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Nigeria: A forest of thousand demons

HAVE they released your brother, Reuben Abati?” “As at this time of speaking (Friday, 4th November), not to the best of my knowledge.” “That is serious. Don’t you think he must be having a very serious case; perhaps, running into billions of dollars?” “Haba! How much is the whole ONSA bazaar? Just a little over two billion U. S. dollars!” “Why, then, is he still languishing in the EFCC – or is it DSS – gulag?” “EFCC; they said he was yet to meet his administrative bail conditions” “Are they IMF? Why should bail conditions be made so stringent?” “It is politics. For some, the conditions are relaxed; for others, the noose is maliciously made tight.” “But there is supposed to be a level playing field?” “Say that to the Marines! A hallmark of Buhari is that he thumbs his long nose at level playing field, due process and rule of law”

“But this is a democracy and the president himself did say he is a converted democrat.” “Convoluted democrat is more like it; but the bail issue is one area where I blame Abati as the architect of his own misfortune.” “How do you mean? Is he no longer your brother?” “Truth be told all the same; when others were going into government to eat and drink like a horse, he went there speaking ‘turenchi’ and writing big, big grammar. See where it has landed him.” “I see! The man must be feeling really miserable.” “Not yet; his real problem will begin when his other colleagues perfect their bail conditions and he is left in solitary confinement.” “Are there some others with him?” “Sure; three ex-ministers, but one of them is said to have almost perfected his own bail conditions.” “How come that some are able to perfect but others are not?” “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” “But they were all members of the same Federal Executive Council?” “That is where it ends. Some went in there shinning their eyes while others went there to count bridges.” “What a pity! He has to be helped. I have two books I will love to loan him if you can undertake to take them to him.” “I cannot promise but I will try.” “The books are Dusan Hamsik’s ‘Writers against rulers’ and ‘Psychological Survival’ by Stanley Cohen and Laurie Taylor. We must not allow them break his will.”

“I understand the detainees are all in high spirit. They were visited recently by some VIPs.” “I am happy to hear that. But which judge imposes stringent bail conditions on his fellow men?” “Are you in this country and still don’t know what is happening to the Bench?” “Honestly, no one can follow all the newsbreak in this country of ours. Only you journalists can, because it is your job.” “But you sure heard the so-called ‘sting operation’ of the DSS against some judges.” “Yes, I do. What is the latest on it?” “There is no latest. On such issues, the more you look, the less you see.” “That is what troubles me about this country. You can’t really put your finger firmly on any issue.” “It is in the nature of things here. The judges in soup today are said to be those who smiled to the bank under Jonathan.” “So it is pay-back time for them?” “Something like that; Gen. Mamman Vatsa said life is full of ups and downs while fortune or misfortune is turn by turn.”

“So this is the time for some judges who were not smiling before to smile?” “Absolutely! Can’t you see the ‘Oluwole’ judgments some judges are churning out while the same DSS looks away?” “Someone said the Judiciary is divided into PDP and APC. You have PDP judges and you have APC judges?” “May that not be so!” “When PDP lands in APC courts, they are done for!” “When APC landed in PDP courts in the past, what happened? Change has berthed.” “But PDP was somehow mild; they allowed a semblance of neutrality.” “That is the difference between their two leaders. One over-reached himself to act like a democrat and was timid while the order stands ram-rod and is audacious” “But come to think of it, if judges are corrupt, who corrupted them?” “Politicians, of course, acting directly and also in cahoots with fat-cat lawyers.” “Didn’t the law say both the takers and givers of bribe are guilty?” “The law is an ass; again, who will bell the cat when those who perpetrate the corruption are the same people acting as accusers and prosecutors?” “The judiciary appears intimidated and forlorn already.” “They have been abandoned. Even their own members have turned on them.” “That way, I perceive trouble. Once the judiciary is crest-fallen, all is lost.” “They should stand up and fight. They owe themselves that…” “They owe the society no less. If they won’t do it for their own cause; they have to do it for us. It is only if they stand firm that your brother can regain his freedom and retain his fire.”

