By Gabriel Amalu
Because we love the unreal and hate the truth, we appear incapable of holding a meaningful dialogue
The above quote from Dim Chukwukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s famous book – ‘Because I am Involved’, came to my mind after I read the vituperations of the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, insinuating that the opposition party is responsible for the Boko Haram’s insurgency that is threatening a large swath of our country. Interestingly, Maku’s assertion is glaringly contradictory to the averments of President Goodluck Jonathan and the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Bada, that what we locally refer to as Boko Haram, has become a West African version of Al-Qaeda. While I was ruminating on Mr. Maku’s thesis, it also served as a fitting assessment, after I managed to rouse myself, to read Femi Fani-Kayode’s recent ‘dirge for Nigeria’, or if you are excitable, ‘ode on Oduduwa’.
But for hindsight, many can mistake Fani-Kayode’s Oduduwa as one of those several damsels, he likes to boast about having had an amorous relationship with; but who against fairness, equity and good conscience, has been snatched from him, making him to contemplate suicide. On realizing that Femi was romanticizing about an Oduduwa Republic, Balkanized from our present day Nigeria, the late Biafran Warlord, Eze-Igbo Gburugburu Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s further insightful words in that book, again came to my mind. Where he said: “The true problem with Nigeria is that she is fully embroiled in an identity crisis. The effect of the shibboleth called dichotomy is so very well-known that it has become a cancer in our body politic. Because we have found no cure, and because we do not even seek a cure, it continues to spread thereby enhancing its virulence. Today, when we look at Nigeria – no matter from whatever direction, no matter the focus of our perspective, everything which we see bears the frightful aspect of a dichotomy”.
That dichotomy must also have informed Maku’s odoriferous assertion against the main opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) with regards to the Boko Haram’s insurgency. According to Maku, “The entire money we are spending is to maintain security in states controlled by that party…. Ninety per cent of all insurgency is in states controlled by that party…. We did not create this insurgency or the structure that led to it. You know where they came from but you are now blaming the fire fighter for the fire”. Conversely, the man who should know better, the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh said: “We are fighting more than Boko Haram. We are no longer fighting Boko Haram but Al-Qaeda in North and West Africa. Al-Qaeda is formidable, but we will defeat them”. In his last Democracy Day anniversary speech, President Jonathan even acknowledged: “For our citizens who have joined hands with Al-Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, our door remain open for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.”
So Labran Maku was on a reckless frolic, when he turned the serious matter of national insecurity, for which many Nigerians have paid the supreme price, into a political gimmick. Maku ridicules his office, and the authority of the federal ministry of information, when he summons the media to play politics with the crisis that has rendered the North, particularly the north-eastern part of Nigeria, a war zone. While it is correct to assert that the seeds that germinated into the current crisis were laid long ago, it is silly for the Minister to lay it at the door step of the opposition party, simply because some political actors from the zone are in the opposition party. It is even more disheartening that the Minister called the press conference to make light, the national trauma, over the 200 school girls kidnapped from Chibok.
On his part, it can be said that Femi Fani-Kayode was on a foolish frolic, when he wrote “Give Me Oduduwa or Let Me Die”. A notable missing point in the work is the absence of an addressee, to whom the demand or plea was made to? I have since been wondering whether Mr. Fani-Kayode took the request to President Jonathan, when he recently visited Aso Rock, after his lost love with the opposition party, or is it possible that he penned it after the visit. I recall that after the recent visit to the President of the country, he now desperately wants Balkanized, the former Minister for Aviation, came out to declare his unyielding love for the beautiful people in Aso Rock. Could it be that the beautiful people in Aso Rock have failed to extend the beautiful things of the present government to him, making him to realize like Ayi Kwei Armah that “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born”?
Again, I have been unable to glean from Femi’s work why he would rather wish to be allowed to die, if he is not granted his heart’s desire. Ordinarily, I would have thought that the irrepressible Femi, who attacked ferociously any person that disagreed with his then principal, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, would simply have threatened, “Give Me Oduduwa or I will Fight to Death”. If he had written that, some would have said, yes, this is true to character, even when many would have dismissed him, as an attention seeker, albeit a brilliant one. No doubt, Minister Labaran Maku and former Minister Femi Fani-Kayode, are great polemics, who have exploited that gift to great personal advantages. Unfortunately, it appears they don’t give a damn, how that affects the polity, as long as they gain attention.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Gabriel Amalu/The Nation