Northern Nigeria plays “dead man’s hand”!

January 17, 2012

Some of those who have  read retd. General Babangida’s press release tell me how pleasantly surprised at ideas credited to the “evil genius” they are .  Everything in that press release could have been crafted by those who are speaking for the Nigerian masses at the ongoing protests: Femi Falana, Pastor Bakare, Dino Melaye, etcetera; most Nigerians have come to see labor leadership as steps to great wealth obtained through wily leaders and as such, labor is not seen as representing masses’ interest.

Is it not sad how Nigerian leaders, after ignoring the chances to really transform Nigeria, become changed men after leaving office who regret thrown-away opportunities.  Either Babangida is genuinely interested in seeing the suggestions he has thrown like a gauntlet to the president put into effect or not, they do contain the hopes and aspirations of the masses and people who really wish Nigeria well.  Here’s the link to the press release credited to Babangida:

Babangida’s advice to Jonathan is instructive because no matter how he’s perceived in the South, he is not only a former head of state – though despised – but his remains a weighty voice from the North.  By the way, the Nigerians I’ve spoken to by mail or phone have offered the singular view that there must be something dangerous behind four former heads of states: Gowon, Shagari, Obasanjo and Babangida offering words of caution to Jonathan who has ignored them all, considering these same former heads of state are in the Council of State that supposedly endorsed the subsidy removal earlier.

The North had the chance to correct all the injustices of the past, direct results of the lopsided “federation” created by the British but did not.  The illness of the late President Yar Adua was a great opportunity for it to ask itself questions if it was right, if expedient,  for a part of the country – even assuming it has the advantageous population figures that just about every Southerner believes is cooked – should continue to dominate the other in every facet of the country’s life even when merit is thrown into the bin.

In the matter of the Late Yar Adua’s illness, the North more than dropped the ball in what was a real travesty of a vice-president being side-tracked while Nigeria was held hostage by the president’s inner circle.

It is now President Jonathan’s turn, the turn of the minorities of the Delta and it would do Nigeria and Nigerians a lot of good if he will turn his back on the history of our past and become the “transformational leader” he promised. He should not become the kind of leader we’ve all complained Northern leaders were: turning to “their own”, seeing their constituency as THE country. ..  Reports of Yoruba Union leaders being intimidated with phone calls, Yoruba featured indirectly in advertisements because they are opposed to subsidy removal which is seen as opposition to Jonathan,  will get Nigeria to no “transformational” position.  It is borrowing from a template that has not served us well.  Ditto  the reported use of Delta militants to guard oil installations.

The president should put Nigeria first and will thus be assured of avoiding his own mea maxima culpa in the not-distant future .

While we may all rightly criticize Babangida for this late-in-the-day realization of what he had eight years to do but refused to, I do not believe it should call for a dismissal of those his suggestions no matter the intention.  It is the very strong unitary-style “federatio”n that Nigeria runs that allows Jonathan to deploy soldiers to Lagos to perform police duties because he perceives Lagos as enemy territory.  Mr. President , Yoruba do not want to exchange one group of overlords for another.

Now, to the point at hand:  that the North over-played its hands and has therefore not only let the genie of born-to-rule out of the bottle but has a big hand in the state that Nigeria has found itself now.  The situation of the Northern leaders wanting to preserve the status quo during Late Yar Adua’s illness-induced vacuum led to my sending in the following short essay:

Northern Nigeria plays “dead man’s hand”!

tola adenle on Feb 08, 2010, Sahara reporters

Please do not get bored with the long prologue.  The release on this website based on a BBC website story about how Alhaji Yar Adua “will write a letter handing power over to his vice-president” is troubling.

When Yar Adua wanted to prove he was still alive – most Nigerians have reservations about that claim – they were made to believe he “talked” to the BBC.  Now, a supposed “adviser” to Yar Adua has also talked to the BBC about a “medical vacation” letter which would soon be sent so that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, a man who was jointly rigged in with Yar Adua, can play his constitutional role.  To rub salt into our festering collective wound even more, “the BBC’s Caroline Duffield in Lagos says Nigeria’s political struggle over the president’s fitness to rule may be nearing an endgame”.  What embarrassment!

There we have it.  A final confirmation that the Hausa/Fulani may proclaim “unity”, “sovereignty” … loudly, their acts show otherwise. “Northern governors” have been widely reported to believe there’s no need for the rule of law Yar Adua to forward any letter to the National Assembly even after 2 ½ months.  In fact, most, with the exception of one or so in that geopolitical zone – “unity” or not – do not want Dr. Goodluck to assume the presidency.  As for “sovereignty”, they see no shame or if they lack that, no anomaly in Nigerians being condescended to by the British through their national communications giant by being Yar Adua’s purported choice of getting messages across to a people he swore on the Quaran to serve as, he wanted the world to believe after he walked on a carpet of blood of thousands of Nigerians to a stolen presidency, a “servant leader”.

