News & Features

Rat as a metaphor

by Zebulon Agomuo

August 27, 2017 | 4:19 am
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In Nigeria, rats are common creatures that are seen all over the place; even in unexpected places. Although they are seen in many homes across the country, they are considered a threat when they are found in huge numbers in an apartment. An apartment must be very dirty and unkempt to attract an army of rodents. Owing to poverty scourge, many Nigerians live in unhygienic environments where they share everything, including their beddings with rats. It is however, unusual and unnatural to find rats in the staggering number they are being reported at the seat of power in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country after 104 days in London on health reasons, and announced to the bewildered compatriots that he was going to be working from his home in Aso Rock. On the day that he addressed the people, it was obvious that he was struggling to do it, which fuelled speculations that he was forced back home by too many protests, particularly the one mounted by the Nigerians in the Diaspora, at Aguda House in London. It is obvious that the president needs more rest and treatment, but his handlers would want Nigerians to believe otherwise. If the president were healthy, he would not have cancelled the weekly FEC meeting. In fact, he would have used the occasion to get himself up to speed with all that transpired in his absence.

But Nigerians were told he cancelled it in order to first get briefing from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and also to receive the panels’ report on SGFs’ grass- cutting saga and the Osbornegate; these arguments appeared daft to many Nigerians. On the rat metaphor, Buhari’s handlers, trying everything possible to convince Nigerians that their principal is in high spirit, said he has not been able to get into his office because it was overtaken by rats. This excuse, as infantile as it is, has since ridiculed Aso Rock in the eyes of right-thinking members of society. It has since exposed the porosity of the thought-lines in the corridors of power.

Buhari’s handlers are complicating issues for the man. Had they embraced truth and openness, Nigerians wouldn’t bother even if Buhari stayed one year in London; there would have been sincere outpouring of prayers and emotions, but when they delight in lies and half-truths, they meet resistance from Nigerians.

The rat story was concocted to divert attention, but they misfired. In the next few days, they will manufacture more lies. But a nation that is being run on false hood will make no progress.

I never knew Buhari had Igbo blood flowing in him

When Goodluck Jonathan ascended the throne in Abuja, Ndigbo adopted him as their son. They traced his genealogy and concluded that Igbo blood runs in his veins. They followed this warped reasoning with some baptismal names for Jonathan; they said he was Azikiwe, and that the great Zik of Africa had reincarnated in Jonathan. Anytime the former president visited any state of the South-East, he was received as son-of-the-soil.

Like the rat that blows air on its victims, while eating away the victims flesh, Jonathan continued to make promises and shifting the goal post each time he was reminded of such promises. He went to South East and did some abracadabra with dredging of the River Niger. He moved some equipment to that effect and received rousing ovation from Ndigbo that their brother had come to fulfil his promises. That was the last they saw and heard of the dredging gambit, yet Jonathan was Azikiwe the second.

Now, when we thought that Ndigbo must have learnt their bitter lesson, they have come again deceiving themselves. For the first time since Muhammadu Buhari became the president; it was last week I read in the papers that he had an Igbo blood flowing in his vein. Like Jonathan, a traditional ruler had already baptised Buhari with a name “Okechikwu” and I began to search for the rationale behind such adulation.

Here is a president that told them he had no business with the South East because according to him, they gave him 5 percent votes and he has been alive to that threat. Only last Tuesday, a spokesman of his, Femi Adesina came up on his own claiming that the president was assuring Ndigbo of a fair deal. Adesina said it was Eze Ikonne that gave Buhari the name “Okechuckwu” during the campaign. Yet, that show of solidarity and love did not move the president to be fair in his treatment of South East. The question is, is it now that the administration is sounding “kwarafu, kwarafu” that he would repair all the damage he has caused to that region?

Anachronistic JAMB!

Like a man under a spell who takes some destructive decisions without realising it, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), is consistently working to destroy the education sector without knowing it. The Board stunned many Nigerians last Tuesday when it came out with cut-off marks for admissions into Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics and Monotechnics. According to JAMB, a candidate is now qualified to gain admission into any university if such a candidate scores as ridiculous as 120 over 400. It is also said that entry qualification into polytechnics and colleges of education is 100, while that of innovative enterprising institutes, otherwise known as monotechnics is 110. What this development means is that JAMB has lost its relevance. It just exists for the purpose of amassing wealth from the army of Nigerian youths seeking admission into higher institutions of learning. After the satanic fixture, it now spoke through the federal government to allow the individual universities to conduct their various entry examinations known as Post-UTME. It is a waste of people’s time and money to organise a supposedly entry examination that is dead on arrival. So, it means that universities in the country would begin to invite for admission candidates with 120 scores. We are crying that even with 200 as cut-off mark, things were degenerating, and many applicants can’t secure placements, how much more now when the entry point has been drastically reduced? What JAMB has done now is to shift all the blames to universities; and to say if anybody is not admitted it is the fault of the universities. But how on earth would a university admit a candidate with 120 marks? JAMB should simply be scrapped as it has outlived its usefulness and become anachronistic.

Dwelling in irrelevance

When government fails on its duties to provide quality governance, it points fingers at innocent citizens as those who frustrate government activities/efforts. Shortly before President Muhammadu Buharis’ return from London, the then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo had begun to threaten Nigerians with arrests and prosecution if they circulated hate speeches. He equated hate speeches with terrorism.

The way he hammered on it, it was as if it was a decision he reached with Buhari when he visited the president some time ago in London. President Buhari’s outburst during his national broadcast last Monday alluded to the fact that they are planning to go brutal against dissenting voices and opposition. Buhari categorised some groups agitating for self-determination and secession as terrorist groups.

Since he made that statement, some politicians have keyed into it, warning no particular enemy, but hiding under the president’s address to intimidate opposition and those that may not be comfortable with the goings on in this regime. Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State also warned religious and political leaders in his state against hate speech and incitements. These warnings are nothing less than intimidation.

When people are talking about a non-performing government, they say people are inciting people; when citizens are complaining about poverty and government’s insensitivity to their plight, they say it is incitement; when they are stealing the people’s money and feeding fat on the people’s commonwealth and it becomes a subject of discussion, they say people are passing hate messages. When Nigerians are saying that the promised change has taken long in coming they begin to brow-beat the hapless citizens with threats of arrest and prosecution. One thing that gladdens my heart is that the God of poor man does not sleep at all.

You mean Diezani was so acquisitive?

Our mentality is always wrong. To many Nigerians, blind acquisition of wealth is all this life is all about. Appointment into public office was supposed to be used to serve the fatherland but many Nigerians see such appointments as opportunities to ruin the country. I knew of one Nigerian, a heroine, the late Dora Akunyili, who sacrificed everything including putting her life on the line in the interest of her compatriot. A story is told of how she had gone for medical trip abroad and the treatment was not carried out or something like that; upon her return to Nigeria, she retired all the monies. The “Oyibo’s” were flabbergasted that a Nigerian could do such a thing. The result of that display of integrity was her appointment by a former president Olusegun Obasanjo, as Director-General of NAFDAC. The report that Diezani Allison-Madueke, a former minister of Petroleum Resources, allegedly amassed so much wealth that about 56 houses valued at N3.3billion were seized from her. The said houses were located in Lagos and Port Harcourt. There could also be other buildings located in other parts of the country. It is heartless for a woman to descend to that level of vanity. Somebody joked that she must have used her roving eyeballs to corner all that. While she was acquiring the illicit wealth, there were many poor and homeless people in her native village; how many of them did she build a hut for?


Zebulon Agomuo 

by Zebulon Agomuo

August 27, 2017 | 4:19 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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