Thursday, November 11, 2010
I am honestly done with politeness, taking time to be pretentious about being nice while gritting my teeth in silence.
This is Rantimus; if you can’t stand the heat, just stay out of the kitchen.
On the 14th of November, 1969, a brat was unleashed on unsuspecting Nigerians and the entire world.
Let me start with his ‘enviable’ background.
His father, Suarau Olayiwola Alani Bankole is a businessman and chieftain from Ogun State. He is the Chairman of West African Aluminum Products (WAAP) Plc. He holds the Yoruba titles Oluwo of Iporo Ake and Seriki Jagunmolu of Egbaland.
This Oluwo of Iporo Ake was a staunch member of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and contested for the gubernatorial seat, both in 1979 and 1983. He was also in the defunct NRC from 1989 and moved on to the ANPP before settling down with PDP in 2000. Anyone with a keen sense of election trends in the South-West of Nigeria would know that until the 2003 intrigue masterminded by the Ebora Owu (Daemon of Owu, a ‘city’ in Ogun State) himself, Olusegun Obasanjo (the former Head of State who, unlike George W. Bush that got Al Zaidi’s shoes coming for his face, was attacked instead by a mad man), The South-West usually voted along Progressive lines.
Matter of fact, claiming to be an ‘Awoist’ automatically earned you a seat. Even the intrigue that brought in Chief Omololu Olunloyo in Oyo State in 1983 and almost brought in Akin Omoboriowo in Ondo State was so short-lived that the attendant violence ushered in the Military and took us back for almost a Century.
Against this backdrop, if you read the Party and Bullsmilk series, it does not take a lot of convincing to know the basic ideology guiding such a Politician.
But my grouse is with his son.
A certain Hairdresser and beauty therapist, who became a Member of the House of Representatives under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, was ‘reelected’ in 2003 shortly after switching camps to the PDP. She became the first Female Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives in 2007. Then came the 628 Million Naira (about US$5 million) House-Renovation/ Official Car purchase Scam and she had to resign her position. But not until in an ironical twist, Hon. Aminu Shuaibu Safana, the chairman of the house's Committee on Health and a staunch supporter of Etteh slumped and died in the heat of the Comedy of errors.
By October 30, 2007, Etteh resigned and a certain Dimeji Bankole was elected on the First of November, 2007 as Speaker, beating his contender, George Jolaoye, by 304 votes to 20 (4 abstentions). In his address, he said:
"I am taking over the mantle of leadership at a very difficult time. But these are hard times, we need to build confidence again and assure the populace that we are still their representatives. I want an independent house that Nigerians will be proud of, this is my first task."
It is extremely sad and appalling that people are not held responsible for their utterances on this side of the divide. Exactly how has Dim Banks assured us that ‘they are our representatives’? By suspending 11 members who accused him of fraud and even came up to show items allegedly purchased fraudulently under his watch before the media? Etteh went down for 628 million; Dim Banks had 52 Billion hanging on his head in the name of ‘Travel Expenses’. Messrs Onigbogi and Idahosa have been recalled, one on the alibi that he was ‘remotely’ suspended (he was in India when the incident occurred) and Idahosa on the grounds that he has now realized “every house has rules”.
Both members apologized before the committee; they have withdrawn their court actions, standing down their allegations against Dim Banks. They have been cleared, and asked to resume sitting and tender a public apology.
What apology? That they lied against Dim Banks? That is Libel! It also qualifies for Sedition, worse still, Treasonable Felony! Does that imply that the items allegedly purchased fraudulently and displayed before the Camera for us all to watch was all ‘cooked up’? Then they must be brilliant illusionists who have mastered the art of whipping up our emotions wrongly!
Alternatively, are the allegations real and they are only announcing that ‘hey, we have been starving since we got locked out’? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME??? AM I TALKING TO MYSELF?
Anybody that believed Dim Banks on November 1, 2007 must have been under intense delusion.
Check out his educational background: From Lara Day Nursery and Primary School in Lagos, through Baptist Boys High School (1985) to ‘A’ levels in Albany college (1988), and BSc Economics, University of Reading (1991); Military Technique Strategic Studies, University of Oxford (1992), Public Finance Management, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2005).
The simple implication of this record is that a good part of his higher cognitive life was not spent in the Country, period! The last time he really was here, before he showed up in the House of Representatives (I still stand in doubt of the NYSC discharge certificate he presented but then, who can argue against Certificate A417575, registration number FCT/FRN/97/99823 and the Orientation camp in Kubwa, Abuja? ) was in 1987/1988.
