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May 21, 2018

Sycophancy as the politician’s albatross

Nigeria on the edge of a precipice
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INTRODUCTION
The political drums are officially rolled out with the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the Presidential post in 2019. Buhari won the Presidential race in 2015 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The APC was dexterously put together by the sheer ingenuity of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that boasted as having no rival in the continent of Africa further proclaimed that it would rule Nigeria for 60 years. The APC pulled the carpet from under its feet and it went crashing after 16 years of near inglorious reign.

The APC won the heart of most Nigerians by presenting very juicy remedies to the electorate most of which were couched under security, economy, corruption and infrastructure. But for three years now, the APC has done more of blaming former President Goodluck Jonathan than governing to redeem its promises to Nigerians.

 

MR. INTEGRITY
President Muhammadu Buhari image-makers presented him as the very personification of Integrity. His debut as military head of state in his heydays might have earned him that appellation. Questions are being asked now whether it was Buhari or Idiagbo, his second-in-command, who tried to put Nigerians in a straight-jacket. The War Against Indiscipline, WAI, was the mantra of that dictatorial regime. Nigerians were really being strengthened out and they were imbibing the queueing culture.

Now let us take a hard look at President Muhammadu Buhari: It took Buhari upwards of six months to name his cabinet after he was sworn-in as the President in a democracy. Many in the media saw that development as very unhealthy and they were outraged. When he decided to name members of his cabinet, he called up his kith and kin whom he placed in charge of prime strategic positions in the country in utter disregard for and, in fact, violation of the Constitution he swore on oath to uphold. Shockingly, Professor Pat Okechukwu Utomi stoutly rose to Buhari’s defence by saying that it did not matter if Buhari composed his entire government with people from one village! Surely, sycophancy can stem from one’s naïveté or from sheer quest for self-aggrandisement. And naïveté is a trait of character which has nothing to do with one’s educational prowess or position in society.

 

Almost all top leaders in Nigeria from Nigeria’s inception till date who hail from the South-East are naïve. Naming will foist digression on this article.
How many in the elite club questioned Buhari’s quaint arithmetical formula of 97%/5%, which he declared in Washington D.C. when he made his first post-victory trip to America? He said that he would favour those areas that voted 97% of his votes with our common wealth and 5% to areas that gave him little votes. An Igbo proverb says that if a child cuts the upper tooth first and it is left, it will then go ahead to cut more!

One of the major pledges of Buhari was to fight corruption. He declared that his assets were chiefly cattle, one or two houses and some empty plots. But who funded his presidential campaigns that worth billions of Naira? They were political leaders who don the list of looters of our treasury. In law, the person who receives or buys a stolen good earns a harsher sentence than the thief. Do you now see why this mouthed war on corruption will not be won by Buhari? But his sycophants still say that he is the redeemer; and sure he is?

Mr. Integrity was chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the Abacha administration; chairman of the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) when it was created in 1977; a Minister of Petroleum when $2.8 billion was missing from the Accounts of the NNPC in Midland Bank in the United Kingdom. Please note that $2.8 billion at that time is worth some N1 trillion today. And Mr. Integrity even once said that Abacha never stole. Yet his sycophants applaud him.

Buhari promised, and many Nigerians believed him, that he would give Boko Haram a death-blow as President. Now, there are two armed terrorist groups in Nigeria: the Boko Haram Islamist insurgents in the North-East. And the armed militia masquerading as Fulani herdsmen. In spite of the glaring fact that these faceless Janjaweed-like groups are rated as among the most murderous in the world, by their record of killing, maiming, occupying farmlands, raping, kidnapping, robbing and occupying communities all over the Middle-Belt and some Southern States, Buhari turns a blind eye on and a deaf ear to their ignoble exploits. But one of his sycophants, the Minister of Defence Brig-General Mansur Dan Ali (rtd) on Thursday, January 25, blamed the passage of anti-open grazing law in some states for the killings by herdsmen. Says the Minister in a chat with journalists with Buhari present: “whatever crisis that happened at any time, there has to be remote and immediate causes. Since independence, we know there used to be a route whereby these cattle rearers use….If those routes are blocked, what happens? These are the remote causes. But what are the immediate

causes? It is the grazing law. These people are Nigerians, we must learn to live together with each other, that is basic. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave, finish!”

