Heartfelt cry for Nigeria’s redemption

A review of Dele Farotimi’s Do Not Die in Their War by AKINTAYO ABODUNRIN

DELE Farotimi’s Do Not Die in Their War presented on Tuesday, June 4 at Freedom Park, Lagos Island is a painful read. Painful not because of obscurantism or a poor grasp of subject matter on the part of the author, but because of the starkness of its content. It is an angry, acerbic and intense book that looks at the Nigerian situation critically across 278 pages.

The author, a one-time Student Union President at the Lagos State University and lawyer, holds the mirror up for us to see where, how and when we allowed the rain to start beating us.  In well-written essays, he highlights everyone’s complicity in Nigeria’s current comatose state and why the system needs to be urgently changed. Though Farotimi highlights everyone’s fault, he reserves special flagellations for a host of political leaders including ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and a host of other enablers of President Buhari, who has not impressed with his performance in office, do not escape his scathing criticisms.

Our anaemic political parties, especially the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are not exempt from the author’s cudgel. He describes the duo as “two hands of a leper” on page 151, adding that, “they are mirror images, six and half a dozen and are Siamese twins, principally inseparable.”

In the book he describes as ‘a treatise on Nigeria’s contemporary political trajectories’, Farotimi pulls no punches and spares no one he feels contributed and is contributing to the nation’s failures. Though hailed as a hero and progressive by his followers across the country, Farotimi has a contrary view of Tinubu. While accepting his brilliance and organisational skills, he contends that they have, in the main, been used to feather his nest. He wrote in the essay ‘Crooked System=Bad Leadership: Nepotism as Foundation’ on page 40 that, “Bola Ahmed Tinubu would have been miles ahead of an Awolowo, but regrettably, he is unconstrained by the moral code and discipline that Awolowo had in abundance. It is the same powers that Awolowo exercised that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is exercising today. The only difference being that Awolowo was a man who had massive self-discipline, humongous and unbelievable self-discipline and he could take his eyes away from personal gains, which unfortunately is something that Tinubu seemingly lacks in totality.”

Further highlighting Tinubu’s perceived flaws in ‘The Rape of Lekki: A Personal Testimony’, Farotimi who lives in Lekki and is angry over the desecration of a once peaceful neighbourhood, contends that: “Bola Ahmed Tinubu oversaw a most brutal rape of the Lekki Peninsula. I am talking about land grabs. Though he is not alone in such things -practically all those who occupied that office had done the same; Tinubu turned it into a science. What he did, which no one had ever done before, was the theft of a commonwealth. He superintended over the theft of the only road in and out of the Lekki metropolis. He did so in full glare of the cameras, in broad daylight, with aplomb, and he was applauded for his ‘foresight’ and ‘vision’”.

Aside from individuals that he argues contributed to the nation’s woes, the author makes a case for the change of the current ineffectual system. The Nigerian system, he notes in ‘Up to the Oppressed to throw off the Oppressor’ on page 174, “was not designed for the greater good of the greater number of her citizens; it is a system designed to maximise the powers and advantages of a few over the most.” He, therefore, calls for restructuring, the “one that places the rights and interests of the citizens over and above the narrow interests of our political overlords.”

On the failure of the rule of law, Farotimi argues in ‘The State and the Rule of Law’ on page 44 that, “the Nigerian state cannot afford for the law to rule. Nigeria is a criminal state, and if it were to be accountable for its actions, Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdulsalami, each of the people you would call Nigerian statesmen would either be in prisons or would have been executed for high crimes and treason against the state. If the law were to rule in Nigeria, Jonathan and his entire gang would be in jails, stripped of their loots; and we would have been spared the cackling of vultures that the PDP current gatherings truly represent. If the law were to rule in Nigeria, the APC would not be the laundromat of crooks relaunched as saints, by the Ali Baba with the legions of thieves.”

The so-called fight against corruption, of which he says he has witnessed four circuses – the Murtala Muhammed regime, Buhari’s military government, Obasanjo’s second coming and Buhari’s current crusade; is also examined by the author who returns a damning verdict on the current administration’s hypocritical effort. For him, however, Nigeria’s problem goes beyond corruption. “The problem is impunity, and immunity that comes with the sporadic circuses of corruption that have plagued our country from ages past,” he notes in ‘Awkward Fight Against Corruption’ on page 65.

The pervasive insecurity, collapse of public institutions including health, education, the warped criminal justice system, compromised press, subjective truth, weaponisation of poverty and ignorance, the lie called ‘Northern interest/ monolithic north’, which in reality is the interest of the Fulani/Hausa oligarchs is also treated in the book.

In the title essay, ‘Do not die in their war’ and written just before the 2015 general elections, Farotimi foresaw that the change being trumpeted by the APC would be illusory, that the fight against corruption would be selective and tokenistic, and that Nigerians wouldn’t fare any better. “A mere change of personnel will not solve the problem, it is the system itself that requires reformation, and the nation itself that has to be redefined with the rights of its citizens delineated and held sacrosanctly,” he writes while warning people to ‘resist all invitations to violence.”

However, even with all his anger and frustration with the country’s failures and dishonest politicians, Farotimi has not given up. Nigeria is worth saving, he notes in the book that also contains strategies on how to rebuild the land. There’s also a proposed new Nigerian Constitution drafted by Ralph Nwoke and other lawyers in his chambers as an appendix.

