Sunday, June 10, 2018
DANCING ON THE GRAVE OF ABIOLA
Inside Stuff With MARTINS OLOJA “The Guardian”Sunday JUNE 10, 2018, P.13 Our leaders and the power elite know how to develop and execute political strategy for enlightened self-interest. But they do not know how to develop politics for nation building. And that is why we are a prominent but not a significant nation. We, the people, too always doze off after telling some social media tales, which are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And so, our do-nothing leaders know us quite well. They know we like exciting political stories. They haul a lot of them on the front pages and prime time every day for us to debate. Instead of chasing significant issues such as killers in the Middle Belt and North East zones, they chase the prominent but insignificant suspects in the senate. They know how to engage our attention all the time. Give it to them. Our leaders appear to have taken some anointing from Charles Dickens character, Jack Dawkins known as the “Artful Dodger” in the classic, “Oliver Twist”. They are Artful Dodgers indeed. They dodge questions on policy issues and their manifestoes. They dodge questions on their stewardships. They evade questions on their running costs. They don’t want to answer any questions on their security votes. They parry questions on their responsibilities to the people on welfare and security. They don’t want any questions on their assaults on the rule of law and disobedience to court orders. Our leaders are very clever. They always give us opium, which appeases the ‘gods of the belly’. Yes, they have given us another one, a 25-year-old opium called June 12 – a justice once delayed and denied – to the acclaimed ‘most sophisticated’ nation, the Yoruba in Nigeria. Now we are debating. We are wailing and hailing. We had thought that the lanky General of Fulani extraction was not artful, not sophisticated enough to run our affairs. But he has artfully put in our mouths a messy opium garnished with honey that we cannot swallow immediately, nor can we spew out. Behold, the magic of June 12 nurturing the majesty of the law and democracy simultaneously. Before our very eyes, the poor and unknown footballer of yesterday has become today’s soccer maestro, a Lionel Messi, a Christiano Ronaldo even in the media, the iconic Odia Ofeimun once called the ‘Ngbati press’. But who can deny the mastery of the art of politics in this game someone has called scoring of an unexpected ‘hat trick’. A friend of mine (in a long letter to me) noted that in the June 12 Ring, ‘It is a June 12 masterstroke and they are sulking…a single uppercut has left a multitude of knockouts. Ouch!...’ That is the new spirit in town. The lanky, taciturn leader from Daura has indeed stolen some thunder – from Minna, though Otueke to Abeokuta. Yes, the June 12 music might have ended at the Eagle Square on May 29, 1999. But at the moment, a diplomat with a baritone voice inside the powerhouse is saying, the melody is not yet over. We are gathered again at the Abiola’s graveside where we can once again dance the Yoruba’s organic ‘owambe’. There, they can remember the chorus from Lanny Wolfe’s classic, ‘Dancing on the Grave of My Enemies’. “Now I'm dancing on the graves of my enemies; Dancing on the trouble that's been troubling me; I did not know what else to do; But J*.C*, He brought me through” I've come through the fire; I've come through the flood It's nothing else but the blood...; And if you're wondering what I'm dancing about Hallelujah! He brought me out…” Of all the groundswell of views I have read, I have found the one credited to my brother at the “TVC Journalists’ Hangout,” Kolade Babajide Otitoju’s very significant. For whatever it is worth, the June 12 resurrection story is indeed a masterstroke that cannot be denied at this moment. Babajide says, ‘PMB knows how to use his office very well…”That says it all. I would like to add that no one can fault his (President Buhari’s) loan from “the Children of Issachar who the word of God tells me, “had understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do”. The declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and National Honour for M.K.O Abiola does not automatically lead to swinging of so many votes from the Yoruba to the General as being touted. There are still so many rivers to cross in Western Nigeria before this can be an added advantage. First, he has to show federal government projects that can be commissioned anytime soon. The two viable Ports located at Apapa are in Lagos, the commercial capital of Western Nigeria. PMB has to show commitments that General Murtala Mohammed promised the people in a national broadcast to the nation on February 3, 1976 when he proclaimed Abuja as the nation’s new capital. In his broadcast to the nation on February 3, 1976, Murtala had promised that Lagos would not only be designated a “Special Area”, it would be Nigeria’s commercial capital and the deal would be incorporated into the 1979 Constitution then in the works. His words: “…Lagos will, in the foreseeable future, remain the nation’s commercial capital and one of its nerve centres. But in terms of servicing the present infrastructure alone, the committed amount of money and effort required will be such that Lagos State will not be ready to cope. It will even be unfair to expect the state to bear this heavy