E O EkeThursday, January 16, 2014
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redictably, Obasanjo’s letter to Jonathan has dominated political discussion in Nigeria and seems to have provided the catalyst for the PDP rebels needed to exit the party. Immediately the choreographed plan went into second gear with call for impeachment of Jonathan, without even tasking the author to provide the evidence to collaborate his outlandish assertions. Obasanjo has gained at least one benefit since his letter. Sheik Gumi, Islamic Cleric has declared that he has ‘forgiven’ Obasanjo of the bloods in his hand and his corruption because he did corruption to help his friends. Such is his appreciation of what Obasanjo did that, the leaders of APC paid him a courtesy visit to thank him for giving their contraption the boost it needed at a critical time, setting the stage for another do or die election in 2015. The final phase of this Act one has now been completed with the resignation of Obasanjo from PDP.

The Nigeria president appears to be under siege. It is difficult not to feel sorry for him, even though his predicament is of his own making. It will be a pity, if President Jonathan allows himself to be stampeded into taking unnecessary action by a gang of corrupt, visionless, power crazy sectarian minded opportunists, whose legacy has been the destruction of a pristine country they inherited. He should simply continue what he was elected to do. He is the president and it is his political capital and his choice to spend it the way he wants. He has a chance to become either a Goberchev or F W De Clerk.

Obasanjo is a Nigerian citizen and has a right to write the president and make any allegation as long as he has the evidence to back them up. He must now be tasked to provide the evidence for his assertions before a committee to investigate his allegations. It would be a mistake to apply African solution to this matter. The fact is that Obasanjo and the people he copied his letters destroyed Nigeria by their corruption, greed and sectarian attitude and worldview. They are a generation that venerated ethnicity, traditional beliefs, dishonesty, and disregard of rule of law and due process, and intolerant attitude to those who are different. They benefited from a country with great potential and then turned around, looted and destroyed it. Things that were working before they came to power stopped after they left. things that belonged to the people before they came to power, became their private properties after they left office.They neither made better what was good, nor good what was bad. Things that functioned before they came to power ceased after the came to power, and things which existed before they came to power, disappeared after they left. They pioneered a new way of pillaging a country’s resources, and diverted everything that would have benefited the country for their own selfish end.They destroyed the university system that gave opportunity even to people who could not afford shoes and, replaced it with private universities where only the rich can send their children. They privatised national utilities and then bought them back with their stolen wealth.

They stole Nigeria dry and bequeathed the present and future generations, a country where corruption has become institutionalised and endemic, ridden with armed robbers and kidnapers, religious extremist and terrorists. Suddenly, they are the owners of oil resources that exist in ancestral lands that belong to a different people through their oil allocation. Their legacy is a country where armed men are free to rob, intimidate and kill at will and religious extremist gaining grounds to impose a primitive way of life that has no room for reason, liberty, tolerance and dissent on all and government proud to pass discriminatory and intolerant legislation that criminalises human behaviours on the basis of religious beliefs thereby legitimising intolerance and bigotry. Many villages are attacked daily by armed Fulani herdsmen in the middle belt and Boko Haram is fighting to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state and all Obasanjo can think of is to undermine President Jonathan, to enable APC, a party with deep Islamic root and no clear ideology to gain power and continue government by patronage, where a few will plunder and impose their will on all. For his selfish reasons he was prepared to destroy his own party, because he could not have his way.

Nigerians must think very deeply about the legacy of Obasanjo’s generation and the implication of his letter. Obasanjo should know that he has no more rights in Nigeria than the boy on the street whose future he and the people he copied his letter stole. Obasanjo should understand that what his generation bequeathed to Nigerian’s unborn, is the worst kind of future any generation can bequeath their country. He and his group and generation belong to the class of leaders who made their country worse than they met it.

I have known Obasanjo, Buhari, Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma, Shagari, Gowon, Abacha etc., since I was a little boy in Nigeria. I cannot find a single good thing they have done for Nigeria. They have presided over the continued deterioration of Nigeria. I associate their names with the people who destroyed Nigeria. Nigeria was safer when I was in primary school, the more these people controlled the country the worse it got. Today people are kidnapped in the south and their fingers chopped of and sent to their families, Police men arrest suspects and summarily execute them and kill at will without consequences. Politicians steal public fund to build mansions and universities. Boko Haram terrorists kill burn and behead people at will. Government ignores court orders and rule by force, while all these men live in their hill top houses with tight securities, drive in armoured car convey with armed security or fly in private jets and have the audacity to write sanctimonious letter talking about corruption and murdering opponents something that they normalised in Nigeria.

The Nigeria made in the image of the Obasanjo generation is fast disintegrating along sectarian faultiness. APC is fast metamorphosing into Nigerian Islamic party. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a political alliance has been formed based on shared religious beliefs and an Islamic terrorist group which respects one of the leaders of the religious party, has found justification for a violent struggle to impose Islam in Nigeria and the country has entered an improbable journey, whose outcome is unpredictable. Once religion becomes the binding force in any political party, the future of liberty in that country is periled. History has shown us the limitation of violent pursuit of convictions and that no position of how the affairs of life should be conducted, justifies the shedding of one drop of human blood. In spite of these, many politicians and Islamic clerics are threatening that blood would flow in Nigeria, if they do not have their way in 2015. They threatened to make the country ungovernable if, Jonathan was elected president, and true to their threat; they unleashed Boko Haram afterwards.

