TELL BANKOLE: REVOLT POSSIBLE HERE!
Reminded that Nigerians were suffering beyond tolerable limits during the Second Republic, a then well heeled politician named Umaru Dikko retorted that Nigerians were not yet eating from the refuse bin. It was not long after that retort that the decadent regime of the era was overthrown. It was overthrown by no less an important person than a then General known as Muhammad Buhari, who, now is aspiring to be Nigeria's president, in civilian clothing.
Far, in the remote part of history, a certain Madame who lived in opulence and putrid grandeur while the masses suffered, one day woke up to the annoying complaints of the citizenry who were complaining about the scarcity of bread. 'No bread?' she quizzed in removed amazement, 'let them eat cake.' The woman's name is Marie
Antoinette, the then wife and by implication a queen of Louis the XIV. When the masses could no longer bear the pangs of hunger, deprivation and all in the midst of plenty, they revolted.
It led to her sorry end and of course that of her darling husband who was promptly sent to the guillotine.
When an important member of the polity recently described Mr. President as a 'drunk sailor fisher man whose canoe is about to capsize,' I thought he captured Nigeria's present deplorable political, socio-economic leadership situation in its vivid essence. Whether it is the PDP, ACN, CPC, PRP, APGA, the entire political leadership of Nigeria fits that apt description.
Most newspapers last week led with the header: 'Bankole rules out mass revolt, military coup in Nigeria.' According to detailed reports as embedded in the body of most of the stories, the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mazi Dimeji Bankole was quoted to have said that the economic and political situation in Nigeria would not lead to a social revolt or a military coup. The report continued 'Nigeria, he said, will not experience the kind of revolution going on in North Africa, because of the acceptance of democracy by the citizens.' Mazi Bankole was represented by the Chairman of the House committee on Defense, Mazi Oluwole Oke.
The problem is that the Nigerian leadership has a collective sense of amnesia; it has as a matter of routine, played ostrich; it has a collective sense of hard to hear, hard to see and hard to smell troubles brewing in the air of the saturated Nigerian, decrepit political settings. The leadership is like the proverbial 'who the gods want to kill….' Unfortunately, the leadership has constantly been warned of the impending doom. But it has always ignored the warning.
The leadership of Nigeria has been told to ameliorate the peoples' suffering in the land. It would not listen. The leadership has been told to tame injustice in the land. It would not budge. The Nigerian leadership has been told to lessen the burden of youth unemployment in the land but it would not listen. The Nigerian leadership has been told to improve the people's welfare, to no avail. Yet it goes about boasting that democracy has taken roots. Which stable democracy takes roots without carrying the people along?
In our so called deep-rooted democracy, infrastructure is in deplorable condition.
The Shagamu-Ore-Benin road is a constant reminder of profligacy, waste, nonchalance, neglect and abandonment of the worst order. It is that road which a sizeable number of the people who Mazi Bankole told us have accepted democracy ply. It's where they are maimed and where they, in droves die every day. The people have complained to no avail - because it is only the people, the masses who own the instrument of revolt that have been condemned to daily carnage on this road. As is with the Ore-Benin road, so it is with many death trap bush paths that pass for roads in this land. And Bankole says, those people have accepted democracy.
Even the airports which the rich use more than the masses, on a daily basis do not have basic landing instruments. The air planes? No one inspects them. A' times you begin to wonder why a group of people (drunken sailor-oriented leadership) could even be harsh onto itself. Why a group of the ruling class could be so self destruct as to want to cut is nose to spite itself!
As we write, no modern Nigerian city can boast of portable drinking water. No modern Nigerian city can boast of the provision of a good medical centre, where the poor could go get needed basic medical attention. The quality of our education has sunk below redeemable standards. No Nigerian city can boast of good transportation network. No Nigerian city of worth can rank amongst the worst in Egypt or Bahrain or Yemen or Jordan - ironically, these are countries now witnessing revolution, even in their comparative opulence. Not even the worst infrastructures in Togo or Benin Republic would compare to the best in Nigeria. None!
