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What goes round comes around.

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By Bola Bolwaole

turnpot@gmail.com

If a writer does not generate hostility, he is dead – Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, Nobel Laureate in

Literature (2001).

In any man that keeps silent in the face of tyranny, the man dies – Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nobel

Laureate in Literature (1986).

Those who vote (in elections) decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything –

Maximum Leader Josef Stalin of the now defunct USSR.

Those who fail to learn from history are often condemned to repeating its mistakes – George

Santayana.

After the uprising of the 17th June/The Secretary of the Writers’ Union/Had leaflets distributed in the

Stalinalee/Stating that the people had forfeited the confidence of the Government/And could win it

back only by redoubled efforts/Would it not be easier in that case/For the Government to dissolve

the people and elect another? – Berthold Brecht.

First they came for the Socialists/And I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist/Then they

came for the Trade Unionists/And I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist/Then they

came for the Jews/And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew/Then they came for me/And

there was no one left to speak for me – Pastor Martin Niemoller.

Each of the quotes above speaks to the Nigerian situation. Death for “hate speech” notwithstanding,

conscionable people must still speak out because, speak we die; keeping silent we also die. Stalin,

were he to live, would marvel that in Nigeria, not even those who count the votes determine the

outcome of elections but political thugs backed by partisan military and consenting INEC. In all of

this, we pretend not to know that previous democratic experiments got truncated on the twin altar

of election malpractices and corruption, both of which are not only rife but also at an

unprecedented level, the pontificating of the ruling party notwithstanding. With the way elections

go today in Nigeria, the electorate have already been dissolved by Government. And those who

acquiesce, defend, promote, rationalise and overlook the shenanigans of today because they are

beneficiaries or are not yet the victims should know it is turn-by-turn. Their turn will come, by which

time there will be no one left to speak out for them. What goes round comes around!

Nigerians generally are not analytical and methodical but flippant and flimsy. Sentiments – and not

reason – gauge our actions. We are the people Leopold Sedar Senghor, erstwhile Senegalese

president and author of “Negritude”, had in mind when he posited that reason is Hellenic

(White/Euro-American) while emotion/sentiment is African/Black. Like Aime Cesaire, you, too, may

disagree with Senghor but the facts speak to the point.

Do we have a sense of history? Obasanjo as military Head of State started on-going destruction of

public education (witness the 1978 Ali Must Go students’ protests). He handed over power in 1979

knowingly to the worst set of civilians, saying the best candidate may not win in an election. Are they destroying the judiciary today? It started with Richard Akinjide’s 12 two-thirds of 19 states. The

Supreme Court gave a judgment but said it should never be cited as precedent! Obasanjo handed

the presidency over to Shehu Shagari and NPN. Oh, how they ruined Nigeria!

Lacking a sense of history, we allowed the same Obasanjo back into office in 1999. This was after he

had consented to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Obasanjo went to South

Africa to quip that MKO Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed. He probably would have

headed the Interim National Government but as editor of The PUNCH/Saturday PUNCH at that time,

we got wind of the story and slammed it. The wily fox beat a quick retreat only to make a come-back

in 1999. Handing over again in 2007, he chose the worst of three sick fellows. He paired him up with

a nincompoop who barely knew his right from his left. Again, better candidates were shoved aside.

Nigeria almost collapsed as a result of the constitutional crisis engendered by Umaru Yar’Adua’s ill-

health and consequent death in office.

Obasanjo foisted Goodluck Jonathan on Nigerians. Between 2007 and 2011 we saw enough of

Jonathan to know he did not possess the guts, ability and agility to run the country. Yet, we gave him

the nod on sentiments. He wobbled and fumbled till 2015 when the desperadoes hounded him out

of office. As bad as Jonathan was, Muhammadu Buhari by his antecedents should not have been an

option. Like Obasanjo! We, however, did not, again, do due diligence.

Buhari was a dictator in his first coming. He is a worse dictator now. Buhari had no mind of his own

in his first coming, relying on the now late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon whom I described as his brain box.

Today the same Buhari relies on a cabal that rule from behind scantily-concealed veil. Religious

bigot, ethnic jingoist, clueless and incompetent – everything that Buhari was in 1983/1985 he has

been today with renewed vigour and vitality. Our calamity is self-inflicted.

How can PDP/Bayelsans weep that Jonathan dashed his home state to APC? If Jonathan could let the

presidency slip through his fingers in 2015, how dare you think losing a mere state would mean

anything to him? As our people would say, he who steps on his own dress would not mind shredding

another man’s dress. We need to pay more attention to people’s antecedents before entrusting

them with positions of responsibility.

 

About Femi Ige