Blog Directory

Monday, June 30, 2008

The New Northern agenda

Nigeria is fast receding back into the pre-June 12 political climate of inter-ethnic suspicions and resentments fanned by the Northern political elite who contemptuously aspire to have a permanent grip on the levers of federal political power and leave other Nigerians in a state of persistent agitation for equal political space and opportunities. It is in this light that one can properly situate three recent developments.
One, the heresy by Abdulsalami Abubakar that the nation should forget June 12, which was the subject of this column last week; two, the crude attempt to re-write history through an obviously commissioned work by Humphrey Nwosu, seeking to exculpate Babangida from responsibility over the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections and three, the concerted effort by Babangida, Buhari and Abubakar to sanitize Abacha and free him from the stigma of previously unequalled level of corruption. It is the intention in this column to show that the above three events did not happen coincidentally, that there is a nexus between them.
If the statement absolving Abacha of corruption had been made by just Babangida and Abdulsalami, one would not have been too alarmed. We all know their records on corruption which I need not waste any space on. Even among thieves, there is always the urge for that perverse sense of honour to defend one another. But how does Buhari fit into this? This is a man who has built, perhaps deceptively, a strong reputation as a disciplinarian with a stout aversion for corruption.
This is a man who, on account of his perceived anti-corruption credentials, my own party, the Democratic Peoples Alliance, adopted as its presidential candidate; a man in the promotion of whom I wrote in this column on January 10, 2007, while assessing the three foremost presidential candidates, that he “is without doubt a no nonsense man with regards to corruption and indiscipline, the acknowledged cankerworms of the polity”; a man on whose behalf I even crossed swords with Prof. Wole Soyinka and Ebenezer Babatope in my column of January 24 the same year,, captioned “From Fanatical Conservatism to Liberal Progressivism:
The metamorphosis of Buhari.” If, with all the stolen money traced to Abacha’s foreign accounts and partly repatriated to the nation under the Obasanjo regime, Buhari still believes Abacha was not corrupt, then how does he justify the treatments he meted out to former UPN governors like Onabanjo, Ajasin, Ambrose Alli and even Alhaji Jakande and late Bola Ige, people who were all political angels in comparison with their contemporary governors not to mention any comparison with the unabashed dark-goggled treasury looter?
Buhari’s inconsistency cannot be explained by the simple aphorism of not speaking evil of the dead, an aphorism which like everything else in the country, is being distorted in its application. Not speaking evil of the dead was never intended to permit us to tell lies, for or against the dead. In fact, the opposite was intended, that is, never lie against the dead , for the act of lying is an evil. It is as much of an evil against the dead to turn a scoundrel into a saint post humously as it is to do the reverse. So, the attempt to turn Abacha from a scoundrel to a saint is an evil against him. If the aphorism were to be taken as meaning that we must always tell nice lies about the dead, then future generations will never have proper historical models of virtue and villainy to guide their conduct.
If the crimes of rulers were to be automatically wiped off by their deaths, Roman historians would not have recorded Emperor Severus as the ruler under whose reign the decline of the empire began, or Nero as a ruler who assassinated his wife and mother, prostituted his person and dignity on the theatre and, to cap his atrocities, set his capital on fire while he sang on his lyre. Hitler would equally have been sanitized of the crime of killing six million Jews, and leading his country into a misadventure in World War II, resulting in the division and occupation of Germany . But all these, because they have been accurately recorded, have become useful lessons for posterity. The Jews can now say, with a sense of history, “Never Again!”