But earlier on, on January 15, 2018, President Buhari had admonished Benue State leaders who ran to him for comfort in the wake of the bloodbath in the State orchestrated by herdsmen to restrain their people (the victims) by accommodating fellow countrymen (the villains) “in the name of God”. “Your Excellency, the governor, and the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people.” I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen”. Then, another sycophant, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who in January described the Benue killings as “a communal clash”, on Friday, February 2,. 2018, told the senators that anti-open grazing law was the reason for the killings. Please remember that President Buhari had ordered the IGP to relocate to Benue to stop the bloodletting. The IGP ignored him and later the President said that he did not know that his order was not carried out. And the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibahim Idris, is still on his seat, grinning from ear to ear. And Buhari’s sycophants want him back in 2019.

Buhari scorned the call for presidential debate. He rather flew into London. That was it! On February 5, 2016, President Buhari told the editors of the “Telegraph”, a British tabloid that Nigerians’ criminal reputation has made them unwelcome in Britain and other Western countries. He continued: “Some Nigerians claim that life is too difficult back home, but they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking”. Concluding, he said: “I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame”.

Then the former British Prime Minister, David Cameroon, latched on that four months later to call Nigeria a “fantastically corrupt” country at the Buckingham Palace in the presence of the Queen. Said he,” We’ve leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain…Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world”.

And when Dominic Wagborn, the Diplomatic Editor of Sky News, asked Buhari a couple of days later if he agreed with Cameroon’s characterization, he answered yes. Well Buhari’s sycophants say that he should go for another term to enable him continue to improve the economy of Nigeria, an economy he said would rank with the US’s during his campaign by having the Naira at par with the Dollar. If you are an investor would you like to come to Nigeria where its President tells the world negative things about his country, a country, according to Buhari, whose youths are lazy!

 

MR. INTEGRITY OR MR. BLAME GAME?
Earlier on, we noted that rather than perform, Buhari’s administration indulges in blaming former President Goodluck Jonathan for all the ills plaguing Nigeria. He has recently turned on late Muammar Gaddafi who was killed in October 2011. On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in London, President Buhari said that the ongoing carnage in Nigeria was the handiwork of Gaddafi. He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who visited him at the Nigerian House that the arms Gaddafi provided his supporters found their way into Nigeria where they are now being used to slaughter innocent Nigerians. “The problem is even older than us”, he continued, “It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region. “These men were trained and armed by Muammar Gadhafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram. Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons”. But his sycophants still say that he is the best leader to solve the security situation in Nigeria.

Goaded on by his sycophants, President Buhari declared that the unarmed Biafra agitators were terrorists and should be “treated like Boko Haram”. He unleashed Operation Python Dance in the South-East by which video recordings displayed the dehumanizing of scores of unarmed youngmen. They were stripped naked, dumped into puddles of mud, forced to drink muddy water and beaten like animals. Some of the prostrate bodies laid quite still, meaning, as the video insinuated, that they could be dead. The individual recording the video surreptitiously, at the risk of his life, was commentating about the unfolding barbarism and macabre scene in English and Igbo. There is a call for investigation by the International Court, ICC, and it will not be surprising if mass graves are discovered to add to the 1,967 bodies earlier on discovered in Aba, as per the Amnesty International’s report which was released in June, 2017.

Nnamdi Kanu and other pro-Biafra groups had never targeted non-indigenes or Northerners. They refrained from doing that, even when Arewa Youths issued “quit notice” to Igbo people living in the North and released hate songs calling for genocide against them.

Yet the so-called Fulani herdsmen, a terrorist gang rated as the fourth deadliest in the world by the Global Terrorist Index, GTI, roam and are given taciturn treatment by President Buhari, egged on by his sycophants.

Just recently, President Buhari went to Ghana to offer “help” to Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Ado to fight “endemic corruption” in Ghana. Perhaps neither President Buhari nor his sycophants read the Transparency International’s report that ranked Nigeria 148th and Ghana 81st in global corruption perception. Trust Ghanaians. Buhari was told in his face that Ghana did not have snakes and monkeys that swallow cash!

THE REBUKE OF BUHARI AND THE MILITARY
At the maiden convocation and 10th anniversary of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, on Saturday, March 24, 2018, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), spoke his mind: “I AM not a politician and politics is one profession I don’t want to belong to because if I am a politician, I will not say what I am going to say to you now”. “When I arrived in this arena, I saw rich cultural display and I was amazed at the rich cultural heritage of our people. Taraba is a mini Nigeria with divers ethnic groups living together peacefully, but the peace in this State is under assault. There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the State and of course, some rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up. Our Armed Forces are not neutral. They collude with the bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The Armed Forces guide their movements; they cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one. This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other rural states of Nigeria otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your State. Defend yourselves because you have no other place to go. God bless our country.”

