General Buhari and P-Square

By 

Noel Ihebuzor

Who would ever have believed that the Okoye Brothers (Paul and Peter – PSquare) had this amount of influence, and that the influence extended even to the highest citizen of the land? That is the power of artists – their influence can be so insidious that we often internalize their messages without our being conscious that such internalization is going on. General Buhari’s recent 97% and 5% talk is a classic example.

PSquare sang: “if you do me, I do you, God no go vex” and the General must have taken the message in this modern day rendition of a mosaic injunction to heart as a guiding philosophy of life. This guiding philosophy then found a convenient outlet in the 97% and 5% comment. Never mind that the mathematics is wrong. Never mind that the forum chosen to express this personal philosophy of governance and political payback (with commonly owned assets) was the worst. The comment is no slip of the tongue. It is a comment that swells from deep within. It defines the man and it tells us what to expect in the coming months and years. Such a comment is most unworthy of any statesman or national leader. It betrays pettiness. It betrays vengefulness. It also betrays a regrettable and fundamental sectionalism. It is thus a public relation and governance disaster. It is a tasteless howler. The timing for this latest howler is also most appropriate. It happened in the public glare of spectators who had come to watch a sales and image laundering exercise. The gaffe turned it indirectly into a media disaster, an apt exercise in self-revelation/disclosure and a true commentary on one’s competence, social vision, and intellectual depth.  In a single blow, the 97% and 5% gaffe thus gave a lie to all the hype and posturing of image launderers, scattering them all as “wash” in full public glare.

The French novelist, Victor Hugo said–“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come”. Let me end this short piece by inflicting on the reader a very mischievous adaptation of that same saying. Here goes – “Nothing is as inevitable as a disaster whose time has come”.  I am sure that Mr. Hugo would agree that this adaptation rhymes well with our present charade and that it fits the current parade of governance clumsiness like a glove.

Advertisements

D is for Drown and more – an instantaneous duet

By

Toyosi Arigbabuwo and Noel Ihebuzor

NI

Crown, drown, clown…..”

TA

for which town?

Abeg, chill naa, no vex

NI

I no vex, I no frown!

Dem jus fall my hand down!

TA

Me dey here wan wear LASTMA gown

I no know say you dey only play with noun

My fine white skin, don nearly turn to brown!

NI

na so so frown frown

when town vex come meet crown

sake of say ogogoro wey him down

wey make dem talk of drown

TA

E come be like this town

When dem goon

Say no be madness make the crown

Wan drown pipu for inside Lagoon

NI

Chei, Baba God him dey frown

Him no go gree sey make clean pipu drown

na float wey eagle feather dey float for water,

leg wey waka come go waka go,

nothing do am, nothing fit do am.

TA/NI 

Iseeeee! Aseeee!

**** Toyosi and I wrote this instantaneous duet as an expression of our strong disapproval of royal meddling in inter-ethnic amity! Readers in Nigeria will be familiar with the context.TA is Toyosi’s voice, NI is mine.

Change and credible criticism

by

Noel Ihebuzor

  1. The possibility of alternation is one of the biggest benefits of democracy, but meaningful alternation is reason and cost benefit analysis driven.
  2. Change is often mistaken for a “replace with anything” sell & mindset. That is not change. Change is value adding & positive.
  3. If it is not value adding, then it is not and cannot be change.
  4. Some folks believe that the surest way to market themselves as change agents is to engage in endless criticisms of those in power.
  5. They criticize, trivialize and oppose whatever it is that the person in power does.
  6. Such an attitude and mindset soon give rise to a malignancy which I call serial opposition disorder, SOD.
  7. SOD as a malignancy leads to the spawning of mindless and non-credible criticisms.
  8. To be credible criticisms must be context sensitive and more importantly provide valid and feasible alternative lines of action.
  9. Non-credible and invalid criticisms are usually driven by spite, ignorance, ambition, bias, arrogance and selfishness.

If good news gives you a bad headache, then you need APC

By

Noel Ihebuzor

Rejoice with the good, celebrate the positive and come away from criticism for criticism’s sake. It is sterile and cheap – a plea for sense and moderation.

