Letter to the son of man: Between Yahya Jammeh and President Buhari

by Adeyemi Kolawole Adeojo Hannibal


Dear Son of Man,

Your response, which was succinct and aptly posited, dissects the hearts of men at its vainglorious and peripatetic best. I was effusively excited to read from you. I wonder why we cannot have on earth as it is in heaven, as the level of privations had made more people less concerned if they lived or died. They only trot along in daily routine of dashed expectations and forlorn hopes.

Just few weeks ago, the near fragile air of peace pervading the west coast of Africa was almost shattered when a country, sucked in by Senegal and whose only outlet to the world is the Atlantic Ocean, nearly dispelled the air of peace with a sit-tight, self-proclaimed leader biting more than he can chew. That vicious air of volatility was almost invited upon the hitherto, relatively peaceful region by Yahya Jammeh, who seized power as a gun-wielding , dare-devil, young officer in 1994, albeit, in a bloodless coup that usurped Dawda Jawara. In the usual characteristics of African leaders who came into power through the blazing nozzles of guns, he laundered himself into socially acceptable nominal of presidency in a shambolic election in 1996, while still riding on the crest waves of his perceived popularity. Subsequent elections in 2001, 2006 and 2011 were easily dispatched with, in a rigmarole that local and international observers described as neither free nor fair. His over-bloated sense of self-made him declare for the December 2016 presidential election, which saw Adama Barrow, the leader of the oppositions’ coalition party, defeating him.

His initial acceptance of defeat at the polls was met with applause just as his later repudiation was equally met with knocks from the international community. His recalcitrance at yielding power to the legitimate winner at the polls was a shaky stone-tripod which the boiling pot called West Africa would have tilted and spilt over, thanks to the pressure from international community and notably the ECOWAS, as spearheaded by Senegal. Yahya Jammeh, like you know, is an epitome of everything wrong with us in Africa, from rudderless leadership drifting on the tenuous line of keeping up with civilisation occasioned by the west and evolving an age-long civilisation to meet the innate needs of its people. Leaders such as Laurent Gbagbo, Robert Mugabe, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko, Sanni Abacha and their ilk lent credence to the wide speculative assumptions that the black man is incapable of leading his own affairs and must either be coaxed or persuasively manipulated to achieve such ends. It still beats my imagination that a sincere leader can deprive the followers the benefits accruable through God-given resources at the vapid expense of stashing it away in foreign lands, whose inhabitants look down on us with contempt and hand stipends down to us in piecemeal through aids, international support, loans and all slavish appurtenances. Need we blame them, when our leaders rather than display us like some invaluable works of art for exhibition, put us up at market squares to be haggled like some cheap commodities at Ariaria market?

I don’t need to tell you about the whereabouts of Mr President, which would be gainsaying, as your omniscient mind discerns beyond the facade put up by Aso rock and the ill-baked beer parlour news flying around on social media. The déjà vu of the Yar’ Adua era is almost playing out again, but this time there is no one playing the role of Turai, as that role play would not suit Aisha after her consignment to the other room. I know you would ask, why so much excitement about the whereabouts of our president? You cannot blame us, once bitten twice shy. Nigerians still smack from the sour taste the protracted illness of Yar’Adua left in their mouths when power brokers within and outside his kitchen cabinet locked horns thereby holding the nation by its fragile jugular. It took the intervention of the indefatigable Nobel Laureate and the Latter Rain Assembly pastor, whose Save Nigeria Group’s one million man march on the seat of power forced the invisible hands of Esau, who had previously spoken with the guttural voice of Jacob, to relinquish power grudgingly.

Now, the same scenario is said to be playing out as rumour mills are rife with the alleged coercion of the vice -president to resign in a bid to pave way for the northern oligarchy to enthrone one of their own. This, of course, had been denied and dispelled as the demented imaginations of elements bent on mischief. History in Nigeria, like everywhere, has a way of repeating itself. It is this fear that generated the heightened sense of excitement with which Nigerians greeted the vacation cum medical trip of Mr President. While there is a seeming semblance in the circumstances that surrounded the Yar’Adua debacle to the Buhari imbroglio, I must not fail to delineate the two happenstances for their existent substance. While the powerful cabal, figuratively spearheaded by the First lady, Hajia Turai, concealed the health condition of the former president, they sneaked him out of the country without appropriate communication and hence couldn’t properly hand over the acting role of presidency to his vice thereby creating a vacuum in power, that those who were sympathetic to the vice-president felt could be explored by the power-famished wolves of Aso rock corridors. It was this same vacuum that almost caused a constitutional crisis, until the power mongers reluctantly succumbed to the popular voice of the citizens.

