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OPINION: Shades of Tinubu’s rogue bishops

OPINION: Shades of Tinubu’s rogue bishops

TIMES like this try men’s souls. We have only paraphrased a saying that was made popular by Thomas Paine, an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary. His areas of interest, we were told while he lived between February 9, 1737 and June 8, 1809 were politics, religion and ethics. Though Paine passed on about 300 years ago yet his words strike a chord in Nigeria of 2022 in terms of our politics, religion and ethics. His pamphlet, Common Sense, was such a phenomenal intervention that he became a much sought after writer and journalist in America even ahead of his seminal book, The Age of Reason. How instructive. Common Sense is still in short supply in our country and we are still far in our journey to the Age of Reason.

Our country particularly tends to lose it each time we approach an election year. And we are at the eve of a make or mar election in 2023. The incumbent President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress [APC] political party is not expected to be on the ballot by virtue of term limit imposed by the Constitution. In like manner, many of the state governors who are mostly of the APC and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] will be ineligible for the contest. The only other political party whose candidate occupies an executive office, the All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA], had an off-season governorship election in November last year. Recently, off-season elections were also conducted in Ekiti and Osun states, leaving 33 states for the battle of 2023.

In one way or the other 18 registered political parties have thrown their hats into the ring for next year’s elections. All of them are not expected to field candidates for all elective offices. Many of the parties do not have the capacity to do so. Right now and for whatever reasons only four political parties- APC, PDP, Labour Party [LP] and the New Nigeria Peoples Party [NNPP] are reckoned to have the needed spread and capacity to field candidates for all or most elective offices nationwide. Even among the four there is a further dichotomy with political pundits insisting that only the traditional political behemoths- the former ruling PDP and the present ruling APC- have the financial muscle, the structure and the organizational strength for a national election.

The presidential election is seven months away. So the political parties are ready with their candidates. By Nigeria’s laws, a presidential ticket is invalid without a vice presidential candidate. And that is now the crux of the matter for at least two of the so-called big four. First was the choice of Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the running mate to PDP’s Atiku Abubakar instead of the Rivers state governor, Nysom Wike who was said to have topped the list of those recommended for selection.

There is no end yet to the fallout of the choice of Okowa. Wike talks tough and fights dirty. He has a right to claim credit for financing PDP and making it relevant in the seven years the party lost control of the government at the centre. He also suffers from gargantuan entitlement syndrome. But why not? Indeed, there was a credible report that Wike was coasting to victory in the PDP presidential primary last month before the dramatic and sudden withdrawal of Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who moved his supporters to vote for Atiku, his brother from the north. So Wike feels he was cheated out of the presidential ticket and denied of the running mate lot in quick succession in a party that he had almost single- handedly sustained for years. The PDP issue is still simmering. And Wike has vowed to expose the dirty underbelly of the party.

For the APC, the problem arising from the selection of the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, is a child’s play. The choice of a running mate for Tinubu’s APC was problematic from the onset. To buy time the party had to resort to naming a placeholder for the position while the candidate himself travelled to France for consultation. Did you say strange? One opposition party bigwig alleged on national
television that Tinubu actually went to France to attend to his failing health. As if on cue, the presidential candidate of the NNPP, Rabiu Kwankwaso, recently counselled his rival and friend Tinubu to choose between his health and the rigours of a presidential campaign.

After dithering, Alhaji Tinubu, a Muslim from the southern part of Nigeria picked another Alhaji, Kashim Shettima from the north as his running mate. Hell was let loose. The unthinkable has happened not minding that it actually first happened in 1993 when Alhaji Moshood Abiola [south] teamed up with Alhaji Babagana Kingibe [north] on the ticket of the defunct Social Democratic Party [SDP] to win…and later lose that year’s presidential election. Abiola died in the struggle with the ruling military junta to claim the presidency. Back to now. Shettima’s name was quickly sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] to replace the placeholder. But Shettima’s presentation to the Nigerian public which ordinarily should be a formality became a tough nut to crack. Most Christians and some Muslims were infuriated by that choice. The unveiling had to be postponed. But it must happen and it did. And then there was bedlam.