  1. The attitude of the APC leadership to the military campaigns in the North East is baffling and appears unpatriotic.
  2. APC leadership appears to rejoice at news of any reversals or loss of men/territory/weaponry by our military.
  3. Elements of this party leadership mocked and teased the military and the presidency over the debacle that was the failed cease fire.
  4. Recall that the ceasefire was conceived primarily to ease suffering and to explore solutions to the insurgency, not to score political points.
  5. The same party leadership guffawed when the attempt to purchase arms through SA failed. The weapons were to improve the operational efficiency of the military.
  6. Improving the operational efficiency of the military was meant to help the military quickly degrade the BH, not about elections.
  7. The military has now acquired new weaponry, morale is on the rise and battle tide has turned and the APC leadership is unhappy.
  8. The APC leadership now accuses the military and the presidency of politics. They claim the timing of these military gains is political.
  9. What is the APC leadership telling Nigerians? That they prefer Nigerian territory to remain under insurgent control till after the elections?
  10. That they prefer Nigerian men and women who have suffered to continue to suffer till after the elections? That they put electoral ambitions ahead of consideration of the emotional health, safety and security of Nigerians?
  11. These are the messages that the APC leadership is sending out to Nigerians, wittingly or unwittingly.
  12. Such messages are clearly unpatriotic. Please let us all rejoice with our troops who are liberating territories.
  13. Let us salute the gallantry of the military. The sacrifices they make go beyond petty politics.
  14. Certain things go beyond politics and it requires a large heart, decency, dignity and patriotism to see and appreciate such.
  15. Where good news about your country consistenlty gives you a bad headache, then something is definitely wrong – some debilitating conditions present in this way! Time to seek help as neither APC nor Codeine nor Paracetamol can provide any lasting cure.

The APC’s Joke of a Scarecrow President


by

Shehu Dikko

shehuspen+paper at gmail dot com,  December 2014

Buba Galadima has given a world record twelve years of his life full time to the ongoing Major General Muhammadu Buhari campaign for president. He has been loud and often bombastic as the most audible voice of the campaign, and you must question his effectiveness, but he has taken on its critics frontally, directly. He has provided loyal support to Buhari: first in the erect ANPP of nine elected Governors; then in the limping ANPP reduced to just four Governors; then in the crippled CPC of a lone Governor; and now in the APC on crutches that has already lost one of its Governors since Buhari showed up there. Scratch that. Galadima is not there alongside Buhari anymore.

In radio interviews in Hausa and in a letter sent to the editor of the Daily Trust and published on 10th November, Galadima has said that “no interlocutor ever stood between him and [Major] General Buhari.” He has revealed that after the 2011 election, Buhari personally informed him that after three failed attempts at the presidency, he was not going to contest again, only for him to hear on the radio that Buhari had gone back on his word. Here is Galadima in his own words:

“Whatever anybody may say, the fact still remains that I contributed my widow’s mite towards the projection and promotion of [Major] General Buhari as a politician at a time when those ‘yan kwanta kwanta [highway robbers who command their victims to lie face down while they rob them] who for personal reasons hover around him today felt that he was an aberration and poison that could not be touched. . . . There are people who worked with [Major] General Buhari when he was in the military, public service, politics and school. Where are they in his political project today?”

They are nowhere to be found. All the politicians that were its publicly visible backers at the commencement of the campaign a dozen years ago, and the many others who gave their all to it in the sincere belief that it held a promise of a better governed country have all abandoned it. Buhari has been unable to lead a political project team and to command and retain the loyalty of its executives. He was unable to do this even as a military dictator. This is why his military regime was short-lived and why his retired military colleagues have not been found near his political project. Now aged seventy plus, it has become too late to transform him into anything other than what he is: proven incompetent as a political leader.

Galadima tried harder than most to stay committed. But it was all in vain for no interlocutor ever stood between Buhari and his zero programme for his cult following.

No interlocutor ever stood between Buhari’s backers and a misplaced hope of leadership by example. Major General Buhari has provided no true inspiration to his frenzied crowd of followers. He has failed to make them disciplined. When they took to violent protest after the last election, he neither took to the vanguard of the protest nor did he call them to order. He fled. He claimed that he too was attacked. Leader? No.

No interlocutor ever stood between Buhari and his zero ideas on what to do about the problem of corruption in a democratic setting. In twelve years of campaigning, he offered nothing at all.

Alas, no interlocutor appears able to stand between those so determined to see to the triumph of proven incompetence sure to lead to disaster, likely to end in tragedy, and the fantasy that all you need to do to make corruption fly away is to erect a scarecrow in the presidential villa. Where has a scarecrow ever scared away dark nighttime creatures like the bat that lies in bed at noon?

All the creatures that belong to the day who have seen the scarecrow president project for the joke it is and abandoned it have been replaced by distressed-project managers and asset liquidators that were its critics and political enemies who have seen in Buhari’s leadership incapacity and in his fanatical following that has been used by many other opportunistic politicians before them opportunity to further their own calculated objectives which, going by their records, are far removed from the blind expectations of the fanatical poor.

As devious distressed-project managers well aware that they would have recouped their investments by the time there is any buyer’s remorse, they have spent so much on imported dangerous stage-managed promotion gimmicks, scrubs, deodorants and washing up liquids in an effort to conceal the fact of his leadership incapacity so as to make him marketable to necessary but hitherto wary buyers, most recently in a scrubbed speech broadcast to a national television audience to conceal a dismal performance in an un-shepherded television interview conducted a couple of days before.

Give them this article to read and they will see in it ways to come up with more stage-managed gimmicks and they will be sure to do so by lunchtime tomorrow, perhaps even show him sporting a tattoo and sagging his sokoto as he rebukes an errant area boy; they are that shameless.

As flagrant as any asset liquidators that we have seen they have also since proceeded to ridicule him and to disrobe him of any pretended garments of integrity. They have done so on the public highway, most recently in getting him face down to issue them a dud cheque and to “just keep a straight face” and ring up his bank manager to honour it after they had left the scene, and in getting him to give a written undertaking that he will employ the resources of persons alleged corrupt in furtherance of his campaign for the presidency.

What more do you need to be able to see that Buhari is a sad joke and that any expectation that he will make a positive and lasting impact as president is fantasy?

Buhari is not a simple man. He is a simpleton. He has spent years complaining that the PDP rigged him out of victory in previous elections. It’s on his bitter lips right now. Give him the office of the president and I can assure you that he will try to kick out at those who he believes did it. Yet the architect of the 2006 PDP plan to use the security forces to its electoral advantage is his replaced Galadima, Nasir el-Rufai, the man alongside whom he cried in 2011 and who made him renege on his verbal pledge not to run again. Yet one of his managers today, Audu Ogbeh, was the Manager of the PDP of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar men to whose homes he was led, supinely, spent, twelve years late, to beg for a piece of the action.

The desperate Major General has truly been reduced to taking commands from any and all comers. His current commanders are only the most venal of the lot: they are pitiless what’s the polite euphemism for bastards? He will try to kick out without any realisation that his long walk from failing to beat them to joining them has severely damaged his legs.

Waylay him on the private jet tarmac of his commanders and ask him to give you a written undertaking that he will kick out at el-Rufai, Ogbeh, Obasanjo and Atiku with the hard metal crutches you will supply if he wants your vote. Ask him to give you a written pledge that he will issue no cheque nor authorise any payment to any Alpha Beta or Alpha Beta disguised as Alpha Bravo or Charlie Delta if he wants you to echo a clear radio signal around the country that no Foxtrot will be issued a dud cheque either.

If he falls short of meeting these demands just laugh and dismiss the would-be scarecrow president as the joke that he is; but do help massage his legs and tuck him away in bed if, unlike his users, you are apt to pity the scarred and disfigured old man.

Shehu’s reply – On OBJ, GMB and GEJ – what does available evidence say?

