Solititude And Melancholy 2: Just Before We Forget

by Dele A. Sonubi

The truth changes color

Depending on the light

And tomorrow can be better than yesterday.

Memory is like a selection of images;

Some elusive, others printed indelibly on the brain

Memory is like a threat,

Woven together to form a tapestry of an intricate texture;

The tapestry tells a story

And the story is our past and present

This writer was preparing to sleep one lonely Sunday when by chance, the Patito’s Gang Dialogue Program came up on the television and rather out of curiosity for the topic being discussed than active interest in the program, this writer stayed up to listen for a while. During the program, the anchorman Reuben Abati, and the rest of the gang were busy trying to convince one of the participant M.M (as he was called) that the collective and inclusive “we” rather than the exclusive “they” was responsible for the socio-political woes in Nigeria. Every Nigerian has a hand and a role in the fiasco, the decadence, the fall in standard and the generally not-going-on-well of the Nigerian polity. I admired the courage and consistence of MM, because throughout the entire duration of the talk-shop, he refused to accept that it was the inclusive “we” that was the problem; past and present leaderships of Nigeria were to be identified and blamed- not the rest of Nigerians. For the duration of the dialogue, he did not shift ground. The consistence of the overwhelming majority against MM, made me imagine; perhaps I am truly part of the problems of Nigeria because of my lack of active participation against misrule, against oppressions, against absolute power of the executive branch to rule absolutely, joining protests against tyranny of the minority over the majority- the tyranny of Obasanjo, over the majority of Nigerians in a democratic system!

The problem that drew me out of my comfort base today into a seemingly familiar residence in solitude and melancholy is why it is so convenient for people and public affairs commentators using a collective “we” to push blames of political and economic woes in Nigeria from “them” to “us”. That phrase of “we” is a generalization that includes me and members of my compound and extended family. I have always been made to believe that within the Yoruba worldview, it is a bastard whose family is insulted and does not protest or defend that family name and honor where and when necessary. They also express solutions to the Nigerian problems in the collective pronoun “we”. That also include me in the problem that neither myself nor any member of my family caused. The generalization made me angry and once again, I recoiled into my usual solitude and melancholy to review things and assess if truly I, personally within the collective “we” is responsible for the Nigerian woes.

As I began to review my shares of the woes, I kept on remembering several obnoxious incidents that usually would and should be recorded as landmarks in accounts of our history of failures as a nation but are soon disappearing from Nigerian memory lists. As Reuben Abati once said, “…Nigerians are quick to forgive and forget; we have a short memory span”. First let me blame others; let me reflect on the actors in the woes of Nigerian development before putting myself into the mess. Mine today will be to remind all of us those obnoxious incidences in our national history- just before our collective illusions and amnesia blur us off in our bid for a sane polity.

If they are saying a “we” is responsible for the woes of Nigeria’s misfortunes, then, where shall we put a system that allows people like Jim Nwobodo to become a senator and seat in the apex law making body to make law which will forbid kleptomaniacs and thieves from stealing whereas he Jim was found guilty for misappropriating money belonging to the people of Anambra State when he was the governor of Anambra State. In spite of his indictments in the embezzlement scandals, a military government made Jim Nwobodo the minister for sports and again, during his tenure, he stole the public generator belonging to the national stadium to his village for his private use. We should never forget that such characters are still around the corridors of powers today and even trying to become the president of this nation. Any public comments that wants to wrap me and my grandfather in the “we” of the woes must explain how I, and not particularly Jim and his cohorts, is the one responsible for the offence of making Nigeria wretched.

We must remember that as it currently stands, Governor Bola Tinubu does not have all the credentials he claimed to have obtained before bidding for the governorship of Lagos State. Some people viciously defended him as though public morality was never ever an issue in a country like this. Journalists and indeed Lagos State based civil society activists went jocular-level after Salisu Buhari (University of Toronto or Toronto State University) who similarly lied, forged certificates to become a lawmaker and assumed the leadership position of the National House of Assembly. He was found guilty; he honorably resigned, left the office, left the assembly and left public life. He went to bite his fingers in regrets.

However, when Governor Bola Tinubu’s scandal was discovered, the same set of critics and activists covered their mouths and made a collective pretence

not to make Tinubu an issue! These are the same set of civil society activists that are currently accusing President Obasanjo of “selective justice” in the matters of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions). They left Gani Fawehimi alone in the crusade for “what is good for the goose is also good for the gender” to insist that public morality, accountability and justice must also be in contention in Tinubu’s saga! Gani was left alone to cry on top of his voice and walk through the frustration of our judicial system, the torture of state and civil society orchestrated lies and deceits; double standards and “ari teni moo wi, a f’opa ibiti bo tie mole!” Once the courts declared in the matter of State vs Gani Fawehimi that the Police could not be compelled to investigate a serving governor. And in another case, that of James Ibori, the court compelled a serving governor to answer allegation of criminal charges. Gani kept on and insisted that probity and public morality is at stake not only now, but the future if public leadership like Governor Tinubu was allowed to lie about his educational certificates and get away with it. Interestingly, not even the Alma matter of Government College Ibadan denounces Tinubu’s soiling of their school name! Tinubu seems to have gotten away with his immorality because no one thinks about it anymore. Nevertheless, in future, if any of our children come up with some funny educational claims to get promoted in the office or to get an appointment or to run for an election-whether public or private-, even if we know about it, we would have to tell him/her “…do not worry; you can get away with it in public accountably because precedence had been laid by “Asiwaju” Tinubu! Indeed, he is true to the meaning of his title “Asiwaju” meaning “…first one to do…”

