Tuesday, 25 February 2014
My Mumu Don Do. Your Mumu Don Do? By Sonala Olumhense
In this column, I have endorsed candidates for the presidency in the last two national elections from the list of candidates published by the electoral commission.
In 2007, I supported the brilliant lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, whom I had never met, and whom I did not meet until he died in 2009.
In my citation, I said that Mr. Fawehinmi had an unmatchable imprint of credibility and respectability, and was the correct choice for Nigerians who genuinely wanted change.
“Mr. Fawehinmi stands out for his integrity and his depth of principle, the absence of which have kept us shackled to yesterday,” I wrote, pointing out that for over 20 years, he had saved the country’s judiciary from being eaten alive by a greedy executive.
“A Fawehinmi Presidency would scare some people. That is because we all know he would speak a different language: he cannot be bought, he will not be looking for personal gain, and he will hold people and institutions to account. He would be applying the letter of the law, and applying it across the board. He would be looking for performance and productivity.”
As we all know, it was Umaru Yar’Adua who “won” the presidency in that election, and from his inauguration in May 2007, Nigeria began a predictable descent into hell.
Four years later, in 2011, from the slate of candidates published by the electoral commission, I endorsed General Muhammadu Buhari. As in 2007, I had never met the candidate. I have still never met General Buhari.
But I wrote of Nigeria: “Buhari can stretch out one of his long hands and arrest the drift. At this time in our history, his candidature is the wisest, the most promising, and the most logical. He has honour, discipline and strength of character: attributes every great leader must have but which are not a currency of the PDP.
“Furthermore, Buhari knows what is wrong with this country, and knows what to do about it...”
I did not choose the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change in March 2001 without great deliberation. I asked: “Is Buhari an angel? No. Indeed, I have criticized him in the past. I have expressed my disappointment that people of his generation and background act as if they are all that Nigeria has got.
“That argument is still valid. At the April elections, however, he will be the best that Nigeria has got. Everyone knows that next month’s election will be the most critical in Nigeria’s history. It will show whether we have learned anything from our own history or not, and therefore whether we are determined to move forward or not.”
I examined Buhari’s most prominent opponent, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Mr. Goodluck Jonathan. I argued that voting for Jonathan would amount to using a hammer to smash your thumb a second time and not expect it to hurt as much as it did the first.
I said: “Demographically, two kinds of people will offer their support to Goodluck Jonathan in April. The first comprises of beneficiaries of the incompetent, corrupt and unpatriotic system that has grounded Nigeria since 1999, and which Jonathan unapologetically represents…”
“[The] second category comprises of masochists who will vote against the best interest of their own children and their country… By doing so, they will be authorizing Jonathan to pick up that hammer the second time as they stick out their thumbs, telling him, “Hurt me, sir! Hurt me again! Hurt me, I am a fool!”
I said that Jonathan lacked a record of character, patriotism or commitment. “He is long on promises but extremely short on performance,” I concluded.
Still, Mr. Jonathan “won” the election.
And since then, Nigeria has descended from the gutter to the sewage; from the disappointing to the disgraceful, from the rottening to the rotten. The worst case scenario has become our reality: Nigeria shared between Jonathan’s Abuja, Boko Haram militants; “unknown gunmen” of the Middle Belt and the sahel; kidnappers; and the vultures of the PDP.
Demonstrating a singular lack of of both capacity and character, Jonathan has distanced himself from his electoral promises, and driven a wedge between himself and the Nigerian citizen who voted for him.
Even those who voted for Jonathan knew the argument was a tough sell. After the election, they invariably denounced the PDP in favour of Jonathan, as if you can separate the foetus from the pregnancy.
"I voted for Jonathan, not the PDP,” they said, as if you could separate the cause from the consequence.
It is less than two years since that election, but it has now been proved that the child is the pregnancy, and Jonathan the PDP at its most abominable.
This explains why excuses are now been served to the Nigerian people. Jonathan is buying more jets, since he no longer needs shoes, but he is not fulfilling the promises he made to the Nigerian people or even mentioning them by name. There are explanations for why the hoax called “transformation” will never happen. There are explanations as to why unemployment has doubled and why there is no electricity or freedom from hunger and crime and bad roads.
The truth is that there is no explanation for bad governance or corruption, because you do not need to explain the crippling greed the people can see, finally, with their own eyes.
Eyes: the capacity of an individual to understand a phenomenon that had previously been hidden, is the most potent political weapon a people can possess. The ability to see is therefore the most important lesson of 2012, beginning in January when Nigerians woke up to find the price of fuel manipulated and tripled. It is also the lesson as the 2012 comes to an end with Nigerians finally able to see just how uncomplicated the tyranny that binds them is: the greed of an elite that steals in broad daylight and lies through every orifice.
But it is perhaps destiny: that things would rot so badly it assails and assaults every sense of the human body and spirit and there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If that is the definition of armaggedon, Nigeria today is its principal and scariest example.
The most amazing thing is that Mr. Jonathan recognizes it. He has called on Nigerians not to give up on his government, promising that 2013 will be different.
That is another ruse, and anyone who believes it has forgotten you cannot reap where you did not sow. Where is the evidence of what the Jonathan government actually sowed in 2012 from which he intends to reap in 2013?
If anything, 2012 was the year he consolidated corruption by refusing to implement critical anti-corruption reports, fire corrupt Ministers or lead by personal example. 2012 was the year he said he did not give a damn. 2012 was the year he did not announce his own Transformation Plan and did not implement the reports of his own Presidential committees. 2012 was the year he watched the anti-corruption agencies throw up their hands. 2102 was the year he appointed Mr. Fix-It Tony Anenih to chair the Board of the Nigeria Ports Authority.
In effect, 2012 was the year Mr. Jonathan made it clear he cannot do it, even while making it clear he wants a second term in office.
That leaves it up to the Nigerian people and to those running against him in 2015, a race that will begin in 2013.
I look forward, once again, to endorsing a credible candidate of character and honour; someone who sees public office as public service rather than a private storehouse.
To that end, the slogan for that race is easy to write: “My Mumu Don Do. Your Mumu Don Do?”
Happy New Year, Nigeria.