Home Opinion “Loyalty to the nation all the time. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it” – Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Loyalty to the nation all the time. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it” – Mark Twain (1835-1910)

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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Ahmed Yahaya-Joe

The Justice Doris Okuwobi-led Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to investigate human rights violations by SARS operatives has had its terms of reference expanded to also investigate the circumstances that led to the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza last.

This is obviously to help navigate Nigeria through the Babel of conflicting narratives arising. A similar panel announced by Brigadier Shehu Musa Yar’adua back in the day.

On Friday, February 18, 1977, Kalakuta Republic located along the Agege Motor Road at Idi-Oro in the dense jungle of humanity, Mushin was overrun by Nigerian soldiers. It’s erstwhile “Black President” Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti who was “voted” into office in 1970 under the platform of Young African Pioneers (YAP) is seen here in the aftermath.

The reason why General Yar’adua had to as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters constitute a judicial panel of inquiry was because the Nigerian Police on the incidence stated; “Explosion from Fela’s generator plant caused the havoc” – no mention of soldiers was ever made! Nigerian newspapers vehemently disagreed with that verdict and the international wire services followed suit.

A cacophony predictably followed and Dodan Barracks was eventually boxed into a difficult corner.

 Fast forward 43 years later to the Lekki Toll Plaza – exactly the same modus operandi;

“…..Police don go away, Army don disappear, Them leave sorrow, tears and blood, Them regular trademark”

 Fela, who always maintains “Music is my weapon” claimed that his territorial integrity was not only violated by “1000 soldiers” but would also allege “Dem kill my Mama” Even though there was no Social Media in those days the all-pervading negativism of newspapers was considered a threat to national security.

Meanwhile, the hands of the judicial panel of inquiry established by the General Obasanjo led junta were tied. The absence of any documentary and photographic evidence coupled with the stubborn denial of any form of involvement by the General TY Danjuma led army; the panel concluded that “Unknown soldiers” were responsible for the mayhem. Will history repeat itself at the Justice Okuwobi panel?

This is however the 21st century of drone cameras and satellite images that be captured at varying altitudes perhaps even equipped with facial recognition software as the attached night time picture of the Lekki Toll Plaza before the EndSARS protests shows albeit from a much higher vantage point.

What was Fela’s grouse with the Nigerian authorities? Shortly before FESTAC 77 the musical maestro dropped “Zombie” The 12 minutes 24 seconds pulsating and well orchestrated delight was an instant hit.

The timing was crucial due to the international visitors that trooped into Nigeria. Fela unveiled a huge counter narrative to the benevolent dictatorship then in power. By so doing he skilfully positioned himself as the major mouthpiece of disenfranchised Nigerians. 

Understandably, our military ruling class was thoroughly embarrassed and totally humiliated but nevertheless stoically held its peace at Fela’s deliberate provocation till a week after the festival closed.

The timing of the EndSARS a week or so after the Diamond 60th National Independence was also engineered to capture global attention. With benefit of hindsight both are masterpieces in political flanking maneuvers with a common denominator – “Unknown Soldiers” unless the toll plaza and drone cameras including satellite images presented at Sanwo-Olu’s panel state otherwise. The incontrovertible evidence to be presented to her ladyship Justice Okuwobi must be beyond the current slew of Social Media videos circulating.

 President Buhari would not have become the current chief tenant at the Villa without the active help and support of Barrack Obama and his National Security Adviser, Susan Rice. Please see the details in pp. 183-186 of Chapter Twelve – A Web of Conspiracies of Olusegun Adeniyi’s Against the Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria (2017)

GEJ in his own words states; “I got on very well with Prime Minister David Cameron but at some point, I noticed that the Americans were putting pressure on him and he had to join them against me. But I didn’t realize how far President Obama was prepared to go to remove me until France caved in to the pressure from America.”

“But more instructive is the open endorsement of then Candidate Buhari in The Economist edition of February 7, 2015; “A former dictator is better than a failed president.”

Discernible Nigerians are therefore not surprised; “AMIDST national crisis over the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos on Tuesday, a delegation from the United States government has arrived in Nigeria. The team was at Aso Rock on Thursday to discuss with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo behind closed doors.”

That notwithstanding clear and present danger facing Nigeria is that we are currently the 7th most populous nation in the world after China, India, United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil respectively. However, by 2050 we are billed for the number 3 slot because at 5.4 our nation has one of the highest fertility rates in the world.

There is no better proof for the increasing gap between the Haves and Have-Nots than the chilling TV images of the targeted looting of the Covid-19 pandemic palliative warehouses. In 1960 with a population of 55 million we were number 15 in the world.

This means without comprehensive change and total overhaul; our nation might spiral into anarchy. The aforementioned TV images even after Mr. President’s nationwide speech broadcast are just mere symptoms.

 The real virus afflicting Nigeria is deeply systemic. The center of the fundamental basis of our nationhood is no longer holding at the center. The political and socioeconomic fabric keeping us together has apparently been stretched to its elastic limit. Rather than confront fundamental issues the political ruling classes divert any attempt at national consensus by embarking on diversionary antics by ferrying of hoodlums to infiltrate in Prado SUVs clearly seen on the streets Abuja said to be deployed by an ex-senator.

Then there was the dubious attempt to distort the narrative by Northern Governors Forum by playing to the gallery.

Has the Nigeria’s political elite messed up with the wrong generation as many placards during the EndSARS protests have clearly elucidated? Even Fela would in retrospect admit there is now a paradigm shift unlike during his lifetime of;

“My people self they fear too much, we fear for the thing we no see, we fear for the air around us

We fear to fight for freedom, we fear to fight for liberty, we fear to fight for justice, we fear to fight for happiness, we always get reason to fear”

Kalakuta is a caricature of a particular detention cell named “Calcutta” at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Alagbon Close where Fela was a regular “customer” to commemorate the first anniversary of the destruction of his former republic he married 27 ladies, mostly his backup singers and dancers on February 20, 1978 at the law offices of Tunji Braithwaite, who would in turn contest for presidency of Nigeria in the Second Republic under the aegis of Nigerian Advance Party.

His main campaign promise if elected was to; “Get rid of all the rats and cockroaches in Nigeria”

Those were the days my friends!

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