|2007: They are Celebrities, Get Them Out of There!|
|Friday, 10 March 2006|
Tuesday, 7th March 2007 was an interesting Foot-ball day- Chelsea slugged it out with Barcelona. As I watched from the comfort of the lounge of my London home the 98,000 spectators who filled the Barcelona stadium, I heard the commentator say that whoever that matters in Europe is there.
I can’t claim to be an expert of the roll call of the European who-is-who. Be that as it may, I craned my neck to find out someone I could recognize. Sure enough, I recognized Sven Goran Eriksson, Roman Abramovic, and of course Victorian Beckham and then there was a host of foot-ball, modeling, movie, racing, athletic and the business world celebrities.
My mind went back to sometime last year when the son of Atiku Abubakar wedded, the governor of Abia state on being interviewed at the occasion stated, ‘look around, and you will see that who-is-who in Nigeria is here’. According to news reports, Orji Kalu’s who is who included about 20 State governors, a host of National Assembly members, and members of the diplomatic corps.
It is obvious, one may point out, and that Atiku being a politician who else does you expect to see around him. But the pitiable condition of my country is that politics is the only thriving industry. Hence whoever matters, must be a politician. Politics is the only thriving industry, and what brand of politics: mercenaries, contractors, hired assassins, Irreponsible, Unprincipled,the political equivalent of currency speculators and gamblers.
I surprised my friends recently when I announced that I am now a believer.
‘Of what’? They asked.
‘Third term’, I announced.
I am now for “continuity”! I announced gleefully.
Why would I perform such a somersault? Why I would I wish Obasanjo such a suicidal move? Why would I wish my country such misfortune?
Simple! When the third term debate began, I was not bothered because I said, ‘no way’!
Not in my country. Nigeria cannot be a banana republic. Impossible! There are almost 400 honorable members of the house of representative. Almost 100 distinguished members of the senate and around 1000 honorable members of the 36 state houses of Assembly. Surely, there must at least 1/3 of these men who must be truly honorable. OBJ must be deluded, I concluded.
Then the news broke that a mouth watering 100 million naira is being offered to every honorable member that will support third term. Then I asked myself, ‘is there a Nigerian that would reject such an amount of bribe? Then I thought, these men are worth billions, what would a paltry 100 million do for them?
When the high sounding communiqués started rolling out:
Northern governors’ forum; ‘rejects Third Term’.
Northern leaders’ forum; ‘NO to Third Term’.
Northern forum; ‘Power MUST return to the North’.
Northern Speakers’ forum; ‘Stands Firm against Third Term’.
Arewa Consultative forum; ‘Obasanjo Must GO’.
Southern forum; ‘Power MUST go to South-South or South-East’.
Afenifere; ‘Obasanjo is on his own’.
Ohanaeze; ‘It’s the turn of Ndigbo’.
Igbo Leaders of thought; ‘It’s our turn’.
South-South Peoples Assembly; ‘President or Nothing’.
Yoruba Council of Elders; ‘We back South-east or South-South’.
Yes! That is my countrymen speaking! Trust Nigerians! We know our rights!
“The Nigerian who-is-who” has spoken!
I became more positive when I read the articulate Chukwumerije and his ‘Mandate 2007’. Complimented by the irrepressible Usman Bugaje.
All honorable men! Surely there is hope!
I reckoned without Nigerians!
I don’t like watching reality shows, but I follow the episodes on the pages of newspapers. But in 2003, I watched one: I am a Celebrity, Get me out of here. Because John Fashanu was a contestant and I wanted him to win. I hate watching decadent celebrities selling to me their depraved lifestyle.Can you imagine Tony Blair or Gordon Brown pretending to be a celebrity? George Galloway tried it and nearly goaled himself!
But I follow Nigerian reality show religiously.
Watch this episode:
“On December 19 2005, a meeting of politicians from the three southern geopolitical zones- Southwest, Southsouth and Southeast – took place at Enugu. Southern governors made a significant presence. At the meeting which had meanwhile, adopted the name Southern Forum (SF). One of the resolutions of that Meeting was that the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be elected in 2007, should comeFrom either the South-south or the Southeast Geo-political zone. The Saturday, February 11, 2006, Gathering according to The Guardian, was “a joint Meeting of the Board of Trustees, Council of Elders And National Executive Council of SSPA”. Immediately After the meeting, Governor Odili declared in a Cable Network (CNN) programmed: “If there is a Legitimate constitutional amendment that permits him(President Obasanjo) to contest, I will be one of people that would beg him to run”.
