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NIGERIA: A COUNTRY THAT LEAKS

PHOTO: FORMER PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO (R) PLAYS WITH A KID AT THE PRESIDENTIAL WING OF THE MURTALA MUHAMMED AIRPORT, IKEJA, LAGOS RECENTLY.
PHOTO: FORMER PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO (R) PLAYS WITH A KID AT THE PRESIDENTIAL WING OF THE MURTALA MUHAMMED AIRPORT, IKEJA, LAGOS RECENTLY.
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“You mean Ayo Fayose called Baba, the father of bastards? What kind of thing is that?”“Well, I hear OBJ caused it. He wanted the younger man to greet him, and he reportedly called the former Governor a bastard because he ignored him.”“Fayose as a Yoruba son should have greeted Obasanjo. It doesn’t take anything away from him. You enter a room, you greet everyone and then you ignore a man like Obasanjo. That’s insulting. That is totally against Yoruba culture.” “Hey, please, don’t bring culture into it. Must Fayose greet the former President? This is how in Yorubaland they have always used old age to cheat younger people and cover up the bad conduct of older men and women. Even when an elder is wrong in Yorubaland, the younger person is still expected to show him respect. Times are changing. As far as Fayose is concerned, Obasanjo does not deserve any respect.”

“What is his problem?”“He holds Obasanjo responsible for his impeachment as Governor of Ekiti state. That is what his problem is. He once said on television that Obasanjo told him to his face that because he refused to support the Third Term agenda, he would be disgraced out of office and that was precisely what happened. You’d recall that soldiers stormed the Ekiti Government House looking for Fayose; the man had to be smuggled out of the state like a piece of cargo. The EFCC went after him, he fled into exile, his properties were seized just because one man wanted to show that he was powerful. And you say he should greet such a man?”

“He could have been polite. That is what leadership is all about. So, what has he gained from going to another man’s Thanksgiving service to disrupt the event with his own politics? Now nobody is talking about Oyinlola staging a loud party to mark his enjoyment of a stolen mandate for close to four years, but how Fayose and Obasanjo abused each other at the party.”“Fayose needed to make a point, he has made it. The joke is on Obasanjo. Have you not seen how he keeps getting embarrassed nearly everywhere he goes since he left office? The other time, it was one fellow trying to assault him at the airport. And now Fayose has abused him at a public function.”

“Well, if I were an Obasanjo child, I will sue Fayose for defamation, calling me a bastard.”“And if Fayose’s mother were still alive, she too would head for the courts to make claims for defamation. If indeed Obasanjo called her son a bastard, he would have to prove it.” “This is clearly a case of two fighting and we all know that there are no bastards in Africa.”“Where were you when MKO Abiola’s other children from his many wives kept failing the DNA test that he ordered in his Will? What would you call those children?”

“Leave that matter. What I know is that the Fayose-Obasanjo face-off is a lesson again for all leaders. Once a man is out of power, he is easy game. Obasanjo has obviously lost the immunity he enjoyed as Nigeria’s President.”“It is worse than that. It is tragic that after being Nigeria’s President for a record three times, Obasanjo has no following among his own people or anywhere in Nigeria; he has no political base, almost everyone who worked with him is taking potshots at him: Atiku, Fayose, and many others who may not have gone public with their grievances; it is tragic. Can you imagine anyone in Yorubaland calling Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a father of bastards?”

“I agree. Nobody will dare. Even at the height of the fight between Awolowo and the Akintola, no one would dare abuse Awo to his face. Now that he is dead, no one would dare either, at least not in the open in Yorubaland. What would happen is that the bastards will take on the fight and show the person that they are no bastards at all, but Awolowo’s children? Who will stand up for Obasanjo?”“I read somewhere that the Agbekoya (the Farmers Guild in Yorubaland) has asked Fayose to apologise to the former President because his conduct is a violation of Yoruba culture and ethics.”“Which Agbekoya?”“The same one.”“I don’t know what you mean by the same one. But in any case Fayose says he does not owe Obasanjo any apology. So, forget about this so-called Agbekoya, who ride air-conditioned SUVs, eat meat pie and salad and use GSM phones. I know an Agbekoya when I see one.” “As we move closer to 2011, we are bound to see and hear more interesting things in the political arena.”

