Nigeria: The choice between 'Dumb and Dumber'

Nigeria: The choice between 'Dumb and Dumber'

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 5:23 am


Olufemi Taiwo

I would like to thank those who read and, even more, those who have commented upon, given feedback to, tweeted, and liked or disliked on Facebook, my recent “Why Muhammadu Buhari Does Not Belong in Nigeria’s Future”, published on the pages of this journal. I am glad and grateful to be asked by the editors to provide some response.

“Aṣápẹ́ fún wèrè jó àti wèrè, ọgbọọgba ni wọ́n.” [The one who claps for a lunatic to perform becomes one with the lunatic.] So, in light of this Yorùbá-derived wisdom, I shall not become one with those who have substituted abuse, name-calling, and accusations, for engagement with the kernel of the piece regardless of whether its core claim is right or wrong. I dare say that the lack of thinking and of the capacity for making a case that, we can all recall, used to make some of our peers, when we were young, always to respond to jests, or being shown the illogicality of their thinking, by throwing punches is reflected in those who have resorted to name-calling.

It is what I see in those who think abuse is the response to reasoned positions. It is indicative of a dire lack. It is not worthy of a response. What is more, I have no interest in a shouting match!(Read Taiwo’s earlier article: http://staging.thenewsnigeria.com.ng2014/10/27/why-muhammadu-buhari-does-not-belong-in-our-future/

To those who insist that Buhari is the best of the worst, I grant you your solitude. But here is an anecdote that might help you situate where I am coming from. In 1978, in the run-up to the transitional elections to civilian rule back then, one of my teachers, when all other entreaties had failed to persuade me to go with his party preference, granted that it was a choice between two evils and he wanted me to join him and others in opting for the lesser evil. I rejoined that there is a third option: not choosing any evil at all.

If your best rejoinder to my case against Buhari’s intellectual, political, and temperamental qualification for president of Nigeria, or lack thereof, is that he is the least bad of the choices available for the next election, it just confirms my position that we have been so beaten down by military rule and the chicaneries of politicians that we are now satisfied with being treated as mules and donkeys. Fela must be turning in his grave! It matters little that many who subscribe to this position are academics and other leaders of thought. It is a terrible augury for our future as a people.

I have no doubt, given this acquiescence, that if Buhari were to turn into an autocratic president, such people would rationalize it in the name of Nigerians needing a “firm hand”, the same mentality that made British colonialists led by Frederick Lugard to believe that the only logic that Africans understand is that of the cattle prod! Is it any wonder that we honoured him with a Centenary Medal? Buhari’s equivalents in South Korea are cooling their heels in jail. But that is a discourse for another day.

Additionally, if you are looking for an intellectually vacuous, administratively inept but keen politician, we already have one in the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. And, while we are at it, he is a known quantity in the democratic process. Buhari is not.

So far, no one has shown that I am wrong in asking that the All Progressives Congress show how exactly it expects to be regarded as a change party when it is offering recycled politicians. My conclusion is that the powers that be in the party have no confidence in any of their young governors, including those who have done well, or they believe that the old formula of ethnic zoning is the only path to the presidency of Nigeria. Why not pick a clean, dynamic, forward-looking and accomplished candidate with a sense of how the world is now and how to position Nigeria for the future in it and proceed to run a proper campaign—the sort that the ACN never mounted for their 2011 candidate—to sell the candidate to the country? Nigerians are not stupid; of that, I am in no doubt.

To those who think that because I live abroad, I no longer have a mouth to speak on Nigerian matters, I have a simple response. You are damn wrong! First, as the saying goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder. The reason that many of us emigrants from our homeland send those remittances that are now so important to our respective countries’ economies is that we are never-say-die Nigerians and we do not become as jaded about Nigeria’s prospects as living close to the reality of Nigeria might induce one to become. It is why the inability of the Nigerian government to take care of our interests outside has never made us bid bye-bye to Nigeria.

Second, I always like to point out that the only citizenship you may second-guess yourself about is citizenship by naturalization. It is in the very nature of birthright citizenship that it lends itself to being taken for granted, used, and abused, if you will. Even if I never set foot in Nigeria again, as long as I have not renounced my Nigerian citizenship—and, by the way, no one can take it away from me—as long as I live, it is my prerogative to keep putting my smelly mouth in Nigeria’s affairs. As the saying goes, Nigeria is my mother’s water-pot and my smelly mouth will always be welcome at its rim. Period.

Finally, as my Guinean friend never tires of reminding me and other African associates of ours, “Nigeria is too big to fail”. The business of Nigeria, given its putative place in the world were it ever to redeem its promise and historical significance, is too important to leave to Nigerians alone to conduct, especially when they insist, as some have who responded to my piece, that their choice for president, come 2015, is between “dumb and dumber”. Any more reason needed to show that some of us may not be the best judge of what is right for Nigeria, after all?

Olufemi Taiwo: the author

Olufemi Taiwo: the author

*Olúfémi Táíwò teaches in the Africana Studies and Research Centre, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.