Those of you that want to vote along the lines of petty things like Age, Tribe, Religion, here is something to ponder. Dim Banks is only a Post-Independence kid. Matter of fact, he was born towards the end of the Nigerian Civil War. If he had waited a couple of months, he would have been classed as one of the ‘Kids’ of the ‘70s.
He only became the Speaker because of the PDP zoning formula which limited the Speaker to the South-West Geo-Political zone. He became the Speaker exactly two weeks to his 38th birthday. This dude speaks the English language like he is in competition with the Queen of England! Other than that, he is as hot-headed as his command of the language.
I still recall his July scuffle with the lame-duck Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel. While I don’t really give a hoot about either of them, the fact that a seemingly innocuous commissioning took the dimensions of a Tokyo-Eleweomo-esque (go figure that) fight speaks for itself.
However, the last straw that dragged me out of the Writers’ Block is his latest remark during the House of Representatives meeting with the Presidential Task Force on Power. He was reported to have spent a record five minutes after which he ‘declared’ the work of the task force, and by extension, the Federal Government ‘null and void’
His reasons being that the road map did not have the input of the House of Representatives, nor did the government deem it necessary to consult ‘stakeholders’ before formulating the roadmap.
Who are the stakeholders? Wait for it…
Bankole stated that no consideration was being given to importers and suppliers of generators, which by his estimate is A BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY THAT NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED!
Could someone please shut this BRAT up before further damage is done?
PS: The Brat has a blog: http://dimejisbankole.com/
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
…..No one was going to stop Abacha. With possible opponents either dead, clamped in jail or on exile, the stage was set.
Until June 8.
I recall seeing the shroud wrapped around the mound that once was the most-dreaded ruler in Nigeria. The corpse was tossed in the cargo section of the plane for onward dispatch to Kano.
His successor, General Abdusalami Abubakar was all too eager to quit the scene. There was, however, one obstacle: MKO Abiola. Should his 5 year old mandate be given? Would he forgive those that ensured his incarceration and killed his wife? A dramatic twist came in when the then U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and the then Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku visited him in detention, and the latter addressed a press conference in Abuja saying that Abiola had given up his mandate. A quick rebuttal came through Chief Gani Fawehinmi after which another meeting came up with envoys from the United States, Mr. Thomas Pickering, Ms. Susan Rice and William Twaddel.
Abiola suddenly took ill after he was served tea by Ms Susan Rice, and after a 90 minute battle to save his life at the Presidential hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Abiola’s death would dramatically alter the course of politics of the Fourth Republic.
The ensuing transition programme was ‘designed’ to placate the South West over his death. Hence, the only presidential aspirants of South West descent contested the 1999 presidential election where Chief Obasanjo (PDP) recently released from prison won over Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy/ All People’s Party alliance (refer to my April 1 post, Sticky Bums and Hardened Hearts).
It is my opinion that Obasanjo won because he looked more like the survival specimen of the keepers of the status quo. The dark secrets of the military looked secure with him having hung in the dark basement of the sordid past of a country desperately in need of amnesia.
The Fulani oligarchy felt safe with him, the South-East, having been played out of the APP ticket (up till this time, because the bulk of supporters of Abacha’s self-succession bid were in this party, the APP was derisively called Abacha People’s Party) when the relatively unknown Ogbonnaya Onu was picked and dumped to pick up Olu Falae, tilted towards Obasanjo’s PDP; and the South-South, probably with the hope of eventually benefiting from the PDP ‘zoning’ formula, followed suit.
The gullible religious folks swayed his way as well, since they heard he had become ‘born-again’ during his incarceration.
At the time of the election, Obasanjo was the ‘only Southerner accepted by the Northerners, the only Civilian accepted by the Military, and the only Christian accepted by Muslims’ he donated 130 million Naira, as well as several cars to his political party. For a man recently released from incarceration/death-row, that was a very questionable feat, but no one could be bothered. By May 29, 1999, most of the Retired Generals were card-carrying members of the PDP, with few ones in APP.
Perhaps this militarization of politics is the root of the sudden escalation of politically motivated killings in the Fourth Republic.
As a matter of fact, 1999 till date has the highest record of political assassinations in the history of Nigeria. September 1, 2002 would show how low we had sunk when the local branch chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and his wife were shot and the killers used a truck to run repeatedly over their dead bodies.
