It is bound to happen. Nigerians are experts in the art of blasphemy. At any given time, their behaviour and language are profane and sacrilegious. They are not contented with committing deplorable crimes against fellow human beings, they always add insult to injury by invoking God’s name in vain. They use His holy name to plead alibi for their iniquitous acts.
In my article titled “In The Name Of God,” I noted that: “Sooner than later, the din of this highly dubious advice will be raised to a new decibel. People will drag the name of God into acts emanating from their moral depravity. Very soon, we will start hearing that power comes from God and he gives it to whomever He pleases. Therefore, if anyone was cheated, then it was not God’s wish that he should win.”
They have started in earnest. These people who claim to have unhindered access to God have started dropping His name. On Monday, April 23, Prof. Dora Akunyili, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), flagged off the dubious campaign of not only using God’s name in vain, but also using same to stamp a seal of approval on conducts unbecoming of high state officials.
In a report carried in the Guardian newspaper of April 24 and titled, “President-elect to form unity government,” Akunyili said the result of the elections was God’s doing. While waiting for the arrival of Yar’Adua at the conference hall of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters, Legacy House, Abuja, where he addressed a world press conference, a euphoric Akunyili who obviously was over the moon was reported as declaring: “Who says God is not God? At the end of the day, our labours were not in vain.”
Since then, many others including Yar’Adua have joined the rat race and on their blaspheming lips, God’s name is on a free fall. Last week, Yar’Adua said his election was the handiwork of God.
“My election has the interest of Nigerians at heart. God has all powers and bestows power on whom he chooses. My election is the will of God.” He spoke while welcoming a faction of the opposition including the National Democratic Party (NDP) led by Alhaji Habu Fari and Chief Kenny Martins, President Olusegun Obasanjo’s brother-in-law, who came to tell him that God has given him victory and nobody can upturn it.
It is worth noting that NDP is the same party that was specifically formed to provide General Ibrahim Babangida a platform to run for the presidency. The party insisted that Babangida was their presidential candidate even when he could not muster the political will to bite the gun and run on its platform after Obasanjo made it obvious to him that he has become a person-non-grata at Aso Rock. It was after Babangida refused to run on the party’s platform, having been frustrated out of the race, that Fari became the presidential candidate.
In the past three weeks, I have read spurious arguments being put forward by some, all intended to lure Nigerians into accepting the result of the dubious elections as declared by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
First is the hogwash that Yar’Adua and the PDP could have won even if the elections were not rigged. Of course, this argument is not new. It was the same argument used to rationalise Obasanjo’s questionable victory in 2003, particularly when it became public knowledge that he scored thousands of votes in his native Ogun State, over and above the score in the gubernatorial election, when both elections were conducted at the same time and on the same ballot. The argument then was that even if those votes were annulled, Obasanjo could still have defeated Buhari. How disingenuous!
Second is the argument which many have been parroting since 1999, almost to the point of it becoming a cliché; that the worst civilian government is better than the best military government. Therefore, nobody should criticise the idiocy of civilians in power so that the military won’t come back. Those who bandy this puerile argument tend to suggest a civilian government cannot be brought down and replaced by another civilian government as has happened in different parts of the world. Of course, this is a deliberate lie meant to obfuscate the issues and wheedle the unwary into believing that we don’t have a choice in this matter.
In any case, a government is not necessarily bad because it is military or good because it is civilian. We have seen civilian administrations that are as dubious, if not more dubious, than military governments. Anybody who is in doubt need not look farther than the outgoing Obasanjo government. What makes a government good or bad is the moral fibre and strength of character of the leadership; the vision of the leadership and determination to make positive difference in the lives of the citizenry.
Third is perhaps the most hypocritical and dishonest. And that is the argument that democracy is a learning process and that we will get there with time. I substantially dealt with this issue last week. Suffice it to say that on the face of it, this argument sounds plausible, but not with Nigeria’s case. Because if it were, 2007 elections would have been substantially better than 2003’s in terms of organisation and delivery.
But eight years after full-time, intensive work on democracy, and despite the fact that we didn’t re-invent the wheels of democracy, we ended up failing woefully the most basic of democracy tests – conducting free and fair election. After eight years of learning, we conducted an election which outcome has thrown up a government that has serious legitimacy crisis.
And that brings us back to the issue of Akunyili’s god being God. Isn’t it said that the voice of the people is the voice of God? How then can Akunyili and her co-travellers on the boulevard of this electoral infamy claim that it was God’s doing? How could the whole world that has decried this election be wrong and only Obasanjo and Prof. Maurice Iwu, the only two people who can explain what really happened, be right?
Surely, it is not the God of justice, equity and fairness that sanctioned this kind of victory in which, almost three weeks after, the so-called victors are too apologetic about their victory; rationalising at every point, without much success, the basis of their victory, rather than taking a lap of honour, as it were, to thank the people who supposedly gave them victory.
Surely, it is not the God of fair play and impartiality who sanctioned these victories where three weeks after, the so-called victors, even some incumbent governors, are hiding inside the government houses across the country, marooned as it were, too afraid to come out and confront the same people who they claim handed them victory on a platter of their proven incompetence in office.
Is it not instructive that three weeks after these elections, almost everybody that has conscience is too ashamed to be identified with the so-called victory sanctioned by Akunyili’s god? No country or president in the world, not even Robert Mugabe, Obasanjo’s alter-ego in Zimbabwe, has congratulated the ‘victors.’ Even countries like the United States and Britain that pledged their qualified support for Yar’Adua over the weekend did so not because they are endorsing the perfidy that went in the name of elections but because of their stated “desire for peace and security throughout Africa,” and of course, the unstated goal of not endangering the free flow of crude oil from the Niger Delta.
How can Akunyili’s god be God in an election that Nigerians known for their brazen sycophancy are too horrified to place congratulatory adverts in the media patting the so-called winners on the back?
Surely, it must be a strange god that made possible an election in which three weeks after, no single monitor, whether foreign or domestic, has endorsed the outcome; an election that no newspaper or magazine that I know of, whether local or foreign has written an editorial endorsing the outcome. Almost everybody – Muslims, Christians and Pagans – are simply scandalised by the depravity of the minds who contrived this plot that has ridiculed all of us.
So who is this strange god that made Akunyili not to labour in vain? To be sure, whoever he is or whatever it is, is not the same God we all beseech everyday in our prayers and look up to for redemption from the vice-grip of the men who are beginning to claim divinity. It will not be surprising if the throne of Akunyili’s god is somewhere in a farm located in a place called Ota.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. As the days roll by and it becomes apparent that Obasanjo may get away with this crime against the Nigerian people, more Akunyili’s will crawl out of their shell, invoking God’s name.
But, it is a highly dangerous game they are playing. If the near boycott that greeted the re-scheduled elections in some states of the federation, without any prompting from any quarters, is anything to go by, it then means that Nigerians are beginning to lose confidence in the ballot box. The implication is ominous.
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