This Country, Nigeria!

By Bola Bolawole

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“He who must destroy others to succeed must know that destruction waits for him at the gate of his (own) success” – Benu Jibrin.

“He who destroys another person to succeed in life will have destruction awaiting him at the post of his (own) success” – Abdullazeez Henry Musa.

Nigeria has graduated from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” to a sprawling Amusement Park of sorts. There is hardly anything that cannot happen here. And we take all of them in our strides. The tribe of honest and decent men and women diminish by the day. For many, once money, position and power are on offer, good name, integrity and principles take flight. True, then, is the saying that most people have a price. Many people condemn corruption when they are not in a position to demonstrate the stuff of which they are made. In position, they not only equal but also surpass the sordid records of their predecessors.

That way, it doesn’t get better here, it gets worse! Is that not now our experience with the disgraced and discredited CJN, Tanko Muhammad? Compare what his predecessor, Walter Onnoghen, was alleged to have done with what his replacement has now allegedly done! While in Onnoghen’s case, it was a character of dubious origin that was reportedly politically-motivated to nail him, in the case of Muhammad, his peers on the Bench of the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, without a dissenting opinion, were the ones who nailed him. The government that appointed this man must have felt really embarrassed.

Two statements readily come to mind. One says you can help someone secure a job but you cannot help him function or creditably discharge the onerous responsibilities of the office. Onnoghen was harried out of office by the Muhammadu Buhari regime and Muhammad was hurriedly handed the job, despite protests from many quarters that the man might not be competent enough for the job. His certificates and training were said by some to be suspicious – F9 English, F9 Mathematics or something akin to that! The other statement is the one that my friend, Tunji Bakare (whom we fondly call “Alhaji), pasted on the wall of his office when he was in the service of the Lagos State Government: It read: “O Allah, when you prepare a place for me; prepare me for the place!” Obviously, the CJN position was not prepared by Allah for Muhammad; it was arranged for him by Buhari and his shadowy cabinet of cabals.

Muhammad also did not allow Allah prepare him for the exalted position of CJN, regardless of his being a Sharia scholar or student. Otherwise, he would have been more studious while a student. And once he was in the saddle, he would have listened to the persistent warnings of his peers before push became shoving. Those whom the gods will destroy, they first make deaf. The dog that would get lost in the forest would turn deaf ears to the hunter’s whistle or warning.

One writer I read aptly referred to the sad ending of Muhammad as “the end of an error”! People talk of the end of an era! Muhammad’s appointment was not an error but impunity of the worst order. It was a carefully-conceived plot to shove Onnoghen out of the way so as to have a pliant and trusted CJN in his place for political reasons. And they achieved their goal. So what we have now is the end of impunity and political shenanigans. The cabals may not really worry that Muhammad had to leave now. He served his purpose and can now be dispensed with. He must, however, be grateful for the opportunities he had and the perquisites and emoluments he will go home with for doing nothing other than soiling the image of the Judiciary. Going by the resolve of his colleagues, if Muhammad had not quickly resigned, he might have been seriously embarrassed by whatever would be the protesting Justices next line of action. No man is perfect and none is above mistake, as they say but Muhammad erred seriously by pushing his colleagues to the wall and when you push even a sheep to the wall, what do they say it would do? But it is wrong to say that this is the very first time a CJN would engage in an embarrassing power show with another top judicial officer.

The 2011 tango between CJN Aloysius Katsina-Alu and the Court of Appeal president, Justice Ayo Salami, readily comes to mind here when the CJN was enveloped in controversy over what became known as the Katsina-Alu/Isa Ayo Salami saga. The then President of the Court of Appeal Justice Salami went public with allegations of corrupt interference against the Chief Justice. Katsina-Alu, who had tried to promote Salami to be a justice of the Supreme Court, which the latter said was tantamount to being “kicked” upstairs. It was such a messy affair that none of the two senior jurists came out of it unscathed. The judiciary itself was brought to ridicule. Eleven years down the line, a worse tragedy has befallen the judiciary again.

The justices of the apex court under the leadership of the new acting CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola, must act quickly to repair the damage done to their image and integrity. I recall that Justice Ariwoola represented the CJN to commission the Ekiti State Judiciary Complex built by the then Gov. Ayodele Fayose in May 2018. He has the onerous task of sanitising the atmosphere that his predecessor fouled terribly. As if that embarrassment was not enough for the country, a former deputy Senate President and his wife went to London to embarrass themselves and the country. The medical facilities they keep running to abroad can be built here at a fraction of the humongous amounts they siphon and or fritter on frivolities – but they will not. My heart goes to their daughter who was said to be in dire need of certain medical procedures. The failings of Dad and the political class he belongs must be held accountable. Trying to cut corners to cover up has only made a bad case worse. If specialised hospitals and good medical facilities are available here, Nigerians needing help would readily get it before complications set in. But how shall we put such state-of-the-art facilities on ground here when our leaders steal the country blind? Some of them behave as if they would not mind putting the entire national coffers in their breast pockets!

Take, for instance, the funds meant for the purchase of weapons during the PDP/Goodluck Jonathan administration; how many years did Sambo Dasuki languish in detention over it? How many top brass of the military were put on trial and how many were sanctioned? Some even died in the process of trial. The shame of our circumstance is that the same corruption has reared its ugly head more ferociously under the holier-than-thou Buhari administration. Soldiers who complained that they lacked weapons to prosecute the war were court-martialed with some dismissed or even threatened with death sentences. Why are people so callous? Why is their conscience so seared? People are dying but they are making money. The country is going up in flames but they smile their way to the bank! Yet, Buhari and his regime are fighting corruption! Ex-UK Prime Minister David Cameron described Nigeria under Jonathan as a “fantastically corrupt country” Tell me, how will Cameron or anyone else describe Buhari’s Nigeria? Again, as if that was not enough, the ghost of Tinubu’s certificates brouhaha has been resurrected for the umpteenth time! I am surprised that some people are still talking about certificates in Nigeria! Of what value are certificates in today’s Nigeria? Millions of Nigerians with certificates are pounding the street out there with no hope of jobs. Yet, some people want to kill themselves over certificates! In countries that know what they are doing, what matters is what you can do and not the certificates you parade. Is that not so? What of those with certificates who are not even employable? Laying too much emphasis on paper qualification is why people cheat in examinations; it is also why people pay to acquire certificates; and also why glorified nincompoops occupy offices they cannot service. I thought we were smarter than this! Honestly! Someone was the Treasurer of an international oil company; was Senator of the Federal Republic; was a two-term governor and you think all that experience does not compensate for lack of certificates – assuming, but not conceding, that he had none? They say travelling is another form of education and this guy has travelled in many parts of the world; yet, you are still obsessed with asking for his Primary School Leaving Certificate? Haba! Please give us a break! What are your programmes? What do you have for us? How will you tackle insecurity? As I typed this at 6.30pm, there has been no electricity since midnight! How will you solve the problem? What will you do to create jobs? How will you restructure this country to give everyone a sense of belonging? How will you move the country from the edge of the precipice? And how will you tackle the monster of corruption? How will you repair what Buhari mindlessly destroyed? How will you ensure that ASUU strikes become history? How will you put an end to the medical and educational tourism bleeding the country to death?

These are the questions I as a person will be asking. To hell with certificates! To hell! If anyone needs mine, I will gladly dash them out!

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