FRIDAY Column by Engr. Abubakar A. Fari
Every Nigerian, like any other human being, has been created with the faculties of reasoning. He came out of his mother’s womb as a baby without knowledge but with the potential for it. As a baby, he was born with eyes to see, ears to hear and the brain to think and act in a positive way. These faculties are supposedly to help him discriminate between right and wrong. But then, instead of using them for the good of himself and mankind, many have tendencies to reject the truth and what is right. It is not only in Nigeria that people have eyes but do not see. Have ears but refuse to hear. The brains they carry are to distinguish between the good, the bad and the ugly and stand by justice for all, but they ignore their use. In addition, these faculties are supposedly to help them to avoid following their lusts, wickedness and injustice.
Unfortunately most Children of Adam relapse to tribal, religious and false desires to pursue selfish interests. Men in the pursuit of the zero-sum game, from the super powers to smaller nations, so-called leaders are given to telling lies without shame. In Nigeria, the corruption index is among the top in the global scene. So the prevalence of the leaders that are prone to telling lies and openly side with evil tendencies to protect their loot out of narrow tribal and religious considerations is the cancer that is yet to be cured. It is worst for spent forces at an advance age of over 75 years losing their faculties of reasoning and making statements like touts and ignorant bigots in a motor garage. They do not realise that they do not have much time left on earth.
It is instructive that much younger men have died prematurely or at a relatively younger age of less than 55. The youth are to emulate “elder statesmen” as role models. However, in our part of the world, many suffer from the diseases of tribal and religious jingoism. Second, there is the abuse of office to accumulate US Dollars that emboldens them to make unguarded statements that appeal to religious and tribal jingoists to blackmail a sitting President so as to retain their loot or even corner more. Hence their resort to religious groups as springboard for their vitriolic attacks.
In Nigeria those who would appear to be regarded as “elder statesmen” would include, among others, Obasanjo 81, Danjuma 80, IBB 76 and Buhari 75. Their common dominator is that, the former late Head of state Gen. Murtala was their boss and together they came up with policies that dismissed or retired Nigerians from the civil service in 1975 for “corruption”, or those found with excess properties above the total income they earned in the civil service. Now which one of them can truly be said to have passed the test that they applied in 1975? None except Buhari and that is why they are making unguarded statements believing the Nigerian treasury is like their bank accounts, and whatever they wishedmust be granted directly or indirectly. If at 75 and above one must still have his way by hook or crook, then it is unfortunate. One can deceive some people for some of the time, but not all the people all the time. Truth must prevail and he who contests it especially when he is on the way to the grave will do so at his own peril.
Murtala had the courage to relinquish his wealth that did not come from his legitimate income. Now regarding the so-called elder statesmen – Danjuma and Obasanjo, IBB and Buhari, if their former boss Murtala were to rise and come back, he could ask Danjuma for instance how come he is doling out US Dollars 100 million, and Obasanjo and IBB with their millions of Dollars net worth, even when they joined hands with the late Murtala to dismiss and retire many Nigerians in 1975 for corruption and abuse of office?
They should not intimidate Buhari and deceive Nigerians just because they might have served in the highest ruling council. Balewa was a former Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sardauna a Premier of the north and Mallam Aminu Kano was a Minister and are all elder statesmen. These are the role models that the over 75 aged “untouchables” should emulate for the sake of posterity and if indeed, they believe and fear God given that they do not have much time left on earth. So to call people “elder statesmen” with these kind of propensities is unacceptable in any decent country. When the former US president Clinton left office after 8 years in the seat he was struggling to buy a home. Better do something that posterity will remember you and do not plant thorns on the path of your children and grand children, just because of destructive and selfish envy.