I had wanted to title this three-part serial, “The Anatomy of a government and party undergoing implosion”. I, however, discarded it and instead, chose this new heading, for its sheer gravitas.
To “roost”, “is to perch, sit, settle, lodge, occupy, squat”. “Roost”, as a noun, refers to a resting place for birds, e.g., branch of a tree, nest, etc. This saying, “the chickens have come home to roost”, is employed to tell someone that he has to face the consequences of his past deeds, even if committed long ago.
This is the sorry state of things today, because those Nigerians, who ought to have spoken when it mattered most, demurred, either out of fear, outright complicity or political correctness. Edmund Burke once theorised that “the only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Some of us have, however, been doing something, no matter how modest and infinitesimal, from our little corners.
For years, I shouted myself hoarse, spilled oceans of ink and tons of paper, speaking and writing about Nigeria’s ills and how to get it right. Some applauded me; others derided me. I am used to all. But, I have always been proved right.
I am happy that I am being joined now by other eminent Nigerians, Dr. Saraki, Senate President, respected Emir Sanusi, Aisha Buhari, distinguished Senators, all from the northern part of Nigeria. I say from the North because some people believe in politicising, ethnicising and religionising every criticism of government, no matter how well-meaning.
Let us now rewind, first, with my serial warnings, some even before PMB was sworn in, and thereafter. Our thesis shall run for three weeks. In all my writes-up, I warned PMB against cabals, bootlickers, corrupt people, sycophants, hypocrites, directionlessness and cluelessness of the government. That others have now joined the symphony of my orchestra ensemble gladdens my heart. Let us now rewind on my outings, before matching them with corroborative views of the new joiners.
On April 4, 2015, after PMB’s victory, but before being sworn in, I wrote in my weekly column at the back page of Sunday Telegraph, titled: “The presidential elections: Winners and losers,” as follows:
“The task before GMB”
After the euphoria of unexpected victory, General Buhari has a Herculean and daunting task ahead of him. First, he must handle the human vampires, hawks and snakes around and about him. They include the bootlickers, fawners and corrupt people around him; the merchants of cronyism, the obsequious flatterers, grovelers, tricksters, wheedlers, beguilers, whippersnappers, sycophants, traitors, treacherous hangers-on, hypocrites and others, too many to list here, that surround him. They must be put out of business immediately, if he hopes to succeed. But can he? Will he? Dare he? Only time and his actions will tell.”
In my Sunday Telegraph outing of 26th of April, 2015, still before PMB was sworn in, I wrote on the proverbial banana peel of every Nigerian president. I elucidated:
“Nigerians are very impatient people, having been short-changed again and again by successive governments, whether civilian or military. Ask GEJ how he frittered away the overwhelmingly massive love, goodwill and support that Nigerians bestowed on him in the 2011 election, with just one stroke of an ill-advised action – the removal of oil subsidy in January, 2012 – barely seven months after he was sworn in as president. He was never thereafter allowed any breathing space or even a honeymoon period, to romanticise his victory. Many Nigerians never forgave him for that faux pas, parapraxis and blooper. That same proverbial banana peel is still there, in Aso Villa, lurking around GMB. Can he avoid it? Only time and his actions will tell.”
In my Sunday Telegraph discourse of 3rd of May, 2015, titled: Setting agenda for GMB, the way forward: A roadmap for GMB, I dilated:
“General, please, listen to me, Sir: You need to move fast. Very, very fast. Begin to build bridges of understanding, bandage raw wounds, balm bruised egos. Give strong leadership. Set up a Government of National Unity, drawing the best brains from your party, the opposition, the non-partisan or party card-carrying technocrats of the land and other independent minded Nigerian patriots. You must immediately unify this gravely fractured nation by setting up a genuine Peace and Reconciliation Committee, to re-align all centripetal and centrifugal forces, which are threatening to tear apart our weak national enterprise. You have been given a rare opportunity to show that you are a “born again” democrat (your own words), transmuting from a military dictator, to a democratic president, driven by due process and Rule of Law. Your life can be likened to that of Abraham Lincoln, former American president and the one who spearheaded the abolition of slave trade in 1865. Lincoln had failed serially in life: Lost his wife in 1831, defeated in run for Illinois state legislature in 1832, failed in business in 1833, lost his sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) in 1835, suffered nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated for Illinois House Speaker in 1846, lost re-nomination in 1848, rejected as Land Officer in 1849, defeated for senate in 1854, defeated for VP nomination in 1856 and defeated yet again for senate in 1858. But he was elected president in 1860, and emerged as one of America’s most famous and adored presidents, with his face ever incandescent on America’s $100 bill. Will Buhari turn up as the 4th Nigerian president since 1999, to be another Abraham Lincoln? Only time and his actions will tell.
“However, GMB, you must now quickly separate government and governance from party politics, the structure of government from your APC party structure. You must eschew witch-hunting of perceived enemies, or presumed rabid opponents. You must give room to robust criticians and a virile opposition, to flourish, in the same way GEJ allowed you and your opposition to, not only blossom, but be actually consumed by a level playing political ground that he had carefully prepared for you and your party, APC.
