I am beginning today’s writing with a substantial quotation of the very first paragraph of last Monday’s column:
“Many of us who are familiar with literature or who follow books with pleasure as ants suck sugar… endlessly and patiently, cannot but always remember the intellectual honesty of George Orwell, pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), British journalist, novelist and essayist, who wrote 1984, the novel about Orwell’s terrifying prophecy for mankind. This 1949 novel which many of its readers will forever remember, among other concerns, for its “basic language of newspeak in which ‘thought crime is death,’” will always bear in our minds the ideas of a ruthless and pity-less political system such as ours.”
A reader who read the above words and the entire writing in this column last week, wondered why I jettisoned the political import of Orwell’s extraordinary novel with regard to its 1984 political relevance to Nigeria our Nigeria and to the current political atmosphere and mood of Nigeria your Nigeria. But let me confess urgently and openly that the reader in question did not phrase his observation in exactly the terms I have just employed. Far from it. The point is that his observation enabled me to go back in time to 1984 of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first coming to us as a military Head of State, and to his second coming to power as a civilian politician and president after several tries and failures.
Thus a kind of comparison between Buhari’s military dictatorship in 1984 and his present civilian presidential overlord-ship of your country that is a nation that is not a nation is not out of place.
In 1984 of Buhari’s military adventure into political governance, he was excitingly ruthless and pity-less. I use the term “excitingly” to convey a picture of his military adventurism then because the majority of the masses at that time applauded the discipline he introduced to public life, institutions as well as private lives. Of course, 1984 was a reflection of the Shagari era when a leading acolyte of President Shehu Shagari said Nigeria our Nigeria was a happy, blissful land because no-one as at that time had eaten or fed from the dustbin – even when there was indescribable hunger in the land and evidence that those who wanted to feed from the dustbin could not even get remnants from dustbins. The ruling political class then especially at the national level was that bad. How many of them did not have imported drinks and different items such as hats and spectacles named after them? There were several political and economic crimes committed against Nigeria. And when Buhari and Idiagbon (may Allah bless his patriotically patriotic soul) and other military dare-devils struck, Nigerians were happy and more than happy. True military patriots had come to deliver Nigeria, our Nigeria, to sound life and to the state of humanism Jackboot justice meant nothing to us because of the excesses of many politicians.
But no sooner than later the patriotism of the military heroes was skewed in favour of ethnic and regional ethos. But there were still many persons who were positively overwhelmed by patriotism of the jackboot. After all, our politicians then over-reached themselves as corrupt over-reachers. The Shagari men were no men: they gave us not the right values. Yet those who bore the brunt of the times of our ruthless plunder and of our economic doom, candidly speaking, were those in opposition.
Now we are back to that era of reckless plunder and doom. But this time things are far worse than what happened then. Our no nonsense president demands total, national loyalty from us as he descends on the economic wreckers of Nigeria. He is mightily determined to cut off the head, tug off the eyes, slice and cut off the limbs, and arrest the ears of corruption in this land. But this honest mission of palatable moral and spiritual value is being hindered by what many watchers of our political affairs call our president’s systemic partiality. In fact, several persons, within and outside his orbit of politics, brand him an Orwellian of the school of 1984. They say that for this president, a graduate of 1984 military authoritarianism, some animals are certainly more equal than others. They say further that this is no more our Nigeria but his Nigeria. If he was demonstrably patriotic, despite his foibles when he first came, this time he is something else despite his steadfastness to wipe out completely the great disease of doomful corruption everywhere about us. The detractors ask: what can be more criminal than the president’s ethnic and regional appointments so far? All those occupying key posts, sensitive and not sensitive, are they not from the same geo-political or geo-ethnic zone? Yet he wants us to overwhelm him with our mighty strength of national loyalty. What he did unwell in 1984 of Orwell’s nineteen eighty-four he is now perfecting or trying to perfect on this new coming I endorsed at the time I did without a specimen of regret floating in my flawless river of foresight. Our president must admit the sense in this and make amends urgently. He must be intellectual enough to admit this. I offer what I offer here candidly with sentiments of candour. Now he must ditch his deceivers and flatterers. I offer this delicious tuwo chinkafa candidly with sentiments of candour.
By the way, is the president aware that as I write, hardly any person of economic value keeps dustbins for food remnants anymore because of his stifling economic stiffness? People are going to hell by suicide’s premises. This must not be part of his legacy to Nigeria, our Nigeria, your Nigeria.