Before looking at the greater import of Buhari’s stand on Abacha’s corruption, let us examine its effect on tribalism in our nation and its impact on the anti-corruption war. Now that it is clear that Northern leaders want to sanitize all the past rulers from their region and clear them of all acts of mis-governance, will there not be an automatic reaction from other zones? Will Yorubas who have been pressing for Obasanjo’s trial for the many allegations of corruption against him not now have a rethink? And if every zone is now forced to rise instinctively to the defence of corrupt rulers from its zone, where would that leave the war against corruption? Would we not have further sentenced the masses of Nigerians to an unbroken chain of bad governance by corrupt leaders, each of whom will feel secure in the knowledge that his zone of the country will not allow any effective sanctions to be brought against him? Is that how we shall achieve Vision 2020?
Now to the nexus between the move to sanitize Abacha by the trio of Northern ex-heads of state. Discerning political observers have now seen an evolving, new Northern Agenda, by which power must be retained in the North, regardless of any eventualities, and even possibly beyond the constitutionally stipulated eight years. The current moves are clearly aimed at settling long standing personal grievances among major Northern leaders, and thus laying a foundation for the ready emergence of a consensus around the new agenda, and for a leadership that will be acceptable to all Northerners, and to some extent other Nigerians too.
From this angle, the sanitization of Abacha was simply meant to carry along the people of Kano in this consensus building process, while absolving Babangida of blame over the June 12 annulment was meant to reduce hostilities towards him in very strongly pro June 12 parts of the nation. Babangida, as a prospective beneficiary of the new consensus, is already forcefully projecting himself for the new leadership, which is why he needed an Nwosu to exonerate him on June 12. Why Nwosu agreed to be a willing accomplice is what beats one’s imagination. By his indiscreet act, he has definitely moved from saint to scoundrel on the issue of June 12, while his effort to move Babangida in the opposite direction has achieved very limited results.
Another component of the new Northern agenda is to frustrate any major review of the 1999 Constitution, especially such as would dilute federal power and seek true federalism. Yet another component is the progressive northernisation of key federal positions. They do not pretend to have nationalistic objectives, rather they see the protection of purely Northern interests as the ultimate of nationalism.
The time to counter the sectional northern agenda with a truly patriotic and nationalistic one, aimed at achieving true federalism and weakening the centre is now. The tragedy of Nigerian politics is that political sense seems to go in inverse proportion to formal education. While the North is busy doing all the political fence mending to rally round a common agenda, Southern leaders are engulfed in petty squabbles that prevent them from mapping out an appropriate counter strategy. But the South must wake up from its slumber.
A counter strategy must be built around the reversion to true federalism, as in the 1963 Constitution which was operative until the military replaced it with military unitarism, subsequently civilianised by the 1999 Constitution. The South has done enough of talking and agitating for true federalism. We must now take concrete steps to actualize it. We must construct a coalition of true patriots, within and outside the National Assembly to counter that of the sectional hegemonists. The constitutional battle must be fought once and for all. If we don’t achieve true federalism by this current review or preferably, a re-write of the constitution, all Southern political leaders must consider themselves as failures. Culled from Nigerian Tribune

