It is baffling and bewildering. Do our leaders ever listen to themselves when they speak? Do they hear themselves out? Are their memories short and acute? You keep on wondering aloud.
Our memories fail us easily in this country. And that is the tragedy of our existence. We never take pains to look back. We ignore the past, to our own peril. We outlawed History in secondary school. All because of our ugly yesterday. We are running away from our hideous shadow.
From pillar to post, we can only run, we cannot hide. That is why our yesteryears keep haunting and hurting us at the same time. In the process, we lose everything, particularly the vital societal values. They are the nutrients of healthy co-existence. Sad!
Chief Ayo Opadokun’s intervention came handy here. That tyrant, General Sani Abacha, would not forget him, even in his dark and stinking grave. Opadokun is former secretary-general, National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). That was the enfant terrible troubler of Abacha till death.
He spoke to the highest authority last week as he saw it. He was blunt, as usual: “You can be deceiving yourselves to imagine that you have seen the end of #EndSARS.
“You are just chasing shadows asking ministers to be seeing traditional rulers. How does that solve the problems of a graduate of over 20 years old who has no job?” Tell them, let them hear loud and clear!
The activist is still airborne: “Nigeria is in a sorry state. Nigeria is a lying nation calling itself a federation when we are being run as a unitary system of government.
“We are living on borrowed time. Unless we restructure, this skewed one-sided structure is not sustainable. It is the attitude of every human being to want to be liberated.” He nailed it! That is vintage Opadokun.
A quick flashback is apposite. In 2011, General Muhammadu Buhari picked on the Egyptian pro-democracy campaigners. He did not lose sight of them. Their message was not lost on him either. He saw patriotism in their actions. He did not hesitate to align. Promptly, he called for a revolution in Nigeria. He was presidential candidate, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), in that year’s general election.
Buhari’s exact words: “The Egyptian pro-democracy campaigners defied all odds to achieve their set goal of terminating the 30-year-old grip on power by Mubarak. Their tenacity has again confirmed the truism that no force on earth can stop a people determined.”
He gave kudos to Egypt’s armed forces: “The military in Egypt showed exemplary conduct with the way they refused to be used to attack the forces of change. They showed the whole world that there is a clear difference between the state and those who temporarily occupy political offices for a fixed tenure.”
This was clearly one of Buhari’s best forms. But he chose not to admit that what goes around comes around. This is how, hear him out further: “This is a lesson for our security agents who have been used to subvert the will of the people at elections in recent past.
“The time has come for our own security forces to demonstrate similar valour by putting national interest above that of individuals when there is a clash between the two.”
In 2020, he backslid big time. He ate his words. He sent the military to mow down our own “forces of change,” aka #EndSARS protesters. He labelled them terrorists to hang them. Reference: Lekki Tollgate killings.
Opadokun again testified against him. He fumed that Buhari openly called for a revolution in 2011, but was not arrested. He was at a loss. He wondered why youths who protested are being molested and accused of treasonable felony by the same Buhari.
That was not the president’s first time out. He is no stranger to calling for mass action when he thought his ox was gored. He did it earlier in 2003. That was after he lost election to Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He led his All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) supporters in a mass protest. They occupied the streets of Abuja. They chanted anti-government slogans unmolested.
Buhari would not stop at that. He carried his campaign to the next level on May 14, 2012, in Kaduna. It was his comfort zone. He spit fire like Sango, god of thunder: “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.”
He practically called out his supporters to war. It caused considerable uproar in the land. It was expected. Government responded in more than equal measure: “We find it very sad that an elder statesman who once presided over the entirety of Nigeria can reduce himself to a regional leader who speaks for only a part of Nigeria.
“We now understand what his protégé and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El’Rufai, meant when he wrote in a public letter in October of 2010, telling Nigerians that Buhari remains ‘perpetually unelectable’ and that Buhari’s ‘insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known.’”
And at the All Progressives Congress (APC) Abuja rally on November 11, 2014, the protest continued unabated. They called it Salvation Rally, whatever that means!
They claimed it was to draw global attention to what they described as “deliberate hijack of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.” From Eagle Square, Abuja, they went to the Police Force Headquarters to register their concerns.
Rotimi Amaechi, then governor of Rivers State, was the star of the rally. He has been rewarded as Minister of Transportation. He was prophetic. The questions he asked ex-President Goodluck Jonathan at that rally are the exact questions honestly being asked Buhari today.
Checklist: “Today, the President must tell us, why are our brothers and sisters dying in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and they are here enjoying in Abuja? Why is he comfortable and Nigerians are dying?”
Amaechi, you are on point. We earnestly want to know. He was not done yet: “You know we don’t have democracy anymore in Nigeria. What we have in Nigeria now is diarchy. It is a government headed by a civilian but under the support of the military.
“Today, the President sits with the military against you and I. The President must tell us whether he is our president, regional president or an ethnic president.” This is apt. Issues raised here are even more valid now. Indeed, this Amaechi saw tomorrow and he would certainly go places.
Then entered Buhari. He took over from Amaechi to literally indict himself: “Our concern is the lack of performance of the Federal Government. Try and find out what was the state of infrastructure in 1999, what it is now and what we have earned between then and now. It is then it will dawn on you how corrupt, inefficient and indisciplined the PDP is.”
Replace 1999 with 2015 and PDP with APC. That stark reality will truly dawn on you. We are in a vantage position to know better now. This leadership has taken us for a rough and tough ride these past years. They are dastardly insensitive to our plight.
Worse still, they do it with utmost impunity. Their policies, actions and inactions are at variance with our collective interests. They are simply anti-people.
Do our leaders think we are all fools? Oh, they assume we don’t reflect on their careless and reckless utterances? They goof. They think we are uninterested in our past like them? Foul!
We don’t joke with our history. That is our life. We value and cherish it. We dare not take a superficial look at it. We study and analyse it to forge a better future.
We are not like them. They promised to hit the ground running this second time. But when they hit ground, they neither walked nor ran. They simply slept off. Now they are snoring.
That is why there is no coordination, no synergy. Governance is flat and flattened. It’s amazing and amusing how government runs. It operates like a daily paid worker. It’s an affliction.
We are still crying aloud: What exactly do these characters want from us? Do they have morals? Yes, they have warped conscience!