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Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Royal Baby And The Rest Of Us – Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, many of our citizens missed some of the great lessons to be learnt from the circumstances surrounding the birth of Prince George in London earlier this week. While the whole world was agog with the news, ours was the typical, and so what, fashion. A friend was so infuriated about the reticent Nigerian attitude that an argument soon ensued between us. Let me quickly warn that this guy is practically a white man in Black skin. We have had this running battle for years and all efforts to change his theory that ours is an accursed race have failed.

He returned to his old familiar terrain this week as the news of the Royal birth hit the airwaves like thunderbolt. He had forewarned me early last week, that the Black people lacked passion for such things, as we drove past the Paddington station and saw the way the world media had camped outside the proposed birthplace, some for over two weeks, like they were awaiting the second coming of Christ. My friend had pointed in their direction, and asked me rhetorically: “Please tell me, how many Blacks can you see among those reporters?” I deliberately kept mute so as not to ignite a debate I knew will not end as easily as it started.

“I’ve told you repeatedly that the Blackman can never comprehend how to turn the simple things of life into objects of substance,” he quipped. I knew he was in the mood to propound and possibly expand his usual notion and philosophy of the superiority of one race over another and I wasn’t prepared for his always volatile lecture. But he refused to give up as he fired more salvos from his throat with every ounce of energy in him. “The Black race can’t appreciate good things!” he concluded. At this stage, I could no longer take his tirades. “Our problems are different from that of the Whites,” I said in a Professorial voice. He did not let me finish before he pounced on me again, like a wounded lion:

“What do you mean? All of mankind went through similar problems at different stages of their evolution but they didn’t lament forever without doing something about their terrible condition. See all those journalists working under this heat-wave to await the birth of a child, they are not stupid. The hype around this child is creating employment and job opportunities but you blind people cannot see it. Go and check how much the monarchy is attracting to Great Britain every year. This feverish hype is what keeps it alive. Just imagine all those Americans and how many copies their papers would sell and the viewership on television. They are even paying money to anyone who can describe or get pictures of the Lindo wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. They are cleverly clinging to all information available while you guys continue to wallow in your perpetual ignorance…” I stopped him there.

“Would you believe if I tell you I had all my children in that very St. Mary’s Hospital and in the same Lindo’s wing even as a refugee on the run from the military government in Nigeria?” I said matter-of-factly. My friend got even angrier. “Don’t tell me you didn’t take the pictures?” he asked as if my life would ever depend on it. I told him I didn’t. He then lectured me on a subject that is not very popular in Nigeria – History. “That is serious history you have wasted. Just imagine how many news channels would be happy to get those historic pictures from you now. If you were White, you would have taken pictures of the whole place inside out. Now you have to wait for your next life if ever you’re fortunate to go near the place.” He was beginning to sound like an outsider weeping louder than the bereaved. He was furious throughout the rest of our journey home but I wasn’t bothered a bit. When he had calmed down, I narrated the ordeal that made it impossible for me to record my experience for posterity.

We were deeply in the heat of the June 12 crisis when my first child was born. I could not travel at the time. The second was born while we were in exile and on the night I was busy producing the third issue of Ovation and we almost had the baby in a car. At the hospital, I had to stay with the first who was not yet two at the time. By the time we had the third, I had two kids to look after at the hospital. The last baby was particularly difficult as my wife was in labour for over 24 hours and the doctor even told us to prepare for the caesarean section until a Ghanaian midwife appeared miraculously and started speaking in tongues and the baby was delivered. How would I have thought of a camera in the middle of all manner of challenges? The story of my life is a stuff of fiction which must be told in several books for those who think life has been rosy. Even my friend didn’t know this side of me. But he still felt my journalistic instinct should have been sharper despite the odds.

