WHEN given the slightest chance, African leaders glibly transform into ‘godly’ men, bringing lousy ‘proofs’ of dubious saintliness and divine mandate posing as people who truly commune with celestial spirits daily. In saner climes, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi and Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, would not be making pretensions to the highest honour in the land for forthrightness, integrity and display of undiluted patriotism in dissecting Nigeria’s socio-economic issues and being the torch-bearer of zealous truthfulness. But in a country where sycophancy and toadying by the whim have become assured steps towards becoming prominently relevant, I would not be surprised if these two gentlemen are propped up as iconic representations of an elite class that the abjectly poor in our midst – in their supposed ignorance –routinely blame for the endemic corruption and impunity in the polity.
Come to think of it, if Bamaiyi and Yari had decided to maintain the conspiratorial silence and cheeky grin on the faces of the select few that make this club of elites, how would we have known that we were only ‘beefing’ this set of Nigerians for no justifiable reason? We vilify them, accusing them of foisting a regime of hopelessness on us when we should have shown them loads of gratitude for their selfless sacrifice to humanity. We forget the incontrovertible admonition, in a country drenched with religiosity, which cautions us to be wary of kicking leaders in the groin even when they become tyrants, knowing that God not men chooses them. Some would glibly tell you it is an abominable sin to question these so-called leaders.
That’s bunkum. Anyway, for those who believe in that logic of an infallible leadership, a window of redemption has been opened for them with the confessions of Bamaiyi and Yari. Their revelations could not have come at a better time than now when Nigerians have begun to doubt if they are among those God promised his undying love and favour. If Bamaiyi, a former Chief of Army Staff under the regime of the late dark-goggled General Sani Abacha, had not taken the pains to highlight our unforgivable sins against the saintly General in starched khaki, how would we have known how best to appease his restless spirit which, I assume, must hovering over this ‘sinful’ country, seeking a libation of contrition? And so, it turned out that all the gragra that successive governments in this country have been making about “Abacha loot” is nothing more than an attempt to paint an angry and dead General in bad light presumably to have access to re-loot funds he legitimately kept in trust for us.
That is the gospel according to Bamaiyi. For him, all the effusions and epileptic babbling in the public space over the billions of dollars stolen by Abacha were nothing more than a big hoax! If that was the case, it then follows that former President Olusegun Obasanjo lied against the dead when he said he negotiated the release of millions of dollars’ worth of Abacha loot. It equally means that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua only got money that Abacha generously saved for us in case we bumped into hard times. Surely, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, must have been economical with the truth when they said millions of dollars recovered as parts of the phantom Abacha loot was deployed for electoral purposes.
Question is: why lie against the dead when the most reasonable thing would have been to give posthumous honours to an indefatigable military ruler who starched our funds in safe havens where we had to beg and sign undertakings on the judicious use before accessing the funds? In fact, we should be thanking our luck that we are alive to read an insider’s accounts on why and how Abacha put country first before self. And it is ennobling that Bamaiyi, who spent many years in the gulag for the ignoble role he played in the Abacha jackboot era, would be the one to set the record straight in his bestseller monologue titled “Vindication of a General” where he sang the praises of his former boss and comrade-inarms to high heavens. Snippets from the book show that we have spent years misconstruing the Abacha personae the one Bamaiyi worked with. For example, we did not know that Obasanjo and the elder Yar’Adua (Shehu) were actually involved in a failed coup against Abacha.
Bamaiyi said it was not phantom but real. We wouldn’t have known that General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd.) needs to come clean on how and when a simple sip of tea led to the death of the hero of the June 12, 1993 election, Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola. To Bamaiyi, no one has bothered to ask that question until the release of his book that sought to vindicate the much-vilified Abacha. It equally took Bamaiyi’s incisive prodding to eke details of how NADECO leaders ‘betrayed’ Abiola and handed his carcass to a humane Abacha to feast on! Wonderful script, you say? My take? Bamaiyi stands out as a poster boy for criminal revisionism with his queer understanding of what should constitute an act of official and banal malfeasance by our leaders. Putting a lie to the popular Abacha loot saga at the book launch which, as usual, attracted a reasonable number of Nigeria’s fleecing elite, Bamaiyi launched into a reverie of irascible gobbledygook, saying that: “If you remember, we had problem in Sierra Leone and Liberia under Abacha government and it was money realised under Abacha regime that we used to buy weapons and ammunition to help them fight.”
