News came last weekend about a woman that was burnt to death. Thugs deliberately set her ablaze ,live, and brought down her house in a blaze of the worst madness that anyone but the most morbid and bestial can imagine.
Her offense? She was a “PDPWoman leader” in Yahaya Bello’s Kogi state.For purposes of the elections, the police “deployed” more than 62,000 men and women.And before that, a cousin of Dino Milaye, a senator facing a re-run, was shot by “armed thugs”. He would die the following day ,Sunday. His offense? PDP!
And wait for this: “Some of the thugs wore police uniforms” wailed Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s head of police in a rush to judgement kind of “It wasn’t me”. He also said that the same mayhem in Bayelsa state which had elections that day were caused by “fake policemen”.
One of the crimes of the late ISIL leader, al-Baghdadi, was chaining journalists in metal cages and setting them on fire. What happened in Kogi state was no less barbaric and utterly evil.
How did Nigeria’s “no nonsense man” president react to all this?
“Go to court, Buhari tells PDP” as reported in Nigeria’s inglorious media. Mr Buhari knows that justice and Nigeria are now mutually exclusive. What’s more, the Supreme court had just told Nigerians that Mr Buhari was right by doing the wrong thing in not submitting his credentials to INEC as stated by law.Another Tanko’s rewarded for breaking the law. And thus, only total lawlessness has become the new normal.
And Yahaya Bello? He, too got a reward. Of course,he won a re-election. It is woefully called “federalmight” in the fast collapsing nation. And diminutive and often needlessly garrulous chairman of Mr Buhari’s party , Adams Oshiomole, is already throwing parties. “Nigeria is now a one party state”.
What happened in Kogi state used to be imagined by Nigerians who watched horror movies ,the Rwanda genocide and when ISIS came. But butchering of human beings has become a management tool. How did Nigeria move from great to good and ,now, to irredeemably bad? It is the hope of this page that a brief background and history will do.
For a human , 20 years is a very short time to live especially if the dead showed a lot of promise. A demise so sudden and brief is truly tragic.
Nigeria, in all intents and purposes, has just been interned after a troubling 20 years of a rainbow- type variants of democracy.
President Mohammadu Buhari once overthrew an elected democracy and threw thousands in jail. He axed freedoms of all types imaginable. Just when it was thought that the worst had come , Mr Buhari was himself overthrown on August 25,1985. Nigerians went to the streets and threw parties.
For some reasons, the regimes that replaced him were not much better except that there was at least food. Kidnapping and the raft of evil that has become normal today was also absent. Governors were also not gods. And in its own weird way, Nigeria was united if only by football. Of course even a journalist would be letter-bombed to death and countless more incarcerated. It become routine to shut down news papers and magazines while unions were proscribed.
It became a question of comparative badness. Anything is better than Buhari/Idiagbon, as the junta was known. Nigerians, some of the world’s most credulous people, even gave Mr Babangida a new name: “Maradona” . They also described bis economic policy as “You chop-I Chop”, another name for corruption. They ignorantly praised him because there was money in circulation. The IMF had just had its way, devaluing the Naira for the first time since it replaced the British Pound in 1970. Nigeria is still paying very painfully for that singular foolishness.
And then there was the entire June12 and MKO Abiola debacle which ended Babangida’s career, killed MKO and Abacha in very arcane scenarios. This history is selective because the details are known .
In May 1999, a former Military head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo, became Nigeria’s third civilian chief executive. An ancillary relief was that the Northern hegemony had ended. So the South and middle Belt thought.
Wole Soyinka, Nobel prize winner, wrote an article on that day. “The Rebirth of a Nation”. Tam David West,who died unsung about two weeks ago , also wrote in celebration. Mr West used to be petroleum minister but was set up by his boss ,Mr Babangida, and slammed in prison in the deserts of Nigeria. Bola Ige,who was jailed by Mr Buhari become minister of power. Bola Tinubu “returned from exile” (even though nobody had ever heard of him)to become governor of Lagos.
