Naija Notes: Obj, Na So You Be?

by Toni Kan Onwordi

Let me set this off with a slight apology meant for those who keep faith with Naija Notes. Life has been hectic these few weeks and I have been estranged from my keyboard.

To get back into the mix of things, lets start with a little story. A couple have been married for 10 years when one morning after a really bad row during which unprintable things were said to each other, the woman dabs at the corners of her eyes with an ear of her wrapper and choking down a sob fixes an intent gaze on her frowning husband: papa Sylvester, so na so you be!

What is the point of this anecdote? The point is simple. Many of us who voted for OBJ, who braved the rains that April morning to stand in line, to scour the voters register for our names, to thumb print the cards, who disdained the financial inducements offered by area boys posing for other parties, who told Buhari and other “sore” losers to go to hell, who celebrated the successful civilian to civilian transition have been sitting and dabbing at our eyes and asking: OBJ, na so you be?

But it is a rhetorical question.The man has made us look like fools. In civil societies, when a man wins an election, the first thing he does is go on a thank you tour. To show appreciation to the mass of people who made his election sure. Those who chose to stand in line to give him their mandate. But in Nigeria what do we get? Instead of thanks, we get lacerations. We get imperial and haughty vituperations. We get sand thrown into our eyes.

Someone said last week that we should hail OBJ for being a man who stands by his words. According to the man, OBJ did say during his campaign that he would increase fuel prices once he is voted back for a second term.

So, OBJ kept his word. Good. But what the man forgot to say was that a great man is set apart by his actions which are geared towards the good of the greater majority. The last fuel price increase which left the country in a coma was geared towards the good of the minority: PDP as a party wishing to recoup the money it spent “rigging” the last polls and cronies of those in power, those who make sure that refineries do not work so they can keep winning lucrative fuel importation contracts.

The last two times when OBJ increased fuel prices,(this is his third time in 4 years) the same excuses were proffered: to repair roads, fund education and provide infrastructure. Today, the roads are worse off as terrible dead traps, ASUU just came back to work after a six month long strike and NEPA is still as epileptic as Julius Ceasar was.

The sobering fact really is that OBJ owes us nothing. We thought we were voting for him that wet April day. But we were dead wrong. OBJ had already ensured his return. They had all rigged: PDP, ANPP, JP, the whole lot of them. But the party with the bigger purse won.

And today, tomorrow, every day you queue up to buy petrol at N34 a litre or pay twice the amount you used to pay for your bus ride, you will be contributing to the rehabilitation fund of the PDP.

I was scandalized when I heard Audu Ogbeh talking about coke costing more in London than in Nigeria. The man forgot to say that in London, ordinary people earn #5 sterling per hour (approx. N1, 150). Are there ordinary Nigerians who earn N1, 150 an hour? And did he remember to say that in London, during Gulf War II, fuel prices went up and then CAME down immediately after the war in deference to market forces. In Nigeria, when fuel prices go up, they stay UP.

Let me end this by addressing OBJ directly. If you take a hard look at the peculiar trajectory of your life, you will see that the gods have favoured you: At the end of the war, after millions had died, the lot fell on you to accept Biafra’s surrender, thus throwing you into national prominence. Then when, Murtala Mohammed died, the SMC made you Head of State, “against your will” and then after Abacha expired, the oligarchy took you from prison and turbaned you as president.

They say to whom much is given much is expected, but I suppose you have never heard of this saying, and the reason is pretty obvious: those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make deaf.

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