After being forced to dismount from his high horse over a grass-cutting business that went awry at the noon of his stint in unelected public office, Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to Nigeria’s federal government, has turned to another venture. He has sauntered into the edgy enterprise of looking into the crystal ball. First, he took a deep dip into the past to lay hold on the Time Machine developed in 1895 by English science fiction writer, H. G. Wells. Then, he used the contraption to glide from today into the misty tomorrow. Cocooned in the cockpit of the craft, Lawal time-travelled to a nearby age, 2023. It’s not a distant future, less than four years. So he’s back, brimming with news for his anxious countrymen. What did he see about the close era that we who have been gloomily glued to the present 2019 aren’t permitted to behold?
The future presented him with the picture of a departing President Muhammadu Buhari. Our time-traveller must have landed sometime after May 29, 2023. For, he speaks of Buhari having concluded his eight years of two terms in office. The humble man that he is, the Spartan Daura man, quitting in a blaze of accomplishments, is set to commence a new life in a community of cows, away from the civilization of human beings. Lawal told journalists on his return from 2023: ‘’By 2023 when Buhari’s tenure will be over, he’ll go back to Daura to face his cows like I am doing.
But you see, every leader must leave behind a legacy. I will like to see that he (Buhari) leaves behind a legacy of achievement.’’ What are these bequests? The newsmen quote Lawal as saying ‘’by 2023, power rotation would be one of the legacies President Buhari would be leaving behind among several others…Nigerians, by convention, seem to have agreed that there should be rotation of the presidency.’’
It is a circumscribed rotation, however. The post-Buhari era shown to the ex-secretary to the federal government does not brook any Igbo presidency. Speaking ‘’about the chances of the South-East to produce the President, (Lawal) dismissed the chances of an Igbo politician getting the nominations of one of the major political (parties) because politicians from the region had yet to reach an agreement…they have not been working together to actualize an Igbo presidency.‘’
But Babachir Lawal’s hereafter is kind to Bola Tinubu, his ‘’friend of many years’’. 2023 is clothing Tinubu, a chieftain of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, in stately presidential garments, according to what Lawal saw. He says:’’ Bola Tinubu without prejudice that he’s my friend, will make a good president. Other issues notwithstanding, he (Tinubu) will make a good modern president because the presidency these days is scientific.’’
What do we take away from the sayings and revelations of our seer? First, many Nigerians would heartily welcome this birth of a calm and stable Nigeria in 2023, after the looming political travails and pangs which many fear we shall experience in the period before that year. Lawal’s narrative of this future is that Buhari is not going to give in to the campaign of adventurists and sycophants who would hoist him in messianic robes and urge him to go for tenure elongation.
If these self-serving hordes emerge, they will fail the same way their predecessors fell in the days of an outgoing Olusegun Obasanjo. Secondly, this future is predicting a seamless transition; no social or political upheavals to wreck the ship of the nation, despite the current prognoses suggesting their appearance before 2023. Thirdly, the prophecy is saying that Nigerians are going to witness a reinvented Buhari posting unprecedented feats that would dazzle us and make the compatriots to pass the verdict that we are face-to-face with ‘’ a legacy of achievement.’’ In other words, a bloodless political and socioeconomic revolution is waiting for us in the next three years. Nigeria’s Golden Era, as it were!
But can you get a ‘golden’ delivery in the face of injustice, under the rule of the politics of exclusion, in the sway of the pre-elimination of the nation of the Igbo in the political firmament? This future visited by Babachir Lawal sentences the Igbo to spectators in 2023. As it has always been since the end of the Civil War, they are not allowed the possession of the yam and the knife. Both raw food and what it takes to prepared what to eat are again denied the Southeast. We can’t keep them in their custody. But we consider them safe in the hands of the ‘Emirate’ North and in the care of the Southwest.
Once, we didn’t mind giving the yam and the knife to the Southsouth. But the way we view this rotation of the presidency, that minority zone won’t get it again in a thousand years. The ‘Emirate’ North and Southwest have cornered it for keeps, according to the report from the future made exclusively available to a member of the ruling class.
We can’t have a thriving and just society if some ethnic groups or geopolitical zones conspire to keep another constituent part of the federation perpetually away from power. We are wont to say the Southeast Igbos are not united, and that is responsible for their inability to secure the throne. Lawal came back from the future with the same jaded jingle: the leaders of the Igbos are disorganized; they sing discordant tunes; you can’t give such a divided group the scepter to wield in a country that needs the reign of the centripetal spirit rather than the centrifugal which the Igbos exhibit. This is fabled fallacy.
The leaderships of the other groups we give the presidential staff cyclically are not more united. They pursue destructive fissured interests and clannish passions which they carry into their exalted office upon election or appointment. Haven’t we observed that the fissiparous inclinations of Nigerians and their country are nothing but manifest projections from the divisive leaders forced on us by the ruling classes and a system held captive in the shrines of federal character, quota arrangement and rotational presidency? The future won’t allow these fouling follies to fail and fell Nigeria.
Babachir Lawal may have to take another trip to 2023 for a review of his position. Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill foresaw the possibility of the failure of a politician’s prophecy. But he added that the politician also possesses ‘’the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.’’
Ojewale writes from Lagos