He birthed one of his finest ideological works shortly after he was released from incarceration by Yakubu Gowon during the civil war. While in prison incubating the contents, the title of his prison note was going to be called ‘A Slow Lynching’ until he received a telegram from someone.
A group of journalists who were arrested, badly beaten, detained and brutally treated on the orders of a military governor had one of theirs flown abroad for treatment but he eventually died in jthe process. Then someone sent a cryptic telegram to Soyinka informing him about the situation, and the message read ‘THE MAN DIED’. As a last minute decision, the message on the telegram became the title of Soyinka’s prison note instead of ‘A Slow Lynching’.
In the opening pages of the book, the full quote reads as follows:
‘THE MAN DIES IN HIM WHO KEEPS SILENT IN THE FACE OF TYRANY’.
As an aside, amongst other areas of interest, social engineering and socio-political science capture my fancy. Although I am not a career politician, I like indulging especially when it involves strategy and witty planning. I comment when necessary and observe a lot where others unlook. I had observed without uttering words of criticism for 2yrs and 6months since the Buhari led government took the reins of power on the 29th of May, 2015. I believe any new government should be given the benefit of the doubt with respect to time. Time to steer the ship of the Nigerian state to the path of greatness.
During the build up of 2015 general election, Nigerians desired change so badly that they did not care to know the person of the principal change agent. They were willing to remove the then President, Goodluck Jonathan at all cost with all manner of propaganda against him regardless of the history of the man who would later succeed him.
Activism was the order of the day. People took to both Mainstream and social media to denigrate and malign the man Goodluck Jonathan. The office of the President didn’t worth more than the office of a high school prefect. I remember one of the social media overlords describing GEJ as a dog, the other one said if a pig was to contest with GEJ in a presidential election, he would vote the pig. When the Buhari’s WAEC certificate saga was on the front burner, someone from BMC threw up a stinker on Twitter, he said, “Even if Buhari presents a NEPA bill as his WAEC certificate, I will still vote him”. Such were the savages of pre-election period. The then National Publicity Secretary of APC, Lai Mohammed spewed so much hate and insult on GEJ to a point that the President was labeled a drunkard as alias.
The show of insult did not end with the President, his wife gulped her own share of it. She was ridiculed to something less than nothing. Even Wole Soyinka called the first lady a “Shepopotamus”. Others made so much mockery of her on every sentence she made which finally climaxed at the infamous phrase, “There is God o”.
Audience participatory programs on radios and TVs knew no bound. Newspapers and magazines made headlines of savageries about GEJ. Everyone’s voice was heard. Nobody cared to see his achievements. We damned his policies. His economic gains were termed paper economics. We awaited the messiah!
It is terrible how we all lost our voices and suddenly decide to unlook in the face of tyranny and gross misconduct. Even when the few bold ones amongst us call out this rudderless, clueless, incompetent and inept government for what it is, we deride them for criticizing the government. We would rather take a detour to sports and argue about Tithe/pastors than dish out the continuous record breaking LOWS of this government to its face and call out PMB, the ‘tabula rasa’ who would have Nigerians addressed as ‘dear citizens’ instead of ‘fellow citizens’. We want to be politically correct. We go on to make excuses for the sheer failures of this government. The man died in us when the bar with which we used to measure GEJ’s tenure is so lowered that the scaling reference has gone far beyond the zero mark into the negative in Buhari’s administration.
Stay with me as I chronicle some of Buhari’s all time LOWS that are capable of provoking National call for his resignation or impeachment. But we look helplessly enchanted by this Aso Rock man.
The first gaffe of the messiah was his inaugural speech; he stole a quote that was not his, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”. Yeah, plagiarism was not a big deal in Nigeria anyways. So we unlooked.
Then he decided to run the country as a loner. It took him 3months to appoint a chief of staff, 6months to form a cabinet and over 30months to constitute chairmen and members of boards of agencies. We made excuses for him that he was taking his time to select angels in human form as ministers and members of his cabinet.
In the first 6months of this government, Mr President practically flew across the earth. In fact he lived more on AIR than in Aso Rock. We joked about it and kept quiet.
The ‘Traveling Episode’ gave us lines such as; “you don’t expect those that gave me 5% votes to be treated as those that gave me 97% votes”. “President Michelle of western Germany”. “Ministers are noice makers”. “Nigerians are corrupt”. As usual we laughed and unlooked.
Again, he fully implemented TSA without recourse to MDAs and other economic stakeholders, floated naira and subjected FX to the market forces, ban importation of rice and raw materials for the manufacturing industry and crashed the economy. Our GDP contracted in the successive quarters and we entered recession. “Oh, well it was not his fault, it was GEJ’s fault”-as hypocrites, we unlooked.
100days in office, nothing to show. “Damn it, a 100days milestone is not enough to right the wrongs of PDP’s 16yrs of mismanagement”. We unlooked.