Thanks for sharing Dan Agbese’s 2000 article about Haroun Adamu’s probe
of the Petroleum Trust Fund. It seems that people are digging but I can
tell you that left to himself alone Buhari cannot device ways of being
dishonest but in league with others, he has never had any problem
partaking in dishonesty. That, in fact, is his current situation.

Any expectation that a Buhari government will make an impact in dealing
with the problem of dishonesty in government is fantasy as I have
consistently maintained. Headline making stories are only a minor
reflection of the scale of the problem of dishonesty. Buhari knows
nothing about relevant policy formulation and it is not a priority for
his current leader, Asiwaju.

Buhari didn’t run the PTF. He left it to the late Salihidjo Ahmad who
came from his circle of friends and family, and went to sleep. It was
run just like any old corrupt Nigerian government venture. No difference
whatsoever. Its officials took bribes, awarded overinflated contracts
and the like. As a result of this, one of the men on the board of the
PTF, the late Group Captain Usman Jibrin who would have none of it
decided to resign. Buhari stayed put.

I also see you paying attention to Obasanjo’s self-serving talk.
Obasanjo has zero credibility. Not many are seeing this right now but it
is to the credit of Jonathan that he has actually grown the balls to
refuse to continue to take dictation from him.

If truth be told, it is easier to point to where Jonathan has spent
money in his four+ years than it is to show where Obasanjo did in his
first term. Let us be concrete. Obasanjo faced turbulence, Sharia riots,
Odi. Obasanjo failed to punish the perpetrators of the Sharia riots,
that served to embolden others including the Haramites; he was
high-handed in dealing with Odi, that served to further militarise.

Jonathan has had to deal with the consequences of Obasanjo’s failures,
in addition to the BH which is now a problem with a serious
destabilizing foreign dimension. This has provided a very tough
environment for the government. Worse, owing to the circumstances in
which he came into office and the sense of betrayal felt by the many
Northerners who consider their turn to rule as having been hijacked, as
well as his failure to properly reach out to the disgruntled, he has
been unable to win the confidence and support of influential sections of
the North. This failure is what I foresaw in 2011, and warned that it
could lead to division.

That North is also suffering from another problem which is a direct
consequence of the Babangida privatisation programme which was
accelerated and completed by Obasanjo. I have a problem with the
privatisation of vital social services but that is irrelevant here.
Recall the old days. There was a time when people looked forward to
Board appointments, First Bank, NITEL and the whole battery of other
huge government owned enterprises. Membership of those boards afforded

people the opportunity to use their influence to serve the interests of
their immediate communities, and because of the Federal Character
principle, this patronage was widely spread but always what were seen to
be the choicest positions were invariably occupied by Northerners.
Federal Character also ensured that there was a spread of offices of
those companies occupied by local employees thoughout the country.

That disappeared completely under Obasanjo. The persons who bought the
privatised companies were mainly persons from outside the North, ditto
those who stepped up to fill the vacuum created by the disappearance of
NITEL who have only been driven by market considerations which cannot
overlook employee competence. It’s not been noticed by many but the
handful of companies bought by Northerners, like Nigerian Ropes and
Steyr, have floundered or have been comatose since they acquired them.

For a North used to widescale patronage, it has been hard to deal with
new realities, which is why so many there are intent on doing whatever
they can to to ensure a return to the old comforts. One new reality from
which there is no escaping is that Jonathan has actually shown a
commitment to making and fulfilling promises which is why he has been
running for re-election on his record, something which Obasanjo did not
do in 2003.

Obasanjo could not have done so. He built a stadium in Abuja, and its
Games Village. That’s it. He channeled a lot of money towards power
generation. Liyel Imoke has yet to account for what became of that
expenditure. The rest of the time, Obasanjo was away from his desk on
extended visits abroad. He left Atiku to run the government. He provided
no account of the proceeds of privatisation. Obasanjo and Atiku were
later to build their own private schools and universities.

