[First Published on Africa Research Forum www.africaresearch.org]
IT is inconceivable the indignity Nigerian people are made to suffer every day by having to listen to public utterances by some better forgotten petty tyrants like Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Yakubu Gowon. These failed leaders never tire of every gale of chance to proclaim, in their pious fraud, what is good for Nigeria’s unity. Yet if these ombudsmen hadn’t squandered, in their own time, the opportunities for national peace, and eliminated progressive voices that sought to hold them to different account, Nigeria and, indeed, Africa would not have seen the mess it is today.
By his recent statement, two-time head of state, General Obasanjo, has proffered his usual double-talk that he has ‘no apology, but explanation’, for their past deeds, which included prosecuting a needless civil war wherein they massacred two million innocents. A civilised society would have made the tyrant spend the rest of his life in exile, or silent seclusion. And that might be why a member of this cabal of failures, Shehu Shagari, is fondly regarded by many for the dignity of his quietude, if only in tacit acknowledgement of his having messed up four to five years of national opportunity for democratic greatness under his generation of co-travellers.
But not so for Obasanjo.
A man of deeply rooted clumsiness of mind and mien, correctly analysed by his erudite kinsman, Soyinka, as suffering from incurable inferiority complex, every accidental escapade of this human creature, in uniform and agbada, has seen unmitigated disaster for the Nigerian nation since the accursed sixties of Nigeria’s war with itself.
Obasanjo will be remembered for his three years as military head of state after the assassination of his commander-in-chief Murtala Mohammed in the Dimka-led coup. In those brief years, his lame-duck foreign policy witnessed reversal of the brave declarative actions of the Murtala initiative that saw the final nationalisation of British Petroleum in the fight for a free and independent Angola and all of Southern Africa. In Obasanjo’s uneventful, unremarkable, feudal-guided tenure, positive action was replaced with loud mouthed sterility. Remember the ludicrous declaration on a Thank-You visit to Ogun state in 1979 that Nigeria will become one of the ten leading nations of the world by the end of the (twentieth) century. His OFN programme, Operation Feed the Nation, which soon became kindergarten sing-song among civil servants and school children, left only the memento of his commandeering adventure at Ottah farms – a bogus acquisition that could not even feed the general himself, until regrettable intervention by meddlesome political interlopers brought his rather undistinguished portraiture back to state house in 1999 as ‘civilian’ president.
Note the quote mark on civilian, because experience has taught Nigerians the harsh truth that there can be nothing civilian in any soldier whose avowed career and temperament have been inebriated in reptillian mind-control mechanism of the armed forces, the zombie mindset which they mistake for, and keep calling, patriotism. Anyway, let it be the Nigerian collective resolution that after the current Buhari misadventure, no retired general of any Nigerian army, navy, air including the eternally corrupt police, force should be allowed the commanding heights of national leadership ever again. But this might be point for another forum.
That end of twentieth century which Obasanjo had predicted for Nigeria’s rise to world status was to culminate under his presidency in harrowing eight years of national corruption, abuse of power and sale of government assets in the name of privatisation and monetisation policy. Allied with an insane bid to alter the constitution to allow him a third tenure, Obasanjo’s twice-failed despotism offered nothing to actualise the potential of a nation, or improve the lot of the suffering majority of Nigerian people.
Lacking in true compassion, a symptom of being stoked in occult demonism, Aso Rock under the author of literary drivels, My Command, Nzeogwu, This Animal Called Man, slipped in positive international rating by Transparency International and descended in odium as one of the most corrupt governments of the world. His Financial Crimes Commision quickly morphed into witch-hunt machinery for intimidation of political opponents, while a satanic band of his preferred sycophants and toadying hangers-on fed fat on the cabalism and mediocrity of his civilian dictatorship.
After sponsoring corruption at senate, and bribing assemblymen to have his less-than-nationalist way with the constitution, Obasanjo’s second leadership of Nigeria ended ignominiously, but not until he had succeeded in turning himself and his scandalous cult followers into millionaires from state capture and fraudulent privatisation exercises.
It is the forgiving spirit of Nigerian masses that still allows our horde of aged despots to continue to strut freely around the country in the manner of Orwellian Napoleon, attending FEC meetings, and making a hogwash of pronouncements which only serve to massage their insatiable ego and further cast question marks on their real objective for national integration beyond their primordial self interests.
Next and, perhaps, the less infuriating of the hypocrisy of Nigeria’s failures, is Ibrahim Babangida whose seeming reticence nowadays might be due to his self confessed preparation towards meeting his maker. This man’s corrupt ‘You-chop-me-I-chop’ regime, like Obasanjo’s, presided over serial liquidation of Nigeria’s intelligent citizens.
The apparent official complicity in the gruesome murder of Dele Giwa signalled the end of bold investigative journalism for Nigerian media. Today’s mainstream traditional and online media are awash with quackery, mediocrity and dumb, sensationalist trivia, replete with poverty of vision and lack of studious copy-editing housemanship, squarely from that horrendous despatch of Dele Giwa by military parcel bomb under Babangida in 1987.
