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Abati: The rascals in Nigerian politics

“HELLO rascal, long time, where have you been?”

“Who is your rascal? Don’t let me get angry with you oh?”

“Come, where were you when President Jonathan said the South West has been taken over by rascals and that the PDP is determined to rescue the political zone?”

“And they told you the President mentioned my name as one of the rascals causing problems in the South West?”

“Well, he didn’t mention anybody’s name. But his spokesman has said whoever the description fits should adopt it. Come to think of it really, was he not saying the truth? And looking at you…”

“He was talking politics. But if you ask me I will say all Nigerian politicians are rascals.”

“Excuse me. Are you trying to suggest that even the President himself…”

“I have not mentioned anybody’s name.  My dictionary says the word rascal means “mischievous.” Definitely Nigerian politicians are all mischievous. They are perpetually causing problems for Nigerians. They can’t govern well. They can’t provide regular electricity. They can’t maintain roads. They are perpetually fighting each other and promoting violence, destroying lives and property. And when they mount the rostrum, instead of telling Nigerians what they want to do with power and office, they choose to abuse the opposition. It is a class of rascals.”

“You agree with the President then.”

“He was talking about the South West. I am talking about Nigeria. My dictionary…”

“My dictionary! My dictionary! When did you write a dictionary of your own…?”

“My dictionary also says the word rascal refers to a cheeky person. I dare say that Nigerian politicians are all cheeky. See how they take all of us for granted. No respect for the Nigerian citizen. Ahead of the 2011 elections, they have caused enough problems to derail the entire process. They can’t conduct credible primaries; they can’t agree on who should be their flagbearers; every time, politicians are gunned down…”

“Mostly in the PDP.”

“I am not absolving other parties of guilt. They are all the same. Have you not seen how in the other parties powerful politicians have been imposing their relations and smuggling them into positions of influence? Even persons that we ordinarily respect have turned out to be rascals”

“They all want access to Nigeria’s oil wealth or a share of it. Every day, we encounter symptoms of the underdevelopment of the Nigerian state. Nothing surprises me anymore.”

“We, the people…”

“I like that. We, the people… But can Nigerians really confidently lay claim to that phrase?

“We, the people of Nigeria must solemnly resolve, affirm, confirm, agree, conclude, concur, admit…”



“Are you alright? What is this verbal diarrhoea all about? Resolve, confirm, conclude, debate…You better don’t allow these politicians to give you hypertension. You should watch your blood pressure and stop acting like Igodomigodo who by the way is not going back to the House of Representatives. Not even his big grammar could help him  win the ACN ticket in Edo State. Grammatical diarrhoea is not a sign of erudition, I take it as a sign of headache. You need a tablet?”

‘We the people must realise that it  is time we collectively took charge of our destiny and drive all rascals out of the corridors of power, with our ballot cards and with our faith in the rule of law and the judiciary…”

“Which judiciary?”

“The Nigerian judiciary, the last hope of the common man.”

“Where have you been? Have you not heard, seen, confirmed, observed, and concluded that the Nigerian judiciary is now dancing naked in the market place? With the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of Nigeria descending into the arena and wearing gloves, what is left of the Nigerian judiciary? With a Federal High Court giving one ruling and the State High Court giving another ruling in the same case, with the same set of facts, in the Ogun state PDP primaries dispute, what is left of the judiciary?  We have seen now that judges are human beings after all, and that they do not have any special moral authority over us.”

“Their authority is never moral, it is legal.  Besides, the National Judicial Council has already settled the matter between Justice Ayo Salami, (President of the Court of Appeal) and CJN Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu. As for the crisis in Ogun State PDP, it is all power play; great lessons in power.”

“Serious lessons in political and judicial rascality, please. And as for the judiciary, the damage is done. The damage has already been done.  Oh, a lot of damage. Do you know what it means when the President of the Court of Appeal  and the Chief Justice of Nigeria fight dirty in public: the heads of the two most senior courts in the land? It means the judiciary is divided right down the middle at all levels. It means the entire judiciary is now in the arena of partisan politics. I look beyond the two men: I see a judiciary that is about to go the way of other Nigerian institutions. But I believe God is in control.”

“This is beyond God.”

“Nothing is ever beyond God.”

“This one is, even rascals can attempt to fool God, and cause a lot of damage. But we, the people must stand firm because this is our country.”

“Look, my friend. Your concept of the people is theoretical, if not mythical. We, the people… Which people are you talking about?”