Contrary to the premises of those who argue for the balkanization of Nigeria because of the challenges of its multi-ethnicity, I argue for a united Nigerian under a secular democracy, because that is what would better secure the safety and future of all, including minorities in different parts of the country. This is why I am deeply suspicious of politicians with sectarian agenda, who fail to understand its potential to destroy what they hope to build. In Germany in the 1930s, the type of politics currently being played by the Obasanjo generation produced Hitler. He was an arch nationalist and through his writings and views, we know how dangerous people who ascribe some kind of superiority or special qualities to a people on the basis of ethnicity or religion can be. Toxic ethnic nationalism and religious extremism are a kind of racism. It is an expression of prejudice against other people for the only reason that they are of a different ethnic or religious group. It is the overvaluing of biological identity and ideas people hold in their minds as the basis on which human being should segregate. This is both ignorant and foolish.

Many Nigerians do not seem to understand that the nation needs to address the mechanism that enable our Leaders to emerged from the worst of us and the dynamics that enables this to happened. There is urgent need to understand the false assumption that the human problems which affects Nigeria are as a result of its structure and at the same time, accept that changing the structure of Nigeria by dividing it into its ethnic nations will not suddenly result in there resolution. It would not suddenly enable good Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Ibibios, Birons, Ishekiris, Ijaws etc., to emerging as leaders of their ethnic nations and solve the problems of endemic corruption, lack of respect for the rule of law, intolerance, human greed and ignorance. Nigeria is a viable multi ethnic nation, which is made less viable daily by people like Obasanjo, Sheik Gumi and those ganging up under Islamic platform to continue the pursuit of their sectarian agendas.

Nigeria has found itself in the grip of bad leaders and such problem is never well solved by reverting to primordial instincts. We have seen it in Libya, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan etc., that mixing religion and politics in the way APC has done, does not bring peace and development. Therefore, APC must come clean about its Islamic agenda for Nigeria. People who think this is scare mongering should reflect on what the Muslim brotherhood did in Egypt which has plunged the country into an intractable conflict. They started like APC, essentially a coalition of people united by religion. This is the only thing that units Tinubu and Buhari. Ordinarily, if Buhari is what many people want to believe he is, he would not have formed a political alliance with one of the most corrupt politicians in Nigeria. These are the people he would need to bring to justice to make Nigeria better. Nuhu Rabidu is in cahoot with people he once indicted for corruption to save Nigeria. This is simply ridiculous, but not surprising in a country where politics is not driven by ideology or deep convictions.

Nigerians should look again at Egypt and what the Moslem brotherhood has made of it, before allowing a political party welded together by Islam or Christianity to take control of its affairs. I believe in one united Nigeria where neither ethnicity nor religion is the constructs on which political parties are built. I believe in a Nigeria under a secular democracy, where the rule of law, equality and justice are more important than ethnicity or religion. A Nigeria, where neither Christianity nor Islam dominates, but all are free to follow the practice of the religion of their choice. I believe in a country, where the morality espoused by religion are upheld and taught, but no one compelled to do what some people think is in his best interest. This is possible only if we have leaders who share such convictions.

Any country with leaders with autocratic traits who believe that they are more righteous than all and know what is better for the people and not prepared to respect public opinion or the constitution, as Obasanjo, Buhari etc., have demonstrated in the time they were in power; cannot develop enduring democratic values and culture. Nigerians has to examine imperfect Jonathan closely, before exchanging him for those who would have no qualms about imposing their religious values on all because they believe them to be the truth or will ride rough should over the will of greater majority of Nigerians to plant Nigeria in the middle of organisation of Islamic cooperation. (OIC)

Exchanging a leader like Jonathan for one with deep seated sectarian convictions is not progress. What is happening in Nigeria at the moment, reminds me of one of Aesop’s fables. Once upon a time, a fox fell into a ditch and was covered by ticks. After many days someone helped him out of the hole and wanted to remove the ticks and the fox would not oblige and the gentleman was surprised. He asked the fox why he did not want him to remove the ticks, seeing that they are sucking his blood and the fox answer is very insightful. The fox said that the ticks he has, has been sucking his blood and that they are very big and tired and do not need much blood from him, but if he removes them other ticks more hungry will infest him and may suck him to death. Aesop told the story while defending a demagogue (politician) who was accused of corruption. He asked the people to leave the politician who has confessed his corruption and said that he was prepared to make amends. Political decision should not be made at emotional level. Jonathan with all his faults would seem a better alternative than the hungry lots that wants to replace him, unless a credible party and candidate with clear ant- corruption agenda and fit for purpose policies emerges.

Nigerians should look closely between Jonathan and the sectarian minded alternatives waiting in APC and decide who is more likely to listen to their views, discuss their views and meet them half way. I have been critical of Jonathan’s attitude to corruption and continue to urge him to act against corruption, but it may well be that with parting of ways with Obasanjo he might become more likely to allow the rule of law to take its natural course without interfering, who knows. After Obasanjo’s letter, it cannot be business as usual. Jonathan would seem a better option in a contest where Nigerians are forced to choose between bad and worse. He would seem better than a know it all, ex-military leader with strong sectarian agenda who has very little regards for what others, believe or want, especially when it is what his religion condemns.

APC and PDP are made of up of the same corrupt sectarian minded Nigerian who have brought this country to its knees. They choose the vehicle they believe will enable them gain power. Today they are PDP, tomorrow they are new PDP, and next tomorrow they are APC. This is not politics of convictions or true difference, but politics of selfish interest. This is simply repackaging of the same people, the same ideas and the same mind-set. I see very little difference between Buhari, Atiku, Tinubu and Tambuwal. They are strange bedfellows united by Islam and desire for power. They are not nation builder but politicians of fortune and plunderers. It is unfortunate that they succeeded in using Obasanjo to undermine Jonathan who has shown that he has some respect for the rule of law and minded to respect public opinion. I hope that Nigerians will choose wisely in 2015.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.