominated for such an award when the truth about his stewardship in Nigeria become manifest. Jonathan is a genius in make-believe. You can tell that from his handing over a booklet that he calls his handing over note to Buhari with full television coverage. That man told a lot of bogus lies about what a good job his Government had done and he got his colleagues in ECOWAS and the African Union to sing his praise to the high Heavens. Nigerians have to wait to hear from the new Administration the real truth about the Jonathan Government.
Jonathan himself has made some premonitions when in a Freudian slip two days ago he finally told Buhari he must first of all probe Ibrahim Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan, Abdusalam Abubakar and Umoru Yar Adua before he could be probed. That was the joker he had always wanted to pull on Nigeria to justify his Kleptomania in Government. If Nigerians understand the full implications of his statement, they would have a better insight into why the Jonathan Administration has become the most corrupt and the most reckless in Nigeria.
He has carried the word “impunity” to a new level in Nigeria. He has admitted with that statement that all his predecessors in that office were as corrupt as himself and that it would be gross injustice to single him out for a probe as the first minority President of Nigeria from the South/South. Nigerians should now fully understand why the man could not tell the difference between “stealing” and “corruption”.
The President is now gloating and claiming to have kept his word to restore free and fair election in Nigeria like I predicted months ago he was going to do. The President should tell that to the mountains. He said he has established a legacy of democratic freedom. No you have not, Mr. President. That was the greatest lie of the century as far as I am concerned. I know the APC is only a few shades better than the PDP if the truth must be told but we still have to wait and see. It will be jumping the gun to say the APC is no better than the PDP but I have seen some signs for worry even from some of their members but the PDP’s members’ impunity and hopelessness are no longer debatable. We see them in the astronomical level of corruption in Nigeria now.
I agonize about the inauguration and so should Nigerians across the board for all of the reasons stated above and for the additional reasons I like to focus now like a laser beam with the remaining segments of this article.
My first concern is Buhari himself and his lackluster attitude to the issue of his personal security as the President-elect. Mr. Louis Farrakan, the leader of the Nation of Islam based in Chicago goes around with as much as security as the one offered to the President of the United States because he fully understands he is an easy target for assassination similar to that of Martin Luther King Jr.
When you are a public figure like Buhari, you have to realize that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and you have to appreciate like the great Harold Wilson the British Prime Minister that “Survival is the Art of Politics” and that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can only bring change when you are alive. If you grow careless and you get killed, you are done.
Fidel Castro understood that prism better than any of his peers in the world. That was how he managed to survive and outlive Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William “Bill” Clinton, and George W. Bush. Even though the man has since handed over to his brother Raul, the man is still alive today to witness the new peace overtures between Cuba and the United States under the first black President of the United States.
The CIA set up women to go after Castro. Everything in the book was done to get him like they did to Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader. Fidel Castro beat them all and that is the reason Communism still reigns supreme in Cuba today. What his brother Raul is currently doing is to follow the Chinese model by making peace with the World, with the Pope and the West by embracing openness and free trade and some elements of Capitalism Cuba now knows it cannot beat. Buhari needs to be more security-conscious than he currently is. Some Nigerians have embraced some of those deadly techniques and they are going to use it to get him out of the way, trust me. The APC must remain very careful and vigilant or else their hopes and expectations may be cut short. The PDP when out of power is a dangerous opponent to take for granted or dismiss with the wave of the hand because they have lost their means of livelihood they and are going to fight back any way they can including subterfuge.
It does not appear to me that Buhari had learnt any lesson from what Babangida did to him in 1985. He was the one planning to retire Babangida. He thought he was the one riding the tiger but he ended up in the stomach of the tiger after he disembarked. He ended up becoming the victim himself because he was very careless. His war against corruption and indiscipline was quickly aborted and Nigeria is where it is today because of that sloppiness and foolhardiness.
Buhari got it exactly right when he said that “if Nigeria does not kill Corruption, Corruption will kill Nigeria” Buhari must remember that his nemesis Babangida is still alive and well and the evil genius still has elements in the Nigerian Military who are still very loyal to him. The second coming of Buhari could be viewed as a subtle repudiation of Babangida and his minions in the Military. I can tell you that.
