By Adagbo Onoja Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It was a manifestation of power backed by the required epistemic authority. That is what it should be, contrary to the culture of trying to intimidate those who insist on intellectualising power in Nigeria by calling them bookish. Or describing their orientation as mere theory. But it was not just Lamido’s epistemic authority in a literary sense. It is his political education.
For, political power without political education is disaster guaranteed. And Nigeria is the classic illustration of this given the number of people in power whose politics lack ideological content. It is not surprising that the undialectical manner they think about power brings them back to nemesis and ruin eventually because mischief, deception, tricks and street wisdom, in short, can’t replace dialectical reasoning.
It was, therefore, fascinating watching and listening to the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, problematise IBB/OBJ’s recent verbal insurgency within a larger context of it. This saw the governor moving from philosophy to statecraft to Nigerianism, then to praetorianism and to governance.
It was Monday, August 22, 2011, the day the members of the House of Representatives from Jigawa State, members of the state executive council, heads of federal institutions in Jigawa, the members of the NUJ and similar interests took their turn at the collectivist daily breaking of fast at Government House, Dutse for different groups and interests throughout the Ramadan. The previous night, it was the members of the community of the physically challenged. That one is a story for another day.
The IBB/OBJ war of words was not the subject matter or theme of the governor’s speech on the occasion. It only came in to illustrate the governor’s sense of magnitude of the Nigerian crisis. For, he had at a point wondered in the course of the speech about how a country could still be a baby at the age of 50. He answered himself by saying that it is because the power elite are ideologically switched off. And because they are switched off and complacently disposed to the dangers of class misrule, they can afford the lack of the sense of urgency that should greet the extreme existential agony of the majority. This, for him, is the only reason why two former presidents of the country could descend on each other, calling each other fools at 70 on the pages of newspaper.
For the governor, it is bad enough that the gladiators couldn’t restrain themselves, it is worse that editors of Nigerian newspapers were unwilling to impose a blackout on it. Nigerian editors, groomed in what Professor Hackket calls the positivist epistemology underpinning North America’s Journalism, will scoff at Mister Governor’s expectation but he is not wide off mark when you bring in the requirements of statecraft. As he posed the issue, what is entertaining in two former presidents hauling such abuses on each other when, by doing so, they were reducing that office to the office of comedians”.
“It is about Nigeria because, with this kind of political behaviour, whatever we want from the UN, for example, would we be trusted? How can you go there and not be feared to export the Nigerian virus?” In his opinion, then, “we need to reflect seriously on what is there in us that blocks our sense of things”, said Lamido, who wondered if we Nigerians are not having problems, distinguishing ourselves from lower creatures of God.
He was happy that in Jigawa, all Nigerians are at peace with each other. That, he said, is how it should be because Nigeria is like the end of year hampers gift givers distribute. “In that hamper, you have every gift item. That is how God created Nigeria. So, at this level, it is no more whether you are Hausa or Fulani or Kanuri or Igbo or Katafs or Jukun but a human being, a Nigerian.”
So, he considers it frightening that today in Nigeria, aberrations have become the norms. This he traced to military rule even while insisting that the military is the heartland of discipline, being people who are deliberately groomed to die for the country. The paradox he cannot come to terms with is how two former presidents, all of them from this background would do what IBB and OBJ are doing, “calling each other fools with the whole world watching”. Continuing, Lamido said, “I am not only worried, I am even frightened. What kind of legacy are we leaving for the in coming generation? How come it seems to have become impossible for us to accept that in our actions and conduct, there are some benchmarks below which we must not go? For each and every one of us to say that if I go below this level, I am pulling down a symbol beyond myself?”
Sure that smaller African countries are not manifesting some of individual and collective aberrations associated with Nigerians and Nigeria, Governor Lamido asked, “is our size also a sickness?” He continued the monologue this way, “I can’t imagine generals, coming from the powerful background of military professionalism, people whom Nigeria honoured and dignified, inflicting so much pain on all of us. Where is the strong culture?”
“No wonder,” said he, “at 50, we are still in our napkins, easing ourselves in there, waiting for someone to come from outside to help us out as if we don’t have the capacity to reason or analyse. Nigerians should frown at the leaders and say, enough of this shame and embarrassment. Nobody should defend anybody. It is not whether you are for IBB or for OBJ. It is that having been former presidents, they carry our symbolism and they cannot say or do whatever they want. There are over one million IBBs in Minna alone or OBJs in Ota but this IBB and this OBJ have been our former presidents and whether we like it or not, they carry our symbolism and they must respect that. This country honoured them. If there is no discipline at the top, then there is a problem. We are stinking because the heads are rotten. Leaders must behave right.”
By this time, the speech, which started with the hand clappers being at their best, had become a serious monologue to which everyone was listening very keenly. It was not pin drop silence but it was close to it. Given the sophistication of the audience, that indicated that Lamido was a shattering but welcome intervention. And even a good reminder from the last of the Mohicans, (assuming my meaning of this word is the ‘correct’ one) to a nation of anything goes. Even those who may not find his analogy agreeable would agree that, in substantive terms, he has brought a more holistic perspective to the rude shock called the IBB/OBJ discord. For Lamido, it is a matter of the interconnection between statecraft, national prestige and national security (not national security in terms of machine guns, secret police and the armed forces but, in addition to that, the welfare of the masses).
•Onoja works in Govt House, Dutse
via Daily Sun