By Sabella Ogbobode Abidde
Around the world and around the country, notable and not-so notable persons have been congratulating President Jonathan for conceding defeat. They see it as a gallant, noble and courageous act. I disagree! I think such praises are bogus and exaggerated. Jonathan had no choice but to concede. On March 28, the people spoke; they made their choice known. In essence, they told him, in no unmistakable terms, to leave, to get out! It was that simple.
That he conceded is not special. That he called to congratulate General Buhari is not out of the ordinary. Electoral concessions are part of the democratic culture. In my opinion, therefore, it was a wise and self-preserving move to concede. Really, what choices did he have? Command member of the Nigerian Armed Forces to slaughterer Nigerians? Hold the country hostage? Encourage a coup? Establish an interim government? Really, what choice did he have?
This beautification and idolization of Jonathan must stop. We expect so little of our leaders that when they accomplish little, we praise them. We pat them on the back and doff our hats even when their accomplishments are insignificant by any human standard. What’s wrong with Africans? An African leader kills ten innocent children and he’s praised for sparing the lives of the eleventh and the twelfth. Nonsense! Africans must hold their leaders to a higher standard.
In the next couple of weeks and months, I hope we don’t suffer mass amnesia. I hope we don’t forget who Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were. I hope we don’t forget all the billions of dollars that are said to be stolen and or mismanaged. We need those billions for the upgrade of our universities and hospitals. We need those billions for our roads and bridges. We need those billions for youth employment and electricity and for the retirement benefit of our service men and women.
You may praise and console Jonathan all you want, but we want our money back. In addition, we cannot forget Jonathan’s insensitivity, egregious impunity and indifference to many horrors and iniquities that befell our country. He and his aides and wife were a danger to our collective interest. Their greed and personal ambition knew no bounds. What they did to our public and governing institutions were simply terrible. Criminal, even!
That he conceded defeat shouldn’t have to erase the cruelty and criminality of his and his friends and associates. Those in power must be held accountable for their crimes. We cannot continue to live in a society where people are not held accountable for deliberate offenses. It is precisely because of this and other reasons that we – we the people – voted for the Buhari/Osibanjo ticket. We voted for Change in our culture, economy, political and social space. There should be no canonization of any type and for anybody!
Buhari and Foreign Trips:
The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and her French counterpart, President Francois Hollande, has officially invited Gen. Muhamadu Buhari to Germany and France. Nonsense, utter nonsense! Both leaders, along with their American, Canadian and European counterparts should, instead, come to Nigeria to pay homage to President Buhari and Vice President Osibanjo. They should come along with investors. In addition, they should return all the stolen money stashed in their banks and investment houses.
GMB should be wary of foreign trips. African leaders are always playing junior/subservient role to their western counterparts – with many hoping on the plane 5-15 times a year to go to western capitals for “consultation.”
Combined, African leaders make no fewer than 1000 trips each year to western capitals, each bringing with them 10-25 aides (not counting the advance team). But Africa is lucky if, in any given year, 10 western leaders visit the continent.
I am a proponent of bilateral and multilateral relationships. I am all for a robust foreign policy. But African leaders should stop hoping on the plane when cabinet ministers and or ranking members of federal ministries could do the job. Francois Hollande for instance, is talking about expanding trade opportunities with Nigeria. OK, that’s fine. But don’t we have a Minister of Trade, Minister of Commerce, or a Foreign Minister?
The Anointed Men of God:
For four long days at the tail-end of March 2015, much of the world focused its attention on Nigeria. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t miss it. The news and the excitement were all over the place. It was all about Nigeria and the election and the two major candidates. Everyone in my circle of friends and friends of friend wanted to know who the winner would be.
On my Facebook page and elsewhere, I teased Nigeria’s so-called Men of God. None of them was bold enough to tell us, days and weeks in advance, whether we were going to experience Change, or Continuity. And so, I had no choice but to think they were phonies, liars and religious charlatans, or perhaps God – assuming there is a God – abandoned them.
And now that we know who the winner is, I have this to say to the clergy in the north, south, east and west: If you think of yourself as a disciple of Christ and a Man of God, and you took bribe from President Jonathan or his proxy (during the just concluded election), you should return the money to the Nigerian treasury. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Not only did you disappoint the President, you violated one of the cardinal rules of Christendom.
Winners and Losers:
One of the things life teaches us is that people love winners, they love champions. Very few people associate with political-losers. If you lose power or influence, many people will desert you. If you have money and can give it out, many people will pretend to love and worship you; but if it dries out or you no longer can dole it out, many of your supporters will decamp.
In the last couple of days, we’ve seen some organizations and individuals begin to change their tune and stance in regards to Buhari and Jonathan. Gradually, Jonathan is becoming a political-orphan, while Buhari is being wooed and flattered directly and indirectly. In places like Abuja, Kano, Katsina and Lagos, many this-and-that and many ex-this and ex-that are pledging to pledge allegiance to GMB and Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Heroes of March 28:
When sometimes in the future, historians write about this period (October 2014 – March 2015), I hope they will remember six of my favorite Nigerians who gave and committed so much of their time and resources to this just and noble cause called Democracy. They educated us, enlightened us, and fought the good fight for us and for future generations.
They made and continue to make our country proud and better. I am very proud of them. Yes, there are a million other Nigerians who were as committed; but in my part of the universe, I remember them the most. They deserve not only our gratitude, but also our nation’s national honors. Please doff your hats to: Bamidele Ademola-Olateju; Michael Olubusayo Oluwagbemi; Pius Adesanmi; Rotimi Amaechi; Omoyele Sowore; and Uche Igwe.
Reuben Abati and the Day After:
Reuben Abati was definitely not the most passionate writer of his generation. His essays does not make you want to organize or join a violent revolution. He was not a rabble-rouser, but was provocative enough garner millions of fans. His grammatical style and gentility has a way of intoxicating his readers. He was a words-smith, smooth and eloquent and breezy.
He spoke the truth differently. He attacked malfeasances and maladministration in different ways. He is smart and likeable and revered. In the opinion of many, however, all that likeability and reverence went through the window when he signed up for the Jonathan administration. Many have not forgiven him for “betraying the cause.” But my sense is that, in the fullness of time, many would. What I look forward to is a book or two by him. Until the books are written and available, what’s next for Dr. Reuben Abati? May 28 is just around the corner.
Sabella Abidde lives in Alabama. He can be reached at: [email protected]