I may have lived in Las Vegas long enough to have been there before the city hit the million mark; I may have lived there when the site of The Excalibur was a mere empty lot where a national Street Basketball championship took place and I may even have lived there when Steve Wynn’s The Mirage was a mere glimpse of the future of Vegas’ resorts.  In spite of this Vegan status, I must confess, though, that I do not know how to play “ordinary” Bingo which is hardly considered a proper gambling game.  As one who will always have fond memories of Vegas as one of the best places to live in the world, I can claim a bit of affinity for the Western United States of which it is now a major city where an Annie Oakley Street is one of the reminders to residents of legends of their region’s past.  Annie, of course, was the legendary markswoman who came to limelight under another Western legend, Buffalo Bill; she was so deadly accurate with her weapons that she once reportedly shot the ashes off a cigarette of Prince of Prussia while on a show for Queen Victoria in Europe!

Reputations were made – or lost – as quickly as the time it took to draw out a gun and use it in frontier towns’ drinking saloons of the Old West from where the “Wild Wild West” had its origin.  It was there that “a dead man’s hand” from how Wild Bill Hickok died while gambling at Deadwood, South Dakota became legend:  Wild Bill is said to have always picked a seat facing the door, but was one of the last players to the table in that particular game and another player refused to change seats when Wild Bill asked to switch places.  A man by the name of Crooked Nose McCall approached Hickok and shot him in the back of the head. The shot was fatal, and Wild Bill Hickok slid to the floor, still holding his cards.”  The poker hand that Wild Bill purportedly had in his hands that day is considered sinister in gambling.  It’s supposed to be a combination of aces and – please don’t ask me, for I know not.

Nigeria is similar to those frontier towns where anything was okay:  a land of no leader with opportunistic cowboys taking charge, and here are a few meanings of ‘cowboys’ as used here; it concerns those pretending that Yar Adua’s still in charge and was sourced online:  “When you refer to someone as being a cowboy, what you mean is that he is not an honest person; he is reckless and ignores rules that most people obey. He is not only unqualified, but also incompetent. People who drive very fast, disobeying traffic rules are often called cowboys.”

Each and every one of those highlighted adjectives/descriptive phrases fit any and/or all of the people surrounding Yar Adua:  Mrs. Turai Yar Adua, Mr. Aondaka, Abba Aji, et al., in this macabre saga that has brought a country to its knees.   The actions they continue to take and pronouncements they continue to make show evidences of dishonesty, recklessness, ignoring the Constitution and, at least, one very incompetent supposed public servant, Mr. Aondaka. That, of course, is discarding the so-called incompetents and dishonest ones at the National Assembly, members who will be remembered by history as mostly corrupt and self-serving; the word ‘discarding’ is deliberate.

Now, add frontier character – a lawless land where kidnappings, police harassment of citizens, political killings, and every imaginable social maladjustment reigns – to dishonest, reckless, anything-goes and incompetent, very corrupt leader-less usurping few and a clear problem of Nigeria’s albatross will begin to show.

It is from members of Yar Adua’s infamous so-called kitchen cabinet that Nigerians learn that Yar Adua “spoke” to Jonathan, a sort of dare to the Good Doctor:  deny the lie if you dare.   It is from these characters that have no constitutional roles that Nigerians are filled in on Yar Adua’s  “thoughts” on a terrorism bill even as our image is in tatters over a bomber from his state; yeah, he’s alive but he cannot summon the same energy to call – or at least write Obama about Nigeria’s collective sorrow and shame about Muttalab the bomber.  Of course we all know he cannot do that because a doctored signature may get him reprieve in Nigeria; it will merely tear into shreds whatever is left of Nigeria’s dignity in America.

Now, for the gambling analogy:  As Nigerians watch in disbelief and horror the level to which Northern Nigeria – at least the part that belongs to the Hausa/Fulani – is united about dragging the country through the slime of mis-governance by one of its own – one cannot but be tempted to see the gambling analogy in what used to be seen by Southerners as perhaps, not worse, than a chess game.  Nobody, including political scientists of greatest repute, could have foreseen the so-called core-North unwittingly abandoning an undeserved and unearned position of strength that it had milked since the booby trap planted by the British shortly after the turn of the last century.  Well, it has, and has thereby played its equivalent of Wild Bill Hickok’s last card, “a dead man’s hand”.




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    Emotan 77
    Former publisher of the women's bi-monthly, Emotan (1977-1984) and op-ed ... now publishes her writing here

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