That Shehu Shagari Interview

by Uche Nworah

After reading Pini Jason’s interview with Alhaji Shehu Shagari, I came away with the impression that the interview was a subtle attempt at ‘repackaging’ the senator wanabe and Nigeria’s second republic president, who alongside many others share the accolade of being the architects of our woes.

As a result of my disappointment with the ‘easy’ questions which the interviewer asked, I am restating that though Shagari may deserve his rights and dues as an ex-head of state, he is no statesman and should not be regarded as one. If anything, he should be made to answer to Nigerians and formally account for his administration’s 4 – year ‘stewardship’. A period that witnessed unprecedented plunder and mismanagement of our common wealth. Until he does that, and satisfactorily too I will recommend that the Turakin Sokoto irrespective of his ‘sparkling’ curriculum vitae be inducted into the Nigerian national hall of shame. It was during his time that new phrases such as squander mania, abandoned project, embezzlement of public funds, pen robbery, white elephant project and so on were added to our national vocabulary.

If you ask me, I think that Shagari and his likes should go and bury their heads in the sand. It was their mismanagement of our economy that opened the back door for the military to come in and pillage our national treasury. Was Umaru ‘Mr ten percent’ Dikko not his party man and transport minister? Where was he when Umaru Dikko was running his import license and form m scams? Was Adisa Meredith Akinloye not his party chairman? Where was Shagari when Akinloye imported special champagne to celebrate his first 1 billion naira back in 1983? Where did he think the money came from? Was Senator Uba ‘Mr fix it’ Ahmed not his party (NPN) secretary? Has he told Nigerians how they ‘won’ their elections in collaboration with Justice Ovie-Whisky of the then FEDECO using their magic formula?

What did Shagari do for Nigeria? He launched the green revolution agricultural scheme right? But were they not the people that constantly imported ship loads of rice, vegetable cooking oil, salt etc which they used to bribe hungry Nigerians during elections. Surely Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu copied his amala politics philosophy from them. Has Shagari told us what happened to the Nitel/Necom building in Lagos? On the day that his cronies allegedly were burning down the building to cover their tracks after embezzling public funds, was he not reported in the media to be on his way out of Nigeria in one of such global junketing, a travel philosophy that OBJ has perfected.

Was it not his administration that at a time when global oil prices were very high went ahead to introduce the politics of hunger to Nigerians and toying with our stomachs, his austerity measures scheme was to later inspire IBB to launch his own structural adjustment programme (SAP), the two economic programmes turned out to be monumental failures but served their purpose of keeping Nigerians occupied with thoughts about food, and wondering where the next one will come from. We are yet to recover from his government’s mismanagement of our economy and here we are trying to ‘package’ him as a statesman. Shame on us all.

Maybe we need to playback Onyeka Onwenu’s 1983 documentary Nigeria: A squandering of riches for him to see what a huge and monumental failure he was and how his administration set Nigeria backwards by at least 20 years.

I’m sure he still remembers how much the naira was exchanging to the dollar at the inception of his administration, a time that Nigerians were treated like kings in Europe and America which they only visited on holidays or to study at the end of which they went back home to dream jobs.

Was it not during Shagari’s era that the brain drain syndrome set in, and Nigerians started leaving in droves due to the rising unemployment and economic hardship? Shagari and his fellow has-been politicians should please ‘go and sit down’. They should enjoy their pension and leave Nigerians alone to suffer their collective fate, which their wastefulness have dragged us all into.

Shameless godfather

Some of these politicians have no shame, to think that Chris Uba will still be showing his face in Anambra state government house despite everything that has happened, and which wouldn’t have if not for the inherent greed in man and the excessive greed in him. Just when you think that Anambra people are about to settle down and ‘quietly drop their cup after having a drink to quench their thirst’, there he comes lurking in the shadows like an angel of darkness. I was really jolted by the media reports that Chris Uba, the self-acclaimed godfather of Anambra politics actually sent a list of nominees to Peter Obi for appointment as commissioners. The point is not that the new governor-elect turned him down but to think that Chris Uba will even consider such a move defies any logic. Peter Obi is in APGA while Uba is in PDP, did Uba contribute also to Obi’s campaign? Or was he instrumental to the Appeal court’s favourable decision? There must be indeed more to this, maybe there are things that we don’t know but I’m sure that Peter Obi already knows that people that dine with the devil do so with a long spoon. This brazen act of thoughtlessness in addition to his many other misdemeanors against the good people of Anambra state obviously earns Chris Uba an automatic place in the Nigerian national hall of shame.

Vultures swoop down

I hear that Awka has turned into a lobbying centre, out-of-job individuals, out-of-favour politicians and other such any-government-in-power (agip) characters have swooped down on the town like scavenging vultures in search of ‘crumbs from the master’s table’, the jostle for contracts and political appointments is in top speed as you read this, really there is nothing wrong with it, that’s to be expected anytime batons change hands in a democracy, but this is hoping that Peter Obi will not get distracted, his eyes should be on the ball, though it has taken him 3 years but he must make good on his electoral promises, especially after the high standards Chris Ngige has already set.

Something good did come ‘out of Nazareth’

Still on Chris Ngige, God bless him for standing out, and showing that even in the midst of darkness, light can still shine. He would be my nominee for Nigerian national hall of fame for leaving over N13 billion naira in government treasury and for all the road projects that he began in

Anambra state, some of which had been completed.

The jury’s still out on OBJ but…

The jury is still out on OBJ’s nomination either to the Nigerian national hall of shame or to the elite hall of fame category. At the moment he has done some good deeds that may swing a vote to the latter, but rumours of his third term bid obviously are not doing him any favours. Because we have been down this road before, in the days of IBB and Abacha, it will be difficult for us to trust a military officer, even one in civilian clothes. In order not to be taken on the roller coaster ride again as if on a molue bus with faulty brakes heading towards the Lagos lagoon, I will re-echo Omoyele Sowore’s call for active civilian involvement in his How to stop OBJ article. His is a ‘how to’ essay on practical things Nigerians can do to stop the third term madness. Maybe the time for the civil disobedience which Pat Utomi and his concerned professionals group advocated has come.

Nominate your candidates

And who are your candidates for the Nigerian national hall of shame?

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1 comment

Bello Dantayi January 26, 2009 - 11:46 pm

he sholud at least have the excuse of been the 1st to rule executively, so he cant be as perfect,and it wasnt him who was corrupt in his governmen t, it was those who worked for him, i blind to it until late when he wanted a second chance but was note given. He didnt want to rule neither did he expect so and he made alot of impacts to Nigeria forgetting he was a president. He deserve to be stateman. How do campare him with all others apart from Sardauna, Abubakar and Zik, whom he worked with.


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