“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness.
“When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual.
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” – George Santayana.
One thing you cannot take away from most Nigerians is their penchant for collective amnesia.
Despite the lessons of our history, we seem to learn nothing.
On several occasions, especially in times like this, most Nigerians find themselves in a state of apparent exhaustion, as though drained of all their physical and mental energies; in a kind of torpor from which we are aroused only by difficulty and hardship.
I have come to appreciate the fact that of all human institutions, none is as pervasive and inescapable as the state.
As socio-political beings, God has destined man to live together; to form groups for physical and emotional sustenance.
In forming such groups, the most powerful group, which man has formed is the state. In line with the principles of “social contract”, it is to the state that we grant, explicitly and implicitly, willingly and unwillingly, powers that affect every aspect of our lives.
History has shown that when the state exercises its coercive powers without restraint we have little choice about this grant, and we may find ourselves with hardly anything beyond the hope for survival.
In such circumstances, we can only take recourse to history to raise society’s consciousness to prevent the birth of tyranny; to avoid finding ourselves with no choices except suffering oppression and brutality.
The present government of Muhammadu Buhari is a direct threat to this country.
Make no mistake about this; the lessons of history weigh heavily in this direction.
I have in one of my earlier articles drawn attention to the activities that heralded the collapse of the ancient Mali Empire.
In about 1203, Sumanguru (the Sorcerer King) took over what was left of old Ghana Empire.
He was cruel and killed all that challenged his power. He killed many Malinka people but did not kill one of the crippled princes named Sundiata.
In 1235, Sundiata crushed Sumanguru’s forces. This victory was the beginning of the new Mali Empire.
Sundiata took control of the gold-producing regions and became Mali’s national hero.
Sundiata’s first major assignment was to eliminate all those who helped him to power; introduced a regime of monster and brutality comparable only to the monstrous Maghreb warrior, Samouri Ibn Lafiya Toure of the infamous ‘earth-scorch” policy- much in the mould of modern day Boko Haram attacks.
A few years in power, the people of the ancient Mali Empire would actually come to realize that he was more brutal and sadistic than Samanguru.
History is coterminous with the fact that brutal leaders all over the world have always emerged under the veneer of changing the status-quo in favour of the society.
This trend sign posted the emergence of Adolph Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, Joseph Stalin in former USSR, Nimiery in Sudan, Jean-Bedel Bokassa in Central African Republic and Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo.
This was also the trend that greeted Buhari’s jackboot dictatorship in 1983.
Despite the euphoria that greeted the emergence of his military junta, his colleagues booted him out on August 27th 1985.
In his national broadcast on 27th August 1985, Brigadier-General Joshua Dogonyaro remarked that “Nigerians were unified in accepting the intervention of December 31st 1983 and looked forward hopefully to progressive changes for the better”.
Then most crucially, he noted that “almost two years later, it has become clear that the fulfillment of our expectation is not forthcoming.
Because future generation of Nigerians and indeed Nigeria have no other country but Nigeria, we could not stay back and watch a small group of individuals misuse power to the detriment of our national aspirations and interests”.
In his own broadcast on the same day, General Ibrahim Babangida threw more light on why Buhari had to go.
According to Babangida “when in December 1983, the former military leadership of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari assumed the reins of government with the most popular enthusiasm accorded any government in the history of this country, with the nation then at the mercy of political misdirection and on the brink of economic collapse, a new sense of hope was created in the minds of every Nigerian.
“Since January 1984, however, we have witnessed a systematic denigration of that hope…
“Regrettably, it turned up that Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance.
“Efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria requires recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perception only served to aggravate these attitudes.
“Major-General Tunde Idiagbon was similarly inclined in that respect”.