Skip to main content

Save Nigeria campaigns: national interest or revanchist posturing?

January 18, 2010
Normal.dotm 0 0 1 1457 8308 Saharareporters 69 16 10202 12.0 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

There is this sobering tale of a wailing lady at a funeral whose loud cries, it was later discovered, had little or nothing to do with the kind of grief that is usually associated with losing a loved one. To the utter dismay of her community, the individual in question later confided in friends that her despondency arose from the fact that she’d forever miss the deceased who was such an attentive lover who deployed his God-given endowment to keep her a satisfied woman!


 For those who may be wondering what the lamentation of a morally-challenged adulterer has to do with the title of this essay, let me remind them that in life (as in death), things are not always what they seem to be. And precisely in the current circumstances surrounding the life-threatening ailment of the incumbent president, Yar’Adua, and especially the hue and cry on the part of sections of the civil society regarding what they say is a campaign for good governance, one is left with the nagging suspicion that beyond the public posturing by some self-acclaimed saviors of our socio-economic spaces, are nebulous designs whose full import can only be ignored at our collective peril.

A critical factor  explaining why Nigerians have become wary of those posing as redeemers is that they have for too long been taken for granted by snake oil sales men who have consistently used the goodwill of the long-suffering masses only to abandon the legitimate aspirations of the latter for self-serving and opportunistic considerations.

Let it be made abundantly clear that this writer is not in any shape or form trying to cast aspersions on the good work by those men and women who have toiled and continue to toil to make Nigeria a better environment through the installation of  truly representative democratic structures that cater to the welfare of the average citizen. At the same time, I, like any other concerned soul, will not hesitate to expose the contradictions, complacency, inconsistencies and even hypocrisy of those laying claim to working for the common good.

In the light of the above observations, let us try to examine some of the stated objectives of the latest outfit publicly clamoring for “good governance” and democracy in Nigeria, namely, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG). It should be mentioned that the first major outing in recent times of this organization did coincide with the brouhaha surrounding the alleged terrorist attempt by Mutallab Jnr.  As if desperately trying to capitalize on the fallout from this unfortunate affair, SNG did last week stage street protests in Abuja and other world cities during which its militants called for either the resignation of President Yar’Adua or the handing over of executive powers to Vice-President Jonathan, another PDP man. SNG also advocated, amongst other things, electoral reform. Although ordinarily, one should have no problem with SNG’s harping on the respect of constitutionalism in the matter of Yar’Adua’s long absence from the country, the point needs mentioning that Wole Soyinka who led the SNG march in Abuja, did adopt, not so long ago, a questionable stand regarding the “419” elections of 2003 which were “won” by Obasanjo’s PDP. Soyinka displayed only scant regard for the notion of mass protests which were then being championed by, amongst others, the former ANPP presidential candidate, Buhari, against the electoral heist. And, of course, there were other supposed pro-democracy and human rights voices in the mould of the erstwhile NLC leader, Oshiomhole, who warned in a blunt but chilling tone that the opposition would be attacked if they took to the barricades! For his part, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the time, Pastor Mbang, did aver that the “born-again” Obasanjo had received a mandate from God and that trying to challenge his “victory” was ungodly and futile! Before that, in 2002, at the height of the atrocious and criminal misrule of the former tyrant, when notable voices at the National Assembly moved to begin impeachment proceedings against the man, much of the South-West media became hysterical by whipping up sectarian sentiments whose primary aim was to save Obasanjo. A pertinent question to ask is this: If you accept or condone a constitutional illegality, what moral justification do you have to reject another constitutional one? Those who through their actions help extend the boundaries of  undemocratic conduct do stand the palpable risk of coming under great suspicion when, as if in an after-thought manner,  they exhibit steroidal determination in new bouts of castigatory advocacy directed against transgressions similar in gravity to the ones they seek to ignore or condone. And, to worsen matters, the ideological flip-flops or inconsistencies of the likes of Soyinka do contribute in no small measure in deepening the sense of passivity which the Nobel laureate complained is a terrible plague infesting the Nigerian psyche.

