Is anyone surprised today that the political soup of Nigeria is literally boiling over the spaces of the mighty cauldron? The foamy substance of the toxic brew is powered by the intensity of the fire beneath the cauldron. And the heat is not abating! Since Muhammadu Buhari took the reins of power as President of Africa’s most populous country, opposition has gathered momentum with the slow pace of the soup in the cauldron taking time to build its steam and blow the foam beyond the edges. No one took the opposition seriously for one single moment because logical reasoning is not the foundation on which they build their vindictive assault. They act like preachers of hate. They act like preachers of death. Yet, they sound an appeal to righteousness and often seem to make the real righteous ones look dumb and daft.
Suddenly you hear them screaming from the top of the roof that a six-month old government has failed woefully to deliver on its promises. Never mind that it has 42 months left in the seat of power. They claim that people are now disillusioned after massive enthusiasm for change but never show who, aside themselves. They say fuel scarcity never happened in Nigeria for the past five years. They claim that power failure last happened in periods beyond human memory. They make every action of a new government sound and look directionless and rudderless. Then I ask myself if they truly believe what they say. Then I hear, it is all about their belief that they are avenging the wrong that they think their Principal has suffered, who had five years to dance in rallies and prey on blood like a beastly predator. Words like “The Brainless one” have become the pastime joke of a mob that emerged for the sole purpose of destabilization and defamation. At the beginning, the underlying pattern and method was hidden behind a hazy and gloomy cloud that seemed to suggest the destination of the potential perpetrators: Self-destruct.
Even though the new President carries on regardless, he is yet not oblivious to the satanic ploy. Many experts in the last few days have repeatedly observed that there are two self-serving human megaphones of the opposing side, who barely fall short of being the typical roadside lunatics that ply Nigerian streets naked. They identify one as a western-state Governor and the other as a professional absconder in search of financial convenience. The latter, who has once held a Federal ministerial post, has been openly accused of being a drug addict by an ex-girlfriend. Some foul-mouthed commentators have also observed on social media that the other is widely suspected of having a few weak nuts in the head, which keep some brain cells hanging loose. Yet, Governor Ayodele Fayose and former Minister Femi Fani Kayode both oppose and challenge almost anything that comes out of the government with disparaging qualifications, in the hope – one would suspect – of hastening public disenchantment. Obviously, the desired impact of this negative public relations ploy does not seem to be setting in at the envisaged pace and intensity.
Conspiracy theorists have, therefore, suggested that Plan B had to be activated since the unexpected concession of defeat by former President Jonathan, who had no appetite for spending the rest of his life in a lonesome jail in the Netherlands, came to them as a stab in the back and the death of a milk-producing cow. Any which way though, Plan B had to come and in one fell swoop it came as well! Biafra was born in the middle of nowhere with a velocity that blew the mind. Now the world knows it and in my objective mind as a non-committed commentator, there are cogent reasons to suspect that the current upheavals plaguing the Nigerian political scene have backstage engineers and underground quarterbackers with direct links to shattered dreams.
Agitations that were unknown to several other governments in their present form were suddenly galvanized in sections of the country that openly denied the ruling party, political support in the last general elections. Coincidentally, a huge majority of the loudest critics of almost every single move made by the present government comes from this one geographical location.
Yet this location of Eastern Nigeria is not alone in the deprivation and wanton exploitation suffered by the entire nation through successive governments. Today, an imperfect regime is set to take the bull by its horns by fighting the serious and cantankerous mindset that breeds corruption from its very roots. Then again, the motive is challenged. Support is denied and the good of the nation does not seem to matter. The fight against corruption is declared as an effort in futility without much ado because, as they claim, it is not a part of governance. It does not seem to matter that several governments before have been accused of either failing to fight corruption in the first place or of not fighting corruption strongly enough. Then the chorus changes altogether: “either arrest every corruption suspect since Adam and Eve or arrest no one at all”. The status-quo must prevail. So say the unholy agitators. The man from outer space would wonder, I guess, if Nigeria does breed a bunch of human creatures with a super gene for confused reasoning.
But what does it matter though in the light of things that we now know? Who would not defend and celebrate a government that handled public funds like the red lousy sack of fantastic Santa Claus? A national conference was conveyed with hundreds of delegates to debate a parallel constitution to “kill and divide” corporate Nigeria and each delegate appointed went home with a minimum of N 12 million. The waste was criticized as loudly as voices could cry. Yet the delegates debated and pretended to be doing the serious business of pseudo-legislation knowing fully well that the one and only problem that the nation had, has and may continue to have is nothing more or less than misgovernance and corruption. A universal problem that pervades the black continent in a manner as disproportionate as David and Goliath in such a way that posturing alone can breed no relief! It is a problem that no secession, no decentralization and no conferences of any sort can ever solve without the collective will to fight the battle head-on. Yet the folks pretend to have a patent medicine through National Conferences.
But again, what does it matter in the light of things that we now know? What does it matter when a government dishes out N 1.45 billion (a whopping €290,000) to a private venture (Acacia Holdings Limited) for special prayers and the nation is not collectively outraged? Why should it matter when Santa Claus hands out N 750 million (€150,000) to “Reliance Referral Hospital” for special prayers and all that the citizens do is to debate the wisdom of keeping the nation whole? Never mind that the sponsors of secession are the same looters who seek to disappear from the radar in the midst of chaos and national confusion. Why should it matter when “Noel Baba” dishes out N 670 million to a publisher for a Boko Haram attack on his company while millions of ordinary citizens are made destitute in Northern Nigeria regularly through the same Boko Haram assault without government caring?
