by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa — Some people do not know when to stop chasing a snake until it turns back and strike with venom. By Nigerian standard, leaders who were desperate for power sacked democratic houses with all their Federal might, slaughtering students and anyone in their way until Heaven took its course.
That Obasanjo was humbled by the senate was not enough? We all know the history of gloating, celebrating and parading the spoil of atrocities after the fall of men of “timber and caliber.” We were always matured; we just changed for the better. Most of us fought against third term without regard to ethnicity or class. But watch out, vultures are going to hijack our unity, cause confusion in the name of impeachment or whatever, while hiding their true motive to steal our mandate.
We have to count our blessing sometimes. There are on going argument about what we might have lost during the campaign for third term. But I also breathe a sigh of relief that it could have been worse. We know that many Nigerian dictators campaigning today would send out troops to force us into compliance. Never mind that it could result in suicide for them. What about the poor souls that will die with them? Are their lives less precious than that of you and me? We have enough people dying already in our Country.
Nigerians are still licking the old wounds of war, ethnic massacres and marginalization. Yet gloaters will not learn. The unintended consequence of such behavior is a backlash, and a misplaced sympathy. Instead of beating our chest to a coma, we should save our energy and remain united against greater evils that have formed coalitions with lesser evils. We can not leave our thinking cap at the door of a dead issue while beating a dead horse. For those who remember Roberto Duran v. Sugar Ray Leonard fight, what part of no mas don’t we understand?
So many of us including this writer have called Obasanjo all kinds of names and he has so acknowledged in his speech asking all Nigerians to move on and reconcile our differences for the benefit of the Country. He showed uncharacteristic humility. We have to demonstrate that we have nothing personal against him, his family his career as a militrician or his kin. All we are after is for Nigeria to live up to its potential. Whoever is in the way, may he be a militrician, vultures or an alien from space; we are ready to fight all the way to realize individual and collective potential of Nigeria.
As much as I do not want Obasanjo to play the role of god-father, the best option for him at this point in his life is to seek the role of order and peace maker. Our transitions, even in the civilian days, can not be called peaceful. In his reflection on the failed third or fourth term, he can still be remembered as the President for justice among the down-trodden. It all has to do with how the next election is conducted and who succeeds him.
Since Obasanjo has no personal interest in the presidency anymore; Nigerians expect the best of all the effort and able hands we can get to conduct a freer election than the ones that brought him in. He should be able to go anywhere in the Country and look decent people in the eye claiming he did his best during his own time. No magomago.
The South-south and the South-east have been crying for justice and power sharing in our Country. It is now speculated that the President is ready to punish those who derailed his insatiable quest for power. This is a man who has always claimed that he never sought it but always thrust upon him. While it is true that he can not please everybody, no region of the Country should feel punished because of failed blind ambition or over zealousness for that power. Neither the North nor the South has anything to fear or loose as long as our unity is for just cause and fair share of political power.
All indication from Nuhu Ribadu is that corrupt contestants will be disqualified from holding the title of Presidential candidate. We need to stop fooling one another about letting people and election decide who is clean or guilty. Not in Nigeria, and we know it. This is the Country of Adedibu and Uba. A Country where certain citizens set bad precedence, refused the call of justice, still remain gullible and garrulous. Nevertheless, we have enough people in our Country who are clean to contest as candidates. Most Nigerians are hardworking people and that is why we succeed outside. Unfortunately, that God given intelligence is sometimes used for mischief. I hardly know a crook personally, a far number from the speculation that most Nigerians are crooks. Are we?
Fortunately, some young Nigerians are now coming out to contest for the presidency. We need more of them to shame the “old soldiers never die.” Some people have to realize that at certain point in life they are out of step and out of line. The main attraction, which is the treasury, must be secure by the tightest form of check and balance. It is still too easy for the Executive to dip into the treasury. Our accountants and auditors need to come together to find a way to secure the treasury. Only Nigerians who can beat any system can fix that. It is like bee hives attracting unpleasant people that sting us to death.
Some hard work has gone into the amendment of the constitution. We can all sort rice for cooking (if some of you still remember) or grain from the shaft. Whatever is just and fair especially in the case of South-south and South-east must be reintroduced. It is important that we remain fair in our time. Not only do we need to be fair, we have to seem fair.
Every little child in Nigeria must be able to aspire for the highest office in the land. This sense of fairness is needed to drive home the point that any region that has not tasted power at the pinnacle, must be able to vie for it with the cooperation of the whole Country. The same goes for our women. Women with power can still be beautiful and competent at the same time.
Nigerians are very sensitive to outside critics, no matter how constructive. Those who have raised their voices have met equal and opposite tantalizing force, Africans or not. In some cases they do not know what hit them. Nigerians have to realize that some of these people know our potentials because they attended the same schools with us or the same clubs inside and outside Africa. They should be mad at us if we do not live up to expectation of producing a leader, not only for Nigeria but for the black world. That is not too much to ask of Nigerians.
It is an insult on a Country like Nigeria to see our citizens focused on in news magazines as perpetrators of high technical crime or as abusers of foreign aids living on other people’s taxes. Many us of know how much in billions of dollars and resources is taken out of Africa only for less than one percent to be returned in foreign aids, a trickle per year for the next forty years. These changes and awareness have to start from the very top. Is there any African that is not proud of the prestige and straight talk of Nelson Madela? He has nothing to loose.
This is the time for Obasanjo to play the role of a great African by putting his house in order. No matter how brilliant or how hard working and peace loving we think we are, charity begins at home. If we can not put our house in order, all our contribution to world peace will be ridiculed by our distractors. Enough talk about Nigeria exporting what we do not have at home – peace all over our land. It is the greatest gift Obasanjo can give us.
Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa