By Femi Ogbonnikan
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the forthcoming general election in Ogun State, Oladipupo Adebutu, is not the kind of candidate one would like to take seriously for whatever the motivation of his ambition to govern the state.
Although he has cleared some of the legal hurdles before him, his campaign message to the electorate who will probably queue behind him in the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election is not resonating. Instead of presenting a well-articulated programme of action for the state’s economy, education, agriculture, industry, healthcare delivery, infrastructure, and human capital development that could pass the test of time as an alternative to the agenda of the present administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun, what we have largely witnessed since the beginning of campaign activities is his penchant for brick-batting and unnecessary vituperation.
In his latest sabre ranting, Adebutu called for the conduct of a drug test for all aspiring public officeholders. A very nice suggestion at that. But when propped further if he could genuinely beat his chest that he would pass the test, he developed cold feet, saying “I don’t drink heavily but I am not a Pope.”
What a funny answer? The fact is, if you have what it takes to govern, you do not need to be a Pope to lead. No. Being a Pope and a good administrator is not the same thing. They are two different callings entirely. One is focused on the terrestrial world, while the other is a whole life spiritual journey. In other words, politics is of the earthly world. And to play politics of development, what is simply required to lead is a track record of performance, requisite knowledge, a clear understanding of the ethos of good governance, integrity, good character, presence of mind, and the capacity to galvanize the stakeholders to achieve a common objective for the good of all. These are eternal rules for the delivery of electoral promises. Unfortunately, on all of these fronts, Adebutu has failed the first litmus test comprehensively.
We all know the outrage that trailed the leakage of the document detailing the terms and conditions attached to the secret power-sharing formula he signed with his running mate, Hon Adekunle Abdulkabir Akinlade. By that questionable act, the fate of the two candidates in this coming poll has been sealed and delivered pronto, for the electorate already know far ahead of the election who is worthy of their votes. By any stretch of the imagination, Ogun is not one of the states where any individual or a collective group can hoodwink the people. For being so desperate to the point of sharing the common patrimony of the people even when they have not earned their mandate, they have clearly shown that they cannot be trusted with public office.
For so long, cronyism and rent-seeking have been an integral part of our national politics. But the enlightened people of Ogun State have collectively resolved to change the old narrative.
Recently, Adebutu was overheard pontificating on who to vote and not to vote for. However, in his latest exposé, he deliberately omitted drunkenness as one of the hallmarks of irresponsible behaviour that is underserving of a good leader. Let nobody make mistake about it, under the influence of alcohol, the unthinkable can happen. But trust the Ogun State people, they cannot trivialize the serious business of governance to the point of electing somebody who does not have the full presence of mind to manage the affairs of the state.
At whatever level, governance is a serious business. It is not a tea-party affair. That was the point Governor Abiodun was trying to stress in his recent public outings held in Sagamu and Ewekoro local government areas of the state, stating that the Oke-Mosan governor’s office is not a “beer parlour”. It is certainly not, and it cannot be.
And rightly so, because in corporate governance, responsibility, accountability, openness, transparency, and self-discipline are essential elements of good administration. For being who he is, all of these virtues are already encompassed in the Building Our Future Together mantra of the Abiodun administration.
This, he had demonstrated, in different areas of infrastructure, agro-allied industry, affordable housing, provision of accessible healthcare delivery, social welfare scheme for the vulnerable, human capital development, youth empowerment, job creation, land reform as well as the socioeconomic transformation of the state, among others.
As a popular dictum goes, “The taste of the pudding is in the eating.” In the last three and a half years of the present administration, Ogun State has had a taste of good governance where people are put at the centre of government policies.
For sustenance of the legacies already built by the administration, the good people of Ogun State have spoken in unmistakable terms that they want the rhythm to continue for the consolidation of the achievements that have been recorded in critical areas of development in the state.
As campaigns get underway, these are the issues that are supposed to be put in the front burner and which should form the basis of any meaningful discourse, not the ranting of an individual who has already lost the moral standing to lead the state. PDP as a leading opposition in the state lost the opportunity to present a formidable candidate to challenge Governor Abiodun in this election the day its leadership failed to arrive at a consensus on how to organize a rancor-free governorship primary. Being unable to build a united house, the warring factions decided to hold parallel primaries where their separate candidates emerged. Since then, the party has been embroiled in a prolonged internal crisis that culminated in the emergence of different factions.