The Nigerian Police Force not only attained an apogee of incompetence, it became the order of the day that Politicians and Journalists were either killed by robbers, drug barons, or clowns.
It is interesting to note that Capital Punishment, till date, is yet to be a deterrent to crime. The establishment of Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (2000) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (2003) has only served to heighten despair for those interested in the fight against corruption. Billions of looted funds got resolved as ‘family matter’ in particular, when the culprit is a member of the ruling PDP. Part of what was stolen is returned in exchange for ‘soft-landing’ where the corrupt politicians upon conviction spend short terms in ‘EFCC guest-houses’ and they are released to go-and-sin-more-but-be-more-careful.
Why would a grown man, a then serving Governor, knowing the implications of libel, insist that Chief Tony Anenih wanted to kill him ‘the way they killed Chief Bola Ige’ and all of a sudden we hear nothing more?
These are the issues gnawing deep at my heart, draining my pen of every substance. By the time you are reading this, the tally of over 352 Nigerians that have died of Cholera in just 3 months would have increased. I would not even bother about the statistics of those that have been killed navigating through our ‘road-infested-potholes’ (that sounds, wrong, does it? That is the only way I can explain when you have more pot-holes than roads), nor those that have been killed since Medical Doctors embarked on Strike Action because of poor remunerations.
No, they do not matter, they are not Politicians…All we want to talk about is Zoning, Election, The-Biggest-National-Cake-Ever-Baked, Party and Bullsmilk! (Yeah, I got you on that!)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The NPP submitted some candidates for ministerial appointments as part of the ‘gentleman agreement’. Ishaya Audu, a vice presidential candidate of the party, among others, was selected as a minister. However, the accord hit the rocks in 1981, and Adeniran Ogunsanya, the chairman of the party, asked all ministers to resign; many did not heed his call and some transferred to the NPN (cross-carpeting is not new, is it?).
By 1983, the stage was set for the downfall of civil governance. All the political parties re-nominated their presidential candidates during the 1983 elections. Rigging was well pronounced and open; ALL the political parties rigged the election in their various spheres of influence. The electoral body, FEDECO proved to be highly incompetent.
Before the elections, Umaru Dikko and Chief Adisa Akinloye, openly declared that as far as they know, there were only two political parties in Nigeria: The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the Army (Titanic, anybody?).
A number of fraudulent elections were upheld by the Courts purely on technical grounds, however in a few cases, the courts reversed the election results, notably in the case of the Ondo State gubernatorial, hotly contested by Alani Omoboriowo and Chief Michael Ajasin. Omoboriowo (NPN)’s votes were inflated from 703, 792 to 1,228,981 while that of Chief Michael Ajasin (UPN) was deflated from 1,563,377 to 1,015,385. Expectedly, the illegality resulted in serious violence; houses were burnt and properties destroyed, supporters of the two political parties continued to clash until victory was returned to Ajasin (the writer was still quite young then, but recalls the pun on Omoboriowo (the child overcame wealth) to Owoboriomo (the child was overcome by wealth).
Another nail in the coffin of the Second Republic was the seemingly insignificant but highly consequential remark of Umaru Dikko that the Presidential seat was not for the highest bidder. It would have just passed for an ordinary remark, but for the person it was made to; A Yoruba millionaire, by the name Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO), known to be a good friend of the Military. He had joined the NPN and was the State Chairman of the party in his home state of Ogun (although, with only one or two members in the State House of Assembly at Abeokuta, the NPN was virtually non-existent in Ogun State, the birth place of the revered Chief Obafemi Awolowo). He was expecting the NPN zoning to work in his favor in 1983 but it was decided that Shagari would run for a second term. He angrily quit Politics (or should we say he joined the ‘Second Party’)
By December 31, 1983 a voice hit the Nigerian airwaves:
Fellow countrymen and women.
I, Brigadier Sani Abacha, of the Nigerian Army address you this morning on behalf of the Nigerian Armed Forces…..
Nigerians all too gladly welcomed the military at this time. Having been told as a kid that as soon as Shagari was announced the winner of the elections, he said ‘Now that I have been re-elected, Austerity continues…’ my young mind was all too glad! To us, Austerity as dished by the NPN meant the disappearance of my favorite meals from the table.
Again, the government of Muhammadu Buhari offended MKO, and an ambitious Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) who allegedly also had his tracks to cover a la Gloria Okon saga got funded for the August 27 1985 take-over.
The Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) under the leadership of General Babangida prevented most ex-politicians from participating in politics. Only two political parties would be approved.
On October 7, 1989, the AFRC rejected all the six political associations presented by the National Electoral Commission, and accused them, inter alia of being led by leaders who were surrogates of banned politicians. In their place, Babangida decreed into existence two government funded parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which he directed to be “a little to the left” in ideology and the ‘a little to the right’ National Republican Convention (NRC). Any Nigerian could join either as equals since they had no ‘founders’. This looked like a solution to money bags hijacking political parties, but some saw it as having the outlook of ‘government parastatals’.
An open ballot system, and Option A4, which required a candidate to seek nomination from the ward level to the local to the state and national level, and to win majority votes at all levels or an average of 50 per cent, paved way for what is adjudged the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s history.
The earlier disqualification and ban of the likes of Shehu Musa Yar Adua and Olu Falae probably gave everyone the impression that IBB was setting the stage for MKO. The massive support he (MKO) had made almost every Nigerian consider his Presidency a fait accompli, until the June 24 annulment.
Mass protests, civil disobedience and pressure compelled IBB to ‘step-aside’ and hand over to a shaky Interim National Government (ING), the most unpopular government ever hoisted on Nigerians.
Barely three (3) months old, was the ING declared illegal by Justice Dolapo Akinsanya of the Lagos High Court, an outcome of a suit filed by MKO challenging its legality.
On November 17, 1993, the same voice that announced the demise of the Second Republic declared the Obituary of the aborted Third Republic, the only dispensation that never had a proper head was dead.
By selective amnesia, no one seemed to remember what Abacha did during the June 12 protests in Lagos. A man who deployed troops to silence protesters was suddenly the Messiah everyone was looking for.
I honestly feel repulsed that I would have to chronicle Abacha’s ‘transition program’ which ended in his own transition.
Key Pro-June 12 activists were appointed members of Abacha’s cabinet, initially with MKO’s blessings and ignored calls to resign even when it became obvious Abacha had plans of his own. While the internal wrangling continued, Abacha seized the opportunity to consolidate his power base.
Former allies turned to sworn enemies till date. Lateef Jakande, the charismatic Governor of Lagos State in the Second Republic who served as Minister of Works and Housing under the Abacha regime was kicked out, never to be welcome in the ‘circle-of-progressives’ again. Prior to that time, he was fondly called Baba Kekere (Small Daddy) because he was seen as the potential successor to the venerated Awolowo. Although Awo had died since 1987, the Yoruba would never forget the Free Education program that gave a literary edge to the South-Western part of Nigeria.
Ebenezer Babatope and Ebun Olu Onagoruwa were among the reputation causalities.
Abacha simply woke up one day and sacked his cabinet.
By 1997, with all ‘enemies’ dead, in prison, exiled or severely humiliated, the stage was set for Abacha to succeed himself as President (s)elect.
Then, ALL ‘five fingers of a leprous hand’ (to quote the late Chief Bola Ige), the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), the Committee for National Consensus (CNC), the National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), and the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), ‘adopted’ Abacha as consensus candidate………..
TO BE CONTINUED
Monday, May 24, 2010
Right from the Clifford Constitution and the subsequent formation of Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), (Nigeria's first political party) in 1923 by Herbert Macaulay, and clinching three (3) seats in the 1922 elections for the Lagos Legislative Council, all through the cacophony of I-am-about-45 Political Parties in Nigeria, the electoral system in Nigeria could best be summed up in one word: RUDDERLESS.
I look at the Nigerian debacle and I wonder if the Southern Cameroons ever had a picosecond’s worth of regret for opting in the 1961 Plebiscite to go with French Cameroon. Not as if I am of the opinion that they are better off or otherwise, but I can’t help wondering what their plight would have been in the complex contraption called the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
From the 1914 incongruous amalgamation through the Brito-Colonio-Clifford-Richard-Macpherson-Lyttleton's Constitutions, we wandered aimlessly through the 1960 and 1963 scripted Constitutions into the Militaro-Colonio-actually-Obasanjo-Babangida-Abdulsalami Abubakar Constitutions of 1979, 1989 and 1999 (maybe we will have another joke in 2019!).
Governor Lugard came with a script. The ‘Indirect Rule’ was simple. A bigger bully comes and promises the lesser bully the full permission to bully all others, as long as he submits to his own bullying, period!
