By Olusegun Adeniyi
Words on Marble – “When you are in power, please don’t eat apple! “
“The fact is that Abacha will not join any party to run for the presidential election. All the five parties will be his party since the parties may not necessarily field any other candidate but adopt him (Abacha) as our president. If all of us agree that the Head of State should continue as the civilian president that means General Abacha has won the election unopposed. He automatically become a democratically elected President according to the constitutional provision.”
– Alhaji Lamidi ADEDIBU
When people ask what is wrong with Nigeria and why Nigeria is what it is today, we need not look far. The above statement was made by Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu in 1998 fostering and lording over the populace a military dictator whose death revealed an unparallel level of corruption and pillage of Nigerian resources within the 5yrs that he held sway as the Head of State of Nigeria.
Adedibu was the strongman of Ibadan politics and the main proponent of Stomach Infrastructure and Amala politics. He made ludicrous amount of money from politics through his political wheeling and dealing. In 2008, just about a decade after making the above statement, he too suffered the fate that all men would – he died. Today, all the wealth he amassed in politics and the empire he built lay in ruin. His political empire is no more and the palatial compound that he owned in Molete lies in ruins, nobody does political pilgrimage there again and people now ask, who was Adedibu.
Now, one will not be in error to compare his legacy with that of other politicians of his times in other climes . In doing so, one can then understand how this man and his cohorts took Nigeria back while others were marching their countries forward.
Need I say more?
“This is no democracy; this is a dictatorship. Not even in Abacha’s Nigeria will this kind of thing happen.”
– A female gender activist in Lahore, Pakistan, on 27th May, 2005
The world is constantly watching, beaming its search lights on what we do. Lahore is far removed from Abuja physically but, in a digital world, every action happening in the continent are beamed over televisions, mobile devices etc. in minutes and soon become a reference point for others to take a cue or lesson from.
Now, no matter how much money is thrown at laundering the image of Nigeria through such campaigns as “Nigeria, Good People, Great Nation” spearheaded by the nation, like that done by the Late Dora Akunyili, nothing earns respect as the forthrightness of leaders and the accountability of citizens.
Question is, how do you erase such a blemished image of Nigeria from the mind of this Pakistani woman and others who watched how Abacha brazenly ruled us and stealing our collective patrimony ?
“Some of our esteemed traditional rulers have spoken. They have made their choice of President. It is their right to do so. All we are saying is that let the people make their choice too. Let the people decide.”
“They say two million Nigerians were on the march in Abuja. Good for them. Our concern is for the 98 million other Nigerians who were not in the Abuja march. We ask for their right to choose, their right to decide who and what to march for. Their right to pick their leader. May God give us the will and the way to decide.”
“If they give you television sets, soaps or even money… take! After all, it is your money. But demand your right from them. Your right to terminate forced rule. Your right to determine who leads you. Your right to decide your own fate. May God give us the will and way to act.”
“Continuity! Continuity of What?”
They say there is sense in continuity, Good talk!
We ask… continuity of what?
Continuity of no petrol?
Continuity of no school?
Continuity of no electricity?
Continuity of no hospital?
Continuity of no drinking water?
Continuity of poverty?
Continuity of insecurity of life and property?
Continuity of military rule?
We say we need a change
May God give us the will and way to act.
– Alhaji M.D. YUSUFU
Alhaji M.D. Yusufu was a retired policeman who rose to the pinnacle of the profession becoming an Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force. In those dark days of Abacha, he provided a refreshing breath in the political landscape, a solid voice of opposition to Abacha transitioning to become a civilian president.
In 1998, at 67 years old he had a conviction that many did not have then. To stand in the face of great power and tell the truth, not fearing death. Of course, whether we tell the truth or not, death is a certainty. He looked terror in the face and told the truth.
He died in 2015, aged 83, gladly not at the hands of Abacha. And, one more thing, being a Northerner he further helped to show that opposition to the dark goggled dictator was not tribal incensed.
By the way, the last advert quoted above by M.D. Yusufu appeared on 21st April 1998. Abacha is dead and so is M.D. Yusufu but the question is whether any of those issues begging to be addressed by those political leaders in 1998 has changed? If they have not, at best one can say Nigeria has spent the past 22 years sleeping and at worst, it marched backwards, not a single person with some measure of grey matter would say Nigeria has progressed in 22 years!
Abacha could not prevent anybody from nominating him and “if other people in their wisdom decided to nominate him or confer an honour on him, he is not bound by law to react. The greatest fundamental human right is that a man cannot be prosecuted or held liable for his thought or even his wishes. A man’s mind is like a parachute; it can only function or malfunction when it is open.”
“I cannot see how a declaration can be made or injunction can be issued on a mere speculative conclusion.”
– Justice Babatunde Belgore [In dismissing the suit brought by Chief Gani Fawehinmi challenging the adoption of Abacha by the five political parties]
“How can any person of sound mind justify the emergence of Abacha as President of Nigeria at the end of a programme initiated by him, supervised by him and executed or implemented by people appointed by him? It is a case of the referee taking part in a game in which he is supposed to be the judge. Abacha has nothing more to offer anyone in this country. Only God knows the dimension and intensity of the looming calamity if Abacha remains at the helm of affairs
under whatever arrangement a day after October 1, this year.”
– Dr. Chris Abashiya [one of the Northern Lecturers advising Abacha not to run for election]
“Abacha’s death is God’s solution to Nigeria’s political stalemate. It is God’s own coup and although we send our condolence to the family and the military, the fact remains that this is a heavenly coup.”
– Dr. E. Akobo, former Petroleum Minister
“It is a relief that he died a natural death. I do not rejoice over his demise neither do I regret it. Through his rule, many people lost their lives. It is a lesson to those greedy discredited military leaders.”
– Bola Tinubu, a NADECO exile who is currently the Leader of All Progressive Congress