Home » #Endsars, Columnists, Headlines, NNP Columnists, P » #EndSARS: Osinbajo’s Cross and the Example of Ubitu Ekiwe – By Prof. Phil Alalibo

#EndSARS: Osinbajo’s Cross and the Example of Ubitu Ekiwe – By Prof. Phil Alalibo

Prof. Phil Alalibo / NNP / October 24, 2020-There is no ambiguity that principled leadership is a missing variable among Nigerian leaders. There is hardly an ideologue among the political class who believes  in a worthy cause, one bigger than him. To many, patriotism is only skin deep and does not permeate the veins. They are easily swayed by many things, money, power and position being at the top of the list. In the 60 years of the country’s political existence, very few of the nation’s leaders can be tagged as having principled leadership in the mold of Mallam Aminu Kano, Ubuti Ekiwe and others.

At a tumultuous time like this when the country appears to be at a crossroad, principled and purposeful leadership could be the tonic that could sway the tide in the direction of peace, justice and reconciliation. But Nigerians have not seen such from the president who had been mute in the midst of on-going chaos. It is not sufficient to speak through proxies, prepared media statements and third parties. The youths will be better assured if the president addresses their grievances and demonstrates his sincerity by ensuring the  speedy implementation of their demands.

Superfluous actions only undermine the trust in government’s sincerity to effect lasting change. Cosmetic changes such as renaming SARS with SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactical Unit), without a thoughtful and consultative process with key stakeholders, is not only of comical value, but suggests an ad hoc reaction that is bent to achieve a similar outcome. Besides, the lack of originality in its name is indicative of mediocrity, a plagiarized endeavor and outright unseriousness. This is where Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president, comes into the equation. A pastor, an academic, barrister and a quintessential statesman, Osinbajo could itch his name in the golden books of Nigerian history by resigning from his post in protest of the failure of this administration to address the agitation of the youths and live up to its basic responsibilities of protecting lives of innocent young protesters in the Lekki incident. Osinbajo noted this failure when he said in reference to the Lekki shootings, “We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.” The federal government has truly been taciturn in its engagement with young Nigerians. In more civilized societies, Japan, South Korea, Canada and others, this would be grounds for immediately resignation and acceptance of responsibility.

A UK minister, Michael Walton Bates, on January 31, 2018, resigned from his post not because he had been caught in a corrupt deal or for malfeasance, but because he arrived one minute late to parliament to answer questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. The minister announced his resignation in parliament amid shouts of “no, no, no” from all quarters of the chamber as he walked out with his head bowed. The minister’s action, though unusual, showed an acute understanding of his responsibilities and duties. In his estimation, he had failed the prime minister and no longer deserving of his post. He stated that he was “thoroughly ashamed at not being in (his) place.” This intrinsic awareness and acknowledgement of responsibility is what is lacking among Nigerian political leaders and the bane of the leadership Morass.

Thus, if Osinbajo resigns, following the example of Commodore Ubuti Ekiwe, who demonstrated gallantry and moral rectitude when he resigned as Babangida’s vice president in opposition to his unilateral decision to enlist the country in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the heavens would reverberate. It would be a clear moral victory for Nigeria and the youths. Ekiwe did not mince words with Babangida on his secretive enlistment of a secular nation in a religious body without any discussion. Like many, Ekiwe could have chosen to be silent and receive his share of the spoils, and thereafter retire to his native Abia. But he was a man of principle, a man of integrity who knew the meaning of values and the preservation of a good name for posterity. His mantra was the old anthem of the upright and principled leaders, “A good name is better than riches.” He chose the high road, a road forsaken by Nigerian leaders.

Osinbanjo’s resignation would be the loudest protest yet and a clear indication of solidarity with the youths in their legitimate cry for justice. It would be a conscientious and moral action that would not only underscore his integrity, but his principled character and his mantle as a man of God. Such action could also propel him to the presidency in the next iteration, being seen as a man with altruistic disposition genuinely interested in the welfare of the youth, a man who sacrificed power to advocate for the downtrodden and the powerless masses.  Osinbajo, a man with a living conscience, with an understanding of the sanctity of life, must question his continued association with an administration that has turned a blind eye well before #EndSARS to the carnage of fellow Nigerians, kidnapping, terrorism, corruption and herdsmen reigning with impunity, raping and massacring Nigerians across the country without let or hindrance. His continued presence in the government must be in conflict with his core moral beliefs. Sadly, this presence gives him a level of culpability, and this is his cross.

The likes of Ekiwe in today’s Nigerian political theatre are few and far in-between. Men of integrity, principled and disciplined who will not succumb to the trappings of power in exchange for their moral courage are on the cusp of extinction. Ekiwe’s resolve not to continue his association with a compromised government that betrayed its people and the constitution that curated a secular state, puts him in a special place in Nigerian history. The legacy of Ekiwe is burnished for generations of Nigerians to come. Osinbajo could be the next Ekiwe, if he is able to muster the moral courage to speak truth to power.

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Posted by on Oct 24 2020. Filed under #Endsars, Columnists, Headlines, NNP Columnists, P. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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