Buhari: Nwabueze’s trou­bled soul

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

Let me con­fess from the onset that I am not a fan of elder cit­i­zen Benjamin Nwabueze; a one-time Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion; a sup­posed author­ity on con­sti­tu­tional law and prom­i­nent mem­ber of the so-called “pa­tri­ots” and I doubt very much if I will ever be in my life time. I have no par­tic­u­lar lik­ing for any Nige­rian in­di­vid­ual, or politi­cian, whose sole call­ing card, or plat­form of ap­peal, is never dif­fer­ent from the pri­mor­dial re­al­ity of their eth­nic iden­ti­ties.

I dis­like it even more when the same in­di­vid­u­als refuse to change their ways, or prim­i­tive lines of thought, even af­ter half a cen­tury since they first con­trived to trun­cate our first demo­cratic ex­pe­ri­ence as a united na­tion with the mil­i­tary coup of Jan­uary 15 1966.

As if af­flicted with ad­vanced forms of se­nil­ity, th­ese in­di­vid­u­als, of which Nwabueze is eas­ily the most prom­i­nent; re­peat­edly sneer at su­pe­rior logic, facts, and the re­al­ity of rapidly un­folded events around the world in their un­guarded com­men­taries on the polity. They re­ject the sug­ges­tion that their nar­row eth­no­cen­tric per­spec­tives on na­tion build­ing have not only be­come stale, but are also largely ir­rel­e­vant in what is re­quired for the ef­fi­cient gov­er­nance of mod­ern na­tion states and eco­nomic power blocks.

And when they speak; they can hardly con­ceal the pre­pon­der­ance the stoneaged il­lu­sion of the rel­e­vance of eth­nic na­tion­al­i­ties and how the the­ory in it­self should be bedrock or foundation for any in­formed dis­course on the di­rec­tion of where our dear na­tion should be headed.

It was a the­ory which Nwabueze and his ilk des­per­ately wanted to de­fine dur­ing the tragic pres­i­dency of cer­tain Good­luck Ebele Jonathan that al­most set the na­tion on fire. Its es­sen­tial strat­egy was the crude ex­ploita­tion of our ma­jor fault lines for po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal. With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, it is per­haps not sur­pris­ing that Ben Nwabueze was ex­tremely close to the former pres­i­dent.

He even had the ef­fron­tery to at­tempt foist­ing a “draft con­sti­tu­tion” he wrote in his bed­room down the throats of un­sus­pect­ing del­e­gates ir­ra­tionally cob­bled to­gether for Jonathan’s du­bi­ous Con­sti­tu­tional Con­fer­ence. The joke, of course, was that he ex­pected the Con­fer­ence to re­turn the same doc­u­ment which re­flected his pro­foundly flawed views as the new con­sti­tu­tion for the coun­try.

But he failed. Just like he also failed in 1966. The nau­se­at­ing truth about Nwabueze’s lat­ter-day ro­mance with the pol­i­tics of ethic na­tion­al­ism, is that way back in 1966, our his­tory books in­di­cate that he was a dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal an­i­mal for pre­dictable rea­son.

In 1966, soon af­ter the top-most north­ern mil­i­tary-po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship were elim­i­nated by the Igbo-in­spired mil­i­tary coup, Ben Nwabueze drafted the doc­u­ment which the late mil­i­tary Head of State Gen­eral John­son Aguiyi Ironsi re­lied upon to foist a uni­tary gov­ern­ment on the na­tion, and in essence pre­cip­i­tated the se­ries of events which cul­mi­nated in the na­tion’s bloody Civil War from 1967 1970.

Sud­denly, from en­joy­ing their re­gional gov­ern­ments woke up one day to dis­cover that they had lost their au­tonomies by ex­ec­u­tive fiat. The new ar­range­ment cob­bled all the re­gions to­gether un­der the iron fist of a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment in which the Igbo were the most pre­em­i­nent in the po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship of the na­tion in­clud­ing the fed­eral bu­reau­cracy.

But the Unity Gov­ern­ment was doomed from the onset be­cause it was in re­al­ity an An­i­mal Farm, which even Nwabueze would never had ac­cepted or rec­og­nized if he was from the north, given his well­doc­u­mented an­tecedents. Whereas the East­ern re­gional po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship was largely un­touched by the mil­i­tary putsch, the West, Mid-West and North­ern re­gions lost key heavy­weights and were clearly at a dis­ad­van­tage. It was an in­famy that could not stand and it didn’t.

Now, more than half a cen­tury later, it is still painfully ob­vi­ous that Nwabueze’s in­ter­mit­tent in­ter­ven­tions on na­tional is­sues, in­clud­ing the in­ter­view he granted the Guardian news­pa­per last week in which he at­tempted to de­con­struct the per­son­al­ity of pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, has al­ways been about the in­sa­tiable quest to en­throne and em­power his par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est group.

In nor­mal sit­u­a­tions, that is not en­tirely a bad thing to do. But where the same de­sire ex­poses cer­tain prej­u­dices and crude re­sent­ment against par­tic­u­lar eth­nic groups and the re­li­gion they prac­tice the fun­da­men­tal un­der­pin­nings of such ag­i­ta­tions be­come very sus­pect.

