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…This shall also come to pass!

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Justice Walter Onnoghen

I want to start on a philosophical note today and this philosophical mood will be underpinned by three voices, whom I have contracted to help me out because even though I am a philosopher (Ph.D, Doctor of Philosophy) I am actually not a philosopher.

The title of the piece, which I have used sometimes (about 25 years) ago appears about 120 times in the King James version of the Bible but in this worldly divide, it is credited to Jeanette Coron, who advises us not to give up in difficult times because ‘this too shall pass’ This is close to the Indian Proverb which declares that  ‘life is a cycle, always in motion and if good times have moved on, so will times of trouble’. I will cap these sayings through the voice of Victor Hugo who declared with a spirit of optimism and confidence that ‘even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise’.  I am not very happy with the recent happenings in our polity and I have examined these developments with the eyes of an elder and a spirit and I am afraid that if we do not ply a break on some of our thoughtless actions, disregard for peoples sensibilities, acting with ‘in your face’ arrogance or the mentality of ‘I can and will do whatever I like and there is nothing you can do about it’ while we are managing collective affairs and resources, then the future is bleak. But two things give me confidence. First: God is a Nigerian and that is why all these times we have foolishly plunged ourselves into avoidable crises, He always comes to our rescue, though he allows us to see the folly of our actions. Second: as sure as day follows the night: This too shall come to pass, though I don’t know where we would be as a nation and as nationals after it has passed.

After independence, our first set of politicians forgot why they were in power, forgot the one-Nigeria philosophy that underpinned their struggle, became highhanded and corruption started walking on all fours (though it was only 10%). It came to pass when the soldiers struck. A lot of actions and mis-actions, including a what can you do mentality led to a one-week police action. It lasted three years and those in Biafra thought we would never see the end of hunger-induced deaths, wicked air-raids that targeted everything including chickens mating by the roadsides, and several helpless Kwashiorkor victims, it ended and came to pass one morning, just like that! We entered the era of Go On With One Nigeria and the yet to be completed 3Rs. But Gowon overstayed his welcome and his era came to pass. We witnessed two brief military interregnums and from thence, the era of Shagari. Shagari was a gentleman and appeared harmless but corruption and scandalous profligacy was the order of the day by the politicians, who celebrated birthdays with customized Champaign and had private jets, even when they were ministers. One early morning, it came to pass. Buhari had been here before; an era of unparalleled highhandedness, retroactive decrees, assault on the judiciary, and parochial tendencies. And then, it came to pass because as Sanober Khan reminded us, ‘nothing remains, nothing lasts’’ IBB (I didn’t call him the evil genius) did  his maradonic dribbles, endless transition programme (a little to the left and a little to the right) and democratized corruption while the taciturn and murderous Abacha was adopted as the sole candidate by all the 5 parties ( the five fingers of a leprous hand), with one-million marchers in support. They though it would last for ever. But their eras came to pass.

Gradually, we landed on the democratic plain with Obasanjo, who moved from prison to presidency. His was the height of impunity in a democratic realm and he felt he was so good that the constitution had to be amended for him to do it a life time. He swaggered like one who was so sure of tomorrow and one whom nothing could stop. It was the do-or-die era. And yet, one morning, it came to pass, despite the unalloyed support of coercive instruments of state with several armed and verbal attack-dogs! YarÁdua promised a breath of fresh air as he agreed that the election that brought him to power was flawed but was quickly succeeded by Jonathan who went to school with no shoes practiced a politics of appeasement. He played the gentleman, allowed the various arms of government to do their own thing and ended his era on the right side of history when he conceded defeat. But it came to pass and he left with the PDP, the largest party in Africa that planned to rule for 60years.

Then emerged President Buhari, the saintly poor man who could not afford the cost of his nomination form; who promised CHANGE; who waited for six months to appoint fellow saints as ministers, who believed in  body language, who belonged to everyone and no one, and who converted sinners to saints by mere association. The two major recent- and worrisome- happenings are the appointment of a new IGP and the never-seen-before suspension of the CJN, whom PMB was very reluctant to appoint in the first instance. The retirement of the previous IGP was an opportunity to minimally dilute the absolute nothernisation of our security apparatus but for the current government, inclusiveness is an alien concept. And then came the appointment of Mr Tanko as the acting CJN under very strange circumstances. Onnoghen was alleged to have failed to declare his assets and engaged in shady deals and was suspended based an order by Danladi Umar who is facing corruption  charges. The timing of the petition, the arraignment, the exparte order and the suspension evidence a higher-order plot to achieve some predetermined goals.

According to the learned ones, this was based on an application that was not moved, a petition that was not investigated and a charge that was not prosecuted and in spite of Appeal Court orders. Even our own Nollywood could not have coupled a more high-wire plot. Beyond the legal knots on Tanko’s appointment, I don’t know whether he was appointed based on merit or because he is among those he could trust. The wife of the CJN is alleged to be an APC senatorial candidate in Bauchi while the husband of the President of the Court of Appeal is an APC Senatorial Candidate in the same Bauchi and with the way Onoghen was dealt with, we are surely in a buying or bullying era (Kole Omotsho  Guardian, 27/1/19, p11). It appears both tactics have been effectively deployed!

Now, a President that spent three years hounding the head of the legislature, who escaped because of his smartness and street-wise traits has succeeded in removing the head of the judiciary in a democracy characterized by division of power. By the CJN removal and replacement he has scandalized and bastardised the judiciary (as in the case of Jinadu, during Buharis first time out) and in the process attempted to ‘climb the moral high ground using a ladder of illegality’( Guardian editorial). There is collective angst in the land. The NBA has ordered a court-boycott (some lawyers ignored the order); the supreme court judges boycotted the  swearing in of the new CJN and has ordered both the old and the new to respond to petitions within 7 days. It appears the FGN got the NJC involved as an after thought; the CCT has adjourned Onnoghens trial indefinitely, after the goal has been scored, a thousand and one cases and petitions are flying around and the CJNs office has been sealed by the hyper-active police. As at now, the symbol of justice is in a make-shift life support. All these are happening a few days to an election and in spite of these, Lai Mohammed had declared that the greatest threats to the elections are fake news and hate speeches.

There is palpable angst in the land but as our people would say ’ndi n’ochi, ndi nákwa (some are  whining and some are rejoicing over the same matter). A good number of people are also excited about the development, with one of my very good friends seeing the Onoghen affair as the best thing that has ever happened to Nigeria. But for those who are rejoicing and those who are embittered, let them remember that everything is fleeting and impermanent (Shane Kuhn) and : the bad new is that nothing lasts for ever; the good news is that nothing lasts forever ( J. Cole). Ultimately, all these shall come to pass and all the current men of power would one day become ex-this, ex-that and probably receive the power-drunk treatment they meted on others. May God bless Nigeria

• Muo wrote from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.


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