Buhari, on the other hand, proved to be more sagacious by avoiding the contraptions of the Yar’Adua’s saga. He achieved this through proper channels of communication, asking for a ten-day leave and delegating authority to his vice to act in his capacity. While he could not be faulted on these premises, the inability of his media team to put together, a coherent, concise and comprehensive itinerary of his medical voyage abroad is a complete letdown for a government who claims to believe in the rights of his citizens to information. This oversight it is, that created the information chasm explored by social media gladiators to declare the demise of the president.

Not since the era of the goggled eyes despot, Sanni Abacha, have I seen Nigerians so fervently prayed for the death of their leader. Even the moderate ones so wished the rumoured death of the President becomes a reality to live with. Callous, you would say, but the people’s conscience had been sold over the years to unassailable neglect and their angst is palpable in the daily soaring prices of essential commodities and the strangulating recession. Little wonder, the people suddenly found their voices in 2baba, whose clarion call to the people to occupy major squares across the cities elicits nostalgia of Fela’s foray into activism. Unlike Fela, 2baba couldn’t take the anticipated, but certain to happen, bashing and he baulked under the weight of threats from the forces of state at the first hurdle. The poor lad had to succumb to blackmail. They said he collected N200 million from opposition party. They said he benefited from the corruption of the previous government, making allusion to the several cash and exotic car gifts showered on him during his wedding by the then governors who now found themselves in opposition. They blackmailed him psychologically by saying the soul of any dead protester would rest on his conscience. In fact the “no be small thing ooo” crooner had no choice than to accept that the Nigeria thing “no be small thing” indeed. But come to think of it! Was he thinking the road to freedom is arduous free? He needs to ask the likes of Gani, Beko, Soyinka and most especially the man he was likened to, Fela, who did not only fight through his music, but also took the fight against oppressive governments to the streets. To think all these happened during the gagging days of military junta!

It is quite sordid and it will pique your interest to know that while humanity is skiing towards ultra-civilization some crude herdsmen somewhere in southern Kaduna dipped into the abyss of barbarism to feed their insatiable thirst for blood. They murdered nothing less than 800 settlers, looted and pillaged their resources and left in their wake sorrow, tears and blood. This nomadic madness, though not necessarily imbued with religious intent much more than it was for territorial expansionism, was easily capitalised on by some as an attempt by the Fulani marauders backed by some powerful men in government to Islamize the nation. This sentiment may seem just so, due to the reticence of the government in the past and the lack of political will on the part of the government not only to condemn any act of security threat or treason under the guise of religion or tribal colouration but also to ensure that perpetrators are decisively dealt with. Jumping on this bandwagon is the fire-spitting founder of the Omega Fire Ministry, Apostle Suleiman, who courted controversy when he instigated Christians, more specifically, his followers, to take up arms and decimate any Fulani herdsman within certain perimeters of his ministry. This was further fueled by the news of Christians who were burnt alive during worship hours by suspected Fulani herdsmen. While religion is a time bomb in any plural society such as ours, the call for an eye for an eye, though sounding expedient, would only implode us as a nation. Sincerely, it beats my imagination how religious adherents think they can advance the cause of God, acting as conduits of veneration to access the heart of immortality.

The masses still groan under the yolk of bad leadership and abject poverty. Prices of commodities only defy law of gravity in Nigeria, what goes up never comes down. You would agree with me that the Nigerian proletariat is at best docile and this docility had emboldened the thieving and happy go lucky leaders and a comeuppance day is only a distant tales-by-moonlight.

I must relieve you of this sad tales now. I have to quickly rush down to the National Stadium, one of the many centres of protest, to join the mass movement of people demanding for an improvement in our economic fortunes. You also wondered if the rally would hold. They said it would, despite the cancellation called by 2baba.

I am sending this letter through Aisha; she was killed by Nigerian soldiers after being found to be strapped alongside her friend, with Improvised Explosive Devices. Aisha, like many other brainwashed wretched of the earth before her, was given a derogatory sum of N200 in exchange for her soul with a promise for a paradisiacal life after death. She is one of the numerous child-suicide bombers lurking around to take several souls along in self-immolation.

I eagerly await your correspondence. Till I hear from you.

Sincerely, yours.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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