While a faction of the party which claimed to be authentic body held its primaries at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta where Ladi Adebutu emerged as the governorship candidate, the other group which produced Segun Sowunmi held its primaries at the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Abeokuta.
Yet another splinter bloc organized its exercise at the PDP secretariat in Ogun State, with two contestants — Bayo Dayo and Wole Adeyanju — although the latter stepped down for the former.
Like the proverbial bird that perches on the line, neither Adebutu nor his other rival contenders has known peace since the onset of the lingering crisis. All efforts made by the party leadership to reconcile the warring factions have met a brick wall as none of those involved in the disputed selection process is ready to let go.
Lawal on his part has been entangled in a protracted litigation battle. Leading some 370 aggrieved delegate members of the party, he had approached a Federal High Court, Abeokuta, requesting that the election be nullified based on the claim that the delegates were not those elected at the congresses held at the Ward, Local Government, and State Levels, claiming that if they had been allowed to cast their votes, they would have voted for him.
Consequently, he asked the court to nullify the earlier exercise which ordered a fresh one. All of this seems to have been laid to rest with the last judgment of the Appeal Court, ibadan. In spite of that, however, peace still remains elusive to the party.
Even the Ogun State chapter of the APC had a score to settle with the PDP until lately when the leadership decided to pull out of the case filed against Adebutu, Akinlade, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Federal High Court, Abeokuta.
The decision to withdraw from the suit, according to a state signed by the Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Tunde Oladunjoye, followed the compliance of the INEC with the judgment of the Court refusing to recognize Hon. Ladi Adebutu and Hon. Akinlade as candidate of the PDP.
Taking for granted that the matter has been laid to rest, Adetutu is going nowhere near the Oke-Mosan government house. Expectedly, he was enraged when Governor Abiodun teased him by declaring that “Oke-mosan is not for drunk. We shall not use your money to drink beer, we shall not use money for gambling. We shall use our money judiciously.”
This is not about what Abiodun said and what he did not say. It is about the people’s distrust and loss of confidence in the capacity of the PDP and its candidate to provide a credible alternative to the present government.
Whatever the mouth-watering promise Adebutu has to offer the electorate in this election, it is not going to change anything. Its imminent defeat is looming larger by the day because a party that cannot put its house in order cannot be trusted to lead the state or the country. For crying out loud, the PDP has comprehensively failed on all fronts. It lost the confidence of the people the day it decided to trample on the standard rule of engagement enshrined in its Constitution by the founding father. Being unable to show a good example of how to respect the rule of law, by being so insensitive to the ethnic diversity of the country, the PDP has cast doubt on its capacity to lead the country out of the current quagmire.
This is without prejudice to the rights of the electorate to choose their leaders based on conviction about the attitude, integrity and forthrightness of the candidates seeking votes. In Ogun State, Governor Abiodun is ever ready for a competitive election having justified the mandate freely given to him by the people in the 2019 general election. The standing signature of his performance could be seen in all facets, including the foundation for economic prosperity, industrial transformation, infrastructural development, ease of doing business, the atmosphere of security, and inclusive governance.
Sure of his victory, he has been criss-crossing the state not only to woo the electorate for his second-term but to also give an account of his stewardship in the last three and a half years. He has been holding town hall meetings to brainstorm with the stakeholders on his vision to move the state to the next level. And the response has been quite impressive and encouraging. In all areas visited so far, his effort to seek people’s endorsement of his re-election has been greeted with a resounding success.
While doing that, he has never failed to reassure the opposition of a level playing field throughout the electioneering period. Since he does not have any skeleton to hide, he has brought humility and civility to governance by providing room for constructive engagement.
As a peace-loving person, he has made several appeals for a peaceful campaign process devoid of violence knowing fully well that the wish of the people will ultimately prevail in his favour. This is more so realizing that an election is a process that must be allowed to run its full course without any undue interference.
