by Alaba Yusuf
“Don’t fight your seniors because elders are not to be insulted; don’t trade insults with your juniors because they don’t have the experience you possess; and don’t fight your mates because there are places for you to meet with them.” – Former Nigeria Military President, General Ibrahim. B. Babangida, retired, on anger management, Accra, Ghana 2005.
Despite man’s foray into space and time of high technology, many things still happen to shock our common sensibility. One such enigma was the sudden disappearance from our collective world radar since a week ago, a Malaysian commercial plane with 239 souls and dreams inside it! It is really unbelievable that we are yet to find the wreck and the bodies. Ironically, two of the passengers of the ill-fated aircraft were said to have travelled on stolen passports. What a way to go? Death on borrowed space and time! Thus it becomes a fusion of high-level of real-life drama and unpalatable tragedy.
On the Nigerian scene, many events that defy logic and reason have pervaded the week past. Somehow, a N9billion Presidential jet that took President Goodluck Jonathan to a PDP rally in Minna, Niger State, refused to fly home the Number One citizen back to the nation’s capital, Abuja; a trip of less than 15 minutes! The humbled Commander-in-Chief, GEJ, had to disembark the faulty plane with his allies. Yet another high drama indeed! What if…? Don’t mention please, catastrophe!
Other equally baffling circumstances range from the constant harvest of deaths of hundreds of unsuspecting and innocent persons that had their lives snuffed out by born-cold-to-harm ‘Jihadists’ in the Northern States of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and even Katsina; to the fatal war of attrition between the Hausa-Fulani nomads and agrarian Benue indigenes – the State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, was nearly cut down in the crossfire of unsolicited rat-a-tat riffle salute in this new clime of Armageddon!
Joining this ballroom of confusion, was the hollow denigration of the recently show-cased Road Map of Nigeria’s main Opposition, the All Progressives Party, APC, which the Publicity Secretary of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Oliseh Metuh, tagged a “Janja-weed ideology.” The word weed may indeed come across to the layman as a form of hallucination derivable from the over-smoking of ganja –also known as Marijuana, cannabis or weed. Absolute defamation you may want to call this.
But a deeper meaning also exists for Janja-weed. It is the infamous name of a group of religious extremists in Darfur, Sudan, who allegedly carried out rape, genocide, ethno-religious cleansing and brigandage against innocent people of that Sahel Region.
Now you may brand it PDP vs APC political high drama; a tragic-comedy of a sort. Maybe, the beginning of a do or die affair, a la ex President Olusegun Obasanjo’s philosophy of yore. The APC too have found pleasure in decimating President’s Jonathan’s recent courtesy calls to traditional rulers and select churches across the nation as: “opportunistic political junketing and cheap religious window-shopping.”
Adding his Game-Changer wise-crack to the whole hullaballoo is the National Chairman of PDP, oratorical Dr. Ahmed Muazu, who told a gathering of his party faithful in Kaduna State, recently, that: “APC stole PDP Manifestos and adopted it to deceive the people.” Wow. Wish the former Bauchi State governor would provide answers to the following posers:
(1) Is PDP currently operating FREE EDUCATION in Nigeria or in the States controlled by them, as proposed by APC?
(2) Does PDP fend for the unemployed in Nigeria in terms of stipends to the teeming unemployed graduates, as being proposed in APC Roadmap?
(3) What is the nature of PDP’s plan for the aged and the less privileged, if any, as against the APC’s plan?
Other issues on security, health and fight against corruption are still begging for quick attention. That aside, is the umbrella-house of the PDP so porous that the APC could just sneak in stealthily to empty the treasury of ideas of a 15-year-old largest party in Africa? That is subjective and arguable in its entirety. Oh, drama and melodrama!
Meanwhile, I recently penned a published piece titled: Lest the Confab Becomes a Contraption. And before ink dries on the paper, signs of contradiction, condemnation, confusion and configuration have commenced in earnest. The people of revered late elder statesman Alfred Rewane, the Itsekhiris, a tribe that produced the mother of one of Africa’s best actors, Richard Mofe-Damijo, RMD, are hard hit by non representation amongst the 492 debaters. Legendary hotelier and community leader, Chief Rita Lori, and others, have promised a rain of fire and brimstone if the Itsekhiris, who are closely related to the Yorubas, are denied self-worth and presence within Nigeria’s comity of ethnic nations.