“A people always determine the kind of country they want.”

“Has it not occurred to you that the so-called rascals in all spheres of public life are also Nigerians, and that they are your we, the people?”

“I am talking about the people as people”

“Say that to your class of theorists. In real life, in a country, there is no such thing as real and fake people. We are all human beings and I am telling you that in this country, everybody is a rascal, including we, the people…”

“I know. But in every country, there is a critical mass among the people that can make the difference.”

“Thank you. I have read all those things too. But open your eyes. Look around. Where is that critical mass?”

“As a people, we must not despair. We can always make a difference.”

“This is the problem with reading too many books and pamphlets. Let’s talk Nigeria, and stop throwing textbook concepts around. See, where are we, the people? The same people who in all parts of the country are already selling their voters’ cards for N2,000 and N5,000 depending on the nature of the election? Your people are selling voters’ cards and pocketing peanuts. It is happening all over the country. The people are selling and the politicians are buying. Are those the same people you call we, the people?”

“The problem  is one of ignorance.”

“Yeah, textbook idea again. You think the market woman in Kwara state who is selling her voter’s card for N5,000 does not know what she is doing? The state government has been announcing on radio that market women should not sell their cards to political candidates, but that has not stopped them. Those women are making a statement. They are being mischievous. They are saying that all politicians are rascals, and that they know this to be true. They’d rather get paid for their cards than waste them on the hope that there are no rascals in Nigerian politics.”

“The sale of a voter’s card is a criminal act of political rascality.”

“You are speaking English now.”

“I speak English all the time.”

“Yes. I know.  But let’s also consider the over 1, 000 Nigerians that have been evacuated from Egypt by the Federal Government.”

“I consider that to be a good development.  We should praise the Federal Government for acting swiftly. In the past we had criticised the Nigerian government for abandoning Nigerians in diaspora especially when they are in distress.”

“Excuse me. Can I ask you one honest question?”

“Do you run an NGO?”

“No. Why?”

“Because you seem to have mastered NGO-talk so much, often times it is as if you look at a textbook before you respond to an issue. You should learn to ask specific questions.  So you want to praise the government for evacuating Nigerians from Egypt. You should ask questions: was there any urgent need for the withdrawal of Nigerians?”

“Yes. Egypt is on the boil. The Americans and the British are evacuating their nationals in case there is a blow out and their people are targeted.”

“So are we then imitating Britain, and the United States? Nigeria’s foreign policy should not be driven by a culture of imitation. The British, the French and Americans may be at risk if there is a blow out in Egypt yes, they are part of the problem in that country in varying degrees; and their nationals are easily recognisable. Nigerians? They  don’t have any stake in the Egyptian debacle. So when government says it has brought home over 1,000 Nigerians from Egypt, I merely chuckle. The Federal Government should have directed more energy to the evacuation of Nigerians in Sudan, Sri Lanka, Queenstown Australia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cote d’Ivoire, where they face real danger.”

“You mean we have Nigerians in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

“Yes. We the people are everywhere. I once met a Nigerian who had lived in Myanmar for 30 years, married to a Burmese woman with children, and he spoke Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese so fluently.”

“How did you know? You speak Chinese?”

“He told me. What do you mean? But back to these your Egyptian returnees, who are now refugees in their own country, who is going to feed them and pay their hospital bills? Who will be responsible for their trip back to Egypt when the situation improves?”

“The Federal Government.”

“You see? I read the stories. Most of the people who have returned are persons who went to Egypt for medical treatment or Nigerian students in Egypt. I can bet that the sick people just want a free ride back home, and the students are here on an all expenses paid round trip vacation. The Nigerians who have serious things to do in Egypt are all still there. They know that this is not about them, but Mubarak and his legacy of rascality. In fact, those Nigerians should have joined the Egyptian protesters instead of coming back home.”

“Are you saying that Nigerians in the Diaspora are part of the web of rascality?”

“I can list a hundred tricks of survival authored and perfected by Nigerians in the Diaspora.”

“You are too cynical. That’s not good for your health.”

“Okay, do you want me to talk about the contradictions in the idea of the Federal Government setting up nine new universities, and President Goodluck Jonathan taking one of the universities to his village, Otueke in Bayelsa state?”

“Stop complaining. One of your brothers from the South West is now the Vice Chancellor of that university.”

“You know there are well-educated and qualified people in the South West.”

“I am talking about the rascality element.”

“Don’t ask me. Well, ask Mobolaji Aluko, the Otueke VC.”

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