Thus, as some people are busy throwing mud with little or no provocation, Governor Abiodun is focused on the onerous task of bringing the dividends of democracy to the doorstep of every Ogun State citizen, knowing also that he cannot get to his desired destination by throwing stones at every dog that barks at him.
The race is open and steadily progressing. But people must know that they cannot win by mere subterfuge, or being rascal. Instead, those who aspire to lead must do so with knowledge, decency, and decorum. That way, we can together build a state of our collective dream. Adebutu missed the point by thinking that he can pull down the Abiodun administration with frivolous allegations to ascend the seat of power.
Ogbonnikan wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State capital
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Can 22 APC Governors Stop The Cabal?
By Ehi Braimah
As we count down to the presidential election scheduled for February 25, it will no longer serve any purpose for anyone to doubt whether President MuhammaduBuhari is standing with the All Progressives Congress (APC) standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The matter was settled in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, last Saturday when President Buhari declared emphatically that AsiwajuTinubu is a “tested and trusted political ally of over 20 years.”
This overwhelming endorsement could not have come at a better time amid political undercurrents that tended to suggest APC was a divided party or that there was a cold war between President Buhari and AsiwajuTinubu.
“Tinubu will be a good successor,” Buhari added so that his message can sink in during the campaign rally to mobilisethe teeming supporters of his party.Whereas we desire a free, fair and credible election, people tend to forget that the President’s party is APC, and charity must begin at home.
The Lafia outing was significant for several reasons. Not too long ago, AsiwajuTinubualleged that there are fifth columnists in Abuja working against the interest of APC so that the party will lose the presidential election – and possibly other elections in a bandwagon effect.
Being the presidential candidate of APC, Asiwajuremaineddefiant and fired on all cylinders as he went to say at different campaign rallies that the fifth columnists want to scuttle the general election and install an interim government.
In his view, the shortage of petrol and unavailability of new naira notes which have caused untold hardship for Nigerians formed part of a deliberate plot by the Abuja cabal to cause anarchy and destabilise the country.
The plot, AsiwajuTinubu noted, will fail woefully. He also said confidently that the presidential election will hold as scheduled and he would be declared the winner.
There were otherthought-provoking comments by AsiwajuTinubu which were mostly interpreted asdirect attacks on the Buhari administration. But if the same Buhari is saying AsiwajuTinubu will be the next President after him, you can just grab your popcorn, relax and calm your nerves.
Why did I say you should relax? In simple language, APC leaders are saying they are united and their goal is to win the general election – no more discordant voices will be allowed from any quarter.
Don’t forget that the party has the power of incumbency and it could become a crucial factor. President Buhari continued his campaign for AsiwajuTinubu inKatsina – that’s the home state of Mr President.
Shortly after Asiwaju spoke about the machinations of fifth columnists in the corridors of power, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, re-echoed similar concerns on Channels TV, Arise News, TVC and BBC.
Nasir el-Rufaimay not be the spokesperson of APC or the presidential campaign council (PCC), but he displayed excellent PR and engagement skills during his media tour. He spoke with so much candour, passion, confidence and clarity of purpose during the interviews.
He explained that some “elements” in Aso Villa are determined to frustrate the electoral process and truncate our democracy simply because their preferred candidate did not win the APC presidential primary in June last year
The idea of an interim government is a dangerous proposition which will be unhelpful to anyone. Do they want another “June 12” crisis on our hands?
The Kaduna state governor said the aim of the cabal who throw their weight around in Aso Villa is to disrupt the general election by making the country ungovernable. El-Rufai said members of the cabal who are Northerners like him will not succeed with their plan.
He described them as “parasites”, “cowards” and “opportunists” who are not members of APC but wield a lot of power and influence in Aso Villa because of their close association with President Buhari. In the past, First Lady Aisha Buharimade a similar allegation, saying that some people who did not work for the success of the party have become the major beneficiaries and pipers dictating the tunes in Aso Villa.
The strategy of the cabal, El Rufai alleged, has always been to deceive President Buhari with proposals or advise him to turn down approved government policies. El-Rufai cited the example of State Police which the cabal opposed after President Buhari agreed with him that it was a good idea.
Unfortunately, the APC Restructuring Committee which El-Rufaiheaded made several recommendations which were resisted by the Abuja cabal and the Eight Senate under the leadership ofBukolaSaraki – an APC member at the time but now a PDP stalwart.
If you want political and economic power, you just have to fight for it. Clearly, what is at play is the fight for the soul of Nigeria between progressive and reactionary forces.
Nasir el-Rufai has challenged the cabalto come out of their hiding for an open combat. He said that at the right time, he will name and shame the “elements” in Aso Villa who are holding Nigeria to ransome.
The Kaduna state governor, from his comments, will not be fighting the cabal alone; he has the full backing of all the other 21 APC governors and key stakeholders of the party who have only one mission: overthrow the cabal. But can they? How will they do it?
Is Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, working with the cabal as it is being speculated? Who is behind the unending fuel scarcity?
El-Rufaisaid during his interviewsthat leaders of the party are working together to achieve victory at the polls in spite of the cabal at the Villa. From all indications, Aisha Buhariis likely to join this fight by the gladiators, offering her services free of charge to the governors to wrestle down the cabal.
El-Rufaialso said all the 22 APC governors out of 36 states are on the same page, dismissing claims by the opposition that some APC governors are silently working for AlhajiAtikuAbubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He noted that APC governors own the structure of their party in their respective states which is a huge advantage. He added that not one APC governor is working for the opposition. PDP has 13 states while All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has one state.
What exactly is the cabal’s next move now that their preferred candidate, according to Nasir el Rufai, did not get the APC presidential ticket? Could it be that they want AlhajiAtikuAbubakar, another Hausa Fulani, to succeed Buhari?
If truly the cabal wants power to remain in the North, it will be against the laws of natural justice, equity and fair play. Governor NyesomWike of Rivers state and his G-5 colleagues (all of them are members of PDP) have been campaigning vehemently since last year against this idea and refused to support Atiku’s presidential bid.
To emerge victorious in the presidential race, the candidate must poll at least 25 percent of the total votes cast in at least 24 states, in addition to polling the highest number of votes. Now, if all the 22 APC governors are able to deliver their states, it means APC would only need to win two additional states to meet the constitutional requirement for AsiwajuTinubu to be declared winner of the election.
That is assuming he polled the highest number of votes cast.
The task before the APC governors therefore would be to look beyond 24 states in order to overcome the cabal. Their permutation for electoral success is hinged on APC’s“winning survey” Nasir el-Rufai cited during his interviews which he said gives Asiwaju the advantage over other candidates.
However, El-Rufai did not give details of the survey. In terms of national spread, demographics, current challenges, expectations and voting population, what did the survey reveal? We may never know.
Meanwhile, let it be clear to everyone that the race to Aso Villa will be tight because the stakes are high. Nasir el-Rufaiadmitted that it will be a close race between APC and PDP, adding that AsiwajuTinubu will win the presidential election becauseAPC governors will deploy their wide network and goodwill.
Although there are 18 presidential candidates,the focus has always been on APC, PDP, Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria People’s party (NNPP) because they are the main contenders for different reasons. For example, in all the ongoing conversations, they always record the dominant share of voice in the media. It is one of the secrets of successful brand building.
Although APC and PDP are the leading parties in view of their historical antecedents, it will be foolhardy to wish away the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, as well as his “Obidients”.
The former Anambra state governor might be the reason for a run-off in the presidential race.
Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng)
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Nasir El-Rufai’s Exemplary Courage
By Ehi Braimah
On Channels television last Wednesday during the station’s Daily Sunrise morning show, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, confirmed the suspicion of many people when he disclosed that there are fifth columnists within Aso Villa that are working against the interest of their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the upcoming presidential election.
As el-Rufai explained without naming names, power brokers in the Villa and their collaborators want APC to lose the presidential election holding on February 25 because their preferred candidate did not win the primary conducted in June last year.Well, as you can see, the chickens are gradually coming home to roost.
Who was the cabal’s preferred presidential aspirant that lost out to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC flag bearer? Again, el-Rufai did not mention any name but it should not be a difficult test to pass.
Recall that the APC presidential primary was postponed three times before it finally held in Abuja. It was a high-stake affair which threatened the survival of the ruling party. In the absence of internal democracy, APC struggled to pull out the chestnut from the fire.
Besides Asiwaju Tinubu and the aspirants that stepped down, the other front runners in the presidential primary were vice president Yemi Osinbajo, senate president Ahmad Lawan and former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Lest I forget, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also threw his hat into the ring under controversial circumstances without first resigning his position.
Now, you can pick and choose who you think the cabal wanted. By the way, the APC governors from the northern region must be commended for their decision and commitment forpower to shift to the South in the spirit of fairness and equity.
Our leaders need courage and the political will to do the right things – right from the municipal councils to the subnational government and Abuja.The courage is lacking because our political elites, too often, pander to other unproductive sentiments: ethnicity, region and religion.
Make no mistake about it, politicians work round the clock to align their interests. When there are disagreements, they throw their weight and money around, hold parallel primaries and end up in court rooms.Lawyers become richer with fat pay cheques and smile to the banks.
Nasir el-Rufai headed BPP (Bureau of Public Enterprises) and was subsequently appointed as Minister of the federal capital territory (FCT) by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He distinguished himself as a first class public servant.
The Kaduna state governor gave a blow-by-blow account of his stewardship in his book, ‘Accidental Public Servant’. I enjoyed reading the book. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy.
Nasir el-Rufai is a graduate of Quantity Surveying and he bagged a first class honours degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State, amongst several other distinctions and awards.
People like him always excel at what they do, no matter the circumstances or where they find themselves. They serve as role models and excellent examples for others to follow. In today’s Nigeria, we need leaders like el-Rufai who are forthright, bold and fearless.
From his vantage position, the Kaduna state governor who never shies away from his convictions knows what is going on in the corridors of power. He alsofully understands how the power calculus has been influencing appointments and shaping policies that affect every Nigerian under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
We cannot continue to pretend that there are no fifth columnists in Abuja; they exist and possess enormous powers. What they have been doing is to exploit President Buhari’s taciturn nature to their advantage.
Nasir el-Rufai explained how members of the cabal change the course of events by citing some examples. He said a decision was reached by the government to remove petrol subsidy, a matter he also personally discussed with Buhari because speaking truth to power has become his second nature.
According to el-Rufai, he told President Buhari in 2021 that it did not make sense to have a capital budget of N200 billion for federal roads and spend N2 trillion on petrol subsidy. That is what leaders do; they act with courage because they are the conscience of society.
After his meeting, the President was convinced that the subsidy which had become an albatross must be removed but the decision was reversed– even after everyone in government agreed it was the right thing to do. The petrol subsidy has remained ever since. It explains why in the 2023 budget of N21.8 trillion, there’s a provision of over N4 trillion for petrol subsidy – a complete wasteof money that should be avoided.
In the same budget, the re-current expenditure is N8.32 trillion, out of which 75% is for personnel costs only. It simply means our cost of governanceis huge and it keeps going up amid dwindling revenue.
N5.97 trillion was earmarked for capital expenditure while N6.55 trillion (a whopping 30% of the national budget) was provided for debt servicing to assuage our appetite for borrowing. Ideally, capital expenditure ought to be more than re-currentexpenditure to stimulate the economy but it is what it is.
It is now obvious that the powers behind the throne are the ones pulling the strings and changing the decisions made by government for their selfish interests. There are usually no consequenceswhen approved government policies are not implemented as el-Rufai pointed out because some people are above the law in Nigeria.
We would be kidding ourselves if we think that Nigeria can make any meaningful progress with apowerful cabal in charge and calling the shots. What is their sense of higher purpose? Do they even care about the greater good?
There has always been a scramble for Nigeria’s wealth and positions by those who have access to privileges but only a few people benefit from such arrangement. If you are not favoured by the cabal, it might be difficult for your nomination to serve in government to scale through.
Even if your name is already on an approved list for a high profile government position, it can still be removed and replaced with their favourite; it does not matter whether such persons have the competence and capacity or presence of mind to do the job.
Another example el-Rufai cited was the redesign of the currency which has created untold hardships for Nigerians. Although he did not fault the policy, el-Rufai believes the timing was wrong.
To make matters worse, you cannot find the new notes, whether at the banks or ATMs.Nigerians are angry and frustrated because they are between the rock and a hard place. Nasir el-Rufai argued that state governors should have been involved ab initio to jointly own the process with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Kaduna state governor gave interesting data on the few banks available in local councils covering large swathes of land in the northern region. Farmers are therefore required to travel long distances – with the high risk of losing their money – to the nearest banks to lodge their cash in exchange for the new notes that are not available.
With a few weeks to the general election, CBN’s “Buharinomics” was poorly timed and it has backfired badly. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor and his colleagues, are in damage control mode to restore normalcy.
CBN says new notes have been allocated and distributed to all the banks but the banks are not disbursing the new notes because they claim they do not have the new currency. So who is hoarding the money?
If we are to believe the CBN story, then all the banks must come clean and tell us exactly what is going on because the cash shortage crisis is already boiling over. It will be unhelpful for the mob to take over.
We are experiencing shortage of new notes at the same time that there is nationwide petrol scarcity alongside blackouts everywhere. If this is not a grand conspiracy to inflict pain on Nigerians and sabotage the general election, then I don’t know what else to call it.
Nasir el-Rufai has spoken his mind, however provocative he might be. Others should also speak up and let their voices be heard as long as they advocate for a better Nigeria.
Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng)
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Nigeria At Point Zero
By Festus Adedayo
I am peering at the viral video of the naked young man inside the banking hall as I write this. His manhood dangles like the pendulum of the Grandfather Clock of colonial Nigeria. He is totally naked, even as he shouts that he needs to withdraw cash from the bank. I am aghast and disillusioned at the same time. I do not know what to think. My mouth is wide open, saliva gliding majestically as it drooled off my lower lip. Before now, I saw a similar video. It was that of a semi-naked young lady. She too had peeled off her wraps in protest of the crisis of cash that engulfed Nigeria last week. She was a centimetre off revealing her total nudity. She was a pathetic sight too as she constantly mouthed her frustration. Her kids could not go to school due to the crisis, she lamented in Yoruba, asking to be given her money or get her account closed. What could have driven humanity to this Albert Camus’ absurdity?
As I look at the naked young man, I am transfixed and transposed in time. I am right now inside Akachi Ezeigbo’s Literature class at the University of Lagos. It is 1991 or so. The text that Dr., now Professor Ezeigbo asked us to read is the 1975-published ‘Woman At Point Zero’, authored by Egyptian psychiatrist, Nawal El Saadawi. It is a true-life story picked from Saadawi’s fieldwork research. Sacked from her position in 1972 as director of health education and editor-in-chief of Health magazine after a sexually suggestive piece she did with the title, ‘Women and Sex’, Saadawi resorted to researching neurosis in Egyptian women. This necessitated her visiting the Qanatir Prison and interviewing 21 inmates. This served as the building blocks of case studies for her 1976 publication, ‘Women and Neurosis in Egypt’.
However, one of those cases stood out. It was that of Firdaus. Firdaus lived her childhood in a poor Egyptian farming community, with a father who abused her mother repeatedly. With a clitoridectomy performed on her in her youth by her parents, she finds out that sex was no longer enjoyable. Upon the parents’ death, life becomes a monstrous burden to Firdaus. She becomes a chattel thrown from one man to the other, used, abused and beaten by men she encounters. Crushed mentally and disillusioned, Firdaus then resorts to prostitution, from where she makes a lot of money. Then she meets this pimp called Marzouk who has on his palmtop a tab into many political bigwigs in Egypt. She collects rent from each man she brings to Firdaus. At some point, however, Marzouk starts to threaten her with police action if she does not give him a chunk more in percentage from the pawning of her flesh. Then Firdaus decides she has had enough of prostitution, resolute about quitting it for another job. Marzouk however blocks her. This day, he pulls a knife. Firdaus cleverly retrieves it from him. She stabs him to death. She is arrested and sentenced to death by hanging.
One day in 1974, after repeated trials, she agrees to meet the psychiatrist in the Qanatir Prison. She had heard of her infamous renown from the prison doctor who talked about an awaiting-death murderess who totally delinked herself from everybody in prison. She tells the psychiatrist to close the window, sit down and listen to her life story as, according to her, she will be executed that evening. Then she begins to narrate the story. As she finishes the tale, hangmen enter the cell and match her to the gallows. Firdaus believes she was sentenced to death due to the threat her existence posed to men: “My life means their death. My death means their life. They want to live,” was her last word to Nawal.
What links Firdaus, the two Nigerians in the said viral video and millions of us in Nigeria last week is total frustration at the decadent status quo. That week would share nomenclature with what Americans, in their informal lingo, call one helluva week. While Saadawi is praised for the famous book’s ability to expose the subjugation of women in Middle Eastern societies, the author praises Firdaus who she describes as a martyr because “few people are ready to face death for a principle”. So those who threw themselves into nakedness last week due to the frustration of petrol shortages, cash scarcity and the spiralling cost of living in Nigeria, in what ways do they share Firdaus’ frustration, despondency and mental torture? Was their nakedness martyrdom too? Wasn’t it? Or were they simply mad? Did they enter depression? Was Firdaus not depressed too at the point she stabbed Marzouk? How many Nigerians have started exhibiting traces of mental disconnect on account of the misrule of Muhammadu Buhari? Have we been driven to the brink of insanity too by this government?
Muhammadu Buhari, Godwin Emefiele and the gangs terrorising Nigeria are the Marzouks in Saadawi’s ‘Woman At Point Zero’. As the men drove Firdaus to the point of despondency and depression, so do these ones to us. At that point, murder became a weapon in the hands of Firdaus to let out her pent-up angst. Many more Nigerians are manifesting their own depression in different ways known or unknown to them. As Firdaus said, Nigerians’ lives mean their death and our death means their lives because they want to live by all means. Only God knows how many Nigerians have died or sunk into the abyss of insanity on account of Emefiele’s vengeful policy and Buhari’s conspiratorial abetment of it. Otherwise, changing a country’s currency is not rocket science. Nor is fuel supply such a Byzantine knot that should ground a country to its feet as this.
Tinubu himself, on Friday in Ekiti state, reified this theory that the twin of fuel scarcity and acute shortage of the naira notes were weaponised to willingly breed chaos in Nigeria. Since the campaign began, Tinubu has been accused of going the way of parasites and like them, deploying his proboscis to feed on the pain of the people. You would think he had always been on the side of the suffering poor. In Ekiti, he said: “They locked up money…They’re doing it to get you angry so that you can become violent, and they will postpone the election to bring interim government”. Who are the “they” who will postpone the election? The PDP, Atiku Abubakar or Peter Obi?
It is either that Buhari and his Emefiele sidekick are antediluvian in their policy fashioning or were deliberate in their projection of a chaotic aftermath as Tinubu alleged. Either or both must be the reason why Nigerians would be dragged down to their feet, to point zero, by two key survival indices of our national life as this. Since the redesigning of the Naira, Emefiele has been shuttling from self-reversal to making outright laughable policy contradictions on the Naira. The latest is that banks will now dispense N20,000 notes across their counters. Was it myopia or a deliberate attempt at dystopia that bred earlier statements on banks-citizens’ transactions on the naira notes?
In the midst of these, Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, appeared on national television, apparently as the bearer of a sword aimed at the Aso Rock Villa. El-Rufai is always the messenger and bearer of acidic arrows and conflagration parcelled as messages whenever the system wants to shoot its shots. In an interview with Tinubu-owned TVC last Thursday, the Kaduna governor pursued further the allegation that the CBN currency swap was an incendiary plot to incite voters against the APC. This, he also said, was masterminded by the Aso Rock cabal.
Having gone to this extent of belling the cat, El-Rufai’s bravery or bravado then stopped. He struggled frenetically to exonerate Buhari from the “evil plan”. He thinks that the cabal was exploiting Buhari’s goodness and desire to have things done the right way. Whether this was a pun or euphemism, what El-Rufai manifested in that interview was the image of a Smart Alec who was trying to be clever by half. It is either he was saying Buhari lacks grits, a mind of his own, is a simpleton or is indecisive with the power he holds. Otherwise, why would a president be as effeminate or lacking decisional power as to allow some people to take decisions for him? Did the cabal also instruct Buhari not to attend Tinubu’s campaign rallies?
The truth which many do not know is that Buhari is only decisive when it comes to matters that have to do with himself alone. I doubt if he does with even his children. Certainly not with his “wife”. Just as he did in Ogun in 2019, Buhari has also told Nigerians to vote for whoever they wanted. In 2019, however, he was emphatic that voters should vote for him to return to his Aso Rock pot of soup. Yes, voters must be told to choose whoever they wanted but that must not come from the mouth of a man who climbed to his position riding the crest of a political party. It is an anathema in party politics.
And then in Ekiti, Tinubu switched from parasitism to weaponising ethnicity. He conspiratorially worked on Yoruba people’s psyche for his selfish gain. It is similar to what, in argumentative pitfalls, is called argumentum ad misericordiam – appeal to pity. Knowing that, like every other ethnic group, Yoruba desire to have their own speaking their language inside Aso Rock, in Ekiti state, Tinubu played on that craving selfishly. He chose to appeal to the people’s emotions by touching that sensitive emotive chord of the people. Speaking in Yoruba and beginning his statement with that three-fold repetitive strategy of discourse which ancient Yoruba elders employed to ram home their thoughts, he had been quoted to have told the crowd: “Eyin Omo Yoruba! Eyin Omo Yoruba!! Eyin Omo Yoruba!! (Yoruba people!) Whose turn is it? Relax. If you hear rumblings; if someone is not pursuing something, then something is pursuing someone. This coming election is your election. Is that not so? It is the election you will use to liberate yourselves… They lie. We are not servants”.
Now, there are many strands of issues woven into that charge to Yoruba. The first question to ask is, how Yoruba is Tinubu himself? Or, put differently, how Yoruba-empathetic has he been, especially since he helped bring the Buhari affliction on Nigeria in general and his people in particular? First is that he sits on a Lagos state that has shown repeated disdain for the Oodua conglomerate, one of the bequeathals of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His Lagos state – spearheaded by him – has disconnected itself repeatedly from any collective aspiration of Yorubaland. Aside Oodua, the Amotekun security outfit is another such example. When Akin Ambode attempted to change that narrative by pulling Lagos to Oodua and attending Oodua’s meeting in Ibadan, a source told me Tinubu hectored the governor out of it, shouting “gedegbe l’Eko duro!” – Lagos stands alone.
Again, when Yorubaland was going through hell at the hands of Fulani herders, the children of Awolowo never heard a word of empathy or show of sympathy for their tragedy from Tinubu. When Akesan market in Oyo got burnt, I am aware that he didn’t even send a word of empathy. A few weeks after, when a similar calamity befell a town in the north, Tinubu was there with his trolley of empathy and a N50 million donation. Again, a few years ago, Tinubu was in the Akure home of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, ostensibly to commiserate with him over the death of his daughter. To douse the narrative of her being killed by Fulani herders, Tinubu asked “where are the cows?” But on Friday, a few kilometres away from where he asked where the cows were and where the daughter of the Yoruba patriarch was killed, Tinubu wanted the same Yoruba people to help go to war with him if he was not made president. We should remind him that the children of those friends of his who have now become his enemies because they don’t want him to succeed them, were the ones killing our own children and parents and mauling them to their deaths without a word from him.
The scenario of Tinubu and Yorubaland is akin to that of the selfish Oluode (Chief Hunter) who, aware of famine in the village, with the existential challenges it poses to the people, goes hunting games and devours them alone like a cat does, without sharing even the animal’s hoof with his neighbours. Yoruba explain this as: “Ile njo, ole nja, aa ri Oluode; o np’eran, o n da je bi ologbo”. The cat mirrors similar selfishness. A Yoruba aphorism which explains this selfishness of the cat says, “apa’dele ni o je ka mo p’ologbo ns’ode“. The cat pretends that it doesn’t kill whereas it does but devours it on the rafters.
So, Yoruba should let Tinubu fight his political enemies alone and not allow him to use them as pawns and fodders of the war. When the going was good between them and we wailed and sorrowed, he pleasurably enjoyed the grisly groove. Any Yoruba who believes in Tinubu should feel free to vote for him on whatever index that sways them to him. It should never be on account of Tinubu being a crusader for the Yoruba or his innate Yorubaness. I cannot see any of such in him.
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