Tinubu, his campaign organisation and the APC had overnight created bishops, princes of Christendom, for display at Shettima’s unveiling ceremony in Abuja. As Tinubu and co were plotting to foist a fraud on Nigerians, social media activists were on their trail capturing the bishops as they were being handed their ‘vestments’ at a not-too-hidden corner outside the venue of the unveiling. The poor script by Tinubu and APC was magnified by the fact that his ‘bishops’ marched into the venue in a single file with some wearing assessories that are only worn when a priest administers the Holy Communion. They cannot be worn otherwise. And certainly not outside the Altar of the Living God. But that obvious insult was not enough. Inside the hall television cameras captured the Tinubu/Shettima bishops carrying chairs and struggling with their vestments while searching for vantage positions to sit. Except for one, none of the 30 odd Tinubu/Shettima bishops agreed to be interviewed by the media. One of the Tinubu/Shettima bishops later confessed same day that he was among those hired from a motor park, fed, handed priestly robes and promised N100,000 appearance fee. He went rogue because, according to him, he was paid only N40,000. Thieves are known to give themselves away at the sharing of their loot.

Of course, the Christian Association of Nigeria [CAN] naturally and quickly placed a disclaimer on the motor park bishops. But that was not the problem. The Tinubu campaign organisation in its attempt to justify a glaring fraud made the matters worse. Its spokesman who is an otherwise respected journalists said the ‘bishops’ were real but that they were growing growing their ‘missions’. If only Bayo Onanuga casually searched the Holy Bible, he probably would have found out those who are qualified for the office of the bishop. Being a baby priest, and in the instant case a fraudulent one at that, is not a qualifying criterion. The serial missteps by Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the run up to the 2023 election could be an ominous sign of the fate that awaits him in his quest to actualise what he said was his ‘lifelong ambition’ to rule Nigeria as its president.

AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha…

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Conversation Nigeriana (3) Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Orezi: The come has come to become the come in the land of a no-coming government, a government where the President never comes through when trouble come to the land!

Ahmadu: What do you mean my sweet sister? Is somebody missing in Action?

Bolaji: You mean its something like Waiting for Godot?

Emeka: Alhaji, this one that you are calling Orezi sweet sister this morning. I hope you do not have plans for ze ozer room!

Orezi: Do you mind, Emeka!

Emeka: Is love in the air? Who is the Romeo?

Orezi: Do you mind! There is no Juliet here. I don’t believe in dying for love in a foolish way and in a foolish country. All I am saying is that the come has become the come before our very eyes and we can only gnash our teeth in infant gums!

Bolaji: Hmmm! You are speaking in parables like an old woman!

Ahmadu: Me o! I am entitled to four, live, breeding hajiyas! When the time to come and become the come I shall become!

Orezi: Alhaji, do you mind?

Emeka: She has caught a wealthy politician boyfriend!

Orezi: I’m in a serious mood young man; the current situation does not encourage romance. New boyfriend? That’s not a concern now. The come has become the come in the polity. Ordinary bandits have threatened to kidnap our president, a retired Army General and a state governor!

Emeka: Anybody can issue a threat na; it means nothing. It doesn’t matter.

Ahmadu: But it’s not the first time. Bandits almost killed Governor Ortom a year or two ago when they opened fire on his convoy!

ALSO READ: Conversation Nigeriana (1)

Orezi: You are right! They openly challenged him after he banned open grazing in his State. Little wonder Ortom has set up his own army in Benue State. A man must be a man!

Emeka: Was Governor Zulum not targeted in the past? In fact, he has escaped assassination twice in the hands of non-state actors. So, anyone can threaten…

Bolaji: That’s not true; just threaten the president now especially as your name is Emeka whether Tucano jets will not be sent to decimate your hometown and desecrate the graves of your ancestors!