At any rate, I really couldn’t understand what he was fussing about. Nigerians would never pay a kobo extra on those pictures if ever published. Celebrities are still too few and far between in Africa. You can count the authentic ones on your fingertips. We’ve had to create and manage a new class of newsmakers. Unfortunately, most of the so-called high-fliers are usually and almost all those in government circles and power blocks plus their cronies and associates. Most of them are purportedly hated with passion by the ordinary man on the streets who sees every successful man as the source of his misery. The youths who have become substantially frustrated and disillusioned cannot even differentiate or discriminate between the thieving class and members of the privilegentsia. They portray or pretend to resent and begrudge lives of opulence and ostentation while indeed most are searching for their own opportunity to join that elite class they attack with such religious fervour. I was soliloquising…

I knew the discussion won’t end there. The birth of Prince George was bound to take us back, and it did. My friend had promised to return to Twitter, after a long absence, when the baby is born. I had also promised to partake in the celebration of the new-born in the traditional giddiness of Europeans. I returned to Africa while he remained in London. Of course, my friend alerted me as soon as the news broke. He tweeted as he had promised and I followed soon. My friend would later call fuming and vibrating on the phone.

“What did I tell you about the Black people? he started. I asked what the matter was this time. “Haven’t you seen some guys on Twitter saying you were showing off by stating that your children were born in the same St. Mary’s Paddington? When did Nigeria become a country where a writer can’t recount his personal experience as example to others?” he retorted. My response was simple “My job as a journalist is to report reality and chronicle events from my individualknowledge. I’m sure they thought I was showing off some wealth and affluence not knowing I was a common refugee from Nigeria at the time. My family was at the lowest ebb in the name of fighting for democracy and the British Government was graceful enough as to treating us like her own citizens. No African nation would have welcomed us with such warmth and provision.” And the lesson I wanted to draw from it was lost in the cacophony of those who wait to pounce on such opportunities.

In our days at Concord newspapers, Travelogue was one of my favourite columns. I relished the adventures of Michael Awoyinfa and Nnamdi Obasi as they transported us to places we never visited. We prayed to God to give us such dream possibilities in life. Till this day, I savour the exciting reports of CNN’s Richard Quest from one world capital to the other, aboard new jumbo jets, and so on. But in Nigeria of today, you may be accused of blabbing and grandstanding.

I told my friend we must remain trendsetters for others and especially for those willing to lift up themselves from the doldrums of poverty and oppression. We were much poorer in our time and knew the solution was in acting positively than blaming others for our woes. We marched in protest over smaller problems than what we face today. But the times have changed. We can now hide behind our cellular phones and all manner of gadgets to attack real and imaginary enemies. We must learn to tolerate them except where they are downright rude and vulgar. It is normal for people to vent their anger on those they can see. Our leaders are too isolated to be hit directly. They hardly read anything not to talk of going on social media. They live on another planet obviously.

Unfortunately, my friend and I are not on the same page over this matter. He reminded me of the psychology of the African he told me about many years back. It was one of those tantrums I had tried to obliterate from my memory. He had narrated the story of a Shakespearean tragedy staged before a White and a Black audience separately. He said there were scenes in which some members of the White audience actually wept. Now wait for this, when the same scenes were shown to our Black audience, most people actually laughed. The import of this is that the Blackman has the proclivity to treat important matters as a joke.

The gentleman was trying to corroborate and justify the racist comments of a controversial but prolific English author, George Alfred Henty (8 December 1832 – 16 November 1902) whose perception of the Black race was as dastardly as that of his fellow author, Joseph Conrad (3 December – 3 August 1924; originally Polish, JozefTeodorKonradKorzeniowski, but granted British nationality in 1886). Both authors had written at a period of immense prejudice against those they called the Negroes. I think of the two Henty’s book, By sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War was more caustic and acerbic than Conrad’s Heart of Darkness but both explored the theme of civilisation and enlightenment versus savagery and backwardness.

Now read what Henty had to say about us: “They (negroes) are like children… They are always either laughing or quarrelling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond…” My narrator believes not much has changed since then; that in fact Africa remains the heart of darkness; that the leaders and their followers continue to live in fools’ paradise while pretending to be insulated from the rest of the world.

My friend wished Nigerians in particular would see that what makes the British society what it is that their leaders try to give human face to governance: that a Prince would be delivered in Paddington, not a particularly posh neighbourhood; that the leaders owe it a duty to tell the people as much detail as possible on even their private lives; that the Queen walks on the streets with cheering crowds around her; that a Prince William found it necessary to compensate the expectant journalists and face a barrage of cameras; that he drove his wife and new baby to Kensington palace, and so on, are important instructions to a modern society.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Thoughts

 

Nigeria: A Nation Of Perverts And Paedophiles – Femi Fani-Kayode

The Nigerian Senate includes some of the brightest minds in our country many of whom are friends of mine and most of whom have been in active politics for many years. They have my respect. However what transpired in the Senate chamber a few days ago was a great cause for concern for not just me but millions of Nigerians from all over the world. How an innocent and seemingly uninteresting, uninspiring and unimportant debate about when and at what age a Nigerian citizen could legitimately and lawfully renounce his or her citizenship turned into a referendum on paedophilia and child marriage I don’t know. Yet sadly that is precisely what happened and ever since then the nation has been on fire.

Senator (ex-Governor) Ahmed Sani, the Yerima Bakura and the Apostle of political sharia in Nigeria finally got his way and the futile attempt by a small number of good, noble and honourable Senators to amend the existing law on marriage and properly define the age of a female that is eligible to marry was thwarted by the pro-paedophilia, pro-child rape and pro-child marriage group within the Senate. Sadly our distinguished Senators eventually bowed to the will of Yerima and his friends and agreed to remain silent about the age that young girls can get married in Nigeria. What this means is that girls that are as young as 9 years old can continue to be lawfully bedded and married in our country providing they are deemed as being ”physically developed enough” to do so by their suitors, their prospective husbands and their parents. That is the law and that is the sordid level that we as a people and as a nation have degenerated to over the years.

I weep for Nigeria and, perhaps more appropriately, I weep for the Nigerian girl child. I weep because it is obvious to me that the Yerima’s of this world wish to turn our country into a giant Bangkok to which millions of sexual deviants flock from all over the world to ”enjoy” our ”tourist attractions” and ”have a taste” of our young and beloved children. Worst still they wish to use religion to defend and justify it. Yet we have no choice but to live with this new reality and to accept it as it is. After all, our representatives in the sacred halls of the Senate were not sensitive enough or ”man enough” to shoot down the whole thing, to stand firmly against the unholy agenda and to say boldly and firmly that ”come what may” our children must be protected from sexual deviants and reprobates.

And since the Senate, in its infinate wisdom, has now bought into and openly endorsed the “Paedophile Charter” which essentially makes it lawful and constitutional for very young girls to get married and to made love at a very young age it is my firm view that we have now become a nation of perverts and paedophiles. The Senate had a chance to clear the air and amend the law but, out of nothing but sentiment and an inexplicable eagerness to compromise with that which is clearly evil, they threw that chance away and sacrificed our most sacred values to Yerima and his gang. Worst still they did it with a smile on their faces. Every Nigerian should bow his or her head in shame because instead of crushing the head of the lustful beast that seeks to fornicate with our children, to steal their virtues and to destroy their future what the Senate did the other day was to compromise with and cater for the filthy appetites and godless fantasies of a bunch of child molestors and sexual predators. It is sordid. It is ungodly. It is evil. And it is unforgivable.

Surely we ought to be seeking to protect our children and not seeking to bed them. Yet it appears that not everyone shares our outrage and collective sense of shame. One Uche Ezechukwu made the following contribution which went viral on the social media networks and which I think speaks volumes. He wrote-

“Those who are railing against ‘paedophile’ senators, like Yerima Bakura, must be told that a muslim can’t go wrong while imitating the examples of the Apostle of Allah himself and the founder of his religion, in the same way a christian cannot be criticized for following the examples of Jesus Christ. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) married Aisha at the age of six and consummated the marriage when she was nine. So, why are we judging Muslims by our own standards?”

