The Death Of A President-For-Life


Aonduna Tondu 

What do Nigeria and a demographically tiny Central Asian country of 5 million souls called Turkmenistan have in common? Nothing much, except that apart from both being energy-rich, either one has been inflicted with the misfortune of a power-hungry despot suffering from delusions of invincibility marked by acts of lawlessness and criminal impunity that brood no opposition. And, remarkably, last week, on December 21, 2006, to be precise,  the president-for-life, the self-proclaimed Turkmenbashi (Head of the Turkmen) the Great, Saparmurat Niyazov died “suddenly” at age 66, thus once more exposing the folly by dictators in his mould regarding their pathetic sense of immortality. In Nigeria, sadly, the current tyrant continues to behave as if he and his disastrous reign of terror are eternal or indispensable and instead of citizens seeing the winding down of his reckless kleptocracy, one is instead being treated to an escalation of the atrocities and illegalities that have been associated with his clueless regime since 1999. By declaring Vice-President Atiku’s official position vacant after the politician from Adamawa strenuously fought against the “term elongation” madness which is part and parcel of his diabolical life-presidency scheme, the Aso Rock dictator has reached a new low in the insane onslaught of his PDP-based mafia on Nigeria’s constitutional order and democracy in general. It is high time the Nigerian people as well as the international community responded with decisiveness to the lunacy of Abuja’s ‘emperor-for-life’.  The citizenry has given Obasanjo and his band of misfits masquerading as leaders a very long rope to hang themselves, so to speak, and now is the time for all the patriotic forces of the nation, irrespective of party, religious or other affiliations to unite and salvage the nation by neutralizing the monster that we have individually and collectively helped beget. Nigeria must not remain another Turkmenistan, courtesy of the Bokassa of Aso Rock. It is instructive that as we approach 2007, increasingly, Obasanjo’s tyrannical rule is being unfavorably compared to the Abacha interregnum. 


The sudden demise of General Abacha in 1998 did provide Nigerians with an opportunity to start afresh after almost two decades of corrupt and essentially reactionary regimes led by Shehu Shagari and Bagangida. in particular. But if Nigerians have generally learnt from the lesson of Abacha’s death which was not surprisingly greeted with boisterous jubilation and revelry in some sections of the country, the character who has singularly benefited from the abrupt and final disappearance of general Abacha from the nation’s political scene , namely, Obasanjo, has today, by all objective indices, surpassed the Abacha tragedy. And to a large extent, the Obasanjo despotism is also much more depraved than that of his buddy, the former dictator from Minna called Babangida. This is how the bard, Wole Soyinka succinctly describes what Obasanjo and his PDP have come to represent in the present scheme of things: “The PDP, as I have stated it, is the most evil construct that we have ever witnessed in this nation. There are still a few good people there, let me be fair to everybody, but most of those with conscience have left the party. There is no question at all about that and what we have there is a remnant of the most vicious and tenacious of the evil empire…That evil empire, created by Obasanjo, his bequest to this nation after the struggle and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of people after the agony of millions of people, the death, martyrdom of so many people and the experience of torture, permanent mental disability which has been inflicted on the people during the struggle against Sani Abacha, to end up with this kind of regime, which then wants to perpetuate itself. I am putting this as strongly as possible because I want to remind Nigerians of what they have obtained in return for years of agony, for the distortion in civil existence and this is what has replaced it. Again, it reminds me of that biblical passage, when a King said, my father flogged you with a whip, I will thrash you with scorpion. That really describes what has been going on” (The News).


In a speech entitled “Towards the Dismantling of An Evil Empire” delivered at the convention of Anthony Enahoro’s African Renaissance Party (ARP), and in what is an indirect comparison between the violent PDP misrule and an attack by armed robbers, the Nobel laureate intimated that Nigerians should be prepared to learn from the Kenyan experience whereby the opposition came together to get rid of one of Africa’s sit-tight  “presidents-for-life” known as Arap Moi. "When armed robbers descend on a neighbourhood, the neighbourhood trembles only because each victim household insists on acting on its own. Banded together, intelligently organised, they will defeat the marauders and send them down into the pit of perdition that is their natural habitation…

 Remember Kenya. The first time round, the people found it impossible to muzzle their egos, postpone their individual ambitions. Arap Moi walked all over the opposition at will, and in contempt. The second time however, they had absorbed the suicidal lessons of self-interest, found the resolve to act together and confront a common enemy as one. Result? The wily dictator was sent home to his farm." These are wise words that the Nigerian opposition and people in general can only ignore at their peril. 