On his own part, Governor Victor Attah of Akwa-Ibomsaid, after the SSPA meeting: “The people that arewaiting have a very good reason to wait because they know that it will be good that this person has been able to start this reform that we never had. How manyyears have we had independence? We could not dreamabout these reforms, we could not get debt relief, we could not get the kind of respectability we are now getting in the international community, we could not accumulate this kind of foreign reserve that we are accumulating now”. He continued: “So, it is even good for him to continue, let us learn a bit more from him before we take over. Maybe, that is why nobody is jumping to say, I want to contest the presidency, for the simple reason that if you know something, please continue for a bit longer”.
Finally, hear Governor Nnamani: “So, if the constitution is amended and a situation arises where the PDP offers President Obasanjo nomination, he accepts and runs, I believe he is a good product. I believe he is certainly a good candidate and I doubt, when you consider the stature of the personality involved, the role he has played as a detribalised Nigerian, his constituency: former military constituency and now, civilian constituency. There are certain things you cannot buy, I believe he would be a candidate that can stand against any other candidate any time any day”.
Fellow Nigerians, you see how our governors, the political leaders of the Southern Forum, are battling to state a simple position: commitment to retaining President Obasanjo and themselves, in office beyond May 2007 Majority of the same governors who attended all those high profile meetings would very soon after publicly (not even at night) back the third term. The same southern governors who appended their signature to the defiant communiqué endorsing power shift to either the South-East or South-South addressed press conferences backing Obasanjo for third term. I checked the map of Nigeria again. Yes, Ogun State is still in the South West!”
I asked, what manner of honorable gentlemen would attend meetings, make intelligent contributions, sign communiqués and then come out the next day and address a press conference betraying them (they were not betraying me and other Nigerians).
Next episode; the public hearings:
It was Sunday Awoniyi who dared the northern governors to embrace third term and see what happens to them. That is the shocker!
One after another ordinary Nigerians saw their “elected” representatives daring them to do their worst, and they will do their best.
I was dazed when ‘our eminent professor’, Joe Irukwu the President general of The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, claiming to speak for “50 million Igbo” (I suppose that includes me) spoke at Abakaliki with a straight face and backed third term for Obasanjo, a Yoruba. (Perhaps the Igbos has adopted Obasanjo as their son!).
The last straw was the news that the opposition could not get 120 votes in the House of Representatives to block any constitutional amendment. They fared even worse in the senate where the majority of senators from all six geo-political zones reportedly threw their weight behind third term.
I asked, ‘Are these the same gentlemen who signed all the high sounding communiqués from the Southern and Northern forums?
The final episode:
with a voice vote which Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu called in favor of Ayes, the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (JCCR) yesterday in Port Harcourt adopted A recommendation that the tenure of Office of the President of the federation be increased from two to three terms of four years each. Consequently, it recommended that Section 137 sub-section 1(b) of the 1999 Constitution which limits the tenure of the President to a maximum of two terms of four years each be amended to allow an extra term of four years.
I have never liked celebrities. Whether of the Nigerian or Western variety. Indeed, throughout my adolescent years, I never had a poster of any star on the wall of my room; neither did I wear any T-shirt spotting their face – call me boring!
Our Nigerian celebrities – read who-is-who are corrupt, decadent, conceited, murderous, vain and greedy. The same applies for their western counterpart. But the fundamental difference is that while the Nigerian specie’s lifestyle is to the detriment of the masses, their western counterpart degrades only themselves – with their drug filled and sexual perversion
Be that as it may, celebrities are meant to be our role models. I am still a young man who ran away from the country to live in London because I was unpatriotic. Surely, if the home boys who are the ones on the ground see nothing wrong with continuity, who am I to see things differently? But still; they are celebrities, come 2007, please God, get them out of there.
Daniel Elombah Esq. is currently a Solicitor based in London. He practiced briefly in Nigeria after being called to the Nigerian Bar in Decembar 2000.