Operation “Throw My Shoe at Nigerian Looters” - By Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh *
The Nigerian socio-political space is now a socio-pathological “Absurdistan”; an iniquitous amphitheatre, dedicated to the atrocious eroticization of political stupidity. This arena has degenerated into an essential arena where hopeless ignorance meets primeval greed. The leadership is not only intellectually challenged, irredeemably myopic and visionless, but convokes a conglomerate of petty egoisms, whose sole vocation in life remains the congenital consultation of primitive greed and the celebration of fraudulence in its most atavistic forms.
It has matriculated into a realm of infernal iniquity and political simony, where the ability to consult or advertise superlative impunity in celebrating the most atrocious of political brigandage, is the only admission fee. Such a congress naturally attracts the most destructive strains of visionless opportunism, sycophancy bordering on socio-historical imbecility, and the worst variants of Machiavellian perfidy. But its Nigerian impress confounds belief and floors the imagination. The internal syllogisms of such convocation, coupled with Nigeria's peculiar history, and social evolutionary experience, conduced to our political space surrendering itself to the obscene banditry of monstrous hooligans and high-level charlatans.
From this temple of infamy, Nigerians are daily deluged with bacchanalian orgies of political debauchery, from the political and elite class, whose vocation in sane climes, is to drive the development of their people and confer dignity on the sources of social legitimacy, by their dignified actions, considered comportment, and utterances in public and in private. Such debaucheries stretching from the bland pedestrian to the sanctuaries of the hyper-ridiculous, has continued not only to affront our sensibilities, but to deny our land of development and its place in the apogee of human achievement. In the clutches of such purveyors of anomie, our land risks being embezzled unto extinction or surrendered to the bowels of history as one of the most tragic of comic disappointments in African political chronicles.
Everyday brings new scandals in its wake, which is in competition with its previous incarnations and latter epiphanies, to dwarf commonsense with their brazenness and ability to shock our multiply brutalized, and shell-shocked sensibilities. A visit to any online news portal or weblog dealing on Nigeria on any day; a mandatory pilgrimage to which many of us are daily condemned by the nebulous and mysterious medley of distance, bi or multilocational impossibility, technology and the love of our homeland; you be left in no doubt that the Nigerian public space is hostage to the intellectual filth and scandalous obscenities of haughty micro-emperors and midget conquistadores going by the name of politicians and public servants. Every such visit leaves a bland taste of hopelessness, and anger in one's heart by what a cabal of scoundrels have made of Nigeria; conscripting our active collusion, postural apathy, or conspiratorial silence and inaction to their reign of knavery.
One such scandals that has unforgivably flogged my fragile sensibilities shitless for a week now, is the news report that a group of Nigerian governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) dressed themselves in infamy, marched up to the guardians of knowledge in an American university; Harvard to be precise; and begged and pleaded in obsequious servility unbecoming of their office, to be allowed to come and celebrate their ignorance in her hallowed halls. They allegedly signed an MOU, which they proudly published to thumb the face of Nigerians and indicate their disdain for the Nigerian educational system. Harvard issued a wooden denial. The Nigerian governors according to news reports went on the offensive, drumming it down our throats that there was an MOU to that effect. The truth of the matter is buried somewhere in between the two parties. But what is undeniable is that there were contacts between the parties in question, and intentions were expressed to have Nigerian governors come to Harvard for the said capacity building exercise. What Harvard is denying is that it does not indicate an official sanction of what is still in process.
What is seriously disturbing is that such a move could be made by Nigerian governors, without giving thoughts to the message their actions would be sending to the world in relation to our own local universities in Nigeria? It beggars belief that after all the accusations we lay at the feet of colonialism for both its guilt and our own self-tailor problems, our leaders are still conceptually colonized and so very mis-educated that everything that comes from the Whiteman's land is the best for us. It pains my heart that these leaders would elect to mutilate a perfect right foot in other to look like a left foot because “Massa's” foot is left.
Over and above that, one then begins to wonder how low a man could stoop to disgrace himself with a pomp and pageantry that attests to a diseased, consolidated, and irredeemable ignorance and self-loathing; let alone, governors of States, in the most populous Black nation on earth. How could Nigerians empower such constellations of individual ignorance and inferiority complex, to pretend to the majesty of our offices? What is it in our political genes that recommend our abiding such a tasteless insult to all that we cherish? Are we a people bereft of pride, as to be so very willing to lap up every inanity that comes from the West because it bears a name, made reputable by its owners in service to their objectives, which never included us in the first place?
The questions could not stop flowing in my shocked mind. Why go to Harvard to get educated on how not to steal state's resources in obeisance to their avarice? Do we need Harvard to make a governor know that his primary responsibility lies in attending to the needs and welfare of his people? What can Harvard teach these men of ill-repute about patriotism and democratic practice? How could these guys pass a vote of no confidence on Nigerian universities, and turn around to wonder why our graduates are unemployable? Why tell the world that our universities cannot withstand global competition?
