Published On: Thu, Feb 21st, 2019

Revisiting ‘Neither saint nor rogue’ (march 07/18)

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THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu

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“Hatred is a feeling which leads to the extinction of values.”
–Jose Ortega Gasset

Nothing practically defines ‘hate’ better than where the hapless victim of it is crucified both ways: he is damned if he does right and he is damned if he does not’! This extreme is attained when ‘hate’ acquires the pejorative adjective ‘inveterate’. Which means to ‘hate’ habitually; not contingent upon any justifiable reason. In fact to ‘inveterate’ haters it is reason enough that the object of their hate dares in the first place to exist. And they will have neither scruples wishing that it ceases to exist, nor any qualms (if they have their way), to make sure that it ceases to exist. And maybe it is the reason that 17th century English poet Lord Byron said “Hatred is the madness of the heart”. Because only a ‘heart’ that has lost its sanity will hate strictly for hate’s sake. And it must be the reason he said “Love blinds us to people’s faults but hate blinds us to their virtues.
It takes a sick heart to love those it has good reason to hate and to hate those it should have good reason to love. Although one man’s rogue may be another man’s Saint Vitus, yet a man cannot be both rogue and Saint all at the same time. He has to either be a rogue and therefore not deserving of love or he is truly a Saint and should either be loved or at the very least not hated. But a man can also be neither rogue nor saint, and therefore not to be hated even if he is not loved. Like President Buhari. He is not a saint yes; but he is definitely not a rogue either. And so if ‘love’ does not blind us to Buhari’s fault of not being a ‘saint’, why should ‘hate’ blind us to his virtue of not being a ‘rogue’. By the way should it not be sufficient that although he is neither rogue nor saint, Buhari is still able to fight roguery without pretending to be a saint? Why should those who celebrate roguery and revere known rogues arrogate the right to hate one who has persevered not to be a rogue, only because he has not lived up to their tall order of being a saint?
Charlotte Bronte, the 18 Century English novelist gave practical ‘working class’ description of ‘hate’ in her novel ‘Shirley’ -a story set during the anti-industrial riots of the Napoleonic era. “Misery” she said “generates hate”, because those in misery have a tendency –often in a most bizarrely unfair manner- to locate someone to blame for their situation. And so referring to the misery of bitter workers displaced by industrial machines in the novel ‘Shirley’, Charlotte said that they “hated the machines which they believed took their bread from them; they hated the buildings which contained the machines; they hated the manufacturers who owned those buildings.” They might as well have hated those who produced the ‘machines’, or even the whole idea about ‘science and technology’, by which the ‘machines’ were made.
But if all that Charlotte’s justifiably-bitter workers do is ‘hate’ the ‘machines’, and the ‘buildings’ housing the machines, and may be even the ‘manufacturers’ of the machines, only in remonstration of those being the reasons they lost their legitimate means of livelihood, they will, to some extent, be justified –provided that they do nothing to stop the ‘machines’ from working or to destroy the ‘buildings’ housing the machines, or to harm the ‘manufacturers’ of the machine. But what justification will partisan rogues have –who for sixteen years had fed ravenously from the fats of the land- to hate a man whose only fault is that he has put an end to their ‘thieving’ bazaar? What justification have they to suggest that unless he is a ‘saint’ himself, he has no justification to put a stop to their ‘roguery’? Or isn’t that what anti-Buharis are suggesting? That he is not a saint and therefore he should not preach virtue.
And for Buhari there does not seem to be any let up. Head or tail political hate mongers are determined not only that he does not win, but that in fact he loses: ‘damn him if he does’ and ‘damn him if he doesn’t’! He is damned for not bringing back our girls ‘by any means necessary’ and he is damned for bringing back some of our girls by a means they now insist is unnecessary’. He was damned for being sick -although his sickness was never in the way of governance- and he was damned even for recuperating and getting back on his feet. He was damned because he would not subsidize petrol, and he was damned because he now subsidizes petrol. He is damned because he will not steal; and he is damned because he has blocked all leakages and will not allow others to steal. He is damned for the bad state of the economy (although the one who ruined it is deemed a ‘hero’), and he is damned for initiating necessary measures to revive it. He was damned for being high-handed in securing the nation, and now he is damned for not being high-handed to secure the nation. He is damned for gathering evidence to prosecute corrupt suspect, and he is damned for being unable to secure convictions because of paucity of evidence.
“The world” said the Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez “is like a map of antipathies, almost of hates, in which everyone picks the symbolic color of his difference”. Buhari happens to be a beautiful rainbow that attracts all shades of antipathy. They make him worthy of hate by propagating the lie that in his appointment of members of his Security Team, he is nepotistic and lopsided in favor of the North and Muslims; but they will not admit that he is equally lopsided in favor of the South and Christians in the appointment of members of his Economic Team. They made him seem like a bigot of ethno-religious kind because he would not visit Benue at the time Ortom’s politically-choreographed ethno-religious burial of 70 was staged; but they will not say a bigot of what kind he was when he did not visit Mambila where over 800 –attested by a Christian Army General- were killed.
They magnify Buhari’s little, inconsequential frailties to excuse the humongous crimes of their lords and lieges -and so that they set tribe and tongue, religion and geography against one another. “Hypocrisy”, said the British writer, Somerset Maugham “is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue”. It needs, he said “an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit”; because hypocrisy cannot, “like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job”. And like prejudice, as someone said, ‘it begets a necessity for carrying on’. For “neither man nor angel” John Milton would say in ‘Paradise Lost’ “can discern hypocrisy” It is the only evil, he said “that walks invisible, except to God alone”.
But from the allegation of ‘infirmity of mind and body’, to the allegation of ‘Islamization’; from the trumped-up charge of ‘cronyism and nepotism’ in his appointments, to the charge of ‘aiding and abetting ‘killer’ herdsmen’, Buhari’s political adversaries are gradually running out of ideas. And now that all their red herrings have been loaded and expended, who knows, maybe as 2019 fast approaches, they may be forced to return to the only path of decency, the democratic process by which the people alone, and not those who purport to speak for them, can freely and willfully elect or remove their governments.

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