“Minus ‘Region and Religion’, if you have any other concerns … you may freely make comments …” – Ibukun Babarinde
“I understand why there is uproar about Buhari’s appointments. But I don’t understand what federal character has done for me lately.” – Dr. Damages Sahara TV
Good day readers, you are welcome to another edition of the UINTELLECTION.
Last week witnessed an intense flood of opinions sweeping through the social media platforms and the Nigerian blogosphere. Every Tola, Chima and Danjuma tried to respond to Facebook’s question “What’s on your mind?”, even when it was clear they had nothing on their mind except the usual Nigerian mobbish retweets of leading opinions. This controversy was birthed from Buhari’s latest appointments of persons into some strategic positions in the country. It was alleged that majority of the appointees are of Northern extraction, thereby accusing Mr. President of nepotism and a reckless abandon of the principles of federal character as enshrined in our sacred constitution. While some support this view, others have stood against it on the premise that it is hightime we left region and religion out of Nigerian politics and be courageous enough to embrace meritocracy in national governance.
Almost a hundred days ago, at the Eagle Square, President Buhari gave his great speech of a new Nigeria specially garnished with the mantra of “change” and a memory verse of, “I belong to everybody and I belong to Nobody”, a verse sending signal to all and sundry that the days of “business as usual” (BAU) has come to a halt. It gave us a new hope of the epilogue of an era when a particular group of people would promise the nation a hell if their son, who “belongs” to them was not re-elected. As far as the change makers of May 29 are concerned, favouritism has become a past tense, for we hope in the present tense of PMB, the future tense of Baba, who will run inclusive governance for the betterment of every Nigerian citizen.
Unfortunately, despite the resoluteness and firm belief in that dream, Nigerians are still giving in to temptations to doubt it and subject it to premature criticism out of excessive apprehension and bait-like misapprehension. Some have chosen the path of the “wailing wailers”, the Confused Association of Pro-TANoids and Anti-Change Agents of Nigeria, (CAPTACAN). These are the people bent on proving that the change we all sacrificed so much for is not worth a chin-chin change. These TANoids and Pro-TANoids are just bent on carrying out their job of discrediting this new Government by hook or by crook, and the least of their worries is to mind whether or not they are misleading the public.
To paint the picture of marginalisation vivid enough, some went as far as blaming Mr. President for the emergence of Northerners in both legislative houses when it was clear that he had no hand in it nor did he influenced the lawmakers from various state when they concocted emergency sittings to install “Northern leaders” in both houses. While others went all the way to exhume their constitution so as to blackmail the President with section 14 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2011 as amended which states:
“The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
A fellow even had to represent it in a pie chat to graphically explain how much the North is supposedly taking from the National Cake.
For these wailing wailers, the appointments should have been mathematically calculated in the right rate and proportion so as to represent each of the Geo-Political Zones equally. Of course, they care less if the President has to slaughter merit in cold blood, magically create persons if no one is fitting from that region or even disregards positions that should normally be succession by next in command to anyone third, fourth or fifth in command just to satisfy the inordinate appetite of one “Federal Character”.
Please, don’t get me wrong, I know Federal Character is necessary to bring the desired trust in One Nigeria but may I ask, to what end would it serve us if we continue to put square pegs in round holes just to fuel the fire of Unity? Of course, the answer would obviously be BAU (Business As Usual) and for this change we all sacrificed so much to get, clogging its wheel with BAU is the very least we should be doing right now. Take the appointments of the service chiefs for example, would you rather Buhari take to Merit and end the occupation of these bloody terrorists once and for all or take to Federal Character for the orgy of massacre to continue?
