It seems African countries are gradually returning to immediate post-independence years, when the new set of African leaders, led by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, turned out to be tyrants and perpetual leaders. No room was allowed for dissent, rivalry, criticisms or challenges in elections. Political opponents were neutralised in whatever form their oppressors preferred.
At best, political rivals/opponents were thrown into jail and such unfortunate ones like Ghana’s opposition leader, Dr. J.B. Danquah, and Guinea’s Diallo Telli, first secretary-general of the defunct Organisation of African Unity, were either allowed to die in jail or executed despite international pleas. Then came the era of military intervention, which started in Congo (Brazzaville) in 1961 as a result of influences of foreign interests taking sides in domestic politics. Three years later, a virtual military subaltern, Gnassingbe Eyadema, assassinated Togo’s President Sylvanus Olympio on the precincts of United States embassy, where the Togolese leader unsuccessfully made a desperate dash for asylum.
Like wildfire, army coups spread over the African continent, since the leaders learnt nothing and indeed each outclassed another in all aspects of misrule totally unknown to Africans. Other officers in the army summoned courage to apply force even against bad army leaders, where they existed. Such was General Idi Amin of Uganda, who had earlier deposed President Milton Obote while attending the Commonwealth prime ministers’ conference in Singapore in 1971. In another irony, the performance of the new army rulers generated fresh clamour for democratisation on the continent. Uganda was such, as General Okilo overthrew General Idi Amin in 1985. In another twist, Yoweri Museveni led a civilian guerilla to depose Okilo, a remarkable event that proved to be the country’s undoing as Museveni turned the country into a manor and himself the only lord.
Forty consecutive years in power for one man, even by African standards, is intolerable. At least, Nigerians would not tolerate it. But here is President Museveni with another ritual of an election for four more years. The main opponent, Bobi Wine, was incapacitated by Museveni’s security forces until after the Ugandan leader was declared the winner of a non-election, leaving local and foreign observers within Uganda aghast. Nigeria had no qualms in impliedly endorsing that international show of shame. Hence, the invitation extended to Abuja to once again witness, so that any party, which wins the 2023 elections in Nigeria, can also invite Museveni to the inauguration. When, therefore, Nigeria was invited to the disgraceful repeat and contemptuous performance of the inauguration of another term for the Ugandan leader, what can we say?
Nigeria, which, exactly six years ago, emerged the champion of democracy in West Africa, today derides itself as advocate of dictatorship. It shows the omnibus regression to which the country has been subjected within such a short time. What a pity. Nigeria has lost much reputation. Should Nigeria have forgotten history so soon? What is there or remains in Uganda’s reputation in the last 30 years to warrant Nigeria’s collaboration in any form even as a fellow African country? Last time Nigeria joined (in) Museveni inaugurating himself as Uganda’s president for an umpteenth time, Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan had his official covoy violently ambushed. Suppose something untoward happened, would Nigeria think it fit on this occasion to join Museveni in inaugurating himself for another four years of continued stay in office to make 44 years? Do we have to wait for that before putting Museveni in his place?
The ambush on Jonathan’s official convoy in Uganda was not personal or against Nigeria but an expression of frustration against Museveni’s accomplices. If Nigeria did not get the message, it is time it did. By the way, throughout Africa, the provision is there in the electoral act for dissatisfied parties to challenge results in court. A mere ritual. Throughout the continent, only two countries have recorded monumental verdicts in which purported election victories were ever nullified: Kenya and Malawi. Even then, only Malawi recorded justice. Kenya merely re-affirmed the earlier disputed result. That, unfortunately, is the state of affairs in Africa.
When Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari appeared on the scene six years ago, there were hopes for clean elections but such (hopes) have been dashed. Or how can we justify Nigeria’s complicity in conferring legitimacy on President Museveni’s electoral fraud? For collaborating with Museveni for the last 40 years, the man has survived the following Nigerian leaders, former President Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Yar’Adua, former President Jonathan, and with his new four-year stolen mandate, will also survive President Buhari, whose tenure expires in 2023. Any cheers?
Museveni’s comrades on the continent are the leaders of Cameroon, Togo, Equitorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasha and Rwanda.
Potential rail disaster
Just as Nigerians are revelling at rail infrastructure being laid in different parts of the country, anarchist are being reported to be vandalising the same rail lines. Could such crime have been compelled by poverty? Only well-fed men could embark on such crime. Do these people realise the end result of their criminality? Any oncoming train might be unaware of the vandalise portion of the rail line ahead and that means disaster of unimaginable proportions.
I dread a repeat of Lalupon train disaster in the defunct Western Region in 1957 caused by floods, which earlier washed away the rail lines around Lalupon. Scores of prospective students heading for the then Nigerian College of Science and Technology, Zaria, the precursor of today’s Ahmadu Bello University, died. Among the unfortunate deceased was Mr. Subulade, our science teacher at CMS Grammar School, Lagos. If Lalupon disaster in 1957 was caused by nature, the same cannot be said of another being planned by these vandals and nobody should underestimate the oncoming risk.
These vandals have been indulged by governmen’s seeming latitude all along. Come to Lagos and see how aluminium handrails are vandalise on the various overpasses. Till today, nobody has been arrested or tried. These same vandals tried their luck in the 1090s on the expressway between Abuja airport and the new capital well-lit with with bulbs. So soon, the bulbs were being vandalised and discovered to be sold at markets in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, etc. Ambush was laid on the Abuja Airport expressway and the vandals were duly apprehended and properly all dealt with. That was how the vandalism was dealt with.
Unless the government takes stern measures, vandalism of rail lines and inevitable rail disasters will gradually spread all over the country. Whoever thought that kidnapping and banditry would become such growth industry a few years ago? Such a money-making venture? These rail vandals should be put to death. Otherwise, the government would soon be counting deaths from vandals-made rail disasters.