By contrast, Jonathan has built new government schools and universities;
built a major new railway line, Kaduna-Abuja, for the first time in a
hundred years; built a road between Abuja and Lokoja that is the finest
in the country; is building a metro line in Abuja; empowered Innoson
motors of Nnewi to manufacture transport buses that are visible on our
highways. All these are things he committed to doing in the aftermath of
the oil subsidy saga, and he has managed to do them despite the major
challenge of BH.

I have not dismissed the view that aspects of the complex BH problem are
the work of persons working to return to that which they had grown
accustomed. But what’s your general take on the election campaign so

far? I honestly fear it may all end up being of only “academic
interest.” The stakes are very very high. There are operators with ugly
records who will stop at nothing. There is trouble on the horizon. I
have sent out warnings. I hope they are heeded.


shehu
===

El-Rufai, Boko Haram apologist, political opportunist or verbal contortionist? Your call!

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I visited my archives and found a rejoinder I wrote to this article by Malam Nasir El-Rufai. It is still worth reading for two reasons. The first is the persisting BH scourge which has been marked lately by the increasing savagery, mindlessness and bestiality of their attacks. The kidnapping of innocent schools in Chibok and the earlier slaughter of school children outside their dormitory represent the high point of this campaign of sadistic and mindless savagery. The second reason to read the article again is related to recent attempts to firm up, embellish and market a four variants model of Boko Haram by Mr El-Rufai. How solid is the evidence for such a model? How good is a model building that picks, chooses and stretches evidence at the whims of convenience? What levels in frequency of occurrence justify inferences and conclusions on which such a bold four variant models is built?  Such questions are worth asking as the country struggles to separate fact from fiction and facts from faction-driven twists and distortions. Model building is a serious business and is different from an exercise embarked upon out of spite and bitterness and in a style characterized by malicious flippancy. In its present form, Mr El-Rufai’s four variants model is not very persuasive. Its intentions are not to clarify issues but to obfuscate and to divert attention and public wrath from the sponsors and apologists of BH. The reader will recall that Malam El-Rufai had in the recent past, with plenty of characteristic indecent haste, given great publicity to an interview granted by Dr. Davis which had suggested, by implication, that Gen Ihejirika was a BH sponsor. Gen Ihejirika has since replied and the reader is advised to read all three sources – the Davis interview, the El-Rufai uncritical publicity blitz of the same and the General’s Response and make up his/her mind as to where truth, sanity and decency lie.

Click here for the El-Rufai article – and read my rejoinder below. At the end, ask yourself this question, in consideration of the said article, my rejoinder and recent outbursts by Malam El-Rufai whether we are dealing with a BH apologist, a political opportunist, a verbal contortionist or simply with a man in acute need of help.

=========

This is a very revealing write-up. Though well researched, the findings of the research are selectively used and herein lies its major flaw. Malam El-Rufai may not want to be seen as apologist and spokesperson for the BH but this is the impression that stays with one as one goes through much of this article. Let me illustrate with one or two examples.

I will be drawing excerpts liberally from the write up by Mr Nasir El-Rufai (NER for short in the rest of this comment) as I make my long comment, with advance apologies to NER for any plagiarism.

NER describes BH as peaceful in origin. But read below –

“In April 2007, Sheikh Jaafar was murdered in cold blood while praying in his mosque in Kano by assailants that years later turned out to be suspected members of a sect to be known as Boko Haram, operating out of Bauchi State”.

Can such a group be correctly described as “largely peaceful”. Largely peaceful should be made of more peace conducing acts!

NER affirms “Many in the North see the patent inaction of the authorities as the advancement of a sinister agenda to destroy an already near prostate northern economy through occupation, militarization and disruption of socio-economic activities. The federal government has done nothing to deny these or indicate otherwise, and the state governments have acquiesced to the cavalier attitude of the Villa.”

This is mischievous, inaccurate, unhelpful and is deliberately crafted to further incite a section of the country against the rest. NER knows that action has been engaged and is on-going yet NER finds it convenient and expedient to the advancement of the agenda he defends to deny these.

