“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under-foot and turn and tear you to pieces.”
This being the third in the ‘A Nation in Heat’ series of Nigerian ‘Liberation’ essays, it was originally intended that it would be the capstone piece. But then this writer had not bargained with what is universally known as the ‘Nigerian factor,’ in which uncertainty and mayhem are deliberately injected into a smoothly running system in order to yield otherwise unattainable outcomes.
And so here we are, the Nigerian Presidential elections previously scheduled for February 14, 2015 has been shifted to March 28, 2015 by the conspiratorial instigation of the Jonathan Presidency because according to the BBC, “troops will not be available to help patrol the ballots because they would be fighting Boko Haram militants in the North East.”
If you believe this, then you would believe anything of course. The same Nigerian Army that had hitherto been reduced into a partisan electoral bodyguard force by the Jonathan Presidency has suddenly found its mettle, resolve and prowess and is now ‘raring’ to fearlessly engage terrorists in the forthcoming couple of weeks.
It is possible that its new found courage is because it has been reinforced by more serious minded Chadian, Cameroonian and Nigerien armies in the Joint Strike Force against Boko Haram. Sensing that victory is near at last, the military wants to be well poised on the backs of the Chadians, Cameroonians and Nigeriens to claim the victory for their patron, President Jonathan.
What cannot be ruled out in addition, as not a few observers have noted, is that sensing an electoral trouncing in the works, President Jonathan and his political party need more time to dissipate the fervor and enthusiasm of the opposition supporters not to talk of the meager funds available to the leading opposition party.
They also need more time to fine-tune and re-jig their electoral rigging strategies, retrieve from safe haven locations, captive State funds, which were hijacked from the national treasury for these types of contingencies. Finally they need more time to dangle these captive funds at greedy electoral bureaucrats, greedy judges and greedy Christian pastors who like prostitutes are always available to render immoral partisan services at a hefty fee to desperate patrons.
Tattered National Image
For this writer, the price to be paid is one or more additional pieces in the ‘A Nation in Heat’ series of essays. Spare a thought for foreign electoral observers some of who are already in the country and others who had concluded plans to jet into the country this week in order to monitor the Nigerian elections. Those plans are now in tatters, because of the waning electoral fortunes of one man who cannot afford to fail. What kind of impression will they have of Nigeria?
Spare a thought for some Nigerians who had relocated their families to their hometowns or sent them abroad in order to keep them away from harm’s way in case there is a violent backlash after the elections. They now have to incur the extra costs and risks of bringing their families back to their stations for a month and sending them away again in five weeks’ time. Their projections are now in shreds because of the fate of one man at the top who cannot afford to lose an election.
Spare a thought for investors who have important investment decisions to make and were only awaiting the outcome of the elections to ascertain if the coast is clear to proceed or not. They now have to wait for another six or seven weeks to make investment decisions. That is if they have not already decided to withhold their investments on the grounds that an uncertain business climate is not a good environment for profitable investment. Just because of one man who cannot fail.
One of the most essential indices of a developed country or a country that is serious about development is the enthronement of certainty and predictability in all aspects of national life. But then that is asking too much from Nigeria. Nigeria has turned uncertainty into an art form. With the flimsiest excuse, uncertainty is introduced into the system as State Policy without giving a damn about the consequences so long as selfish aims may be attained therefrom. It is therefore with reason that Nigeria is the butt of global jokes as an archetypal unserious nation. Not surprisingly, Nigeria is equally a nation in steep decline.
Free-fall into Mediocrity
Imagine for a moment that there is a religion inspired terrorist insurrection in Florida and Texas in the USA. Imagine that the United States government having tried for six years to contain the insurrection, is nowhere nearer attaining its objectives today than six years earlier. Imagine that the situation has become so critical that neighboring countries like Cuba and Mexico are forced to intervene in order to bail out the clearly incapacitated US military.
Further imagine that it is an election year in which the sitting American President (Obama) and his main opponent (Romney) had campaigned and toured 36 states at a frenetic pace over a space of about 1 month. Then imagine that just a week to the US Presidential elections, the same US military comes forth to say that they cannot guarantee the security of the electoral process as their attention would be focused on Florida and Texas in conjunction with their Cuban and Mexican counterparts! What a joke! But that is the sorry and shameful situation the Nigerian military and Nigeria itself has been reduced to today.
