Trust them to sneak it in like a Lionel Messi goal. Somehow, somewhere beneath the din of #BringBackOurGirls and the bang of Nyanya II, Ogbeni Usman Bugaje and the usual suspects who love to irritate the rest of us with their insufferable arrogance whenever they assemble under that nebulous umbrella, “northern elders”, announced to the country that Goodluck Jonathan has lost his bearings, has failed in his most solemn responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians. Therefore, power must return to the North in 2015. Underline that “must”. These guys are not interested in your preferences in a democratic contest. They are not campaigning. They are not interested in selling you a superior vision and a higher idea of Nigeria. They are giving orders. And you, apes, must obey.
Where they stand, the power birthright they reluctantly loaned you must now return to its natural habitat in the North. They gave your leprous selves the handshake of Obasanjo’s eight years, you are now asking for the hug of Jonathan’s eight years. These charitable donors of federal power, of the Presidency of all us, don’t find this funny at all. They want their toy back. Trapped in the good old days of the Kaduna mafia, these guys are some thirty years out of tune, out of sync with the Nigeria of today. They are still barking orders informed by caliphal hubris – the same phenomenon I analyzed in my last treatise on Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Consequently, this column has assigned itself the humanitarian duty of jolting these hubristic clowns, of making them smell the bitter reality of 21st century Nigeria.
The first assignment is for Nasir El Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu. They are cosmopolitan and enlightened but it must be that their words carry no weight in the assembly of these irritating caliphal Luddites who insist on doing business with the rest of Nigeria based on the old model of internal colonialism. Were the words of these two sons of the North – and those in their bracket – to carry any weight, surely, we would have witnessed a more humble approach to the politics of national co-existence by those who purport to speak to the nation as “northern elders”? Evidently, there is very little rubbing off of the ideas and predispositions of this younger generation on their elders.
El Rufai and Ribadu must therefore undertake a mission to take the Nigeria of today to elders who insist on barking orders at Nigeria from yesterday, trapped as they are in the old master-servant model of relating with the rest of us. It is clear that the Bugajes of this world do not know what time of the day it is, what day of the month it is. Those who know, like El Rufai and Ribadu, must translate the word, “antipathy”, to Hausa for these men.
It is obvious that they are unaware of – or grossly underestimate – the degree of national antipathy towards them. The surest way to get Goodluck Jonathan re-elected is for anybody to bark orders at Nigerians under the banner of “northern elders”. For me, Goodluck Jonathan is a complete failure, a tragic nightmare that Nigeria will hopefully start to recover from when we send him back to Otuoke in 2015. That decision, however, collectively belongs to the Nigerian people. Goodluck Jonathan is not going to be fired on the say-so of some arrogant and self-serving northern elders. In fact, the unwelcome voice of these so-called northern elders could make folks who are unsympathetic to Jonathan cast protest votes for him.
I have said it before and it bears repeating: those who deployed nearly forty years of visionlessness and unsurpassable greed to bring Nigeria to her current comatose condition should not be talking when we are talking Nigeria. If they must talk, they must come to national conversations with the humility of wet chicks, mindful of the fact that their colossal failure in decades of stranglehold on the centre is the reason why we are an embarrassment to Africa and the black world today. Besides, if all you’ve got to show for your decades of chokehold on power at the centre are Ibrahim Babangida’s hilltop mansion in Minna, Ali Modu Sheriff’s private jets in Maiduguri, and avoidable cases of polio all over the place, it is the height of schizophrenia for you to jump up, beat your chest, and scream that power must return to you. The cheek of it!
There is also a serious issue that Bugaje and his gang of passé co-travelers are not taking seriously into consideration. Somehow, they must be kidding themselves that the theory of Boko Haram being the handiwork of elements in the northern political elite has no purchase across Nigeria. Whether it is valid or not is of no moment. What is significant is the purchase it has. The narrative that you set up this Frankenstein to make Nigeria ungovernable, show Goodluck Jonathan up as hopelessly incapable of securing Nigeria, is a seductive one that people are buying into. And you have not helped matters by coming out at this inauspicious moment to declare him unfit to rule Nigeria on account of insecurity. Even the greatest doubters of that theory and narrative must have received your recent outing like a blow in the face. People are accusing you of being goat thieves and you show up in the village square playing with baby goats!
So, if you push Goodluck Jonathan out in 2015 because you successfully made Nigeria ungovernable, you are just going to move into Aso Rock and resume feeding that villa from the creeks and we all live happily ever after? The militants in the creeks are just going to let that happen? Let me remind you that the enemies you are making today with your irredeemable arrogance have their own ways of making Nigeria ungovernable if and when your own time comes in 2015. Unlike you, they don’t have to bomb their own people to make a political point. Dokubo Asari and Government Tompolo have a more effective way of bringing you to your knees in a mono-revenue national economy. If you are already dreaming of new and renewed oil blocs, if you are already salivating over gas licences, and sundry allocations after 2015, a rude awakening awaits you.
To make matters worse for you, you never thought that the day would come in Nigeria when the master-servant paradigm would be severely undermined and rendered untenable. You focused your greed entirely on that one feeding bottle in the creeks. You impoverished the North and pauperized Nigeria. You come from a region that could supply the whole of Africa and a significant part of the rest of the world with tomato, onions, cattle, etc. This region by now should be boasting of mega-agro and agro-allied industries developed around tomato and onions. There are orange billionaires in Florida. They grow only oranges. There are potato billionaires in Canada. There are lettuce billionaires. In British Columbia where I did my Ph.D, there are salmon billionaires. Where are the North’s tomato billionaires?
Where are the North’s onion billionaires? No, not one. All your billionaires are rent collectors from oil and other offshoots of oil. Instead of thinking hard and critically about these issues, Usman Bugaje is still talking rubbish about how the oil belongs to all of us. Shame on greedy elders who cannot think of their people and for their people.
Here is an advice: if you do get back your Aso Rock in 2015, you better start thinking of how to feed that Villa with the proceeds of tomato and onions. It is doable if only you have vision and you apply yourselves to a mega agro-industrial revolution for the region. There are provinces in Canada that live only on the mega production of lettuce, cabbage, and cucumber. They don’t rely on Ottawa for anything. And the strategic advantage is yours. Oil is finite. Humanity is accelerating toward other sources of energy. A post-oil world is in the horizon and when that posit-oil moment arrives, we shall be able to tell Dokubo Asari and Tompolo: e nor finish? However, there will not be any talk of a post-tomato or post-onion human civilization any time soon.
If you, northern elders, fail to see these things; if your greed and ambition do not go beyond the envisioning of an Aso Rock that you are going to regain in 2015 and feed with the same old feeding bottle from Dokubo Asari’s backyard, Goodluck to you!