NER also tries to distinguish between what he calls variants of BH – “Many of us believe that there are at least four variants of Boko Haram – the real BH and three other fakes – sponsored by the government, politicians and criminal groups – that use the brand to advance their own self-centered agendas”. Questions for NER – who is this “Many of us” and where is the evidence base for this belief? Unless substantiated, such sweeping statements are simply exercises in sensationalism and are very unhelpful.

NER says nothing in this write up of the consistent targeting of symbols or institutions of Christianity by the BH. This is a deliberate omission that weakens the credibility of his analysis of the causes of the BH terrorism. Rather, NER is at pains to point out greater northern and Muslim casualties as a result of BH terrorism. Here, he creates the unfortunate impression that his primary concern is with the lives of northerners and Muslims, a focus which I believe betrays a mind-set we should all condemn. One also notices with great concern the very subtle manner NER tries to elevate BH terrorism to the level of an insurgency challenge.

NER appears to know what does not motivate BH and can thus advise those thinking of an amnesty type program to go back to the drawing board! To what does NER owe this knowledge?  Yet NER recommends dialogue and “honest discussions” between government and BH, and with that the implicit that either that there have not been such dialogues or that discussions that have taken place so far have not been honest!

NER’s section where he mentions the Maitatsine is particularly worrying since it could be read to mean that persisting difficulties with unearthing BH in the north could reflect surrounding community acceptance and admiration of this group. If this is true, then there is indeed great cause for worry. If it is not then NER’s “the current situation in Kano and Borno States is one in which the military occupiers are killing more innocent people than Boko Haram, which injustice is creating resentment against the Army” should be read as unfortunate attempt at creating resentment against law enforcement agencies carrying out a difficult national assignment against a terrorist group that vanishes into and blends with the crowd.

NER’s last paragraph reads like a recommendation and endorsement of terror tactics and he achieves this through very crafty paragraph editing. The paragraph commences with an argument that military solutions alone against terrorists do not work, and then shifts to a case for government to act to stop the loss of lives and to deliver a country that works for all. He then ends by urging government to bend over backwards to make this happen. Implicit in all of this is that things are not working well for portions of the country who are now up in arms. This way, NER hopes to reposition and brand the BH terror campaign as a crusade for social justice and not as a manifestation of religious fanaticism, extremism and intolerance which has now been tapped into by a bigoted political elite. And by the way, is the implied threat in NER’s last sentence really necessary?

Pain as Gain

By 

Noel Ihebuzor

 

The confusion and pain
some chillingly feel
become for some joy, gain
and bubbling thrill,
Levity over gravity
jumping with joy 
Hearts of lead
laugh easy before a tragedy
and visit our sad space
with the horror of the truly hollow

Dis Na Naija!

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Every age deserves a show. For some the show could come packaged as comedy, full of boom, bloom and blossom. For others, it could come served as tragedy overflowing with gloom and doom. Since we are special in Naija, we often get treated to shows in quick successions – and each one, a blend of comedy and tragedy, leaving the watcher bemused but confused.  We have had some very good shows lately, all blending the comic and the tragic, and all portending the coming of more shows.

 

SLS’s letter and its confutation by the NNPC is a tragi-comedy. How can the governor of the CBN be ignorant of these details if the NNPC’s explanation is indeed true? If the explanation is true, we have a tragedy that arises because arms of government are not talking to one another and a comedy because they choose to come to the public gallery to display such a dysfunction. I simply hope that the NNPC explanation is wrong, since I hold SLS in very high esteem. When technocrats opt to play politics, they should be kind enough to serve the public notice in bold strokes that says “Buyer, beware”.

 

Tambuwal’s recent corruption song is as comic as it is tragic.. It is comic because he was playing to the gallery and knew he was doing precisely that. It is tragic because he too is a product of that same corruption he talks about and that the House he serves as speaker is not corruption free. What has he done to address that corruption in the House? What has he done to sweep his own stables? The sad truth of life is that the beam in the other fellow’s eye is always larger than the one protrudes from our own eyes. The bathos of Dambuwal’s situation is that he comes away from the speech feeling he has barbed the presidency and forgets to notice how much he has bloodied himself in the effort. The tragedy in pyrrhic victories replays ever so often with presumed victors often overlooking how much they may have sullied themselves in their vain efforts to score cheap victories.