If they were so serious about their limitations, why did they not come out openly to express their observations in December 2014, before the Nigerian President abandoned almost all State duties for 1 month to hit the campaign trail? Did they have to wait until they apprised the relative sizes of the turnouts at the President’s and his main Challenger’s campaign rallies, discovered that the Challenger was pulling at least an equal or in most cases larger support than the incumbent, before they realized that they cannot guarantee the security of the electoral process?
What if it was the other way round? Would they have had the temerity to dampen the fortunes of their Commander – in – Chief if he was poised to win the elections?
When did the Nigerian military start caring so strongly about the terrorist action in the North East? If they were so serious about their responsibilities in the North East why did the Chadian Forces seize the initiative and enter Nigerian territory to attempt to recapture Gambaru in Nigeria from Boko Haram forces with the Nigerian Defense Ministry spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade reduced to saying that "the Chadians are...working in concert with the overall plan for an all round move against the terrorists as agreed," (Reuters, Feb. 3, 2015).
What a supreme irony it is that the Chadians who were once chased out of the Lake Chad area about 30 years ago by no other than General Muhammadu Buhari the leading opposition Presidential candidate, now carry the battle against Boko Haram straight into Nigeria and the Nigerian Army is forced to give public relations explanations about having granted prior approvals to them for the incursion. If it is not a slide into mediocrity for a nation of 170 million people to be bailed out by a nation of 10 million or so people then what else does mediocrity mean?
In any case since when did electoral duties become part of the Nigerian military’s brief? What has happened to the regular Police Force and Mobile Police Force? Is this misuse of the military to secure electoral victories for the ruling party not one of the prime reasons why the Nigerian army is faring so poorly in the battle against Boko Haram? Is this not the reason why the Nigerian military can come out so boldly to say that it cannot guarantee ‘security’ for the elections? Since when did securing elections become part of the military’s brief?
Is it not in effect publicly conceding that given the size of the popular support mobilized for the opposition, it is not in a position today to guarantee electoral victory for its Chief Patron as usual? What does the Nigerian Army have to say about the alleged involvement of its personnel in the rigging of the recent elections in Ekiti State with allegedly professionally authenticated voice recordings to match now in the public domain?
Is the partisanship of the Nigerian Army not buttressed by its recent declaration that it does not have the Secondary School Leaving Certificate of its former Commander-in-Chief General Muhammadu Buhari the leading opposition candidate after the same Army spokesman said that he had once seen it in his file? Was the Army spokesman in the Army in the early sixties when General Buhari enlisted in the Armed Forces as to know whether it was the practice then for enlistees to submit the original of their certificates on enlistment?
Has General Muhammadu Buhari not been vindicated by General Alani Akinrinnade, a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Chief of Defence Staff when he remarked in a recent interview: “He did (General Muhammadu Buhari did submit his original certificates to the Army on enlistment). As I speak to you, I don’t know where my original certificate is because we gave the original to the Military Board. They took it from us when we applied to join the Army. You give the original copy of credential to the board. They take it and keep it in your file, that’s what happened. How many years ago? 50 years. And Nigeria with our (poor) record-keeping and filing things into an archive - if we have an archive at all; an archive inhabited by rats and cockroaches. I think it’s an insult. I take it as a personal insult.” (The Punch Newspaper, February 8, 2015).
Who must Nigerians believe about the practice in the Armed Forces 50 years ago? Two highly respected and regarded Generals (Buhari and Akinrinnade) who retired about 30 years ago when the Nigerian Army was feared everywhere on the African continent or a currently serving Army Spokesman who within a space of two or three weeks contradicted himself publicly? Was the same Army spokesman after his most suspicious and awful public recant not immediately rewarded by a ‘routine’ transfer to another juicier(?) post?
Is it not a sign of the decadence in the Nigerian Army since buttressed by its incompetence and impotence on the battle field that it has allowed itself to be misused by desperate corrupt politicians in the ongoing conspiracy to drag General Muhammadu Buhari, the leading opposition candidate and a man of reputedly very high integrity as acclaimed by friends and foes alike, down from his high horse of moral integrity to their own level of despicability?
Had the Nigerian military searched for the missing Chibok girls with the same zeal and enthusiasm they searched Muhammadu Buhari’s personal files in the Military Archives for his original certificates, would they not have secured the freedom of those girls from terrorist captivity by now?
Now wait a minute. How can the Nigerian Armed Forces who have so far been unable to free themselves and the institution they represent from the captivity of corrupt, desperate politicians, be in a position to free anyone else from the hands of terrorists? Indeed, who is in greater need of a rescue mission? Is it Nigerians from the clutches of terrorists or the Nigerian Armed Forces from the hands of corrupt politicians?
