“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad,” Antonio wonders at the outset of The Merchant of Venice. The scourge of corruption that is ravaging Nigeria makes good people like Sonala Olumhense so sad. He is not alone.
Of all contemporary Nigerian writers that I know, there is no one like Olumhense who doggedly and fastidiously prosecutes corruption face to face in his columns. He’s got that right.
Olumhense is a veritable ball of energy. He is animated when writing about corruption in Nigeria. He stresses in evangelical fashion, the interconnectedness of the multiple political, economic, and social consequences of corruption to the country and the impact on the citizens.
We can understand why Olumhense grow apocalyptic at times, overheated, and fueled by fury. Corruption is our number enemy. Corruption is the new radioactive catastrophe – our Chernobyl – if you will, that is killing Nigeria and Nigerians and would ultimately wipe out the country and its 160 million dumb citizens.
In his article “Let Us Detonate This Grand Corruption Conspiracy (2)” published in SaharaReporters November 17, Olumhense’s fervor to rid Nigeria of corruption bubbles to the fore as evidenced in his carefully distilled and dispassionate suggested strategies in the article.
In the characteristic Olumhense style, he carefully and methodically builds his case step by step. Olumhense’s manifesto on how to fight corruption in Nigeria reads like conjured magic with Hemingwayesque simplicity of prose. I say conjured magic because the strategies proffered are too democratic, too decent, too civilized, too constitutional, too logical, too commonsensical, and too alien, to Hobbesian Nigerian state – that’s the surest way on how not to “detonate this grand corruption conspiracy” in Nigeria!
Olumhense religiously submits that “The first task is to understand that Nigeria’s corruption oligarchy counts on the ignorance and cowardice of Nigerians to fuel the culture of impunity.” “The first task is to empower people and therefore embolden the people with information.” A people armed with the truth,” says Olumhense, “can never be defeated.”
I’ll like to remind Olumhense that the titans of the corruption conglomerate are extremely dexterous in distortion, manipulation, misinformation, disinformation, falsehood, and make believe. It’s no wonder Nigerians are trapped in moronic delusion in support of the illegalities of corruption.
The issue of corruption is a comedy of ethnic columns divided into neurotic acts and scenes of misery. For instance, if the culprit was Hausa man, the Hausas would shield the criminal with impregnable fort and instead charge his Yoruba or Igbo accusers of ethnic bias. The same goes for the other two groups.
Consider the following examples:
The so called Middle Belt Progressive Union came out swinging at critics of the embattled aviation minister, Stella Oduah. In the Sunday edition of This Day November 24, in a letter to President Jonathan signed by the union’s president and secretary Danladi Shaga and Shehu Maihula respectively, said “Most observers are not deceived by the hypocrisy of the on-going orchestrated and sustained mass media hysteria against Oduah. It is all hatchet job sponsored by parochial interest groups jealous and unhappy with you and your star ministers,” the group said.
The group then warned Mr. Jonathan of enemies within “working against your interests as moles; they are like the dangerous domestic rat that reveals to the wild rat that there is a piece of fish in the kitchen basket.” Not so long ago, a group of women also came out in full force protesting in support of Oduah.
The little known Abuja Market Women’s Association were up in arms deriding, insulting, and castigating ASUU for being on strike and threatened ASUU with October deadline to go back to work or else… These rented crowds feed the corrupt appetites of the enemies of the people and dwarf our hopes that Nigerians have what it takes to present a unified front and fight their common enemies.
Some brain pulverized youth demonstrated against the arrest of Governor Lamido’s two sons by the EFCC for embezzling millions of Naira.
Tell Ijaw confederacy that Mr. Jonathan is a corrupt man and rather than fight corruption he has in fact legalized and legitimized corruption and hear what they would say. The Asari Dokubos of the Ijaw Confederacy would confront you with “it’s our oil money and we can spend it as we like.” And with a clincher Dokubo will vow that “Nigeria will become history if Jonathan is not re-elected in 2015.”
The Peoples Anti-Corruption War (PAW) suggested by Olumhense will fade away as soon as it is formed. The various governments and their looting surrogates will inoculate or better still, castrate PAW members with tempting and irresistible bundles of Naira in Ghana Must Go. Similarly, the Civil Society Anti-corruption crusaders are also at risk of being bought and burn.