In the in­ter­view I re­ferred to for in­stance, Nwabueze not only scorned Pres­i­dent Buhari’s anti-cor­rup­tion stance, which he re­ferred to as “make-be­lieve”; he even ques­tioned his ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the same ar­ro­gant scep­ti­cism that has be­come typ­i­cal of his creed, as well as his lead­er­ship cre­den­tials.

But it was his ref­er­ence to the pres­i­dent as an Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ist that trou­bled me the most. In his opin­ion, the fac­tors that way heav­ily against Buhari ful­fill­ing his lead­er­ship obli­ga­tions to the na­tion in­clude “mainly his Is­lamiza­tion/ North­erni­sa­tion agenda, as man­i­fested, for ex­am­ple, in his manda­tory direc­tive that Is­lamic books be made avail­able in all sec­ondary schools; and his pledge, in a speech at the Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity Zaria on May 2, 2015 to an ex­clu­sively Moslem gath­er­ing, to con­tinue Sir Ah­madu Bello’s pro­gramme of fos­ter­ing the idea of one North­ern Nige­ria, not One Nige­ria.”

Two things are ev­i­dent from the quote cited above. First, it failed to pro­vide the con­text within which Pres­i­dent Buahri did the things Nwabueze ac­cused him of do­ing. Sec­ond, in case we did not know it be­fore, the same quote re­moved what­ever doubts we pre­vi­ously had that the man has al­ways nursed a king-sized grudge against the Is­lamic re­li­gion which mil­lions in the north prac­tice, if not the en­tire re­gion it­self re­gard­less of its reli­gious com­po­si­tion.

Why, for in­stance, should Nwabueze be both­ered that Pres­i­dent Buhari, who was not even sworn into of­fice at the time, gave a direc­tive that Is­lamic books should be dis­trib­uted in schools with­out even in­di­cat­ing the par­tic­u­lar schools in ques­tion?

Were they Chris­tian Mis­sion­ary Schools? Was Buhari de­lib­er­ately try­ing to con­vert stu­dent pupils to Is­lam? The so-called Pro­fes­sor of Law pre­dictably al­lowed all those ques­tions to hang and expects the ever gullible Nige­rian pub­lic to em­brace his nar­ra­tive.

And; if I may also pose the ques­tion, is there any pub­lic school in the South­east where Is­lamic ed­u­ca­tion is part of the cur­ricu­lum? The Pro­fes­sor does not know, it of course; but all the pri­mary schools I at­tend from Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto were all run by Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies and I re­main proud of the fact. My first English teacher was from Ikot-Ikpene. In the morn­ings, we were all com­pelled to sing Chris­tian hymns at the as­sem­bly grounds. The ex­pe­ri­ence never di­min­ished me as a per­son, or re­duced my faith in my own re­li­gion. It was part of our learn­ing curve! The ex­pe­ri­ence broad­ened my spec­trum in the con­text of the com­po­si­tion of our great coun­try. I doubt if the Pro­fes­sor can make the same claim, brack­eted as he has al­ways been in the il­lu­sion of the supremacy of his own val­ues.

And what about the non­sense about Buhari harp­ing about a united North­ern Nige­rian with the con­text of our Fed­er­a­tion? Un­der the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Jonathan which en­joyed the con­fi­dence of Nwabueze, reg­u­lar meet­ings of the South­ern Peo­ples As­sem­bly was en­cour­aged and heav­ily pa­tron­ized. Heav­ens did not fall. Nwabueze did not in­fer that it was against the con­cept of a greater Nige­ria at the time.

Nei­ther did the qual­ity of lead­er­ship in the coun­try im­prove be­cause the then Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan had a PhD! The no­tion of a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween higher aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions and the qual­ity of lead­er­ship is baloney. And no other Nige­rian leader in our his­tory proved that more than Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan.

Stripped of all its pre­tences there­fore, most of the al­le­ga­tions against the pres­i­dent, in the in­ter­view Nwabueze granted last week were noth­ing but the jaun­diced rant­ing of a frus­trated old man who can see him­self al­ready at the de­par­ture lounge to the great be­yond, with most of the dreams he nursed for the in­or­di­nate supremacy of his eth­nic group in na­tional af­fairs largely un­ful­filled. Chelsea man­ager Jose Mour­inho has re­sponded to ru­mours that Radamel Fal­cao may end his loan spell in Jan­uary, claim­ing he speaks to the Colom­bian ev­ery day and knows noth­ing about a pre­ma­ture end to his sea­son-long loan.

Rum­blings in the press sug­gested the striker is un­happy at Stam­ford Bridge and could head back to Monaco be­fore the end of the sea­son, but the Blues boss played down the ru­mours.

Speak­ing to the press in Kiev ahead of the club’s Cham­pi­ons League match with Dy­namo Kyiv to­day, Mour­inho main­tained that the striker would not be leav­ing in Jan­uary.

Radamel Fal­cao

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