The effect of timing or occurrences on a narrative will contextualize that era and help to place events in a continuum of human development. The grappling with fire in a novel for instance, will give an idea of when making of fire for domestic cooking was a big deal. Loading a Dane gun and storing of self-loaded ammunition will situate a narrative in the period close to the era when the hunting gun was invented just as my father and mother can factor their birth year by the realisation of when the locomotive first visited Enugu or the year of salt scarcity or the year of the Ebola crises or other such well known events.
In many years to come, Nigeria’s history will be contextualized by the auguring of this time especially the year of Buhari’s democratic win or the year of Goodluck’s defeat. Although it is significant that this is the year when a democratically elected President was defeated by a former army general, what is more acute and resounding about this year is that it is the year when persistence paid for the gangling general whose stock amongst the political class suddenly gained national currency and assumed the definitive signature of a new Nigeria.
How would a Buhari tenure define our epoch? Before it has started, this election already has so many banners that mark it out as possibly the moment when Nigerians have dreamed as their Eldorado. To be sure, many will not realistically expect General Muhammadu Buhari to perform magic or for that matter Goodluck Jonathan to heal the disease that his first tenure was but it would seem to me, that whoever is eventually declared winner will have been given the carte-blanche to make Nigeria or mar her in his own image.
Watching the results of the elections role out of the tube, I can see many holes and much hope
With the entire South Eastern Nigeria, for the first time voting so solidly for a cause, I see the wounds either of the Civil War coming alive or the South Easterners reacting negatively to the ceaseless loses their folks have suffered in the hands of zealots from parts of the North. Although this was a localized affair concentrating in Kano, Kaduna and lately Jos, it has since assumed a national dimension with the emergence of Boko Haram. Whoever wins this election has the unusual coagulation of the South East, including the Rivers and Akwa Ibom axis into a coherent voting song to content with. Let no one tell me that it has to do with the opponent being a Bayelsan; it is not. Since when has Bayelsa assumed the toga of the defender of South Eastern and South Southern interests? Or the visage of saviour of the endangered? Or mother hen of the oppressed?
What has happened is that all the hate campaigns of many years against the North and candidates of Northern extraction unraveled with the realisation that Boko Haram enjoyed support in the hands of government officials. To ignore this fact is to hand over the destiny of the East to the renegades and rascals. The arrest of Kabir Sokoto and the reports that all the Northern governors were contributors to the Boko Haram purse, as some point in time, finally unraveled the suspicion that the chain of “civil disturbances” in the old Northern region that has always left the Igbo as victims was no coincidence but an orchestra in a general drama of rejection which the Civil War was its watershed. The task is not breaking the “Biafran” unity but finding an accommodation in the Nigerian Dream.
Another hole in this epochal election will be whether government can plug the leak in relationship between citizens and government. The North Easterners would want to know whether they are finally a part of the Northern missive or whether their largely Kanem Bornu heritage has marked them out for some displeasing experimentation. The horrendous neglect which allowed the Boko Haram plague to fester left them bruised front and back, leaving land, people and environment degraded and denuded. Now, they would be remembered as a people whose daughters were sold as booties of war in a generation of civil liberties and civil rights. They will now be remembered as the generation when government and people could not provide security for their little ones because a marauding blood letter was let loose on them. But it also be remembered as the era, when government failures due to lack of local knowledge was healed by locals who became the arrowhead of community resistance to bestiality and despoliation. Where the military failed to make advances, the knowledge of the ins and outs of the Boko ‘’caliphal” terrain by what has been variously classed as “local vigilante” proved the game changer.
The Nigerian Epoch
The challenge for who wins the election will not be how idling you can achieve with chewing gums but how much of civil policing you can make out of this latent local knowledge that came handy with the collapse of intelligence which led to humiliating failures of our troops and ego as Africa’s leading power who relied on the combined assistance of minions like Chad, Niger and Cameroun to be able to rout a group of otherwise unimportant irredentists. Ignoring this potent batch of local heroes will be costly as the Boko Haram tragedy itself has shown. Their expectations may be small but their achievement or the model that they portend must be integrated into a community policing role if governance is to be democratized.