In the North, the emirs retained their caliphate titles but were responsible to British district officers, who had final authority. The British high commissioners could depose emirs and other officials if necessary. Borno went down without a fight, Kano and Sokoto resisted and were ruthlessly dealt with to discourage further opposition. With the co-operation of the Hausa-Fulani (a great part of the Hausas had been absorbed by the Fulani Oligarchy), the ‘bigger-bully’ imposed the ‘lesser-bully’ on the entire North and allowed for the running of the dual system of law (Federal and Sharia). The Sharia (Islamic law) court continued to deal with matters affecting the personal status of Muslims, including land disputes, divorce, debt, and slave emancipation (think about this next time you read about the ‘Paedophile Senator’.. that’s all I’d say on that), this is what paved the way for the complexity of tribal and religious sentiments, and makes it almost altogether impossible to state the true source of conflicts in the North.
Missionary activities, and consequently Western Education were also heavily restricted (I know a lot of people get irked at the mention of Western Education, but we need to face realities here. At the time of the Graeco-Roman Empire, everyone had to learn Greek. The New Testament Bible was written entirely in Greek; even though the writers were mostly Hebrews. Western Education is rich because the Anglo-Saxon culture itself borrows copiously from the rest of the World. If four out of five people have a loaf of bread each and they all agree that each will give the fifth person half of theirs, the fifth man ends up with the equivalent of two loaves while the others are stuck with half).
In the South, the Indirect Rule had a relative measure of success among the Yorubas. The older empires had already been heavily weakened with the abolition of Slave Trade, and consequently the huge amount of wealth that was generated had plummeted. Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony in 1861. This was after Oba Akitoye, who had earlier been deposed and replaced by Kosoko for attempting to put an end to slave trade, secured the assistance of Britain to regain his throne. He died three years later and his successor, Oba Dosunmu concluded the treaty. The egalitarian minded Ibos and the other ethnic groups, right of the Lower Niger were the ‘defiant guinea pigs’ of this experiment. The Aro hegemony had been crushed since 1902. Not finding any ‘lesser bully’, the ‘bigger bully’ imposed their own bullies. One would need to read the award winning author, Chinua Achebe’s THINGS FALL APART to appreciate this better.
It is against this backdrop that Political parties, tended to reflect the make up of the three main ethnic groups: Hausa, Yoruba, and Ibo. By the October 1960 independence, The NPC (Nigerian people's Congress) represented conservative, Muslim, largely Hausa interests, and dominated the Northern Region. The party was allegedly formed with the blessing of the Emirs, to be capable of ‘counterbalancing the activities of the southern-based parties’.
The AG (Action Group), developed from the Yoruba group headed by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà, was a left-leaning party that controlled the Yoruba west. The NCNC (National Convention of Nigerian Citizens) was Igbo and Christian dominated, ruling in the Eastern Region. The NCNC would however, be the first to have a national outlook, mainly because of Late Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Pan African vision.
The first post-independence National Government was formed by a conservative alliance of the NCNC and the NPC, with Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a Hausa, becoming Nigeria's first Prime Minister. The Yoruba-dominated AG became the opposition under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Disagreement within the AG led to the first major ‘cross-carpeting’ that laid the foundation for ‘decamping’ today. The late Samuel Ladoke Akintola broke away and became the Western Premier under the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) which was in an alliance with the Northern People's Congress (NPC), the party that then controlled the federal government. The politics of Human-Torch (burning opponents alive) began in the ensuing violence; perhaps, this will be the foundation for the spates of political assassinations we have today.
Things got very awry when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arrested on trumped up charges of treasonable felony and clamped in jail in 1963. By this time, deep resentment was building in the Army. The Kaduna Nzeogwu/ Emmanuel Ifeajuna revolution of 1966 ended up with an ethnic taint. Most of the key rulers were Hausa; consequently, the Hausa recorded the heaviest causality. Unfortunately too, the killings showed a pattern: The Prime Minister, a northerner; the Premier of the Northern Region, and the highest ranking northern army officers. Only one Igbo officer (Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Unegbe) lost his life. Also killed was the Premier of the Western Region who was closely allied with the NPC. The fact that soldiers of Northern extraction were in the coup did nothing to erase the ‘Coup with tribal marks’ brand; nor the fact that there were Yorubas on both sides of aggressors and victims.
