Dilemma of a Texan…A Decent Nigerian

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

Responding to Jamin Ohwovoriole and Wunmi Akintide

Whenever I want my daily or weekly dose of Bush-bashing, I go in search of two of my favorite essayists: Maureen Dowd of the New Times and the irreverent but eternally brilliant Molly Ivins. I like the way these ladies write about President Bush: the soft jabs; the nice upper-cuts; the blow to the rib-cage; the chop-chop to the mid-section, and the gentle kicks to the torso. Maureen and Dowd have ways about them when they write about Bush or about any subject matter. I sometimes wonder what the president makes of these two ladies. Does he sometimes wish he could hand them over to the Syrians or the Egyptians to be taught a lesson or two? Or, does he, like a voodoo priest, stick pins to their voodoo-dolls?

I enjoy reading barbs about President Bush. Really, I do; but then, it is nothing personal – just that I have always enjoyed reading barbs and cutting-remarks about Republicans. This president happens to be a Republican; and Republicans, as far as I can tell, never seem to be able to get anything right. And then just last night I came across Jamin Ohwovoriole’s Dillema of a Texan.

It is a fine piece. It is deftly written. Poetic in some places; scathing in others areas. Either way one look at it – it is a brilliant piece. I had a cup of coffee in my hand as I was reading the piece – nodding my head here and there…smiling…and even whistling occasionally — until I got to the very last paragraph in which Ohwovoriole said, “the American society has had enough of his managerial skills, and just like his father, he would fail in his bid for a second term in the White House. Maybe he would change his destiny by catching Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It is the only legacy the Bush Administration desperately needs to salvage what is left of God’s Own Country.”

After all these years in this country, I have come to understand one thing about this society and about Americans: they are unpredictable — more so when it comes to their electoral choice and electoral behavior. The intervention of the US Supreme Court aside, the election of George Bush (as oppose to Al Gore) defied all logic. During the Clinton-Gore era, we had peace and prosperity and the “good times,” yet, Americans threw out the Democrats. A celebrity or anyone with a measure of fame or popularity can, and do trounce opponents with more skills, training and experience. We saw that in my adopted state of Minnesota; and the recent California election attests to my observation.

The 2004 election is Bush’s to lose. All the sign are there; therefore, whether rain, snow-storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or roaring thunder – Americans will reelect George Bush. It will be a miracle if the democratic candidate win in 15 states and have more than 35-percent of the Electoral College votes. The Democrats have been digging a hole in the Sahara Desert for themselves. This immolation started the moment they discouraged Al Gore from running and started leaking all kinds of nonsense about him to the Press and sending messages through “un-named sources” that it was in his interest not to run.

Take a look at the clowns and the pretenders who are now getting ready to run against Bush. May the Lord have mercy on the Democrats! Gore & Clark or Gore & Dean could easily have beaten Bush! Today, the Democratic Party is in disarray. And the Republican Party knows it.

There are other reasons why I think Bush will win: (1) He is not likely to repeat the mistakes his father made; (2) the Republican Party sits on a mountain of money in readiness for an all-out war; (3) the American public are sold on this “war on terrorism” argument and are not likely to get off of it for another 2-3-years; (4) the National Riffle Association (NRA) and their counterparts at the Christian Coalition, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and such despicable media houses as FOX News are solidly behind President Bush and the Republican Party; and (5) the economy seem to be “picking up.” At least so we are being told.

President Bush just might “change his destiny” by killing or capturing Saddam and Bin Laden (at the appropriate time). These are Republicans, you know — the same group of people that threw Jimmy Carter a combined low-blow and an upper-cut during the Teheran hostage crisis. The American Republican Party is not beneath anything, you know. It is a political party that wouldn’t mind kissing and hugging a skunk if the skunk would guarantee “a moment in the sun.”

And so I disagree with Mr. Jamin Ohwovoriole’s assertion that President Bush “would fail in his bid for a second term in the White House.” President George Bush will have a repeat performance unless he self-destructs by allowing, for instance, his hubris and provinciality to get in his way.


And now I segue to the article by Dr. Wunmi Akintide, “In Search of A Decent Nigerian.” This is also a fine piece which enjoyed immensely. In fact, I had read it a week earlier, but was too busy with scholastic commitments to compose a response. Because different parts of the article elicited different response from me, I will not respond in “full-force,” but will instead pick three areas to which I will direct my comments. These are comments not criticisms or normative judgment.

