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Mr follow follow

Then there are the ambitious and unfulfilled – those who have tried and failed to make it to the point they think they deserve at…

Then there are the ambitious and unfulfilled – those who have tried and failed to make it to the point they think they deserve at the national level. To these groups, a country the size of their village would help them actualise their bloated vision and they would do anything to achieve that aim. Funny enough, both camps have their retinue of legmen and women- mostly cheerleaders who are in love with their ‘leaders’ rhetorics even if it is wrong or selfish or both. Most of these supporters do so for purely parochial reasons – ethnic, regional or religious. They would naively put their lives on the line while their selfish leaders preserve theirs. These are the ones Fela called Mr. Follow Follow.

The other group are sitting on the fence. The status quo either befit or benefit them and they’ll do anything to make sustain it. In most cases, not even a retinue of degrees would open the faculties of a closed mind. And in this season of political anomie we’re forced to endure, each group coralls its infantry to war. The call for reform has been hijacked by ethnic jingoists to resurrect the ghost of the mischievous Sovereign National Conference, SNC which is in itself a practical anomally. A system is never so bad it cannot be reformed. Those who reform systems are not aliens, they are usually people who know what to do. I see no reason why the decision by Nuhu Ribadu to serve Jonathan should be labelled treachery by his quondam friends. Their argument is that he can only make a difference if he becomes president. That’s bunkum.

A SNC is a civilian coup. Even this lameduck regime can be reformed. We all know for example, that a system in which about 1000 or more people share 70% of the country’s revenue leaving the rest of us high and dry is morally and politically unsustainable. What we have is a ghost of presidential system headed by a bloated executive propped up by self-aggrandisement and an insatiable appetite for schemes and schisms; an indolent legislature which sometimes lend itself to grandstanding at federal, state and local government levels; a judiciary that sometimes ally itself to evil concupiscence and a citizenry united in their misery but divided by religion, ethnicity and whatever else. At some point, we must surgically remove all these cancers.

Is a National Conference the way out or can we heckle and badger the system to self-regulate? There are fears that it may never happen. The power and liquor drunk ruiners of the system we currently operate will not self-clean without pressure from the people – such as is sustained in Egypt. We can’t continue to enjoy the current circus in the National Assembly believing the outcome would clean out the system – its just a comic commercial break in the midst of a tragic show. We need people who can go deeper and keep the outcome in the burner until it is corrected. Ribadu has been given a long rope the way General Buhari had under Abacha. Would he hang himself or hang the felons convicted in the court of public opinion but roaming free?

Those we once called vassal states have left us behind. During the week, three governments around us took some bold people-oriented decisions. Mohammadou Issofou, the President of Niger increased the salary of public sector servants by 20%; slashed electricity and water tariffs by at least ten and five per cent and got national applause. A day after, Ghana increased its national minimum wage by 20 per cent without waiting for a crippling strike or bloody riots. And the most shocking for me was Cameroon, whose sit-tight leader, Paul Biya agreed to keep the $650 million fuel subsidy in place for another year. In each of these countries, not one man-hour was lost to strikes; no shot was fired and no life was lost. Very soon, Nigerians are going to need visas to enter these countries. Forget the lameduck ECOWAS, with time, the headquarters would move and rodents would take over Asokoro just like its doing the once-buoyant factories of Sharada and Kaduna south.

The joke of the millennium is that Boko Haram is the armed rebirth of the celebrated Kaduna Mafia. Some people live in Nigeria, carry Nigerian passports but hardly venture out of their regions. We must pardon them for thinking that the entire north is monolithic, composed of two giant tribes – the much maligned Hausa/Fulani; that politics is their presumed birthright and Islam their tool. Such people may have academic titles to their names and be courted by the Lagos-Ibadan press; but they need a little lecture on what constitutes our nation. They need to venture outside their villages and not just go to global fora and make speeches – they need to act like Charity and begin at home. None of the political elites in the past or present north would be spared if Imam Shekau’s brand of sharia is imposed on the north. It therefore beats the imagination how they could be accused of being Boko Haram sponsors. But I don’t blame them, those who planted the seeds of cultism in our universities without being brought to account might be forgiven if they think that northerners have just woken up to unleash hell on the common weal. When people are either too old or too distanced from reality to make rationale comments, maybe they should embrace silence.

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