“We have repeatedly elected clowns and political merchants as lead- ers. In 2019, the outcome of the elections will signal what lies ahead.”
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, one of Africa’s finest writ- ers, published a book, Weep Not, Child, in the ear- ly 1960s. As a young univer- sity undergraduate, I briefly became a radical. I hurried- ly called myself to order. As a student of English and Literally Studies, I was ex- posed to books that dwelt, rather negatively, on what transpired before, during and after colonialism in many parts of Africa.
In my sophomore year, I almost abandoned my Christian faith because of what I thought was another ploy by Europe to further enslave Africans. With the ongoing absurdities in my country about Christian- ity and how religion has enslaved my people, may be my decision then would have been apt. I read other books by Ayi Kwei Amah, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soy- inka and other fine Afri- can writers. Like biblical prophets, they saw today, yesterday.
For some reasons, I have refused to let go of my at- tachments to Thiong’o’s Weep Not, Child. For those who may hastily question where I am taking this nar- rative to, relax. The picture will become clearer soon.
Weep Not, Child followed the pursuit of Njoroge to obtain an education so that he could provide a bet- ter life for his family, and attempted to be a good Christian. Like the author, Njoroge knew nothing but colonialism all his life. Through his main protago- nist, Thiong’o showed us how the colonist employed the tools of education and religion in an attempt to control the Kenyan people through the hegemony of the British way of life.
By extension, Thiong’o was referring to the rest of Africa. Today, our colonial masters are out of the pic- ture. Ironically, new, but in- digenous colonial masters have emerged. For over 50 years, they have used reli- gious and ethnic division to ply their trade, while subjecting the rest of us to perpetual untold hardship.
In my brief stay on earth, I have sadly realised one unfortunate reality. The problem bedeviling Africa is similar. Bad leadership is the bane. From Nigeria to Togo, Ghana to Ethio- pia, the challenges are the same. Africa represents everything that is wrong with the world. We can blame the West and absolve our clueless leaders of any wrongdoing. Na our busi- ness bi that.
Let me localise this inter- vention. Beyond bad leader- ship, our two core problems are woven around religion and ethnicity.
Christians and Muslims are always at war. When it suits them, the political class ignites this fire. While Rome burns, they relocate their families.
Whenever major appoint- ments are announced, these same career politi- cians play up the ethnic card. They remind us how their people have been cheated. When they are eventually appointed, they feather their nest and build high fences to lock out their own people.
When these same mer- chants meet, they down- play religion and ethnic- ity. They connive and steal our commonwealth. When they are arrested, they sud- denly remember that they are Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. Only a fool will conclude that there is any differ- ence between party A and party B. They are the same thieves, cheats and liars.
In their usual manner, during the week, some ca- reer politicians, whose only occupation is politics, gath- ered in Abuja. They had one agenda – to sack Presi- dent Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. That is their only agenda. For them, Buhari is the problem and whatever it will take to do that, it’s always fine.
Let me take you through a familiar history. In 1966, when some military boys struck and overthrew the first set of ethnic leaders, they had one excuse. They complained bitterly about the endemic corruption and told everyone how the military will restore sanity. Aguiyi Ironsi took charge.
We know the rest of the story. Soon, there was a counter-coup and a young minority military offi- cer, Yakubu Gowon, took charge. The excuse was the same. The same mili- tary merchants told gullible Nigerians how they would clean the system. Instead, Nigerians were cleaned out between 1967-1970.
After the bitter civil war, Gowon, who is today, holier than the Pope, held on to power. In 1975, Nigerians took to the streets, when Gowon was deposed. For us, the long walk to freedom had ended. It was our own uhuru. How ignorant we were.
Few months after, the same military boys struck and Olusegun Obasanjo, came in as head of state. For reasons best known to him, he conducted an election and handed over power to Shehu Shagari. The military, not satisfied with the damage they had done to the republic, struck again on the December 31, 1983. As it had become a routine, Nigerians rejoiced. Again, they hastily conclud- ed that the new boys would restore sanity.
