President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) shocked most Nigerians when he said those agitating for restructuring and secession were not only naive, but “mischievously dangerous”.
He made the statement through the Executive Secretary, Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Shehu, in Zaria, at the Kudirat Abiola Sabon Gari Peace Foundation.
I was certainly not one of those Nigerians who were shocked. I was not because as a close monitor and commentator on national and international affairs, I didn’t expect anything more from him.
My thesis is simple, not rocket science: a leopard cannot change its spots. Buhari said he did not understand what the restructure proponents want, or what is to be restructured. Buhari erroneously believes that the problem of Nigeria is how to make Local Governments functional and the Judiciary independent.
As important as these are, President Buhari has merely seen the smaller picture, rather than the larger picture, as President of a hemorrhaging country yearning for urgent rescue.
So, for those Nigerians who had heaved a little sight of relief last week on the little tokenism conceded by Buhari, I sympathize with you.
During his democracy day address to Nigerians on 12th June, 2021, Buhari had appeared to understand Nigerians’ pains, agony and genuine yearning for restructuring.
He had said amongst others, that he was not unaware of misgivings causing national discontent in different parts of the country, including allegations of marginalisation and Constitution amendment.
While saying efforts were on to address these “challenges that this period imposes on us”, Buhari had said government was “willing to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the National Assembly in this regard”.
He has believed that with this process, “we can come out stronger”. President Buhari’s summersault in just one week has therefore shocked most Nigerians. Suddenly, in Zaria, he beat the drums of War, in a speech that is as provocative as it is unpresidential and unstatemanly.
He berated those who are “calling for restructuring and conference or what they call ethnic nationality”.
Wrongly believing that Nigerians and the youth who daily agitate for a better Nation, including during the #Endsars peaceful protests are simply separatist secession advocates, who wanted to overthrow his lack lustra government, and describing them as “naive and mischievously dangerous” , because they are “ignorant of war and its consequences”,
Buhari challenged parents to “try and educate their children”. But, Buhari sorely missed the critical issues at stake. He appeared frighteningly ignorant of the dire need for attitudinal change in his strong arm tactics when he declared imperiously like Louis X1V of France, “there is no way we can separate as a country”.
Read this around: Nigerians must stay together, whether things are working or not; agitations or no agitations; disaffection or no disaffection; social justice or no social justice; security or no security.
A leader does not dictate to his people as to what they want. Just like the tail does not wag the dog.
It is the people that tell their leaders their desires. Buhari daily reminds us of the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson: “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.
The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”.
Said John Maxwell: “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others but far enough ahead to motivate them”. Buhari does neither. He is distant to and disconnected from his people. He does not care; does not listen to their cries, woes, pains, pangs, tears, sorrow and blood. He cares not about their genuine yearnings and desires.
Buhari erroneously believes he knows what the 211 million Nigerian populace wants. He is making a grave mistake. No ruler in history has ever perpetually dictated to, or held down his people with sheer jackboot. Musolini woefully failed, just like Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Stalin and Lenin.
Ask the bones of Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pinochet, Gheghis Khan, Pol Pot and Kim Jong. They will tell Buhari how and why they failed miserably to dictate to their citizens forever. Aside self-determination agitating groups (a concept recognised anyway by the UNO, EU, AU, etc), I have not seen nor heard leaders of the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria ask for outright balkanization of Nigeria.
What I hear them say in the South, North, East and West (and which I have also crusaded for over three decades) , is restructuring, total devolution of powers and renegotiation of our suffocating Union ,to enthrone social justice, equity, egalitarianism and mutual religious and inter-ethnic tolerance and respect.
They talk about re-engineering the week fabric of Nigeria to make her stay together as a country.
Buhari must learn from history. Let me give some samples of nations that were once together and have today gone their separate ways. Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro used to be one country.
Today, they are separate and independent. The Republic of Venezuela was reformed in 1999 with a brand new Constitution as Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July, 2011.
In February, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. East Timor or Timor-Liste achieved independence from Indonesia in May, 2002. Palau, with a population of slightly over 21,000 (less than a local government in Nigeria) became independent from Micronesia on October 1, 1994.
In the same 1994, Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia after a Haile Selassie- sustained 30-year bloody civil war. In January, 1991, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved by Parliament into Slovakia and Czech Republic. Quebec held a referendum to break away from Canada in 1995.
The former USSR broke into 15 Republics of Russia, Georgia, Belarusia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Latvia, Tajikistan, Lithuania, Estonia and Kyrgzstan.
Some of these countries like Estonia (1.92m) are less than two million in population; less than the population of the smallest state in Nigeria. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh used to be one country.
Help me remind President Buhari that many countries of the world enthroned a new Constitutional order by enacting brand new Constitutions after referenda of the people. Examples are Egypt (2012), South Africa (1999) , Morocco (2011) , Kenya (2010), Eritrea (1994), Iraq (1979), Iran (1979) , Bangladesh (1991), Tunisia (2014) and USA (1787).
Help me tell President Buhari that he should struggle hard within his remaining two years in office to force himself into the pantheon of great statesmen in history; not better forgotten dictators, absolutists and tyrants. I wish Nigeria well, or what remains of her. Amen.
And this Crack your ribs Week after week henceforth, this column will deliberately include short bites on some sounds and bites.
It would include jokes (to soothe our aching nerves); philosophical platitudes (to redirect our steps); and scriptural quotes (to pave the way to eternity). We commence this week.
“Do we still have time to laff??? Sisi Ibadan don come again this month o!
- Thank God for a brown new month! (Yellow nko?)
- My god is upsome. (L’o ba tan!)
Why are people so weekend? (cos they are Friday na ni)
- Not all dat glitters is goat! (Some are actually rabbits!)
Majority carries the volt (Transformer nko, who wan carry dat one?)
- May your name be highly exhausted. (Eewo!)
- My waste is paining me. (U never see natin!)
- Thank God for spearing my life (He will soon dagger it)
- What is strong with you? (strong ko, weak ni. Olodo!)
- Lord, you are the killer dat holds my knife! (Yeepa!)
- Pls, how much is ur age? (U wan buy?)
- Look to the window, the principal just passed away (sebi na u kill am.)
- Lord let ur wheel be done… (Hin wheelbarrow spoil b4?)”.
“Fight between husband and wife (both are M.A. in English literature).
Instead of shouting, abusing or physical force….
They exchange poems to each other.
Wife: I wrote your name on sand, it got washed… I wrote your name in the air, it was blown away.
Then I wrote your name on my heart and I got heart attack.
Husband: God saw me hungry, He created pizza. He saw me thirsty, He created Pepsi. He saw me in the dark, He created light. He saw me without problems, He created YOU.
Wife: Twinkle, twinkle little star You should know what you are And once you know what you are Mental Hospital is not so far.
Husband: The rains make all things beautiful. The grass and flowers too. If rain makes all things beautiful Why doesn’t it rain on you?
Wife: Roses are red, violets are blue Monkeys like you should be kept in zoo.
Husband: Don’t feel so angry you will find me there too Not in a cage but laughing at you!”.
Thought for the week
“To be a good citizen, it’s important to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see the big picture. If everything you see is rooted in your own identity that becomes difficult or impossible”. (Eli Pariser).
God bless my numerous global readers for always keeping fate with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by humble me, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D. Kindly, come with me to next week’s exciting dissertation
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