Be that as it may, it should be noted that Nigeria is a country that boasts of over 250 ethnic groups with distinct languages, cultures and interests before being packed together in what was called Geo-political zones. Apart from the Hausas, Fulanis, Yorubas and Igbos of Nigeria, there are over 250 ethnics more that need to be given a reason to call themselves Nigerians. 250 ethnics more beyond lumping together what is not “lump-able” and calling it Northern region with inherent bigotry that Northern Agenda is synonymous with Hausa/Fulani conspiracy where in fact there is a clear difference between Hausa and Fulani and tens of other minorities living in this so- called North. For example, yours sincerely is a Yoruba man from Kwara state, a state that would have been better to be grouped with South-western region. If I were to be appointed as so-so-and-so to the Federal Government today, some wailing wailers would still wail Northern agenda, even when my name “Oredola” depicts otherwise. Same thing goes for most of these appointees that because they are from the Northern region people suddenly see them as part of the extended families of Mr. President from Daura village. SMH
On the 19th of July, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity in an interview with Sahara TV announced that at least 6,000 appointments would be made by the President in the long run. If after just over 20 appointments, we are already accusing Mr. President of tribalism, then I wonder if we are truly being nationalistic/patriotic or just unnecessarily mischievous, edgy and judgmental. Are we not like the one in Yoruba proverb that wants to conclude for the eleede, presuming to know what he wants to say, what if we say eedegberin (700) and he ends up saying eedegberinla (2,700)? What if we are saying tribalism and he ends up saying Federal Character plus Meritocracy? Wouldn’t we look stupid at the end of the day? Or are we being unnecessarily edgy because we think that all the so-called juicy appointments are going down and our kinsmen’s names were absent? What appointments are jucy, which ones are not juicy? Do you then end up sacrificing the so-called not-juicy appointments on the altar of juiciness because you want your Uncle too to come home with a large loot of the National cake? No wonder a Facebook friend angrily posted on his wall that “When your UNCLE was in charge, what did you/we get?”
In the same vein, some members of the Confused Association of Pro-TANoids and Anti-Change Agents of Nigeria (CAPTACAN) are quick to say that “Baba is heating up the polity unnecessarily. Fostering disunity”, I strongly think they need a quick visit to either the mirror or Guru Mahraji’s highest spiritual garden on earth to get a true revelation of who really is heating up the polity. The polity heaters are the ex-career Jonathanians who don’t want to see anything good in Baba to the extent that they even had to wail about Kachikwu’s appointment that he is Deltan and not Igbo. The polity heaters are the CAPTACAN themselves who are overly ready to cry to Nigerians that “Yes! We are right; didn’t we say he’s tribalistic?” The polity heaters are the politicians of BAU-portfolio who have come to see these appointments as a career rather than a public service. The polity heaters are the easily swayed jobless youths who have made the social media their second homes to have enough time to give chorus to the pointless songs of the CAPTACAN (Baba will soon find a solution to that anyway). The polity heater is not Baba; the polity heaters are the polity eaters!
Fellow Nigerians, on the 29th of May, 2015, we gave Baba the mandate to cure this country of her age-long problem of failed systems. Our votes gave Baba the prerogative power to print the change mantra from its softcopy state to what we can feel, touch and see. Of course, it was a great decision we took because we believed in him and his gospel. Little things like less than 50 appointments out of hundreds are just too trivia to turn us to doubting Thomas’. And do we still have to continue to doubt him even when the Presidency has invited us all to touch the print in his hands and feel the hole in his side when he said, “Statistically, the appointments don’t amount to five per cent of what is to come. There will be ministers, heads of government departments, federal boards and ambassadors…At the end of the exercise, no part of the country will be left feeling left out…” What else do we want? What else do the CAPTACAN Thomas’ want?
It started as a rumour that an aspirant in the ongoing Students’ Union election was caught stealing in one of the Halls of residence, as someone that specialised in minding other people’s business, I began to “fimu fin le” (investigate) to find out who this fellow is. I later got to know “him” (Please, don’t ask me for his name, Sultan Bello Hall is your Google.) despite the fact they were trying to cover his identity to protect his “reputation and ambition”. However, this did not last long before the “thick voices” of no-nonsense people in Bello Hall had to prevail.
