Nigeria: the Political Expediency of Defending the Indefensible, By Femi Akinfolarin
I wish Nigerians could for once be a people who reason rationally and refuse to accept illogical positions for the sake of political expediency. The truth is obvious, Saraki might be the victim of a gang up to bring him down from a senate president position that he took by force from people who thought they had the right to give it to their acolytes. But Saraki himself is the reason they can attack him. He under-declared his assets because he had things to hide and because he possibly stole money.
CNN broke the exciting news. The Chibok girls were alive and kicking and not starved or sexed into the grave by their zealot lunatic captors, the Boko Haram. And there was proof of life. There were the girls wrapped in Burqas stating their names and showing off their unbelievably still rosy checks. CNN showed the expressions on their parent’s faces back home as they individually recognised their kids; happiness that they were still alive and well, and hunger to have the kids within their arms. And the best part was the report that negotiations were ongoing to bring them back home safely. The only reason to be sad was that they were not home already, or so I thought.
Then over the last few days, I had two discussions that made me ponder my own sanity. First, I had the most bizarre discussion in a hotel lobby in Port Harcourt with a cosmopolitan looking man sitting across from me at the lounge:
Mr. Cosmopolitan: My friend, what do you think about the news of the Chibok girls?
Me: Excellent news. Hope they get them back quickly.
Mr. Cosmopolitan: But what about the security angle?
Me: What angle?
Mr. Cosmopolitan: They will come back owing Boko Haram their loyalty and in love with their Boko Harm husbands. Imagine a well-trained Boko Haram operative right in the middle of the city, able and willing to point out soft targets to their Boko Haram hubbies.
Me: (Mouth agape) …
Mr. Cosmopolitan: What about their kids? They will know who their fathers are and will want to work with and for them. They are an obvious security threat also.
Mr. Cosmopolitan (pushing on): But anyway there are really no Chibok girls. It’s really a political scam to attack the last administration. You will see that soon. Those girls on TV are too well fed to have been with terrorists for two years! No way. These people have just successfully deceived the whole world. Silly people.
By then, I was quite visibly choking and was relieved when my friend walked up and our conversation was terminated.
The second exchange happened on twitter about the ongoing clash between Senate President Saraki and the Code of Conduct Tribunal and went as follows:
@DeleMomodu: Saraki gave his all for the Buhari campaigns mobilising people and resources for their party’s candidate.
@KatafiS: @DeleMomodu @MBuhari @bukolasaraki and you still tactically avoiding the @bukolasaraki subject, pls advise him also
@femo520: @DeleMomodu @KaitafiS @MBuhari @bukolasaraki and so? Did Saraki steal or not? Simple #Panama-gate.
@Barth_Ihewuezi: Did Tinubu commit against the law himself when he was tried or not. One law 4 all Nigerians. Nobody is above the law.
@femo520: Ok. Let #Saraki too be discharged by the CCT? Tabi?
@Barth_Ihewuezi: How can he get justice when you place ur bingo as presiding judge on his case. A judge that is on bail from you.
@femo520: So it’s the CCB that caught him with offshore companies buying houses in Belgravia? Please.
Both exchanges were about different things but reflect a way of thinking that basically makes us defend positions based on what part of the political spectrum we find ourselves in Nigeria.
Let’s take the first man’s argument about the Chibok girls. Even if the girls had been brainwashed and their kids were favourably disposed to becoming Boko Haram terrorists, should we leave them to that fate? Or retrieve them and re-integrate them into our community so that they can become good citizens? Send them to school, train them and make them productive citizens who pay taxes and become parents to successful children?
And if after two years, there are still people who believe that the girls were not even abducted how can you change such a person’s mind besides taking them physically to Chibok to talk to the families?
The Chibok girls are not ghosts or a mirage. They exist and were abducted from their school and the Federal government of Nigeria should do everything within its powers to bring them back home or we will judge Mr. Buhari to have failed in his war against Boko Haram.
Or the Saraki case where people have deviated from the core issue (did Saraki falsely under declare his assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau, a constitutional body) and are now saying Saraki is being victimised? Saraki’s defenders are now saying that Mr. Tinubu and Mr. Buhari are persecuting Mr. Saraki. This assertion is despite the fact that the Panama papers clearly now shows that this same Senate President had used offshore companies to acquire real estate in the UK and hid them from the Nigerian state because he couldn’t explain the source of his income.
I wish Nigerians could for once be a people who reason rationally and refuse to accept illogical positions for the sake of political expediency. The truth is obvious, Saraki might be the victim of a gang up to bring him down from a senate president position that he took by force from people who thought they had the right to give it to their acolytes. But Saraki himself is the reason they can attack him. He under-declared his assets because he had things to hide and because he possibly stole money. He hid assets offshore because he had no legitimate explanation for the funds that he used to acquire them. Let him fall on his sword and someone else from his camp take over the senate position because he is simply too tainted to continue in that position.
The Chibok girls are not ghosts or a mirage. They exist and were abducted from their school and the Federal government of Nigeria should do everything within its powers to bring them back home or we will judge Mr. Buhari to have failed in his war against Boko Haram. These are female girls who have been denied their rights to an education and married off under criminal circumstances and a ideology and they must be rescued to prove that the lives of every Nigerian matters and is sacrosanct. Simple.
Femi Akinfolarin, a lawyer, writes from Lagos.