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Time to interview some leaders

By Abraham Ogbodo
16 October 2016   |   4:03 am
In Nigeria, we always hope to pray our way through every danger without repentance. The God I know and serve does not work that way. Agreed, His mercies endure and are renewed every morning ...
The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo

The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo

In Nigeria, we always hope to pray our way through every danger without repentance. The God I know and serve does not work that way. Agreed, His mercies endure and are renewed every morning, but you see, even in the divine realm, there are still protocols, which was why God went ahead and destroyed Jerusalem in spite of the prayers and weeping of Prophet Jeremiah. None escapes judgment without repentance. This is the thing to worry about.

With so many Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes in the land, there is a great deal of sanctimonious posturing in high places. The weightier issues of mercy, justice and charity are of lesser concern in the delusional pursuit of political sanctity. Every leader in Nigeria is passionate about peace and unity but none is concerned about the leadership attitudes that will ensure that state of affairs. The peace anthem we sing does not have a stanza on justice. This has kept the country troubled and nothing is likely to change as we continue the quest for peace without a corresponding desire to establish justice.

I am here today to say if justice cannot cascade like waterfall, from the topmost height down to the lowest point, the country shall wait forever for peace. Yet, justice is a most unlikely prospect in a setting where truth has remained a constant casualty in the conduct of national affairs. Truth begets justice and justice begets peace. If injustice is so casually explained away as the real deal in the new leadership style, what shall follow is total obliteration of our capacity to make choices as a people. That is, full scale enthronement of a Hobson state.

They have come for the judges today and it is being explained as part of the renewed determination to force corruption out of Nigeria. Yesterday, they came for the opposition and it was explained as a patriotic retrieval of stolen and degraded heritage. As a journalist, this is actually the time I would like to conduct big interviews with persons we have branded national leaders; the self-styled beacons who have continued to cast light when there is darkness.

For instance, an interview with Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at this critical time of nation building would be very useful. I have only met him once when he was still in office as governor of Lagos State. After waiting for about four hours in Alausa, Dele Alake, his commissioner for information and strategy took us (Alabi Williams, the late Guardian photographer Paul Oloko and I) to him at his official residence on Mariner, where we waited for another two hours before the brief session with him amid interjections from a horde of political associates, one of whom was Musiliu Obanikoro, who was then angling to go to the Senate under the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

The man is even much busier today attending to pressing issues. Concerns about his political survival in the subsisting configuration, businesses and family are weighing down on him. And so, I will not take more of his time asking too many questions. I will ask just one question: “Sir, if the Almighty in his infinite mercies graciously takes you about two years back in time and gives you the unusual opportunity to relive your circumstances, will you act precisely the same way you did then?

I will not make it sharp sharp as if pressed to meet production deadline. In fact, I will leave Bourdillon for Abeokuta so that the Ashiwaju can have ample time to consult widely within his political and biological families before putting pen on paper because anything he writes will be used against him in Aso Rock and in the court of the APC.

In Abeokuta, I will visit the Prof. in his forest and ask him the same question. Since he is much more quick witted in verbal reasoning, I shall wait to record his answer before returning to Lagos.

I wouldn’t know how Prof would answer but I suspect the intervening time of one and half years may cause him to change his position again just as the intervening time of 30 years had caused him to change his position about certain things and people in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election. I shall leave Abeokuta for Ogba, in Ikeja area of Lagos to also bounce the same question off Pastor Tunde Bakare. Some people describe him as fiery Pentecostal cleric, but I will tell him to leave out the fire in him and answer the question calmly so that his answer is not misconstrued by enemies. He was a vice presidential candidate in 2011 and depending on how he answers, people may say he is nursing bad belle because he was not chosen again in 2015 to run as vice presidential candidate.

The pastor has been reported as saying he would not make public his views on President Muhammadu Buhari for reasons best known to him. I will also give him time to consult widely among his congregation to align his private views with his public posture, just in case he will want to say something about the Buhari’s presidency. I will leave Pastor alone in Ogba in search of another Professor who was assigned the task of complementing all existing official agencies in the battle against corruption. He is the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Anti-corruption (PCAC) or something like that.

He is a highly favoured man. He taught law until he became a professor of law and practised law until he was named Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Now, he has been moving in the corridors of power for well over 12 months and there is likelihood he will enter fully the house of power. Like his counterpart in Abeokuta, the law Professor is also very gallant. He does not need anybody’s assistance to answer a simple question. In fact, both Profs are oracles who are consulted to unravel mysteries. They not required to be taught anything. Whatever they do not know in their respective area is not worth knowing.

I will wait to have his answer and return to Abeokuta to meet the old farmer for his views on the same question. Baba who has seen it all as two-time head of state is not a man to be hurried over anything. He usually takes his time in everything he does. It is not a problem. I shall go at his pace so that he doesn’t get angry and tear the piece of paper on which the question is written, the same way he did to his party membership card last year.

The last port of call in these shuttles is Minna, Niger State, where I hope to kill two birds with a stone. I cannot go to press without the contributions of the two Minna Generals, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar. They will be served the same question for reactions and if I can, I will fish out the third general, Theophilus Danjuma, for his contribution too.
All views will be collated as transmitted. I promise, nobody will be misquoted or quoted out of context. After all, I will be handling things myself and not a reporter who may cause some apprehensions.

Let me quickly add that the whole thing is a soul searching exercise and not intended to indict anybody. No heart should be troubled over the proposed interviews. Who knows, perhaps from the diverse responses that will follow, we may be able to know how truth, justice and ultimately peace is killed in Nigeria on the alter expediencies that have nothing to do the nation building.

In view of recent revelations by Dr. Reuben Abati and which were corroborated by Femi Fan-Kayode that the Aso Rock Villa is a stronghold of demons, I want to add a little to the task of the pastor. I enjoin him to rally his fellow fiery clerics of the Pentecostal brand for an all-out spiritual war to pull down the powers and principalities in Aso Rock. At least, there is now an explanation, which fits so well into the African cosmology why Nigerian leaders are incapable of doing good. They do not live among the people; they live among demons. They can’t speak the truth, dispense justice or create peace.