Of Nigerians and Truth

Most of my work has been in criticism of my President, yet, a democrat that he is, he doesn’t blink. When he said corruption was not the number-one problem of Nigeria, we all disagreed. Well, i don’t; not anymore. Recent happenings have proven otherwise: our problem as a people goes way beyond corruption. Corruption, as pervasive as it has become, is merely begotten of, and sustained by, our real problem: Truth.

No, truth is not anyone’s problem. It is the lack of it, and apathy for (lack of) it that is everyone’s problem. We hate the truth, we hate to say the truth, and we hate whoever dares say the truth. That is why, and how, corruption thrives. That is why propaganda has become fact in Nigeria of today, and for a long time too. That is why petroleum-product subsidy continues to remain an issue.

My first article was anti-GEJ. It was written during OccupyNigeria. It was popular. In retrospect, subsidy had to go, since the government was being duped massively, and we masses suffered either way. Of course, we love to deny that the benefactors of the subsidy scam sponsored the protests, secretly and as alleged. Yet, all Nigerians really wanted was truth: as you cut our subsidy, cut the cost of governance as well: the alarming allowances of legislators and executives…

And rather than the unified front that OccupyNigeria feigned, Nigerians were divided on the issue. I had friends that were anti-subsidy. But I never complained. I never suggested, or thought, that they were (financially) induced. I respected their stance, and that was it. That does not make me a better person; it was simply the normal thing to do!

It is demeaning, if not condescending, that differing opinions be labelled perfidy. Freedom of opinion is a two-way street, and remains so.

I may not like Buhari; I shouldn’t hate those who do, or be hated by them. I shouldn’t unfriend them, or blackmail them. I shouldn’t say they have compromised. For friendship does not derive from passive support; I would not want yes-men as friends, and neither should anyone. True friends must stare each other in the eyes, and confront each other with truth. Not form a quorum for fear of opposing the majority…

Jonathan is not perfect; no, he is not aboveboard. There are improvements to make, improvements in the second term, if he gets one. And even as I root for him, I am sure I will not hesitate to criticise him, now and in future, as the need arises. That is the beauty of democracy after all: freedom to criticise. Of course, one cannot say the same of Buhari, as history tells.

Yet, as Nigerians abhor truth, they would rather that part of history be buried. We must forget that a person is both as good as the good he does, and as bad as the bad he does. We must only focus on that which is flamboyant; thistles do not deserve existence in the Buharists’ utopia. Not so? We must make excuses for the past, and predict the unrepeatability of the same! As my Buharist friends keep urging.

Yet, there is just one little problem with that reasoning: Abacha wasn’t so bad himself. I sincerely ask, If Abacha were alive, would you consider him a credible alternative to Jonathan? well, as much as you consider Buhari? Would you vote for him notwithstanding Jonathan’s good here-and-there? Would you vote for him to unseat Jonathan at all cost?

No? Please consider the facts:

“The Abacha administration became the first to record unprecedented economic achievements: he oversaw an increase in the country’s foreign exchange reserves from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by the middle of 1997, reduced the external debt of Nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion by 1997, brought all the controversial privatization programs of the Babangida administration to halt, reduced an inflation rate of 54% inherited from Babangida to 8.5% between 1993 and 1998, all while the nation’s primary commodity, oil was at an average of $15 per barrel.

“His administration is also credited with creating the most comprehensive and realistic blueprint for Nigeria’s development through the Vision 2010 committee chaired by his predecessor Ernest Shonekan.

“General Abacha is credited with restoring Nigeria’s standing as an African power when he twice ordered the Nigerian military to intervene and restore the civilian and democratic governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia after a series of military coups in both countries.

“During the Abacha regime, many political parties and associations flourished without let or hindrance. Like-minded politicians held meetings freely and formed a plethora of associations. After the Constituent Assembly, Abacha’s government democratised the local government by conducting peaceful and credible elections of councilors and chairmen. Abacha’s government also conducted House of Assembly and National Assembly elections in the country.”

Little wonder he was given a (posthumous) national award for his “immense contributions to national development”! Yet, many Nigerians would argue that his good deeds cannot make up for his tyranny, politics, and looting.

How then, I pray thee, is Buhari any better? By being alive? Or by aligning his respected self with Tinubu et al?

Yet, I would not deride anyone who does (continue to) support Buhari. I only ask that they do not deride anyone not on their side. We cannot all be blind, or blinded. We must not all think alike. There is beauty in diversity, as there is strength. We must cherish our differences, even as we must all stand for that which we know to be truth, and always. For men will not be judged by their ignorance, but by the knowledge they chose to suppress in their quest for popularity, for power, for acceptance. For ultimately, the battle we all fight is the battle to remain ourselves.

Live and let live.

Jonathan for second term…

Ayokunle Adeleye

Ayokunle is a doctor, a writer at heart, his opinions are strong and he wants a better society. Follow him on twitter @adelayok