Dasukigate and the Poverty of Elitism: The Right of Nigerians to Revolt, By Nwike Sampson Ojukwu
My fellow Nigerians, we have earned the right to be outraged and rebellious. We have earned the right to disgrace the people who have caused us untold hardship and have prevented our fatherland from taking its rightful place in the comity of nations. We have earned the right to lynch those who have prevented us from accessing the good of the land. Wherever I go, I see Nigerians proud, hardworking and beating the best. We need a country that reflects our identity, our true identity.
Nigerians from all walks of life have reacted differently to the current investigation of the office of our former National Security Advisor, Malam Dasuki. An overzealous commentator gloated that we do not practice the jury system, otherwise Dasuki would never obtain a fair hearing. My understanding is that a jury system is designed to provide a common sense process of evaluating the facts, which is, using the community standard to evaluate an alleged violation of law, instead of the bench system, which is at the discretion of a judge trained in a jurisprudence that is tangential to the community’s perception of wrong and justice.
In any case, I have watched with interest the on-going theatrics of an investigation, and I came away with one theory: our elites (otherwise referred to as statesmen) are responsible for the failure of our country. I expect that at the conclusion of the exercise, those alleged to have improperly enriched themselves would be tried in a court of law, and if found guilty, they, like every other offender, should serve their prison terms. I also hope and pray that we would realise that we are doing ourselves a disservice to think that a reprobate, because he is a traditional or religious leader, politician—active or retired, law enforcement personnel—serving or retired, is eminently qualified to articulate our interest or defend our values.
The colonial government constructed our “federation,” and like “a sinking ocean liner—rudderless and badly off course” (borrowing the words of Professor Ahkil Amar), transferred power to the local elites, and stepped aside to watch us destroy ourselves in a civil war, which took the lives of millions of our compatriots. The elites, instead of attempting to build a nation out of the beautiful human beings that constitute our great land adopted the same colonial predatory proclivities, the same exclusiveness, and the same entitlement toward our collective wealth and resources. The elites, instead of using the instrument of governance and the deployment of resources, which geography endowed us to advance the public good, mimicked the colonial authority in its worst form. Motivated by avarice and cult mentality, the elites substituted all that is good in our country with a culture of stealing and the rest of humanity is asking, “What is wrong with Nigeria?”
In Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram is relentlessly slaughtering fellow citizens like chickens offered as sacrificial objects at the altar of one of the ancient Greek gods. A fellow citizen charged with the responsibility of purchasing armaments to contain the spread of the menace had the temerity to waste the funds on politicians, traditional and religious leaders, and the law enforcement chiefs, in an effort to salvage a drowning party from embarrassment. What kind of human beings are we? Does not blood and human sympathy flow through our veins?
In the South-East, charlatans, and minions have taken advantage of our timidity to address the economic disparity that is so pervasive across our land to stir the embers of Biafra Renaissance, an idea, which we have deliberately ignored for over forty-five years. This is apart from commercial kidnapping, which has become the pastime of the unemployed youths in the area.
In the Niger Delta, fellow citizens have witnessed the activities of the extractive industries pollute their land. For the most, their means of livelihood, farming, and fishing have been destroyed and their strident voices muffled by the noise from the spoliators. The government pretends to allocate money to alleviate their poverty and clean up the polluted white sands of the Delta, whereas in fact, it is a conduit to funnel money to their fellow elites. Their words may sound great and believable, but no matter how much they speak, their actions betray their ugly side. The elites use the money to fund armed thugs to scare away folks who dare interrogate their engagements and stash away the rest in foreign banks for their first, second, third, and even the fourth generations, thus creating a prospective class of citizens that is morally bankrupt, and will never have any reason to seek employment in their lives. Does this reflect the future we want to create for our children? The elites continually emasculate the goose that lays the golden eggs. Port Harcourt, the “Garden City,” the “Ugwu Ocha,” has become a theatre of violence and brigandage. What a sad commentary!
In the South-East, charlatans, and minions have taken advantage of our timidity to address the economic disparity that is so pervasive across our land to stir the embers of Biafra Renaissance, an idea, which we have deliberately ignored for over forty-five years. This is apart from commercial kidnapping, which has become the pastime of the unemployed youths in the area. The Igbo elites, who should know better, could have alerted the nation about the anger and frustration of the citizens in the East. Instead, they collect their “quota,” like their associates from the other parts of the country, and disappear into thin air, resurfacing as special guests or chairs in fora that we organise to articulate our future.
Each time I watch folks stake their lives for politicians, I scratch my head in unbelief. As a young man growing up in the old Anambra state in the 80s, I witnessed youths wielding machetes and other dangerous weapons as members of the Nwobodo Vanguard. His government hired these thugs to scare and terrorise political opponents so that he could continue the misappropriation of public funds in violation of the public trust. Currently, Nwobodo is alleged to be one of the recipients of Dasuki’s generosity and he smartly joined the ruling party to avoid the humiliation of being invited to return his share of the loot. What an absurdity! All the while standing right by him are some other shameless “statesmen” whose name I will not honor in print. If we are not witnessing a national tragedy, then I probably do not know what one looks like.
We do respect cultures and I think it is the right thing to do. Some of us have no qualms prostrating before our kings and chiefs. I respect that, but at the end of the current investigation, I would want to find out how many of us, in all sincerity, would continue that kind of practice, knowing that our traditional custodians are thieves that are shameless to collect from the poor. A human being must earn the right for my genuflection, not to mention prostrating before him. The same applies to our religious leaders and the upper echelon of our law enforcement community. They are all contributors to why our country failed.