What greater evidence is there of the military’s captivity under corrupt politicians than their role in thwarting the Presidential elections scheduled for February 14th, 2015? Has this ‘salvific’ feat not since been publicly acclaimed by their masters and captors - the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)? Democratic indeed!!!
Transformation or Transmutation?
The evidently outgoing Jonathan Administration which refuses to leave without creating an ugly scene and an undignified global spectacle, prides itself in its so-called Transformation Agenda. However critical examination of the national political scene reveals that almost all the ingredients for a civilian dictatorship are in place. Consider this mix:-
- Subservient, pliant and openly partisan Security Forces who are now regime protectors rather than constitution defenders. Commentary:- For proof refer back to the preceding paragraphs.
- Heavily compromised legislators. Commentary:- They are self-compromised by their own greed.
- A rabid propaganda outfit dedicated to the idolization of the “Great Once-Shoeless Leader.” Commentary:- this is still a work-in-progress but we are getting there by the day as all the relevant propaganda personnel are now in place.
- Compromised Church Leaders. Commentary:- Where the presidential story-line in the 2011 cycle of elections which the gullible masses bought into was “I was once shoeless,” the current presidential storyline targeted at Pentecostal Christians is “Lookout, I am so humble that I may be found kneeling down at the nearest Pentecostal Church revival crusade next to you.” A few Pentecostal Church leaders are still honest. But the rest?
- Compromised Judiciary and Judiciary workers. Commentary:- There are still a few honest, God-fearing judges, but their numbers are dwindling rapidly by the day. As for Judiciary workers, it was recently in the news that the General Secretary of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Mr Isaiah Adetola may be on the run for his life having alleged that JUSUN was heavily bribed by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation to go on strike in order to frustrate the Supreme Court from pronouncing on the eligibility of Mr. President to run in the 2015 elections. He said the same Attorney-General later turned around to offer another counter bribe to JUSUN to call off the strike “so as to pave way for some persons to go to Court to stop the 2015 General Elections.” (NewsPunch report dated January 26, 2015). These are the leaders in today’s Nigeria! Nonsense!!
- Partisan State Media. Commentary:- Virtually all state media are partisan in their coverage of the forthcoming elections. With its heavy financial war-chest, some private media may already be self-censoring in order to attract political advertisements from the ruling party, flush with cash.
- Intimidated Electoral Agency. Commentary:- The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission appeared in recent photographs as someone shocked to his bone marrow at what was playing out before his very eyes.
- Compromised Elders and Ethnic Associations. Commentary:-Look at the current raging conflicts in Ohaneze and Afenifere.
- Captive Treasury. Commentary:- Two former Chairmen of the Central Bank of Nigeria have come forward publicly to allege that huge amounts of state funds running into billions of dollars are missing from the Treasury.
- Largely Compromised Political Class. Commentary:- Most politicians in Nigeria are rotten and rotten to the core. This cuts across all political parties.
- Compromised Bureaucracy. Commentary:- The Nigerian Bureaucracy at all levels is a renowned cesspool of corruption.
- Online Censorship in the Works. Commentary:- The National Security Adviser spoke recently about censorship of online pornographic content. The crucial question is will the censorship stop at online pornography or is it a dry run for something more sinister?
- Constitution Amendment. Commentary:- This has already been attempted but not yet concluded partly because the regime did not as at then have the political muscle to influence the outcome of the National Constitution Amendment conference. There is nothing to suggest the exercise will not be revisited and repeated to suit any hidden agenda, if and when the regime acquires greater political muscle by hook or by crook at the forthcoming polls.
- Motive for self-perpetuation in power - Litany of outrageous conduct in office.Commentary:- As pointed out by this writer in a previous essay titled “The Unholy Trinity – National Interest vs. Regime Interest” which appeared in several online media sometime around November, 2012, all rogue regimes are characterized by an unholy trinity of illegitimate regime interests, the father figure of which is primitive wealth accumulation at the expense of the nation. As seen from the captive state treasury in Nigeria, this is already in place. The next element of the unholy trinity is regime stretch or self-perpetuation in power in order to protect the regime’s primitive wealth holdings and to prevent regime members from being sent to jail or meeting worse fate when they relinquish power. So as we can see, the motive for self-perpetuation in power is equally already in place. It will be naïve to believe that a sitting rogue regime will voluntarily wind itself down in accordance with the Constitution when it is faced with imminent electoral defeat.