Orezi: You are correct. The Nigeria Army was sent to attack IPOB after it was declared an illegal organization. They did Operation Crocodile Dance to kill unarmed men and women in the southeast! Now that the real threat from the real terrorists our soldiers are caught napping!

Emeka: There is a special mindset in this government, indeed in the country that supports anything anti-Igbo! For example, see the vicious campaign against Peter Obi by the agents of the major political gladiators. Ethnic profiling has become second nature in our land!

Ahmadu: True, ethnic profiling has resulted in the hang-the-Fulani sentiment in the land. All bandits are supposedly Fulani. Yet the Fulani himself is under siege!

Orezi: Alhaji, please don’t go that route. Don’t go there. The Fulani merchants of death need to be called out. There is an official lack of will to do right by the Nigerian people! But you can see that it has backfired against the Nigerian government. Nigeria is almost a failed state. Do you sincerely believe that our Army is incapable of dealing with the terrorists if given the orders?

Bolaji: Who is in charge of Nigeria?

Orezi: God is in charge!

VISIT US: @theharmattan1

Bolaji: Which God? The God I know has given up on us on account of our foolishness! How do you account for the fall of the naira?

Emeka: Why won’t the naira crash when the Finance Minister and governor of the CBN are deeply enmeshed in politics? Should Emefiele not have been fired after the fiasco of the APC convention? Or should he not have resigned?

Ahmadu: Nobody resigns in Nigeria! The President should have resigned in his first term when the effects of his ailment became glaring. The economy has become sick like the Number One Citizen!

Orezi: The country is sick too.

Ahmadu: Even the north is fed up with Bubu. Apart from Arewa Consultative Forum asking him to resign, did you read the story of the young man in Kano who climbed on to a high wall and threatened that he would remain up there until the president resigned? Things are happening even among the ordinary people!

Bolaji: Let us start thinking of options to save the country. I see Peter Obi as an option. In fact, he is the only option right now. The old, grizzled politicians cannot save themselves let alone save Nigeria!

Ahmadu: The Peter Obi/Ahmed Datti pair should be given a chance.

Orezi: Give them a chance? They should fight for power. Right now, they are a social media powerhouse. The reality on the ground is different.

Bolaji: It is romantic to think Peter Obi can win the presidential elections in the current atmosphere in the country. Much as I believe that we need a third force I have my doubts about Peter Obi winning the elections. Does he have the reach-out capacity? Are his followers ready to vote? Are they not social media persons? Can he secure enough votes in the core north? Can he deliver on the southeast by 70 percent? How can he govern the country even if he wins? There are no polling centres on social media!

Ahmadu: There you are wrong. Dead wrong! The Peter Obi Movement has caught the imagination of Nigerians. Did you see the million-man march in Nasarawa State? It will soon be replicated in Sokoto and Kano. We in the north are fed up with the mainstream politicians. We suffer the most. Buhari is from the north and he has been president for seven years; what do we have to show for it? We are worse off. Jonathan showed more compassion. He showed care. He opened Alimajiri schools. What has this man done/ appointed his cronies to positions of influence and so people are angry with the north. Which north? The ruling class, my brother, the ruling class. What can Atiku do differently? Can Tinubu change anything? Are they not part of the rot in the system?

Orezi: This is a full declaration!

Emeka: Yes o! The Ahmadu Declaration.

Bolaji: The truth is that no one is certain who the victor will be. The climate is hazy. Things could happen before February 2023 that could change the entire landscape. So, let us be hopeful.

Ahmadu: True; we are not certain who the victor will be. But we are certain about who will best do the job: its an outsider who is ready to do things differently.

Orezi: Is there any outsider among the three?

Ahmadu: That na JAMB question!

Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha, Department of English, University of Lagos

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OPINION: On the Commonwealth Games 2022

OPINION: On the Commonwealth Games 2022

The organizers of the just concluded 22nd Commonwealth in Birmingham, UK deserve high praise for delivering an event at the Alexander Stadium in the West Midlands that proved to be a triumph of art, culture, multi-sports glory and remarkable diversity. This was the first carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be organized, thus a pacesetter for other multi-sports events hereafter. It was also like no other Commonwealth Games before it, with the inclusion of more games and medals on offer for women’s sports – for the first time, women’s cricket was introduced, in addition to eight para events that were integrated to further highlight the themes of inclusivity and diversity. The last time the UK hosted the “Friendly Games” as the CWG is also known was 20 years ago in Manchester, this year’s event, 10 years after the 2012 London Olympics, was bigger and coming in the year of the Queen’s Platinum, it has been a befitting tribute to the shared Commonwealth heritage, the city of Birmingham itself, and to all the athletes for whom the Friendly Games provides opportunities for self-realization beyond the thrill of participation or attendance.

Our high praise for Birmingham and the UK is not misplaced given the challenges that the hosts had to grapple with. The city of Durban was originally chosen as the next host of the 2022 Games as far back as 2015, but when Durban had to withdraw due to financial constraints, Birmingham volunteered to be the host in 2017, thus saddled with a shorter time for preparation ahead of the 2002 Games. Then COVID-19 up-ended the entire world, creating global process and supply disruptions, lockdowns and shutdowns and an inevitable re-ordering of processes with cost implications. Yet, despite this, Birmingham delivered. The opening ceremony of the Games on July 28 has been adjudged one of the most colourful ever, a celebration of diversity with prominent thematic motifs including equality of all persons and races, and properly toned reminders of culture, art and history: William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Edward Edgar, Charlie Chaplin.

The high point of the opening was the gigantic automaton Bull of Birmingham charging into the stadium, which was eventually tamed.  Duran Duran, Spice Girls. A festive musicality filled the air. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall drove into the arena. Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Laureate who adopted Birmingham as her new home, after she was shot by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2012, also gave a speech on the importance of girls’ education. The Commonwealth comprises 72 nations and territories, most of which were formerly under the British Empire, representing 2.5 billion people of the world. This year, the Games had in attendance 6, 500 athletes competing in 280 medal events. It started on a high note. It ended on an even higher note, with UB40, Goldie and other global artists performing and Australia topping the medals table with 174 medals.

History was made. I note, in particular, the record set by 72-year-old Rosemary Lenton of Scotland winning the gold medal in para women’s pairs bowling with Pauline Wilson, 58. Birmingham has the most youthful population in the whole of Europe, 40% of its population is under the age of 25, and yet at this year’s Games, Scottish ladies, Lenton and Wilson proved that age is no barrier.  But of course, the bigger excitement for me was the performance of the Nigerian contingent at the Games.  This was our country’s 15th appearance at the Games, we sent a total of 93 athletes (41 men and 52 women) competing in 7 sports – athletics, boxing, judo, para powerlifting, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling, but this was our best outing ever at the CWG, a firm, redoubtable, confirmation that Nigeria is a country of champions, who only need to be given the opportunity and the enabling environment for their talents to flower. At the CWG 2022, Nigeria finished seventh on the medals table with a total of 35 medals – 12 gold, nine silver and 14 bronze medals. The last time Nigeria did something faintly close to this was at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, when the country got 11 gold medals, 13 silver and 13 bronze, and also at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

This year’s performance would be unforgettable, particularly with the record-breaking performance put up by the Nigerian team. The harvest of medals began with Adijat Olarinoye setting the new Commonwealth record in weightlifting, 55 kg category, lifting a total of 203 kg, Rafiatu Lawal also set a new record in the 59 kg weightlifting with a total lift of 206 kg, Folashade Oluwafunmilayo also set a new record in women’s heavyweight powerlifting, winning the gold medal, her compatriot, Bose Omolayo, took the silver medal in the same event. Tobi Amusan whose phenomenal performance at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, US had been celebrated two weeks earlier when she set a new record in the 100 m hurdles, soon proved that her earlier performance was truly the stuff of genius when she repeated the same feat at the CWG and thus defended her title as indisputable Nigeria, African, Commonwealth and the World Champion in 100 m hurdles.! She is in addition the first Nigerian athlete to successfully defend a Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles title, having won the same in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018. Nwachukwu Goodness provided a taste of additional goodness to Nigeria’s performance when she won gold and set a new record in women’s discus throw with just her first two throws! Another hero in discus is Chioma Onyekwere. Nigeria also took another gold and set another record when the quartet of Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Grace Nwokocha won the gold medal in the 4 x 100 women’s relay.  Ese Brume placed a nice cap on it all when, on Sunday, she also took the gold medal in the long jump, breaking the record in the event twice on the same day!