Yet, people are up in arms to defend the impossible. They defend a Super Minister who coordinated corruption with ignominy. It doesn’t matter that the nation, irrespective of tribe and color, once reposed trust in Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the future leader of the country. She was considered principled and truly holier-than-thou with the mindset of a typical western administrator, who works for public good. Alas, the temptation of comfort and power seemed irresistible. Suddenly Okonjo “Wahala” was tamed and became Okonjo “We all are”! Imagine how her world would have looked if Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had quit Mr. Jonathan’s government early enough and blew the whistle on corruption and irregularities that she could not be a party to. Unfortunately, the revelations are continuing and I feel very sad that a time may come that even the western backers of this celebrated economic guru may be forced to tell her to go home and clear her name. Rather than been bellicose and kicking against the Oshiomoles and Saharas, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will do well to simply apologize to Nigerians for failing their aspirations and disappointing their hopes for the brilliance expected of her. The least of her mistakes was not to have quit the government at the vantage point.
At a point in time, however, former President Goodluck Jonathan seemed to have gained hope from this weird social media campaign of vengeance and vindictiveness and seemed to have truly started to believe in this “hero” whitewash of wanton foolery. He was suddenly launching a foundation and writing to Olusegun Obasanjo and attempting a high-profile exposure. My initial reaction was to grin and giggle a bit when I heard of some low-profile international assignments that President Jonathan had. I asked myself if foreign emissaries simply needed some fun-filled interaction with some inferior intellectual disposition. After all, if rumors are true that booze is often the answer and “Nigerians will feel one kain” if Jonathan did not run for a second term in office, I have no doubt that there will be room for plenty entertainment in the diplomatic circuit. I asked myself if his minders (if he still has any) could not get him to keep a backseat and avoid disasters in public speeches, which have never counted among his strength. Yet, deep in his mind, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan knew he had a can of worms to conceal particularly in the wake of electioneering and fund distribution.
This is not to say however, that President Muhammadu Buhari will not also have his own can of worms, when a searchlight is beamed on the source of his campaign finances that was far “out-dollared” by the opening of the Central Bank’s vault to Mr. Jonathan’s bid. This will, however, be left to another arbiter of the orient to judge when the curtain is finally drawn on the Buhari episode in good faith. For now though, the battle has to begin from somewhere and the rot is immense
There is no doubt that Goodluck Jonathan had assurances before quitting the saddle to save his head and by implication, also forestall unnecessary bloodshed that sponsored agitators are now seeking to re-trigger through the backdoor of evil. One of such assurances may not be unconnected with the invaluable role that Jonathan is expected to play as a broker in quelling tempers in the creeks. Yet, if revelations of such monumental criminal malfeasance and desecration of our commonwealth continues to mount as it now seems, questions will abound on what manner of amnesty should quell the tempers of the ganja guys sniffing the fume and dews of the serene waterways.
In the midst of all these stands Muhammadu Buhari. He promised a lot by promising little. He did nothing to discourage the huge expectations that rested on his shoulders. Looters feared him and did their best to sabotage his ascension. The common man saw the last hope in him as the new Sherriff with a baton and a whip. He never said he will not be the messiah. He capitalized on it and won the mandate of the people. There is hardly any tangible promise that came from his mouth but there are loads of promises for which he will be held accountable for not discounting them. Silence means consent as we popularly say.
Buhari once asked what fuel subsidy means. By now, he should have understood what it means. Yet, no example has been made of any single subsidy fraudster while we know that their number is huge. Then there is this talk of quiet plea bargains and the quiet return of loots without transparency. It is as laudable as it is a booby trap that is bound to collapse the political roof. It is laudable because it is a win-win equation for all parties involved. The looter wins by saving face and the public wins by getting a part of the loot back considering the alternative of impunity that the looters had hitherto, thrived upon. It is a booby trap because no one knows if it is truly being done at all. It is a potential tool for positive and negative propaganda. Buhari knows this and has moved to allay all fears by promising to make names public at an opportune time.
No doubt, Buhari made assurances also to international sponsors who backed him for the Presidency and pressured Jonathan to call it quits. Such assurances may not be unconnected with abidance by democratic rules and good practices. But do democratic rules leave no room for maneuver? For how long can Buhari hide behind democratic good practices to be proceeding at this snail speed in the prosecution of known criminals? Is it not time for government agencies to be given a taste of the whip and forced to work at an acceptable pace or sent for training in countries that offer to help? Buhari knows this too and has repeatedly assured Nigerians that the avalanche of prosecutions involving corrupt public officers is a question of time.
It is on this note that I declare that Muhammadu Buhari is not truly playing by the rules even though he plays by the rules. After all, he belongs to everyone and he belongs to no one. Hear me laughing out loud!
Just one more point though: What really happened to ex-convict and former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha? Was he not reported to have died on October 10, 2015? What happened to a befitting burial arrangement three months on? Was his funeral performed in private circles? Why is his family keeping mute on this? Why is the government of Bayelsa State keeping mute on this? Do they also belong to everyone and belong to no one?