I am appalled by these words. The truth is that I have never heard such a self-serving and specious argument in defence of the philosophies and beliefs of the Ayatollah of Bakura, Senator Ahmed Sani, the practising paedophile who married and bedded a 12-year-old Egyptian girl, as this one. Ahmed Sani himself could not have argued it better. Yet I think that it is an utter shame. And this is more so because the individual that is putting the argument is supposedly a Christian. The Old Testament of the Holy Bible prescribes ”stoning” for adultery but that does not mean that Christian countries, or indeed secular states like Nigeria, should stone adulterers.

Neither does it mean that we should preserve the institution of slavery or crucify petty thieves simply because the Holy Bible endorsed both practices in the Old Testament. We must accept the fact that the interpretation of biblical and koranic provisions are evolutionary and are ever changing. Jesus Himself said ”laws are made for man and not man for laws”. The suggestion that paedophilia has any place in any modern and decent society simply because it was once practised in the distant past is not only a despicable argument but it also does not make any sense. After all cannibalism and child and human sacrifice were once widely practised and were held as being perfectly acceptable throughout the world as well but that does not mean that we should practice any of those terrible vices today.

The young man, Uche Ezechukwu, who appears to be defending child rape in the name of Islam, should either let someone lay with and ”marry” his own 6 or 9 year old daughter or he should seal his lips forever and stop trying to defend the indefensible. His assertions, and I daresay those of Senator Ahmed Sani and anyone that shares their primitive views, are not only utterly immoral and reprehensible but they are also intellectually dishonest. I say this because the truth is that there is NO Muslim country in the world that has adopted the “paedophile charter” where 6 or 9 year olds can marry and be bedded except for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen.

Every other Muslim country in the world, including Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt, Jordan, Senegal, the Sudan, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Qatar, Bahrain, Dagestan, Albania, Bosnia, Somalia, Algeria, Libya, Mali, Azerbejhan,Niger, Turkestan, Chechnya and Syria have specifically banned child marriage, paedophilia and child rape in their various constitutions and laws and some have declared it ”repugnant”, ”unacceptable” and ”unIslamic”. Are these people not Muslims too? As a matte if fact are they not better Muslims than those that insist on sleeping with or marrying underage girls in the name of Islam?

Like Christianity and Judaism, Islam is a noble, pure, honourable and ancient faith that seeks to protect the weakest and most vulnerable in society, including children. No-one should use the misinterpretation of its provisions to try to justify or rationalize what is essentially depraved, shameful, disgusting and barbaric behaviour and the most sordid and filthy expression of sexual deviance and perversion. Even animals do not marry or bed their own infants. The bitter truth is that paedophiles have no place in any civilised society.

I am constrained to say that in the light of their “yes” vote to child marriage and their green light to paedophilia, every single member of the Nigerian Senate that voted with Yerima on that day and that supported his filthy agenda should bow their heads in utter shame and they should be compelled to offer their own infant and under age daughters to strangers for marriage. I repeat, they have turned us into a nation of perverts and paedophiles and I say a pox on all their houses. I reserve my commendations and respect only for those Senators that opposed and voted against Yerima’s protestations and agenda and that stood for that which was right even though they could not muster enough votes to have their way. My word to this brave and righteous few is simple and clear- keep the struggle alive and continue to resist the evil that resides amongst us all. You are the only thing that stands between our children and the practising paedophiles in our midst who seek to ravage and bed them even before they have entered their teens.

Source: http://www.olokunbolablessing.blogspot.com

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Opinion

 

DOUBLE STANDARD

The on-going public outcry against legalisation of Child Marriage in Nigeria clearly portrays the hypocrisy of the West. United States, United Kingdom and other Western countries were quick to condemn and threaten Nigeria with sanctions when Nigeria Senate enacted a law banning gay marriage.

It is quite strange that same Western nations see nothing wrong in allowing girl child to be ‘forcefully’ carted off for marriage when she is supposed to be in school. Double standard, hypocrisy, neo-colonialism, etc. are what best described such attitudes.

One week after the said shameful ‘crime’ against the Girl Child was committed, not a single of them has condemned the act.

Western media that expressly expressed the view of Western powers and their threats to sanction Nigeria on banning of gay marriage also seem to have lost their voices. Keeping mum when atrocities are committed is in itself a crime.