It has been said that the ladies did better than the men, winning nine out of all the 12 gold medals for Nigeria. This is not to make light of the effort of the men who won medals for Nigeria: Udodi Onwuzurike, Favour Ashe, Alaba Akintola and Raymond Ekewvo won a bronze medal in the men’s 4 x100 relay. Edidiong Umoafia also won a bronze in 67kg weightlifting. Overall, it was a good outing for Nigeria. We may not have done well in table tennis – the Ouadri Aruna-led men’s table tennis team was beaten in the semi-finals by India, dashing our hopes. Our women’s table tennis team could not advance to the quarter finals, having been defeated by the English team. There was also some initial disturbance about sports kits and Nigeria having to engage a British company MG Sportswear to work round the clock to produce last-minute kits for the athletes – this is a perennial problem with Nigeria. We never manage to get ready until the last minute. Or after.  Poor management is the bane of sports in Nigeria, and you can add to that – politics, greed and corruption. Nonetheless, what stands out after the country’s outing in Birmingham is the epochal performance of the Nigerian contingent, more specifically, the female athletes, and the Ministry of Sports which tried to ensure that there was no scandal. That in itself should be considered an achievement. The contingent deserves applause.

Those special moments on the podium at the World Athletics Championships two weeks ago and now at the Commonwealth Games have given us something to be joyful about as a country – at a time when everything appears dim in Nigeria: public-owned universities have been shut down since February 14, the national currency, the Naira, has depreciated so badly in value many families cannot afford to buy a loaf of bread on the family menu because it is now so expensive, inflation is about 18.6%, unemployment – 33.3%, terrorists are getting bolder by the day, they are even threatening to abduct the President and other political leaders…and just in the midst of all that Tobi, Ese, Favour, Goodness and others have made us proud, and put a smile on our lips.

Nigeria could have done better if we had participated perhaps in more events, but the starting point would be for the country to develop the existing potential in other sports. We need world-class facilities to train and build athletes. Many of the Nigerian athletes who often do well in major competitions, may have been discovered at home, but they tend to get to the peak of their potential through foreign exposure and training. It should be possible to generate and keep world talents at home by making our environment more sports-friendly. Once upon a time, Ogbe Stadium in Benin City, Rowe Park and the National Stadium in Lagos, and Liberty Stadium in Ibadan were rated as world-class sports facilities. These days, these and even newer sports facilities merely survive for about a year or two before they go into disrepair despite huge amounts spent on them. Frustrated, many of our athletes take up the citizenship and jerseys of other countries. This is why the dedicated ones who still give us podium moments at competitions are true heroes and sheroes.  What remains is to ensure that our 2022 CWG patriots get the befitting reception that they have earned, and of course, nobody has talked about the ethnic identity of these achievers as we all share in their glory as Nigerians – an indication of how sports can be a strong tool for promoting national unity. .

Successful as CWG 2022 may have been, however, questions have been raised about the continued relevance and merit of the Games in its present format. There are three sides to this: politics, cost and scope. There are many who remain uneasy about the fact that the Commonwealth Games draws its identity from a legacy of monarchy, empire and colonialism. They want a clean break from the colonial past as the Empire itself has since ceased to exist as it then was. Originally established as the “The British Empire Games”, the Games has since changed its brand to the Commonwealth Games or The Friendly Games, to reflect the equality of members and the dominance of democracy. The Games thus promote partnership, friendship and the history of the shared heritage among members. Those who want a new identity refer to the fact that in terms of membership, certainly new, non-Empire members have since been admitted into the Commonwealth, the most recent being – Rwanda, Mozambique, Samoa, Gabon and Togo. If it is possible for countries that were never colonies under the British empire to join the Commonwealth out of their own volition, then it should be possible to expand participation in the Games to make it truly multi-sports and multi-nation. Gabon and Togo having become members are expected to send participants to the next Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia in 2026.

