In Africa, a familiar victim of dictatorship and pestilence, poverty and diseases like the Ebola epidemic took thousands of souls away — unmourned! The third-term syndrome ignited a lot of troubles as leaders (strong-men if you like) sought to modify their national constitutions to be able to remain in power perpetually! It is causing serious problems in Nkurunziza’s Burundi, Sassou-Nguesso’s Congo Brazzaville, Kabila’s Congo Kinshasa and relative disquiet in Kagame’s Rwanda.
Whilst a whole lot of great tidings could be linked to the year gone by great positive things did happen in the course of the past year that gave hope and joy to the world but human suffering and oppression increased in many a country especially in the Third World. While it could be argued that new billionaires and millionaires were made in 2015 with the richest black man remaining the Nigerian Aliko Dangote millions still went to bed hungry and millions more without decent employment or homes. That, then, means that our collective human failures far outweigh our collective successes!
In America ‘Time’ magazine has the globally-renowned tradition of honouring exceptional achievement of a man or woman or thing by naming them as the ‘person of the year’. They attribute the award after much cogitation and debate in the editorial meetings. Sometimes a villain or extra-ordinary occurrence takes the price as the ‘person’ of the year to mark their passage and impact. That is why it is not surprising, mind-boggling or distasteful to see or read the ‘person’ of the year award going to the late Osama Bin-Ladin (the father and godfather of modern sophisticated terrorism) or HIV/AIDS or a fugitive whistle-blower or the Internet or digital icon.
The magazine has just published its ‘person’ of the year for the year 2015 and the prize went to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the planet-earth. She was so rewarded for her leadership role in Europe during the Greek debt crisis and the influx of migrants and refugees in many European countries. Madam Merkel rose to the challenge of both crises displaying exemplary leadership and providing one in Europe where many a government had gotten confused in the face of the Greek bankruptcy and the migration phenomenon. She was lauded by the magazine as a courageous leader who withstood every political vicissitude as they came displaying dazzling leadership and showing the way in critical moments that tested the resolve of even men in power!
You have runners-up in the shortlist to include Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi the global leader of ISIS (Daesh) who has made an infamous name for himself and his blood-thirsty gang of terrorists around the world for their audacity, defiance and steady conquest of territories; the Republican frontrunner in the American presidential polls this year Donald Trump, a self-made billionaire who is never afraid to cause controversy by his unorthodox style and politics of open disclosure; the young American proprietor of Uber international taxi company Travis Kalanick and the Iranian reformist President Hassan Rohani. Last year the Ebola fighters around the globe won the distinction for battling the syndrome that killed thousands in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa.
Back home in Nigeria we have nominated ten ‘persons’ as candidates for the ‘person’ of the year 2015 award. They include the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, the former Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo, the former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, the ex-Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Allison-Madueke, the Boko Haram fugitive leader Abubakar Shekau, the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the incarcerated leader of IPOB and the banned Radio Biafra Director Nnamdi Kanu and Mr Corruption. After some meticulous analysis, however, we have shortlisted five and eliminated the other half. We shall start from the bottom to the top for purposes of giving ‘honour’ to whom it is due! But first let us consider those who did not make the shortlist for obvious reasons.
Those ‘eliminated’ are: ‘Kongi’, Saraki, OBJ, Kanu and Diezani. While Soyinka released a book last year (InterInventions….In The Republic Of Liars) that drew blood and took on the liars led by Obasanjo OBJ himself was in the news always stoking one fire after another or issuing one statement after another to remain ever relevant; Saraki staged an audacious take-over of the Senate with his gang even when his party had ‘zoned’ the position to another person; Kanu made history when he began operating illegally Radio Biafra broadcasting to millions of homes in the eastern region and calling treasonably for secession; Diezani is allegedly GEJ’s former mistress and minister who cornered millions of Dollars from oil and gas and now lives in ‘exile’ in London!
The last on the shortlist is none other than the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari. While the President is barely months away to the first anniversary of his mandate (so passing a verdict could be said to be hasty) the war against terrorism and graft is still far from being won. Progress has been made quite alright but some reports indicating high-handedness of the security forces including the military leave much to be desired. Besides the economic quagmire in the land is giving jitters in many quarters. Buhari must embrace the separation of powers in a democracy or risk handing an ammunition to his critics — already calling him an unrepentant tyrant — with which to shoot him down.
The former President Goodluck Jonathan should have won easily given the statesmanship he displayed after the presidential poll of last year by accepting defeat and calling the victor on the phone to congratulate him! But that rare democratic exhibition has been dwarfed by the billions of Dollars stolen under his care by his cronies and goons. GEJ must be given a thumbs down for his complacency and lack of leadership during his reign. He will be remembered as the very worst leader ever to preside over the nation. Like Shehu Shagari Ebele from Otueke presided over the ruination of a nation!
Sambo Dasuki remains in detention having shared billions of Dollars meant for arms purchase to fight Boko Haram. As ‘Santa Sambo’ (even before Yuletide!) he doled out millions and thousands of dollars to anyone who had anything to do with the failed GEJ re-election campaign. A power-hungry unpatriotic uncircumcized quantity Dasuki must have learnt now in his solitary confinement that whatever we do while occupying a position has consequences. He is about the most celebrated executive crook in the Jonathan era; a man consumed by both hatred for the Buhari persona and love of godfatherism. He must vomit every kobo he had dispensed unlawfully or rot in jail!
Abubakar Shekau’s whereabout is still unknown but his murderous terrorist organisation continues to kill, rape and commit arson across the borders. What started some years ago as an Islamic movement against western education has blossomed into a local Daesh, a daring force out for destruction of lives and property. The murdered Muhammed Yusuf must be regretting in his grave for having given birth to this satanic group of men and women ever ready to blow themselves up in suicide missions — having been brainwashed of going straight to paradise in the event of definite death. But to hell they are headed as the true God or Allah is neither violent nor bloody. Shekau must be found and eliminated in order to decapitate Boko Haram.
But the winner, ladies and gentlemen, is Mr Corruption! Yes he soundly ‘defeated’ every opposition with ease! It won on account of its ubiquitousness and penetrating impact in every aspect of our national life. Corruption has killed indirectly more people than Boko Haram has ever done or will ever do! It has rendered thousands if not millions homeless or refugees in their own country! It has killed hopes and aspirations of a generation! It has devastated lands and resources making life much more difficult for millions of our compatriots and other nationals beyond our frontiers.
Mr Corruption as a monster stands tall in all impunity rendering every effort to combat it a nullity — until now. Corruption deserves to win the ‘Person’ of the year in Nigeria because no other cankerworm has had a more deleterious effect on our collective lives. Contracts are awarded and inflated but remained abandoned or totally unexecuted because of squabbles over kickbacks; roads are left to deteriorate because the agencies or ministries charged with maintaining same or constructing new ones are not working, incapacitated as it were by the monster. Everyone is involved one way or the other and the country is left to rot away as everyone is scrambling for money! Yes, we are all culpable in this thing wasting our lives: from the truck driver to the taxi driver, the artisan to the artist; from the doctor to the pharmacist, the police to the politician; from the grave-digger to the mortician, the teacher to the student.
Corruption, effortlessly, magnifies the very essence of our failures as a potential great nation! It seriously erodes efforts of the very few good men and women at nation-building. It saps the morale of those among us, in their minority, who can say ‘No’ to the monster given its tantalizing temptations. It accentuates the generalised pervading poverty of our people and stifles our developmental dreams! It kills the future and renders the present comatose!
For having ‘achieved’ this ‘feat’ beyond every reasonable doubt we hereby salute our nemesis, Mr Corruption! We bow and tremble before thee!