By Ezenwa Nwagwu
It was 1983, in class IV in college, the May/June WASC examination of that year was fraught with unprecedented examination malpractices, the examination papers leaked, unscrupulous teachers and invigilators collaborated with some students who wrote the examinations outside the hall and smuggled back the answer sheets.
It was simply scandalous; and it mirrored essentially how low the moral trajectory of Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari’s government stink and sunk.
The closing month of same year, witnessed a change of government. For many of us in college then, this change didn’t mean much, the government of the day had introduced “war against indiscipline” (WAI), (cliché and mantra had been worn by every preceding government; green Revolution etc.) abrasive soldiers whipped bloody civilians (as they like to refer to anyone not a soldier) into line, forcing and extracting obedience, introduced the queue culture.
The government announced it was above corruption and graft, fraud and any form of financial irregularity and lived it.
All of these only began to make sense and added up when in May/June, 1984, we sat for WASC examination, and there was no mention of examination leakage (expo). Examination malpractice attracted a frightening jail term, we sat four feet apart in the examination hall and wore pocket-less pants and singlet; indeed, everyone behaved themselves.
Leaving college to Lagos, one vividly recalls how Oyinbo-CMS, Akpogbon routes or Badagry, Ajegunle or Apapa road, Orile-Mile2 was hellish and chaotic, Lagosians could defecate, throw waste, pebbles anywhere and anyhow, the banking halls, airports, hospitals were like market places. Suddenly, with a fiat order came, the soldiers having a whip-hand brought sanity, single file lines at the banks, bus stops, hospitals, gas stations became our daily experiences.
Again, Maitatsine (a terror group like the Boko Haram today) was maiming and killing innocent people. As Head of State, he flew to Yola where the operation was being carried out by the military. And that was the end of Maitatsine. He applied a purely military solution. His resilience and professional astuteness helped to contain the insurgence that saw them packing and running into hiding for such a long time to reincarnate perhaps into the monstrous Boko-Haram. Aside scoring high in fiscal discipline, he called the bluff of predatory Bretton-wood institutions, sanitising the duplicitous import duty saga of that era.
This is 1984-85, the year of General Mohammadu Buhari (my inarguable Hero) was in the saddle of government; what followed his short spell in government was a painful and unimaginable return to a creep up of disorder, infamy and indiscipline.
Any wonder the General has assumed a cult of personality status in Nigeria political firmament. Evidently, this cult image has brought with it a certain level of disguised arrogance, pride and perhaps inflated idea of the Generals persona and strength.
Currently, General Mohammadu Buhari’s talk about crack down on Boko Haram misses the point; this is so because it failed to calm nerves, it is divisive, a mindless play up of the ethnic card and did not build confidence and lacked any inclusive strategy of arriving at a popular acceptable and final solution to the problem in question.
Any conversation on human rights and its application must not be mistaken for “Go and Sin No more” for those who deny others of such rights, intrinsic point in respect for rights must include proper and adequate punishment for violators and full compensation for victims, reward by way of amnesty for purveyors of violence anywhere is injustice to the victims of their bestiality.
General Mohammadu Buhari’s faux pas on the issue of the state of emergency is inexcusable, enough of negotiating with evil and shame to those who provide tacit politico intellectual support for the macabre nihilism of Boko Haram. I believe that rather than holding on to sensation and pity the General must stand up against what is wrong no matter whose oxen is getting lost.
My Hero gaffed and I must tell him, so also I expect his close minders to constantly help him remain the General we love, at seventy years of age, the expectation is that he sits back and laps his enormous goodwill, translates it to backing purposeful, less divisive younger folks who have capacity to unite and push the country to progress and wrest power from the tiring verminous Jonathan misrule.