He targets leading opposition voices and goes after dissents, tags them with graft, incarcerates them, tries them on the pages of Newspapers and social media but fails to provide evidence to nail them in court. In most cases, the court would throw away and discharge the cases based on lack of evidence. In others, the court would grant the defendants bail but he would refuse to honor the court verdicts. Such are the impunities of the ‘messiah’. He goes as far as carrying out a gestapo assault on judges at night using the DSS. Instead of holding him responsible for those repugnant acts, we exclaim, “oh the judiciary is corrupt”. We unlook still.
He would make appointments that would require the ratification of the Senate. When the Senate pulls the plug on the appointment based on gross misconduct or corruption, he would retain the same appointee with impunity. And here we go, “let’s suspend the constitution to allow Buhari fight corruption”. Excuse me?
Again, he keeps making one-sided and nepotic appointments. If someone calls him out on it. The pseudo-intellectuals would pounce and say, “Allow Buhari to work with the people he can trust. Federal character does not matter as much as trust and competence”.
1year in office, nothing to show as achievements, he starts denying all his campaign promises. This time it becomes ridiculous, APC says Buhari is not aware of the campaign promises, infact it was the party that made the promises, not Buhari. The lies are still not enough, they would turn to their punching bag, GEJ and blame him for their failures. We keep mute and unlook.
Instead of resigning to take care of his health, he spent 104days in UK hospital without disclosing what ails him or how much of tax payers money he spent throughout the medical tour. Recall that N3.87billion and N3.2billion were appropriation act allocated to the State House Clinic for 2016 and 2017 fiscal years respectively. And one of his campaign promises was to stop elite medical tourism. At the end, we made some noise, but the noise sounded more like ‘We see nothing. We hear nothing’.
Just as he went to court to stop the national demand of his WAEC certificate, he also went to court to stop the probe of Maina’s appointment. SGF would cut grass with N250million, money meant for the IDP; $43million found in Ikoyi flat; $26billion Baru-NNPC saga and other in-house corruption cases have their investigation reports trashed somewhere in Aso Rock waste bin. “shhhh..” We say “speak no evil of the Presidency. We have a man of integrity”.
Hey! The President of World Bank recent statement comes to mind; “Mr Buhari asked me to concentrate development to the North”. Of course, we must manufacture excuses like, “well, the North is a Boko Haram war torn zone, let’s cut him some slack”. We continue to unlook.
The Italian government honored 26 Nigeria girls in death who died crossing the Mediterranean sea than their government could do while they were alive. Not even a representative was sent from the Nigerian consulate in Italy during their burial. We shut our mouths and moved on.
The silliest of all was the appointment of 9 dead people as the board members of agencies. We became the laughing stock of the world. Nobody took responsibility. Heads didn’t roll. Nobody was sacked. And we were cool with it.
State sponsored killings that saw over 350 Shi’ite Muslims massacred and buried in shallow graves in Kaduna just for daring to poke the Army General’s chest. Their leader sheikh El Zakzaky was shot in the eye and incarcerated with his wife against the court ruling. Scores of IPOB members killed and dozen others immersed in mud under the guise of operation ‘python dancec’ for asking for referendum. What about the bombing of Christian IDP camp at Rann by NAF just for no cause. Nobody has been brought to book. As usual, we utter no word, ask no question, carry on with our businesses and move on.
Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen killing spree continues unabated. We have forgotten Agatu, Nimbo, Ekiti, Southern Kaduna, Southern Adamawa, Jos, Taraba and the most recent, Guma and Logo in Benue state. I read where Miyettu Allah chairman took responsibility for such barbaric killings and wanton destruction of properties, even threatening to continue the killing unless Benue State reverses the antigrazing law, yet the IG of police is saying it’s a communal clash. No arrest made so far. The terrorists are busy granting interviews on BBC Africa. Even after the gory pictures of these sheer of carnage flooded the internet, most of us pretend not to notice anything, we mind our business. No outcry against the government. We would rather beg the President to put up official statement, and he would flinchingly utter some copy and paste kind of rhetorics. And we are okay with it!
Here is my question: Where are the Wole Soyinkas of this world? where are the Tunde Bakares of this world? Where are the Femi Falanas, the Revd. Fr Mbakas, the Oby Ezekwesilis and Aiysha Yesufus of this age? Where are the organisers of Save Nigeria Group, the conveners of the Occupy Nigeria, the conveners of Bring Back Our Girls? Where is the NBA, the Civil society, the market women, the masses? Where is our Humanity?
Suddenly we are weak and frail. They did a very good job in dividing us along ethnic and religious lines. We bow to the hegemonic fist of the Aso Rock tyrant. We have all lost our voices. We have bowed like slaves and seek self preservation. We have kept silent in the face of tyranny and have been summarily emasculated.
THE MAN DIES IN HIM is the voice that will keep echoing in the consciences of those that kept the last government on its toes but give a leeway to this present administration to continue in their crass impunity.