By Jude Atupulazi
Nigeria is in ruins. Everything is crumbling. The Naira has taken an all-time nose dive. The security architecture has exploded. Lives are being snuffed out on a daily basis without the leadership batting an eye. People have lost hope. The things that once held us together have been stretched so thin that they will cut at any moment. Everybody outside the looting class is angry. The atmosphere is very tensed and needing only the slightest act of further provocation to turn Nigeria into one blazing cauldron. That act of provocation will be toying with the mandate of the long suffering, brutalized, maligned and marginalized masses in next year’s presidential election. I’m sure those who put us where we are know this. But as is so often the case, they will want to tempt fate and therein lies the danger we all want to avoid.
It wasn’t long that the country boiled as it never did since the civil war. They called it EndSARS protest. It nearly grounded the country as manner of people joined and soon things got out of control. But what I see happening next year, if the masses are further provoked by rigging the election. will reduce the EndSARS stuff to a mere moonlight play. The Nigerians I see today, those angry, frustrated masses, mean business.
How do I know this? It does not require rocket science to so do. I will ask anyone to take a look around them. They will see angry faces all over the place. Sometimes their anger is suppressed, just barely. At other times it is unleashed at the slightest provocation. It can come in the form of domestic violence, agitation for freedom, rising criminality, ethnic animosity, et al.; all these are offshoots of bad governance which has tried the patience of Nigerians, pushing those not so mentally strong to break down and take to their own devices. But what’s keeping some from going one hundred percent animalistic is the slight hope that the old, thieving, murderous political order will soon be ousted and in its stead, a New Nigeria will emerge where hard work will start paying again. A New Nigeria where one will get adequately rewarded for what they deserve regardless of where they come from. A new state where those who sit for exams will pass and be admitted, strictly based on merit, and not where they come from. A new country where the leadership will have a human face and where criminality will be fought genuinely without making sacred cows of some of them. Nigerians want a new country where zero tolerance will be had for corruption and where leadership is by example.
You are free to call it a utopian dream but that is still what the majority of angry Nigerians are holding on to. They see the coming presidential election as a chance to make that dream come true and they are beginning to believe it will come true. They are slowly realizing that they actually hold the power, having grown frustrated by the antics of the ruling class. But woe betide the person or institution that truncates that dream. They will become public enemy number one. On them will be hung the overbearing weight of the frustrations of the masses.
For those who still think it is about Peter Obi, what it means is that they are yet to wake up to the stark reality of the current time for it could easily have been an Atupulazi, an Onyeagba, or whoever; as long as they see the person as representing a breath of fresh air and having the capacity to make their dream come true. Even now, you read some people still dismissing the coming tsunami as channel noise. No problem; even in the time of Noah, did not Noah warn his people many times to repent from their evil ways while they remained adamant until the floods came?
The writing has since gone up on the wall of Nigeria by the stance of the masses and it will be fatal, very fatal, for those in the power corridors to feign ignorance. I shudder to contemplate the total chaos that will erupt should these angry Nigerians feel they have been robbed. Their fury will be unleashed on us all, but more on those perceived to have dashed their hopes.
I’m not trying to be a prophet of doom but what is unraveling is a clear foretaste of what is to come. Last Monday after the National Convention of the Nigeria Bar Association, an APC official was trying to explain to the press why his principal, Bola Tinubu, was not present but before he could even say more than a few words, the people swarming around him began to shout him down and started chanting that they had already failed. It quickly began to build up to something serious when the official suddenly vamoosed. It is still six months to the election but tension is everywhere. The masses are not smiling. They want a change and should the change reflect in the results of that election, the umpire had better not toy with it. I want a peaceful state and no one should deny me that because they want to justify the money paid them by anyone.
But one thing remains clear: if after all we are seeing in Nigeria today, anyone still sees APC or PDP as the answer, for sure, that person has been bewitched. Was it not the other day that a Pentecostal pastor was quoted to have said that in the coming presidential election, the number of votes to be scored by APC would determine the number of man people in Nigeria? I add that those people are under a spell and need deliverance before Armageddon strikes.__________________________________________________________
Re: Obi Another Date with History?
By Charles Onyeagba
It was interesting reading the above article by Mr Atupulazi. I felt prompted to add something missing: the Labour dimension.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) got involved, in 2002, after Mr Obi had emerged as the APGA flag bearer and was gunning for the Anambra State Gubernatorial Seat. He came to the Aroma Office, Awka, of the NLC in shirt sleeves unlike most of the others who were attired in agbada or suit. He delivered his message to an enlarged State Executive Council in a scarcely audible high pitched tone which made more impression with its message than with its decibel. The central theme wondered whether ‘we were the cause of our problems or was it a curse?’
This resonated well with the workers who, on 14th February had commenced what turned out to be a 9-month Industrial Action against the Anambra State Government (then under Chinwoke Mbadinuju) for unpaid salaries and other allowances among other issues. Many of those issues compounded as the unfortunate strike progressed. The strike was unfortunate because, on assumption of office in 1999, the NLC had held a very cordial, strategic and very prophetic meeting with the incoming governor. At the meeting, the workforce pledged to do all it could to assist the government lift the 8-year old Anambra State out of its lethargic under-development. Many workers still commuted to their offices from Enugu. There was no Government House; only makeshift offices scattered all over the capital territory. The military government appeared determined to keep the state in a perpetual state of under development despite the celebrated profusion of manpower, talents and private resources. Mbadinuju, with a PhD, looked like heaven-sent. But the workers worried about certain characters who appeared to be central to the new government-in- making. They pointedly advised the governor about their fears regarding those people. In two years, those fears had fully manifested and after a series of complaints and failed talks which extended to Dr Alex Ekwueme and Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, both resident then in Enugu, and with rising discontent, Anambra workers, led by the NLC and with the support of the civil society, embarked on arguably the longest strike in its history.
This was the setting when Peter Obi happened on the scene with ‘Are we the cause or are we cursed?’ The workforce keyed in on this and with pent up frustration, began a revolution of sorts that got Labour venturing out of its normal mandate and trying to address various ills of society in the state: like hoarding of fuel and other vices. As the 2003 Elections approached, the NLC organised its first ever gubernatorial debate requiring candidates to tell Ndi Anambra what they wanted to do for the state as governor, if elected. With mandate from the national body of the NLC and the electoral body, they monitored the 2003 election, secured and transmitted the results to its National Headquarters and were thus able to know who won and who lost. This led to some violent protests by workers when a different result was announced. Even though Dr Ngige was sworn in and resolutely began to impress the workers and the public at large by attending to many of their demands and drastically improving governance, justice was served when Peter Obi reclaimed his mandate and followed up with the trajectory of development in the state, making him the first two-term governor of Anambra State.
His destiny with history was made when he sought out the Labour Party after God’s Providence brought him out of Egypt, this time to lead a crusade at the National level in a much greater revolution that is bound to sweep the oligarchs and their co-travellers off their feet.
Ooga eme fa vam-vam na anya. Nigeria will yet be saved from the abyss.
Comrade Charles Onyeagba writes from Awka, Nigeria