Buhari, Atiku and the disaster ahead.
(Published in The PUNCH of Monday, November 19, 2018)
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1985. But two things I’m sure Veno won’t do today is to dare the political class to ‘thief our oil’ and dissuade Andrew from travelling out. Verily, the shoplifting of those days by the country’s leadership cannot compare to the burglary being witnessed these days – from local government council chambers to the once-upon-a-time sanctuary of judges and to the Holy of Holies in a Rocky Villa in Abuja. The exponential potential of the nation’s mineral resources which inspired the song has since disappeared down the bottomless pockets of the sons and daughters of darkness that led this country since 1999.
It was in 1985 that Veno Marioghae swept into the nation’s music consciousness with her patriotic chartbuster song, Nigeria Go Survive. This was a period when Nigeria was seeking self-rediscovery from locust politicians that devoured the Second Republic. She sings: “If dem thief our oil o/Even if dem burn the oil o: Nigeria go survive. I say if dem drink the oil o/No matter how dem try o: Nigeria go survive…Andrew no check out o (Say what?) Stay and build your country…”
I won’t dwell on Veno’s song today. I’ll travel to the US, where Dolly Paton recorded her monster hit, ‘Hello God’. In the 2002 song, the Queen of Country Music telephones God, asking the Supreme Being for help. She sings: ‘This world has gone to pieces/Can we fix it, is there time? Hate and violence just increases/We’re so selfish, cruel and blind/We fight and kill each other/In your name, defending you/Do you love some more than others? We’re so lost and confused.’ I doubt if Parton ever set foot on Nigerian soil, but every word of her insightful song tells the sad story of a country, irredeemably gone to pieces.
Can we fix it? Is there time? I don’t think so!
I don’t think so because there are no signs our leaders have an idea of how to fix the country’s broken pieces. President Muhammadu Buhari was the Head of State when Veno recorded Nigeria Go Survive. Today, if the US, Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Norway, Japan, Singapore etc opened their borders for Nigerians to come in visa-free, only Buhari would probably be left in Nigeria. If Buhari was patriotic, all his children would’ve schooled in Nigeria; he would’ve had faith in the country’s healthcare and not jump on the plane to have medical treatments abroad, he and the members of his family would’ve been sporting Made-in-Aba clothes, shoes, belts and bags, instead of the designer stuffs they bedeck themselves with. Sadly, Buhari hasn’t delivered on one of his electoral promises.
Articulate is an adjective which means eloquence. It’s also used to describe an object that has joints or jointed segments. President Muhammadu Buhari is clearly not articulate. Neither is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party. At close quarters, I’ve watched the two men deliver speeches; neither has the gift of the gab. Atiku is a dot better, though. For me, the second meaning of articulate as an object with jointed segments relates to the Atiku persona than the misconception of articulate as meaning possessing answers to the problems besetting Nigeria. Both Buhari and Atiku are not the messiahs to save Nigeria from its current condemnation. They are birds of a feather. Like Buhari, Atiku has a jointed segment to the corrupt past of the nation’s political history. As deputy to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku never rose in defence of the Nigerian masses to condemn the billions of dollars the PDP presidency wasted on fraudulent provision of electricity for eight years. When Odi was mowed down, Atiku kept quiet. Every Nigerian knows the shame the privatization process he supervised earned Nigeria in international circle. When Lagos cried and creaked under the weight of Obasanjo’s vindictiveness, Atiku, whom I guess, supervised the 774 local government councils of the country, looked the other way. The one and only time Atiku raised his voice against Obasanjo was when it became evident that his eternal presidential ambition was being threatened by Aremu’s third term ‘longer-throat’. I will gladly vote Atiku if an independently audited version of his wealth is made public. Does it not even wrack the conscience of the electorate that a man who could emerge as president has been barred from entering the US as a result of the fallouts from the fleecing of Nigeria through the sinful Halliburton scandal. A ridiculous contract, which was a four-company joint venture to build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, saw KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton agreeing to pay $402m after admitting that it bribed Nigerian officials even as Halliburton paid $177m to settle allegations by the US Security and Exchange Commission – without admitting wrongdoing. In December 2010, Nigeria decided to drop the corruption charges against Halliburton when the company finally agreed to part with $250m. As a man of avowed integrity, Atiku should tell Nigerians his roles in the Halliburton scandal, which consumed American congressman, William Jefferson, because of the millions of dollars wired to Jefferson as bribe.
When Fela Anikulapo sang “Army Arrangement,” he wasn’t only talking about corruption. He was also talking about injustice. Like Gani Fawehinmi, Tai Solarin and Wole Soyinka, Fela sees justice as a depiction of the allegorical image of Lady Justice wearing a blindfold, clutching a sword in the right hand and two scales in the left. While the blindfold represents objectivity, the scales represent fairness and the sword represents authority.
On account of his present actions in government, Buhari’s Lady Justice appears to hold a plastic sword, and instead of standing on a pedestal, she’s sitting on a Ghana-Must-Go bag, counting various kinds of dubious foreign currencies and using the blindfold to blow mucus from her congested nostrils.
Atiku’s Lady Justice was a one-legged, armless old woman wracked by rheumatism. Her corpse is in the coffin being carried by undertakers on the way to her grave.
When Fela sang his ballad, “Oro Pesi Je,” I’m not sure he foresaw that it would one day depict a stalemate in choosing a leader for the country. “Oro Pesi Je” is the Yoruba word for stalemate. When Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, a few days ago expressed concerns over the threat of robots and Artificial Intelligence taking jobs away from Nigerian youths, I was alarmed. What jobs? Which Nigerian company is run by robots? And Atiku, four days ago, told a lethargic nation that he knows how Boko Haram started, stressing that Boko Haram members are offshoots of political thuggery. Even my great grandfather in heaven who died over 50 years knows that. Is there another name for leadership shallowness?
I see the Nigerian political class in the lyrics of philosophical songs. Bob Marley is right. He says, “Jah will never give the power to a bald head…” Nigerians, not God, foolishly give out power to loveless men and women on election days. They did it in the Second Republic. They did it in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and will do it in 2019. Nigerians have a knack for turning issues upside down. When God said, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” He never said added ‘foolishly’ to the injunction. Why Nigerian voters continue to hail politicians who are never serving their interest is baffling to me. For an elective post as small as that of a councillor, you would be shocked that youths cannot shun monetary inducement, speak in one voice by putting forward one of their own and voting for him. It’s when Nigerians, especially youths show resolve to vote for credible candidates and make their votes count, that the country would reverse from the downward slide into utter destruction.
2019 is a sad choice.
Powered by Winsala Muses.