08 July, 2008

Are Nigerians Worth Dying For?

Oct 7, 2003
When in the 18th century the likes of Jean Jack Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu rose up against the aristocratic and dictatorship government of King Leo XVI, the French people rose up with them. Men, women and children gave their support to these noble men who had written and stamped their names in the sands of time. Together they rubbished the authoritative system of the government, which gave little or no hope to the ordinary French man.

Similarly, when in the 16th century Tetzel commercialized the Catholic Church, he met with the stiff and stringent opposition of Martin Luther who brought the reformation to the open. Luther did not need to seek the support of a large number of people who were tired of Tetzel’s style of administering the church before he got it. In actual fact the support he got from the people, propelled and spurred him up to see the battle for liberation to the end.

Nigeria like France (at the time) has been very unlucky with its leaders since independence. And like France too Nigeria has over time produced it’s versions of Rousseau and the rest. But unlike the French that supported the ending of aristocracy, Nigerians instead of supporting any move aimed at putting an end to any form of absolute or despotic government, give their full backing to such systems. And this kind of moves gives the leaders the impetus to carry on perpetuating all sorts of cynical governance.

A clear example of this arose when Festus Keyamo, a young and promising lawyer decided to take up the case of chief Bola Ige, the former Attorney General of the federation, who was murdered in cold blood because the Obasanjo government did not see any reason to investigate it. The Nigerian Police Force became furious and took him (Keyamo) up on the case.

Nigerians in their own questionable wisdom folded their arms and watched as the young lawyer was put behind bars. But for the timely intervention of Chief Gani Fawemi (in my own opinion, the best attorney that has ever existed in the history of this country), only the heavens knows what would have become of the young man.

Unbelievably a professor and former noble laureate award winner was quick to show his utter dismay in Keyamo. Parleying so much with the Lagos State government at the time, he described Mr. Keyamo as a ‘small fry’ that should not be allowed to handle the case. Perhaps what our Professor fails to realize is that heaven forbids, it could be his turn. Ironically, the same Professor was at the forefront of the late M.K O Abiola struggle for Nigeria’s liberation from military dictatorship.

In the last election of May 2003, another reputable legal practitioner Mr. Mike Ozekume, who also doubles as human rights activists decided to contest the Edo State gubernatorial elections in a bid to putting an end to the aristocratic government of the incumbent governor Chief Lucky Igbinedion, Mr. Mike got, was the shocker of his life. Rather than the people voting Mr. Mike who has co-championed the cause of Nigeria’s return to democracy with others of his kind, they opted to vote massively for the incumbent governor.

Similarly, when Mr. Gani Fawehinmi who in my own opinion gave Nigeria this so called democracy, decided that it was time for him to go into action by contesting for the presidential sit of the country, he like Mr. Ozekuma did not only get the shocker of his life, but was perplexed by it. After the election, pitying Nigeria and Nigerians he remarked that “Nigerians have opted for another four years of hardship”.

As an agent of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in Lagos whose umbrella Gani contested the election, I can state authoritatively that Nigerians voted massively for the incumbent President Obasanjo. Although there were so many irregularities, Obasanjo no doubt got the support of a large number of Nigerians. If the French people, the Germans and even the Americans have not stood up to fight in order to liberate themselves from the various bondage they were in, Nigerians will not be queuing up from dusk to dawn in their missions to obtain their visas today.

Listening to and watching Nigerians, one would wonder if these people are ready to get to the promised. Nigerians prefer to languish in abject poverty, believing that it will one day be their turn to inflict such psychological trauma on their neighbors. They display all sorts of inhuman characteristics on one another. And when spoken to on the issue, rather than accept this as a problem, the one who voices out is grossly hated.

A clear cut instance of this; is the recent call on the people to protest against the activities of Global Systems Mobile {GSM} operators. A lot more Nigerians ignored this call and rather than turning off their phones, they decided to turn on their handsets. And when some were asked why they disobeyed the call, they put up flimsy and unfounded excuses. Others felt that the one who championed this cause was seeking for cheap means becoming popular.

Similar calls have been made by the Nigerian Labour Congress to protest the Government’s irresponsible increase of the prices of petroleum products, but in their usual habit, Nigerians are very quick to complain after a few days of protest actions thereby rendering such protests irrelevant. With all these and even a lot more, can Nigerians be said to be worth dying for, when even in death such a person is blamed for his actions? Your answer is as good as mine.

by ejiro donald,