Published On: Thu, Jun 27th, 2019

On Atiku, Soyinka and other matters

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THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu

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ATIKU’S MANY RIVERS TO CROSS
The debate is on whether or not there was a ‘server’ and whether –if there was- it had been used for the 2019 elections. And so since the logic of law is both inductive and deductive, it has to be proved first that there was a ‘server’ before the right to ask to inspect it matures, and which should lead to confirmation it had or had not been used for the election. The Tribunal will have to deal with question such as: ‘what is it that constitute the ‘existence’ of a ‘server’’? Is it the proof that a budgetary request for it had been made? Or that the NASS had approved the request? Or the President had assented and released funds for it? Or that INEC paid for the tools and services necessary for setting it up? Or that in fact it had set up a ‘server’, even if it did not use it? Or whether –even if it had used it- it had the backing of the law to.
And so, it may be preposterous for the Tribunal, at this stage when the material ‘existence’ of the subject matter is still in dispute, to order its inspection. This’ll amount to the Tribunal preemptively accepting the ‘existence’ and ‘use’ of a ‘server’. Thus the condition-precedent for Atiku is first to prove not only that there was a ‘server’ but that it was used for the election. Thereafter -the condition-subsequent- is to prove that he (Atiku) is entitled to the right to inspect the ‘server’ to corroborate figures available to him which source he may have to prove was not from hacking. As the legal maxim says: ‘ex turpi causa, non oritur actio’ or ‘no action can be based on a disreputable cause’. Meaning, the court may refuse to enforce a claim arising out of the claimant’s own illegal conduct. Under the Law of Evidence the question of how Atiku obtained his ‘result’ will be at issue first before the ‘result’ itself qualifies to be issue.

THAT FULANI VIGILANTE FOR THE EAST
I read previously, Easterners admitting that some Igbo leaders were known to accommodate Fulani herdsmen, and from whom they collect regular tributes or engage them in the rearing of privately-owned cattle. These Fulanis are accepted by the people through the recognition of the Igwes; a relationship which dates back several decades with the Igwes In-Council adjudicate whenever Fulani cattle stray into Igbo farms. They impose fines to the extent of damage and or degree of carelessness occasioning the wrong. They also receive regular tributes, in cash or kind –in addition to fines which they may levy for over grazing. I confirmed this inter-ethnic relationship in 2002 when I visited Nnewi and we had to go on the outskirts of Ojukwu’s ancestral town to purchase a cow-gift which I presented at an ABC Nwosu event. I narrated this experience in my ‘Herdsmen And Tribalists’ where I confessed my pleasant surprise that the East had Fulani communities virtually indigenous to it. But I also wonder now, ‘where was Buhari or the Northern ‘hegemonists’ when this relationship was building up? Was it imposed by Northern leaders or governments headed by Northerners?
Northerners had, and occasionally still do, pockets of problems with some of the Easterners that we accept to live in our midst. At one time even in the northernmost parts, 90% of armed robbers caught were always Easterners; but I have no recollection that we blamed the East or its leaders for this; nor did we ever attach to it any irredentist/jihadist intention, the way some easterners blame us for every criminal act allegedly by some of the Fulanis that they have beneficially permitted to live in their midst. What’s wrong if the innocent Fulanis in their midst offer vigilante services to secure the environment in which they too thrive? At one time in some parts of my Minna –as indeed in other parts of the North- we had Igbo youths policing our neighborhoods mostly against Igbo criminals. Would it not have been divisively misleading if we had imputed criminal motive or raised the alarm of crusade or Eastern invasion.

MASSAGING ETHNIC EGOES
Hatemongering, IPOB-sympathetic politicians of the East have continued to massage ethnic egos; in feats of geo-political anger, lying to themselves that the Igbos do not need anything from Nigeria. Or that Nigeria has nothing to give to the Igbos. Yet in feats of geo-political greed they also demand one of their own be made President or that the position of the Senate President be conceded to them –as if these positions are appointive and not elective. By the way even if they are appointive, why should they be allocated to those who are as undeserving of them as they are sure to be ungrateful having them? We have said that they should play politics of ‘give and take’, but they would not; to play politics of inclusion, they have refused; to play politics without bitterness they will not; to be realpolitik, they won’t try; and even to be Machiavellian so they can grab by ‘crook’, what they may not get by ‘hook’, they’ll not! Yet they insist they are ‘gods’ and will not kneel before men!’ Well then, they do not have to. But you should not want anything from anyone either.
In politics you have to stoop to conquer! The Hausas say that the one who stoops for the midget by kneeling down, soon gains his height by standing up. And so said Achebe: ‘if you lie down for me and I lie down for you, it is a play’. Whence comes the arrogant idea that ‘gods’ kneel not to men? Well then ‘gods’ don’t ask or beg. They take! You can’t be ‘gods’ and can’t take at will. Said Abiola, ‘the hand of the giver is always on top’. That you stand erect, hand outstretched, demanding arrogantly: ‘give us this, give us that, does not mean you are not already on your knees. It matters not that you solicit kneeling or standing, the hand that’ll give comes from above. But in politics you do not have to ‘kneel’. Just ‘beg’ nicely; or ‘ask’ playfully. Not having the numbers and not knowing how to build bridges to raise the numbers, you cannot ‘demand arrogantly’! If you are too big to ask nicely, or even to receive humbly, then you have to be ‘strong enough’ to ‘take forcefully’.

SOYINKA: NOT ABOUT ‘OLD AGE’
Those who have deplored the on-board conduct of the young man who insisted Wole Soyinka give him his seat appeared to be concerned only of culture or tradition. Not about who was right or wrong. Or not about the rules governing travels -especially by air. Because that too, is a tradition and needs, as much, to be respected. Morally-speaking they say, ‘such a young man’ should not have done what he did to ‘such an old man’ –or to any old man for that matter. No one who is a product of, and respects tradition, will agree any less. But the reverse is equally the case, that legally-speaking (and morally-speaking too) ‘such a young man’, Soyinka (or any other old man for that matter) should not have done that to anybody. And it is the reason I admit that whereas morally-speaking, both Soyinka and the young man were wrong, legally-speaking the Kongi was not right. It is inexcusable to leave your allocated seat and to occupy someone else’s. None should know this better than a much travelled Soyinka.
Personally I would not have done that to Soyinka –no matter how much I wanted a window seat or how much I hated aisle. But it would not be because Soyinka was ‘such an old man’. It would simply be because he was Soyinka. Notwithstanding if I was older. But that is me, a graduate of English/Literature who knows Soyinka both as Literati and as a Laureate. For me, sitting on any side of Soyinka would be more exciting than looking out the window. And so my consideration would’ve been to ‘Soyinka’ and not to a man such old. But the young man may not have known or valued the grey-haired one the way that some of us do. Personally if I am a ‘window’ person and I had deliberately gone to the airport early to ask for window, I can politely ask a man older than Soyinka to vacate. Besides, this I have severally seen happen virtually every day on board planes and across all ages: passengers mistakenly or deliberately occupying others’ seats, and passengers politely or even brazenly asking to have their seats back. Age should not determine who have a right to violate the rule or who should not have a right to ask for their rights. Let’s face it, we are talking about this because it happened to Soyinka; not because it happened to some ‘old man’. It has been happening to passengers of all ages before now, and we never talked about it. Why now?

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