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Published On: Wed, Nov 19th, 2014

What manner of Northern leaders?

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By Babayola M. Toungu

So our soldiers finally found the guts to “provide security” for Modu Ali Sherriff to enable him visit home and consult with his “people” – a commodity they couldn’t provide for millions of hapless citizens resident in the northeast? It is the same army that has to be escorted by local hunters into trouble spots in the northern part of Adamawa. Despite the accusation hanging on the neck of Ali Sherriff as a sponsor of Boko Haram, the army has clearly sent a signal to all who care to know that Ali Sheriff is more important than all the people of the northeast combined together. What insult! This insult on our collective sensibilities came right after the show of shame at the Eagle Square on November 11th, 2014 by those pretending to be the leaders of the north. A region that has been under siege since the day Jonathan took over power from the late Umaru Musa ‘YarAdu’a.

I do not particularly like writing and I do not like commenting on the behaviour of my elders but writing is a catharsis to me. The unfolding political drama in the country is increasingly frustrating where one is left with a feeling of hopelessness and abandonment. Abandoned by those we believe should take our cause and make it their life’s vacation. We have every cause to believe the responsibility of our welfare lies on their shoulders for the fact that they came to us cap in hand begging for our votes; begging us to be our representatives in one way or the other. We also pay through our noses to make them comfortable – a degree of comfort we deny ourselves to pamper them.

But what have we got? A group of over-pampered, over-paid and over-protected leaders who think nothing of sacrificing your life once they get their vote. And on our parts, we have cuddled their sentiments and lies for long – we have to be through with that. We have given them intelligent advice, backed with statistics; we also have to be through with that. What we didn’t give them in the past is a kick in the butt – permit the language – but if that may bring them back to their senses, then we may have to give them a kick in the butt. We shouldn’t care if Goodluck Jonathan is going to send a posse of the EFCC, plus all the militants in the Niger Delta after them; after all they called for it. For when they were wining and dining with Jonathan, they forgot it was a broth stewed in the blood of the thousands killed in the northeast.

They have degraded us and our humanity in their bid to please Jonathan and curry his favour. Their new constituencies do not go beyond Patience Jonathan, Edwin Clark, Tompolo and AsariDokubo. We are only but a footnote in their pursuit of the world – to be tolerated once every four years when the rituals of “renewing” their tenancy in Abuja and other state capitals comes up. They have been derelict to our needs and basic survival or the future of our children. By their selfish actions they have reduced everybody this side of the Niger to being afraid to live and act like human beings and like other Nigerians on the other side of the divide. You are scared because you don’t know when and where the next bomb will explode. You are terrified because you don’t know if your child will come back alive and in one piece from the school you sent him in the hope that his future will be better than your own. You are petrified because the man you see in uniform may either be terrorists or a trigger happy security personnel who will kill you without blinking his eyes and claim ‘accidental discharge’ knowing his colleagues will cover him.

Own their part, they are horrified of losing their right to be invited to dinner or breakfast with Patience Jonathan; the opportunity of sending their kids abroad to be educated without the hassles associated with our educational system; the chance for their wives to travel to Dubai, Spain and other esoteric destinations for tummy tuck, face lift-up or even an analgesic.

For a while I thought some of the young Turks among the leadership cadre in the north have the guts to yank the reins from those who sold their souls and our peace for a pot of porridge. I thought they will stand up for equity and justice for all Nigerians as it was in the past; and be leaders who wanted the best deal possible for their people. With what has been happening in the recent past, now I think I know better. I was just bamboozled by isolated acts of braggadocio, which I misconstrued for bravery and gumption. Most of them are so afraid of being in Jonathan’s bad books that they are ready to go down on all fours and crawl for his pleasure while the ground they crawl on is continually watered with the blood of innocent Nigerians of all creed and tribe.

What baffles me is what mask did Jonathan wear on the bribe he offered our leadership to make them sacrifice our lives, our children, our homes, our businesses and our peace, all on the altar of his political ambition? How was he able to convince or coerce them into buying his agenda? It is baffling to me that while the people they claim to represent are groaning under the kind of hardship unseen before in this country, they are competing to outdo one another in singing the praise of Jonathan. Was the bribe disguised as an oil bloc, oil bunkering, elective or appointive office or even a private jet, which happens to be the toy of choice for our nouvea riche? Or was it the freedom of not being prosecuted for past misdeeds and the opportunity to sin again. While ‘confiscating’ our votes with one hand, our leaders are punching us in the nose with the other. Yet they expect us to queue up behind them and applaud Jonathan while he is systematically exterminating us.

While we look up to our leaders as our guardians of our liberty, happiness, peace, equity and justice, they have turned out to be the squashers of all of the above and are ever willing and ready to collaborate with our traducer for him to achieve his aim.

Actually I don’t know why I am writing all this – will it make any difference? I doubt much. But if anybody has any objection to what is written above, I hasten to sustain the objection. I respectfully withdraw whatever I wrote above that is uncomplimentary to our leaders.It is telling that these leaders had to be escorted by a Battalion of the army led by a full colonel for them to visit their “people”. Leaders, my foot!

Babayola M. Toungu via babayolatoungu


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