E O EkeWednesday, February 26, 2014




“The man dies who keeps silent in the face of tyranny” --Wole Soyinka.

believe in democracy. Not just because it gives people the opportunity to play a part in choosing who exercises power over them, but in its processes, principles and dispensations, which guarantee individual freedom and enthrone rule of law and equality of opportunities. I believe in the democratic values, of tolerance, equality. liberty, accountability, responsibility, rule of law and restraint. These are what make democracy the best of the imperfect systems of government. Democracy is not perfect and it is only as good as values, integrity and enlightenment of those who practice.

Democracy is not just a means for the rich and powerful to manovoure themselves into power or pay for the candidate that would do their bidding to gain power. It must give opportunity to those with natural disadvantages to fulfil their dreams and destiny, to be relevant to the way people live their lives. I believe in democratic values which respect individual choices and safe guards the society against extremism, oppression, sectarianism and tyranny. These are some of the reasons why I am involved in the attempt chart a new democratic dispensation, attitude and values for Nigeria.

A lot of Nigerians believe in prayer and owe their loyalty first to their religion and ethnic groups. Yes, it is nice to pray and have these sectarian loyalties as long as they do not make one to justify practices that are inimical to the future of one's country. However, ever since I was a little boy and believed the Bible, I have not seen anything believers attribute to prayer, which science, diligence and money cannot do. Maybe prayer works, when people who believe in God do the right thing. What I detest in Nigeria, is the constant attempt by religious leaders to perpetuate a culture of ignorance and magical thinking in the name of faith by attributing to God, things that have rational explanations. This wrong. This is dishonesty. This is enslavement and betrayal of the people in the name of God and damages democracy and the society.

Whenever the fundamental principles and values of democracy and its enabling environment is imperiled and undermined by magical thinking, corruption and sectarian consideration as they are in Nigeria, democracy is endangered. Such a country is unable to deliver the safe, secured and prosperous society, its people need to flourish and achieve their potentials. This is the reason why every Nigerian, irrespective of ethnic group and or religion, should get involved in the political struggle to free Nigeria from criminal leadership that sees leadership as easy way to riches and opportunity to feed primitive instinctual drives. Without the active participation of honest and patriotic Nigerians in politics, Nigerians will never be able to select its leaders from amongst its best. The best leader for Nigeria does not need to be from my ethnic group, share the same religion with me or even be liked by me in every aspect. He may have personality traits I hate or hold some views, which I disagree with, but the important thing is that he would believe in due process, rule of law and against corruption.

We need to get involved in designing the system with the right checks and balances that would best deliver the kind of society we want. We have to accept that no man, no matter his religion or profession of faith in God, cannot be expected to be fair, honest and sincere with power, without mechanism for holding him to account for its abuses. It is time to stop allowing religious and ethnic considerations to colour our understanding of human nature and the way and manner we need to structure our society.

This is why I am sad at the way and manner Sanusi Lamido, the Nigerian Central Bank governor, has been relieved of his duties for standing up against corruption and demanding accountability. No doubt, President Jonathan has the power to choose those he would like to work with, but the exercise of this discretion is often what determines the fortunes of a country. No leader has ever succeeded by surrounding himself with only people, who tell him what he wants to hear. It is sad that the president did not see Sanusi’s ’s stand against corruption as an asset and was minded to relieve him of his duties in the way and manner he has done. It would therefore seem to me, that the ousting of Lamido Sanusi, Nigerian Central Bank because of his anti-corruption stand is ill advised at this time. It would seem to be a lawful decision taken for the wrong motive and at the wrong time.

Even Sanusi himself would not be surprised that President Jonathan has wielded the long knife. For some time, he has been a thorn in the flesh of a government that does not seem to have words like honesty, accountability, transparency and due process in its vocabulary. Sanusi first stepped on the big toes of those who are ruining Nigeria, when he disclosed that the national assembly consume 25% of recurrent expenditure. Instead of taking steps to reduce the cost of government, which is what an honest and sensitive government would do under the circumstance, the senators hated him and have since been plotting to remove him. Then he disclosed that 20 billion is missing from the proceeds of oil. Again instead of the government to appoint independent auditor to ascertain if his allegations were true, the government began to brief against him. I think this is sad and exposes the nature of the moral values and attitude to probity of those at the helm of affairs in Nigeria

I have had occasions to criticise Sanusi because of his silence on Boko Haram, claim that Boko Haram was caused by poverty, role in preventing America from classifying Boko Haram as a terrorist group and the establishment of Islamic bank, donation of 100million to Kano state and his stance on the revenue sharing formula. Even though these are serious differences, I do not believe that it should justify relievinghim of his position because of his integrity.

A government that has regard for due process would have taken him to task after he donated 100 million Naira to Kano state, but the president did nothing. He should have been queried and if he exceeded his powers, then disciplined. To wait until he spoke out openly against corruption in government and raised issues about discrepancies in the oil revenue to remove him, does not show the government in good light, and will not help the battered image of Nigeria as a very corrupt country. I am sad that he has been removed from office not because of his excesses, but because of anti-corruption stand. This cannot be right no matter the short term political gain it may bring the president and his team, who are not bordered about corruption in Nigeria. I find the manner of his ousting disgraceful and unfortunate. President Jonathan has continued to make decisions that leave much to desire in timing and motive.

It would be a mistake to look at the ousting of Sanusi from either an ethnic or religious lens. It raises serious issue about the independence of Nigerian institutions and their ability to hold the government to account. It would be a great mistake for Nigeria to keep quiet and allow the government to continue to punish anybody who asks questions or speaks out against corruption. The issues Sanusi raised about corruption should now be investigated and the government and ruling party should become more transparent about their sources of income.

The question is where the president and ruling party get the money they use to buy politicians and traditional rulers. Are these also budgeted for?

Lamido Sanusi should be rest assured that Nigeria can trust him. What he needs to do is to increase his national appeal by working on his image as a champion of the north, instead of a Nigerian from the north. Sanusi should now consider running against Jonathan in 2015 and if he does, I may be minded to support him if he accepts my 20 point manifestoes. In spite of his faults which are many like mine, I would be minded to support him because of his anti-corruption credentials, but would oppose his Islamisation and sectrerian agendas. Will Sanusi rise to the occasion, or will he like Nuhu Rabidu, go into bed with people, who he once opposed on principle. Time will tell.

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.