The Nigerian nation is today living in a state of anomy, thanks largely to the insouciant dereliction of duty on the part of a callous cabal. The self-inflicted anarchy confronting us is real. The country’s newspapers are filled with heart-wrenching tales of citizens at the mercy of armed gangs. Major cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, Port Harcourt and Onitsha have virtually been overrun by armed robbers with the police being apparently helpless to offer even a token resistance. The situation is that grim. Yet, what seems to matter most to the PDP regime is the egregious deployment of the police and other so-called security agencies for the persecution of perceived political enemies. Add to this terrible state of affairs the political banditry and recklessness of the Aso Rock potentate and his fellow looters which are no doubt acting as the most important incentives to the general madness that has gripped the land nowadays. It is an understatement to say that Nigeria is today in its worst shape since independence. The near-collapse of the nation’s socio-economic infrastructures is having a profound impact on the moral fibre of the nation. But Baba Aremu and his band of fellow  usurpers and kleptocrats don’t seem perturbed. Self-preservation is their idée fixe, every other thing is secondary. The unprecedented malaise in the country must be of no significance to these hedonists. But this time around, Nigerians must show resolve and demonstrate to Obasanjo and his PDP that they have had enough! Even as I write this commentary, media reports coming out of Lagos speak of yet another pipeline conflagration there that has caused the loss of life in the hundreds. Surely, no civilized people can afford to remain insensitive to the morbid rituals of a poverty-stricken populace driven to the desperation of trying to take advantage of illegally scooped fuel from damaged pipes and in the process meeting painful death. There should be consequences. The hollow and hypocritical expressions of condolences and grief on the part of the regime in Abuja must be rejected for what they are. The situation is simply untenable and something must give. Events like this latest tragedy in Lagos only add to the dismal track record of the Obasanjo autocracy which must be confronted and dismantled for the country to be offered a new vista of opportunity to truly reform itself in a positive way.


Let me draw the reader’s attention to this urgent message by Soyinka to all the strategic forces of the nation: “And the opposition must come together and there has to be an alliance to ensure that this misrule is terminated. Otherwise, all the evidence is there that there are plans to rig elections in 2007 or to create or foment such chaos that it will be possible to declare a state of emergency all over the country and continue with this misrule. I am appealing to the people of this country to rally around and identify individuals and ensure that the power of the people is manifested both on the preventive and elective levels. People should start working now to undermine the conspiracy to rig 2007 elections. I have no confidence in INEC by the way. Let me say this quite clearly, I have absolutely no confidence in INEC. That INEC should decide to go ahead with the electronic voting machine, over objections and over advice from those nations which have used it, which are more technologically attuned. That it would go ahead and insist on using this electronic system speaks ill of the honesty of INEC…Both from my personal experience and objective overview of everything, it is clear that INEC is not an honest organization. It is right in the pocket of the President or the presidency” (The News).


The ultimate message to the people of our nation and the international community is that the PDP-based one-man vaudevillian spectacle also referred to as the primitive tyranny by the imperial ‘president-for-life’ called Obasanjo must end by May 29, 2007. This means that the Nigerian electorate should be free to exercise its right and vote out what must count as the single most critical danger facing our country today – the PDP and what it stands for. Significantly also, the evil attempt at political self-perpetuation through the surrogacy of the likes of Yar’adua should be considered as unacceptable. At the same time, we must identify and confine to irrelevance the enemies of our people, be they local or foreign in the mould of Andrew Young and other so-called American associates of Nigeria’s current dictator. By electing to shower undeserved accolades on one of Africa’s enduring political disasters in the manner they recently did in New York, Andrew Young and his fellow American so-called friends of  the Nigerian tyrant – parasites in their own right - have demonstrated once more where their loyalties lie, namely, with dictatorship and undemocratic imposition. Like the tragic reign of Nigeria’s ‘Turkmenbashi ( Head of the Heart of Africa) the Great’,  the sinister peregrinations of the latter’s alien allies and court jesters in our national political spaces have inflicted so much pain and suffering on the hapless Nigerian masses that the unraveling of their mischief-fomenting enterprise should be deemed as long overdue. When these foreign courtiers and their friends gang up with local confederates and plot the cloning of an African disaster as they are said to be doing with the PDP’s Yar’adua, what they are invariably advertising is their anti-people disposition. Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora should rise and confront these agents of evil. We know who our foreign friends are. 


Aonduna Tondu


New York