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Patriotism and our presidential spirit


Justice Walter Onnoghen case is compelling me to think, contemplate and dwell further on the question of patriotism in our country.<br />PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

The Justice Walter Onnoghen case is compelling me to think, contemplate and dwell further on the question of patriotism in our country. And we may begin by asking some simple but fundamental questions.

What is patriotism? What can we say is its true nature and its essence? Is patriotism something our presidency can teach us? What style, or kind of patriotism can our presidency, this presidency let us know that can be taught? Does our president have a patriotic spirit?

These are huge questions from whichever perspective we look at them.


I don’t really wish or mean to provide their answers because we are not going to agree on what we are going to recommend to our compatriots as patriotic bents.

This presidency in particular has lunged us recklessly and too recklessly to the path of reckless partisanship that tends to rob us of the true spirit of patriotism, which is or should be our sincere, unflinching devotion to our country and concern for its defence.

With President Buhari’s style of governance the majority of our compatriots will not vigorously support our country and its present spirit and way of life.

In fact, because of Buhari’s divisive, nepotistic, primordial regionalist bent and sentiment, the majority of our countrymen and countrywomen outside his region see and regard his idea of country and love of it as ridiculously ridiculous, absurdly absurd, and retrogradely retrogradatory.

Intellectuals and non-intellectuals, farmers and non-farmers, working class and non-working class, business people and non-business people, and Christians and non-Christians, especially from the South of our country, detest and disavow Buhari’s attempt to turn our res publica into a commonwealth of his fancied but un-delectable regionalism.

Regardless of Justice Walter Onnoghen’s alleged sins, the majority of the people of the South-South see the presidency’s onslaught on the Southern-born Chief Justice of our country as a counterblast to our celebrated notions of spirit of patriotism and oneness as Nigerians.


General Gowon’s civil war slogan of “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” seems to be meaningless to President Buhari, who wants us to believe that he was one of Nigeria’s heroes of the civil war against secessionist Biafra (1967-1970).

Then as a young military officer, Buhari was clearly a Nigerian patriot. Or perhaps he was compelled to be so, and thus he could not but see Nigeria as one fine, beautiful country worth dying and living for.

He lost relatives and friends in the civil war, as he himself told us in the early stage of his presidency.

One would for this reason, at least, expect him to be fully committed to appealing to our spirit of patriotism which should plant or grow in us instincts of justice and altruism rather than those of egotism and injustice which his presidency now engenders because of his lens and vision of selfish regionalism. Because his presidency is too far gone in what it believes in, rational arguments cannot but be lost on our president and his cronies and cabal of intriguers.

When the story of Justice Walter Onnoghen’s current ordeal initially hit the newsstands, the presidency with both delectable and un-delectable celerity denied its authenticity, or, better put, the presidency with rapid rapidity or speedy speed said it knew nothing about it – or something akin to this. But you didn’t need to be a political discobolus before throwing a partisan or non-partisan discus to counter-blast or discombobulate our president’s political discobuli’s.


Before we knew it, it was crystal clear that the presidency would not find a South-South chief justiceship of our country a matter for rejoicing as our presidential and other elections approach.

Something somehow should or must be done to make sure that a Chief Justice of Nigeria (even in an acting capacity) who would articulate the kind of patriotism which our presidential government finds delightful is installed before the elections hold.

Rightly or wrongly, this is the current picture or perception the people of the South-South and of South Eastern Nigeria have of Buhari and his presidency.

Some Nigerians in the diaspora, also, rightly or wrongly, are similarly of this view.

In short, they are unhappy that Buhari is killing their sense and spirit of patriotism, in other words, that Buhari is drowning the spirit and intuition of joy living in the water and blood of their patriotism.

For this reason Justice Walter Onnoghen’s alleged criminal offences, even if true or eventually proven to be true, mean nothing to them.

At best, from the collective reply to the feelers I sent out as a columnist who regularly keeps his finger on the pulse, the Justice Walter Onnoghen matter will eventually emerge in the imaginations of the majority of Southern Nigerians as nothing but a tale to be told to the marines.


Now let me say this as a South-South denizen: our people are particularly disappointed at our people in Buhari’s government in their respective capacities – people who lack the will and the heart to tell President Buhari the truth about how we feel about the Justice Walter Onnoghen story.

Our people are worried about how some of them that we hold in high esteem are championing Buhari’s terrible and terrifying idea of his especial brand of regionalism that is doing our region (and our country as a whole) no iota or ounce of the goodly good.

What has become of each one’s mind we thought possessed the greatest aptitude for truthful and enervating truth? And must they be in the fore-front of the defenders of Buhari’s unpatriotic regionalism that is opening the doors of the best offices and positions to even mediocre people of his region? What are the compelling benefits that are compelling them to be Buhari’s trouble-makers and trouble-shooters at the same time? And don’t they know that President Buhari is merely using them to destroy their own people and region in furtherance of his questionable regionalism agenda?

The masses of our people are unmoved or have been left unmoved by this presidency’s notion of politically vindictive justice which is being sweetened with the honey of lies and deception; and which our people serving the president are defending outside the conviction of their moral character and true spirit and sense of patriotism – our region’s or our country’s.

Now, I urge them to stand up firmly before Buhari and tell him politely but truthfully and frankly that his wish or attempt to off-load by whatever means or stratagem Justice Walter Onnoghen from the Supreme Court and replace him with presumably a Justice of the apex court from outside Justice Onnoghen’s region is a horse that won’t run.


If he must be replaced, he must be replaced with a Justice of the Supreme Court from the CJN’s geographical and political region. We demand nothing less.

After all, there must be one South-South Justice in the apex court who can read and interpret correctly President Buhari’s lips, although we would expect the would-be Justice to do justice in accordance with the constitution of the land.

We in the South-South are no more fools even if we once-upon-a-time were bloody fools. Everything passes. Our time of bloody foolishness has since passed.

No, we nor be mugu or mumu again. Let our president change and we will change.

President Buhari and his cabal of intriguers must deal with us (and all Nigerians) justly and in such a way that must compel us to love his presidency and our country dutifully, morally and practically.

The presidential election is theirs, is seemingly theirs – if they explicitly and immediately hearken to the expressed concern here. We know a president who loves his country when he selflessly pays heed to reason and good and wise counsel.

It is not late for Buhari to change and give us real change to enrich our national consciousness, spirit and values as the country of the largest concentration of blacks in the world.

Am I kidding? Or is the president kidding me? Or is the president kidding us real patriots of our country? The answer must be blowing differently in both the desert and savannah of Buhari’s region and in the ocean and mangroves and rain forests of the Niger Delta of our South-South. Am I kidding you? Or am I kidding the president? Or?


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