Friday, April 29, 2011

Victory on the Wings of Hatred

We just had a real blood-pressure-raising election in Oyo State, Nigeria. Mysteries! Everyone wondered how the incumbent governor who was so strongly despised by so many people was so sure he would win. His confidence was extremely intimidating. His loss in that election was greeted with tremendous applause by people from all shades of opinion. I haven't seen such jubilation since the days of Obama's victory. But the victory of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) rode on the wings of the hatred which most people had for the incumbent governor. The votes were mainly protest votes. In a newspaper article published today, I advised the governor-elect, Mr Abiola Ajimobi to be wise in interpreting his victory. To read the article, click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Faces of the Post-Election Murderers

In the last past four days, I have received reports of woes and worries from Northern Nigeria. From family, friends and colleagues, the story is the same: armed youths are burning houses, hacking down Christians, southerners and northerners who did not support or vote for former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari. In Minna, Niger state, 50 Christian youth corp members were locked up in the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship House and the house was set ablaze! These corp members are just fresh from the university.

But look at the faces of those doing the actual killing and burning ... They are very young teenagers who weren't even old enough to have voted. These are Almajiri beggars who are on Islamic and Arabic training. Without father or mother, without education or skills, without any chance of a meaningful today or hope of a bright future...they feed on leftovers and from garbage. It is thus easy to see why their lives and the lives of others mean nothing to them. You can't reason with them. They know very little, speak only Hausa and understand very little. To put it very charitably, the Almajiri is a creature who has been denied the right to become a real human being.

The Almajiri system of Arabic schooling has been described as deplorable. Yet, it cannot be controlled or abrogated. It provides a ready army of hungry and idle youths to politicians and religious fanatics bent on blood letting.

I hate this thought but it keeps popping up: In 2005, US Sub Saharan Intelligence Analysts and Futurologists predicted the possibility of the collapse of the Nigerian state within 15 years. Click here for the report of the analysts/futurologists. Fifteen years from 2005! Is anyone doing the math? If by 2015, Jonathan clinches a second term, we can only be sure of a worse massacre in the North. Maybe the process by which we may kiss Green-White-Green bye will then begin! Did anyone hear the call for a Sovereign National Conference in the papers? Maybe it's indeed time for Nigerians to sit and talk about Nigeria.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Speaker Dimeji Bankole--a Different Kind of Loser?

Mr Dimeji Bankole was Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives at Abuja for four years beginning from 2007. He thus was the longest serving speaker since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. A young man with degrees from Ivy League universities, Bankole was model to many young people. His persecution by the governor of his state who saw his popularity as a threat and by the (former) Behemoth of Nigerian politics, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo only helped boosted his popularity. But Bankole also misbehaved several times and shocked Nigerians. During the Ekiti State re-run, Bankole openly sang a song: ‘We who deployed Mobile Police (MOPOL) to rig the last elections will now deploy soldiers’. This open declaration of war on the electorate was unfortunate. For once, Bankole, darling of many Nigerian young men, forgot what he stood for.

But Dimeji Bankole soon regained his consciousness. In the election that was conducted on Saturday 9 March, 2011, Bankole who contested on the platform of the hitherto invincible People's Democracy Party, was badly defeated. He lost his re-election bid by over 5,000 votes [ACN - William Samuel 28,490; PDP - Oladimeji Bankole 23,103]. Bankole lost the election but won something more important. Within hours of the counting of the votes, Mr Bankole was quoted as saying that "the result showed the wishes of the people". He conceded defeat!

Conceding defeat is extremely strange on the political scene in Nigeria. It is normal for politicians in Nigeria to spill bad blood when they lose. Bankole’s PDP suffered grave losses in the elections and before we wake up, the papers will be filled with cries of blue murder! Is Dimeji Bankole an exception? Maybe. For now, I'd say he lost the elections but recovered something—some of the refinement he brought from Reading and Havard which he had discarded for a long while.