(to the accompaniment of Sheryl Crow’s “The First Cut is the Deepest”)
Dear President Jonathan:
I was writing this short note to congratulate you on the significant threshold you crossed recently in the life of your presidency and in your mode of self-inscription into the memory of our nation when other good news fell into your plate today. I am thus faced with the proverbial situation of trees falling on trees. Ancestral wisdom would have me remove the topmost first by congratulating you on the good news you got today. However, I plead to go against that rule. I want to congratulate you first on the tree that fell first and thus lies beneath the rubble.
Or should I say that I am congratulating you on the tree that you successfully fell? I am talking about Citizen Mustapha Muyeedeen Mofoluwasho Opobiyi, the young Nigerian protester you murdered recently in Ilorin. That is the first body count that history records against your name sir. I am congratulating you, Mr. President, because I am a student of history. I have spent considerable time studying the psychology and the gradual transformation of historical figures who worked their way painstakingly into rubrics of identity that human memory calls despotism, totalitarianism, tyranny, or fascism. Moreover, in your own case, I am an attentive student of the insidious shifts in the nomenclature of your presidency. You started off with “a Jonathan administration”. You now effectively run “a Jonathan régime”. And something tells me that my two infant daughters may grow up to read history textbooks about “a Jonathan junta” because that is where you are headed.
Now, history tells us that such transitions are always denominated in corpses. No, make that heaps of corpses. The corpses of the innocent; of those who said “no” and were marched off to gulags, concentration camps, maximum security prisons, or mowed down in the street. And if you study the history of the men who made that fatidic transition to tyranny and mass murder, you will discover why your killing of Citizen Mustapha Opobiyi marks a significant threshold in your own transformation. You don’t even have to read textbooks to make that discovery sir.
You may pick up the phone and ask your new ilk like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Omar al-Basir of Sudan, and Bashar al-Assad of Syria. They will all tell you that the first kill, the first murder, like the first cut, is the deepest and the most difficult. No tyrant in history, from Hitler to Stalin and Pol Pot via their numerous African incarnations, ever found the first kill easy. But they will all tell you that once you are able to steel yourself and cross that psychic point where you take the life of one innocent citizen in cold blood and in broad daylight, the rest is easy. Up until this week, you had stopped at clueless indifference or ill-timed and belated responses to the lives of your citizens lost daily to bombings, armed robbery, and general insecurity in the land. But, this week, you made your first kill, your first cut.
Congrats again, Mr. President, for successfully crossing that critical bridge in your transformation to where you obviously desire to end up in our history. Our people, our gallant people, our brave people, who are responding to the imperative of history by taking on your armoured tanks with their fist, their voice, and their determination in the merciless heat of the Nigerian street, must now understand that they are dealing with a changed man: a man who has made his first kill and will find killing innocent protesters easy going forward. But they must not allow that eerie realization to deter them from the task at hand. They must trudge on in knowledge of the fact that you have challenged history to a wrestling match and no tyrant, no murderer of the innocent protester, has ever won that match in human memory.
Where you stand, Mr President, the death of citizen Mustapha must, of necessity, pale in significance to the good news you got today that the UN and the European Union have passed a vote of confidence in you. I am persuaded that the death of a citizen is never as significant as good political news on your plate because your reaction to the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of your electoral “victory” was swifter than your reaction to news of the lives we lost at Madalla. And you have told us time and again that you derive your sense of validation and legitimacy not from us, the Nigerian people, but from your masters who love and praise you abroad. “My people love me! They will die for me!”, Gadhaffi screamed, and you retorted: “they love me in Europe and America. I will die for them!”
One must therefore congratulate you, Mr. President, for earning the trust and confidence of your masters in the Western world. When you spent the last two years kneeling down for anointing everywhere from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway to Abuja, people mocked you. But now with their eyes they are seeing the reward of your faith for God has granted you that which you most desire: the approval of the “international community.” I am mindful that today’s good news comes on the heels of Christine Lagarde’s approval after her visit to you, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and other diligent house niggers in Abuja. With these kinds of back-patting from the people who matter in the affairs of the world, who needs the approval of the noisemakers who describe themselves as the Nigerian people?
My mind’s eye is very active, Mr. President. I can visualize the bacchanals in Aso Rock today as you celebrate this good news from the UN and the European Union, Mr. President. I can see you, surrounded by your aides, cabinet members, and other characters in the community of the béni-oui-oui who run your presidency. I can see the champagne and the vintage merlot struggling for space with bottles of Sapele water. I can hear the thunder-cracks of laughter. I can hear Labaran Maku telling you that God has recovered the UN and the European Union for you, Mr. President. And if Reuben Abati who, despite his extant degeneracy must still deal occasionally with who he used to be, has a pang of conscience amidst all that hedonism and jouissance and tries to remind you that Nigerians outside are wailing and protesting, you will tell him to go and read pages 38-39 of Segun Adeniyi’s book.
Mr. President, I am currently working on an extended critique of Mr. Adeniyi’s book because unlike those who dismissed it without reading it, I believe that it is an important book that offers us numerous unique windows into the psychology of power. Thus, you and I know what Mr. Abati will find on pages 38-39. He will find this statement by your predecessor, President Yar’Adua: “Look, Segun, let me tell you a story. Four days ago, I was sitting on this same table when CNN came with breaking news of the assassination of the prime minister of Pakistan, Mrs Benazir Bhutto. Throughout that day, that was the only story they relayed. By the next day, they had started reporting other news, even though the Bhutto story remained the most prominent. By yesterday, the intensity of the reportage of the Bhutto affair had decreased and now if you watch the screen you will see that CNN is gradually moving on to other issues. I am sure that very soon, your friends in the media will forget about this Ribadu matter that is worrying you so much. It doesn’t bother me because I know it will soon blow over.”
And Mr. Abati will get it, laugh, and rejoin the party. He will have an epiphany. He will come to understand that this is the psychological perspective from which every generation of Nigeria’s political elite has engaged the Nigerian people: “let them make all the noise in this world. It will soon blow over”. He will come to understand that that is precisely how you see the current anti-fuel subsidy removal protests: “let us drink and be merry and watch them make all the noise in this world. Let us kill some of them occasionally to make a point. It will soon blow over and they will return to their normal lives.” He will come to understand the sang-froid with which you and your ministers party and organize your hedonistic rituals while Nigerians burn. He will shine his eyes. He will no longer be a befuddled, zombified participant in the theatre of lucre that is Aso Rock. He now knows that “it will soon blow over!”
He will come to understand, Mr. President, that the only people who don’t allow things to “blow over” once they determine that a Third World leader has outlived his usefulness are the same people who passed a vote of confidence in you and your government today. He will come to understand why those people in the corridors of power in Europe and America are more important to you than the Nigerian people.
Once again, congratulations, Mr President, for your first successful murder and for earning the confidence of your masters in Europe and America.