It is in a country like this that someone who never contested an election wins. Governor Chris Ngige, however noble and belligerent he has turned out to be during the ordeal of his court case and suspension from PDP party, was a confessed criminal. I am often amazed at why the degree of perverse and political repugnance in this country never bothers us as a nation. It no longer worries Nigerians that crooks are in power so long as the possession of such powers favors the opinion movers and people with sufficient clout to resist such insanity. Why, for the sake of rational thinking and maintaining sanity, would PDP unleash such terror on this nation as to rig elections, manipulate and falsify documents to impose, Ngige, Dariye, Alamieyesiegha, and many other questionable characters to bring change into this colony of psychopaths called Nigeria? And when these leopards show that their skins are without blemish, PDP rushes, not to apologize to Nigeria for increasing the landmarks and characteristics of our insanity, but to expel them from the party without remorse, shame or any apology to Nigeria but made us look as though we were the fools for tolerating them thus far.

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lasisi ahmed May 15, 2006 - 3:11 pm

you have really succeded in transforming the fiction idea into materialistic instrument of african da to day routine in all aspects of our comments and write up. pls keep the pen and idea dangling.

EWI ADESOJI PAUL April 26, 2006 - 9:01 am

Hello Bros. Deelo,

I think these are wonderful comments that truly reflects the modern state of Nigerian polity. Keep up the good work. Please you permit me to send this to some of my friends. It's such a beautiful and coherent write up, that in itself can initiate public comments and debate among friends. This is really cool.

Your little neighbour,


dorothy April 25, 2006 - 5:42 pm

Dele, you always know when to bring out the words from my mouth!

Anonymous April 21, 2006 - 2:43 pm


Anonymous April 18, 2006 - 7:57 am

Can we be accused of complicity when we refuse to participate? It seems to e that amnesia is the 'opium' of the masses. Like a woman who always 'forgets' the pains of labour soon after, we are always ready for another round….

Anonymous April 18, 2006 - 6:18 am

Good Write up Dele, indeed the list goes on and on and on and the nation of Nigeria still carries on. I refuse to be counted among the troubles in Nigeria – I have NEVER defrauded anybody or mismanaged any responsibility bestowed on me. I have NEVER purposefully driven on the wrong side of the road, I have NEVER stopped my car in the middle of the road, irrespective of others, to engage in a fistfight or language exchange. I have NEVER carried out an inflated contract neither have I submitted a bid for any contract. I have NEVER visited any friends in top government office and neither has anyone of them sent me gratis in any form.And it goes on and on and on…….

Just last night, three of us women were in a car discussing on our way back from watching a movie on vengeance – where one man took on the whole government of the land and crippled them. He mentioned something I cannot forget, 'the people should not be afraid of the government, rather the government should be afraid of the people'. My friends are convinced that one day, a unified Nigerians will stand up and say 'no more' to all the rubbish we see and hear………even feel everyday. I dared to say what my fear was 'will Nigerians ever come out as one voice?' thay said yes, emphatically. They said Nigerians have not come to the point where they believe they have a stake in what is going on but one day they will and rise up against the government and demand order.

I look forward to that day becuase i believe in the Nigerian Project but like some, I am dying slowly to the pain and fear that it may never be attained. As parents, we have an awesome test ahead. I am in a dilemma as to what I should teach my children. For our children to be successful in Nigeria today, they have to be two-faced: one for the society and one for when they come through the doors of your home. Invariably, we must grow hypocrites!

How tragic!!

Your friend, Pwana

mary April 18, 2006 - 6:07 am

Its a very articulate, interesting, and well thought piece….. and i totally agree with your views… Nice work, keep it up!!

Paul I. Adujie April 12, 2006 - 11:37 am

Mr. Sonubi,

that was nice, very nice…. many thanks.

Most sincerely,

Paul I. Adujie

New York, United States

Anonymous April 11, 2006 - 10:07 am

Great article, my brother. God bless you. I, too, refuse to bear responsiblity for evil committed by others. Ah, dele, you speak the custic truth! Apart from tinubu certificate scandal "our people" looked the other way in the following instances:

In 1979, upn members walked out in the national assembly but some turned around to collect contracts from sagari govt but senator adegoke who stayed was crucified.

In 1999, the pseudo pro-democrats collected huge inducements from abdulsalam abubakar to support transition and some to monitor elections. They declared the election free and fair but today "pdp rigged that election" and all others

In 1993, a chairman's party sdp won a presidential election but it was the loser's chair that opposed annulment while the winner's chairman endorsed interim govt.

Couple of yorubas served abacha, but today, jakande remains the scapegoat.

In 1999 obasanjo was a bastard and pdp party of rogues but today, our representaives in that govt are those/siblings/ofspings of those who called him basatard.

Ngige stole obi's madate but today ngige is the hero and obi the underdog (i don't like your dodging this one) because the want to annoy aso rock.

Alamie was corrupt; deserved removal but today his removal was tyranny. (we had to beg the assembly members to vote for removal) ditto ladoja dariye

The latest is the case of the vice president facing fbi investigation of money laundering through his mistress in the usa and corruption allegations at home but enjoys immunity. He now becomes a hero just by opposing third term.etc etc

There is hope for our nation if youths can take trouble to pierce through the smokescreens like dele has done in this beautiful piece.

Anonymous April 10, 2006 - 6:21 am

I think I will agree with the author in many of these instances. Once again, Mr. Dele Sonubi, you have done well. This is surely well written. Keep up the good writing


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