I know you people in the corridors of power don’t bother about reading or hearing from we lesser mortals. You love listening to yourselves, to fawners, bootleggers, bootlickers, contractors, influence-peddlers and genuflectors. I am not one. Fortunately. But, give me some minutes and read this my humble open letter to you. This is because aside being a patriot, pan-Nigerian, Constitutional Lawyer, Human Rights Activist and Pro- democracy campaigner, I am also an avid and voracious reader, writer, essayist, archivist and historian. Aside law books, I also write long essays, poems, articles and books on sundry matters, such as national discourse, literature, history, native laws, customs and traditions. I presently write six columns for six different newspapers EVERY WEEK, some since 2014. NON-STOP! The Sun, Sunday Telegraph, The Boss, Thisday, ThisNigeria and Afenmai News. These are aside my numerous weekly columns (at times daily) interventions on sundry national and international issues.
EXTRAPOLATION WITH LITERARY CHARACTERS
I once read Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka’s “JERO’S METAMORPHOSIS”, a play staged in 1960 (I was barely two years old then), and published in 1963. I also read Soyinka’s “THE TRIALS OF BROTHERS JERO”. In the former play, Jero was in possession of a confidential file which revealed government’s plans to transform the beach into a public prosecution ground and tourists’ centre. The satirical play was about the willy ways Jero tried to unite all the church leaders operating at the beach and make them form one church, with him as the sole leader. Soyinka was satirically decrying the hypocritical way Nigerians practised the Christian religion.
He was shocked at the obsequious and unquestioning devotion that converts and adherents displayed towards their manipulative spiritual leaders. In “THE TRIALS OF BROTHER JERO” first published in 1964, Soyinka mocked the proselytizing Church preachers who did not even have churches (as did brother Jero), and so preached in public places. He highlighted the transformation of these leaders from their religious titles of Bishop, Pastor and Prophet, to military titles, such as General, Colonel, Sergeant, etc. Soyinka depicted church leaders as deceptive, corrupt, fraudulent, politically ambitious and abandoning their flock in pursuit of mercantilistic and mundane cravings.
Thus, Like Karl Marx, Soyinka satirized on these crafty preachers who deceived their somnambulistic followers. The play exposed the contradictions in blind faith and slavish following, and satired the too many social and political imbalances in Nigeria of the 60s. The ills Soyinka kicked against in the early 60s are even worse today. Have you not seen viral videos where so-called Pastors urinated in the mouths of their hypnotised worshippers, or farted on their faces, or sat on their heads, with other members clapping and washing his legs on their heads? They are told that is the only way to get rich or see paradise. Remember Jonestown where 909 people were made to commit mass suicide on the orders of their Pastor, Jones? Religion had been termed opium of the people by Karl Marx, used as an instrument to fight wars as beast in Europe, instead of using it to give solace to the soul of man. Soyinka had theorised along that line.
MY FRIENDSHIP WITH MALLAM EL-RUFAI
Welcome, Mallam El-Rufai, the cerebral Quantity Surveyor Governor of Kaduna State, who, once upon a time, was a jolly good fellow. I consider you my dear friend. I don’t know if you still do, me, based on our different world views and obvious glaring ideological differences. You may not remember. We first met in 2002 at Sheraton hotel, Lagos. We had both come to deliver papers in our respective areas of expertise at a workshop. We again met in 2005, at the residence of Mr. Brain Brown, the then American Consul-General. Then later, as the Minister of FCT in 2005.
As Minister of the FCT, you were uncompromising against corruption and defacement of the Abuja master plan. Not ready to play ball with the legislative arm on financial gratifications from your Ministry, you were promptly declared a persona-non-grata by the NASS, and banned from holding public office for 10 years. You immediately consulted me through my good friend, now Senator Uba Sani. We later met at your Life Camp home. On your instructions, I headed for the Federal High Court, Abuja, to challenge your ban. I won the case. The NASS appealed. I also defeated the NASS at the Court of Appeal, Abuja. That was how you, Nasir, bounced back to public reckoning from the limbo, to have been able to contest and win election as Kaduna State Governor, first, in 2015; and then, in 2019. I don’t know if your present beyond-the-clouds office will allow you remember this piece of history. But, the cold, hard records are there.
Now, El-Rufai, you have since metamorphosed, like brother Jero. You now see yourself as a tin god, a powerful deity, to be worshipped and perennially appeased by human sacrifices in terms of toying with citizens’ welfare.
El-Rufai, you had sacked over 45,000 workers. You did not care about their families and dependants in these horrific harsh economic times unleashed on Nigerians by your clueless and anti-people APC Government. The workers kicked, as they are entitled to do in any democracy; even under totalitarian military juntas. You flexed your tiny mosquito muscles and played Louis X1V of France (of the ‘L’ etat ce’st moi’ – I am the State’- fame). Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, gathered his Kaduna flock workers, like a hen, her chicks, and called out a Kaduna State strike. You, El-Rufai, will hear none of it. Your authority had been challenged by lesser mortals. How dare they? Their temerity and audacity!
