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Nigeria Pundit Round Up-We Read the Columnists!

December 31, 2008

Today, we are starting a new online review of Nigeria political commentaries and their often “inane” and “jejune” take on black Africa’s largest democracy south of the Sahara. Every week, beginning from today, we shall endeavor to bring you the “behind the scene” intrigues that often get parlayed into Nigeria political column. Given the vast array of political column on Nigeria politics available online, we would only review a few popular columns. So here goes this week:

Today, we are starting a new online review of Nigeria political commentaries and their often “inane” and “jejune” take on black Africa’s largest democracy south of the Sahara. Every week, beginning from today, we shall endeavor to bring you the “behind the scene” intrigues that often get parlayed into Nigeria political column. Given the vast array of political column on Nigeria politics available online, we would only review a few popular columns. So here goes this week:
 Mohammed Haruna: There is a reason why Mohammed became the first Nigeria syndicated columnist, he is never afraid. Today following the deluge of “text rejoinder” he got as a result of his last week column, titled “On the media and the Genocide in Jos” he decided to take all his detractors head on. Only in Nigeria will you find a “syndicated columnist” willing to reprint an ad hominem attack on his person: “For pure venom, however, the text that took the cake was the one that said I was a “BASTARD CONCEIVED from a busted CONDOM” If you think that is hilarious you have not been reading Mohammed.

By far however the most salient of his “wordsmith” this week, is his self admission that he is first of all, a muslim before he wears his journalistic hat:

“True, as a Muslim, I inevitably see things from an Islamic point of view and tend to be more tolerant of wrongs committed by fellow Muslims. This is only natural and human. What would not be natural or human is to turn a blind eye on such wrongs. As a journalist and columnist I have not done so.”

The problem with this admission is that Mohammed’s syndication is mostly funded by Christian readers. I still admire his forthrightness but in a nation divided by faith and ethnicity we expect our political columnist to at least be a journalist, sworn to an oath unperturbed by any bias. I commend the rest of the article to my readers.

Dele Momodu: Any time we read any write up by Dele, we make sure we have with us a “patrono-meter.” We are sure many of our readers have never heard of that word, well you need it to make sense of the “patronage-driven” Dele’s columns. Here is one Nigerian columnist you can easily predict who is paying him presently. If you ever need to “rent a column” just contact “This Day” newspapers and specifically asked for Mr. Dele Momodu. Sadly, we all know things used to be different for Dele Momodu, especially those of us who knew him at Obafemi Awolowo University-“Great Ife.” One can only conclude that things started turning south for him after the demise of his benefactor- Late Chief Moshood Abiola. We fondly recalled his eviscerating article on the Ooni of Ife, where he criticized the latter statement urging protesters to go vote in Late General Sanni Abacha “kangaroo” elections

This week, Dele focused on Ghana, in a column titled “And Ghana Did it Again.” In it his reader will find him heaping effusive praise on his next door neighbor, and president of Ghana, for conducting a free and fair election. The big chunk of his praise however goes to former president Jerry Rawlings. Many of us who have met Dele in London’s social circles and pubs drinking with Rawlings can only laugh.

The whole article is riddled with inaccuracies, conjectures and outright falsehoods, but for lack of space we will restrict ourselves to the followings:

“Today, the Ghana Cedi is largely at par with the dollar. Ghanaians have won the confidence of the international community. They obtain visas of usually difficult countries with unbelievable ease. Students can obtain up to a five year visa to the United Kingdom and the United States of America. What is more, Ghana only recently found oil in commercial quantity.”

Really? We all know elections in Africa are usually free and fair on election days. The problem has always been the counting and rigging that follows days after the election, as can be readily attested by the events in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. In Ghana we know as of fact that the “Ghana’s presidential election on December 7th, the candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, got just over 49% of the vote, while his opponent, John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), got nearly 48%. Since neither crossed the 50% threshold to win outright, a run off will be held on December 28th” So why the premature celebration by our columnist? The answer lies in the candidate he is pushing to win the election. The other problem with Dele’s write up is emblematic of all his other writings, conjectures. To get a more accurate assessment of Ghana we need to refer to the United Nations Development Program which ranks Ghana 135 out of 177 in its Human Development Index. Behind Papua New Guinea, war ravaged Sudan, Rwanda, Congo, and Haiti. We also know that Ghana is “Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains somewhat dependent on international financial and technical assistance as well as the activities of the extensive Ghanaian Diaspora.”

How anyone will use student’s abilities to obtain visa as evidence of development beats me!

Femi Adesina: The SUN

“I do not recall when last (if ever) I spent the better part of four days in Owerri, the famed Eastern Heartland, and capital of Imo State. But that was what I did last week, from Wednesday to Saturday.”