Adams Oshiomole, a previously unknown tailor, became head of Nigeria’s Labour union, NLC who was the “defender” of the defenceless.
Fast forward to October 1,2010.
While Goodluck Jonathan, president at the time, thought that his day had come, on Independent Day, bombs went of in Abuja. The UN Building amongs others were targeted.
Soon, more bombings including the Suleja Catholic church bombing soom followed. Mr Jonathan was able to bring the bomber, Yusuf, to book. Henry Orka from the President’s own axis of Nigeria was blamed for some the bombings too.
In 2011, an election year, the idea was to halt the violence and vote the President out. Atiku Abubakar and Mohammadu Buhari lost. After crying openly and after the deaths of INEC make shift staff in the North, Mr Buhari announced that he was done with politics. Those who knew him heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Boko Haram and Chibok. Jonathan was like the Biblical David and some people promised to make his administration ungovernable. Boko Haram, whose raison d’etre, was that Western education was a taboo became an instrument of terror. But the government was well equipped to deal with these rag tag bunch. And so, the Chief of army Staff ,Gen Ihejirika, was accused of crime against humanity. His offense? He defeated Boko Haram.
Mr Buhari on his part became their champion as they chose him,for example, to represent them in negotiations. In fact ,on June 6, 2013, Radio Liberty, Kaduna, Mr Buhari told the world why Boko Haram began. He wanted them to be treated as the youths in the Niger Delta. He went as far as saying that an “attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the North”Chibok and BringBackOurGirls.286 girls, all of whom were writing physics, math, chemistry and allied subjects in the final high school exams were “abducted” and vanished into thin air. The whole world went to work. Michelle Obama, first lady at the time , joined in denouncing president Jonathan. Insecurity began to be the new singsong.
We pointed out at the time,that Chibok was a convenience. I know, for instance, the entire landscape of Nigeria- geography, cosmology and thought processes. It is impossible to have 200 “science” girls in a final class in Borno state. But the drama continued. And so, with the help of CNN and other western media, the myth became a fact. A cross that poor Jonathan must bear.
The man who wrote the Re-birth of Nation, moved to “Jonathan is Worse Than Nebuchadnezzar.”
2014-2017.While we still remain selective largely because of space constraints, let’s see a catalogue of the dramatispersonae whose roles led to today’s abbys. The list will not be exhaustive, again for space reasons.
Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, John Kerry, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Zany Milton ( the Economist)Francois Hollande. Others are,Wole Soyinka, Olusegun Obasanjo ,Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Ameachi, Omoyele Sowore, Dele Momodu, Femi Adesina, Tam David West, Tunde Bakare Oby Ekwesili, Fela Durojaye, Femi Falana and John Momoh (Channels TV) to name just a few. Oh, let me add quickly that millions of Nigerians who had good roads, food, jobs and lives actually joined in the battle to replace Jonathan. Millions who weep today including those who have died because of prevailing conditions.
Their achievements and conclusion
In less that 4 years, then Candidate Buhari who said “I am a reformed democrat” did exactly what those who knew stuff thought he’d do.
Of all the raft of promises, not one was fulfilled. Today, the Naira is dead, insecurity is the norm, industries are dead, unemployment can’t be tracked because of sheer magnitude, suicide is rife.
Today, judges have lost their independence as has the national assembly. The laws of Nigeria are, in the main, suspended. In fact, if the senate had his way, I should be hanged for this page. The borders are shut against trade and hunger and perdition pervade the land. The government has borrowed to its neck and nothing can be shown for it.
People now look back to the days of military dictators with fond nostalgia because, at least, there was food and peace. Today, all hope is gone. The nation can’t be repaired because it needs re-building. As for democracy, it died a young institution. Nigeria is back in 1984 but only worse.
Curiously enough, everyone who fought for democracy has been removed from the current government. It is now manned by gangs.
So much for a gross inability to think in terms of consequences.