While true patriots like the immortal Gani Fahewinmi who cried wolf and sought justice were being hounded and jailed by his gulag, inflation from the clueless Shagari austerity measures spiralled under Babangida’s structural adjustment programme. Cronies and cohorts of queer psychological orientations ruled the nation by his proxy. Babangida was making millionaires of his debauched minions across the length and breadth of a twice-impoverished country. A pervert gimmick of compromising credible Nigerians became his game. Wole Soyinka, Tai Solarin, Humphrey Nwosu fell unsuspecting victims of one man’s bid to widen the corruptibility and ultimate reductionism of progressive elements into lap dogs and hedonist ego worshippers of the emperor.
Finally and most unforgivably came the reversion of a national trajectory, where people had united in real tolerance, unity, faith, peace and progress. Babangida’s junta annulled the only credible, free and fair elections of 1993 since the history of Nigeria for the simple unacknowledged reason it was won by a powerful, independent-minded Moshood Abiola from Nigeria’s west and not the clueless nonentity, Bashir Tofa, from Nigeria’s north.
Before then, Yakubu Gowon, a pitiful no-brainer from Nigeria’s minority north, had been nose-led by the cabalists of the feudal estate in the horrid sixties to help sink a whole country in a rancorous internecine warfare he should have averted if only he had the steel and honour to keep the Aburi accord. Occasionally these days the inane octogenarian in him finds relevance in pontificating national unity on the pages of newspapers. Both Gowon and Obasanjo had retarded their nation states to pristine bankruptcy, signed off to go get some education they never really had in the beginning, and were back few years later alleging to bag PhDs – ostensibly in mental and continental retardation.
Till date, these commissioned agents of national backwardness and ridicule in the comity of civilised existence have not had the moral imperative, let alone the introspective realisation of old age, to apologise for their roles in extinguishing the great African hope. Gowon, Obasanjo and Babangida have preferred the rotten old path of farcical dissembling of their criminal historical culpability in the parroting of Unity and Faith.
Such is why Africa is slow to heal.
Ours is a continent of chronically deranged megalomaniacs, psychopaths and kleptomaniacs masquerading as state leaders and fathers of nations. For now, their legacy is the ‘kakistocracy’ foisted upon their continent: government by the most worthless people, as evidenced by Nigeria’s history of thieving senators, assembly men and sitting governors.
And now a word for the man Atiku Abubakar.
Somehow, Atiku who was part of Obasanjo’s regime spawned in the military mentality of plunder and back-hand conversion of state resources into private pockets, is assuming the only northern candidate with plausible claim to debonaire democratic credentials.
Recently the opportunity of his emerging a credible voice from the North is shoring up with his posturing on the urgency to restructure the country along the lines of true fiscal federalism and restoration of citizen rights and initiative under a just, equitable, egalitarian society where no section of the country is kept in the marginal fringe as now obtains under an APC-led regime that has disappointed Nigerians who voted for change.
However, Atiku’s seemingly benign direction in progressive leadership of the country come 2019 requires that he turn from the hypocrisy of past and present cadres and develop stronger moral commitment and consistency of wholistic, detribalised and selfless vision that can endear him to thinkers, opinion managers, research fellows and, indeed, Nigerian youths from all sections of the country.
Unfortunately his Freudian slip regarding current hate and extremity blowouts is a drawback to his assumed profile as the bridge of understanding that many believe will heal Nigeria of its present fragmentation should he earn a presidential mandate. His press release on Vanguard media, Saturday 08/07/2017 glibly preaches how ‘important it is for Nigerians to respect leaders who played defining roles in Nigeria’s development’. This may have been in reference to the virulence with which Obasanjo’s clone position on the Biafran question has been matched by the other implacable clones like him at IPOB. But pray, what kind of defining roles did Atiku and Obasanjo play in the thwarted years of their disagreeable reign from 1999 till 2007? No positive evidence abounds in Nigeria’s roads, housing, rural development, electricity, or agriculture, of such a legacy.
A true Nigerian statesman should know that since Obasanjo remains a discredited elder, a hypocritical voice, in Nigeria’s grope for relevance, any statement which deigns to exhume some respect for the ghosts of spent and lifeless gerontocrats, conniving to insist upon their relevance in a new order for which they are innately incapable of providing Nigeria’s majority, is bound to backfire. Atiku should have noted more boldly that in denouncing the call for restructuring when overwhelmingly greater sections of the country have severally highlighted its best course for national reintegration, Obasanjo, Gowon and past-present tyrannosaurs, have proven to be the problem and not the solution to the endangered children of modern Nigeria.
All these are why the ghosts and memories of Nigeria’s demons, especially Obasanjo’s, Babangida’s, Abacha’s, Gowon’s, Abdulsalami’s, these hypocrites of Nigerian unity who cannibalised our nation under the watch of whole generations, must remain so sordid, so contemptible, so morally reprehensible to our collective sensitivities, as to be completely ostracised and finally exorcised, by every means necessary, from our private and public domain.
Where it is inevitable to engage our discourse on these vile group of humans who incarnated upon our nation space, no self-respecting writer, journalist, lawyer, historian, educationist and academic should fail to remind the readers, listeners, students and successive younger generations the amoral legacies of these reprieved murderers, literally and figuratively, these desecrators of our purer minds and general estate. Only when the ugly facts of their history are established upon the collective conscience can we, the people of Nigeria, begin to breathe some new air of enlightenment. Only then can we rise, therefore, to the moment of justice, enthroning lasting progressive change with the coming new order that we have vowed to bring to existence through a restructured Nigerian federation.
Chin Ce writes from Enugu, South East Nigeria.