Buhari, who today, is reaping from where he sowed discord and bru- tality, stepped in as head of state. His era was de- scribed as the most brut- ish. He brought hell to Ni- geria and those who were old enough to recall what happened, will narrate the story better.
In August, 1985, our very own Maradonna, Ibrahim Babaginda, evicted Buhari from office and stepped in. Again, Nigerians rejoiced. Like sheep led by their shepherd, Nigerians were brutally taken through an- other round of untold hard- ship.
Ernest Shonekan fol- lowed. Then Sani Abacha came in. God, through whatever means best known to him, yanked him off. Abdulsalami Abubakar stepped in and hurriedly left.
Then Obasanjo returned. He held sway for eight years and handed the baton to late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Goodluck Jonathan fol- lowed and now Buhari.
The point I am making is simple. We have had the same challenge since 1966. The same players have dominated the political space. The same excuses have been manufactured. And the outcomes have remained the same. If we have been repeating the same thing and getting the same result, it means some- thing is wrong.
Let me briefly address the options before us in 2019. Yes, Buhari is a failure. He can not lead a contem- porary society. He should retire and make peace with God for supervising the massacre of Nigerians, whose only sin was to have voted for him.
In the absence of All Pro- gressives Congress (APC) and its sole candidate in 2019, Buhari, what are the options available? It will be a contest between the APC and the Peoples Demo- cratic Party (PDP). After 16 years in power, what is the PDP offering?
For me, replacing Buhari with another clueless presi- dent is not an option. The economy is in comatose. Security has collapsed. Life is cheap here and Nigeri- ans seldom have enough to eat in a day. These are the challenges. It’s obvious that Buhari can’t fix the mess he created and inherited.
Who is the eventual can- didate the PDP is willing to offer? Atiku Abubakar, Sule Lamido, Ahmed Markafi and the others jostling to sack Buhari, have not of- fered any credible alter- native. How will they end the wanton killings, hard- ship, hunger and ethnic tensions? They have not offered any solutions with barely six months to the general elections.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Dino Melaye and other career politicians who are political mer- chants, are already on their way out of APC. They have feathered their nest and are in a hurry to defect and continue to remain in of- fice. This is haram.
Let 500 political parties join forces. Let the host of heaven and demons from hell offer their support to sack Buhari. Until those jostling to replace Buhari offer Nigerians what they will do differently, we will be foolish to conclude things will change in 2019. I won’t subscribe to that falsehood.
This republic is bigger than Buhari, Atiku and oth- er clowns taking Nigerians for granted. In the last 50 years, we have progressed in error. We have repeatedly elected clowns and political merchants as lead- ers. In 2019, the outcome of the elections will signal what lies ahead.
Nigerians, this is your call.
Congratulations Ezrel Tabiowo
Member countries of the West African Parliamenta- ry Press Corps (WAPPC), ahead of a symposium and media summit which held in Accra, Ghana on Mon- day, unanimously elected a Nigerian, Mr. Ezrel Tabio- wo, as the Secretary-Gen- eral of the regional body.
The West African coun- tries which presently con- stitute the membership of WAPPC are parliamentary reporters from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Benin Republic and Liberia.
Tabiowo, who presently is the chairman of Nigeria’s Senate Press Corps, while addressing members after his election as Secretary- General, thanked his col- leagues for the confidence reposed in him.
He gave the assurance that he would not relent in his effort towards reaching out to other countries in the West African sub-region.
He said: “I want to sin- cerely thank my colleagues present today for voting unanimously to have me elected as Secretary Gener- al of the West African Par- liamentary Press Corps.”
“Let me assure you that going forward, I shall de- vote my time and energy towards driving the growth of the association, and as well ensuring that other countries in the sub-region are brought on board.”
Tabiowo also urged par- liamentary reporters in the sub-region to remain com- mitted to the ethics of the journalism profession, as well as ensure the defence of democracy in parliamen- tary reportage.
To my brother and friend, congratulations!