Column Opinion

Mr. President while you were away…

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

While the cat’s away the mouse will play; na before be dat. PCD

In Yoro, Honduras, the people speak of the lluvia de peces, or the rain of fish, which they commemorate with a festival during the rainy season. Miracles such as this, it is hoped, will rescue people from the tribulations of hunger.

Roberto Sosa (1930-2011), one of the great poets of Honduras, was born in Yoro, but he moved away from the miraculous toward the politics of the people and the Left. In 1968, he published his finest collection of poems, Los pobres (The Poor), which won the Adonáis Prize. Here’s an extract:

I entered

the House of Justice

of my country

and found it to be

a temple

of snake charmers.


Grim judges

speak of purity

with words

that have acquired

the brightness

of a knife. The victims – in constrained space –

measure terror in a single blow.

Roberto Sosa’s line, ‘I entered the House of Justice of my country and found it to be a temple of snake charmers’, seems to resonate with our beloved Nigeria today. Nigeria has been turned ‘into a jail country’ (en un país cárcel). ‘Today, the entire country is militarized’, in insecurity, despair and with patriots wearing forlorn faces. However, there are many of us in the ‘massive and though unorganized resistance that has not stopped demonstrating in many ways against the insensitivity of government, mounting a resistance of patriots that does not retreat, and one that believes that there is still hope.

With the above introductory remarks, let me welcome back our president to the country, sadly unlike the past and despite the little ‘ranting’ of Reno Omokri and friends many were really not bothered whether Mr. President was away or not. This time he did not transmit power to VP Osinbajo and we made almost no fuse about it. Madam first lady even went ahead to launch her book, with a gathering of our collective oppressors, Mr. President was not there and looks like he was not exactly missed.

Quite interestingly the judicial workers union are on strike, and it seems that everything with a ‘U’ continues to trouble this particular administration and Nigerians, JUSUN, ASUU, ASUP and other ‘U’s. My question would be, with our courts closed in the last week and counting, is this still a democracy or a bad photocopy of democracy?

So, while Mr. President was away 1,844 inmates were released and still roam free after the Imo Prison attack by unknown gunmen. And nothing has changed, and thankfully while they were largely unsuccessful two more correctional centers have been attacked.

In the period while Mr. President was absent, I had to imagine I had a kid, after a few days there was a name giving ceremony, people prayed for the kid, blessed the child and the journey commenced from boyhood, education and the young lad became a pilot, almost a month and counting the Airforce fighter jet he flew with his co-pilot simply disappears and we are still searching for crash site of the wreckage of the missing fighter jet. What do we tell the parents, while the President was away not much changed!

According to General Abdulsalam former President a conservative over 6million arms are in civilian hands in a nation that is not at war, any sane Nigerian should be scared sadly our sanity every day is questioned. With such figures, young citizens in despair, component units of the nation in despair, we have a recipe for mayhem.

And all the cries of restructuring, the growing tunes of secessionists spirits is only a reflection of the need to have a conversation on germane matters such as who are the ‘we’ that wrote the 1999 constitution, why is the fixation on a concentration of power that is not working, why are we afraid to decentralize police, energy, judiciary, devolve power and encourage ‘co-epition’ corporation and competition amongst component parts.

So, while the President was away the problem that Nigeria is, has remained what it is—making some of us, ask, sir, why did you not while resting study the manner in which the United Kingdom runs governance, the inherent problems of the Union and the merits and otherwise, so that now you are back we can talk as family how we want to co-exist.

The abducted Afaka students are being released in piece meal, they were abducted while you were around, they remained while you were away and are still there…Infact while Mr. President was away, one of the parents, a father died, he could no longer bear it. And now the President is back in Marley’s voice… “many more will have to suffer, many more will have to die, don’t ask me why.”

So let me end this admonition…

On a Sunday night on 21 March of that year only recently, gunmen stopped Buhari Ikechukwu (age 41) as he walked from this mother’s home to his own in the village of Nafada near Abeokuta (Nigeria). The gunmen opened fire in front of a catholic church, killing this leader of United Communities in front of his children. Forty bullets were found at the scene.

Tinubu Jang of the National Platform of Indigenous Peoples said that Buhari Ikechukwu had been threatened for his leadership of the Odua peoples and their fight to protect their land. He was killed, Tinubu said, ‘because of the work we do’. None of his killers have been arrested.

Two and a half weeks later, on 6 April, Abike Gloria entered the Supreme Court in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Bandino Shekau, the former president of onething something, the company behind several group killings, came to face charges that he was the mastermind in the assassination. The next day, on a plea from the defence, the Court agreed to suspend the trial for the fourth time.

Before the suspension, the legal team representing Buhari presented new evidence that established a wider conspiracy that involved the state but no one was listening.

This is where Nigeria is, we are in a lot of uncertainty’, as we see today, only the Oligarchs, who enjoy the horrible status quo, insist on not renegotiating the chaotic, anarchical and lopsided Union, which keeps worsening by the day. And the ordinary Nigerian pays the price with his blood and sweat.

The 2014 Confab report ought to have been our ideal template for us to design a new entity (restructured Nigeria), or entities (balkanized Nigeria).

However, the situation would have been much more manageable, had we remained on the 1963 Constitution, clearly leveraged on, by the first republic leaders, to be able to record the nation’s most enduring Infrastructural development…sadly it was not to be…

While Mr. President was away it made no difference because still there’s no trust and compatibility, no human union works without these two, spouses often will end up living at daggers drawn, or even killing themselves, just to escape from the suffocating union, where only the distant parents, relatives, in-laws and domestic servants, benefit from, while the major players are wallowing in insufferable agony.

Now, if we must remain together, we must find a way that relatively works for all of us, and one that we are committed to continuously improve upon. The tail is wagging the dog instead of the dog wagging the tail. There is a need for us to be less sentimental, be committed to installing capacious leaders, build bridges over our diversity, a few good men left will keep speaking truth to power and leadership, there is no retreat even today. None for the people of Nigeria, whether we get it right or implode—Only time will tell

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