“Remember the crass arrogance of PDP that consumed it. At a time, it curiously embarked on de-registration of members, rather than retaining old members and registering new ones. I had predicted then, that PDP will self-destruct, self-immolate and self-implode. That is what has just happened. Remember GEJ’s wobbly, fumbling and selfish kitchen cabinet that “imprisoned” and derailed him. Remember, Sir, strong public perception that you are surrounded by some of the most crooked and corrupt elements in Nigeria, who have unduly appropriated (misappropriated is better), the people’s wealth. Some observers have described your position as pathetic as that of “Alibaba and the forty thieves”. I pray not, Sir.
Kill corruption before it kills us
“I heard, during your campaign, when you changed gear and declared that you will no longer probe past cases of corruption, but will only start from May 29, when you are inaugurated. No, Sir. That will be making the first fundamental mistake of your government and turn around present public perception about your own person as incorruptible, to one of compromise and abdication of your avowed anti-corruption stance. Let me, in this, borrow from the inexhaustible dictionary of flamboyant and colourful politician, Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, of blessed memory, whose highfaluting and grandiloquent grammar was only equalled and, perhaps, surpassed by that of the one and only “Zik of Africa”. GMB, if you want to kill corruption, rather than allow corruption kill us all, then you must probe all the probeables, investigate all the investigatables, arrest all arrestables, detain all the detainables, jail all the jailables, confiscate from thieving Nigerians, all the confiscateables, get to regurgitate all regurgitables, but exonerate all exoneratables.
“It is only by probing past governments and corrupt persons that the ugly spectre of recidivism and impunity will vanish from our national life, and deterrence fully enthroned and respected. Corruption is now said to be the 37th state in Nigeria.
“The stakes are very high, the hopes and expectations even higher. Most Nigerians are expecting miracles from you. Don’t tell them you are not a miracle worker. They will not buy that. You must be one. That was why they ignored your despotic military background and decided to give you another chance. Are you going to fail them? Will you be a recluse or a transparent president? How would you deal with the human hawks and vampires, surrounding you? How would you raise money to govern in this austere era of dwindling oil prices? What is your take on FOI, Sharia, OIC, insecurity, anti-gay legislation, National Conference Report, international conspiracy, neo-colonialism, ethnic militias, xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, affirmative action for women where GEJ excelled, etc?
“Remember the proverbial banana peel in Aso Villa? Nigerians are a wonderful set of people that tumultuously shout “Hosanna” today and unanimously scream, “crucify him” tomorrow. They are very impatient. They are not foolish. They are easy to govern, extremely difficult to rule; and nigh impossible to tyrannise. Remember your era of WAI, your draconian, iron fist rule, IBB’s coup and how Nigerians hailed and welcomed it? That is Nigerians for you. They cherish their freedoms and liberties. So, GMB, beware the “ides of March”. Like the Hausa would say, “Ga fili ga doki” (Behold the horse, behold the large plain field…). You now have both the knife and the yam, the stick and the carrot. You cannot ask for more from God and Nigerians. To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Less than two months after PMB was sworn in, I wrote on the “Existence of too many tendencies” in the ruling APC party, in the Sunday Telegraph of July 5, 2015, I said:
“The current challenges bedeviling the still inchoate and embryonically fragile APC can be located squarely within the orbit and matrix of its very conception, gestation and deliverance. The party is not the usual run-of-the-mill political party that sprang straight from the bowels of Section 229 of the 1999 Constitution. No. The party is an amalgam, a pot pouri, of variegated parties and individuals, that have tons of different political tendencies, cravings, ambitions, beliefs, idiosyncrasies and philosophy.
“The APC even harbours some entrenched caucuses within its fold. The defunct ACN led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, CPC led by Buhari, ANPP directed by Ogbonnaya Onu, and a splinter group of APGA, led by Governor Rochas Okoracha of Imo State, pioneered this amorphous party. They were later joined by some very angry and frustrated PDP elements, who rebelled against the status quo that had denied them the joy of internal democracy within the then ruling PDP. This breakaway faction, otherwise called the “New PDP”, led by Abubakar Kawu Baraje, had powerful and influential Governors like Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara). They came in to APC with their full arsenal of structures, supporters, hangers-on, opportunists, patriots, visions, missions, deep purses, organograms, influence, reach and goals. The cake was generously iced with the poaching of maverick and former vice president, political titan, Atiku Abubakar, described by the BBC analyst, Aliyu Tanko, as the biggest catch of them all. The stage was, therefore, set for ego display and supremacy test. To be or not to be, became the question. The chicken and the egg, which came first, became the puzzle.
“It was only a matter of time before these deep internal contradictions sign-posted by a marriage of strange bedfellows and birds of different plummages, manifest and boil over. It will require careful political engineering, maturity, patience, forebearance, self denial and interment of personal ambitions before APC can settle down and match the cohesiveness and homogeneity of the PDP that managed to hold on to power for 16 years. Remember they have beaten their chest and boasted they would rule Nigeria for 60 years. The arrogance of power and internal schisms and, perhaps, “deux ex machina”, prevented this sit-tightism and imperial disposition”(To be continued next week).
Thoughts for the week
“A well balanced, inclusive approach, according to certain standards and ideals, is essential for the proper governance of any country” -Laisenia Qarase