He went further: “I am happy that a former Minister of Finance said the money was not looted but things happen and when things happen like that and you are not here to defend yourself, rumours will just be flying. I am not holding brief for Abacha but I would not be in a position to know if money was looted. What I know is that things do happen and I know that Abacha did very well for the country. If we see him from the bad aspect, we should also look at his good aspect and remember him for the good things he did for the country. That is why I said Abacha loot is a media creation.” The truth is that this circumlocutory outburst could have been written in another language but English and the readers would still be at a loss in decoding its real meaning.
Things do happen? Really? And when these things happen, all that Abacha could was to help an unthinking populace lodge $380m in Jersey (recovered); $723m in Switzerland (recovered); $380m in Luxemboug (recovered); $150m in the United Kingdom (recovered); $400m in Liechtenstein (recovered); |22.5m pounds (recovered) in the Island of New Jersey and the $750m which his family voluntarily surrendered to the Federal Government? These recoveries, by the way, are aside a fresh $550m linked to Abacha and currently being negotiated for repatriation from the United States by the Federal Government. While the various countries where the funds are starched are insisting on a clear-cut plan on how the Nigerian government would deploy the money for the general good, some shameless retired accomplice of the kleptocrat insists that nothing of such ever happened. And, as usual, the media is the scapegoat of the phantom creation called Abacha loot! Sadly, it is this sort of shocking rant that makes some people dismiss this country is a huge farce with the bunch of jokers that easily rise to the top.
The irony is that memoirs, written by some persons, can no longer be relied on as historical facts. They are simply a work of fiction from the writer’s twisted tale of events. That’s not good enough. When our ‘big men’ write, they use it to launder their image and paint the facts with sweet-scented lies. Our libraries are replete with these kinds of literature. General Bamaiyi has just added yet another one to our shelf of alternative facts. Believe me when I say things do happen in this country. When elders are sworn on dying with the truth while selling off lies with glee, why should anyone blame the present ones who seem to have overtaken them in the art of spewing whimsical baloney? One of such examples is the reason given by no less a person than the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, on outbreak of Type C Cerebrospinal Meningitis in some parts of the country.
For a man who chairs the powerful and influential Nigeria Governors Forum, you would have thought that Yari would have availed himself of the verifiable and quality information at his disposal to mitigate concerns over why his state was the worst hit with over 200 deaths in a modern age where vaccines could have changed the narrative. Well, that is where we got it wrong. Yari, a former lawmaker at the House of Representatives, would rather see the plague from the prism of religious escapism. The latest wave of attack, he explained, is God’s way of showing his angst against Nigerians for refusing to subsume everything under His divine authority and guidance. Listen to him: “Because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccination. People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned. There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured.” Yari, it must be noted, did not tell us when God revealed this important secret to him. He did say if Zamfara has the largest number of fornicators even with Sharia law.
He didn’t even tell us if the children killed by the disease were also involved in fornication. Instead, Yari deflected questions on the report that medical experts accused his government of being ill-prepared for the epidemic despite being forewarned. He was quick to add that the poor and other vulnerable citizens suffer because they fail to hearken to the warnings of their leaders who “are doing their best by enlightening the populace and working assiduously for the good of all”, adding with uncanny relish that; “your major assignment as a leader is to convey the message; you cannot go from house to house and arrest offenders for instance.” Although, Yari’s media minder has come out with a finer version of his boss’s misfiring, it does not change the narrative of our deficiency in quality leadership. You know what? I know what to say but words have simply failed me at this moment. I resist the temptation to engage in a fruitless fight with these guys who are fully inebriated on power. Yet, one thing is clear: Nigeria is one huge joke where the ignorantly stupid lead the sane but docile folks by the nose. As Charly Boy was quoted as saying: “Nigeria mumu too much”. And that’s how it will be until we all have a proper brain reset. That is it!