What is the issue about cost? Funding the CWG can be rather expensive. This is the major reason why in more than two decades, only one other country, that is India (Delhi 2010) has hosted the games outside the UK and Australia. Durban, South Africa had to opt out of its right to host CWG 2022 due to financial constraints. Indeed, no African country has ever hosted the Games since its debut in 1930. Birmingham spent about 778 million pounds to host this year’s event. Can any African country put such an amount together to host a sporting event? Outside Africa, many of the smaller members of the Commonwealth (eg. Nauru, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Gambia, Tonga, Antigua and Barbuda etc) may also face financial constraints. But if countries are admitted based on capacity to host the Games, the question is: would the CWG not begin to look more like the Olympics? Would the opportunity cost consideration not translate into a complete erosion of brand and identity? Is there a possible new model for financing and hosting the Games to reduce cost and the burden on interested host countries? Unless a new model of financing is thought up, the dream of having every member country host the Games may never be realized. The rich countries that can afford to do so, would continue to lead.  Hence, countries like the UK (Manchester 2012, Birmingham 2022), New Zealand (Auckland 1950,1990), and Scotland (Edinburgh 1970, 1986), have hosted the Games more than once. Australia in fact, holds the record of multiple hosting of the Games – five times and would again be the host in 2026 followed by Canada hosting four times (– Hamilton, 1930, Vancouver, 1954, Edmonton, 1978, Victoria, 1994). The doctrine of the sovereign equality of states is a fundamental principle of international law, but in real terms countries are not equal, human beings are also just as unequal.

The assumption that Britain is using the CWG as a vehicle to divert attention away from the ills of its past, presenting itself as a more compassionate nation now making friends with former subjects, compared to other former imperial powers, does not devalue the Commonwealth Movement. The Commonwealth Games in whatever form would continue to showcase cities, and put such cities on the global map as it has done for Birmingham and other cities before now, in addition to providing a strong platform for athletes to prove their mettle in a manner that resonates throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, and a vehicle for the promotion of diplomacy, communalities, goodwill and understanding through sports. Nigeria and its athletes must begin to prepare for the next Games in 2026. For now, CWG is a good outing. At the opening ceremony, on July 28, the Nigerian contingent danced excitedly to Kizz Daniel’s song: “Buga”. By yesterday when the games ended, “E choke” to borrow Davido’s famous Nigerian slang!

AUTHOR: Reuben Abati

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Muslim-Muslim Ticket Narrative: The Republic in Peril

Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

The Muslim-Muslim ticket which the APC under the otherwise shrewd and perspicacious Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has adopted promotes and reinforces a dangerous narrative which the seven years of the Buhari administration have negatively entrenched in the minds of Nigerians. For, before Buhari, it was largely in somewhat hushed tones that the mythical Fulani ownership of geographical Nigeria was discussed. Not supported by any instruments of pre- or postcolonial relations, that dangerous supposition was essentially in the minds of a few and believed by fewer persons. For most southerners, it was a joke, an infantile joke to claim that the rich waters and oil of the Niger Delta belong to some fellows who live one thousand miles away. It is like the Israelis claiming that the oil fields in the Arab states belong to them because God had promised them the land flowing with milk and honey!

With the style and composition of the Buhari government, the irredentist President made his plans clear to all – government was by a section of the country, for a section of the country and for a particular religion! To boot, Fulani from some countries in Africa have started assembling in the country to make Nigeria their home. The hostile scoundrels who kidnap. Maim or kill are not indigenous to Nigeria, I dare say. The baffling thing is that southern leaders could not effectively challenge the gradual dismantling of a national consensus that had governed interethnic relations since 1960. Most of them in mainstream politics simply latch on to the received wisdom that to gain power in the centre you must suck it up to the holders of power from the north. So, they sacrifice their people on the altar of greed for power!

