From: TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt Hundreds of youths in Rivers State yesterday, staged a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt, condemning the activities of some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the state police command. Protesting on the platform of Niger Delta Non-Violence Youth Leaders Assembly (NDNYLA), they marched through some major streets in…
This beleaguered nation has all the trappings of a tragicomedy. The comic aspect has ensured that we remain the happiest people on earth despite our much-touted change-turned-chains. We get by anyhow, surviving on doses of comedy, sometimes coming from most unlikely places.
Take the nation’s courts, for instance. We all know the courts to be dour and severe but, sometimes, hilarious cases enliven the place and give even gallows-bound inmates relief. Only recently, for instance, one woman lamented in court that her 75-year-old beau, who encouraged her to get a lover to do the job he could no longer do, had turned around to accuse her of adultery. If that is not ironic jealousy, I don’t know what is. Anyway, it is left for the judge to decide if there is approved and unapproved adultery and that is exactly why I don’t envy judges at all. It is their decision in knotty cases as this that set them up for midnight raids by security personnel. Poor souls!
Nevertheless, it becomes a different kettle of fish when the judge becomes member of the cast like a trained thespian. Just as in the case of James Bala Ngilari, former governor of Adamawa State. He has been convicted for financial crimes and jailed for five years without option of fine.
In a land where virtually everybody is a prisoner of sorts, that is no big deal though. The issue is that the APC government wants to use the poor PDP ex-governor to prove that it is no respecter of prisoners. However, the dramatic twist of giving the ex-governor the option of choosing his own prison is the icing on the cake of his sentencing. It all translates to mean that in the APC prisoner state, some are more prisoner than others, just like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some animals are more equal than others.
But before begrudging Ngilari, I think the man does not have an enviable task. He would have been better off left alone like the other PDP-thieves-turned-saints of his era because they put their legs to good use and ended up in APC than this strange honour of choosing his own prison. Prisons are for reformation but Nigeria’s overcrowded prisons are for training, hardening and retraining convicts. Unless Ngilari is helped to deploy part of his loot to renovate the prison he chooses, one would not be surprised if, after five years, Ngilari does not come of prison a hardened armed robber.
Talking about the Ngilari privilege, the executive sure has coerced privilege in abundance, hence the stroppy tripodal government of Nigeria, propped on one leg. This usurped over-lordship had, last week, prompted yours sincerely to call for the abolition of our moribund judicial system, since it lacks bite to enforce its judgements. This week, the legislature has come into the spotlight with its upcoming showdown with the Nigeria Customs Service, obviously the most corrupt establishment in our rogue country.
This is an agency that would rather turn its greased eyes the other way while sundry contraband find their way into the country, only to invade people’s shops like robbers in the dead of the night, carting away the supposed contraband they had neglected to impound at the borders. Now, they want to seize old vehicles for not paying correct duties despite advice by the Senate to stay action. Of course, the Customs boss, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), has, customarily, dared the Senate and it is not the first time, having refused an earlier order to wear the Customs uniform, among other infractions. He is also not the first to bully and rubbish the legislature, which is mainly preoccupied with useless, endless probes, availing the nation nothing. It remains to be seen how the legislature will assert its authority, which it has been lily-livered to exert because most of the legislators themselves are also ‘legislooters’ under executive blackmail, with its stooge, the EFCC, baying for blood. We may have to abolish the legislature too, leaving the masses to the vagaries of an imperious executive gang until Nigerians are emboldened enough to confront them by themselves.
Now that the President is back…
All men of goodwill must rejoice; President Muhammadu Buhari is back in the country at last. This followed weeks of wicked and mischievous speculations about his state of health, occasioned by his overstretched vacation in London. This was further muddled up by fumbling aides, who were in apparent competition to outshine one another like a divided house. Take, for instance, the tiff between foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and presidential adviser, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on the advisory that Nigerians without compelling reasons to visit the United States should shelve their plans until that country’s cloudy immigration policy firms up. Dabiri was right even if she was not the right person to make the pronouncement. For the foreign minister to disgrace the woman the way he did by dissociating the government from her statement in a needless, hurriedly packaged press conference, ended up not only disgracing himself but also the government he represents, especially when it has been proved that, indeed, some Nigerians with valid visas were refused entry into the US, over which he defended the Donald Trump regime, claiming it was untrue. There was really nothing to Dabiri’s advisory that could not have been resolved indoors instead of the open rebuke that exposed the entire government to ridicule.
But thanks to God, President Buhari is back alive, despite the circulating video of his unsteady steps that crackpots interpreted as being blown by the wind and that the ‘Cabal’ smuggled him home against medical advice. Whatever is the case, the President is back and, prayerfully, his health will continue to improve.
However, I have discovered that a major impediment to the President’s efficacy is in the title of his office. He is merely addressed as President without the ascription of ‘acting’ and, so, the man has refused to act or only acted at his ‘old’ pace. We all saw the effectiveness of Acting (Vice) President, Yemi Osinbajo, especially with his local shuttles that doused smouldering flames of anger whereas the President’s many shuttles abroad achieved virtually nothing.
So, I think, calling Buhari a mere President without the prefix, Acting, is at the root of his bad perception and tepid performance. Nobody wants to believe that a cabal smuggled him home against medical advice. If that is the case, it is most wicked of the so-called cabal, whose only interest is to use the President as a pawn in their political chessboard of greed at the risk of Buhari’s life. And it would be unfortunate if a General of the President’s calibre would allow such manipulation. It would even be sadder if beautiful Aisha would remain sulking in the ‘other room’ while her husband is so ‘cannibalised’ by the dreaded and dreadful cabal.
Now that the President is back and, hopefully, truly back, welcome, Your Excellency, but, please, Nigerians want you to begin acting; even if it is Nollywood style. All we want is action.