By Muhammad Al-Ameen
The words of elders are words of wisdom”, says a maxim. This means, old age is an embodiment of wisdom, knowledge and experience. Elders in African setting such as ours are indeed good and dependable sources of wisdom and, role models for younger generations. In Nigeria however, this maxim seem to have lost it’s meaning and relevance. The actions and inactions of some old men in Nigeria seem to have redefined the maxim contradicting the personal character and relevant knowledge associated with age and wisdom.
This betrayal of age by such old men has become a serious source of concern with fears that if Nigerian youth are to model after these elders, we may end up breeding rascals. By every measurement of age, Chief Edwin Clark, is lucky to lived this long. Most of his age mates were not so lucky to see the world in the 21st century. Ordinarily, his age should not only be celebrated but, a rallying point for Nigerians to seek for solutions to their problems. He should be a nationalistic leader and elder statesman, a pride of the nation and a rallying point for national unity. At this age, Clarke should be writing his name in the sands of time to be remembered on the positive side on Nigeria’s history.
Sadly, the elderly man has enmeshed himself in controversy of diatribe and fanning embers of hate and, promoting primordial sentiments causing sharp and wide divides between individuals, groups and regions. Rather than playing the fatherly role of an elder statesman to resolve the differences between President Goodluck Jonathan and Rivers state Governor Rotimi Ameachi, Clark exploited an opportunity in the rift for personal gains and launched bitter attack on Ameachi thereby provoking the governor more to keep the fight and, eventually emerged victorious with the people of Rivers state strongly behind him.
Clark thereafter launched an attack on the Yoruba nation describing them as a people with no leadership. The old man lost his respect before both the Yorubas and other well meaning Nigerians. However, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos state, replied him saying, the old man must have suffered amnesia describing him as a “drowning ethnic jingoist”,Two weeks after the sad Nyanya bombing and abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Clark the failed to sympathize with the families of the victims rather, he called a press conference advocating for suspension of political structures in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
In his words, “the abduction of 270 female students would not have been possible under a protective military regime in these states. This in effect means that all democratic institutions should be suspended to permit the military exercise full control until peace and order returns; securing and safeguarding the lives of the citizens of Nigeria, is a more sacred duty than political considerations”. And there was no single word of sympathy or consolation from Edwin Clark to families of the poor girls.
Yet, Clark did not find anything wrong with his adopted son dancing on the podium in Kano celebrating the capture of a spent horse. The President danced on the dead even before the Nyanya victims were buried. He celebrated just as when the whereabout of over 200 school girls was unknown. He was in merriment when tears of sorrow was still rolling down the cheeks of families of the Nyanya bomb blast victims, parents of the Chibokschoolgirls and sympathizers all over the world.
Now if Clark’s submission is anything to go by, President Jonathan who is the chief security officer of the nation, is the main culprit because he has failed to protect innocent Nigerians from the barbaric killings by insurgents, callous kidnappings and rituals. Blindfolded by his pathological hatred for the three states and their people, Clark failed to see democracy working in worse scenarios such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan. Democratic structures in these places were not only on ground but strengthened by the conduct of elections. The deliberate mixture of security with politics to circumvent democracy and, the rights of the people must be condemned. If the Ijaw leader assumed that the governors of the affected states will be silenced by his agitation for a declaration of total state of emergency, he must have got it wrong because, that had just incurred him the wrath of the governors of Yobe and Adamawa states
The governors in a joint statement issued by their spokesmen described the advocacy by Clark as “ill-advised, provocative, unfortunate, diversionary and totally out of sync with democratic norms and values”. They noted, “That Mr. Clark would gladly and blindly ignore overriding legal opinion and historical contexts and suggest something that goes against the letter and spirit of our Constitution as a democratic nation, go to show that he is not wishing Mr. President well.” The governors also said Clark demonstrated “crass ignorance and insensitivity to the plight of people in the North-East by suggesting that the missing Chibok school girls would not have been kidnapped if Borno State was under a ‘total state of emergency’”. They queried “Is Clark not aware that over the past 12 months, there was all manner of security presence in the three states when we witnessed some of the most heinous and despicable terrorist attacks on our schools in Mamudo, Buni Yadi and Gujba and on our towns and villages from Izge to Baga?”
Certainly, the elderly man would have borrowed the wisdom in silence even if he hates the governments and people of the North east. I am not sure if his contemporaries are still proud of him, his utterances and, willing to identify with him on such precarious and unsolicited advises. For the youth be warned that not every old man is blessed with the wisdom of knowledge. We all have stakes in building a united and prosperous Nigeria. God save and bless Nigeria.
Mhammad Al-ameen can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org