The speech is simple, straightforward, impactful, and serves as enough warning to all and sundry. We can add: Those who have ears, let them hear!
Who is Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma? We do not have space to answer that provocative question, but suffice it to say sententiously the following: Danjuma was a former Chief of Army Staff from July 1975 and 1979 under the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo and Defence Minister.

 

As a young military officer, he was a protagonist in the cold-blooded murder of his Supreme Commander, Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi Ironsi and the Military Governor of the defunct Western Region, Col. Adekunle Fajuyi on that fateful night of July 29, 1966.

 

Danjuma is one of those starry-eyed young men who enlisted in the military, short themselves to power and amassed an amazing immeasurable wealth, with which they have completely dominated Nigeria ever since. Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida are among that crop of military men. Both have warned Buhari not to contest as President in 2019.

 

Nobel Laureate and Professor Wole Soyinka said that herdsmen have declared war on Nigeria. He said that Nigerians have tolerated destruction by herdsmen for too long.

Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku in expressing his fears about the country said that Nigeria was adrift, only restructuring could save it. But the fiery spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum and former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahamadu Bello University, Professor Ango Abdullahi declared that the North would resist restructuring.

Constitutional Lawyer and elder statesman Professor Ben Nwabueze recently said that 2019 would make or mar Nigeria.

The New York Times reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement that he would run for a second term is instructive: “Nigeria’s 75 year-old president, who spent four months out of the country while getting medical treatment, says he will run for a second term”.

On several occasions as a presidential aspirant, Buhari had given undertakings to spend only one term in office. In February 2014, he granted an interview to Daily Trust, saying that because of his old age, he would only do one term. Even Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, her Minister of Women Affairs, in September 2017, justified her pledge to join her political mentor, Alhaji Atiku in pursuit of his presidential ambition on the ground that Buhari had promised to do only one term. But Mr. Integrity said that he decided to run again in response to a “clamour by Nigerians” [his sycophants].

TWO CHIEF SYCOPHANTS IN THE SOUTH-EAST
Governor Rochas Okorocha and former Governor Orji Uzoh Kalu are on a vigorous campaign programme to ensure that Buhari runs for a second term as president of Nigeria.

Okorocha is on the last lap of his eight-year term; Kalu was once Governor of Abia State. On May 29, 2011, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was sworn-in as the Governor of Imo State. The superciliousness, the reckless impunity and foul-mouthedness of Governor Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, paved the way for Okorocha to become Governor. The disenchantment of the people reached a fever pitch. The people were saying that instead of having Ohakim as Governor for the second time, they would rather have anybody even if he was a goat.

The Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, through her Justice and Peace Commission/Caritas, JDPC, embarked as usual, among other things, on voter education and monitoring elections to ensure sanity and credibility of the electoral process. JDPC organized a forum for aspirants to rub minds with the people through debate, question-and-answer session. That platform helped Rochas feel the pulse of the people, predict the outcome of the would-be election, and gave a fillip to his political ambition. He won. Archbishop Obinna was even sometime bashed by some people who maintained that he installed Rochas Okorocha as Governor of Imo State. Any aspirant who was not running under the platform of the PDP, was said to be in the opposition. So was Rochas. If the Catholic Church, through her ministers, points out any obvious ill of the governing party, those in opposition applaud and praise the Church for fiercely upholding the truth. But if the opposition eventually gains power and falls short of expectations, it barks at the Church, when she asks for governance for the common good. The Church would be portrayed as an enemy and would be told to steer clear of politics. That’s the paradox of our times.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha once told TELL magazine that “my vision drives me crazy”. Sometime in November 2016, he became more specific by saying that his love for Imo State kept him from sleeping: “I find it difficult to sleep now because I want to change the entire face of Imo”.
To every body living in Imo State, Okorocha’s craze is pungently palpable. Indeed, a bull in a China shop is evident in Okorocha’s policies. From stirring the hornet’s nest when he embarked on the deification of the disgraced, morally bankrupt, South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma by which Okorocha not only erected a life-size bronze statue that allegedly cost N520 million, but also named a street after him, to the unparalleled urban renewal scheme which defies the principles, practice and ethics of urban planning and renewal, and then to Okorocha’s avowed plan in the pipeline to insist on his son-in-law succeeding him as the Governor Imo State, thereby egregiously, uncharitably and surreptitiously grabbing a third term, no one should be in doubt as to the degree of his depravity or downright schizophrenia. Senile dementia can trigger early in anybody due to various factors which are not the subject of this article. However, people with crazy ideas neither consult nor do they listen to ideas. They act on their whims and caprices. They are impulsive. They have aversion for due process and record-keeping. An Oxford-trained, social anthropologist and emeritus professor brother of mine told me that he stood firmly by Okorocha during his campaign to be governor because his vision and mission on education typified in his Foundation impressed him.