They would not wonder why more and more Nigerian graduates are becoming armed robbers or kidnappers because they armed most of these guys in the first place, to butcher anybody legitimately opposed to their gubernatorial ambitions. They would give no hoot to that since they marshal and conscript half the men and resources of the State Police into their obscenely ostentatious entourages, as well as that of their wives and mistresses; and convert the remainder into their “mai guards” (watch and gatemen). To this end, armed robbers can ravage ordinary citizens in their homes, which they have walled-in like some Super-maximum prison facilities with burglary proofs and high walls; waylay them on the notorious stretches of human abattoir or slaughter slab, pockmarked with pot and manholes, that we call roads; murder them in broad daylight on the streets on their way to work and play; storm houses of God and that of men; and even sack banks and market stalls, while the state, which we theoretically allowed the monopoly of violence to protect us looks on in grotesque paralysis; superlatively bereft of ideas.
If the Nigerian situation of today is not a testament to the consolidated ignorance manacling the leadership of the Nigerian state at all levels, I wonder what is. To this effect, one cannot be legitimately accused of defamation, if one asserts that the Nigerian leadership corridors, right from the lowest to the highest level, is in the thraldom of pervasive ignorance. We have battled hard to resist the temptation to say that Nigerian leaders at all levels, are simply self-aggrandizing nincompoops, but the action of the Nigerian Governors Forum signing an MOU with Harvard to train them on the content of their jobs, weakened and compromised our resistance.
Our anger knew no bounds in spite of the wooden apologetics of the paid hirelings and other mercenary voices oozing inanities in defence of such a profound affront to reason. The fact must be recognized for what it is. These governors who are nothing but absentee landlords came before the whole world to pass a vote of no confidence on Nigerian universities, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding for capacity building seminars for the Nigerian Governors with a foreign university. Are there no universities in Nigeria that can train these guys? This is to say that they know that the Nigerian educational system suffers compound dysfunctionality due to what they and their predecessors did to scuttle education in Nigeria. The same could be said of every other sector of our economy and national life. The kids of Nigerian governors and public officials do not study in Nigeria. How can they do that after their parents have succeeded in destroying every public utility and source of social legitimacy? They are soaking the best of western education on public funds. Our president buys his paracetamol at the HSK hospital Pharmacy in Wiesbaden, Germany. The legislators check their blood pressures in Paris, Washington, New York and some other Western capital. Why wouldn't they? Their visionless squandermania, incompetence and primitive thievery have succeeded in forestalling the articulation of any healthy policy for our health system, and destroyed any policy that showed some potential of success.
Why wouldn't they go to Harvard since the facilities in Nigerian universities today are the obsolete ones left by the founders some four odd decades ago? The same could be seen in our infrastructures. The paltry ones dotting our landscape were in the many parts of the country, the ones left by the colonial masters. This attests to the fact that the British colonialists were more benign than the local colonialists that have ruled Nigeria from independence till date. The Niger Delta is the ultimate desecration and monumental testament to the failure and criminality of our ruling class. Sitting atop huge resources, our leadership and elitist class have succeeded in bequeathing Nigeria with inexcusable poverty that invites a revolution in climes where people still lay claims to sanity.
These fools in their impious and corrosive tomfoolery think that they are fooling anyone save themselves. In their haste to seek a new avenue to launder stolen public funds, they couldn't come up with a smarter excuse. Harvard is an American university primarily attending to American needs, and the need of American world dominance policy. Anybody who is really thinking about capacity building for Nigerian actors in the art of governance, should first of all have consulted local universities in Nigeria, who have the epistemic privilege as well as the gneologic and ontological priority as far as it concerns knowledge of Nigerian political space and the complex dynamics and range of factors that gave it birth, sustains and nourishes it. There is nothing like local knowledge in proffering functional answers to contextual problems obtainable in their locality; much more than any external body ever could. But our governors feigned ignorance of this in obeisance to their conceptual slavery, and marched off to Harvard to advertise same on a global pulpit.
What these governors, nay African leadership actually need is above all, conceptual decolonization. They are still bestriding Nigeria with the same mindset, which informed colonial policies of her majesty's errand boys sent to Africa, on the exploitative mission of raping the continent for British pleasure. The same dysfunctional conceptual scheme and pathological metaphysic is what our politicians have drank to the dregs; and which unfortunately informs their celebration of anomie in the Nigerian public space.
