Patrick IbekweSaturday, March 10, 2018
[email protected]
Port Harcourt, Nigeria


he latest political epistle of our former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was directed at our current president, Mohamadu Buhari, and properly so too. After all the prevailing view in some quarters is that President Buhari (PMB for short), has performed woefully in virtually all aspects of governance, including a conspicuous lack of delivery in regard to campaign promises. While I agree that PMB has not delivered in accordance with expectations, I should add that just like former President Goodluck Jonathan before him, PMB underestimated the negative monstrosities of Nigerian life. They both came to empty the water in a bucket with a spoon. Moreover, it needs be said also that PMB, again like Dr Jonathan before him, also contributed to their ill luck in government. Just two instances would suffice and then I shall return to Chief Obasanjo's letter. In my estimation, Dr Jonathan would have passed as a man who meant well, and with some vision of what a new Nigeria - how long we have waited for it - should be, but that assessment suffered attrition as soon as he granted his so called amnesty to the late Deprieye Alamesiegha (his former boss and former governor of Bayelsa State), who had earlier been convicted of a crime involving fraudulent enrichment. Sometimes just one act or word or policy decision is capable of squandering your mountain of political goodwill or any other goodwill for that matter!

On his own part, PMB showed a surprising lack of political will akin to 'favouritism and nepotism' (two words on the back of which past military governments rode to power, the President's first outing being one of such aberrations), in the handling of the barbaric and ethnic cleansing murders by suspected herdsmen of Fulani origin. The President left none in any doubt that this was no chance occurrence with his handling of the matter of corruption and thievery on the part of the former Secretary to his government, Mr Babachir Lawal. And all these happened after people like yours truly staked our reputations in political punditry in support of PMB. Nonetheless, I still think PMB would score some points in his anti-corruption crusade, but I am sure how much!

However, the above does not in my view, qualify former President Olusegun Obasanjo to act as a credible critic of this government or any other Nigerian government. The facts actually signify a different conclusion! Perhaps, the most important reason why this statement is true is that this rickety rickshaw that Chief Obasanjo and his ilk (the gossip in town is that the Nigerian State currently stands on the allegorical tripod of three public personalities - Obasanjo being one of them) have publicly boasted that they midwifed and are ready to die for; is indeed not a country or nation in the sense it is known in other climes. This is clear from Chief Obasanjo's own admissions in his letters and interviews, which are all in the public space already. Chief Obasanjo admitted that he chose and campaigned, possibly foisted the duo of the late Musa Yar' Adua and Jonathan on Nigeria; he was later to commence a deliberate dismantling of that political structure. Chief Obasanjo similarly voiced his support for PMB as the man to do the unthinkable - rescue and restore Nigeria on the part of sanity and growth; the Chief has again reversed in his recent epistle, claiming that he reserves the right to recant if he finds that he had acted in error. That is fair enough, I mean, mistakes and errors are facts of everyday life; even sophisticated machines like computers sometimes malfunction.

The point, however, is that Chief Obasanjo arrogates to himself the skill, experience, foresight and arcane wisdom of what is good and what is not so good for Nigeria! But contrarily some persons he had voted against and opposed in the public space in the past are probably the ones that could have made a difference. Incidentally, the two most striking instances of such presumptuousness on the part of our former president were in regard to Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, both late. During the days of his travails after he had made a daring bid to recover his people-endorsed mandate to be President, Obasanjo cursorily dismissed Chief Abiola as not being Nigeria's awaited messiah. Before this time in 1979, discerning minds were able to see through all that twelve two-third nonsense that stopped Chief Awolowo from a run-off election against Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who eventually became president. Indeed, if we walk backwards to 1970 when Chief Obasanjo received the instruments of surrender from the 'rebel' leadership of Biafra, the Owu Chief would have supported only the late Muritala Muhammed to whom he was deputy, apart from himself that is! And perhaps by accident or design, his governments are usually succeeded by candidates from the North, except of course that he blocked Atiku Abubakar, his deputy at the time from taking over from him. And it is no news that by the end of their tenure in 2007, both Chief Obasanjo and his deputy had become implacable enemies!

