Chief John Odigie-Oyegun must have seen it all. Currently, Oyegun, a senior citizen is also one of the grandees of Nigerian politics. Oyegun has been a top bureaucrat, having retired as a federal permanent secretary. Perhaps, feeling too young to be “tired,” Oyegun punted for politics and succeeded. He was elected governor of his Edo home state. After that, Oyegun, eternally energetic, turned up a party lord and apparatchik. Along the way, however, his worst enemies successfully triggered a coup. Oyegun was sacked unceremoniously as party chieftain. In other words, if there is any Nigerian who has seen it all, in power terms, seen it up and seen it down, Oyegun is such as one.
So, when he speaks Nigeria listens. For Oyegun, Nigeria is just not working. To quote him: “Why is Nigeria not working? I dare to even say that there is hardly a single administration in those 20 years that has not left office unpopular and unheralded’’ (://www.dailytrust.com.ng/17th-daily-trust-dialogue-nigerians-not-happy-oyegun.html)
As a practiced civil servant, Oyegun in character, prudently, restricted himself to the 20 years in which he played Top 9, apologies to soccer fans. Those also happened to be the years of our current democracy.
Was that circumspection a suggestion that Nigeria worked in the long years before the Oyegun baseline, the last 20? The answer is no. Oyegun, we repeat, is a civil servant. And the genius of being a mandarin is self-circumspection.
However, nobody needs Oyegun to know that, post-Biafra, Nigeria has never really worked. The question is why? Of course, there are a thousand and one answers. But if one were to found the one generative answer, it boils down to this.
As triggered by General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria was sustained and ruled by lies and pure propaganda. No Nigerian elite tells the other or themselves the truth. Nigerians, especially her scholars, are behaving like the great family in the MKO Abiola fable.
A great household congregated for a family conclave. At the end, they came out laughing and backslapping one another. Abiola, quoting the wisdom of his fathers, concluded that none among the lot told the other the truth. They all went in to fool and entertain themselves. The implication, which is indicated, is that that family was finished and so would be its members. Boy, things happen.
Now, nothing reveals this circus of lying to one another more than the 50th remembrance anniversary of the Biafra-Nigeria war. Judging from what one saw on the televisions and read in the newspapers, it was all done in humour and entertainment. We shall illustrate.
First of all, the television anchormen, while pretending to be neutrals were full of leading questions. For instance, the questions around Aburi were couched in the following manner. That if General Odimegwu Ojukwu had agreed to the Gowonic self-imposed redaction, would there have been any war?
No one had the courage to blame Gowon for repudiating his signature, and thus inaugurating the rule of “the greatest might is the greatest iron lore.” In other words, it was okay by Nigerians to repudiate the roundtable and civilization in order to fabricate a country?
For most, including Gowon himself, the cleverest they inputted was that to Aburi there were several interpretations. Some even went to the ridiculous extent of claiming Gowon/the Nigerian delegation was ill-equipped, mentally?
It is at this point that we all must salute the moral courage of Tanko Yakasai as he appeared on Channels on January 17. Only he admitted that Ojukwu and Gowon commonly agreed to a body of negotiated concessions, etc. Only Yakasai showed the historic honesty to admit that Gowon came back, and “The rest of Nigeria,” as he puts it, decided that that agreement cannot hold. That is to say there was an agreement, which all parties signed to and understood clearly but one party, the Gowonic party, repudiated. That is as implied, “The rest of Nigeria” decided that agreements, roundtables, indeed civilizations, are simply toxic and to be thrashed. That is to say that “The rest of Nigeria” decided to opt out of civilization, for barbarianisms?
Please, let us here remind ourselves of the following: Since the age of the ancient Greeks, priests have cautioned worshippers to be careful what we ask of the gods. Why? They might just as well grant you those. This is where Oyegun comes in again.
The Nigeria that Oyegun says is not working was not built to work. It was studiedly or otherwise carpentered by Gowon and followers to self-destruct. Neither in physics nor in sociology can lies be made operable. Lies are self-collapsing supports. Nigeria ronu.