I have never known of a Western politician coming to Nsukka to consult the world renowned political scientist Prof. Asobie on political matters or any matters at all. George Bush will never consult our brilliant Wole Soyinka or how to rule the USA. Hilary Clinton, the American Secretary of State will never come to Igbobi to repair her fractured elbow. The German chancellor Merkel would never come to do her shopping at Alaba international or Ochanja market in Onitsha. But ask any Nigerian or African politician where they buy their underwear? These guys are so hopeless that they order toothpicks from China and bottled water from the Philippines. They have even passed a vote of no confidence on made in Nigeria Ashawos!!!! Abacha was not the only one that had that disease. Many of our tainted “honourables” come abroad to sleep with European prostitutes, with public money. Yet, they come, plate in hand to beg for aid from western governments. I wonder how many Nigerians are working in Western embassy except as drivers, cooks or cleaners, but a German sits in the deepest halls of the Nigerian embassy in Berlin, giving consular appointments to Nigerians, who needs consular services from their embassy.
You only need to mingle one day in decision making circles here in Europe to see the level of disdain and mockery that African leaders are subjected to. Many Western governments are now aware that every African minister or Nigerian public official is a potential money launderer. And they are gradually doing away with diplomatic niceties at their airports. Dora Akunyili, Nigeria's information (read propaganda) minister, was frisked early this month at Chicago airport in utter violation of diplomatic protocol. This is not even made better by the personal comportment of our officials when they are abroad.
In fact, their personal comportment on such occasions makes you so very ashamed to have come from the same climes as these people. The bloated and noisy ostentation of their entourage, the ignorance and grovelling nature of their exchanges with European technocrats are so convulsively ugly that you keep wondering, why Africa is so cursed. Just as an aside, I was a participant at the German Bundestag-The German parliament, in the caucus of the CDU/CSU faction of the German government, about a week ago, where German foreign aid policy on Africa was discussed. An African president came in with his retinue of hangers on. First and foremost, he was so very late for the occasion. Secondly, on this day, it seemed that he had to depopulate his country to fill in his entourage. It is no exaggeration. Almost half of the men in his country were a part of this of this entourage that was flown to Germany at public expense. And they are there to seek help from Germany. Contrast this with the Germany chancellor Angela Merkel, who was billed to speak at 2.45pm on that day. AT 2.43pm. She walked into the hall with only four body guards and no fanfare. Very prompt, punctual and simple. It was a festival of contradictions in relation to our African entourage.
Back to our point: Against such backdrops, one cannot cease to marvel and get angry at the imbecility of African leaders and particularly Nigerian governors, who allowed themselves to be tainted by that monumental goof. I wonder what Harvard and its professors know about the deepest dynamics of the local context of Nigeria, which Nigerian universities is not ontologically prior in its possession, by the epistemic privilege arising from their being products of that environment, as well as its living, breathing part.
In the face of all these, one is at a loss for answers on why haven't Nigerians risen up to chase these usurpers of our commonweal off our land. Anyone who passes a vote of no confidence on his charge has lost every moral right to continue to enjoy the duties and privileges of that office. These governors are shameless scoundrels. Asking a Nigerian public official to resign an office that he has desecrated is like asking faecal matter to give up its vocation of smelling. They would not. How do we get them to leave the office they have so despoiled and tainted with dishonour, when we cannot even vote on Election Day?
Electoral democracy in Nigeria since independence has remained a personification of farce. Charade in Excelsis! The Nigerian people who are supposed to be the repository of ultimate power are denied their voices, and stampeded into timid acquiescence. Once their silence is squeezed out of them, the trans-tribal cabal of Machiavellian opportunists bestriding our land like robber barons, then sit down to unveil new master plans and manifestos of embezzlement. With these blueprints in operation, Nigeria continues to generate darkness instead of power and light for her people. She continues to haemorrhage her resources into rogue pockets. The Nigerian state then graduates into the colossal cannibal, whose great vampyrean appetites must be regularly assuaged by the blood of her intellectuals, the poverty of her people, and the dysfunctionality of her institutions.
This has been the case that so much so, today, at the dawns of the 21st century, Nigeria in spite of boasting a brilliant population and superabundant natural resources remains a valley of tears for ordinary Nigerians who are now over 75 percent of the population, but a feudalistic paradise of medieval dimensions for the politician and man of power or wealth. This paradise is naturally irrigated by canals of milk and rivers of honey requisitioned off the poor, and accessible only to this tiny cabal of remorseless monsters ruling Nigeria, and their acquaintances. The land has remained an essential arena were obnoxious rascality has married an audacious impunity that is brazen, dangerous and impoverishing.
This explains why the fact that some Nigerian State governors would abandon their states to perennial dysfunctionality, and came to the United States of America, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Harvard University, so that Harvard will train them in the art of governance fills me with fiery rage. And that such a bunch of political scoundrels, whose political simonies bought desecrated gubernatorial offices for them, could throw all cautions to the wind, and elect to televise their consolidated stupidity to the world, and were not met at the airport with sacks of stones, and the fiery rage of an oppressed people, is a testament to the totalizing and pervasive political emasculation of the Nigerian populace.