Every normal human being should say ‘NO’ to ‘Child Marriage’

‘NO’ to randy and paedophile dishonourable parliamentarians, who do nothing but collect fat salaries and allowances for nothing; who prioritize the mundane instead of the betterment of our country.

Enough is Enough!

@Femiolas

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Opinion

 

“The Crimes of Buhari” – By Prof. Wole Soyinka

The grounds on which General Buhari is being promoted as the alternative choice are not only shaky, but pitifully naive. History matters. Records are not kept simply to assist the weakness of memory, but to operate as guides to the future. Of course, we know that human beings change. What the claims of personality change or transformation impose on us is a rigorous inspection of the evidence, not wishful speculation or behind-the- scenes assurances. Public offence, crimes against a polity, must be answered in the public space, not in caucuses of bargaining.

In Buhari, we have been offered no evidence of the sheerest prospect of change. On the contrary, all evident suggests that this is one individual who remains convinced that this is one ex-ruler that the nation cannot call to order Buhari? Need one remind anyone – was one of the generals who treated a Commission of Enquiry, the Oputa Panel, with unconcealed disdain. Like Babangida and Abdusalami, he refused to put in appearance even though complaints that were tabled against him involved a career of gross abuses of power and blatant assault on the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizenry.

Prominent against these charges was an act that amounted to nothing less than judicial murder, the execution of a citizen under a retroactive decree. Does Decree 20 ring a bell? If not, then, perhaps the names of three youths – Lawal Ojuolape (30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29) and Bartholomew Owoh (26) do. To put it quite plainly, one of those three Ogedengbe – was executed for a crime that did not carry a capital forfeit at the time it was committed. This was an unconscionable crime, carried out in defiance of the pleas and protests of nearly every sector of the Nigerian and international community religious, civil rights, political, trade unions etc.

Buhari and his sidekick and his partner-in-crime, Tunde Idiagbon persisted in this inhuman act for one reason and one reason only: to place Nigerians on notice that they were now under an iron, inflexible rule, under governance by fear. The execution of that youthful innocent for so he was, since the punishment did not exist at the time of commission – was nothing short of premeditated murder, for which the perpetrators should normally stand trial upon their loss of immunity. Are we truly expected to forget this violation of our entitlement to security as provided under existing laws? And even if our sensibilities have become blunted by succeeding seasons of cruelty and brutality, if power itself had so coarsened the sensibilities also of rulers and corrupted their judgment, what should one rightly expect after they have been rescued from the snare of power. At the very least, a revaluation, leading hopefully to remorse, and its expression to a wronged society. At the very least, such a revaluation should engender reticence, silence. In the case of Buhari, it was the opposite. Since leaving office he has declared in the most categorical terms that he had no regrets over this murder and would do so again. Human life is inviolate.

The right to life is the uniquely fundamental right on which all other rights are based. The crime that General Buhari committed against the entire nation went further however, inconceivable as it might first appear. That crime is one of the most profound negations of civic being. Not content with hammering down the freedom of expression in general terms, Buhari specifically forbade all public discussion of a return to civilian, democratic rule. Let us constantly applaud our media those battle scarred professionals did not completely knuckle down.

They resorted to cartoons and oblique, elliptical references to sustain the people’s campaign for a time-table to democratic rule. Overt agitation for a democratic time table however remained rigorously suppressed military dictatorship, and a specifically incorporated in Buhari and Idiagbon was here to stay. To deprive a people of volition in their own political direction is to turn a nation into a colony of slaves.