 

OBJ’s letter is the tragi-comedy of squandered good will and eroded credibility. I have always argued that credibility becomes a depleting asset once its use has been abused three times – the magic number 3! OBJ could be saying correct things about GEJ but nobody takes him seriously any more. I am even distancing myself from “the kettle call pot black” type of reaction that dominated the media since his missive-missile became public. I prefer to focus on the content of some of his accusations and his seeming inability to understand that assertion is not the same thing as proof. Old folks do not waste soup – agadi adighi agwo ofe – the Igbos say.  Thus when respected old men succumb to the temptation of treating with flippancy and levity that which is serious, when respected elder statesmen start making wild accusations without bothering to substantiate them, then you start to wonder what these same old men expect of our 20 million youths. Snipers under training and 1000 persons under surveillance and this said in the most cavalier of manners. In some other climes, Baba would have been invited to explain but this is Naija, a country where it is sometimes difficult to separate the venerable from the venal! How could Baba, in every seriousness, write thus? Has Baba’s mind been influenced by the propensities of one of his famous “oti mpkus” whose reckless excesses are such as even to make the extremes of lunacy look somber and sober?   Even Baba’s attack on GEJ’s second term ambitions are built essentially on claims he is unable to prove convincingly and conclusively, some even bordering on hearsay and thus bringing his entire intentions and emotional state when he wrote the piece into question.  Some of the content were in particular bad taste, his take on the interanl PDP palaver being a good example! Nigerians needed to be spared the long narration on the internal squabbles in the PDP, and it needs a sense of statesmanship and fine sense of judgment to guide OBJ not to tread that path. Not everything that one sees and knows should be inflicted on the public. Not everything an elder sees and knows is discussed in the market place, the Igbos say! Nzu rules supreme!  Statesmen do not come to the public to wash dirty linen and underwear! Knowing what and when to share is an art. It demands an awareness of the nature and needs of the target audience; It demands good judgment of what is relevant.  It demands sensitivity, tact and Nzu, qualities that statesmen are also assumed to possess in abundance. In failing to apply the right level of selectivity in the choice of what he divulged, OBJ may have betrayed a drop in his level of tact and statesmanship. It is this sad drop that explains why he could have inflicted such a narration on us and why he could also do so with the clumsiness one normally associates with a young elephant. In the democracies we aspire to, it is considered to be in extreme bad faith and taste for an ex-president or ex-prime minister to make such disparaging and destructive remarks on the rule of a sitting president or prime minister. It is considered as bad manners and hardly ever happens. But not in our Naija –  Everything goes.

 

Abati’s response is tragic and comic at the same time. “I am not to reply but yet you reply” – haba, which kine one be dat?  And his reaction was as predictable as his line of attack. Trying to dismiss grave accusations of the type that Baba Iyabo made with emotive language is not always very convincing. When confronted with accusations against my person or against my principal, my attitude has always been to kill my emotions and do a blow by blow clinical response, accepting where I am wrong and using evidence to challenge and refute assertions that derive from either spite, ignorance, greed, ambition, misplaced ideology, immaturity, vacuous knowledge base or an over-inflated ego. I should commend this modus operandi to Reuben Abati, but Dr Abati is a guru and veteran of the media and I, alas, I am nothing but a lay reader.

 

The dress rehearsal for 2015 has commenced in earnest. Generals, who wrongly believe that this country is theirs to manipulate at will, are watching which way the political wind is blowing and are doing their best to adjust their tattered sails to benefit maximally from it. Self-interest is being packaged and sold as commitment to the nation.  The over-riding intention is power grab! Any and every method is allowed. Decency, truth and common sense will be early victims. Hot air will triumph and lunatics will have their field days – unrestrained, and their unrestraint will be our constraint. Loud mouthed Achilles will visit us with their empty and rumbustious swagger and little men will act out their smallness to its fullest. God save us!