The July counter-coup, the massacre of Igbos before and during the Civil War, the ascendancy of the Counter-Coup soldiers (four of them became President) in Nigerian politics after the consequent decimation of Igbo officers, all served to shape Nigerian politics till date (quick PDP checklist, anyone?).
By the Second Republic, members of the proscribed parties (Military Regimes commence with the proscription of Political parties) based in the Northern section of Nigeria began to organize to form a northern party to prepare for a return to democracy. This time, they got collaborators from the South, and with the ‘Zoning Formula’, came up with a Yoruba chairman, a Hausa-Fulani President, with an Igbo running mate. The Yoruba chairman was none other than Augustus Meredith Adisa Akinloye, who had left with S.L. Akintola in the First Republic to form the Nigerian National Democratic Party. That was the origin of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
The Action Group under Chief Obafemi Awolowo had morphed into the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). The other four parties, Greater Nigerian People's Party (GNPP), Nigeria Advance Party (NAP), Nigerian People's Party (NPP), People's Redemption Party (PRP) were not as strong. The PRP, in my opinion, is just the Northern version of the UPN in terms of ideology (the Talakawa concept was actually made popular by the late Mallam Aminu Kano, the founder of the PRP). Chinua Achebe did a brief stint in the PRP as the deputy national vice-president and would be remembered for the near fist cuff with the late Alhaji Barkin Zuwo (notoriously popular for stashing State funds in his bedroom and the Coke, Fanta Mineral Resources interview).
At this time, the Civil War had taken a heavy toll on the Ibos; the Nigerian power tussle had become more of between the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy and the relatively weaker Yoruba. It was against this backdrop that the 1979 Constitution attempted to ensure a National Outlook but eventually led to various pseudo-alliances, one of such is the NPP with NPN.
(To Be Continued)
Thursday, April 1, 2010
El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon would go down in history as the world’s longest serving, sorry, ruling President.
Quite amusing is the fact that on the 7th May 2009, when he had to go seek medical attention for Cancer in Spain, the Gabonese Government only announced that Papa Bongo had temporarily suspended his official duties and taken time off to mourn his recently demised wife and rest in Spain!
His eventual death on June 8th 2009 (or earlier, God knows) was vehemently denied to the extent that the foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador to protest about French media reports of Papa Bongo death, which according to his Prime Minister, were intended "to sow doubt in the spirit of the Gabonese for undesirable ends".
Internet services were cut; access to international media was restricted, till the game ended. And so, “El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon slept with his fathers, and his son, Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba reigned in his stead” (this reads so much like the chronicles of the ancient kings of Israel to me!)
In Niger, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Mamadou Tandja ran for Presidency in 1993 and lost to Mahamane Ousmane. He lost also in 1996 to the I-switched-from-bullet-to-ballot candidacy of Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, before winning at last in 1999.
One would think this man would approach the Presidency with a deep sense of sobriety; DEAD WRONG! In no time, his First and Second Terms expired and he wanted to self-propagate to a Third term. By 27th June, 2009, Tandja announced he was suspending the government and would rule by decree. By February 18th, the Military had intervened.
Let me take you on a mental journey to France, the French Revolution (1789–1799). Before that time, society into Three Estates: First Estate (clergy); the Second Estate (nobility); and the Third Estate (commoners). The king was considered part of no estate.
The Clergy not only unabashedly adopted this system (animal farm, anyone?) but further classed themselves into Higher (Bishops) and Lower (parish priests, monks and nuns) Clergy. They paid no taxes; they also owned 10 percent of all the land in France, which was exempt from property tax. They however, paid a "free gift" to the state.
The second estate is what I called Pseudotalakawa in previous blogs. They were content with owning lands and some tax exemptions, so they could not be bothered about reform.
The third estate comprised all those who do not belong above and can be divided into two groups: urban and rural. The urban included the bourgeoisie, as well as wage-labor (such as craftsmen). The rural includes the peasantry, or the farming class. The Third Estate includes some of what would now be considered middle class. What united the third estate is that most had little or no wealth and yet were forced to pay disproportionately high taxes to the other estates.
If you are a late entrant, please read my early blogs to find a parallel with what we have today. Knowing however, that there are lots of people who dread clicking an extra button, I would place an excerpt here:
….Need I add that the word has Arabic roots, and that the Yoruba (Western Nigeria Language) word Talaka, meaning The Poor was derived from this root? The Hausas in Nigeria would define the Talakawa, in contrast with the Al-majiri( Destitute) and the Masu Sarauta (Aristocrats) simply as the Common Man, and it is the fundamental philosophy that change in the society rests on both the neck and shoulders of this people (Talakawa)...who else should we expect it from?
