The recent spate of vitriolic unleashed by Mr. President and his cohorts on his predecessors in office, in the course of the presidential campaigns, calls for sober comments and outright condemnation by Nigerians of goodwill irrespective of party affiliation. The comments are the more troubling when Mr. President himself had gone around the country asking contestants to the various political offices to desist from making incendiary statements that could heat up the body polity. His utterances are violating this request.
First, it was all the previous Heads of State that were accused of doing one thing or the other or not doing anything while in office. Next, was Gen. Obasanjo who was accused of speaking like “garage touts.” Thereafter, it was Gen. Buhari who the President claimed cannot “remember his mobile phone number.” And the President’s Femi Fani-Kayode raised the ante by accusing INEC of colluding with the Gen. and APC to subvert the rule of law and the Nigerian Constitution.
Mr. President, you craved and demanded an issues-based campaign Sir, what are the campaign issues in these statements and pronouncements? The economy? Unemployment? Education? Infra-structure; stomach or otherwise? National security?
Other non-combatants are joining in. Dr. Babangida Aliyu, Governor of Niger State weighed in when he was quoted as saying that politicians must tell lies to make their points. Honestly, things are becoming disconcerting, to say the least.
Let me remind Mr. President and his cohorts of a past incident. Nigeria once had a former Governor-General General, who later became a former President. Previous to these offices, he was ex-Premier of Eastern Region. His name was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of blessed memory. Also, there was, then, an incumbent Administrator of the East Central State, a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Ibadan on secondment to that assignment. His name was Dr. Ukpabi Asika.
Dr. Azikiwe had written a lengthy article in the papers on what he felt were the “failings” and “shortcomings”of the Asika administration. Anybody who remembers Dr. Azikiwe and his writings, would know that the article was detailed, sequential, to the point and written out of purely patriotic inclinations. After all, Dr. Asika was part of a military administration and Dr. Azikiwe, then, was just an elder statesman and ordinary Nigerian.
Well, Dr. Asika wrote a scathing rebuttal of Dr. Azikiwe’s article. In the rebuttal, he had claimed that the offending article by Dr. Azikiwe was written by none other than “an ex-this, ex-that, and ex-everything else” politician who was seeking relevance in the scheme of things. In spite of his academic roots, Dr. Asika’s rebuttal was disliked by many Nigerians who felt that it was in bad taste.
Again, Dr. Asika’s rebuttal drew an even more scathing response from the more polished Dr. Azikiwe. He thanked Dr. Asika for remembering him as Ex-Premier of Eastern Region, Ex-Governor General of the Federation and Ex-President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. He then went on to say, and this is the germane issue Mr. President, that the commercial mammy-wagon that plied Lagos to Onitsha, his hometown, has an inscription that reads “No Condition Is Permanent.”
Erudite as ever, Dr. Azikiwe informed Dr. Asika, that someday, he Dr. Asika, would be known and referred to as former Administrator of the East Central State, just as, he, Dr. Azikiwe was then known as Ex-Premier of Eastern Region, Ex-Governor General of the Federation and Ex-President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Dr. Asika’s father was known as ex-Postmaster General of the Post-Office in his hometown.
There is the message Mr. President. No matter how long you serve as Mr. President, one of these days you will be referred to as former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria just as your predecessors are right now addressed. It is my hope that, at that time and in that capacity, when you offer some positions on issues of national interest, the incumbent President does not hurl the type of incendiary allegations at you or your person like you are doing to your predecessors.
Character is the defining quality of a president and it helps a president set directions for a country; in words and actions. In whatever situation a president finds himself, he must maintain a state of equanimity that is consistent with the office, for, as the mammy-wagon said “No condition Is Permanent.” By nature’s design, incumbents will be become former occupants. You cannot be President for life or forever; not in Nigeria! And not anywhere! The chicken will always come home to roost.
Angelicus-M. B. Onasanya, DBA
Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State
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