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Osinbajo’s vision and the climate of fear - Reuben Abati

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“Where have you been?”
“I have been around”
“I was just wondering why you have not said anything since the Acting President proclaimed that those of you who are asking for the restructuring of Nigeria are a bunch of government appointment seekers.”

“So?”
“Yes, so?”
“Well, if you must know, I actually think that the Acting President is right.”
“Chei. I don’t believe you. Ekwetaghi m gi!”
“He is the Acting President. He should know what he is talking about. He has access to security reports. The intelligence agencies would have monitored all the persons asking for restructuring and they would have been able to decipher the truth.”


“Which security agencies? Are you talking about the same intelligence agencies that have not been able to stop kidnapping, Boko Haram and other crimes in the country? I beg, if you don’t have anything serious to discuss, let’s discuss pepper-soup and jollof rice.”
“I am tempted to believe the Acting President”

“Really? So who amongst the pro-restructuring persons is looking for a government job? What appointment is Papa Ayo Adebanjo looking for?”
“Dey there”
“Or Generals Yakubu Gowon and Ibrahim Babangida?”
“I say dey there”
“Olu Falae, Chief E.K. Clark, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Ike Nwachukwu, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Baba Bisi Akande”
“You don’t know this country.”

“How?”
“See, I am telling you the Acting President knows what he is talking about. Look at it this way, if tomorrow the Federal Government decides to address the issue of restructuring, it would have to set up another forum for dialogue, a national conference, it is these same people who are asking for restructuring that will be appointed to that conference. Is that not a job? Is that not an appointment? Most of these people asking for restructuring are old people. They want another opportunity to be relevant, so they can collect sitting allowances from government.”

“You are oversimplifying a serious national matter. Many of the elderly people asking for restructuring have nothing to gain from it.”
“Dey there. What have we not seen in this country, in this same country where dead people were once announced as government appointees until someone pointed out that the appointees had died a few years ago?”

“I don’t believe that.”
“I hope you know that the Acting President is a Pastor. Pastors see visions. I believe he may have seen the vision that all this talk about restructuring is just an opportunity to make money. If the old men clamouring for restructuring do not get appointments, they will recommend their sons and daughters, and pretend that they want to save Nigeria. That may be Pastor Osinbajo’s vision.”

“God Almighty. Let me ask you, does a man like Professor Ben Nwabueze look like a man who still wants a government appointment?”
“Let me ask you, does Nnamdi Kanu look like a man who will jump at government patronage?”
“I asked you a direct question”
“And I answered you.”
“What of Atiku? He has been Vice President. He can’t possibly be looking for government appointment.”

“What if I tell you he is in fact looking for government appointment?”
“And what if I accuse you of blackmail?”
“My answer is that you’d be surprised, otherwise why do old men struggle for offices and even threaten to remain relevant by force? You see, the man of God knows what he knows. Even the secessionists are looking for appointment. They are even already sharing appointments. Were you not in town when they named the Cabinet of a Republic of the imagination.”
“Biafra exists. It lives. It is not a Republic of the imagination.”

“I see you are also looking for an appointment too. If they offer you one, you’d jump at it. If they invite you to Aso Rock to come and discuss certain matters, you’d wear your bottom box and pose for photo like those Niger Delta elders did last week.”

“Osinbajo doesn’t know what he is talking about. He should read history books. Restructuring is not about appointment. Only politicians talk about power and positions. Restructuring Nigeria is about justice, equity and national progress. In 2014, we had a national conference, but some people said the appointees were chosen in darkness. Were they ghosts? Did they not collect sitting and accommodation allowances? Were they not Nigerians? But they said it was job for the boys, instead of addressing the issues."

“So, you want this government to create another job for the boys?”
“I don’t want this government to sweep important matters under the carpet. There are unresolved issues already well identified by the 2005 and 2014 National Conferences. Those issues must be addressed.”

“Ha. Nigeria! Only God knows the number of persons who have submitted CVs and proposals to the Federal Government over this restructuring matter. All kinds of experts seeking to profit from Nigeria’s agony, for whom every national matter is an opportunity for private profit. Osinbajo would know. He knows.”
“I see you are determined to trivialize this subject. May be we should return to it some other day when the Acting President sees another vision.”

“The man prays and fasts a lot. I am tempted to believe him.”
“He fasts and prays. I understand then. He may have spoken out of hunger and anger. When you fast, hunger sets in, and when you are hungry, you are angry and you see visions. That is how it works! That explains for sure, why he would dismiss his grandfather-in-law who described Nigeria as a mere geographical expression. Power is such an aphrodisiac. If Papa Awo were alive, the Awo I know would have asked his granddaughter to leave the Acting President’s house right-away.”

“Forget matter. The grand-daughter will not go anywhere. She will tell Papa Awo not to politicize her home. She will stand by her husband. Na so e easy to get better husband?”
“Are you drunk? Awo will say something, Osinbajo will say another thing and you will say you stand with Osinbajo?”

