The Not In Our Character 'Ab(r)ac(h)adabra'

Nigerian leaders (or rulers if you like) are globally notorious for their mediocrity and hypocrisy. What is new and news now is how they have broken records as experts in kleptocracy. Political scientists must, as a matter of importance, begin to give another definition to the unconscionable kleptocracy because the Nigerian nay African leaders have re-defined it to include deliberately and wilfully stealing what they never needed and appropriating with manifest impunity the commonwealth more than decency or sanity could ever imagine, tolerate or accommodate. We have got to a stage where their mental state ought to be subjected to several psychopatic analysis.

Or how else does one comprehend how and why one vindictive old retired General Olusegun Obasanjo could have aspired to steal more than Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha put together? It is difficult indeed to imagine that a man who claims to be in his early 70’s (even when his childhood mates are older than him) could have sought to amass so much wealth that the next four succeeding generations of Obasanjos would never bother themselves over issues like work and wages! It simply boggles the mind!!

When Ibrahim Babangida committed treason by shooting his way to power early 80’s overthrowing the disciplined dictatorship of Generals Buhari/Idiagbon one of his hypocritical self-preserving military campaign happened to be “no-more-coup” campaign. Daily on the state-controlled radio and TV stations one’s sensibilities were roundly rocked and assaulted by a flawed martial message that sought to criminalise coup plotting and abolish its recurrence in our body polity.

Babangida’s “no-more-coup” campaign did not however prevent late Major Gideon Orkar and his men from striking forcing the wily General to re-locate suddenly from Dodan Barracks in Lagos to impregnable breathtaking Aso Rock Abuja. Before fleeing Lagos Babangida narrowly escaped death as Orkar and co missed spilling his blood by the whiskers.

As the gap-toothed armoured General annulled the June 12 presidential poll whose outcome had been widely known by even those in the hinterlands, irrespective of whatever the cowardly Professor Humphrey ‘Mr no mago-mago’ Nwosu intends to say on June 12’s fifteenth anniversary as he reportedly breaks his silence and launchers his book on the famous day) he hurriedly installed an illegal interim government (leaving Gen. Abacha, then Defense Minister, behind as de-facto Head of State) with Ernest Shonekan as ceremonious head of the ING the dour Shonekan chose to engage Nigerians intellectually by writing a weekly “Letter to my Countrymen” which was published in leading national newspapers.

Discerning Nigerians saw the smokescreen and booby traps Babangida left behind and a high court in the land did declare the ING “illegal”. Bidding his time and waiting for the right time to pull the rug beneath Shonekan late General Abacha could only tolerate the ING contraption for three months before he eased out Shonekan proclaiming himself Head of State. After three months of confusion at the center another martial leader had taken over.

Abacha was a “disorganized bandit” according to Gen Olusegun Obasanjo who survived his demented dictatorship by a hair’s breath. Abacha took Nigerians to Golgotha for five long dreadful years looting and killing until he was himself killed without a single bullet! His demise saved a nation from embracing political amnesia.

Quite frankly the Abacha era was a bizarre bloody epoch in our nation’s history. Abacha himself was more than a “disorganized bandit”; he was a psychopath! But in all fairness to the Kano-born despot he never pretended anything — he looted billions of naira and millions of dollars and killed some pro-democracy activists and forced others to scamper for safety outside our shores.

Unlike Obasanjo however Abacha never told anyone that he was a democrat or a ‘born-again’ when we all knew that he believed in marabouts he surrounded himself with. Unlike OBJ the Locust stole without pretending to be a good man. Under Abacha no sitting Attorney General and Minister of Justice was ever murdered without trace. (May the ‘Cicero‘ Bola Ige’s soul continue resting in peace). Under him people were assassinated but the number of unresolved murders under ‘Baba’ and his democratic abracadabra still beg for explanations and answers.

General Abacha, out of patriotism or hypocrisy or paradoxically both, launched an elaborate national image-laundering programme tagged “Not in our Character”. Billions of naira were spent in the process with little or no result felt or seen. Much like Prof. Jerry Gana’s MAMSER during Babangida’s era the Abacha campaign failed spectacularly because it was conceived in insincerity and grand deception.

The major problem with the ‘Ab(r)ac(h)adabra’ like Obasanjo’s anti-corruption crusade was that Abacha himself was morally deficient and unfit to mount the otherwise patriotic project aimed at correcting certain stereotypes and wholesale generalisations and characterisations of Nigerians as crooks or potential ones.

Abacha, to be fair to his memory, may have meant well but his undoing laid squarely in his dictatorial and fiscal banditry. Like Obasanjo whom he dealt with he was busy looting Nigeria blind and chasing thousands of our compatriots who dared raise objections away through his draconian policies while pretending equity and uprightness.

Late Gen. Abacha and his “not in our character” ‘Ab(r)ac(h)adabra’ was therefore doomed from the beginning of its conception right up to its execution. Contrary to the late General, the morally deficient crusader, I hold it’s not in our character to do everything right. Corruption should rather be called ‘the father of modern Nigeria‘ and not Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo who arrogated the undeserving title to himself when we all know he was the best friend to mischief and corruption.

Is it not in our national character, if one may ask, to get rich quick with no ethnic colouration or discrimination? Is it not in our character as a people to kill one another in the name of politics? Is smuggling of narcotics and other outlawed drugs not in our character? Is it not in our character to defraud ourselves and other foreigners? Is making and selling of counterfeit drugs and fake commodities not in our character? Is it not in our character to talk big, feel big and brag about our wealth — even when they were illicitly acquired? Is it not in our character to easily expose ourselves to those who hate us with a passion or dislike our guts and maltreat us abroad consequently?

Permit me to end this piece by quoting the late British MP Enoch Powell: “The Supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so it encounters obstacles which are rooted deeply in human nature”!

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