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

State of the Nation

Am making this posting in an angry and sombre mood. Nigeria is now in a very sorry state and the fearful thing is that it is still getting worse everyday. The country is now at a standstill! Power is non-existent, armed bandits has taken over our highways and creeks, residences! Food has gone out of the reach of the common man.

We are daily confronted with the tales of woes and sorrow from fellow country men which has failed so far to touch our so called leaders (if they can be called that). What we hear daily from them is the award of big (always) inflated contracts for projects that never materializes or be of benefit to the masses.

There has been calls for a Revolution to take place in this country from some quarters and I agree wholeheartedly with this line of thought albeit a non-violent one. Yes, Non-violent Revolution is possible. I think its time the masses show this our (un)elected leaders thatt enough is enough.
Remember former USSR, Cuba, Ghana (though not support of that type). The list is endless.
As the saying goes 'if the poor does not sleep, the rich wont also see sleep'.

Friday, June 13, 2008


LIKE many celebrated men whose lives impacted on many others, Chief Lamidi Adedibu’s life was characterised by many tales.
Many of these tales only further confirm him as a controversial as well as a colourful politician. The intriguing story of Adedibu was actually best captured by the legendary Ibadan-based musician of the 1960s-1980s, Chief Odolaye Aremu.
In a long playing album he waxed in celebration of Adedibu, he described him as someone who returned from the market with a chicken.
“He did not buy it. It was not given to him. Neither did Adedibu steal it!” So intriguing was Adedibu’ s life. And so were many tales told about him.
In 2003, it was reported that Chief Adedibu caused a stir in a passenger plane travelling from Abuja to Lagos, after the PDP convention. He had reportedly strapped a Ghana-must-Go bag to a passenger seat beside himself.
When other passengers approached and made to remove the bag, Adedibu cautioned them, showing the ticket bought to secure the seat for the bag. The old man was said to have explained later that he could not trust the airline with his money, hence the decision to sit it beside himself.
Another tale about how he dislodged a major witness against him in an election petition tribunal is a testimony to his ingenuity.Adedibu had secured electoral victory for his wards in a controversial manner. However, the execution of the electoral heist had been witnessed by a disabled observer that Adedibu’s men had ignored.
Unfortunately for them, the disabled approached the opposing party, offering to be a star witness that could force the cancellation of the election. It was when the parties converged in the court that Adedibu and his men realised the great risk that the man’s evidence constituted to their case. Adedibu then designed a way out of it.
When they returned to court the following day, he stationed his men around the disabled man. As he had planned, he walked across to them and told them about a sacrifice they needed to offer to win the case.
While pretending that he was whispering to his men, he spoke loud enough for the disabled man to hear his instructions. He then reminded his men that the mallams needed the service of a disabled man like the witness to offer the sacrifice. His men must not allow the disabled man to escape after the court sitting that day so that he could be used for that sacrifice.
The witness, who also pretended not to have heard the conversation, took his time before escaping from the court room, ahead of the end of proceedings. He refused to return to the court to give evidence despite all assurances by the opposing side that he would be protected.
With this design, Adedibu denied the opposing side the evidence of a vital witness that would have forced the cancellation of the election.
Adedibu’s philosophy of election is that no politician in Nigeria will go into any election without any design to manipulate it to his own advantage. He believed that it was incumbent on any politician worth his salt to ensure that he was not outrigged by other politicians. His usual instruction to his men was that it is better to be declared the winner of an election and to be challenged in court than to be the one challenging the winner.
He said whoever was in government would use government resources to prosecute his case while the challenger would rely on his own resources, which he said was a major disadvantage.
In 2006 at the height of hostilities between him and Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Adedibu was asked by a group of journalists in Abuja what he thought his legacy would be in the light of the violence in Oyo state. He said “what other legacy can a man like me ask for? Yesterday, I was at the Presidential Villa where I had lunch with the President. On the same day, I was with the Vice President and we had dinner together. Any politician who is serious about winning Oyo State whether he is president or anything will come to my house. I already have a legacy that I am happy with.”
The contradictions of AdedibuChief Adedibu meant different things to different people. It was a mark of the contradictions of his life. To many people, Chief Adedibu was a politician who promoted violence and oppressed the people. His approachability told a different story. His Molete residence was always a beehive of activities, filled with men and women who came in search of solutions to their daily problems.
Adedibu got the appellation of promoter of “Amala politics” because of the ceaseless supply of the popular Ibadan staple food in the house.
Everyday, Adedibu served breakfast, lunch and dinner to the hundreds of people who thronged his house. Adedibu ensured that those who daily thronged his house went home with some money everyday.
He held court twice a day in the residence: 9 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.The routine was for his political foot-soldiers to report political happenings in their respective areas. The foot-soldiers covered every nook and cranny of Ibadan in the early days of Adedibu’s political suzerainty.
In the latter years, they came from all parts of Oyo State. As Adedibu listened to these foot soldiers’ accounts, he also had time for people who had come in search of solution to one problem or the other.
A daily check list would include those who had been wrongly dismissed, demoted or transferred in the state civil service. Adedibu would promptly assign one of his aides to contact appropriate government agencies or officials to address the problem. In addressing such issues, he relied on his extensive knowledge of the state to make a case in support of whatever action he decided to take. The arguments could exploit religious, community or historical grounds to justify any line of action.
In the crowd that thronged the house would also be people who had come in search of financial assistance. This would usually include men who had problem raising money to buy cows to bury their in-laws.
Adedibu would not only buy a cow and other materials needed for the funeral, he would also assign some people to attend the event. In most cases, he ensured that he was in attendance. Adedibu, attending the naming ceremony of a bus driver’s baby or the burial of the in-law of a vulcaniser, was all he needed to win the loyalty of such individual.
In Molete, Adedibu kept a retinue of officials who attended to specific responsibilities. He had a surveyor general who handled all problems about land in Ibadan. He had a security assistant whose assignment was to intervene and help any member of the political household solve problems they had with security agencies.
There was someone who related with agencies like the licensing office to handle traffic problems for members of the political family. It was a long list that catered for virtually every need that could be brought to the attention of the political leader.
Some people’s perception of Adedibu as an outlaw was somewhat negated by his religious engagements. Adedibu seemed pious. He was reputed to fast for about three days every week. He maintained a very large retinue of Islamic clerics who offered prayers for him.
In his last years, he could hardly express three sentences without bringing in the name of Allah. But then, it was also familiar to get reports of Adedibu instructing his men to carry out actions that conflicts sharply with the dictates of Islam, his religion.

Custom Search
Add to Technorati Favorites