“Oh yes. Like General Muhammadu Buhari going to campaign in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state on Tuesday only to be met at the venue by thugs who tried to attack him and other members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).” “The General and his supporters fled. The thugs meant business.”“That is not good for our democracy. That was what happened in one of the Eastern states the other time when members of a rival political group were chased out of the state. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of association and the freedom of choice.”“You are quoting the law, we are talking politics. Are you not aware that the President is from Bayelsa state? You want his political rival to go and campaign in his home state?”“Why not?” “Well, the man got what he asked for. The interesting part of it for me was the statement issued by the state government after the incident. There was something in the statement about the government condemning the incident with “every force at our command”. Every force at their command! They then added that the Buhari group should have informed the state government of their campaign visit to Bayelsa state, they ought to have known that there is “a sitting Governor in the state.”“They organized the attack then.”“No. The statement did not say so. Just that “there is a sitting Governor in the state.” And in any case members of the CPC have denied that their rally was disrupted; as far as they are concerned, it was a huge success.” “Same event, two reports. Politicians are forever disingenuous.” “It is like Chief Anthony Anenih saying for example that there is no vacancy in The Presidential Villa in 2011.”“He said the same thing in 2003 and we ended up with a bad election. If he says there is no vacancy in the Presidential Villa, then why are we preparing for the 2011 elections? And if you check very carefully, the man is a national honour recipient.” “Well, actually, he was quoted as saying that there is an Adamu Ciroma consensus candidate and there is a Nigerian consensus candidate.”“There is no such thing. What is important is to ensure that the people’s right to choose is protected and that every person of voting age is allowed to have a say in the 2011 elections.” “I don’t see how that is going to happen. Can’t you see the handwriting on the wall?”“What handwriting? Is Anenih trying to suggest that his party will apply the Cote d’Ivoire solution in 2011?”


“The Laurent Gbagbo solution: The man lost the election in Cote d’Ivoire, but he got the Constitutional Council to overrule the electoral commission, and now the country is polarised between the North and the South. Nigeria should lead ECOMOG to Abidjan and drive Gbagbo out of office. It is not enough for ECOWAS leaders to say that they do not recognize Gbagbo.”“And what is the African Union (AU) doing? What is happening in Cote d’Ivoire is the usual African story. Leaders who do not respect the democratic process pose a threat to the rest of the nation.” “It can happen here too, because all that Gbagbo is saying in Cote d’Ivoire is that there is no vacancy.” “You mean when Anenih says there is no vacancy in Aso Villa; it is likely that some people can use the Supreme Court to overrule INEC? That will not happen here. This is Nigeria, not Cote d’Ivoire.”

“Of course, it can happen here. In fact, one famous soothsayer, the Egbeji of Nigeria has predicted that there will be so much trouble with the 2011 elections, Professor Attahiru Jega, the INEC Chairman, will suddenly resign and claim that he needs to protect his integrity.” “You mean with all your education, you cannot analyse political issues without quoting a shamanist? This is the real tragedy that Nigeria faces.”“Egbeji is always spot on, mind you. He held a press conference and the papers reported what he had to say. Afterall, he successfully predicted Aregbesola’s victory in Osun; Mimiko’s in Ondo and Fayemi’s victory in Ekiti too.”“You don’t need a crystal ball to make such predictions.” “Okay, if you don’t believe Egbeji, how about two recent developments?” “I am listening.” “One Federal High Court judge has ruled that INEC cannot import Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines, or proceed with preparations for the elections, because one local company has the divine and the legal right to provide all election-related materials including ballot boxes.”“Very strange.”

“Everything in Nigeria is strange… Then INEC takes delivery of the DDC Machines that it had ordered, and what did we read in the newspapers? Twenty of the machines were snatched by robbers at the Lagos airport, in broad daylight and in the presence of airport security!”“I don’t think we are serious about this thing called Nigeria. Look at the WikiLeaks revelation about how Shell has a mole in every relevant department of the Government of Nigeria. When I read the story and thought of how many other foreign companies and governments could have moles in the Nigerian system, I felt sorry for my country.”

“Well, I am not surprised, that is what you get when you have a country where every public officer is only interested in what he or she can get. Even without anybody putting a mole in Nigerian offices, our public officials are more than willing to sell their own country!” “And yet in spite of this, the PDP Chairman says all PDP lawmakers will be automatically allowed to run for election in 2011.”“Nigeria stinks.”“It leaks.”

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