As an aside, I would have loved to take the author up on the issue of “merit and legitimacy” concerning the question of Obasanjo versus Abacha; but I had recently devoted an entire article – (here) to the same topic and do not see the sense or the utility in doing so again. And so, I will take a pass on that matter. Even so, I still maintain that there is no basis for such comparison.

Dr. Wunmi Akintide posited that, “the expectation of Nigerians were very high on Obasanjo because of the imperishable track record of Obafemi Awolowo in the old West…they have come to believe that Obasanjo was going to be like Awo.”

I wonder if this assessment or assumption (credited to Nigerians) is right. I query this only because I am not sure Nigerians thought of Chief Awolowo and General Obasanjo in the same vein. To do so would have been out of place. Obasanjo was never a student or disciple of the great one; and as far as I can tell Obasanjo tried as much as possible to be unAwo. And I wonder still if Mr. Obasanjo ever claimed to believe in the teachings, ideas and ideals of Awolowo? This could be the case in his heart perhaps; but never in his public deeds or public utterances. Therefore, why anyone would think that by voting OBJ they were crowning an Awoist beats me.

If Nigerians thought the “Yorubas were great managers of resources” I wonder why they never voted for and elected the Chief as the President of Nigeria. Or, could it be that the then General Obasanjo, acting at the behest of the Northern military and her posse, truncated Awolowo’s presidential ambition – especially in 1979?

The Western region was the most developed of all the regions due primarily to the genius of one great mind (and his associates) – a man who never betrayed his people and who delivered whatever he promised. But he never became the president because (1) Nigerians allowed their religious and ethnic differences to cloud their judgment; (2) they believed the nasty lies they were told regarding Awo vis-à-vis his so-called tribalistic tendencies; (3) the military, at least during the 1979 and 1983 elections, colluded with others to deny the man the presidency; and (4) it was not in the interest of some foreign agents to have Awo as the president.

As despicable as it might sound, Nigerians are likely to vote Ibrahim Babangida into power in 2007. In another time and place he would be in jail; or in hiding or in exile. But not so in Nigeria where everything defies logic and law. The man has the backing of retired military officers. He has enough money to go around a dozen times over. He has incriminating dossier on all those who matters within the Nigerian elite. He has the brilliance of mind to charm the Nigeria media houses and before you know it most of them would be singing his praise.

As for the voting masses, well, they will vote for him. There are committees all over the country working in readiness for the next election i.e., Project 2007 — which described Babangida “as a mere mortal who cannot be without his weaknesses” and “urged for forgiveness on the perceived wrongdoing of the former president.” I guess we cannot accuse Nigeria of lacking traitors and sycophants. For all I know the scions of MKO Abiola may tomorrow be at the frontline of those campaigning and praying for IBB. Like I said…Nigeria defies all logic!

Finally, Akintide wondered “how any Nigerian with any moral scruple or rectitude ever going to find it easy or appealing to want to serve our Nation?” I believe we still have saints both in the private and public sectors. We still have some paragon of ethics and morality in the corridors of power. We still have some selfless servants who, day in and day out, give their very best to Nigeria. They are hard to find but they are there. Moreover, there are some Nigerians who are willing to return home to contribute to building process.

Even so, I must confess that “service to Nigeria” no longer appeal to many a Nigerian. That probably accounts for why we now have political featherweights and intellectual lightweights at the corridors of power with no plans – tactical or strategic — to bail us out of our problems. What a sorry bunch, these bands of bandits! Take a man like the governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, what positive impact has he had on the life of his people (not counting his cronies and fellow travelers)? Today he is in London, tomorrow Washington D.C., and the day after in Antarctica or heavens know where. He is fast becoming President Obasanjo’s running-mate in terms of globetrotting!

It is possible to take our country back only if we can do a T’bilisi or a Sucre. But our regional, ethnic and religious differences has been so ingrained in us that we’d rather have our “countryman” in power — even if he/she is incompetent, maleficent, and the most corrupt nincompoop north or south of River Niger — than have another yanmirin, a gambari, or an ngbati-ngbati at the helm of state.

Equality, personal liberty, popular sovereignty, majority rule, and popular consent are all characteristics of the American system of government. It is a system that gives her citizenry the opportunity to vote for representatives who work (mostly) on their behalf. What do we have in Nigeria? Who are our representatives; and at whose behest are they working? What is the relationship between the people and their government? Are they responsible to anyone? Are they responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the common folks?

Norman, Oklahoma

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