When we tie all the above considerations together we must come to the conclusion that Chief Obasanjo has completely and consistently missed the point. That point is that the Nigerian State was dead on arrival (DOA)! There was neither unity of purpose nor agenda amongst its founding fathers, thus allowing for external poachers to intervene - poachers are not noted for their kindness. After harrowing times, a people or family or friends who are meant to be together come together and tell themselves or each other the truth. But after the civil war, the architects of what we now have for a country multiplied their lies and hypocrisy and wickedness. So now we have several generations of mindless, senseless, soulless and heartless Nigerians for a people. A people who do everything differently from the rest; from politics to religion, from marriage to farming. A people whose pride well and truly preceded their crash. But persons like the Owu Chief who have had prominence thrust upon them by fate, would rather glory in empty speeches and meaningless epistles that tell us what we already know of our problems. I mean, I need no prophet or statesman to remind me that I am facing harrowing times when I have no food or money to buy food; and worse still, no hope that tomorrow or even 365 days from hence the situation would be any better.

I have a word of advice for Chief Obasanjo and those with whom he basks in the glory of owning Nigeria. Return to 1970! Regret that you did not congratulate General Effiong and his colleagues for helping you chart the way forward for this country. Regret that you spurned the Aburi Accord and committed atrocities against a defenceless people, but now the word on every Southerner's lips is restructuring. Regret that instead of welcoming back your 'brothers' with open arms, wiping their tears and sincerely addressing the reasons they elected to exit the federation; you insincerely noised abroad a programme of 3Rs that you had no intention of implementing. And Dr Yakubu Gowon should take note too; the whole truth and nothing but the truth can save. Recently, it seems I have heard Professor Wole Soyinka say the same thing, he called it living in self-denial. When a man builds on a foundation of shifting sands (lies), the rains and stormy winds (truth) comes and exposes the nothingness in the substructure. Chief Obasanjo's many letters and advice goes to nothing really; in one word, they are useless. Utterly so!


More than two decades back the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang his 'Unknown Soldier'. He went on to deduce that that this would naturally end in an 'Unknown Government', since the Unknown Soldier was employed by that government. Fast forward to 2018, and the Rivers State Command (or branch?) of the Nigeria Police has decided to build on the legacy of the late Fela Kuti; they recently added to the security or criminal lexicon the idea of a 'Visiting Policeman!' And this is what happened. Sometimes in the month of February, 2018, in the Rumuokoro area of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, a police officer employed to clear the road for one of the big 'Ogas' that own our space, went into delirium and fatally shot a taxi driver for blocking their way. Now that is a common occurrence and I expect those conversant with Nigerian affairs to be wondering what next, what is the gist? Such shootings have become part of our daily lives.

The Police Command in Rivers State was accosted with the facts. It duly informed the public that the shooting was done by a visiting police officer, who as at last week when a delegation from the police authorities belatedly visited the grieving family of the deceased, was yet to be arrested. As for me, I am not really interested in whether or not the man was arrested. Local folks and keen watchers of the Nigerian paradox know that the end of the story was the explanation that the crime was perpetrated by a visiting officer! If you are not satisfied with such a simply laid out explanation, then you must either come from Mars or you are trying to play politics with a sensitive matter like the death of a man. By the way, anyone who can should inform the afro music originator, Fela Kuti that he has been surpassed. We now have visiting police sharp shooters, and therefore, visiting governments too!

Overall, my interest in this matter is to call attention to the fact that our Police have improved on something at least. This time they did not 'swing' or 'swung into action' to arrest the criminal(s). They also did not shoot dead three of the gang and the rest escaped with gunshot wounds. This time the criminal completely vanished into the thin Nigerian air, but somehow gave our Police the vital clue upon which to begin their investigations - a visiting Nigerian Policeman! Brothers and sisters, please, be on the watch out for the visiting Nigerian Policeman. Those of you outside Nigeria should do the patriotic thing; alert Interpol immediately. There are no limits to our degeneracy, is there?