By Prof. Gbenga Olumekun
Prof. Gbenga Olumekun
I have had my time even though I still revel in the knowledge that I can still contribute a little bit before I pack it in. This is perhaps the motivation I have had, ever since I decided to do the unconventional of becoming a public commentator; a field in which you are not likely to find many of like vocation. I can however still make an exception: there was an Engineer by the name of Prof Ayodele Awojobi, a first rate Mechanical Engineer who was probably more at home running political commentaries than engaging in the precise calculations for which science is noted.
The field has many land-mines and unexploded ordinances but the fear of the branding of “failure” has served to propel many a hesitant commentator. This may possibly also be due to the fear of retributions of all sorts that can accompany the business of an avowed critic. Critics are therefore few even when we all know that the reward may go from the impetuous to the sublime. It is much like the song I used to listen to in the late 70s: “everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die” – Peter Tosh. Everybody knows what is good but nobody has the boldness to take the bull by the horns.
I was at a social occasion a few days ago and I never knew that I had been branded somehow. I tried to visualise the Nigerian political spectrum from my “narrow-minded” nationalistic point of view but I nearly got carried away by the arguments of the politicians who did their very best to dismantle my assumptions and expectations of the current political atmosphere. I however managed to fastidiously hold on to my long held point of view that the political class, particularly those in the most recent past, especially at the national level, needed to have a special planet created for them so that we patriots can live a utopian life on earth. My defences of my position made it look like I was Pro-Buhari, yes, no doubt because I am a patriotic Nigerian, and must support my President but never as a politician, nor a party man. I don’t like all the political acronyms, be they PRD, PPP, THRD, ART,APC, PDP or LPDP. Just like Wole Soyinka was wont to say, “I love my country I no go lie”.
In my tenuous defence of my view on politicians and the political atmosphere I challenged my politician friends to admit if there was a person who loved all the vomit that has been regurgitated lately? Odoriferous recantations of how our collective heritage has been wasted, is being wasted and will always be wasted by many compatriots who have appointed themselves as our champions.
The arguments were really not one-sided but I knew something for sure, the politicians are in agreement that, come what may, they are all in a rush to convince us of their prowess at solving our problems, no matter which side of the divide they are on.
I left the gathering remonstrating with fellow Nigerians when it became apparent that the next set are warming up, inventing and cooking up new ways of looting the national treasury. I had thought that looting of the public till could not have been turned into a noble vocation more than our millennium honoree, Sanni Abacha did. It never occurred to me that everyone has been shouting to the rooftops but for different reasons. Critics have been amplifying their criticisms, maybe they can bag some consolations just like Reuben Abati did while party spokespersons have been more vociferous in the defence of the most untenable actions because of the special assignments they have had to carry out for the Boss, like Olisa Metuh.
My grouse however is with the fact that instead of just living on their foolish political castles, some of them have turned those of us who seek to outline the truth as the exception. They even could not see anything wrong in the lukewarm attitude of the National Assembly to the fight against corruption. They have displayed a blatant partisan initiative by their resistance to several initiatives that are designed to demand probity from our leaders as if we do not have a right to better our lives.
Political metamorphosis is such a dangerous phenomenon. It drains a hitherto conscientious person of his conscience and the ability to discern between right and wrong. The lure of what to eat (it’s actually beyond that) now makes a man to totally abandon reason and seek to defend positions that are puerile and indefensible in a normal society (apologies: is ours a normal and decent one?) I know of a member of the House of Representatives who was, like me, a fighter to the core. After getting elected into the House he has become so vociferous in defence of the salary bazaar that has been going on at the National Assembly, let alone the Dasuki monstrous give-away. I was shocked when he was strenuously defending the need for the obscene salaries and emoluments these guys have awarded themselves. Salary awards are even a different matter; how can a sane person defend the allocation of N4.7 billion for the purchase of cars for “Committee assignments” when you and I were told that every member had been granted car loans while most of the perks of office had been monetised.
I have actually come to the conclusion that politicians are all the same! Never mind the acronym. They are in common agreement when, we the people, are to be disenfranchised and dispossessed of our heritage.
I am scandalised at the complaints I received. Some are angry because it has not been a practice for the disbursement of security votes to be x-rayed. They have not seen anything wrong in spending N4 billion out of our national reserves to secure prayers by some Mullahs in far away Senegal neither have they seen any wrong in a Hospital being paid same for spiritual purposes, I suspect to supposed men of the Christian altar. However, these issues must be seen in a larger perspective. Is it about probing Security vote? Hell No! It is about accountability. It is about how the commonwealth can be appropriately disbursed for the greater good. I remember President Bill Clinton had to pay parking charges from his pocket for the presidential aircraft, Air Force One, when he overstayed at an airport because he needed a haircut.
Our people compartmentalise you when you critique a decision. They seek to examine your eye piece before they decide whether your contributions make sense or not. Who says I must agree with every point of opinion or every governmental initiative? It is left for our rulers to convince us of the appropriateness of their decisions and never to stymie any form of opposition or dissenting view. Even our Almighty God asked mankind to “come let us reason together”. That was how King Hezekiah got additional years for his sojourn on earth. God does not violate human will but human beings would not even allow another to hold a contrary opinion.