Buhari would be naïve to forget that. Thank God Buhari currently has the support of elements like Obasanjo and Theophillus Danjuma who still have a lot of following and loyalty in the Nigerian Military as well. I am aware that Buhari too has his own buddies and loyalists, but they are all endangered species in the Nigerian Military right now because of the culture of pervasive corruption. One of them is Captain Sagir Koli the man who blew the whistle on his Commanding officer Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh who took his bribes from Jonathan and Ayo Fayose and was therefore willing to do their biddings at the risk of irredeemably denting his own image and putting at risk the many years he has spent in the Military.
Today Captain Koli is the fugitive offender who has to run for his life while General Aliyu Momoh is waiting to be promoted Field Marshall by President Jonathan to compensate him for doing his dirty job for him at the Spotless Hotel at Ado Ekiti. I am still waiting patiently to see how Buhari handles that unfortunate development in the Nigerian Military. Those who accuse of singing my own praise because I give an eye-witness account in most of my writings are derelict. They cannot succeed to keep my mouth shut for that reason because I am passionate about what I write and that is the entire gift I have for Nigeria in my twilight years and with the peace of mind and fulfillment the United States has afforded me in my old age.
Nigerians must worry about what could still happen at the inauguration if they are to learn anything from history. Those who fail to learn something from history are doomed to repeat it. I recall President Anwar Sadat of Egypt being mowed down by bullets coming from soldiers taking part in a parade that he was presiding over. It was “Ojo buruku Esu gbomi mu” in Cairo. “Ojo buruku Esu gbomi mu” simply in Yoruba language, “A day that shall forever live in infamy” as described by William Shakespeare.
Buhari and the APC in their euphoria must never forget that. I agonize about the possibility of that happening to our “animal farm” type of country where there is nothing like 911 to call in the event of an emergency and where most of the fire trucks in the nation’s capital do not have water to put out a fire. There was once a fire mishap in Akure my home and the Ondo State Capital. It took roughly 3 hours for the only fire truck in the state to arrive to put out the fire, and when it came, the fire fighters suddenly remembered the fire truck tanker had no water at all. Can you believe that?
I agonize about the worse scenario at the inauguration ceremony tomorrow; it suddenly occurred to me that Indira Gandhi the Indian Prime Minister was shot dead at very close range by one of her own security details.
I remember that Uncle Bola Ige the Cicero of Esa Oke and the Chief Law Enforcement officer as Attorney General was shot dead in the comfort of his own bed room at Ibadan while his security staff went on a break to have dinner. Up till tomorrow the mighty Federal Government headed by his bosom friend has not been able to fish out the culprits or bring them to book. With a friend like Olusegun Obasanjo nobody needs an enemy.
Buhari and the APC would be insane not to be aware of all those developments and the vulnerabilities of Buhari and Osinbajo on what ought to be their day of glory in Nigeria.
I am writing all of this a day before the D-day not as a prophet of doom but just to be sure Nigerians do not get careless to believe that an Interim Government is a day dream. No, it is not. If for any reason Buhari does not get sworn in as President on May 29 as anticipated and planned, Nigeria could well face a constitutional crisis that could well make it impossible and illegal for Osinbajo to immediately take over as President. I don’t care if he has the highest Law degrees in the world, forming an interim government would be the ultimate recourse.
I am not praying for anything bad to happen to Buhari but the best defense is offense. If you want peace, you have got to be prepared for War and the price of liberty is eternal vigilance with apologies to the Ikemba, Eze Igbo Wuruwuru, the one and only Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu of blessed memory.
Sahara Reporters have always led the way in covering the just concluded election in Nigeria like no other social media or News outlet in the world... Let it be said that we never drop the ball on the need for more security and vigilance as we get ready to draw the curtain on the worst Administration Nigeria has ever had by way of corruption. Even if the inauguration goes tomorrow with any incident, Buhari is still not out of the woods is all I am saying.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a scaremonger as some of you are going to conclude. I love Buhari and Osinbajo and I want them to succeed in the best interest of Nigeria. I don’t know about you.
I rest my case.