An acquaintance living and working in Abuja called yesterday to tell me, amongst other things, that there is a story making the rounds in beer parlors in Abuja and Lagos. Atiku allegedly told Obasanjo that “If you open my yansh, I will mess in your face.” President Obasanjo was said to have responded, “If you mess in my face, I will dagger your yansh.” This supposed conversation reminds me of a titillating and scintillating story that made the round several decades ago when General Yakubu Gowon was at the helm of affairs: the counter-corruption allegation between Godwin Daboh and Joseph Tarka.
Only this time around, the allegation and counter allegations are between the president and his assistant. But unlike the Gowon era drama, this commotion and political maneuverings will not dissipate quietly. It is possible that this round of stupidity, greed and national embarrassment will “set off a chain of reactions of various events, the end of which nobody could foretell,” as both men have put their personal agenda before the wellbeing of the nation. Nonetheless, no matter which way the wind blows, both Obasanjo and Atiku are a shame and a disgrace to Nigeria. Their illegal pursuit of money and their amoral quest for power now threatens to set the country asunder. And on fire.
As things stand today, there are four known camps: (1) the Obasanjo supporters; (2) the Atiku loyalists; (3) the general populace who are unsure of what to do as events unfold; and (4) the military, itself divided between the professional and political wings. Because Nigeria does not have a history of social or political revolutions, I do not expect the masses or middle class to rise up against the ongoing decadence. The people are deeply divided along ethnic, regional and religious lines. And the military itself is still smarting from decades of misrule and misadventures. On the other hand, I do not expect the military to standby and watch as vacuum develops, or as the country slides toward perdition and calamity. The choice is simple: stability or unstable and rotten democracy?
And then there are the foreign powers with vested interest in Nigeria — not minding whether the country is stable or not. A stable Nigeria would ensure a steady supply of oil and other materials that helps drive the economy of these countries. Moreover, a stable Nigeria would allow the West to use their resources for other pressing issues, i.e. terrorism and immigration. Furthermore, a stable Nigeria is useful in helping to tackle regional problems. Unstable Nigeria on the other hand would also be a source of economic prosperity for others (as instability enables some agencies to create artificial commodity shortages, sell arms and ammunitions, and to illegally loot oil and other resources.) As is the case all over Africa, foreign forces do benefit from weak, failing and crumbling states. Nigeria is a very big pie for them to feed off from.
Now, what do we do about these two men who have decided to blindly pursue their own selfish goals without minding the calamity that will befall the nation? It is hard to tell or predict since the ruling elites have a penchant for recidivating between criminality and iniquity. One thing is for certain though: a Jerry Rawlings-like personality will bring cheers and relief to the heart of most Nigerians.