Approximate number of times, Mr. Adesina wrote an article pontificating about South Eastern Nigeria since he started his column on Saturday February 28, 2004 =95!

“What was I doing in the land of the Mbadiwes, the Mbakwes, the Enwerems and the Ohakims?”

Duh! Simply because you are being paid to pontificate on Nigeria and not just events that happened in Lagos alone!

“Consider this array of intellectuals and captains of industry who delivered papers at the summit: Prof ABC Nwosu, Prof Pat Utomi, Prof Bart Nnaji, Chief (Dr) Cosmas Maduka, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, Dr Ndi Onuekwusi, and many others…The lesson? Next time an Igbo man moans or bellyaches that he’s marginalized because of the civil war, I’ll just tell him to shut up. The Igbo nation has put that period behind, and is marching ahead, strong.”

Really? So your conclusion is that since you attended a meeting where some Igbo sons and daughter who had been a beneficiaries of the “rent an Igbo to justify the looting” governance in Abuja, all Igbos are now precluded from raising the issue of marginalization? By the way, who pays this damned fool to write a column in a newspaper with 80 % South Eastern Nigeria patronage?

“I came form Owerri convinced that the key to the development of this nation lies in regional integration and cooperation. Enough of waiting for the centre to wave the magic wand and manna will fall from the sky. Governors of the various states should break their artificial borders, join hands, and move their regions forward. Didn’t we see it in the days of Western, Eastern and Northern region with their respective premiers? Lightning can strike twice, surely.” (Emphasis mine)

You mean the days when the Tivs, Ofas and the Jukuns were constantly complaining of marginalization in the north? Or when the Ijaws, Kalabari, Urhobos, Ishans et al were at the receiving end of hegemonic rule by the majority ethnic group in the South? What did we saw in the days of the regional premiers? The beginning of corruption in Nigeria at least that is what all the Coker report et al tells us. Of course the so called regional premiers made the civil wars inevitable with their parochial allegiance to ethnic politics.

Okey Ikechukwu: writes in the Punch on the Web

“… called for political and spiritual mentoring of the leaders of tomorrow….We saw serious political mentoring in the first and second republics. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Mallam Aminu Kano, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and many other national leaders were part of a conscious sifting political process that was a veritable recruitment machine for political and other forms of leadership. At that time, the concept of political godfather was under-stood in the best sense of this vandalized concept. The godfather is your earthly guardian angel who takes trouble to ensure that the best in you is actualized; for your own good and for the good of the world around you. That was the spirit of god fatherism in the First Republic. It is also the spirit in all mature polities. The godfathers are custodians of values, ideologies and tendentious traditions they wish to promote. They are not robbers.”

Sometimes, we wonder if Nigeria pundits bother reading their history books. If we have my way we will mandate a compulsory historical study of Nigerian politics as prerequisite to becoming a Nigeria political pundit. Herein lies the many lies in the excerpt above, Chief Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr. Azikiwe are not political and spiritual mentoring leaders Nigeria badly needed in the 21st century. Chief Awolowo’s is a good administrator who can’t stand criticism and dissenting opinions. History clearly shows that he is a tenacious ideologue only for his views. He was neither ready to build bridges and work with his opponent nor can he stand any team of rivals. Dr. Azikiwe on the other hand had little or no principles when it comes to power. He will wine and dine with anyone even as long as he is accommodated and patronized in the corridors of power. Sir Ahmadu Bello is at best a northern “hegemonistic” patriot, who is more interested in courting and raising “god sons” who will defend the parochial interest of his region to the detriment of Nigeria’s federal democracy. None of them produced an illustrious son of Nigeria. They all raised political children dedicated to dismembering Nigeria than uniting it. Here is a quote that gives us a “bird eye-view” of their leadership acumen:

- “The Nigerian ministers, in or out of office, are an interesting lot. …. They are paid exceptionally good salaries for Africa-up to 2, 500 pound sterling per year, which is more than a British PM gets. Some in the regional Houses have names picturesquely representative of the eruptive flux that has created modern Nigeria. …they are also inclined to be somewhat doctrinaire, to be painfully sensitive and unsure of themselves, and to be carried away by splinter partisanship… At one juncture, when they were quarrelling ferociously, Awolowo and Zik sued each other for libel for considerable sums; the two awards more or less canceled each other out. Then, after the crisis in 1953, the two began to work together again, each keeping his own sphere of influence, with Awolowo stronger in the West, Zik in the East. But in 1954 and later came other bitter quarrels, and split venomously once more.” (excerpts from John Gunther “INSIDE AFRICA” published, 1955 by Harper

That to us is the leadership they bequeathed to Nigeria, riven with rivalry and contention.

By Francis Adewale

Spokane, WA