Sunday Trust online

If the dead could speak! - 2

The diminutive Mr el-Rufai has single-handedly seized Nigeria’s mental space for two weeks now with his ‘explosive book’, titled Accidental Civil Servant.  The 700 page book is however a bag of contradictions and I was glad that at the launching, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi told him in the presence of everybody, that he was grossly unfair to Umaru Yar’adua, whom he painted as a petty, weak fool, who did not want ‘intelligent’ people around him.  I think el-Rufai and Ribadu, in their own books, are the only intelligent people in Nigeria.  But even Nuhu Ribadu – el-Rufai’s closest friend – was exposed in the book.  El-Rufai revealed that when Obasanjo chose Umaru, Ribadu was mad, and told Umaru to his face that he was unacceptable. He thereafter started dredging up fictitious corruption charges against Umaru. El-Rufai says he had to tell Ribadu to take it easy.

But back to the issue of wastages in government, I am not saying that Yar’adua did not embark on his own fair share of Tragic Choices, but just a few days ago, I was watching a show on AIT, and a gentleman lawyer was lamenting that the way to stop corruption is for leaders to declare their assets openly. Didn’t Yar’adua do just that?  Since we don’t have men of honour in our clime, it is easy to blame it all on the dead, to besmirch their memory and image, after all, the dead cannot prosecute, neither can they offer the largesse of office.
As we speak, Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves are increasing.  But so also, is a bubble growing in our financial markets. The same ‘Foreign Investors’, whom we love so much, and without which we don’t think our financial markets will come back to performance, are the ones playing up our markets. By now, these foreign investors have again pumped in perhaps close to $15billion into our markets, as they straddle the ability and willingness of Nigeria to defend its currency (and so they make gains on foreign exchange inflow), the eagerness of Nigerian government to bring back the financial markets from the doldrums, and of course, very high returns on our bonds and stock market. If any global shake-ups happen again and they have to bail out in a jiffy, the same 2008/9 scenario will play out.  Will we blame Jonathan for ‘wasting’ the reserves in the event of another global financial crisis?
What is evident is really a deliberate refusal to understand the context of events, and even to distort those events, by those who should know better. And that is malicious. The fact remains that those who run government in this country have been less than honest with themselves, and the rest of us.  While in government they can never see anything wrong with what they do. It is even worse, that they leave – after failing – and begin to point fingers and brag about like they are God’s gift to Nigeria and humanity. If they were, they would have made profound, irreversible changes in this country and we would not be talking of this dismal state we find ourselves today.  El-Rufai s’ book reveals that HE alone is right and others wrong.  That’s the way he thinks.  But wait a minute.
A small example of an irreversible change, is the open declaration of assets by the same unfortunate Yar’adua whom they love to excoriate today.  Whatever we do, whether Nigeria remains one or not, any president that will come in, will first be asked to openly declare his assets!  The non-declaration of his assets, or secret declaration, by Jonathan, whether he admits it or not, is his singular albatross, a huge mistake, a great disservice to Nigeria, and of course, the fountain of a newly-banal corruption never before seen in the history of Nigeria – or anywhere else.
How many of such ‘crazy’ steps or overtures did el-Rufai or Oby take in their time?  Was el-Rufai not the elitist FCT Minister who caused the displacement of over 500,000 people?  Is Bala Mohammed not today continuing along same elitist lines, only more brutally?  What out-of-the-box personal sacrifice did Auntie Oby, Auntie Ngozi or Fani Kayode make in their first coming?  What is all the chest-thumping like King Kong over the accretion of foreign reserves, when we could have done much more if only we had a frugal mindset in the first place?  How many of them could take on the institutions?  How many spoke up against the use of lean resources by state and federal governments to fund pilgrimages, Sallah rams, Christmas parties, governors’ mansions, presidential lodges in all the states, guest houses all over, unnecessary foreign visits and attendance of needless meetings when we should sit down and think our ways out of this mess. 
At least the deceased Yar’adua was able to manage a banking crisis here in an unconventional manner.  When, like it happened abroad, we should have seen many banks collapse, with customers unable to access their monies and the directors of banks smiling to the… bank (again) with their loots, Yar’adua commanded Sanusi to hold the bankers responsible. That we suffer from selective amnesia and deliberately shortened memories is no longer in question.  What Nigeria managed to do in that era was dealing a deadly blow to capitalism like never before.  Barack Obama is still unable to tackle the American big men who looted the public and transferred their loots to tax havens. We did here.  We pursued Auntie Cecilia’s properties to wherever she hid them.  We turned Akingbola into a fugitive and prosecuted him from abroad.  He is still facing the music today, and all those rosy cheeks have disappeared!  In one of the affected banks – Platinum – the Yar’adua family had shares and a board membership.  Cynics said then that the Hausas wanted to collect the bank back from Atuche! Oops!  Was it right what the boys did in terms of insider dealings and abuse of office? 
Caveat. I never met Umaru Yar’adua in my life, but I saw him once, entering the Hilton Hotel as I was on my way out. He wasn’t president then, and he still had much weight even though I noticed the blotches on his skin. I was naturally very critical of  
his government until I could no longer bear the loud din of those – local and foreign – who wanted him out at all costs. I started to look at his legacies, his rather furtive steps and attempts to make some impacts, and so, at a time when I could not be accused of collecting money to launder his image, I began to have respect for the man and his work.  Today it is evident, that we had a good man in him, and that those who wanted him out by force, those who could not wait for him to die, had other plans for us. Since then, Nigeria has become weary of events that we never before imagined could befall our innocent nation. 
El-Rufai draws much of my ire.  Of course he is feeling the heat right now from his gaffe re-twit about Jesus Christ and his book which reveals his bent mind.  I wish him luck. But I also pray for a day that we would have more emotionally balanced people in and around government, people who are not too concerned about their looks, and the bank accounts, people who are not busy comparing their performances with those of others, real team players, who are alarmed enough by the state of our nation’s affairs, and are ready to make every sacrifice possible, in order to save their people.

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