You must be a Nigerian (2)
We return to the concept of what makes Nigerians unique. Going by the torrent of reactions elicited by the prefatory piece of last week, it is inevitable for me to burrow further into peculiar behavioural mutations of the average Nigerian. This time, in view of the hot politics brewing across the land, hedging on the nation’s political agora becomes imperative.
And here we find not a few millipedes masquerading as political mandarins when in actual fact they are nothing but dysfunctional animals in a large zoo of inebriated vermins. They really must be Nigerians to mutate from black to white, to be republicans at day and democrats at night without the slightest of shame. And I speak to those politicians who dance to strange rhythms for as long as their stomach is serviced. Sure, if you are a politician and you can at the drop of a hat switch party back and forth, belonging to four political parties in four political seasons, you must be a Nigerian.
If for 16 years you were a member of the PDP, a party that ruled with aristocratic effulgence, only to jump to the ruling APC on the premise that the PDP, your former haven where you festered and flourished in fiscal heist and political brinkmanship, is a colony of thieves and looters who ravaged the nation with ruinous fury, you must be a Nigerian.
If for 16 years you partook of the fiendish feast of looting unleashed by the PDP on the nation only to turn round to abandon the same PDP and jump into the waiting and willing hands of the ruling APC, a party more adept at subterfuge than at providing good leadership, please take a back seat, you must be a Nigerian.
If in 2005 as a member of the PDP and governor of Nasarawa State, you were on the frontline of critics of Muhammadu Buhari, then the Presidential candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and you even called him names like undemocratic extremist, a meddlesome interloper into the sacred sanctum of partisan politics only to turn round in 2018 to become the chief defender of the same Buhari just because you have jumped from PDP to the ruling APC, a political prostitution that earned you a place in the Senate, please Senator Abdullahi Adamu, you are a true Nigerian politician, a situational democrat and circumstantial progressive.
Senator Adamu as governor was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s main man; his defender-in-chief in 2003 when he told Nigerians that Obasanjo remained the best man for the job of President and not a mournful, vengeful Buhari full of sour-grapes. Fast forward to 2018. Adamu now a progressive by virtue of his membership of APC has turned into a cranky old turbine belching out fumes to asphyxiate the same Obasanjo he once defended with his sweat and stunt. Adamu accused Obasanjo of corruption, of democratizing graft and of being the most corrupt Nigerian leader. In fact, Obasanjo ought to be in jail, a conceited Adamu once told Nigerians. And you just wonder, what has changed? Why has Obasanjo’s chief defender of yesterday become his chief accuser of today and why has the same Adamu, a Buhari basher of yore transformed vigorously into a Buhari adherent today. Wonder no more, Adamu is just another Nigerian politician: men of little honour, zero ideology, destitute of dignity and shorn of integrity.
It is the lot Nigerians must bear; a burdensome cross they must carry. Politicians all over the world can be unpredictable, treacherous and lecherous. But Nigerian politicians top the chart. Their ability to swing from extreme to extreme beggars belief. Far beyond that, Nigerian public office holders tend to have mastered the crafty art of hypocrisy. It is only a Nigerian public office holder that would ignore the log in his eyes but would gleefully prance from pillar to post just to point out the speck in his brother’s eyes. Just think about this. Kemi Adeosun, pretty, delectable Minister of Finance. She’s been working hard to keep the nation’s economy at the very cusp of recovery. As Finance minister, Adeosun, a lady of well-appointed background, got stewed in the juice that usually sully the garments of public office holders. She was alleged to have forged an NYSC exemption certificate. Forgery is a criminal offence. In any sane society, such allegation, very weighty, is enough ground to shoo her out of office, investigated and prosecuted. But Madam Adeosun is a Nigerian, operating in Nigeria, much so a key member of a zero corruption government. Adeosun has not resigned, has not been asked to resign. Lucky woman. In the UK where she was born, brought up and schooled, such serious allegation is enough to get her out of office awaiting thorough investigation and prosecution.
Make no mistake about this. I like Madam Adeosun. I am a fan of hers. But I don’t like the fact that even after NYSC authorities have disowned her ‘certificate’, she’s still hanging in there. But again, I repeat, she’s a lucky woman operating in a peculiar country. She won’t quit. She’s got protection. One of her backers happens to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria ((SAN), an equivalent of the Queens Counsel (QC). Professor Itse Sagay says Madam Adeosun is doing a good job at the Ministry of Finance hence should not be touched, meaning we should overlook the allegation of forgery. Sagay must really be a Nigerian for propounding such disingenuous theorem on performance versus criminality. As a professor of law, Sagay is telling us that if a police officer is suspected to be involved in armed robbery but because such officer has been efficient in catching other criminals we should let him continue in service and continue in his armed robbery pastime. Can you see the Nigerian logic in Sagay’s illogic?
Now, let’s stretch this argument. Madam Adeosun superintends the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the nation’s tax office. As you read this, Adeosun’s office is on the verge of naming, shaming and prosecuting suspected tax evaders, a criminal offence just like the criminal offence of forging an NYSC exemption certificate. In a letter signed by one Uduak A. Ekpenyong for the Honourable Minister, suspected tax offenders have been warned of the danger that awaits them. Reconcile both instances. A woman accused of a criminal offence wants to prosecute, name and shame other persons accused of the same criminal offence? You see what I mean? Our dear minister is a lucky woman, operating in a peculiar country where those who write the rules are usually the first to break such rules and it’s taken as the norm. But we are in Nigeria where all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. Are you still wondering why things are the way they are? Decayed infrastructure, no electricity, no potable water, poor healthcare etcetera. The answer, really, is blowing in the wind: the rule of law has been subjugated by the rule of man hence people choose what laws to obey, when and how. You do not build a society in this manner. And if you are there and you can tolerate all of this, you truly must be a Nigerian.
- Authored shortly before Mrs Kemi Adeosun’s resignation.
- First published in Sunday Sun