Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it –George Santayana (writer and philosopher).
Man hardly learns from the helping hands of history. Even when they are open, like the wavy lines on our palms, not a few of the world’s political, economic and spiritual leaders ever find the time to read God’s hand writing on the wall. As of today, we are witnessing global situations similar to the time of the Biblical Daniel when the words “menemenetekelupharsin” appeared on the wall of the king’s palace.
They were written by a mysterious hand when King Belshazzar held a great feast with drinks from the vessels that had been looted during the destruction of the First Temple. Back then, the king was holding the Jews captive in the foreign land of Babylon in the 6th Century BC.
So, how would the world leaders take the necessary precautions, from preventable tragedies, if they refuse to hearken to God’s voice through the people they lead? According to Aldous Huxley: “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” That is the tragedy!
Such leadersare often too enmeshed in satisfying their personal agendas, satiating their epicurean tastes or massaging their ego at the expense of the wishes of the masses or statutory provisions than listening to that silent voice within, that says “no,” even when the their driving, devilish desires say “yes, why not?”
So, here we are in 2020, the year that I have since described as that of “God’s anger,” using the sudden stroke of reversal of fortunes. Here we are witnessing the good, the bad and the ugly events that unfold beyond our wildest imaginations, all too suddenly.
From the freaky weather conditions characterised by the cold harmatan winds in January, here we are in March crying over the haunting humid heat. What about the horrifying spectre of the coronavirus that emerged suddenly from the incubation stage in Wuhan, China in December, 2019 and has metamorphosed into a global pandemic status, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), all within three months. But as it is with the unpredictable waves of Mother Nature, so the sudden changes being reflected in Nigeria’s shifty, quicksand political sphere.
Again, within a space of three months, the likes of Emeka Ihedioha, David Lyon, Dakuku Peterside, Adams Oshiomhole and former emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, have fallen victims of the swinging pendulum of political power. They have been compelled to hand over their batons of power to someone else. How transient the capacity to dictate the destiny of men and materials could be.
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Few, if any of our fortune-seeking prophets, saw it all coming. For instance, when tomorrow comes, how would history judge the seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, who declined to restore Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as governor of Imo State?
That a candidate who came fourth at the governorship election suddenly emerges as the winner with the total number of votes cast predicated on evidence from a security officer and not the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) defies common logic.
It would interest the next generation and others to come, therefore, that a member of the apex court panel, Justice Centus Nweze, disagreed with the lead verdict and gave a dissenting opinion that allowed Ihedioha’s application. Nweze said that the judgment that declared Hope Uzodinma winner was entered in error. He held that the apex court had a duty to, in the interest of justice, set aside its decision that was given in error. Even after Ihedioha’s return to the Supreme Court, his prayers were not answered. The rest, as we know, is history.
Still caught in the eye of the storm, the same Supreme Court nullified the victory of Bayelsa governor-elect, Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and that of his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo. The five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, upheld the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo from partaking in the election for submitting forged certificates to INEC.
But for the vile vituperation of the embattled APC Chairman, Oshiomhole, bent on turning the apple cart, and which unfortunately triggered angst against Diri, many observers felt that justice had, indeed, been served.
And talking about Oshiomhole, he has been accused of being “at loggerheads with key stakeholders and did not heed the president’s admonition to resolve the crisis within the party. His critics say he is too highhanded, proud and lacks the capacity to manage a political party as diverse as the APC.”
The loss of governorship elections in states such as Zamfara, Rivers and Bayelsa to the opposing PDP, given the controversial direct and indirect primaries for different states, have not stood him in good stead. Add the increasing intra-party acrimony to his running battle with Governor Godwin Obaseki of his home state, Edo, as well as the fear of the incumbent governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, not clinching the ticket and the chorus clamouring for Oshiomhole’s removal becomes louder by some decibels.
As the APC chairman, the crisis in the party “took a new twist as a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party was marred by shouting and quarrels over the announcement of Waziri Bulama as new national secretary by the NWC of the party.” It would be unheard of for Mr President to tolerate such frequent bickering within the ruling APC fold under his watch.
As for Peterside, the erstwhile Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), his removal by President Muhammadu Buhari is reportedly because of his inability to develop indigenous shipping, thereby losing industry operators’ goodwill. His failure to curb the menace of piracy as well as his inability to maintain a harmonious relationship with federal lawmakers became his undoing.
But watchers of the political terrain feel it was a subtle attempt to clip the wings of his mentor, Rotimi Amaechi ahead of 2023 general elections. Only time will tell where the truth lies.
When it comes to that of Sanusi, his recent removal as emir of Kano by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is purely political, from all indications. To many critical observers, his audacity to speak truth to power is responsible for his ordeals. But what one finds reprehensible is his manner of banishment by the powers-that-be. If he had gone to court to seek redress, so be it. The groundswell of public sympathy he is currently enjoying should be instructive to his traducers.
In all of these, what matters most are the lessons we stand to glean from the transience of power and, perhaps, never to repeat them. Now is the time for the leaders to read the handwriting on the wall and act when it matters most.
Baje writes via email@example.com