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Published On: Tue, Mar 11th, 2014

Centenary heroes, rogues and scoundrels

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By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju

The list of centenary honorees solidifies Nigeria’s longstanding reputation as the hotbed of political and economic corruption. But reputations often hide the darkest secrets; our dark secrets of romance with everything evil have now come to the surface. The world now knows us as a nation that fetes its heroes and villains. However, when the anger swirling around the list gets tempered, the realization dawns that the list was drafted, supervised and approved by the greatest political opportunist this country has produced till date – Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. Jonathan’s, list have so many infamous characters it is hard to limit the rogues and scoundrels to a single digit. His list was cast from Nigeria’s most exclusive gaming hell it is the list of the cold, the ruthless and the calculative. He managed to insert foils of humanity between the rafts of corresponding demons. His list exposed for the world to see, his carefully crafted reputation for deliberate wickedness. While we were engrossed reading the names in his centenary gallery of heroes, rogues and scoundrels; Nigeria’s home grown terror group, Boko Haram struck. They undertook the systematic slaughter of 45 innocent boys at a public boarding school. Yet the President elects to celebrate the centenary amidst pomp and ceremony in their characteristic unrefined vulgarity. While they went rosy with wine, over 100 people were killed in car bomb blasts in Maiduguri, and many others in separate attacks on nearby villages.

The dog and pony show dubbed the centennial celebrations went on even as young Nigerians were getting killed in the Northeast. The centennial awards banquet hosted by the president paraded a gallery of every rogue, scoundrel and hero, from our past or present and presented them with an award. Something is definitely wrong with a country that seeks to canonize its most brutal military despots “outstanding promoters of unity, patriotism and national development”. It is clear that we cannot look for moral leadership from Jonathan nor his rampaging cabal totally intent on pillaging this country and share the spoils. Gradually, a rewrite of history, along with many other great and horrible, are getting knitted into the fabric of this country. With Jonathan clearly fixated at winning at all cost in 2015, we should consider ourselves lucky that notorious armed robbers and criminals like Ishola Oyenusi, Lawrence Anini, did not get a category on the centennial award list. If he had created a category for them, we would have shouted our hearts out and nothing would have happened.

There are folkways peculiar to Nigeria that is getting erased and that should concern every Nigerian. The nation is under internal colonization by frauds. We are not winning the battle for Nigeria’s soul and we will never win so long as Nigeria is controlled by finger licking frauds and fence sitting scoundrels. Whenever we are confronted with real issues like missing N20billion oil receipts, the presidency must find a way to throw in an unpopular and deleterious distraction. The country chews on that, they buy time until the next ugly thing comes up. We owe it to ourselves and Nigerians yet unborn to stay engaged and ask questions. We can’t fight truculence with fence sitting and equivocation. It is time we accept the fact that this President doesn’t share our values. We can register our displeasure at the next election cycle. If you are sufficiently aggrieved about the direction Nigeria is going; vote in the next election and protect your voice (vote). That is the only way we will change the status quo.

Bamidele Ademola-Olateju is on olufunmilayo@gmail.com

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