The rich is getting richer in this land, while the poor is getting poorer every day. The collective drunken-sailor leadership in the land sees it – every day or because of their peculiar drunken situation pretends not to. Instead the leadership is constantly worried about the stability of democracy, rotation of power and or zoning; the leadership as represented by Mr. Speaker is busy conducting sham primaries that approve nominations approved by a few and presented to the electoral commission (who accept, reject, accept and reject as it pleases) as the choice of the people forgetting that no stable democracy is achieved without taking the people's input into consideration.
When Bankole says that Nigerians have embraced democracy, pray what does he mean? What type of Democracy? A democracy which on a regular basis turns truth on its head? Does he mean that democracy where a Bankole Dimeji presides over the daily looting of our nation's resources?
A legislature where every member (there are 450 of them or so) pockets 48 million Naira every quarter just for showing up, and not querying the squandering of our collective riches by the other arms of government; a democracy where a few of us own oil wells and are confessed billionaires in dollars; does he mean a democracy where the head of the court of appeal is at daggers drawn with the head of the supreme court over how to subvert justice and enthrone or consolidate electoral fraud; is Bankole talking of Nigerians accepting a democracy that is the pillar of poverty in their land; a democracy which (muzzled the press) has sat on the passage of a simple Bill called Freedom of information (FOI) bill. A bill which the head of the legislature and his more than well paid henchmen have, for reasons best known to them, prevented from being passed since the inception of this republic?
What kind of democracy Mazi Bankole, the honorable speaker is bragging that has been consolidated in Nigeria, you wander in pain and agony all day long because you know that someone (if we have to be charitable) is being economic with the truth. Mazi Bankole should be told in plain terms that judging from the way things are in Nigeria, now, a revolt and or a coup is possible. And that it is only a coup or a revolt of the massive type that would be able to bring sanity to this astray-bound blessed land of ours ruined by a succession of bad leadership.
Mazi Bankole should not live in a fool's paradise. All ingredients that necessitate revolt are very germane in Nigeria - a country whose social and political institutions are by every measureable basic standard, very weak. The Nigerian ship led by drunken sailors, is about capsizing. If it is not through a revolution because of the sickening enjoyment predisposition of the people, certainly it will be through other means. Readers please, use your tongues to count your teeth.
If we be honest, the question thrown at Bankole's representative would not have arisen if there were no perceived sense of wide spread socio-economic discontent occasioned by deep-seated economic difficulties within the Nigerian polity and amongst the citizenry. This preventable malaise is not only localized but has, now, over flown the shores of the land. It has reached a fervent pitch that people all over the world are beginning to take notice of our postponed doom.
Fortunately for us, where the Americans are seeing disintegration of Nigeria by 2015, the Europeans are seeing coup and revolt. Now, instead of Mazi Bankole's representative to address the questions squarely, he docked. Instead, Bankole's rep began to pander and in the process reminded Nigerians and right thinking peoples all over the world about that which are being discussed in hushed tones across the land and around the world – the talk of coup and revolt - the twin evil that scare the living hell off the present day Nigerian ruling class. In all honesty, if I were a politician of the Bankole cadre, I would not panic at the prospects of a revolt and or a coup. They are, in my opinion any day, better than the disintegration of Nigeria. At least after a coup or a revolution, we could pick our pieces and begin to start life anew. But disintegration conjures real cold shivers!
Finally, Mazi Bankole, if you be honest to yourself, you should try an answer to this simple question: are there not in abundance, in the Nigerian society of today, such deplorable socio-economic problems as starvation, run away unemployment, youth prostitution, hunger, want in the midst of plenty, deceit, subversion of justice, electoral malpractices, manipulation of electoral and census figures, nepotism, cronyism, exploitation, lack of good and quality education, dilapidated infrastructure, internal insurrections on the plateau and other parts of Muslim north, no decent drinkable water, epileptic electricity supply, decaying health care delivery etc, etc?
Are these not enough social malaise and maladies able to induce a coup or social revolt? If you answered in the affirmative, then, we are talking and may be our situation could be redeemable with you sitting on the driver's seat. But, Mazi, if you answered in the negative, then, wait for it. Not all Nigerians are fools. Get it sir. A coup and a revolt coming to Nigeria are like those objects which some car mirrors warn, are closer than they appear.
Offoaro writes from Havensgate, Owerri. [email protected] 07025161236.