This is disputable, but it is said that the Revolution was provoked when the peasants complained they could not afford bread and the Queen replied: "Let them eat brioche." (brioche is a luxury bread enriched with eggs and butter).
In any case, the revolution began, and cannon bearing women of the Third Estate marched and precipitated the sack of the Monarchy. The King and the Queen were among those whose necks gave way to the guillotine.
I have observed the gross impunity on the part of brats who obtained political position under the aegis of their fathers and I shake my head with both pity and disdain. Apparently, it is not only our offshore-turned-hologram President that has Pedicarditis; there are so many with a worse kind, because, while his own case is a medical condition, these people actually have a mental condition!
When the military felt they could disregard the people, General Ibrahim Babangida (deliberately not adding the RTD thingie) had his own first dose. Massive demonstrations took place and he was compelled to ‘step-aside’; however, not without including a Trojan in the system. The Trojan would activate General Sanni Abacha (deceased) who unleashed a reign of terror. He crushed revolts by all means, yet with each one, another rose. He was going to have his way, anyway, as the Five-fingers-of-a-leprous hand (Late Bola Ige copyright) political parties endorsed him as a consensus candidate. But the the words of Abraham Lincoln rang through: ‘No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent’. Abacha died in office and that was all.
Honestly, I sincerely wish I don’t have to retract the ‘that was all’ because that was not all at all! The Trojan was still active; the death of Abacha was just the removal of a spawn virus.
Three new parties were formed. Actually two.
Late Bola Ige, who had played a prominent role in G34 (the group that sent a letter to Abacha to vacate office through Chief Solomon Lar), together with the others, gave birth to PDP. The Trojan was activated soon as retired Generals with junta-powered-megaloot invaded the Party like locusts.
There was a conflict of ideology. So, Ige left. The next point of call, All Peoples Party(APP) was not better (a good part of the members were those who supported Abacha’s self-succession bid). So, Ige and his colleagues left to form AD.
The decision to pull out of APP affected the choice of party system. Abdulsalami Administration had proposed a two party system. Party registration had closed by the time the South West leaders and their friends from other zones approached the electoral commission for registration. But the Chief of general Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe who had served as governor of old Ondo and Lagos States cautioned against denying AD registration. His contention was that the denial could result into a credibility crisis for the transition programme (Considering the June 12 debacle). By the ‘Doctrine of necessity’, the Electoral Commission invoked a clause whereby if only two parties qualified, the party which finished third would also be allowed through.
The bug produced Obasanjo, who was vehemently opposed by the Nigerian Students and a good part of the South-West, but the Yorubas, out of the desire not to rock the boat, resigned to the omo-wa-ni-e-je-o-se (He’s our son, let him do it) syndrome.
Obasanjo (PDP) won Olu Falae, the AD-APP candidate, by 62.78% to 37.22%. By 2007, the Trojan had morphed PDP into a win-by-all-means behemoth. In grossly flawed elections which spawned several overturns and re-overturns, Buhari, a retired General and former head of state, and the ‘worthiest opponent’ only garnered a fourth (6,605,299) of Umar YarAdua’s total recorded votes (24,638,063) in spite of concerns over the latter’s health. It became obvious that the PDP Presidential Primaries is the actual (s)election, even if a rabbit becomes the candidate.
So honestly, I would not blame Madam (Prof. Dora Akunyili’s copyright) for holding the entire nation to ransom and running a parallel government. I would not blame those soldiers that stood like zombies ‘awaiting orders’ while the genocide in Jos went on before their very eyes but did not hesitate to cut-off power supply at the airport to bring in whatever-was-in-the-ambulance-they-called-the-president. I would not blame that legislative brat that ignored the Youths’ voice of reason in spite of the fact that he belongs to their generation. I won’t even blame the soldier who reached for his gun while harassing Audu Maikori, the learned poet and young CEO of the Chocolate City record label on March 16th, 2010, the day the Nigerian Youths found their voice and organized a peaceful rally in Abuja.
I will blame you if by 2011; you do not step out to vote against tyranny, I will blame you if you do not strive to ensure you are neither physically nor mentally disenfranchised.
The 300 Spartan warriors were no match for King Xerxes, as a matter of fact; they were crushed by his Persian army. But then, it was a pyrrhic victory.