Lately, London is playing host to a whole lot of meetings involving Nigerian politicians. The British glittering royal capital city is already known as a cosmopolitan city hosting some famous great universities in the world including Oxford and Cambridge. Great Britain has many things, colonially-speaking, in common with the emaciated giant of Africa, Nigeria. Apart from being indirectly blamed for the current politico-social mess in Nigeria (the Lord Frederick Lugard infamous 1914 amalgamation in mind) London is not intervening strongly in the current struggle to liberate Nigerians from the Buharian Fulani killing spree.
Indeed, it is inconceivable that the late Lord Lugard, prompted by a connubial impulse or alcohol, could have contemplated amalgamating three or four distinct nations into one making unity, development and social concord practically impossible. The name Nigeria was said to have been suggested to Lugard by his mistress and he bought into the idea!
That terrible mistake of 1914 had led to the genocide of the Igbos in the late 60s/early 70s! The Nigeria/Biafra brutal civil war lasted years producing collateral damages that are still felt even today half a century down the line. Millions of Biafrans were massacred and at the end of the war the triple ‘R’ (Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction) pronounced by the then military tyrant, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has not happened. Besides, Igbos were subjected to all manner of humiliation, the least being the seizure of material and financial properties and compensation with stipend.
Now, Nigeria has survived many tragedies and turbulences, some gruesomely remarkable and others satanically influenced since her flag independence on October 1, 1960. Dictators and democratically-elected Presidents had succeeded themselves from Lagos to Abuja. Yet, greatness still eludes her! With abundant natural and human resources our country cannot afford to lag behind in the comity of great nations. Alas, a combination of vacuous and diffident leadership at the centre and retrogressive forces had conspired to keep her down, groping in the dark and mesmerized by man-made challenges of nationhood.
The ambivalence of national leadership has forced patriots like us to question our continued existence as one ‘indivisible’ nation even when realities on the ground point to an inevitable USSR-like implosion later than sooner. It is our collective desire to live together in peace and harmony but recent developments had interrogated our sense of unity and patriotism frontally.
Sunday Igboho, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the late Mohammed Yusuf would not have been seen as heroes were Nigeria to be working for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe or tongue. If restructuring occurs then separatism campaign or war-mongering antics would be nipped in the bud.
Why must we seek unity when we have many aggrieved separatists operating violently in our midst? Why live together pretentiously when all is not well? Why not do the needful by organizing a genuine national dialogue or conference where all parties would come to discuss our togetherness? And on what terms? Why pretend to practice federalism when in reality we still operate something that resembles unitary government? Why not devolve power to the States and establish the state police force to tackle the hydra-headed monster of insecurity in the land?
These probing questions may well find some answers only after the exit of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari. The man from Katsina has demonstrated his executive incompetence on many occasions and nothing is really expected of him in terms of performance in the remainder of his second tenure which ends on May 29, next year.
Again, London was where the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the former Bayelsa State Governor, and James Ibori, ex-Governor of Delta State, met their graft waterloo. They both served prison terms there for multi-million Dollars high-wire corruption trial and conviction. Besides, London is playing host to Senator Ike Ekweremadu who was nabbed along with his wife weeks ago over organ harvesting scandal.
Decades ago as a military dictator Gen. Muhammadu Buhari sought desperately to ‘crate’ home the late Umaru Dikko from London. The audacious attempt failed spectacularly at the eleventh hour, foiled by the eagle-eyed British intelligence agents. Dikko was sedated and he was unconscious inside the huge crate when he was saved from what would have amounted to a long spell in jail back home.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is a patriot, a statesman who had contributed his presidential quota to the development of the nation. Like him or loathe him he remains a legend in whose court in Abeokuta advise is sought and politics played. What is going for him may not be going for other retired Presidents and Heads-of-state before and after him.
General Ibrahim Babangida has no legacy to bequeath to anyone, this generation or the next! Having criminally annulled a free and fair presidential poll in 1993 won by the late Bashorun MKO Abiola IBB cannot lay any claim to patriotism or statesmanship like OBJ. The late Gen. Sani Abacha is a minus, a vile dictator remembered more for his ‘Abacha-loot’ than any other positive contribution to national growth.
Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar midwifed the return of democracy in 1999 but his name is not associated with anything auspicious apart from the negative interrogations about his role in the liquidation of Bashorun Abiola in the Abacha gulag! Besides, he single-handedly released Obasanjo from prison and handed him the key to Aso Villa by manipulating the election that saw OBJ’s second emergence on the national stage. Call it an ‘Abubakarised’ military junta handing over power to a retired bankrupt dictator jailed (falsely) on coup-plotting allegations.
The late President, Shehu Yar’Adua, could have done better had the grim reaper not struck early enough in his presidency sending him executively six feet below! Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had nothing to show for his six years on the saddle. What we remember him more for has to do with corruption, cronyism and cluelessness. Or worse still, a connubial presidency featuring the fugitive Diezani Allison-Madueke who used her romantic connections to GEJ to milk the country dry!
Now, come February next year, a new electoral cycle is in the horizon. A new President, Senators, Honourables, Governors etc would be elected. And the politicking leading up to that crucial poll is taking place here and there, including London. And ‘Baba’ Obasanjo is not left out of the ‘jamboree’. He met there with the Governors of Rivers, Benue and Oyo States (Wike, Ortom and Makinde respectively) and ex-Governor Peter Obi, the presidential flag-bearer of the Labour Party.
From reports gathered online Obasanjo appeared to be pushing for Obi as the most credible competent candidate capable of redressing Nigeria post-Buharism. Of course, the Obi agenda has gained traction with millions of our youths across the world identifiable with the ‘Obidient’ movement. The former Anambra state Governor had visited Abeokuta where he met and discussed with Obasanjo months back.
While it is true that Obasanjo has not openly and publicly called for Nigerians to vote for Obi next year against the Atiku or Asiwaju choices before them it stands to reason to infer here that the OBJ heart could be beating ‘Obidient’ right now. Obasanjo knows what Nigeria needs and what Nigerians want out of a new President and a new order under construction.
Governor Nyesom Wike is engaging in anti-party activities. And now that Atiku had met him one-on-one in London and acceded reportedly to all his demands it remains to be seen how Wike would comport himself henceforth. The garrulous Rivers State Governor has lately become a glorified beautiful bride in town wooed and coveted by all and sundry. And ‘suitors’ abound!
Yesterday, he was in ‘bed’ with the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in London. And today he had just finished with OBJ and Obi before the powerful PDP suitor, Atiku, came calling and knocking on ‘her’ door. Wike is behaving like a superstar, nay rock star, in whose court politicians grovel! But the massive attention towards him is undeserving!
Asiwaju Tinubu wanted to exploit the Wike phenomenon in the PDP to his advantage, to foster his political ambition. But it seems that Atiku has prevailed making Wike say ‘I-do’ finally ahead of the electoral battle. If the Wike ‘time-bomb’ had not been defused or detonated satisfactorily then the PDP could lick their electoral wound once again.
Gov. Wike has, thus far, tolerated the PDP as the PDP had tolerated his infantile tantrums. On one hand the opposition party reserves the right to sanction him for his open defiant anti-party activities. And on the other hand Gov. Wike reserves the right to quit, walking away and decamping to the Labour Party, the APC or even Kwankwaso’s NNPP. Either way none of the parties would come out victorious.
‘Baba’ Obasanjo may be rooting for Obi behind closed doors. But the Owu Chief, who is known to be combative and bold in his national interventions, would at the right moment make his choice of a candidate clear by publicly announcing same. Even as an Octogenarian OBJ still retains his national appeal and influence beyond party politics.
While Asiwaju Tinubu is a Yoruba man like him and Atiku his former Deputy in whom he was not well pleased it could be a difficult decision but ‘Baba’ being ‘Baba’ — forthright, patriotic and intrepid — the right choice would be made at the fullest of time.
Is ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo executively ‘Obidient’? Well, your guess is as good as ours. Suffice to say that OBJ would definitely pitch his tent with a candidate before the presidential poll hits our electoral space come February next year. Whoever he chooses to support may go to the poll stronger.
We believe strongly that at his age and status of a statesman no political or ethnic intimidation or blackmail will deter ‘Baba’ from reaching the right decision in the interest of a larger picture. Salvaging our dear country goes beyond primordial tribal or religious affiliations.
Let the right capable hale and hearty man be elected to the office of the President for once in our generation.