Our nation is one of big contradictions. That is a point I have stressed on this page severally and I do so because each time we are about to put our acts together, one or two of such contradictions arise to make nonsense of our effort to move forward. What is intriguing is that we know of these contradictions, and yet we never make any move to get rid of them. In the last two weeks, so many developments have taken place and when you look at the process leading to them and our reactions, you are left to wonder what kind of a people we are and the kind of nation we have created.
Currently, we have what we call the ‘hijacked’ debate arising from Aisha Buhari’s unexpected outburst and if you like, castigation of her husband, Muhammadu Buhari from far away London in the United Kingdom. Her blistering comments have since elicited varied reactions with some Nigerians hailing her as a true messiah for taking on the President, who is her husband, in public on what should be purely state political matters, and against the fact that she is not a typical politician as we know it in this part. For me, the reaction is not the issue, but what is, is the behaviour which is certainly out of rhythm, which would not have been if ours were to be a society where reason rules and where rationalization has resulted to establishment of necessary conventions, governmental protocols and institutionalized processes for doing or acting in a given direction.
The White people know the importance of such little things and they make provisions for them. In the 90s, I encountered a civil service that was qualitatively staffed and very professional; they inherited from the colonialists a bureaucratic etiquette which clearly prohibited a junior from making public comments except he had received clearance from the Permanent Secretary, the accounting officer of his ministry. This rule was not for fun neither was it intended to gag or deny citizens of their fundamental rights, it was done with the best intention to safeguard the political and administrative system from undue contamination. I can’t fathom the wife of an American President, talking down on her husband, persuasively from a foreign land. It could happen only if the wife is demented and that one I can bet would be a very rare occurrence. Mrs. Buhari has just done it and some of us are clapping, refusing to estimate the degree of damage that has been done to the dignity of Nigerians and the Black Race as a whole. I don’t want to talk about President Buhari’s response – that is entirely a different matter on its own but let me acknowledge that the President failed a major test when it mattered most. I don’t know what harm would have come to him if he said, “I am yet to hear what my wife said, perhaps when I get home, I will get a clarification of what she said.” But the President saying that she is a woman that belongs to the kitchen gave away so much about quality and intellectual standing.
Within the same period we had the release of the Chibok schoolgirls and the crackdown on some of our highly placed judges in several parts of the nation. Each of the events, carried its own controversy. One that followed the release of the Chibok girls had no basis but am not so sure the same applies to the invasion of the residences of the judges by officers of the Department of State Security (DSS). I spoke earlier of conventions and political protocols – everything about governance is not about what the law states, because if every strand of behaviour was to be legislated for or against, the book would be so voluminous that I wonder how many of us would be able to read through let alone comprehend every single stipulation. Many political activities are administered by either conventions or pure conscience, the law may prescribe that everybody is equal before the law but in practical execution, commonsense which many have told me is not common makes us know that some are more equal than others. Till our Lord Jesus comes again, as long as human society exists and irrespective of their sophistication, there would always be that divide between the vanguards and the plebeians, their treatment would also vary to some degree.
President Bill Clinton of America was caught fiddling a young girl, a student for that matter. Americans were angry quite alright and Clinton was called to question, but he was never bundled away to the police station neither was he handcuffed but let a black American do so, the consequences would be better imagined than experienced, yet America is the bastion of the rule of law and liberty. I have noticed that the Whites hesitate a lot before putting handcuffs on white felons and that is because they know something we know but don’t want to cherish like they do; they know when citizens are treated inhumanely like we do when we brutally arrest suspects, stripe them naked, parade them publicly and persuasively convict them even before the trials commence, it is not the victims that are dehumanized and diminished, it is the entire citizenry, the nation and their race. That is why we must be careful about the processes we create. I read last week in the papers where a Nigerian resident in Britain said they always assail her with stories of inhumane treatment, disease prevalence, severe type of underdevelopment and character defamation in Black Africa and such stereotypes are fueled by what we do and the stories we tell about ourselves.
Our actions and reactions should not be dictated solely by the level of rot, it should also be propelled by sound rationalization and best practices. The level of leadership incompetence is very high and two of the major consequences of this are, one, no or distorted vision and glorification of mediocrity; two, abominable level of stealing of public funds. It is not good and certainly not an acceptable conduct. Therefore, every effort to eradicate it should be supported. So I support President Buhari on that and agree that anti-corruption is one of his major projects for our nation. Yet in fighting the malaise there is need to streamline the strategies and to ensure that the right attitude and methods are employed and this would be irrespective of what other nations have done in similar circumstance, I am one of those who believe our nation is good enough to set examples for others to follow, especially when we have opted to embrace democracy as against a revolution. If truth be told, DSS is an intelligence gathering agency, those giving it overbearing status don’t mean well and German history supports this position that when state security department is in the forefront a nation is about to go into bigger trouble. The judges could have been interrogated and their homes searched without the midnight drama, and more than that I don’t think the timing and the targets give credence to pure motive; the issue of a new Chief Justice of Nigeria and the contentious elections outcomes in Rivers and Akwa Ibom are still too fresh in our minds and many are finding it difficult to distance the invasion from what is happening. This is the kind of outcome you get when leaders refuse to be tactful in handling sensitive issues in a deeply heterogeneous society such as ours. William Penn spoke well when he said, “A good end cannot satisfy evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come.”