- Blatant rigging of election results. Commentary:- Historically, successful rigging of elections in a fairly evenly matched political contest (or in fact more so in one in which the putative Dictator is a distant second best to the main Challenger) is often the threshold for transmutation to full blown dictatorship. This situation from the look of things is already in place as the main challenger General Muhammadu Buhari to all intents and purposes is at worst evenly matched or perhaps far more popular with the electorate than the incumbent. In order to hold on to power in a blatantly rigged election, the putative dictator must of necessity resort to the next and last item which is the most potent weapon in the hands of all Dictators.
- Terror, Violence and Targeted Political Assassinations. Commentary:- To the credit of this Administration, this is the only crucial ingredient for full blown dictatorship that is still missing in the Nigerian political scene. How long it will remain missing from the ready-mix for Civilian Dictatorship is anybody’s guess given that a perfect alibi for political terror is already in place in the form of Boko Haram and that for all intents and purposes the main Challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari cannot be defeated in a free and fair electoral contest without resorting to blatant rigging, which may already be in progress, right now even as you read this.
There is an American saying called the Duck Test which states that ‘If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.’
When one considers the current political scene in Nigeria within which the Jonathan Administation is operating and applies the Duck Test to its Transformation Agenda, one comes away with the distinct impression that ‘if it looks like a Civilian Dictatorship, acts like a Civilian Dictatorship and barks like a Civilian Dictatorship, then it is probably a Civilian Dictatorship in the works. So the Transformation Agenda may actually be a ruse. It may actually be a Transmutation Agenda into full blown Civilian Dictatorship that we are currently witnessing. Time will tell. But the nation is forewarned. A national disaster might be in the offing.
Change or Reformation?
The campaign mantra of the main opposition party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress or (APC) under its Presidential Candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari is Change. The APC then goes on to emphasize, Insecurity, Corruption and the Economy/Employment as its main focus. That may well be a correct focus as first order business attracting a new government’s attention.
But it does not suffice if Nigeria is to stop moving around in circles like a goat tethered to a stake which sometimes moves clockwise and at other times moves anti-clockwise tracing almost identical loci at all times. Indeed many supporters and opponents of General Buhari still harbor old-fashioned ideas of supporting or opposing the General either because ‘he is one of us’ or because ‘he is one of them’ as the case may be.
A lot of water has passed under the Nigerian bridge that change for the sake of change can no longer suffice. The chasms in Nigeria are so wide and are growing wider by the day. Sometimes one wonders if Nigerians actually exist in the same country.
Barring further interventionist essays like this one, the capstone piece in the ‘A Nation in Heat’ series of essays will look at the type of reformation necessary if Nigeria is to permanently break the mold of mediocrity inside which it is currently cocooned. It will suggest a couple of modalities to ensure that Nigeria is liberated from its current status as a nation with permanently unrealizable potential. Just as one pointer, it is self-evident that the engrained Nigerian mentality of a ‘turn-by-turn’ approach to leadership selection will never lead to a turnaround of Nigeria’s fortunes.
Have Faith Nigeria
With apologies to the sensibilities of our muslim brethren and as a way of drawing the curtains down on this interventionist essay, let us turn to the most excellent lyrical and rhythmical words of exhortation and lamentation by the roots reggae group Twinkle Brothers adapted from the Bible and addressed to a feckless generation.
‘Oh thee, oh thee of little faith,
When you reach-a-River Jordan and you turn right back.
……Faith can move mountain, Jah Jah say,
……Faith can move mountain oh yeah.
Just as it was in the beginning so it shall be in the end.
Shedrack, Mishack and Abednego,
say they cast them in a fire but they never get burn.
………Faith can move mountain, Have faith in Jah.
…….Faith can move mountain. Jahoviah.’
- Twinkle Brothers, 1986, roots reggae track titled “Faith Can Move Mountain”
Yes indeed, people of Nigeria, as a manner of speaking, we have reached River Jordan, the place of liberation from our sorry past, but the forces of backwardness, insist we cannot cross-over. They have shifted our time of crossing by six weeks. But let us have faith. Let us wait patiently. Let us keep our resolve intact. Let there be no violence, whatever the provocation might be. Let us not play into their malevolent hands.
Having reached this far, we cannot turn back again to place ourselves once more under the hideous yoke of Pharaoh (President Goodluck Jonathan) and Egypt (his political party). On March 28th we must cross River Jordan (General Muhammadu Buhari) and proceed to our Promised Land. Have no fear about drowning in River Jordan. Have faith in God. And it shall be well with the General.
- The End -