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What was done that should have been done


Within twenty-four hours of its commencement, it was already a matter of regret. It is the military coup d’etat, a blow against the state of Nigeria. Why did they attempt it when they could not carry it through? Why did they surrender to their superior officers who were not interested in a coup d’etat? Was it the bloodiness of it that put them off? That military intervention should never have been attempted.

The country had been split into three unequal regions with one region bigger than the remaining two regions put together. More calamitous for the future country, each region was given the impression that they will be allowed to develop on their own, along their own paths. Those who wanted western education rush on to western education. Those who wished for Islamic education get on with it. As if the regions were not coming to the same market place to pick and choose futures.

The politicians should have been left alone to fight one another to a standstill. Politics is about power. Politicians were playing for power.


The best player should have been left to carry the laurels. In the next round, the loser of today would be the winner of tomorrow. The Sardauna of Sokoto and his Yoruba ally should have been allowed to get away with rigging the election and ruining the country in the process. The third arm of the country was there. How was that arm going to play into the game? Especially since that arm was the most nationalistic. It was the most widespread in its population throughout the country. How were they going to choose the side to go with? The side that could have helped to stabilise the boat ended up being the victim of the game.

There seemed to have been an inevitability, going for smash-up and there was nobody to shout “stop!” The kick-start for the next done thing that should not have been was already in place. For evil no doubt those who died were too much to one side. Balancing will have to take place. Settling scores, call it what you like. My people will ask me what I was doing when I let them deal me such blows. Am I just going to stand there and do nothing? The second thing that should not have been done was the civil war.

War is hell. War produces its own logic, logic that is inhuman, a logic that shames humanity. Like the coup d’etat it was to be regretted. Flags flap to different music. Comrades command against each other that used to command in support of each other. Every reason is found to back up the new sides. What was a mere jest becomes a long seated conspiracy. So that’s what they were planning. That’s why they moved away as soon as I came over to their side!


In all wars, it is women and children who perish most. For thirty months the best of both sides was devoted to destroying one another. This side betrayed that side and was fooled by the third side. And the logic of war said that all is fair in love and war. Surprises counter surprises. And after 30 months there was a surrender of one side to the other. No victor, no vanquished. Really? One side rejoined what it broke away from. One side believed it got what it wanted, that part breaking away came back. But did it come back? Was it received back brother to brother?

Every step of these moves dictates the next move. It is inevitable. One step dictates the next step. That’s why the thing should not have been done in the first place. Who gains in a civil war? What is so civil about a civil war? Excuse me, may I cut off your head? Yes, you are welcome if you would let me chop off yours first, thank you.

The third thing that was done that ought not to have been done was the resumption of the military rule. As if nobody believed the no victor no vanquished nonsense, the winners, the victors took the baton of command and gave the orders. And when the winners were tired of one set of winners, they ushered in another set of winners. From that point on a set of people were being excluded from authority.


In 1970, we should have moved on to 1999. To imagine that we would go through thirty years before coming back to democracy. The years of wastage of money, of planlessness, of lack of accountability. Through Gowon to Muhammad to Obasanjo to Shagari (share the gari?) then Buhari and Babangida and Abacha and Abdulsalam and then Obasanjo all over again. Musa Yar’Ardua and Jonathan and here we are again Buhari. We don suffer/Nor be small/Upon say we get sense.

All those years, money finish. What do we have to show for so much money? So and so took some. Another person almost took some more. Some were lost. Some were not lost, simply couldn’t be counted. There some that were scattered all around the world. When they’ve been rested in different banks around the world, they can come home and tell us what those banks feel like.

Today we don’t see the money any more. Budget used to have money will spend. Now, we pass the budget, then we go and look for it before we go and spend it. To the extent that we don’t look like a country anymore. Today, we are not a country. We are a joke. The other day a former student asked what I would do if I was I his shoes. I shamefully said that I was not in his shoes. He told me what I would do. He packed his eight siblings, added their mother and shipped everyone to the United States of America. Their father is still making up his mind. Perhaps, he would prefer that they will be sending maintenance money to him, world without end. They will return, join hands with him and do what must be done.


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