Okorocha’s words for honouring Zuma speak volumes: “Today, we have decided to honour you for your love for education, though you were deprived in your early days in life but you are working to make sure that every poor child went to school. Your love for education to us is the connection between you and government and the people of Imo State.” Zuma came to Imo to sign a memorandum of understanding between his personal foundation, Zuma Foundation, and Rochas Okorocha Foundation. This is a manifest case of two men who happen to occupy government positions in their respective countries and who have come together to promote their private businesses with public funds. South Africa is light years ahead of Nigeria hence Zuma has to be disgraced out of office and he is facing criminal charges. The South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that 783 counts of corruption involving a multibillion-dollar arms deal be reinstated against Zuma. Nigerian political leaders enjoy absolute immunity from impunity. Who says that this country will survive unless it is Rawlingsized?

Okorocha’s urban renewal scheme is a ploy, a subterfuge, for land-grabbing. Many communities in Imo State are wailing. What is going on in Owerri is more of urban destruction than renewal. It is an affront to all those who have been privileged to visit cities of various countries of the world. And Okorocha wants to bequeath his “craze” to his son-in-law so that the craze will continue ad infinitum? Rural roads are abandoned and some have just red mud or laterite spread on them, then the government media would inform that the roads are constructed.
Orji Uzoh Kalu’s era as governor of Abia State carried with it the sound and fury of abracadabra, mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus. There were lots of vacuity typified in his traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria, erecting mosques here, proclaiming to be a Moslem there and denying same at his convenience. His mother was said to be the actual person at the helm of affairs when he was governor. Kalu has earned the list of looters of Nigerian economy and he is at his best rehearsing his antics to placate the powers that be so as to dull the edge of cases against him.

CONCLUSION
The difference between this season and war-time is that people are not scampering for shelter from mortar and bombs. But they are scurrying and hustling as the fierce-looking taskforce team brutally descend on them, particularly traders whose wares are overturned, smashed, snatched, trampled and some abandoned. The alternative sites they are forced to relocate are devoid of basic infrastructures, conveniences notwithstanding. Some of the sites are incommodious, away from the hub of habitation so much so that to buy some of the needs at home one may be constrained to spend more on transportation than on the needed articles. The ill-planned areas are breathing slums worse than the ones Okorocha is said to be clearing to make the city beautiful and attractive to tourists so that they may be encouraged to invest in Imo? The intra-city roads have potholes no sooner than work is said to be completed on them. The drains are shallow. The Otamiri and Nwaorie rivers, providentially, are natural drainages that can easily serve the city if experts are employed to construct standard drainages that would collect both storm and foul water and channel them to desired sites for possible treatment before they are emptied into the rivers. The artificial lake that the city suddenly turns to after a down pour will be a thing of the past since the flood will be channeled to the rivers through the drainages.

Communities are not trooping out of their natural habitations because of proximity of war zones to those areas. But they have their hearts in their mouths, breathless and constantly on the alert for fear of their farmlands being overrun by cows and Fulani herdsmen with sophisticated weapons or government and its agents moving in to grab their lands. Bombs and mortars are not shattering houses and other structures. But landlords and tenants who own shops do not know when heavy equipment, manned by the police and soldiers, would demolish their structures and wipe away their means of livelihood. The situation is so overwhelming that it is now muted that invocations like “from the fury of Okorocha’s government, good Lord deliver us” and “from his malice and anti-people policies, good Lord deliver us”, should form part of the Litany.

 

Perhaps, the photographic diction or symbolism of Charles Dickens will capture the mood of this period for it is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity, it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair; we have everything before us, we have nothing before us, we are all going direct to heaven, we are all going direct the other way – in short, this period has some of the noisiest authorities in the land that are insistent on being heard, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

 

Patrick Chukwukere
08187160379; 08033775551

 


 

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