Closely related, we hear, North East youth membership is said to be missing. There you have the sore sole of the country, Boko Haram insurgency! How do we talk peace without the restive youths of this zone? Plenty drama and call for tragedy.
Stunningly too, the oil-producing-yet deprived ethnic land of the Ogonis is also believed to be unrecognised in the list of Confabists. Have we suddenly forgotten the ultimate sacrifice of the Ogoni Nine; precious lives wasted and wantonly destroyed for agitating for freedom and resource control under General Sani Abacha’s ruthless reign of terror? Some of us still fondly remember the pint-sized, pipe-smoking, world class playwright and author of immense proportion, Dr Ken Saro Wiwa, an activist who hanged and his body dumped in shallow grave while pressing for the emancipation of his native Ogoni people!
Tongues are also wagging in respect of the fat allowances being allocated to the Confabists, most of whom are already rich through past government patronages. Just heard that as much as N4million per head will be the stipend to these fellowmen and women who already have other paying jobs! Examples abound everywhere. One such is the inclusion of Professor Femi Mimiko, the Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, an Ondo State-owned tertiary institution where the Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, is the Visiting Chancellor. That university has been in the news of recent for negative reasons –from fatal armed robbery and dismantling of ATM strong-room, kidnapping of expatriates to brutal brush with ASUU executive over alleged maladministration. Is someone saying the VC does not have enough on his plate already, than to join political jobbers in Abuja? Indeed, this is real high drama.
By the way, the mother of all these penkelemesi (peculiar mess) is the Sanusi Lamido-laden scud missile against the Petroleum Ministry and, in turn, the Presidency. His demand for a foreign forensic audit of the NNPC et al, now approved by the President, is a burning gas of higher volatility than octane. As bargain, Reuben Abati, the Presidential mouthpiece, has invited the suspended CBN boss to answer the allegations of “reckless spending…” contained in his query. Call it melodrama. More so, as fuel, the locomotive that drives power and life in Nigeria, has suddenly disappeared into thin air. “Unpatriotic Oil Marketers diverted it” says the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Desani Alison-Madueke. Hmmm, sheer make-belief!
Furthermore, the news wave was recently agog with the scary rumour that the newly appointed Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Gusau, a retired army intelligence officer and former National Security Adviser, NSA, did resign from his post due to alleged acts of insubordination by some of military heads under his supervision! Pardon me? This big brass in fanciful khaki reportedly refused to take orders from “bloody civilians.” Okay. But is a seasoned war general also too civil to be accommodated, more so as he represents the Commander-in-Chief, who himself has no military background? Mega- drama indeed! Hence we heard, that a gutful Gusau said game up and threw in the towel before his renowned reputation takes a nosedive into the murky waters of Nigeria’s poli-tricking. Grapevine also has it that it took the personal intervention of Mr. President and the Senate President, David Mark, a retired army officer, to douse the boiling cauldron. The former NSA from the North West zone was apparently absent at the immediate past Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting held 12 March 2014. Meanwhile, Abati gave this absence an official excuse only known to the Presidency.
Finally, as we approach 2015, provocation and unnecessary altercations or orchestrated dramas of tragic-comedies should be eschewed. For how do we make our votes count if INEC cannot secure the N102billion it “requires” for a free and fair election; as against the N45million appropriated for the Commission by the Budget Office? Will there be elections in the troubled zones across the country? And what happens if our Confabists vote against 2015 elections? Just pondering and wondering. After all, British envoy Jack Straw, an MP of long standing, has advised that for true democracy to take roots in Nigeria; the power of the ballot and the presence of a viable opposition party must be accorded a prime of place.
Hope someone somewhere is listening, and not engaging in baseless high drama that may in future lead to, against my will, tragic-comedy of a gargantuan dimension?
The Writer, Alaba Yusuf, is an international publicist/journalist, strategist and commentator in Abuja