Between Hope and Reason – @ibmaleeq

“I am a black sheep, the prodigal son of a cursed union; an ungodly union destined to fail, doomed from the start, a profane union coined Nigeria!” Nazeer


I woke up today with a frantic urge to distil my thoughts unto words on paper and by some good fortune I stumbled upon these beautiful letters above. These words up here would definitely not go down well with many Nigerians; especially the die-hard champions of a ‘glorious’ utopian Nigeria. But the fact is- albeit gloomy- if we were to discard every primordial sentiment and emotion and set aside the mythical ‘return’ to a great Nigeria and use sound reason and logic to assess this composition we call a country, then we cannot in any way fault Nazeer’s conclusion of Nigeria despite its extreme tendencies.


For the record, I am unashamedly proud to be a Nigerian; I love my country and I silently say a prayer for her whenever I can. But this is no time for self-deceit, this is time for self-reflection. Yes Nigeria had PROMISE, lots of it, but it has never been GREAT; all the tales you’ve heard growing up about how prosperous Nigeria was were at best half truths weaved to probably spur your patriotism and love for her. A summary reflection into her history would paint a rather dark and scarred picture indeed.


From a shaky First republic built on ethnic prejudice and distrust to a succession of bloody military coups and juntas to a beleaguered Second republic, Nigeria has been on a spiral downward decline, with only a hiatus of hope coming in Murtala Mohammed’s short six month reign. I wish not dwell on the travesty this nation has and is still going through in the hands of the self acclaimed biggest political party in Africa from 1999-date. To do that will be to bore you to death with tales of woes, abuse and unabated duplicity of theft and monumental greed. That being said, I submit the question; just what is it out there other than man’s sheer optimism and resilience as to suggest that Nigeria would ever make it out of the woods and into the big league of comity of nations? I excuse myself this evening for being the messenger of doom, but I’d rather be the devil that speaks the truth than the saint that lies. Like Nazeer, I am of the late 80’s generation. My first breath of life was greeted by IBB’s mortgaging of our economy under the highly flawed Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).


Thus was I placed at a disadvantaged position by some inept rogues we have as leaders. So while I’m having to share a broken iteration apparatus with three other students in chemistry class, my colleagues in Japan were making robots!!!


Last week the sad comedy wheel turned its light this time on the Lower House of the National Assembly, in particular on the person of Hon. Far(cr)ook Lawan; the flamboyant Chairman of the ad-hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the Fuel Subsidy Regime (FSR). After a widely publicized and acclaimed thorough probing of the FSR which culminated in drafting of a damning report indicting major oil marketers and government cronies, Far(cr)ook Lawan and his team suddenly became the toast of the society.


Encomiums were showered on him from all and sundry; Nigerians were grateful that a man paid to do his job had finally done it; how low have we sunk? But in the height of the champagne and razzmatazz, the bombshell soon dropped as news filtered in that Lawan had solicited, threatened, coerced and eventually collected $620,000 in bribe from one of Nigeria’s sacred cows, Femi Otedola to de-list his companies from those indicted in the report. Otedola was alleged to have solicited the intervention of the security operatives whom advised him to play ball. After reports of video tapes and recorded phone conversations made the rounds, Lawan who initially denied ever dealing with Otedola much less collecting bribe from him, later admitted rather sheepishly to having collected the ‘bribe’ but only as an exhibit to be tendered before the house. Alas, this ‘messiah’ as it turned out to be was only interested in salvaging his pockets, and perhaps his cap I must add.


Not to sound prejudicial at this point as the case is still pending before the relevant authorities, but the crux of the matter is Lawan had collected money from Otedola; and by so doing had put his integrity (if ever he had one) on the line. And why, if we were to submit to his argument that he took the bribe to rope Otedola in, did he not tender the money before the house almost two months after conclusion of the inquiry? Why did he deny the existence of a bribe only to reverse and later admit this much? Why did he wait until news of the scandal broke to the public sphere before narrating his story? All these and more are questions I’m sure the authorities will be asking him as the days go by. And from what I have heard from very reliable sources, the Otedola scandal is only one of several shady deals Lawan was involved in during the course of the inquiry. And I’m sure as the days go by, Nigerians will be in for more drama.


On the premise above, I beg to differ with many Nigerians who seek to defend the sanctity of the report by hook or by crook. Yes we all unanimously agree that the FSR has been plagued by fraud of quantum proportion and that it is our collective desire to bring the perpetrators of these nefarious deeds to justice. Yet in our quest for justice we must not lose sight of its tenets. I have listened to quite a few of them argue that the messenger must be separated from the message; that Lawan and his actions are separate entities from the report and that they should be treated as such. True I agree with that theory, but like all theories, it is not absolute and it’s subject to laws of relativity. For what if the messenger by his dubious nature altered the content of the message thus compromising its sanctity? For me this report is damned and should be confined to the waste bins of the hollowed chambers or better still fed to the dogs.


In any case, I do not see President Goodluck Jonathan implementing the recommendations of the report. His body language from inception suggested his unwillingness and now Lawan by his greed and foolishness has given him enough reason not to. And less I’m misconstrued, I am not in any way setting a let-off for some gang of thieves. But we cannot turn our backs on the inadequacies this scandal has exposed and deny the severe injury it has caused to the report. So while I welcome the decision of the House to suspend Hon. Lawan from his duties from the FSR committee, I still feel an entire different body of inquiry should be set-up, led this time by men of trusted and tested integrity in the House. But pray, do these souls still dwell in this infiltrated House of ours?


On another note, Nigerian’s were yet again greeted by the USUAL Sunday news of bomb blasts in Churches in the early hours of today, this time in the Northern city of Zaria, Kaduna State. While I was thrown into a state of ponder, I wasn’t the least shocked that it happened, just saddened that it did. Last week I suggested that Christians in Northern Nigeria should take a leave from worshipping in Churches on Sundays; at least till the security situation improves. I can recall been villified by angry Christians as to my insensitivity and intolerance; that doing such would amount to giving in to terror. My argument then and now is that since God is All-Hearing, he can obviously hear a prayer from anywhere, and not necessarily from places of worship. There is nothing more sanctimonious than the soul of the innocent, and preserving it should be our main pre-occupation in these trying times. These attacks have raged on unhindered and thus far our government is struggling woefully to contain it. It therefore becomes not only naïve but foolish of us to continue in our daily routines unfazed.  We must as a matter of urgency constantly evolve new strategies at countering this mighty evil upon us, even if it means sacrificing our cherished rituals for our dearest lives. Remember, there is no next Sunday for the dead.


With Lucifer on the loose; whispering great evil in the hearts of men, I wish to close this with a prayer; that Lord in the seven heavens, hear the plea of your desperate servants; heal the hearts of our tormentors with your loving grace;  restrain the killed from becoming the killer and the bombed from the bomber. So help us God.


Abdulmalik Ibrahim

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