To you, a civil strike amounts to economic sabotage, and Ayuba Wabba must be apprehended and tossed into jail like a common criminal. You even placed a handsome reward, an expensive ransom, on Wabba’s head. Thank God, it was not a fatwa. You are a Governor who has so far refused to pay ransom to free your own innocent University Students kidnapped from their University, right under your nose in Kaduna. Five of them have since been gruesomely butchered. You were not touched. The rest of the hostages live in daily terror; fear of death, and fear of fear. Their parents are tired of crying. Their oceans of tears have since dried up in daily supplication to god El-Rufai, to help save their innocent children. You, El-Rufai, will not budge. Like the Pharaoh of Egypt, you will not let your people go! (Exodus 5:1-10; 5:6-23; 7:13; 16; 8:15,19).
Now, the Kaduna workers carried out their threat. They downed tools. Swagging Emperor Nero El-Rufai will take none of the ‘nonsense’. Pronto, you fired all nurses from level 14 downward, for daring to participate in the collective strike. Nigerians, can you believe that? I cannot, myself!
The workers nonetheless took to the streets in a peaceful protest, waving banners. Yes, as done by innocent Nigerians who had waved Nigerian flags and banners in a peaceful protest and were horrendously mauled down at the Lekki toll gate in October, 2020.
What did your (El-Rufai’s) government do next? It panicked, instigated violence, employed a horde of weed-smoking, cudgel-carrying, machetes-brandishing and stones-hauling street thugs and urchins to unleash violence and mayhem on these peaceful protesters. The security agents were there, watching, probably enjoying themselves. They ‘siddon look’. Never mind that Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, had pro-actively sent SOS to the Director, DSS, Abuja, Director, DSS, Kaduna branch and the DIG of Police, Kaduna State. That is Nigeria’s sorry State. Complete nadir. No help from anywhere!
MY FREE ADVISE TO YOU, EL-RUFAI
My free advice to you, Mallam swashbuckling deity, El-Rufai. You should drop these issues immediately. You must not dare arrest the NLC Chairman, or actualise the dismissal of the said nurses. You have since changed from the sweet, humble guy I used to know, and gradually, not suddenly, become dictatorial and despotic. You are reminding us of Hitler and Mussolini. I am genuinely shocked as to how such a well read, exposed and travelled man like you, who once self-exiled himself from Nigeria, for fear for his life, has metamorphosed into a full-blown tyrant and intolerant absolutist god that must be worshipped. Because of the intoxicating effect of power on you, as an aphrodisiac. Why have you developed an insatiable bacchanalian appetite to inflict sufferings and misery on Nigerians, especially your own citizens that you govern?
YOU ARE DESECRATING CITIZENS’ INALIENABLE RIGHTS
Let me tell you this. The rights to life, dignity of the human person, personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and freedom of movement, etc, are basic fundamental and inalienable human rights guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution. They are respectively contained in sections 32, 33, 34,35,38,39 and 40 of the1999 Constitution of Nigeria. At least, your tyrannical APC Government has not yet abrogated this Constitution. These rights are also universally recognised under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the European Charter on Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international instruments.
The right to protest without even seeking Police permission has been serially upheld by Nigerian appellate courts. See the cases of IGP V ANPP (2007) AHELR 179 (CA); (2007) 18 NWLR (PT 1066) 457, at pages 49I- 499, per Adekeye, JCA (as she then was; AG FEDERATION V ABUBAKAR (2007) 10 NWLR (PT 1041) 1,92-93; OSADEBEY V AG,BENDEL STATE (1991) SCNJ 102, 218.
WABBA’S HEAD: RANSOM, RANSOM, RANSOM!!!
Mallam, I read to my chagrin, that you have allegedly offered to pay handsome ransom for the arrest of Ayuba, the NLC Chairman. Let me advise you to perish that obnoxious idea. You should rather use the ransom for the release of the helpless and unfortunate Boko Haram-kidnapped students of your state. If you yield to my advice, you would not be doing anything new at all. After all, you once told shocked Nigerians how you had to pay humongous ransom to the rampaging Fulani bandits that ceaselessly poured into your state from neighbouring African countries in 2015, to enable the 2015 presidential elections hold. I have therefore been incredulous and nonplussed as to your sudden pretended Janus volte-face “haram” or revulsion against payment of ransom, even to free the endangered souls of vulnerable school children who were kidnapped under your very despotic Government. Out of these, five students have already been brutally killed in cold blood. Can you really sleep, or fold your legs on the mat, to pray to Allah? What will you be praying for? Will your prayers and supplications cross the ceiling? I can no longer understand these elite in Government, and how they suddenly change once they taste the intoxicating liquor of power. Or, can you, Nigerians?
HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?
Mallam, how would you want to be remembered in history? As a tyrant, autocrat, despot, absolutist, oppressor, totalitarian, autarchy, dictator? As a slave driver, persecutor, bully, scourge? Just how? El-Rufai, why are you playing brother Jero? Why are you acting out Idi Amin, Emperor Bokassa, Adolf Hitler, Timur, Queen Mary 1, Vladi-mir Lenin, Augusto, Pinochet, Kim Jong II, Emperor Hirohito, Leonid Brezhnev, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot? Why have you shredded your beautiful garments of innocence and empathy and donned the dictatorial apparels of Saddam Hussein, Ivan The Terrible, Kim 11 Sung, Ayatollah Khomeini, Nero, Ghenghis Khan, Mao Zedong, Ivan 1V, Lepold 11 of Belgium and Attila The Hun? Why Nasir? Why, El-Rufai? Why, Ahmad? Just why, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, for God’s sake?
Ozekhome, Ph.D, is a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN