Playing politics with everything in Nigeria

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This week’s write-up will centre on the choices of some Nigerians, whose decisions were timely, appropriate and reasonable to the shaping of the future of this nation positively, rather than playing to the gallery.

The sudden death in 1998 of the then military head of state, late Sani Abacha, brought Abdulsalami Abubakar as the military head of state.

In Abdulsalami’s reluctance, he tried his best to make his colleagues understand the issue at hand (the annulment of June 12, 1993, election) as the major problem that Nigeria was facing. With his colleagues, they tried to negotiate with the winner of the annulled June 12 election, late MKO Abiola.

Following the unfortunate death of MKO Abiola, the military under Abdulsalami Abubakar resolved to hand over power the following year to a democratically elected government. To many then, the idea was not real. They never believed the military after several years of rough dealings with Nigerians would be really serious to hand over.

With our nascent democracy, Anyim Pius Anyim became a circumstantial Senate president out of a situation he himself could not understand. In his acceptance speech after the impeachment of Adolphus Wabara, he made Nigerians and his colleagues understand that he knew when the ovation was loudest, he knew when to bow out of office should there be any need for it.

A recent story on April 29, 2019, with the headline ‘Five soldiers killed, 30 missing in Boko Haram battle’ left me with bitter taste through the rest of the day.
According to the report, at least five Nigerian soldiers were killed and some 30 missing three days after Boko Haram jihadists overran an army base, security sources said on Monday, April 29.

The report went further that gunmen from the Islamic State West Africa Province, the IS-linked faction of Boko Haram, attacked the base in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State on Friday.
“We have recovered five bodies of soldiers who paid the supreme price fighting the terrorists,” a military officer told AFP, giving the first reports of casualty numbers.

“Search and rescue teams are still looking for around 30 more soldiers who have gone missing since the attack,” the officer said.

ISWAP fighters on Friday (April 26, 2019) launched an assault on the base at Mararrabar Kimba, 135 kilometres (85 miles) from the state capital Maiduguri.

The fighters, reportedly driving over a dozen pickup trucks with heavy machine guns welded onto the back, were accompanied by three armoured personnel carriers and flanked by a fleet of gunmen firing from motorbikes.

Some soldiers scattered into the bush to escape. A second officer confirmed the toll of five dead, an eyewitness narrated.

My sadness comes from the fact that this is an area that the military has several times claimed to have control over, and that somebody is paid to protect and provide strategies for these soldiers who are constantly being slaughtered because someone has failed to do his job well. Remember too this is not the first time such incident is occurring, unfortunately, the same set of people have been the managers of the military.

In an ideal situation, the military hierarchy should resign because they have failed for too long to curtail the insurgents who are believed to have less equipment than the Nigerian military.

The sad aspect is, the Federal Government has recently acquired military wares to make the army perform optimally, but still the tales of failure and carnages on the part of the Nigerian soldiers have not stopped to upset Nigerians. The question is, are the Boko Haram fighters, who are struggling for survival stronger than Nigerian soldiers once believed to be African best? Or is it a case of misplaced priority, or the military hierarchy is now totally clueless of the next move to defeating these bandits?

For me, I believe it is the case of cluelessness, which therefore calls for resignation of those who are suppose to protect the slain soldiers.

However, it is no longer new that incumbents and public officeholders no longer resign when they are found wanting in Nigeria, but the case at hand calls for somebody to bow out. It’s unfortunate that most public servants would not want to leave office, even when they know their relevance has been outlived; staying in office is their only source of livelihood. No idea of doing personal business even with the wealth they have ‘accumulated from racketeering’ (I am not insinuating anything here, I just want the readers to understand). This is so because they are destitute of ideas out of government circle. This set of people who do not know when the ovation is loudest will eventually be humiliated out of office. I am very sure President Muhammadu Buhari will tell them to take a bow after May 29 inauguration; I am sure.

Late Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley once said, “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” One day they will see the light and come for your neck. Bow out now before it is too late.

Just like Abdulsalami Abubakar and Pius Anyim, this decision will go a long way in soothing a lot of strained relationships and making you relevant in the polity. Abubakar’s decision made Nigeria to regain her position in the comity of nations. Anyim set a standard for the National Assembly to maintain, which brought legislation fairly closer to the people, then.

These public officials instead of telling themselves they have failed they try to justify their actions, which often to the ordinary Nigerian they are just buying time, until either, he that appoints them tells them to go or age and retirement force them out. Often, they give excuse for every of their failure, instead of waking up to their responsibility.

The words of late Archbishop Benson Idahosa come to mind: “He that refuses to take responsibility for his/her actions becomes inconsequential.”
Also, Frederick the Great once said: “He that defends everything (including his/her action) defends nothing.”

Remember, Ngozi Okojo-Iweala resigned her appointment as minister of foreign affairs when she saw she could not contain the happenings in the country then. Even Oby Ezekwesili, that same period, resigned her appointment as a minister because she could no longer cope with the situation in that ministry. Both of them went down as public officeholders who resigned their appointments in Nigeria. No wonder they are still respected till date, both within and outside the country.

Similarly, a young man flew an aircraft from Germany to Moscow and landed at the Red Square, the Russian defence minister was sacked. But here we keep managing people, even when they are not performing and constituting stumbling blocks.

For me, if a public servant resigns honourably not minding the sweetness and privileges of office, the nation would easily forgive him/her. Most times people don’t know what they can do, but all the time people know what they cannot do. The progress you make in life is not measured by how rich you are but how many lives you have positively impacted.

My advice, therefore, is for public officeholders to honourably resign whenever issues arise questioning their integrity or otherwise, just like the several cases we have in Nigeria.

This also goes to all others who have lost touch with the realities of public office, because work is done only when there is appreciable distance covered. So far, in the fight against insurgents, there seems not to have been any appreciable distance covered, but rather drawbacks.
Socrates once said: “You think you know yourself merely because you know your name and are closer to yourself than anyone else? An unexamined life is not worth living.”

There is always a price to pay for success, but it is never as great as the price for failure. As they say, thought in the heart is like deep waters; it takes understanding to draw it out.

 

OSA VICTOR OBAYAGBONA

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