A Letter to MKO Abiola By Ose Oyamendan

It’s been fourteen years since the sun went out and they still haven’t told us what happened on that fateful day in the prison they called your Guest House. All we know is there were some Nigerians, some Americans and a cup of tea. I can see you now, smiling as you unwrap another proverb, “nothing stays hidden forever”.

In some countries, pro-democrats would commemorate July 7th as the day this new republic was conceived. But in Nigerian retail politics, they probably celebrated the day at some parties, cooked deals or got down to the serious business of planning to rig an election.

I’m not sure if the Internet has made its way into heaven. I really hope not because the Nigeria you lived and died for is far from the Nigeria of your dreams. True, we have democracy. But, it’s more like a chop and chop arrangement. You thought the second republic was bad? This new republic makes that look like kids stealing chalks in a kindergarten class 

The drama of the season is what I’ll call the subsidy-gate. You see, in January, the federal government thought Nigerians would be so drunk on New Year’s Eve they won’t notice the significant mark up in the pump price of petroleum products. But, you know that Bob Marley’s line, “you can fool some people some time but you can’t fool all the people all the time”?

For the first time in a long time, Nigerians stood up to the government. The president realizing there was a lot of unemployment in the country set up a few committees to study what we all know. In the House of Representatives, one man or some men, it’s tough to keep count sometimes, decided this was their route to wealth. Long story short, we have an oil marketer and legislators dancing in the mud of corruption.

I know you forgive easily. But, I tell you, that heart of forgiveness would be tested if you know the folks who used on your sacrifice to climb up the Nigerian political ladder. I’ve heard tales of men who were hiding under their mother’s bed; post June-12 claiming they marched with you till the end. I’ve seen men who slept with the murdering soldiers claim they swatted away bullets i.n the name of June 12. June 12 was big business for a lot of people 

As Fela would have said, “the thing my eye don see, my mouth no fit talk”. By the way, do you run into Fela sometimes? Man, that would be some conversation! Where do you start? Abeokuta? Politics? The record label fiasco that led to the colorful songs about you 

You’ll be interested to know that one of the beneficiaries of your sacrifice is our president, Goodluck Jonathan. No, that is not a typo, that’s his real name. And, if you’ve been surfing the net in heaven you’ll know he’s one damn lucky dude. I hope damn is a word accepted in heaven. I’ve not been able to stop saying it since the president said “I don’t give a damn” on a national media chat when asked the simple question on folks criticizing him for not declaring his assets.

In one outburst, the president seemed to have eloquently summed up the problem of Nigeria. No one gives a damn. At night, Nigeria sounds like an industrial avenue when all the generators spring to the life. We have a menace called Boko Haram, something I’m sure a few trips from you would have abated. And, let’s not even talk about the economy, the poor, unemployed and the youth. Tales about them will make you cry.

But, what kills me is the state of the flagship dream that was once the Concord Newspapers. Every time I come into Nigeria, I look out the window and wish its dark or misty so I don’t see the premises. It’s like a graveyard of yesterday’s promise. I look at it like I look at Nigeria, a promise derailed.

I have a tiny confession. When I got into film school a little over a decade ago, I told my faculty I hope to make a documentary about you someday. See, it’s the best film school in the world and they’re used to huge features from alumni. It’s why their alumni have won at least an Oscar award every year.

They didn’t see a reason why someone would waste his time telling a story about a Nigerian when the story abroad is that one of the worst places to have any form of cooperation to make a truly landmark film is Nigeria. For about seven years now I’ve been telling them what I think you would have told me, “don’t give up on the cub lion. He might still be the king of the jungle”. Some day. 

I’m sure you and the founding fathers get together in heaven, and I’m not including Mungo Park. I know you pray a lot and I know most of the founding fathers do too. Can you guys talk to someone up there and see if they can move the prayers of Nigerians to the front of the queue ‘cos they seem caught in the prayer traffic.




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