Jonathan's Ministerial Blues

THISDAY Newspaper

I’m now finally convinced that there is a curse on Nigeria. And all men and women of good conscience should henceforth direct their prayer points at the many hopeless warlords who litter the political landscape of Nigeria. Holy Ghost fire should descend urgently on those who would never work for the badly-needed progress of Nigeria. Muslim and Christians, and possibly animists, alike should form an alliance of prayer-warriors so that God can exorcise the genies that have tirelessly militated against the general wellbeing of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Please, don’t treat this as a joke. Our situation is that desperate. It is now very obvious that this brood of vipers will never change their ways. It is cocksure that these septuagenarians and octogenarians are determined to kill Nigeria totally before they head to their graves. Can someone please tell me what these super Nigerians want from us again? These are people who have been in the corridors of power for about 50 years. They were sent to school at public expense. They were trained abroad with our money. They rose sporadically through the ranks unlike their contemporaries in other climes.

They forced themselves on us many times, claiming messianic mission. They bastardised our psyche and wasted our resources with little or no resistance from us. Before our very eyes, a nation of surplus became a nation of minus. In a country with the biggest black population on earth, we have continued to ignominiously recycle a few men and women from a filthy database of less than 1,000 cronies, dynasties, cult members, and housekeepers, most of who come to power with less than impressive credentials.

Is it not tragic that each time we thought we have come close to a resolution of our political gridlock, something always cropped up to set us back? The story of Nigeria is the sad tale of a motherless baby who was sent to live in the home of a witch. Sooner or later, the baby would go the way of the mother. For too long, Nigeria has been kept under the firm grip of political vampires whose only desire in life is to keep us all in bondage. They care not about what becomes of their own children, and many generations to come, after they would have completed their sinful mission on earth. Nigerians must wake up from this narcoleptic state and confront the merciless usurpers and interlopers. These were the same people who connived in 1993 and encouraged General Ibrahim Babangida to shoot down our best presidential election ever without any fear of God or retribution. Why would those who shout patriotism on the rooftops hate their country so much, and denigrate her at every opportunity?

Nigeria’s intractable political crisis is reminiscent of Abiku’s “going and coming these several seasons,” as John Pepper Clarke would have described it. All the hopes we placed on Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to challenge the status quo, and halt our senseless drift to anarchy, seem to be evaporating slowly but surely. I received the first ominous sign last Sunday night at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos as we prepared to board a flight to Paris. I had come across a very influential member of the ruling party, and after exchanging pleasantries, we drifted to the issue of ministerial appointments. The thought of Jonathan attempting to radicalise governance in Nigeria did not resonate with the obviously conservative party Lord who was flying to a different destination. “We have told him to perish the idea. Nigeria operates a partisan system, and this system produced Jonathan himself. He can’t afford to tamper with it,” he said with a burning conviction.

For a split second, I thought I was suddenly on another Planet, and was confused as to what to make of this postulation. It was difficult to imagine that at this time and age, the overwhelming views of Nigerians did not count in the eyes and minds of members of this privileged class. Most of those visitors to Dr Jonathan’s office and home in the last couple of weeks were said to have fed him with bile instead of sucrose. Fear has been at the centre of their strategy. Nigeria is a cake that must always be shared by a few people who have formed themselves into groupies. The rest of us can go to hell and remain there. The sordid theory is that nothing will happen. Nigerians are too stupid and docile to do anything. They are both right and wrong as we shall discover one day.

I told our man that if I were Dr Jonathan, I will damn the consequence and let the heavens fall. Why would I want to repeat the same things that have repeatedly brought catastrophic results to our land? I will allow the people of Nigeria their few months of glory for a change. It would form my compensation to those who stood by their country when others stood by their long throats. I will line up those faces that the hawks usually hate to see, and make them ministers and special advisers. I will march on the streets and kick the bums of those too lazy to work at my pace. I will demonstrate clearly that governance is no rocket science. I will spend the next twelve months working assiduously on fixing a few of our myriads of challenges as a nation.

The world will hear my name and stand at attention. And my name would be perfectly etched on the golden side of history. The country is not a personal property of anybody. I will call their bluff and savour the pleasure of it. They will come like beggars and shall be so treated. I will shred all the useless CVs they brought to me. I will ask if other Nigerians have no right to serve their country. I will show how unimportant they are in the new scheme of things. If they were such responsible adults, Nigeria would not be in a state of coma today. They must allow the man holding the life-support some fresh air, because the task at hand is not a joke. It cannot be business as usual.

How can one man be allowed to determine the fate of an entire state? The choices we have seen from some states could only have come from people suffering from acute state of dementia. It is an insult on the people of those states, and a big shame on the warped judgment of the godfathers. The true identities of members of the selection teams must be leaked for posterity. Even if Dr Jonathan needed to satisfy the insatiable demands of the garrison commanders, he should have insisted on certain criteria to be met, like age, mental alertness, integrity and reputation, education, achievement in chosen career, acclaim to fame, international exposure, personal development, business acumen, worldview, charisma and general appearance.

