What If this was 1983/84?

By John Okiyi Kalu on

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General Buhari and our "patriotic" soldiers would have toppled this regime, confined the current and immediate past presidents to their houses at Daura and Otuoke and locked up Yemi Osibanjo at kirikiri alongside a few others. Even Obasanjo and Tinubu would have been in jail somewhere in the north.

Does anyone doubt that?

If you do please bring up the coup speech of Sani Abacha (December 31st 1983 and that of Buhari in January 1984 giving reasons for why they struck) and read them to confirm that the situation in Nigeria today is worse that what were listed as excuses for truncating our democratic learning process.

General Buhari believed in 1983/84 that societal problems are directly related to leadership failures and hence toppled Shagari ostensibly for the problems in the country then.

Is Nigeria of 2016 not currently worse than Nigeria of 1983?

Truth be told, Nigerians are angry and more despondent today than after Shagari's 1983 swearing in ceremony of October 1st 1983. I live in Nigeria and proudly a common man who easily melts into common settings in the East, West and Northern Nigeria. I know how Nigerians feel today.

I have never seen this level of despondency in Nigeria since I started monitoring Nigerian socio-political space in the 70s.
The worst is that there is also a sense of hopelessness that scares me much more.

This APC led Federal Government failed woefully in doing the most basic of things expected from a new government: inspire HOPE.

That really is the problem with this Government. Not fuel scarcity, falling oil prices, corruption etc. Those who midwifed this government possibly do not know Jack about governance and leadership at certain levels and hence started our President out with negativity: "oil price have fallen and there is nothing we can do because the former corrupt regime stole your money and since we are not magicians you have to suffer until we figure out how to help you, meanwhile I am out of here to other countries where things work".

The funniest part of it is that when people like me review the situation in Nigeria as at May 29th 2015 we are confused as to exactly what is wrong with APC and govt strategists that chose to unleash the likes of Adam Oshiomole and Lying Muhammed on the general populace to send a message of hopelessness, blame and doom instead of deploying hope messengers that they have in abundance within their party rank and file.

I make bold to state that our extraordinarily rapid economic decline have little to do with falling oil prices but more to do with the message of doom, gloom and blame. Our stock market collapsed as a result of the utterances of the leading lights of this Govt. Investment and capital flight too.

Similarly, under conditions of uncertainty people tend to hide whatever they have. In a country where almost all the wealthy citizens sourced the bulk of their wealth from the government and our corrupt politicians still prefer foreign safe boxes to deposit their loot, there are certain overt positions only an illiterate government can take.

A few days ago I was addressing a gathering of undergraduates and the issue of Panama leaks came up. I told them I believe that Buhari missed an opportunity when he was sworn in. If not for the spirit of vindictiveness at work in him he simply would have called the suspected corrupt people to a meeting and told  them to repatriate and invest their stolen funds to Nigeria in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The path he chose will not recover anything and only a few will receive fortuitous jail terms like 12 months imprisonment. Most of them will appeal against the jail term and by the time the matter is settled Buhari would have been out of power.

Let me not digress and offer free consultancy to APC's coconut brains.

We recourse to history as guide to the future. It also helps to evaluate past and present actions and inactions of people in authority.

If we were still in the General Buhari, Tunde Idiagbon and Abacha era this government would have been toast. Exactly the same reasons they gave against Shagari would have been given against them and more. Added to that, there were no debilitating fuel scarcity under Shagari and of course power supply was much better.

Most importantly, there were no subterranean religious agenda under Shagari and herdsmen were not running riot with presidential acquiescence. Political power distribution was observably fairer and equitable under Shagari and yet his regime was toppled by impatient soldiers wearing false messianic uniforms.

Of course I will not subscribe to anyone toppling this regime under any guise. Our system is now more robust than before to stop a coupist and if 1983 were today we would have stopped General Buhari from shoving aside President Buhari. We have learned from the deceits and can confirm that the worst civilian regime is better than the best military regime.

You do not need to build new refineries, earn oil revenue at $200/barrel and build 1m kilometers of new roads to inspire hope. Just a few small things that will motivate the people to get up and go. Government is useless without the people and it is the people that drives growth and improvement. Not govt pronouncements or body odor. Nobody decrees hope too.

The Government must inspire the people to believe in themselves and in their government. It is that initial belief that will see the govt through periods of highs and lows that will definitely come. No government remains perpetually popular or unpopular through out it's tenure but a lot depends on the response of the promoters of the govt at every stage of the leadership cycle.

One huge benefit that has resulted from the current despondent situation in Nigeria is that it has lowered people's expectations from this APC government. The implication is that if this government as much as do 10% of what the Jonathan administration did people will clap. If you doubt me, consider the fact that APC supporters were happy to showcase arranging a meeting between Geometrics and EEDC as an achievement.  That should tell you a little about the mood even among APC promoters.

The morale of many APC promoters are even lower that that of the general populace.

I have one secret to share with President Buhari and you may wish to whisper it to him: his political and governmental reputation redemption lies with the 5%ers.

Those who gave him 97% cannot think and hence voted for him. Even now they cannot think to dig out his regime from a mess that is worse than the 1983 supposed mess that led to the coup d'tat of those days.

While military coup is currently impossible in Nigeria, our President should remember that civilian coup d'tat is very much possible. All that is required is for one rich disgruntled fellow to harvest the anger in the country and turn it into another "occupy" project. Unlike 1980s no government can shoot at unarmed protesters with video cameras and survive without a major ruckus.

That was how Syria started. The people got angry, started protesting in large numbers and the government chose to attack and shoot the protesters. After some time some of the protesters armed themselves and started shooting back. Outcome: Syria's 5 years civil war.

Any lessons to be learned with regards to unarmed IPOB protesters?

The absence of thinkers around the presidential corridors is glaring and largely responsible for the current state of affairs. If there were thinkers around the president they would have told him to release Nnamdi Kanu and forget about his planned devastation of the south east for not voting for him. Nnamdi Kanu never constituted a threat to the President of Nigeria and was merely a freedom of speech irritant. But since he was locked up I am seeing dangerous signals from Chatham house to the streets of Aba.

Atiku Abubakar can help the president organize a rainbow coalition of thinkers. The current Minister of Defense can also help him if given the latitude. If the thinkers are allowed to influence things sufficiently, we just might be able to escape from a different kind of "1983/84" without experiencing a possible reverse coup of the people against the former General.

Happy Weekend.



Posted on April, 9 2016

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