The South West and North have never had a problem socially except with the narrative that land must be watered by the gale of Jihadists. That created a mental bloc of mutual disrect and suspicion such that the late Western Nigerian, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had to deify this disdain by the refrain rather than bow to the Northerner, it is better to die. It does not matter that the same Awolowo bowed to the rule of Gowon, when he served his administration as head of the Economy. That hate speech has survived many years later. The reference to Gambari by the Yoruba in every day discourse is not one of compliment but of utter disdain. Yet, Goodluck Jonathan’s political naivety against them in the appointment of lieutenants to run his first tenure was an utter scandal. Has the Yoruba become such an endangered species that they did not matter anymore in the national narrative. The sweeping of the South West by the General has seeds of hope for the Nigerian narrative but also shows Goodluck Jonathan that everyone may have his price but no amount is enough to buy the collective aspiration of the whole.
Perhaps the greatest hole of all is the financial hole that this election has left in our national kitty. The brigandage and feline despoliation on the national treasury will only manifest as time goes on. I pity Buhari, whom I voted for, because when he assumes office, he will find himself a second time being handed over an empty national treasury and a forlorn citizenry to persuade to work the talk. Despite the best efforts of his party, APC to mobilize voters to obtain their PVC and to vote, many who got the card still stayed away from the polls, I know the number who felt they were wasting their time standing in the heat for hours for an election that seemed doomed, in my voting unit, whom? I prevailed on to see the process through. But this is not about what I did. It is about what we can do as Nigerians to get this class back to the classroom. As it was in Lagos so was it in other parts of the country.
Standing in the line with an eighty year old voter for hours unending waiting on the INEC staff to get their card reading working was a narrative you would not find in the front page of newspapers. But I had four octogenarians, interestingly, all women, in my polling unit 16 at Seriki Aro voting area, in Ikeja. Not only did they not leave, even when younger ones left, one or two who went home to refresh returned later to stay until about 6pm when the election finally began. Attempting to deconstruct the mind of this Nigerian Zealots is going to reveal the love that citizens have for their country.
I see hope that the long awaited citizen policing concept may see the light of the day. Our troops had no confidence to enter the horror caliphate because they had local knowledge. The lack of local knowledge amongst Nigeria’s intelligence community can now finally be plugged if we can evolve a mechanism for intelligence sharing between the community and the security agencies. This is where security votes should go.
The national leader of APC may have seen the brightest spot in his armour if General Buhari wins this election. I recall that his was one of the most trenchant voices calling for the General in a period of Crises. Throughout his political career, I do not recall him speaking so passionately about anything but the period when General DeGaulle and Winston Churchill were recalled to save the nation. I also do not recall any time in recent memory when he has staked more for the overall good than when he said “I am eminently qualified to be President and I’m richer than General Buhari but I’m willing to sacrifice my ambition” to allow the man who can save Nigeria to do so. Those are the two defining moments of the the General’s campaign and Tinubu, if he dies today, has clearly given this generation a template with which to build. Never in the history of Nigeria has anyone made this sacrifice willingly as he has. Not only that he also poured his resources into the realization of that ambition and there is no better epithet for him than that on his tomb will be written: HERE LIES A MAN WHO SACRIFCED HIS ALL FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF NIGERIA.
What does this Tinubu altruism mean for us? That we should see the greater glory of Nigeria before we consider our own. His production of Fashola, one of the finest political species I have seen anywhere in the world, is also another testimonial to this People’s Leader’s crown of political sagacity. Tinubu has turned out to be the most pragmatic political leader and, like him or loathe him, he is the jewel in the General’s crown when the mantle of leadership changes from Goodluck to Buhari. Now, I must confess that this is the kind of political structure that I think is best suited for our country. A leader who does not hold government power but holds the political will be a counterpoise to a political emperor that the Nigerian president is.
The determination of the man on the street to teach Goodluck a lesson for his profligacy is a lesson for all political leaders that power belongs, indeed, to the people. As Brian Tracy wrote, “Success is not an accident. Failure is not an accident either. In fact, success is predictable. It leaves tracks”, let all ancient walls depart and let the Nigerian Dream emerge. Let this hashtag #NigerianDream presage this dawning. Kindly subscribe to it now. Let’s build on this tempo.
We shall be having a #NigerianDream meeting soon. Sign up for a free invitation now. Fill out the form below. See you there. By the way, did I mention that there will be FREE #NigerianDream tee-shirts worth N5,000 each for the first twenty to register?