Buhari enslaved the nation. He gloated and gloried in a master-slave relation to the millions of its inhabitants. It is astonishing to find that the same former slaves, now free of their chains, should clamour to be ruled by one who not only turned their nation into a slave plantation, but forbade them any discussion of their condition. So Tai Solarin is already forgotten? Tai who stood at street corners, fearlessly distributing leaflets that took up the gauntlet where the media had dropped it. Tai who was incarcerated by that regime and denied even the medication for his asthmatic condition? Tai did not ask to be sent for treatment overseas; all he asked was his traditional medicine that had proved so effective after years of struggle with asthma! Nor must we omit the manner of Buhari coming to power and the pattern of his corrective rule. Shagari’s NPN had already run out of steam and was near universally detested except of course by the handful that still benefited from that regime of profligacy and rabid fascism. Responsibility for the national condition lay squarely at the door of the ruling party, obviously, but against whom was Buharis coup staged? Judging by the conduct of that regime, it was not against Shagaris government but against the opposition. The head of government, on whom primary responsibility lay, was Shehu Shagari. Yet that individual was kept in cozy house detention in Ikoyi while his powerless deputy, Alex Ekwueme, was locked up in Kiri-kiri prisons. Such was the Buhari notion of equitable apportionment of guilt and/or responsibility.

And then the cascade of escapes of the wanted, and culpable politicians. Manhunts across the length and breadth of the nation, roadblocks everywhere and borders tight as steel zip locks. Lo and behold, the chairman of the party, Chief Akinloye, strolled out coolly across the border. Richard Akinjide, Legal Protector of the ruling party, slipped out with equal ease. The Rice Minister, Umaru Dikko, who declared that Nigerians were yet to eat f’rom dustbins – escaped through the same airtight dragnet. The clumsy attempt to crate him home was punishment for his ingratitude, since he went berserk when, after waiting in vain, he concluded that the coup had not been staged, after all, for the immediate consolidation of the party of extreme right-wing vultures, but for the military hyenas.

The case of the overbearing Secretary-General of the party, Uba Ahmed, was even more noxious. Uba Ahmed was out of the country at the time. Despite the closure of the Nigerian airspace, he compelled the pilot of his plane to demand special landing permission, since his passenger load included the almighty Uba Ahmed. Of course, he had not known of the change in his status since he was airborne. The delighted airport commandant, realizing that he had a much valued fish swimming willingly into a waiting net, approved the request. Uba Ahmed disembarked into the arms of a military guard and was promptly clamped in detention.

Incredibly, he vanished a few days after and reappeared in safety overseas. Those whose memories have become calcified should explore the media coverage of that saga. Buhari was asked to explain the vanished act of this much prized quarry and his response was one of the most arrogant levity. Coming from one who had shot his way into power on the slogan of discipline, it was nothing short of impudent. Shall we revisit the tragicomic series of trials that landed several politicians several lifetimes in prison?

Recall, if you please, the judicial processes undergone by the septuagenarian Chief Adekunle Ajasin. He was arraigned and tried before Buhari’s punitive tribunal but acquitted. Dissatisfied, Buhari ordered his re-trial. Again, the Tribunal could not find this man guilty of a single crime, so once again he was returned for trial, only to be acquitted of all charges of corruption or abuse of office. Was Chief Ajasin thereby released? No! He was ordered detained indefinitely, simply for the crime of winning an election and refusing to knuckle under Shagari’s reign of terror. The conduct of the Buhari regime after his coup was not merely one of double, triple, multiple standards but a cynical travesty of justice. Audu Ogbeh, currently chairman of the Action Congress was one of the few figures of rectitude within the NPN. Just as he has done in recent times with the PDP, he played the role of an internal critic and reformer, warning, dissenting, and setting an example of probity within his ministry. For that crime he spent months in unjust incarceration.

Guilty by association? Well, if that was the motivating yardstick of the administration of the Buhari justice, then it was most selectively applied.

The utmost severity of the Buhari-Idiagbon justice was especially reserved either for the opposition in general, or for those within the ruling party who had showed the sheerest sense of responsibility and patriotism.