“But I have missed Abati’s elucidation and incisive write-ups for weeks now. His piece on the spiritual forces stalking the throne of power in Nigeria was especially controversial.” “I heard of it. Do you believe in such superstition?” “Of course I do; they are not superstitions but a fact of our existential condition. There are ‘ogbonge’ witches and wizards stalking the land; there are also wicked ‘abikus’ that have refused to go away.” “Really? I used to think these were mere tales told by the moonlight.” “Not really. Some of the ‘abikus’ came into the open recently; and where else but at the Presidential Villa.” “You don’t mean it?” “Yes, at the meeting of the so-called Niger Delta leaders with Buhari, I counted many of the  ‘ogbonge’ witches and wizards and unrepentant ‘abikus’; people who have refused to get away from the corridors of power. Did you read Wole Soyinka’s ‘Abiku’ – ‘coming and going these repeated times…? ’” “I remember.” “Those who paraded as Jonathan’s political fathers; who held high offices in his government and led his administration astray; those who wined and dined with him; whom you never could have imagined would touch Buhari with a ten-mile long pole – they were all there grinning from ear to ear and filing out for photo-ops with the president.” “I was shocked myself. People who have been in the corridors of power before I was born: when will they get away?” “They are ‘abiku’ and will never get away. They go and they return.” “I blame Buhari for encouraging such a motley crowd of court jesters” “Except, of course, that Buhari himself is one of them. He is an ‘abiku’” “I don’t understand what you mean” “Buhari himself has been in and out of the corridors of power since God-knows-when. He had been Federal Commissioner; military Head of State, PTF chairman, and now civilian President at seventy-something years of age, when he should have been enjoying his retirement.” “Birds of a feather, you must be saying.” “Exactly!”

“That apart, the petition of the Niger Delta leaders to Buhari is really pathetic. They were begging for a morsel of the pounded yam that actually should belong to them.” “I felt terribly disappointed by their genuflecting and cringing: “We want sweets; we want chocolate, we want pampers.” “Their own son was there six years; he did nothing to redress the marginalization of his own people.” “Trust the North for their understanding of the power game. Buhari promised them nothing. He even said he was not in a hurry to solve the Niger Delta problem.” “Once the black gold is flowing in the right quantum by force or by cajoling, why the hurry?” “To me, the meeting was an anti-climax of sorts. I had thought some speeches that would resonate well would be made and then some documents would be signed.” “Thank God, Femi Fani-Kayode is out of circulation. If not, I shudder to think how he would describe the meeting between the children of Futa-Jallon and those of the Niger Delta.” “Are his own bail conditions as stringent as those of your brother?” “I expect them to even be worse. By my own reckoning; he is the Number Three persona non grata of the Buhari administration.” “And who are the others?” “Sambo Dasuki is Number One; Ayodele Fayose, the governor of Ekiti State, is Number Two.” “I understand Fayose’s high rating and Fani-Kayode’s for their acerbic criticism of Buhari, but not Dasuki’s.” “Dasuki reportedly maltreated Buhari while leading the soldiers that arrested the then military Head of State in 1985. Also, you have not appropriately dissected the criticisms of Dasuki by Northern leaders. His sin is not just that money meant for arms was diverted but also that he is an ‘Akotileta’ of a son.” “What is the meaning of ‘Akotileta’?” “Someone who gives his heritage to others.” “I see. The arms money should have helped the war against Boko Haram in the North-East” “Yes, it is unimaginable that it was a Northerner who presided over its diversion, and much of it to Southerners. It is like treason against one’s own people.” “Would it have been less offensive if the diverted money were meant for, say, Lagos-Ibadan express road or Ogoni clean-up?” “I should think so. All the ‘Akotiletas’ in the South, who diverted bond money, UBEC funds, workers’ salaries and pensions, workers’ contributory schemes into APC presidential primaries/elections and other elections are walking free. They should be given the same Dasuki treatment in a uniformly fought war against corruption. Many of them have even bagged mouth-watering appointments.” “But Buhari has said he is not interested in probing election funds…” “That is what he is stealthily doing and cleverly limiting to PDP while turning blind spot to APC’s own campaign funds also procured from the same public treasury” Oro p’esi je!

LAST WORD: Before they bring back toll gates, our rulers should read the Yoruba novel “Agbalowomeri, Baale Jontolo”. They should also study the story of King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 10: 1 – 16).