By Mike Kebonkwu Esq
Nigeria is about the unusual and bizarre, the country where reptiles, rodents and insects “chop” money in government till and we are never short of screaming headlines of exciting news item in the tabloid or the tubes. About a fortnight ago, some eminent and prominent Nigerian political gladiators were in London to discuss the problems of Nigeria. They see themselves as critical stakeholders of Nigeria because they control the power machinery at both state and the federal levels. They are actually local compradors and lords of the manor. At the head of that gathering was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo himself who always arrogate to himself the vision of who should occupy the highest office in the land.
Chief Obasanjo unquestionably is a great patriot and truly detribalized person who who had fortune smiling on him at every critical juncture of our history. He had power trusted on him in his early 30s when General Murtala Mohammed was cut down by assassins bullets in a coup detat in 1976. It was to his credit that the military handed over power to civilian government in the Second Republic but in a flawed election that he supervised. The credibility of the outcome of that election came to hunt Nigeria as the military sacked the same elected government four years later. Incidentally, the current President, General Muhammadu Buhari was the leading beneficiary of that coup.
Obasanjo again supervised another election in 2007 but which is generally adjudged one of the worst in living history. Even the chief beneficiary of that election, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua acknowledged that much and promised to improve our electoral fortune. It was Obasanjo’s schism that foisted Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the aftermath of Yar’dua. In 2015, Chief Obasanjo again supported Buhari. Obasanjo is too knowledgeable to feign ignorance of who Buhari was, having worked with him in the military and even as his own Minister of petroleum while he was the Head of State.
Chief Obasanjo has never had a very good judgment whenever it comes to the choice of who should rule Nigeria because he is driven by self – interest and vendetta. In 2019, Obasanjo had contemplated a Third Force, whatever that meant, to take over from Buhari, but that fell flat on its face. There are no good luck charms for fixing a nation; you need dedicated people not with sense of vengeance or entitlement but commitment to building a modern 21st century country far from the crucibles of ethnicity or religion.
That London parley was selfish and self-serving without any sense of mission to rescue Nigeria from the drift into collapse. They were fixated on power qua power alone and whose turn to rule. But to rule as a rule rather than to get someone with a sense of mission to transform Nigeria and save us from the gathering storm of implosions along ethno-religious divides. The choice of London in the first place is disgustingly inappropriate for discussing matters that concern the wellbeing of Nigeria and Nigerians by so-called Nigerian political leaders. It was driven by a complex of colonial hangover of local compradors in deference to their colonial taskmasters. On top of it, they went on chartered flight in the midst of biting poverty, insecurity and hardship at home caused by bad leadership.
The whole exercise makes one to recall the 1884 Scramble and partition of Africa where 8 European powers gathered in Berlin to share the continent without any African representative. The London gathering was not more than a conglomeration of political predators for settlement of the person to preside over the sharing of what is left of Nigeria without a care for fixing the rot in the country. We are in agreement that our problems are real and huge and we should get men and women that abound in Nigeria to sit down in our country and discuss Nigeria problems in Nigeria and not in Europe or America. Ours are self-made problems.
There is a huge baggage without exception on those jostling to take over from Muhammadu Buhari and we must be circumspect not to allow pedestrian sentiments of ethnic resentment and animosities to lead us to another disaster. Why on earth would a rational mind be thinking of investing the leadership of this country to an itinerant politician permanently on sabbatical in UAE (United Arab Emirate) and only comes back to Nigeria during an election circle and if he does not win, he goes back to his haven in Jedda?
The United Kingdom has just elected a 47 year old woman, Liz Truss as Prime Minister while the out-gone Prime Minister was in his 50s but resigned when he earned a no-confidence vote. Why would you invest on any candidate who sees a political office as life entitlement even in the face of personal challenges? A people deserve the government they get; we should blame ourselves for our political woes and misfortune, after all we are not under spell. If an Obasanjo’s choice is the choice of youths of the country, then we have lost the sense of history because Obasanjo and his generation of leaders ascended the power levers in their 20s and 30s and they made giant strides in the peculiar circumstances. I am not by this dispensing with experience and age, no!
I dare say that, today, we do not need the choice of an Obasanjo, Afenifere, Ohaneze and Arewa Elders Forum; their choices are the pain and curse of our country today. We do need their experience but we have to balance it with the currency of the 21st century. Nyesom Wike is a bitter and aggrieved person, betrayed by his political friends and allies and he wants to get his own pound of flesh. Messrs Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State are fighting for political survival and relevance. Messrs Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu want desperately to be the next president; they are not the critical stakeholders of Nigeria. The ordinary Nigerians, the electorate, the youths, market men and women are the critical stakeholders that should drive the engine of change and direct any useful discussion for the future of the country or their representatives.
Every Nigerian should be at home in any part of the country he chooses to live and not defined by ethnicity or religious persuasion. You see the attitude of friendship and love in every Nigerian in market places, offices and business centres everywhere. If only the politicians do not set up Nigerians against each other and allow them to be killing each another like savages.
That the person from your ethnic nationality or religious faith is in power does not change your fortune; there are poor people in Daura, Otuoke and Owu, the sanctum of the old python. Let us stop being myopic and daft! There is no seed in the old and dying generation that can regenerate our country in the current bunch.
The whole world is laughing at Nigeria as a nation that has such great potentials but with political midgets as leaders who cannot take it anywhere. Nigeria has tribal champions and ethnic irredentists, without statesmen. It is sinking in debt but the loans are not visible on any tangible thing in terms of impact on the ordinary citizens. In security, poverty and unemployment have enveloped Nigeria, yet the people glorify and beatify crooks and ‘area boys’ with national honours.
It is time for the people to come together and fight to liberate their country and build a strong united Nigeria that everyone can call their home. Nigerians need to exorcise the DNA of ethnicity and religion and the sooner they do that, the better for everyone else And the time is now. Nigerians are the authentic stakeholders of Nigeria, not the tenants in government offices and political appointees.
Barrister Kebonkwu wrote in from Abuja