READ ALSO: Lasisi Olagunju: Are terrorists now our government?

In 2003, before the grand alliance of unlikely forces that finally gave Buhari access to federal power, Bola Tinubu was reported by Wikileaks to have said that “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilization, ethnic bigot, and religious fanatic who if given the chance would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity. It is true that the Tinubu camp has vigorously argued that their principal never said any such stuff. But Farooq Kperogi in Notes from Atlanta (December 4, 2021) has laid the authenticity of the statement to rest by asserting that ‘I took up Tunde Rahman’s challenge and showed that Tinubu indeed said what he was quoted to have said – and worse’, citing diplomatic cables wrenched from Wikileaks trove.

In skewed appointments both to the cabinet and non-cabinet positions, Buhari made no bones about telling Nigerians that he meant to govern Nigeria as a colony of Fulani hegemony. Nowhere is this hegemony so evident than in the security architecture of the country. Also, the marauding herdsmen in the country never fail to remind abductees that Nigeria is their patrimony and that accounts for the soft approach of the incumbent government in dealing with the menace posed by terrorists and bandits. Nigerians have cried aloud about the skewed appointments in favour of one section of the country. Nothing has entered the ears of the Commander-in-Chief! Suddenly, the successor administration if the APC wins is a Muslim-Muslim band. Not good for the sight. Not healthy for perception. Not healthy for inter-religious harmony.

Nations build institutions which sustain and protect the core values of the country. No individual or administration should violate those core values in a country as multiethnic and multireligious as ours. It is possible to argue that the fundamental principles for national unity have not been defined and nationally accepted. For example, power rotation, the place of religion and ethnicity must be worked into the Constitution. Nothing must be taken for granted. No section or religion must claim or preach superiority. It has the capacity to implode the country, either now or in the future.

VISIT US: @theharmattan1

Against this background, pressure groups and ethnic and religious associations must resist the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket. The issue must be on the ballot box on election day. A northern Christian who was Legal Adviser to APC resigned his position because of his objection to the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Ironically, Senator Tinubu and the APC had expressed reservations about the same-religion ticket in 2015. It was for this reason Professor Yemi Osinbajo was drafted in with his impeccable Christian credentials as a pastor in RCCG. What changed in 2022 or 2023?

The ethnic tension in the country that has reached a crescendo is alarming. Whether by design or default, the Tinubu and Shettima ticket is an attempt to further increase the tension and permanently destroy the fragile attempts at inter-religious harmony. It promotes the inane idea that one ethnic group or religion to superior to others in the federation. It is foolish to believe this nonsense, even if the ethnic group is numerically stronger. The point must be made that this rejection would not have mattered if the operating conditions in the country were settled or acceptable. As we know, a Muslim could be as bad as a Christian in governance and vice versa. In other words, the promotion of religious faith does not bestow administrative or governing competence on anybody. The list of those who have misgoverned the country includes Muslims and Christians, with religion playing no moderating role in attitudes to the commonwealth. The ruling APC which has mismanaged Nigeria into a freefall is slapping Nigeria further in the face by trying to force an anomaly on the nation.

The APC has attempted to make things look good by appointing spokesmen who are Christians. This is after suggesting that a Christian from the north as a running mate to a Muslim from the south is not good enough to attract votes from the north. What a slap to northern Christians. This accounts for the bold and resolute reaction of the Dogaras and Babachirs, something we must take seriously.

All Nigerians must queue up to vote for their candidates in 2023. Hopefully, votes will count this time around. If they do, the Nigerian people will speak about who they want to govern the country. Sadly, the PDP ticket is also guilty of negating one of the assumptions that had governed the country – power rotation. We are therefore in a fix with the two old political parties. What will the end be?

Professor Hope Eghagha, Department of English Language, University of Lagos, Nigeria

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