Bonjour 2008, Bonne et Heureux Annee!

by SOC Okenwa

Soon in the next few hours the year 2007 would be history as another new year dawns on us in accordance with the human calendar. Just so soon three hundred and sixty five days has finished off its course giving way for a new beginning, a new calendar year 2008 with its hopes, promises and dreams. Every human being added a year to his/her age in the year that is about expiring and the new year will definitely add to our ages with some nearing their graves and others maturing into adulthood.

As another year unfolds humanity guesses and gazes over the horizon and horoscope to be able to come to terms with the likelihood of failures or successes as we try to outlive yet another year. Around the world millions that celebrated the arrival of the year 2007 with us are no longer here to welcome 2008 as death has snatched them away. And huge numbers among us that happily rejoice over the arrival of 2008 will not live to say goodbye to the new year. That is the human nature; death is here to stay, we can only hope that we will not be part of the crowd that will be vanquished before 2009 comes.

The year 2007 saw some progress in our democratic evolution. The year saw the reluctant disengagement of Olusegun Obasanjo from power. Through “do or die” general elections that produced losers as winners and winners as losers in April a semblance of democracy was established. The abracadabra of April 2007 organized by Maurice Iwu’s INEC is still being questioned by many gubernatorial and presidential victims at the Tribunals.

The year 2007 produced a woman Speaker of the House of Representatives whose emergence was more an underground work of a dirty godfather in Ota, Olusegun Obasanjo. Madam Speaker in ‘Owambe’ style wrongly thought that she would use her two sagging boobs to ‘feed’ all Nigerians immersing us all in their fluid, adults et al a la Dino Melaye! Damn wrong she was! Hell no! We refused to imitate lawmaker Melaye who has become “Zombie” after sucking an overdose of the natural baby milk. Nor be saddled with the fate that befell late Dr Safana who died while defending the “boobocracy” which succeeded in turning the legislative chambers into the Madison Square Gardens. In the end her incompetent style was exposed and through a huge sleaze her Speakership was consumed.

The year 2007 also saw the EFCC doing things right by arresting and docking some ex-governors who stole their various states blind: Turaki, Kalu, Ibori, Fayose, Nnamani, Dariye, Nyame. But more thieving former governors are expected to join the list of infamy, ex-governors like Lucky Igbinedion, Peter Odili and Victor Attah. EFCC will net the biggest thief of them all when the former President Obasanjo under whose command and presidency the spectacular fiscal heist happened is made to give account of his eight-year stewardship.

2007 also gave us an insight into how another Shehu Shagari, Umar Yar’Adua — frugal, taciturn, slim, accountable, humane and lawful — could well prove skeptics wrong as he paddles the ship of state. President Yar’Adua whom Obasanjo drafted against his wish to be President came into federal power exhibiting traits of a ‘mugu’, a president chained and incapacitated by forces of a deeply corrupt past. But through a political re-engineering predicated on the rule of law and due process the former Katsina governor has sought to make some marks.

The year 2007 will forever be remembered as a spectacular year of executive stealing and knavery. As Olusegun Obasanjo left power against his wish we soon discovered that he had stolen more of our common wealth than late General Sani Abacha before him and Ibrahim Babangida before the locust. IBB, the evil genuis opened the floodgate of official corruption and kleptocracy. The Minna-based retired ‘Maradonic’ militrician who was a professional coup plotter of high pedigree stole billions of dollars for himself and aided and abetted others, mostly his cronies and ministers, to steal with impunity. Then the dark-goggled one came along and became worse, stealing and hiding his excess loot even under his bed!

Then came OBJ in a second coming straight from prison. The Owu-born dictator pretended all along to be a ‘born-again’ Christian like Bamidele Olumilua and Jolly Nyame, two thieving former Governors of Ondo and Taraba States respectively, but not all the people were deceived as radical pastors like Tunde Bakare saw beneath the spiritual smokescreen early enough. ‘Baba Ole’ after eight giddy years as President of democratic Nigeria simply stole her soul away becoming richer than Abacha and Babangida put together.

And her daughter was not left out of the kleptocratic jamboree. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, a Senator of the federation and former Commissioner in her homestate of Ogun in a typical like-father-like-daughter fashion used a fake name to obtain huge kickbacks from inflated contracts in the health sector. As her father left Aso Rock Nigerians have continued to be treated to a grossly sleazy past in which Olusegun Obasanjo hypocritically acted as a statesman and patriot. Alas we are getting at the root of the rot and the depth is odious enough. The corruption stench swirling around OBJ and his regime will take a very long time to ooze out completely.

2007 threw up a whole lot of mess but mercifully the judiciary corrected some and some are still bound to be rectified in due course. For instance the vaunted gubernatorial ambitions of one Andy Uba in Anambra State was scuttled by the Supreme Court and the same Court voided the stolen mandate Peter Odili and Olusegun Obasanjo handed Celestine Omehia as Rivers State Governor. The Tribunals in the States are doing justice to the wronged and cheated in the infamous April electoral charade. At the last count three sitting Governors have had their mandates subjected to another round of ballotting.

Lest I forget the outgoing year witnessed Samuel Peters overcoming the American pugilist junky McLean to be crowned the world heavyweight boxing champion in New York. Peters faced with the menacing giant in the arena almost lost it all in early rounds but bounced back to re-confirm the Nigerian can-do spirit. In Nigeria where he came accompanied by the legendary boxing promoter Don King the young policeman Samuel almost lost his life to a trigger-happy brother in-law in Uyo who pulled a pistol and pulled the trigger with the aim of silencing Peters. Surviving both Mcclean and the potential murderer-brother of his wife could have been the best and worst experiences for the determined younger Okon.

2008 will sportively usher in the Cup of Nations Ghana 2008 late January. The African Cup of Nations is a celebration of African football unity and maturity. With soccer power houses like Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun, Egypt, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal in competition for the diadem soccer-loving folks are going to be thrilled few weeks after the new year festivities. May the best team win and may referees who are going to officiate in the tournament resist the temptation to be partial or corruptible.

As the French would joyfully say this season: Bonjour 2008! (Good

day 2008) Bonne et Heureux Annee! (Happy and prosperous new year) As we welcome you, 2008, in unison with joy in our hearts, our prayer is that we shall outlive you. You will definitely come and go and we shall be here to bid you farewell as we are now doing to 2007. Best wishes to all and sundry!

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