There is the curious, if misguided thinking on the part of those calling for presidential authority to be transferred to Jonathan when they imagine that the latter would be more pro-active and implement desired electoral reforms as well as help organize free and fair elections. This is tantamount to ‘etapism’, that is, in this case, a gradualist approach to having true democracy. How they so easily forget Ekiti and the reality that Jonathan is a PDP creature par excellence and that his primary allegiance has always been to his godfather, the ex-dictator known as Obasanjo! Why shy away from calling for the immediate dissolution of the current government? In its place, an interim administration made up of individuals drawn from strategic segments of the society will be charged with organizing credible elections that would be conducted by an independent umpire. We all agree that Nigeria is in a mostly PDP- created mess and only the path of transparency will help get us out of the woods.

In 1999, 2003 and 2007, the organized pro-democracy movement either acted duplicitously or remained mute around key constitutional debasements. They often rationalized their refusal to act in the face of an erring tyrant by raising one red herring or the other. A favorite alibi had always been the specter of military intervention. Curiously now, some of them are saying that it is the conduct (or inaction) of the incumbent president which risks the involvement of soldiers once more in our national politics! The other complaint is that with an absent president, the country is dangerously exposed should it come under external aggression. This argument, though valid, should not ignore the fact that in the Nigerian terrain, alien interests have, at crucial moments, prevailed over ours even with an overbearing, “omnipotent” dictator like Obasanjo as was the case regarding the Bakassi debacle, just to mention this singular act of diplomatic failure and administrative irresponsibility on the part of our so-called patriotic leaders. Importantly also, under successive military or quasi-military regimes and especially under Babangida and Obasanjo, the country’s capacity to defend itself was greatly diminished through a deliberate and selfish strategy which sought, rather vacuously and unpatriotically, to destroy both the professionalism and the “force de frappe” or “strike force” of the national army as a way of ensuring the illusory personal security of the tin god in power at the time!

Before SNG’s Abuja march, there have been other tentative, if clumsy efforts by individuals wanting to register their displeasure with the state of the nation. Some disgruntled elements comprising mainly former officials of the past Obasanjo despotism like Mallam el-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu have reportedly called for either the resignation of Yar’Adua or his defeat in the forthcoming presidential polls. As I did mention elsewhere, a barely disguised irredentist enterprise with revanchist undertones is most certainly underway and it is not inconceivable that a substantial tranche of the babel around the present quagmire – contrived or not - may have already metamorphosed into presumably more effective entities. There are those who suspect that persons who were adversely affected by the recent reforms in the banking sector are also joining the ranks of otherwise conscientious dissenters to the Yar’Adua rule. An unfortunate dimension of the partisan or relevance-seeking agenda of some of the characters with an axe to grind has been the manufacturing of slights, a notable one of which is the needless controversy regarding the constitutional stipulation authorizing either the president or the out-going Chief Justice of the Nation (CJN) to swear-in a new CJN.

Again, let me issue the cautionary note that any confederacy of atavisms and known incompetents must be considered as not being in our short or long term interests. Genuine fighters against the status quo should see to it that their struggle is not taken over by people with unwholesome intentions. While I have severally argued that both Yar’Adua and Jonathan deserve to resign or be compelled through moral, people-based pressures to vacate the offices they have helped soil through their usurpation, I still believe that the previous Obasanjo regime, due to its unparalleled debauchery and abdication, was by far worse than the current government in Abuja. All men and women of good will should do everything that is constitutionally justifiable to prevent Obasanjo and his acolytes from reasserting themselves again in our polity. As we grieve and hopefully, organize to take back this badly battered nation, let us remember the tale of the wailing lady at a funeral.

Aonduna Tondu


In order to be taken seriously in their newfound élan to confront Yar’Adua and his regime, Soyinka’s congregation must reject the man’s flip-flops while at the same time keeping at bay the confederacy of atavisms and known wreckers with an axe to grind.


googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('comments'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content1'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content2'); });