Nigeria, Where Is Thy Sense Of Outrage?

“Every nation deserves its leaders”; a blanket statement of course, but one that carries with it an inherent, if not perfect, assumption of the latent ability of people to affect, infect and effect their government be it elected or tyrannical. It took a band of brave patriots to rise against the British crown in the new colony of America; theirs was a losing cause it appears but they persevered. In South Africa, when the chains of apartheid were unbearable, the black majority waged a struggle on the powerful established white elite and in spite of every obstacles along the way; justice prevailed.

Leaning backwards, patriots like Sir Herbert Macaulay, Mrs. Kuti, Great Zik, Great Awo, and Sir. Balewa took on the cause of our nation’s independence when it effectively was a gamble. However, they prevailed against all odds as Nkrumah did in the Gold Coast, Jomo Kenyatta shadows cast against the festering hills of Kenyan hillside and rising to victory earned, and Julius Nyerere bellowing voice from the rolling beaches and hinterlands of Tanzania proclaiming independence to his nation. In Zambia, the British oppressors paid no attention to a feisty man called Kenneth Kaunda, but when the thirst of freedom overwhelm the soul- even the forces of tyranny will succumb. However, why then, can we not take a page from our glorious past and put an end to our continued colonialism in the hands of our own internal colonial masters in the year 2008?

Nigeria is at crossroads; the year 2008 will not be remembered for the grievous actions of her leaders (which is hardly a novelty), but for the continued intolerable inaction of her citizens. For how long will this apathy continue? For how long will Nigerians suffer and smile? For how long will citizens so tormented by her kind tolerate the worst kinds of inhumanity of man against man? For how long will the conscience of the nation not be stirred to rise against the vestige of neo-colonialism? For how long will criminals strut across the land, making strides on our collective sense of decency with no shame or reprimand? Are we a people of a lost cause? Is ours a losing proposition?

Months after the daughter of the ex-President was widely reported to be an accomplice in an international contract scam, she still sits in the hollow chambers of the Senate. Not even an overwhelming sense that such conduct is unacceptable will bring her to acknowledge the perfidious stench coming from the rot of her family’s legacy. Theirs is a family legacy of hypocrisy, corruption, sexual misconduct and above all sheer gluttony. In discussing the latest sweeping revelations of the ex-president’s sexual misconduct with his daughter in law, many have sought to sweep it under the carpet of strictly private business. I disagree. Like it or not, the morality of our public officers is a direct reflection of our collective values and approximation of our value systems. It speaks to the ideals of a society, when the president sees nothing wrong in stealing what is his son’s. If he can grab another man’s wife, he will see nothing in grabbing money from the public purse!

As we speak, neither a sustained call from the civil society, or a wide clamor from the fourth estate of the realm, or a sustained action by ordinary citizens is being heard to put a stop to this oddity. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello and her father and brother (of presidential preferential contract-“incestgate”) are an oddity in any sane society. An oddity, one at least not deserving of the distinguished honor of legislating in the nation’s upper house, and criminal if closely examined. It is a shame we live in a country where thieves are honored, and criminals are winners of high political positions. This infamy is a collective one: equally shared by disgruntled leaders and lethargic followers. What happened to our sense of disgust? What happened to the recall clause of the constitution that will rattle this dirty legislator of “its” worst kind? What happened to bringing a stop to this mess?

It is a real ignominy. This embarrassment is now assuming new heights. Heights of reality first reinforced by a shameful judgment from the questionable judges of the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal led by Justice Ogebe of “substantial compliance” infamy. A man whose shred of honor is not worth more than the letter of his appointment to the highest court of the land by a President of questionable ethics; a letter dripping with the blood of patriots who were murdered by the criminals who stole our votes in April 2007. Besides Justice Ogebe gerrymandering, we now have curious judgments flowing from another court in Ibadan. A court that saw it fit to cancel election results in four local governments for over voting and well-proven rigging, but saw nothing wrong in sustaining such perfidy! Where is our sense of disgust?

Where do these judges live? Do they live among decent human beings or they belong to a cabal of criminal gang bangers? Are we a nation without laws or a lawful nation without any conscience? Two general elections and the two judgments following tells us those elections were won by the best riggers! The sacred principles of democracy certainly thrown to the dogs of war! On the grave of patriots we stand, on the hunch back and gravely shoulders of our founding founders we should lean; but instead on the sanctity of our union we spit, and the fruits of good government squandered by the insipience of our inactions! It is a collective guilt we share; a collective cross of cowardice pointed at by an iterative lack of moral compass, and subsumed by our oral diarrhea best reserved for an elegy for our more recent loss of any sense left of shame and responsibility.

This week, we regale ourselves with stories of plenty billions stolen from a misconstrued energy program. Some say sixteen billion dollars, even the “president” who will not probe says ten billions; dollars, not naira that is. Sixteen billion dollars for which your children and spouses are dispatched to early graves because of bad roads left to rot because of incompetence, or explosive contaminated fuel used to light our homes and cook instead of clean natural gas piped from the nation now wasting resources. Perhaps it is one death march we brought on our women and children because of an epileptic power supply; on occasion denying a newly born a chance to live as he is “dis-welcomed” to the worst setting of its kind in the 21st century -a misfortune I’d rather not wish on my enemy even the sadist in Otta.

The South African, Indian, Chinese, European and American consultants are all the while feeding fat on your nation’s resources, while you sit there soliloquizing on this newest revelation. Never mind, one plane disappears into thin air with emergency capabilities stuck in 18th century, and our major freeways are in disrepair. Words says much, deeds undone, camera off, curtains drawn- your suffering continues! Where is your sense and practical expression of utter disgust? What are you going to do about it?

“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”Patrick Henry (Thursday, March 23, 1775)

Written by
Michael Oluwagbemi II
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1 comment
  • Thought provoking, well written, speaks to the conciousness of all well meaning Nigerians. We have for too long embraced corruption, both openly and in the most sublime fashion. With every turning cheek, with every disposition of”same old same” we empower the same enemies that perpetrate these crimes. What hope is there for the younger generation as this is the precedent we offer.

    Much kudos to the writer of this article!

    To the re-awakening of our sense of justice and public conciousness!

    I read and i weep!!