Shall I remind this nation of Buhari’s deliberate humiliating treatment of the Emir of Kano and the Oni of Ife over their visit to the state of Israel? I hold no brief for traditional rulers and their relationship with governments, but insist on regarding them as entitled to all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of any Nigerian citizen. This royal duo went to Israel on their private steam and private business. Simply because the Buhari regime was pursuing some antagonistic foreign policy towards Israel, a policy of which these traditional rulers were not a part, they were subjected on their return to a treatment that could only be described as a head masterly chastisement of errant pupils. Since when, may one ask, did a free citizen of the Nigerian nation require the permission of a head of state to visit a foreign nation that was willing to offer that tourist a visa? One is only too aware that some Nigerians love to point to Buhari’s agenda of discipline as the shining jewel in his scrap-iron crown. To inculcate discipline however, one must lead by example, obeying laws set down as guides to public probity. Example speaks louder than declarations, and rulers cannot exempt themselves from the disciplinary structures imposed on the overall polity, especially on any issue that seeks to establish a policy for public well-being. The story of the thirty something suitcases it would appear that they were even closer to fifty – found unavoidable mention in my recent memoirs, YOU MUST SET FORTH AT DOWN, written long before Buhari became spoken of as a credible candidate. For the exercise of a changeover of the national currency, the Nigerian borders air, sea and land had been shut tight.

Nothing was supposed to move in or out, not even cattle egrets.

Yet a prominent camel was allowed through that needles eye. Not only did Buhari dispatch his aide-de-camp, Jokolo later to become an emir- to facilitate the entry of those cases, he ordered the redeployment as I later discovered – of the Customs Officer who stood firmly against the entry of the contravening baggage. That officer, the incumbent Vice-president is now a rival candidate to Buhari, but has somehow, in the meantime, earned a reputation that totally contradicts his conduct at the time. Wherever the truth lies, it does not redound to the credibility of the dictator of that time, General Buhari whose word was law, but whose allegiances were clearly negotiable.

On the theme of double, triple, multiple standards in the enforcement of the law, and indeed of the decrees passed by the Buhari regime at the time, let us recall the notorious case of Triple Alhaji Alhaji Alhaji, then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. Who was caught, literally, with his pants down in distant Austria. That was not the crime however, and private conduct should always remain restricted to the domain of private censure.

There was no decree against civil servants proving just as hormone driven as anyone else, especially outside the nation’s borders.

However, there was a clear decree against the keeping of foreign accounts, and this was what emerged from the Austrian escapade. Alhaji Alhaji kept, not one, but several undeclared foreign accounts, and he had no business being in possession of the large amount of foreign currency of which he was robbed by his overnight companion. The media screamed for an even application of the law, but Buhari had turned suddenly deaf. By contrast, Fela Anikulapo languished in goal for years, sentenced under that very draconian decree. His crime was being in possession of foreign exchange that he had legitimately received for the immediate upkeep of his band as they set off for an international engagement. A vicious sentence was slapped down on Fela by a judge who later became so remorse stricken at least after Buhari’s overthrow that he went to the King of Afro-beat and apologized.

Lesser known was the traumatic experience of the director of an international communication agency, an affiliate of UNESCO. Akin Fatoyinbo arrived at the airport in complete ignorance of the new currency decree. He was thrown in gaol in especially brutal condition, an experience from which he never fully recovered. It took several months of high-level intervention before that innocent man was eventually freed. These were not exceptional but mere sample cases from among hundreds of others, victims of a decree that was selectively applied, a decree that routinely penalized innocents and ruined the careers and businesses of many.

What else? What does one choose to include or leave out? What precisely was Ebenezer Babatope’s crime that he should have spent the entire tenure of General Buhari in detention?

Nothing beyond the fact that he once warned in the media that Buhari was an ambitious soldier who would bear watching through the lenses of a coup-detat. Babatope’s father died while he was in Buhari’s custody, the dictator remained deaf to every plea that he be at least released to attend his father’s funeral, even under guard. I wrote an article at the time, denouncing this pointless insensitivity. So little to demand by a man who was never accused of, nor tried for any crime,much less found guilty. Such a load of vindictiveness that smothered all traces of basic human compassion deserves no further comment in a nation that values its traditions.

But then, speaking the truth was not what Buhari, as a self-imposed leader, was especially enamoured of enquire of Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor both of whom, faithful to their journalistic calling, published nothing but the truth, yet ended up sentenced under Buhari’s decree. Mind you, no one can say that Buhari was not true to his word. Shall tamper with the freedom of the press swore the dictator immediately on grabbing office, and this was exactly what he did. And so on, and on, and on………

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Politics

 
 
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