This emasculation created a very unsettling equation in the Nigerian social space. This equation sired by a eons of bottled anger, and primitive appreciation of justice fertilizing the failure of the State to live up to its responsibilities of monopolizing violence, and guaranteeing justice; paved the way for a conceptual scheme and ratiocinative framework in which Nigerians are more likely to lynch petty thieves and celebrate monumental bandits.
The promulgation of this toxic equation went on to erode every semblance of restraint in the commission of high crimes against the commonweal, by those who could advertise raw, undiluted violence in their hijack and latchment to power; a pedestal from which they could celebrate the rascality, with ample impunity, and expect no sanctions of the law. But on the other hand, it equally eroded every restraint in the vengeful anger of an oppressed populace, to exact maximum punishment on their fellow wretched of the earth, for petty crimes, which may have been recommended by the terminal necessity to forestall gastronomic emergency.
This is why Nigerians have now resorted to giving chieftaincy titles to people like Andy and Chris Ubah, whom Nigerians have come to know as monumental rogues, while petty thieves or pick pockets caught in the act are roasted over some slow barbecues, convoked with tyres hung burning around their necks.
My question to Nigerians remains: why do we burn petty thieves and celebrate our governors? Who is worse? A guy who pilfers a few pennies to buy bread for his starving kids, or a president who stole billions of dollars he doesn't need, to hire a Concord to fly his daughter to a wedding? On whom should the stones of our anger descend? On an Amina Lawal whom patriarchal arrogance designated an adulteress, or on an Ahmed Sanni Yerima, who sanctioned a cow-thief losing his wrist, but ended up stealing billions of his state's funds and sitting in our senate to laugh at our timidity? Who should we lynch? A thug, who to earn some bread for his stomach snatches a ballot box or the president and politician, who, pursuant to stealing our mandate commissioned and underwrote that heist? Who should the armed robbers visit? The poor hapless Nigerians, who are not sure where the next meal would come from, or the Representa-THIEVES, who embezzled funds mapped for job creation for these youths? Who should the Niger Delta Militants kidnap? The innocent kids of parents legitimately earning their keep in Port Harcourt; or our officials, and their collaborators, who have cooked a soup of ecological infamy, off the Niger Delta landscape and resources?
Why is it that the aphorism “Do not steal because the government hates competition” has remained the operative principle of our men of power in Nigeria? Is it because we have empowered that with our silence, or because this cabal deploys the army and police force on any peaceful protest to break the will of the Nigerian people and secure Nigeria as their ngwongwo pot; thereby further consolidating our emasculation?
If the latter options in all these questions are the case, Nigerians should do the right thing. They should start now to gather stones for the job at hand. They should get ready to tell these guys who the real masters are. George Bush got a shoe thrown at him in Iraq for what the Iraqis perceive as the devastation of their land. The Harvard insult is a clarion call for all Nigerians, both at home and in the Diaspora to rise up and be counted. It is a fatwa passed on all Nigerian governors and public officials. It is the duty of every patriotic Nigerian to get his shoe and “takalami” ready to be hurled at any Nigerian governor or public official that visits a western capital, or the part of the western world where he resides.
For the Nigerian governors and public officials: we are going to make the globe so very hot for any of you that comes to any western capital to launder our funds again. We will never give the goldfish a hiding place any more. You guys have squandered my generation. We are not going to let you squander that of our children. Get ready; shoes will be landing on your faces pretty soon. You can ask George Bush what the experience is like. In Bush's case, he was granted the immunity of occupying the powerful office in the world. But in your insignificant cases, the Western press and government will smile under the table and let us do our thing of hurling shoes at your inglorious faces. Ask Mr. Obasanjo what his London experience was like. This is a warning, you guys better stay put in Nigeria and start finding solutions to the mess that you have made of our homeland.
With this article, I am inaugurating a mass movement “Operation Throw my shoe at a looter”. This is a movement of Nigerians who are angry at what the politicians have made of Nigeria. We would pledge and dedicate ourselves to meeting Nigerian public officials of whatever configuration, and known looters of our treasury, who come to Europe or America for any public or private engagement whatsoever, with our shoes.
We would be throwing the shoes at them, like was done to George Bush in Iraq. With this we would be sending the message to the whole world that the era of African leaders and politicians coming to Europe or America, or any western capital to launder our funds or fuck white prostitutes with public funds are over. We are to inaugurate an end to the era when your paracetamols are purchased in Europe, your toothpicks in China and your blood pressures checked in Paris, while ordinary Nigerians are dying of curable diseases, hunger and ignorance.
I urge every Nigerian of goodwill to join this action.
*Dr. Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh, is the director of the African Section at the International Society for Human Rights, Frankfurt Germany
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