If we don’t, and this charade continues unchallenged, we can say good bye to our dear nation and pray that the last set of refugees would remember to switch off our generators when they eventually escape.
Fellow Nigerians, let’s give a standing ovation to Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark who has just celebrated his 85th eventful years on earth. We give thanks to God that at his age Papa is neither tired nor retired. He remains the barometer with which anyone can gauge the mood of the Ijaw nation and the body temperature of our beloved President. That cannot be an easy role to play at this stage and age.
As was to be expected, our leader who never runs from controversy was again at his lyrical best last Thursday in Abuja. He chose the spot of the church service to deliver a political statement which all others but him had shied away from discussing publicly, unless behind closed doors, and possibly under hushed tones. It was as if he needed God to attest to the seriousness of the shots he wanted to fire at those who may wish to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting like they tried, but failed, last year. All thanks to the great Ijaw leader who was on hand at that time to blackmail his fellow jingoists to a standstill on the tendentious issue of zoning.
Now that the grand Papa of my South South zone has spoken again, and confirmed what I predicted, with mathematical precision, on this very page, last week that President Jonathan will contest again, when tomorrow comes, the jury is out and members of the opposition should wait not a day longer to put its house in order. When Chief Edwin Clark speaks, he does so with the authority of the oracle bestowed on him by the power of oil and gas which over-flow from his backyard. Papa is not worried if you call him a territorial leader who would do anything to claim every inch. He has never hidden his avuncular preference for, and protection of, President Goodluck Jonathan and does not care who sheds blood and tears in the process.
I love and admire such men of valour and deep convictions who are never afraid to speak up their minds publicly no matter how reactionary their thoughts might sound to those on the other side of the fence. Such people can’t, don’t and won’t hide behind one finger. They stand on the rooftops and scream for all to listen and hear what they have to say. And when they speak, they talk with the uncommon finality of God the Father and keep straight poker-faces, as in what can you do? They always know the place, occasion and time to drop the bombshell for maximum effect and devastating impact. Say what you will, Chief Edwin Clark is one such rambunctious personality I appreciate his eloquence and sense of humour. He’s a master of the game. Just look at the way he exposed what the President was afraid to tell the people he leads and wants to lead for a very long time to come.
When I met Chief Edwin Clark at the convocation ceremony of University of Benin before our last Presidential election, he was at his hilarious best. And I had a dose of Papa’s rib-cracking comedy, even if at my own expense. As soon as I greeted him, he fired a comic but serious shot at me when he said, “You this boy, have you withdrawn for Jonathan?” And I smiled ruefully, but politely told him, “I can’t withdraw for anybody Sir”, and he laughed and told me to come and see him. I never did but my respect for him remains intact as a formidable leader and elder from my zone. President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan has every reason to be eternally grateful to Chief Clark. Every son needs such a father who would be there for you come rain or sunshine, and ever ready to embolden you to take definite risks no matter the danger involved. It is rare to come by such steadfast people in our clime at this moment when loyalty is in short supply and mostly on terminal break.
However, it must be noted that it is such a sad testimony to the character and personality of our President that his avowed godfather had to come out of the grove to confirm what the whole world had known for certain but which was being stylishly denied as not his priority only two weeks ago. A leader must be bold, strong and resolute at all times and must not falter in the face of daunting challenges. When a leader continues to pretend about what is even obvious to certified dullards, he should know that he’s casting serious aspersions on not just his person, but also his office and reputation. No one would ever trust a man who’s known to be a serial breaker of agreements. On a day he decides to be truthful for once most people are likely to think he’s up to his usual pranks. If this uncanny style had worked magic in the past to get the man to where he is today, I will not hesitate to proclaim that it has become boring, stale and predictable.
It is the President’s legitimate right to seek a second term in office. He can even attempt a third and fourth if he can navigate his way through the labyrinth of cobwebs on the corridors of our National Assembly which our irrepressible former President Matthew Olusegun Okikiolakan Aremu called a den of robbers earlier this week. Who knows, he might actually get away with it and set a new world record in elongated tenure as Nigeria’s President. He does not need to hide his insatiable lust for power and its related pomp and pageantry. I repeat, it is your right, and go for it if you really want. You can’t be scared of what is yours. The solution is even simple and straight-forward; get your foot-soldier to scrap the crap of zoning formula that was enshrined in your party Constitution. I have always maintained that a bully only respects a bully. The Nigerian leader has the power to turn day into night.
That’s why I love the Oracle of Ijaw Nation, Chief Edwin Clark, for his exceptional audacity. He does not beat about the bush like his godson. Age and experience must have taught him that only the strong and daring gets away with political rascality in most parts of the world. You must brave the odds to hit the jackpot. Now that the oracle has spoken, there is nothing more to deny by the President and his Samba band. Many politicians are likely to join the bandwagon since the whistle has been blown and another round of spending spree is about to begin. And who wants to be in the wrong party as they say here?
This is why the emergence of a new opposition platform is urgently required. We can’t always agree in politics but I’m willing to stick to what many call my political naivety and obduracy, two other words for stupidity in Nigeria, when a candidate fails to contest on the platform of the “right political party.” As for me and my house, man shall not live by bread and butter alone. There should be, at least, some foolish people in the polity who would volunteer to give government some close marking and make life uncomfortable for those who have chosen to put us all through untold torture.
The biggest trouble in Nigeria is that not up to one percent of our politicians and public officers are willing to risk or sacrifice their comfort zones. As a matter of fact, most Nigerians are wary of the so-called opposition parties because they can’t visibly see the difference between them and the failed leadership they want to replace. It is a great dilemma for our citizens who have found themselves between the blue and the red sea. It is the main reason electoral figures in Nigeria are always abysmally low in comparison to our bloated population. With all the inflated voters’ registration and over-rigged elections, we have never been able to return 40 million votes in a country of over 160 million people. This stark reality demonstrates in very clear terms that 75 percent of the populace had always tuned off the electoral process. Not even at the best of times when Chief Moshood Abiola won a monumental election did we record any massive voter turn-out that’s commensurate to our huge census figures.
My thesis is that the biggest party in Africa is definitely not the People’s Democratic Party; it is what I love to call The Nigeria’s Floaters’ Party. Any opposition arrangement that would launch a successful onslaught against PDP must factor in the fact that those floaters exist in reality. That is why I hold on to the fervent belief that only a mass movement can change Nigeria from the most corrupt status today to a more decent and truly democratic nation. Replacing one set of thieves with another won’t change anything, and would, in fact, institutionalise indiscipline and ingratiate corruption beyond belief because of the way and manner the new leadership has emerged.
We need to correct the impression that we are overtly powerless, and that we can never attain power without the blessings of political godfathers and warlords. It is always in the character of Mafia dons to demand absolute loyalty from godsons sooner or later. Nigerians are paying dearly for this unholy godfatherisation of Nigerian politics. The time has come for most Nigerians to show more than casual interests in who governs them and go for the best and brightest. The re-awakening we saw during the fuel subsidy crisis would, hopefully, be sustained.
If we don’t, and this charade continues unchallenged, we can say good bye to our dear nation and pray that the last set of refugees would remember to switch off our generators when they eventually escape. This doomsday scenario can be averted if the PDP does not force itself back to power when it becomes obvious they’ve been trounced at the polls. It doesn’t add up that a political party which has been in power for so long without recording meaningful achievements at most levels would continue to win all elections. Someone should please tell us if the voters are thanking them for plunging the nation into permanent chaos. I sincerely doubt if we are that stupid.
Finally, while I do not expect the new opposition to be peopled by Saints but we hope it would be populated by reasonable and considerate human beings.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.