So, if Oyegun or indeed any Nigerian wants Nigeria to work, the place to begin is in your telling yourselves the truth. The fact is that human systems are largely mechanical. And just like mechanical systems, immediately the mathematics of it is overwhelmed, its central nervous system will knock. For the human system, the mathematics of it is in running on lies as if they were truths.
The 50th anniversary is just one of many. To give another instance. Nigeria is an Ottoman-like dictatorship in practice, but is draped up a federation. In other words, the tension between the Nigerian reality as is and its official posturing is enough to wreck a nuclear station. So, should it be outlandish Nigeria is not working? Why should a lie or a piece of propaganda work?
Additionally, “The whole of Nigeria,’’ has to come to a certain knowledge. It is that we are in a new historical age. The fact of this is not clear to many, especially members of “The rest of Nigeria.’’ A recent encounter illustrated this clearly. A top-rank professor was insistent that it is victors who write history. Of course, that is a hitherto but now dated assertion.
What apparently happened is this. The professor, perhaps not being a historian, is not properly briefed that historical accounting has suffered a seismic shift. This monumental shift, as Nietzsche predicted, had landed upon us with the noiseless footfalls of doves. We are members of a new historiographical order. It is just that a multitude of Nigerians are deluded the ancient age persists. Today, there is a new iron lore: Victors no longer write history. History is now a true commons, and comes without gatekeepers or franchisors.
Victors as historians were a commission of the pre-Internet age. Today, being a victor does not guarantee you exclusivity of being heard. Just any persons with a cell phone can do mighty historical works. The hour when Gowon and his junta and Daily Times, say, conspired to select and tell lies and gatekeep others away from telling their truths is passé. Remember Agwu Okpanku and how and why they killed him?
In those days, if you can recall, Daily Times, under Babatunde Jose, etc, were joint rulers with Gowon in their agenda to forge narratives and forbid emerging truths. For instance, as we recorded in our book, “Minorities as Competitive Overlords,” from 1970 to 1975, no single mention was made of oil spillage. In fact, when General Obasanjo or such as that visited Imo State in 1976, Daily Times was cartooning Imo and Igbo people falsely, for asking for Ludo to complement their legendary lousiness and laziness. Meanwhile, the newspapers were busy penning entertaining editorials on Lagos go-slows, etc.
Now, there can be no more exclusive media lords. Today, a Linda Ikeji is as important as any institutional media house. And any guy who can move a mouse is as good an editor as he can be. It is this seismic, if unspotted, shift that many of “The rest of Nigeria” are up in arms against. And this includes unlikely partners like Professor Wole Soyinka and Lai Mohammed. Both are railing against the social media and the empowerment of the hitherto weak and excluded peoples. Soyinka perhaps wants exclusive license to call and body-shame another man’s wife a shepoppotamus, etc. Mohammed is all for a franchisee media controlled by him that allows for the tyranny of his masters. But thanks to modernity, if you cared, you can call out Soyinka as Kongipoppotamus, and meme Lai as a monster from hell’s storms. And go viral.
Can “The rest of Nigeria” now opt to cross the short chasm that separates telling lies and publishing the truths, if only to save themselves? Ours is perhaps to help them do that. All else is in humor. Ahiazuwa.
Congratulations to Chief Anyaehie
From Uju Okparaocha to the Iduwogus, from the Ukegbus to the Ihekwabas, Nkwerre has been synonymous with bellwether merchant statesmen. But of all the storied names, it is Chief John Richards Anyaehie, Dey Chia, as he is popularly called, that is the metaphor for all it is to be a corporate mogul, statesman and modern. And with a heart of gold for the common good.
His son, Chief Barrister Nnamdi Anyaehie, has taken after his illustrious father. Nnamdi, a prince of corporate achievement and a mogul in his own right, has just been appointed the Chief of Staff to Senator Hope Uzodinma, Governor Imo State. It is a welcome joy to all men of goodwill and especially the Nkwerre people. Congratulations.