burden on its own. It is, therefore, necessary for the federal government to continue to sustain the substantial investment in the area. The port facilities and other economic activities in the Lagos area have to be expanded. There is need in the circumstance for the federal government to maintain a special defence and security arrangement in Lagos, which will henceforth be designated a SPECIAL AREA. These arrangements will be carefully worked out and written into the constitution. Kaduna and Port-Harcourt are to be accorded similar status and designated special areas under the constitution...” This promise has to be fulfilled now. There are other weightier matters of infrastructure too in the area. The people would like to celebrate special attention to the Lagos-Ibadan, Shagamu- Ore-Benin Expressway, which is part of the Apapa- related commercial routes. June 12 is politics settled. But the people shall not live by politics alone. Governance after politics will create values for the people. Good road infrastructure will improve security and welfare of the people, the primary purpose of government. It is indeed some leprosy on the people that nineteen years of democracy or civil rule has not affected Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and other critical roads in Western Nigeria. What is more, the President’s commitment to “restructuring of the federation” should also make some way for him in the hearts of the people of Western Nigeria. Don’t believe a report that they are “sophisticated morons” as a political journalist called them on this June 12 revival story at the weekend. They are not. President Buhari should have noted how one good action can be a masterstroke, a big issue that you don’t need to push in the mainstream media. Your good deeds can make a way for you. The June 12 ‘wonder goal’ has been one of such actions. But that is not all. It is risky to dance on the grave of M.K.O Abiola without connecting with the right tunes from the sophisticated orchestra from Western Nigeria. President Buhari should not lose the momentum. He should solidify this with an uncommon commitment to restructuring. There is a little that can be achieved in economic management at this time. The president’s war on corruption has been controversial and meretricious. Even the anti-corruption agencies need restructuring of some sort. The document the Nasir el-Rufai Committee has submitted on this serious thing called restructuring, has been widely hailed. Another ‘hat trick’ can be scored from this, if the president can renew his mind about federalism this week. This is not just for the purpose of re-election. It is about nation building. The 2019 election can be won and the nation can be lost in the process. What then will it profit a president if he wins an election and loses his nation? The foundation of Nigeria has to be revisited for nation building to be meaningful at the moment. It is not about the Western Nigeria. It is about the fate of the most populous black nation on earth. The other thing needful while the symphony is being managed on the grave of Abiola is overhaul of the public service appointments. The President needs to retouch appointments of his security and intelligence chiefs. They have been largely parochial and lopsided. You can’t re-build a fractured nation with this lopsidedness. The president needs to be audacious as he has been with this June 12 redemption song on the grave of Abiola. Whenever people are gathered on this June 12 revival story, event managers in Abuja should pay tributes to heroes of democracy, especially civil society activists and journalists who worked hard with others to deliver this democracy in 1999. People may have forgotten about numerous guerilla journalists who lost their freedom and even lives. Bagauda Kaltho and others paid the supreme sacrifice. “Tell”, “The News”, “The African Guardian” “Tempo”, “Abuja Newsday”, etc suffered in the hand of state terrorists at the time. Some never survived. It is true that Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo(1999-2007) Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007-2010) and Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) failed to remember the political backgrounds, yes June 12 that set the tone for this democracy they have enjoyed. Most of the beneficiaries and political office holders who have failed to remember this aspect of our political history deserve to be enrolled in a Hall of Shame for “Pissing on the Grave of Abiola” before President Buhari seized the moment. Verily, verily we can say this: Former President Obasanjo should not be disturbed by security agencies at this time. He should be allowed to receive his ‘Medal of Shame’ for ‘Pissing on the Grave of Abiola’. The Prince of the Niger, General IBB who annulled the June 12 1993 election result that would have deepened our nation building and democracy in the country should be given a monument in a good corner of the Eagle Square, Abuja for “Digging the Grave of the President-elect” then. And for failing to go beyond rejection of the naming of the University of Lagos after Abiola, former President Jonathan should also receive his ‘Medal of Shame’ for ‘Dancing Sluggishly on the Grave of Abiola’. That is why PMB should be enrolled in a “Hall of Fame” on June 12. ***There are other nominees for the enrollment into the “Hall of Shame” next week.