Femi Fani Kayode and the bitter truth about a bitter man

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Mr Femi Fani Kayode’s sequel “The bitter truth about the Igbo” did not disappoint in the least. We must remind ourselves that this article is part of Femi Fani-Kayode’s efforts to prove that Lagos is Yoruba and that any claims to it by any other indigenous group is spurious. Part of Femi’s method was to trivialise the contributions of any other group to the development of Lagos, preferring to ascribe this development largely to the genius of the Yoruba genus. In an earlier response, I had sought to show that Femi’s efforts in that direction were not successful. I showed that his claims and argument were neither grounded in history nor in economics, and that it was indeed so easy to puncture those claims.

The problem with Femi Fani kayode’s concluding article on this issue is that it runs out of ideas and abandons the issue under review after the fourth paragraph and only returns to it in the last four paragraphs of the article. The contents of paragraph 5 (paragraph 5 begins “That single comment, made in that explosive and historic speech…”) up to the end of paragraph 13 are hardly relevant to the issue under discussion. Let us remind us what the main issue is using Mr Femi Fani Kayode’s own words

Permit me to make my second and final contribution to the raging debate about Lagos, who owns it and the seemingly endless tensions that exist between the Igbo and the Yoruba. It is amazing how one or two of the numerous nationalities that make up Nigeria secretly wish that they were Yoruba and consistently lay claim to Lagos as being partly theirs.

How relevant then is the diversion to the political history of the NCNC, the Coup, the Ironsi regime, the pogrom, the civil war to this issue of who owns Lagos and who has contributed to its development write up. How does this advance the debate? How does this elucidate the key issues under discussion? I doubt very much that they do. What they certainly succeed in doing however is to rouse emotions, enflame tempers, to whip up sentiments. Even here, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode’s use of history is suspect, since his historiography is very selective. In the deployment of this elective historiography, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode comes across as an apologist for the killings of the Igbos in the north and as an ethnic driven revanchist historian out to even out scores with an imagined enemy. Revanchist and ethnicity-sodden historiography are poor and demeaning pursuits as the prisms of bitterness, revenge and ethnicity which come with them soon trap the historian, blur his vision, dull his criticality and destroy his objectivity and capacity for detached interpretation. The “history” we are thus presented in paragraphs 5 to13 are replete with instances of these. In succumbing to the appeals of this type of historiography, even if he was doing this as part of his on-going efforts at rehabilitation with a view to regaining entry to his “tribe’s” confidence, Mr Femi Fani Kayode does himself and his country a great disservice.  He does himself a disservice because he ends up with an article where more than 55% of its contents (55% again!) are of doubtful relevance to his declared purpose. And because he fails to identify what is relevant and what is not, he ends up saddling his article with major problems of cohesion and coherence. He does his country a disservice because he presents a history of a difficult part of her history that is deliberately flawed and skewed by his selective use of sources and by his uncritical interpretation of events and casting of persons – Ironsi is a coup plotter, Igbo indiscretion was responsible for the pogrom unleashed against them in the North, the Igbos provoked the civil war – all of which are examples of a flight from intellectual rigor, mono-causal analysis, faulty attribution and one dimensional thinking, and  all very painful, pernicious and debilitating ailments in persons they afflict. It bears repeating that good historiography is about balanced sources. To rely on sources that only support the case one is pushing pushes one away from doing history on to the slippery slopes of ethnic jingoism, “clan hagiography” and propagandising of the cheapest sort. This is what has happened in this article, and it is indeed a tragedy for Mr Femi Fani Kayode.  I believe that this tragedy has arisen less from a fundamental lack of intelligence on his part but more from his allowing himself and his mind to be shackled and blinkered by bitterness. Mr Femi Fani Kayode sets out hoping to write “the bitter truth” about one ethnic group and ends up clumsily splaying the reality and truth of his own bitterness in public for an amused world to behold and laugh at. As he navigates this current discomfort he has created for himself, he once again deserves our compassion and not our condemnation.

Noel

@naitwt