The compilation of database of phone numbers of legislators as advised by Olumhense will be 419 numbers. It’s like building a bridge to nowhere! Nigerians are too conniving, too religious, and too sympathetic to serve as reliable whistle blowers and dependable informants that will give away the phone numbers of NASS or state assembly members. Bear in mind that most of the legislators are members of the same church with their staff. In some cases, the legislators are their pastors. Armed with the Biblical injunction “do my prophet no harm,” these religion charlatans would refuse to turn in the real phone numbers.
Forget about Citizens United Against Corruption. We don’t have such committed and loyal citizens that will “Encourage,” “Suggest,” “Assist,” and “Volunteer” to report the thieves to any of the civil society campaigners. Our citizens are not equipped consciously, psychologically, radically, democratically, and resolutely “to ask harder questions of other officials, elected or appointed…” Likewise, they’re too timid, too cowed, and too subservient “to pile unprecedented pressure on their representatives that will translate into law and improve governance.”
Olumhense solicits the support of the telecommunications companies in Nigeria in the fight against corruption. Well, the telecommunications companies are allies and accessories that put finishing touches that complete the fraudulent transactions of the thieves in Abuja, Aso Rock, and in other parts of the country. They are partners in crime. As we all know, the companies are owned by the ruling thieves but fronted by their boys. Then the pertinent question is: How can Beelzebub cast out Beelzebub?
Asking political parties to fight corruption in Nigeria is like asking President Jonathan to declare his assets. The enlistment of political parties in the war against corruption as proposed by Olumhense is a political nonstarter. The political parties are the architects of corruption in the country. The parties are the same, the only difference is in name. None of the parties in my view presents a credible alternative in the fight against corruption. They are anti-people, anti-democracy, anti-development, anti-transparency, and anti-accountability.
Take a look at the personal estates, fortunes, and other largesse of the party leaders, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. When it comes to choosing a political party that fights for the oppressed poor, Nigerians have no choice really. They are faced with a choice between Satan and Lucifer!
Olumhense calls for Anti-Corruption Campaigners to “unite and establish a genuine annual National Honours scheme, perhaps to be called Nigeria People’s Heroes, to restore meaning to the concept of honour.” In my view, this would not discourage corruption. Remember, this is Nigeria where things work in the reverse and where everything is corrupt or prone to corruption.
What becomes of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) merit honor of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)? A professional status considered as independent indication of professional excellence of value has been politicized, punctuated, and inundated with the Nigerian factor. We now have many SANs more than the membership of NBA. Literally, every lawyer in Nigeria now walks around with the SAN title on his or her forehead.
Nigerians in the diaspora are very politically disabled, fractured, polarized, and disunited due to suspicion, petty jealousies, ethnic rivalry, and personal ambition. They don’t speak with one voice, they lack focus, organization, and are consumed, constricted, and cocooned in their narrow hermetic cells. Like Nigerians at home, they see the war on corruption as “we versus them” and “they versus us.”
Take a tour on Facebook and see the jaundiced, colored, and mangled pedestrian views expressed by Nigerians in Diaspora on corruption. Usually and as expected, the debate is full of ethnic bias, pride and prejudice. Sorry, they can’t be of any help in fighting corruption back home!
Now what’s to be done? Well, the answer is simple: I believe a revolutionary movement with nostalgic vision of “house cleaning” of Jerry John Rawlings by the masses (military not invited!) whereby the enemies of the people – the fat cows of Corruption Inc., are purged in a bloodbath. Once the traitors have been successfully eliminated, then we could apply Thomas Sankara style of people’s revolutionary tribunals to try minor agents and appendages of the corruption conglomerate.
Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?
Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.
In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.
In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.
“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.
In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.
As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’
Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.
The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.
On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.
“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.
In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.
With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.
The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.
Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.
Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.
PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye
We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!
So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.
Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A
Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.
The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?
The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.
He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….
The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.
Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”
It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.
My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.
Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.
Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth
By Fredrick Nwabufo
Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.
I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.
The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.
“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.
In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.
In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.
Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.
As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.
‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.
And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.
To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.
So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.
But Sanusi was still talking.
Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.
I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.
Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
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