I can certainly claim that the elections of April 2007 and the perfidy that marred them have in the last twenty or so days held me bound, so much so that the will to write a single word ever again quite nearly deserted me. I can certainly claim that and go to every court of competent jurisdiction in the land and adduce before it that I am telling the whole truth. But I shall not. It would be meaningless. And I also fear that it would compound the problem. This is because in truth, my writing, and every truthful writing, or one that aspires to that height, must of necessity remain clear of any such affliction.
To be so moved by a side in an account being rendered, whose beginning, as it where, does not yet reveal any art by which its end can be predicted, can actually hurt the object of one's support. Of course I have a side I support in the events of the past two months. I am not neutral. I cannot be neutral. I can't afford to be. I am too involved in how these arguments will end to just cast glances here and there through a prismatic bevel. And so it helps my cause and the cause which I support, which are not necessarily the same things, if I can help to disentangle, one from the other, the so far, confusing threads of arguments and counter-arguments which have up till this moment attended the General Elections of 2007.
The aim: without mincing words and at the risk of giving in to drama: Anarchy and bloodshed looms on one side and maybe on all other sides, Tyranny is posturing and the tragedy is that given Nigeria's recent history, there is actually something to be said for whichever side a person runs to in these confusing times. Make no mistakes about it these are troubling times, but these times appear to me to be more confusing than they are troubling.
There have been three great periods in the social-political history of Nigeria. Note that I did not say socio-political which sounds so academic and neutered of passion. Social-political for me describes the cross-roads at which the political trends and activity in society meet to cause pain and/or suffering, pride and/or shame, in the lives of a people. The first period was during the first part of independence movement during the national strikes and people's action to press for home rule in the Colony that was then Nigeria. This for me lasted only a few short glorious years before tribalism, ethnic triumphalism and all the methods the Colonialists applied to break the unity of the movement began to take their toll.
The second period was the post independence period which for me encompasses the civil war and the reactions to the end of the civil war and the suffering which followed. The third and most recent period for me has to be the pro-democracy movement of the nineties of the twentieth century. It is this period that has the greater similarity to the the few years at the start of the anti-colonialist struggle, enough to draw favourable comparison to that golden era, but only just enough.
In these three periods characters who animated all the sides enmeshed within the occurrences have been well defined, with antecedents falling as long as shadows, by which actions taken are easily analysed and motives clearly imputed. However in the drama that is currently unfolding one would not be faulted for likening the scenario to one reminiscent of a psychological drama.
Without the batting of an eyelid historical dictators like Muhammadu Buhari are presenting themselves as latter day democrats sworn to the protection of the people, the commonweal and freedom of speech, whereas democrats like Obasanjo have appeared to complete the turning of the cycle and placed themselves in positions clearly robbing Nigerians the right of determining who should rule them and how that leader must be chosen. (I know this last is arguable, but can anybody fault Obasanjo for the way he conducted himself in the years after he became the first Military Ruler in Africa to voluntarily hand power back to civilians in 1979, then became a voice of conscience against Military rule when the army seized power again, four years later, reaching his apotheosis when Abacha Jailed and sentenced him for his opposition while rewarding Buhari with executive headship of a lucrative Government Parastatal whose affairs, for being under the presidency in a military government could hardly be meaningfully be probed for accountability).
So even though the positions on the battlefield have remained the same, there has been an exchange of generalship, meaning that it is now up to Nigerians to either go for the Man who as far as recent history goes has been in democracy's corner all along, but who now appears to have taken charge of the Army of the fascists, or stick to the arguments of the historical democrats who now appear to be surrendering leadership to a well known fascist. I suspect that whatever positions they stake out, Nigerians will have a truckload of believable justification to advance for that choice. So let the games begin!
Those who are about to die salute you..........