In the early hours of Saturday, 29th of August, one thing led to the other and the fellow was paraded around the Halls of Residence with a royal entourage of students at his back baptising him with the shouts of “Ole! Ole! Ole…” (Thief) It was very shameful, not just for the fellow, not just to the Hall but the whole University as a whole.
After that shameful parade, the students’ decision to subject the fellow to such a process merely because he stole has come under strong criticism. Some students have termed it “barbaric, cruel and oppressive”. They reminded us of the grievous story of ALUU 4 and how that parade had the potentials of degenerating into one. For these students, our government is of laws and not of men; therefore, he ought to have been handed over to the security unit for the Abefeles to do their job.
While I pitch my tent with this set of “civilized” students, a part of me tends to be indifferent to the decision of the so called “barbaric” students may be because of my experience. As a person who had been a victim of one of these heartless thefts in the past, my precious laptop (ACER ASPIRE E1-531) was stolen at a time 80% of my life depended on it, I find it very hard to come to terms with the biblical teachings of “forgive your enemy”, as I have come to see that thief and any other thief as just the same person. Because of this, I always think you can’t “over-treat” a thief and yet, you can’t “under-treat” him too. As an African, I believe the witches in his village might be “doing” him to develop unnatural appetite for other’s possession, in that case, he is helpless and blaming him will amount to nothing. And as a student, I believe it can be a psychological issue of kleptomania, in either case, he is helpless and he needs help like air, more than condemnation.
However, the fact that this fellow is in the Students’ Union race has posed a more complex situation for the ethicist in me. Personally, I regard public leadership as sacred positions that must not be defiled; hence I strongly frown at kleptomaniacs in public offices, whether spiritual or psychological. To me, if you steal public resources, then that means you are weak and psychological weaklings have no place in leading people because they are always disastrous to common purpose (We have more than enough examples around to attest to this). The fact that this fellow who already knows his kleptomaniacal tendencies still gathered enough courage to aspire for a public office is in fact a pointer for calculated public treasury looting whether you agree with me or not. As I gathered during my investigation, that was not his first time, so it couldn’t have been a mistake (and no one steals by accident). Exposing him in this circumstance is what I have seen to be in the interest of the public. What if he had contested and what if he had won the election, we would have just woken up one day to find out that the Students’ Union Building had been stolen!
In conclusion, it is reasonable that as intellectuals we should all frown at jungle justice, but that doesn’t mean that when a fellow decides to take us back to the Stone Age, we shouldn’t find him a justice that fits him. It doesn’t mean that we should bury the truth on the altar of civilization. We must learn to strike a balance between these school of thoughts to help the society become more safe and conscious and to help save the thief from himself by not accommodating his inordinate desires.
By this time next week, we should be congratulating the new Students’ Union President, which is if all things are equal and circumstances are unchanging. This is another opportunity to get it right again. No doubt we’ve sacrificed so much for this struggle, but to relent at this crucial stage is a luxury we cannot afford. No matter what, our true strength is embedded in not giving up even we could have packed up.
Apathy is an enemy to political struggle and for our Union to work; we must be ready to place all hands on deck. We must be ready to come out next Saturday to vote for those we think will move the Union forward. It is true that the goal is still far, the dream may be a long journey but with everyone believing in it, each of our steps will take us faster to the Promised Land.
Therefore, we need not start the sermon on sentiments again. The country’s last general election has shown to us what we could achieve with sincerity of purpose and an objectivity of choice. We don’t need to remind one another again that beauty is not enough to be a yardstick for measuring administrative skills and leadership prowess. Voting based on religious, hall, departmental and faculty affiliations have done our Union no good. This is the time to move on to something more challenging than tribal and godfather endorsements.
May the labours of our heroes past (No matter how few they were) not be in vain.
Do have a nice week ahead.