Muhammadu Buhari government’s sanitising effort is a sacred commitment, which enlists our support. Let PMB fight corruption by any and every means possible, orthodox, and unorthodox, so long as he stays within the boundaries of “those fundamental principles of liberty and justice,” otherwise referred to as Due Process. What is at stake is greater than all us; it is the obligation to secure a future for our posterity.
One thing we can be certain of is that what unfolds daily in the current drama is a tip of the iceberg. The main dance is yet to surface. By the time the EFCC deploys its investigative resources into the power and energy sector or road construction, we would be astounded at the enormity of the rot that has prevented us from obtaining a constant supply of electricity to power our homes and manufacturing plants. We would also be shocked to learn why our roads remain death traps despite the huge funds that the previous governments allegedly expended on road construction. And anyone who has lost a family member due to motor accident will surely be screaming with me, “Where did all the funds for road constructions go?”
It is challenging to find a genuine businessman or woman in our country. The genuine ones are in their minority and they are not super-rich, they just get by. We reside in a land of pervasive miracles. It is only in our country that a human being with no reasonable means of livelihood could become a millionaire within twenty-four hours without winning a Powerball Lottery. Check out the so-called wealthy people in our country and you can rest assured that they made the money at our expense. If the government of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) investigates OBJ’s government, Mr. Dangote and all our millionaires’ sources of wealth would be exposed for all to see, and I hope, for our country’s sake, he does that.
I have challenged Nigerians in the past and I must repeat it here. For how long shall we continue to complain about bad governance while celebrating those that starve our country of the nourishment it needs to sustain our large population? Why should we allow our oppressors to walk tall and free, while they ceaselessly insult our intelligence? My fellow Nigerians, we have earned the right to be outraged and rebellious. We have earned the right to disgrace the people who have caused us untold hardship and have prevented our fatherland from taking its rightful place in the comity of nations. We have earned the right to lynch those who have prevented us from accessing the good of the land. Wherever I go, I see Nigerians proud, hardworking and beating the best. We need a country that reflects our identity, our true identity. It is time to stand together. We must work together to rip off the mask of oppression in order to once again reveal the true beauty of our country.
Muhammadu Buhari government’s sanitising effort is a sacred commitment, which enlists our support. Let PMB fight corruption by any and every means possible, orthodox, and unorthodox, so long as he stays within the boundaries of “those fundamental principles of liberty and justice,” otherwise referred to as Due Process. What is at stake is greater than all us; it is the obligation to secure a future for our posterity. Our individual interest, as Nigerians, is a life estate and is not superior to the interest of those yet to occupy the same land. We must not waste the resources we received from our forebears. We have a responsibility to leave behind a land free from corruption and a system that works. Let us therefore locate among us those who have actively participated in the despoliation of our land and subject them to the fullest extent of the law.
Change is not a theoretical concept. It is an idea founded on collective action. If we desire constant electricity, good roads and constant supply of clean drinking water, we must demand for it. If we desire to be secure in our property, and ourselves, we must demand for it. Our elites have stolen enough and we must stand up to them; we must demand accountability. We must demand the return of wrongfully acquired wealth.
I heard Nigerians riposte in the past that our country needed a Jerry Rawlings to clean up our system. Democracy answered us by providing PMB and we are complaining that he is wielding a strong stick. Once in our church, I refused to pray for Nigeria when the pastor invited me to pray. My argument was that I did not have any reason to disturb the Divine because HE provided us with every conceivable resource to build a great society. I insisted that Nigerians must “do something” to create the kind of society they wish and that prayer alone would not suffice. I thought I understood the Holy Bible where it clearly stated that faith without works was useless. I do not have to report here that some of our members misunderstood my position.
My fellow Nigerians, we must rise up to defend our freedom. I do not mean the right to move around our vast landscape, although it is important. By freedom, I mean the privilege to enjoy the riches of our fatherland. This is my proposition: If a politician, whom we voted to represent our community, becomes unreachable and amasses wealth at our expense, we must be bold to ask for his or her prosecution for violating our trust. If our traditional custodian participates in the misappropriation or pockets money meant for road construction, provision of water or any essential services, we must demand his resignation or force him to abdicate. If our religious leader uses the offering money or tithe to live a lavish lifestyle, we must demand that he vacates the office. If our law enforcement personnel corners funds meant to procure arms to defend our country’s territorial integrity, we must demand his prosecution in a court of law.
I will never raise a voice in defence of Mr. Metuh, Dasuki, or anyone who has caused me to be a stranger and a second-class citizen in a foreign land. They have committed acts of desperate wickedness and I would not be the one to show compassion on how the law deals with them.
Change is not a theoretical concept. It is an idea founded on collective action. If we desire constant electricity, good roads and constant supply of clean drinking water, we must demand for it. If we desire to be secure in our property, and ourselves, we must demand for it. Our elites have stolen enough and we must stand up to them; we must demand accountability. We must demand the return of wrongfully acquired wealth. Good governance is not negotiable; it is a right. The blood of our fellow citizens felled in Borno State and elsewhere in the country cries for justice. We must be ready to ventilate their rights. Together we can hit the reset button to return our country to its golden days. Let Nigerians arise!
Follow me on Twitter @sampsonojukwu.