Nigerians are an unpatriotic lot. It’s probably a key reason the nation is in perpetual reverse motion. Instead of worshipping a leader, Nigerians have an annoying habit of punching a hole in every statement a revered leader makes.
Take the case of Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, for instance. The man who has never told a lie in all his unverifiable number of years on God’s earth, single handedly united Nigeria during the civil war while nursing a pot belly and is so transparent even the saints are jealous of him told a simple truth everyone already knew the other day and, everyone and their cousins are screaming as if their panties are in a bunch. He admitted he was never behind the third term agenda.
“I never toyed with the idea of a third term,” the grand old man said in a television interview. “I am not a fool, if I want a third term, I know how to go about it and there is nothing I want that God hasn’t given me. If I had wanted a third term, I would have gone about it, the way I should have gone about it and I would have gotten it.”
There are two incontrovertible facts about President Obasanjo. One, he’s no fool and he’s nobody’s fool. Fools don’t rule a country twice. Fools don’t hold a country by the balls and dictate her fortune. Two, the man has no lying bone in his body. A man as close to God as he is probably can’t spell lie. And, you wanna know how close he is to God? How about owning a church? It’s like having God’s e-mail address.
Now, all the professional troublemakers from that era, which includes most Nigerians talking about it, are screaming that the grand old man is re-writing history. Well, someone has to write and re-write history. Who, but one of Nigeria’s foremost authors to do it? The man who gave us “My Command” is out this time with “Le Rumor”.
Instead of castigating the old man, we should applaud him. He has done what other leaders dreamt of doing but didn’t get the chance. Imagine running into Hitler in the chow line in the afterlife and asking him, “dude, what happened? You really did what history said you did?” The man would probably yank off his signature moustache and say, “ what the hell are you talking about? That was all Goebbels, Goering and Himmler”.
Or, say you’re on the soccer fields in the great beyond, you see the big, fat man from Kampala throwing his weight around in a game between dead African leaders. You say to him, “yo, tell me those things I read were not true”. Given a second chance, you know Idi Amin Dada is going to say something like, “it’s the work of the imperialists. They control the media and they put whatever they want in the papers”.
Even poor, insignificant me can testify to attempting a jab at rewriting fact. Once, I had the misfortune of doing rather badly in a high school examination. It was nothing out of the ordinary because, by then, I’d perfected the art of failing school examinations grandly.
But, on this one test, I seemed to have topped myself. I did so badly my teacher developed some sort of eye disease just reading my gibberish. So, I went to the principal and claimed I was ill on the day of the exam and someone must have impersonated me. I wanted a shot at retaking the exam whose question I have now crammed.
It’s what smart people do. It’s not lying. It’s re-engineering.
In the furor clouding the declaration of Nigeria’s political saint, the one thing that fascinates me is not the rumor, as the grand old man has tagged the third term agenda but, the looting of the treasury to finance the rumor. If there is anyone who should know about the third term brouhaha it is Senator Ken Nnamani, the former Senate President.
In some countries, this is a case that defines law enforcement careers and changes the course of a nation. Here is one of the nation’s leaders from a muddy past, admitting that there was bribery and corruption in the chambers of power. Even in Nigeria with her legendary problems with corruption, this must be a first.
You would think this is Ibrahim Lamorde’s opportunity to announce himself as the new head of the EFCC. Nuhu Ribadu had the 419 gangs. Farida Waziri had the ex-governors she could never touch with a pole. Lamorde now has an ex-president, distinguished Senators and Honorable Representatives who looted the treasury on account of a rumor. He has the confession of the number three man in power to back it up and the former number two man, Abubakar Atiku would probably provide some evidence too.
“I recall vividly that people were being given N50m, some N100m to support third term. The money totaled over N10bn. How could N10bn be taken out of the national treasury for a project when you were the sitting President, yet that project was not your idea? Where did the money come from?” Nnamani told a newspaper.
What would Lamorde do? Jump on the rumour train or, in the spirit of Easter, turn a deaf ear to old sins.