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.