My Person of the Year
It is fitting to end the year with a stirring tribute to the patriots who snatched the nation from a tragic denouement. Throughout the early part of the year, the auguries of the nation’s slip into the double bind of authoritarianism and silence were visible.
Or have we forgotten so soon that this year, a leadership hiatus occasioned by the ill health of President Muhammadu Buhari was hijacked by a cabal to further the ruination of the common good while nurturing their selfish interest? This cabal prevented Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to whom power was supposedly transmitted to effectively function. It rather chose to be taking documents to Buhari to sign on his sickbed in London.
Yet, a greater part of the population demurred at letting the Buhari government know that a people could not be taken for a ride for so long. And that the citizens deserved to know the status of the health of their president and when he would firmly take back the reins of governance. It was all silence on the civil organisations’ front.
The so-called activists who propped up the Buhari presidency kept mum. They did not see the need to go to the streets to inveigh against the presidency taking the citizens for granted.
Of course, this was not really surprising. They were still waiting to be given appointments or contracts by the government. Even now when it has become ineluctably clear that the Buhari government has alienated the citizens with his dismal performance and afflicted them with a dystopian lot, it is not loud condemnations of the activists that rack it but at best only their whimpers which leave it undisturbed on its path of perdition.
No, we cannot forget so soon that it was at this juncture of epochal acquiescence that citizens who were roiled by a sense of a fast-vanishing patriotism decided to take the Buhari government to task. They insisted on knowing the health status of the president. They demanded that he should resign on the grounds of ill health or prove that he was still capable of effective governance by returning home. Making their demands under the auspices of OurMumuDonDo movement, they were led by Charles Oputa, the scion of the redoubtable jurist Chukwudifu Oputa.
But what manifested as the official reaction to these demands reeked of authoritarianism that is the accustomed response of a government to its citizens it considers as deviants for having the effrontery to ask questions about how they are governed.
It unleashed violence on them through its security operatives and its civilian minions who were blinded by ethnic and religious ties to the starvation to which they were subjected by the absence of good governance by Buhari.
Of course, no one attributes astounding healing powers to Charles Oputa, popularly called Charly Boy, and Co, that rescued Buhari from what was feared to be a terminal health crisis. But the fact is that when the Buhari romantics insist that he must contest in 2019 to continue his government on which the survival of the nation in the years ahead depends, they should give due credit to those who have made his return to the country possible. They should remember that Buhari himself declared that he almost ran away when he saw the gravity of the nation’s crisis when he newly came to office.
Can we really say that but for the prompting of Charly Boy and others, Buhari would not have succumbed to this defeatist craving? Or did they not stave off a national crisis that would have ensued if his indeterminate period of stay in London provoked an intervention akin to that of Zimbabwe that saw to the exit of Robert Mugabe who refused to quit at the right time? It must be stated that it was not because Buhari just kept the date of his return close to his chest.
No, it was the agitations led by Charly Boy back at home and those he and his group inspired in London that prompted the return of Buhari to the country. In fact, Buhari should be grateful to Charly Boy and Co for bringing him home. His return gave him the opportunity to respond to the agitations by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that he feared threatened the oneness of the nation.
But Buhari must be reminded that he should not expect plaudits from us for his deployment of soldiers, guns and armoured personnel carriers to squelch legitimate agitations. For, he has only succeeded in temporarily suppressing matters that would erupt again to place in sharp relief the grand deception that is garlanded in the rubric of one non-negotiable nation.
The views of those who rail at the inanities of the Buhari government may not readily be accepted by those who want the status quo that confers on them a confetti of undue privileges to remain. But the fact is that they are among the few who refused to accept the trumpeted goodness and incorruptibility of Buhari that have failed to improve the wellbeing of the citizens. They gave us the hope that it is not everybody in the country that has been blinded by the pretensions of the Buhari government to a high moral ground in the governance of the country. For them, patience with the Buhari government should not be so elastic that they are blinded to its derailment.
It is crucial that we take cognisance of the fact that it is partly because we easily forget the positive difference made by some of the citizens for our collective wellbeing that we find the progress we seek as nation a perpetual mirage. We forget that our democracy was retrieved from the military with the blood of some of our citizens – the Abiolas, Kudirats, Rewanes, etc. If we remember this, we would strive to protect our democracy. We would not allow people who paid no price for its emergence to have their way in their bid to unspool it.
In this regard, we must not forget those who from time to time still nurture it. They do not allow the prospect of what they would get from the government to incapacitate them. Unlike the amen chorus of the government of the day, they still believe, and rightly so, that the government is accountable to the citizens, that it is in power to serve the people and that once it cannot reconcile itself to this obligation, it no longer has any reason for existing . Thus, for a virile government the nation needs to replenish its diminishing clan of patriots who would hold the government accountable.
Even in more advanced countries of the world that have perfected measures to check the excesses of their leaders, the citizens are very much part of the governance. They do not consider themselves as vassals who are beholden to the whims and caprices of their masters. They speak up when their leaders deviate from the laws of the land that conduce to good governance and embark on a voyage of grandeur and self-valourisation. They do not accept the notion that because they voted in their leaders and that there are institutions to check their excesses, they just have to draw solace from their good intentions even when it is glaring that they are now catering to their own interests. They do not allow their leaders to hegemonise a vision of governance, especially when that vision is in conflict with the common good.
Clearly, we cannot say that the vision of governance of Buhari that claims to fight corruption while cultivating an atmosphere for corruption to bloom is in sync with the pursuit of the good of the citizens. And this is why every person who prosecuted this self-assigned responsibility of bringing the government to the path of probity at a time a protracted wait for Buhari to deploy his magic wand to improve the common lot has sent a larger part of the population into abject somnolence is qualified as our Person of the Year.
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