DELE Farotimi’s Do Not Die in Their War presented on Tuesday, June 4 at Freedom Park, Lagos Island is a painful read. Painful not because of obscurantism or a poor grasp of subject matter on the part of the author, but because of the starkness of its content. It is an angry, acerbic and intense book that looks at the Nigerian situation critically across 278 pages.

The author, a one-time Student Union President at the Lagos State University and lawyer, holds the mirror up for us to see where, how and when we allowed the rain to start beating us.  In well-written essays, he highlights everyone’s complicity in Nigeria’s current comatose state and why the system needs to be urgently changed. Though Farotimi highlights everyone’s fault, he reserves special flagellations for a host of political leaders including ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and a host of other enablers of President Buhari, who has not impressed with his performance in office, do not escape his scathing criticisms.

Our anaemic political parties, especially the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are not exempt from the author’s cudgel. He describes the duo as “two hands of a leper” on page 151, adding that, “they are mirror images, six and half a dozen and are Siamese twins, principally inseparable.”

In the book he describes as ‘a treatise on Nigeria’s contemporary political trajectories’, Farotimi pulls no punches and spares no one he feels contributed and is contributing to the nation’s failures. Though hailed as a hero and progressive by his followers across the country, Farotimi has a contrary view of Tinubu. While accepting his brilliance and organisational skills, he contends that they have, in the main, been used to feather his nest. He wrote in the essay ‘Crooked System=Bad Leadership: Nepotism as Foundation’ on page 40 that, “Bola Ahmed Tinubu would have been miles ahead of an Awolowo, but regrettably, he is unconstrained by the moral code and discipline that Awolowo had in abundance. It is the same powers that Awolowo exercised that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is exercising today. The only difference being that Awolowo was a man who had massive self-discipline, humongous and unbelievable self-discipline and he could take his eyes away from personal gains, which unfortunately is something that Tinubu seemingly lacks in totality.”

Further highlighting Tinubu’s perceived flaws in ‘The Rape of Lekki: A Personal Testimony’, Farotimi who lives in Lekki and is angry over the desecration of a once peaceful neighbourhood, contends that: “Bola Ahmed Tinubu oversaw a most brutal rape of the Lekki Peninsula. I am talking about land grabs. Though he is not alone in such things -practically all those who occupied that office had done the same; Tinubu turned it into a science. What he did, which no one had ever done before, was the theft of a commonwealth. He superintended over the theft of the only road in and out of the Lekki metropolis. He did so in full glare of the cameras, in broad daylight, with aplomb, and he was applauded for his ‘foresight’ and ‘vision’”.

Aside from individuals that he argues contributed to the nation’s woes, the author makes a case for the change of the current ineffectual system. The Nigerian system, he notes in ‘Up to the Oppressed to throw off the Oppressor’ on page 174, “was not designed for the greater good of the greater number of her citizens; it is a system designed to maximise the powers and advantages of a few over the most.” He, therefore, calls for restructuring, the “one that places the rights and interests of the citizens over and above the narrow interests of our political overlords.”

On the failure of the rule of law, Farotimi argues in ‘The State and the Rule of Law’ on page 44 that, “the Nigerian state cannot afford for the law to rule. Nigeria is a criminal state, and if it were to be accountable for its actions, Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdulsalami, each of the people you would call Nigerian statesmen would either be in prisons or would have been executed for high crimes and treason against the state. If the law were to rule in Nigeria, Jonathan and his entire gang would be in jails, stripped of their loots; and we would have been spared the cackling of vultures that the PDP current gatherings truly represent. If the law were to rule in Nigeria, the APC would not be the laundromat of crooks relaunched as saints, by the Ali Baba with the legions of thieves.”

The so-called fight against corruption, of which he says he has witnessed four circuses – the Murtala Muhammed regime, Buhari’s military government, Obasanjo’s second coming and Buhari’s current crusade; is also examined by the author who returns a damning verdict on the current administration’s hypocritical effort. For him, however, Nigeria’s problem goes beyond corruption. “The problem is impunity, and immunity that comes with the sporadic circuses of corruption that have plagued our country from ages past,” he notes in ‘Awkward Fight Against Corruption’ on page 65.

The pervasive insecurity, collapse of public institutions including health, education, the warped criminal justice system, compromised press, subjective truth, weaponisation of poverty and ignorance, the lie called ‘Northern interest/ monolithic north’, which in reality is the interest of the Fulani/Hausa oligarchs is also treated in the book.

In the title essay, ‘Do not die in their war’ and written just before the 2015 general elections, Farotimi foresaw that the change being trumpeted by the APC would be illusory, that the fight against corruption would be selective and tokenistic, and that Nigerians wouldn’t fare any better. “A mere change of personnel will not solve the problem, it is the system itself that requires reformation, and the nation itself that has to be redefined with the rights of its citizens delineated and held sacrosanctly,” he writes while warning people to ‘resist all invitations to violence.”

However, even with all his anger and frustration with the country’s failures and dishonest politicians, Farotimi has not given up. Nigeria is worth saving, he notes in the book that also contains strategies on how to rebuild the land. There’s also a proposed new Nigerian Constitution drafted by Ralph Nwoke and other lawyers in his chambers as an appendix.

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