Nigeria needs its best outstanding stars available at home and abroad at this critical moment because we are far from where we should be. If we have to revert to the carcass of our past the way we do always, it means we are making a violent revolution inevitable. Nigerians have reached the very limit of endurance tests. They should not be made to snap. Those who think Nigerians can be trampled upon with reckless abandon should go back to the history books. Once upon a time, there was slave trade. There was racial prejudice of the worst kind in the United States of America.

The Berlin Wall divided Germany along the lines of atrocious hatred. South Africa suffered the worst form of apartheid known to mankind. The Irish Republic engaged in a self-immolating war of attrition. Hitler attempted to rule the world. The holocaust sought to wipe out the Jews from the surface of the earth. So many other things touched the soul of our universe. But nothing lasts forever. Our collective madness must end someday, one way or the other, but perhaps with cataclysmic dimensions.

Between Tinubu and Fashola

If you ask Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu if he’s fighting his godson, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola(SAN), the answer will definitely be a capital NO. And if you ask the godson if there is a major rift between him and his godfather, he would certainly blame the “rumour” on some imaginary enemies. But if the truth must be told, Asiwaju Tinubu and his warmongers are about to tear their own man, the Governor of Lagos State into shreds in the market place. I have met people who are close to both camps who have boasted that the Lagos State Governor would not be impeached but he would be taught a lesson in “how not to bite a finger that feeds you.” The idea is to pummel him so much that his dream of a second term in office will become a mirage. Except God intervenes and enters their hearts, they will try everything possible to achieve their mission.

I have no doubts in my mind that they have the capabilities to destroy their own candidate. My theory is very simple, the same white man who made the pencil made the eraser. If a man can make anything, then it is possible for him to destroy it. But why would any man attempt to destroy his own creation? What offence would warrant the determination of a father to ruin his own child? The answer eludes me. The on-going battle for the soul of Alausa Government House in Lagos is of tragic proportions. I’m worried because of the danger the Alausa battle portends for the rest of Nigeria. Going for the jugular of Lagos is like cutting the throat of Nigeria.

We’ve witnessed such wars of big egos in the West before. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola fought themselves to their graves. Why do old friends turn against themselves to become such rabid foes? Why is it so difficult for brothers and their wives to enter their bedrooms and settle their differences away from the gaze of man but in the presence of God?

Depending on whom you ask, Governor Fashola is seen as a traitor and ingrate on the other side of the fence. He had no chance of ever being a governor until his godfather forced him on the Action Congress, the tale-bearers would claim. Tinubu single-handedly funded the campaign and succeeded in fighting PDP to a standstill.

The one common denominator that rings most stridently from Fashola’s accusers is that he has not paid Tinubu enough returns on his huge investments. They hate him for what they see as ivory tower arrogance. He’s alleged to be selfish and inaccessible. His supposed disdain for politicians seems to enrage the group to no end. Some of the allegations are dripping with venom. Fashola’s popularity as an achiever makes them even angrier. In their view, everything was conceptualised at the level of Tinubu’s ingenuity. They’ve gone to great lengths and incredible extent to lampoon Fashola’s glory as an over-bloated creation of paid spin-doctors.

On the other hand, there are those who would argue that Tinubu as a benefactor should not seek to turn Fashola into his slave or robot. Whatever money Tinubu claimed to have spent came from the coffers of Lagos where he made huge profits from a robust tax collection. Why is Tinubu always seen at most functions with Fashola, as if the agreement was that the Governor Emeritus would continue to rule Lagos by proxy? Why can’t Tinubu leave the Governor alone to become his own man and carry his own cross? The war drums are sounding everywhere.

I have been a great fan and disciple of Tinubu since our days in exile. I have seen him go through some ups and downs of life. He’s an exceptionally generous and energetic leader. He’s also a very consummate politician who understands the uses of power. I will call him a gambler of sorts because at the time he brought out Fashola, the move turned out to be a masterstroke. No matter Fashola’s mistakes today, I join well-meaning stakeholders in appealing to Tinubu to embrace the hardworking Governor warts and all. He should be proud that he did not bequeath a liability on Lagos.

Even members of the ruling party have been praising the promising moves of Fashola in Lagos. Tinubu should listen to the war drums, but he must never dance to it. War never gives birth to a beautiful child. It won’t be any big news if Tinubu defeats Fashola. But it would be a bigger headline if the unthinkable happens, and Fashola pulls an upset. As Thomas Paine explained in his essay on miracles, it would have been a bigger miracle if Jonah had swallowed the whale.

Such is politics. It is like a game of football. Anything can happen in 90 minutes. And the devil you know is always better than the ones pretending to be your friends today. I trust Tinubu to know better. A father must never use his hands to kill his own son. My advice is out of profound love for both great men.


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