“Yes. Awo was never Vice president of Nigeria. He didn’t act as President. What Osinbajo knows, Awo did not know it. Osinbajo is acting President of Nigeria, not acting President of a mere geographical expression. Nigeria is a legal entity. Osinbajo is speaking as a lawyer.”
“And Awo?”
“Awo was a politician. He was a lawyer too. But he didn’t run Nigeria.”
“I see you will defend anything. This your Osinbajo that you says sees visions, he didn’t see the vision that two of the persons he appointed to the ICPC board had been indicted by the same ICPC? How did that escape him?”

“He is not God. Only God is all-knowing.”
“Power is dangerous. I can see that. It imbues you with the power to have an explanation for everything. I pity your likes because when Nigeria implodes, it will fall on your head.”
“Nothing is going to implode. The government will give the people what they need and matter will settle”.

“The same way they have settled the Boko Haram matter”
“The Acting President has asked all service chiefs to relocate to Maiduguri and produce Ibrahim Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, dead or alive, within 40 days.”
“And I guess the Acting President is also fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, to make that happen. I hope he knows Shekau is a cat with nine lives.”

“He won’t have the tenth life in Jesus mighty name. He will be captured.”
“I know. The same way government captured his flag and Koran. I hope they will capture his wives too. I hope you know some parents are now donating their daughters to Boko Haram.”
“Why would any parent do that?”

“Clear evidence that Boko Haram is becoming a kind of revolution. Scary. But what I don’t understand is why Boko Haram has suddenly grown new teeth now that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is in charge. Is there something else, religious and ethnic and political to this whole thing?”

“You are a useless cynic. You always find a way of turning things upside down. People like you are the problem.”
“Me?”
“Yes, you”
“I am a man of peace. Afterall, I am not one of those persons protesting that President Buhari must resign having stayed away from office for 91 days at a stretch, contrary to public service rules.”

“This democracy sef. What impudence!”
“The people involved are Charly Boy, Deji Adeyanju and the #OurMumudonDo movement. They say 90 days is more than enough for any medical vacation.”
“There is no such express provision in the Nigerian Constitution. Those who protest do so in vain. The Constitution is supreme. If the President likes, he can choose to remain in medical exile till 2019, and for your information there are people who are already campaigning for President Buhari’s second term. They say he will even win the 2019 election in absentia, if necessary.”

“Toh”
“In any case, the Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed has made it clear that there is no substitute for President Buhari in Aso Villa and he doesn’t’ see the hoopla. That is our position.”

“Toh. I don’t see any hoopla either but Nigerians see it. They know that there is something worse than hoopla going on in this country.”
“What can be worse than hoopla?”
“Tragedy all around. Uncertainty. Widespread anxiety and poverty; and a tomorrow flying on the wings of fear.”

“I see a bright future instead”
“I don’t. I see a cloud of danger, particularly with what happened at St Phillip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu. The Pope must be seriously worried about the situation of the Catholic Church in Nigeria. What kind of people are we?”
“The Almighty God himself must be worried.”
“I am worried too. You go to church only to get caught in a war between drug lords; eleven people died, my brother, inside church!”

“The love of money is destroying our lives. Not even holy places are spared.”
“Sad”
“Sad”
“We agree on this one”
“We do. If we must do any restructuring, we must start with the church and the people’s minds.”
“What is bad is bad. Look at what happened in Ikorodu last Saturday. Members of the Badoo cult went to a Cherubim and Seraphim church, joined the church’s night vigil, and killed a woman. Her head was smashed with a stone.”
“Jesus of Nazareth!”

“When human life no longer means nothing in any country, that country is in trouble.”
“I don’t like violence in any shape. I fear for Nigeria, with all the hate speech and the violence. There is even an anti-Igbo song in the North calling for genocide against Igbos. I am afraid, but I fear more for Kenya even now as that country goes to the polls today.”
“I know. The general election in Kenya looks like a do-or-die affair.”

“It is ethnic warfare and a battle of the dynasties. I hear people are already fleeing. There is even greater anxiety in the neighbouring countries especially Uganda. Uganda started stockpiling fuel more than a month ago because if violence breaks out in Kenya, Uganda which depends on Kenya for fuel may be stranded.”
“Without meaning to sound racist, I’ll like to say we Africans don’t know how to manage power.”

“It is not an African thing. See what they have in America as President, for example.”
“I dare say Africa is peculiar. Look at Rwanda. Paul Kagame has rigged himself into power for a third term in office. I just hope he doesn’t end up like Robert Mugabe who at 93 insists on running for election again in 2018.”
“That man must be over 100 years.”

“One of these days, one African country will elect a corpse as President, and some people will manage the country on his behalf.”
“I just hope the general elections in Kenya today will be peaceful. The threat of violence has never been this high, much higher than was the case in 2007. Today in Kenya, all the 47 counties are divided along ethnic lines and with the fear of rigging, anything can happen in that country. ”

“It is not the election itself, but what happens after.”
“You are right. It is always what happens after. As a Nigerian, I should know that. What happens after is not always the best.”

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