Nigeria remains in a flux. So much happening, yet our lives remain painfully in regression or static at best. Worse still, we all seem to have exhausted ourselves. One cannot help forming the eerie imagery of duelers now prostrate in the dust after a long affray – pile of bodies half covered by dust, barely alive…
And we have been through all the issues over and over again, yet it’s either that there is nobody out there or there is acute hearing challenge. Today, there is simply nothing fresh to comment upon; same old humdrum about catching suspected thieves. At a time like this, a pot-pourri of small issues proves handy. I was to pick on Jimoh Ibrahim and his antics in the upcoming Ondo State governorship race. Someone needed to tell him to eschew his perennial rascality and allow us to tend to our democracy. This column was going to tell him that in some detail.
One was to poke at Ibe Kachikwu’s phantom refineries and the wildly escalating crises in the petroleum sector. There is also the adjunct matter of a renewed wild-goose chase in the Chad basin for oil and Nigeria’s burning of billions of naira in this 30-year old quest. One’s attention was also drawn to the APC governors’ tiff with the president over sidelining them in the federal appointments booty.
But all of these issues had to be swept aside upon reading a note from Professor Benjamin Nwabueze to President Buhari. For those who may not know, Nwabueze is an octogenarian, an elder statesman and one of the most rigorous minds of his age alive today. Of course, his glittering academic and work lives have been subjects of tomes of books. An academic and legal titan, he is by miles, the most prolific and most cerebral of his time.
His prodigious work ethic and intellectual eminence is like luminous morning sun and is evident in the constitutional history and law faculties of numerous African countries.
Prof. Nwabueze has been a strident critic of this administration; sometimes uncomfortably so. But the old man is a die-hard patriot who is deeply passionate about his convictions in matters concerning Nigeria.
Rising from a meeting of the Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), a body he chairs, he urged PMB to change his style of governance. He did not say anything new other than merely reinforcing the cogency and indeed, urgency of some irksome matters. Since we want the government to take an especial note of these things, here are bullet-points:
Herdsmen palaver: this matter of licentious herdsmen being perceived as some kind of nascent islamisation of Nigeria is utterly dangerous. And it is gaining currency in the south of Nigeria. This column does not believe in the religious imputation and colouration of the cattle-rearers’ brigandage, but the presidency does not seem to appreciate the situation.
From Kaduna to Benue, Kogi, Enugu, Ekiti and indeed even Abuja, cattle and their breeders are on the rampage, killing, maiming and destroying farms. Yet the president cannot seem to respond appropriately and adequately. It is as if he has given a tacit nod to these marauders. Nwabueze warns about a matter that might throw the nation into an unquenchable conflagration if nothing is done urgently.
- Appointments in the nation’s security services: this singular action of PMB will not only haunt his tenure but has pork-marked his presidency, his persona and his history. He has also left a dangerous precedence that will plague the polity for a long time. It is difficult to explain how about 15 key security and strategic positions are parcelled solely to his kinsmen.
He also mentioned the recent sack of over 40 officers in the Army and wondered if it is by accident that most of them are from the South?
- Nwabueze advised PMB to release Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) unconditionally and engage the people in dialogue, noting that the demand for self-determination does not necessarily mean secession. His words: “Political agitations for self-determination are taking place in various parts of the world, in Europe, Asia, America, etc. The agitators are not massacred with state- owned arms and ammunition, but are brought round for dialogue. The situation here should not be different. Dialogue is the approach.”
- Of corruption fight, noise and propaganda: he says while ILT is not against the fight against corruption, the manner it is being prosecuted is unacceptable. “The fight is highly skewed against perceived opponents of the party in government. People are arrested and bank accounts are frozen without due process…” He noted that a few current appointees have been fingered in monumental corruption, but the government pretends not to notice.
- On the economy, the Avengers and recession: he averred that this is the worst economic situation ever and urged the government to address the immediate cause by engaging the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in a dialogue.
Prof. Nwabueze said so much more. But we will conclude that any thinking government would not only listen to him carefully, but would do well to keep a line of communication with him.
Abia’s dirty politics
Abia State in the Southeast of Nigeria is tagged ‘God’s Own State’, but its politics has been anything but godly. Indeed, some desperate politicians in the state who cannot live down their fall from power and serial humiliation at the polls have continued to wrestle in the muck and be-splatter mud to anyone in sight.
One target of this dirty fight is the immediate past governor, Chief Theodore Ahamefule Orji, who has been the relentless butt of media attacks by his fallen godfather and former ‘owner’ of Abia State. All manner of hack writers and newspaper advertorials are deployed every week to shoot down one man.
In utter show of desperation, the last set of advertorials has those jaded pictures of Chief Orji supposedly in a shrine taking oath. It is shocking how blackmailers shamelessly publish photos, which showcase their evil handiwork in the first place.
But Chief Orji has nothing to be ashamed of. Any patriot must be willing to make even the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of his people. A great leader must be ready to go to any shrine – if that is what it takes – to retrieve his people from a dark, fetish abyss to a new day of light and progress. In fact, those TA Orji shrine pictures should be mounted on billboards across the country to show the courage of one man and the persecution he had to suffer to make Abia the safe, peaceful and unshackled state it is today.
There must be a limit to bitter politics and campaign of calumny isn’t there? The Nation