BETWEEN IDOWU AKINLOTAN, THE OPPOSITION AND THE REST OF US
“There is great wisdom in reserving one’s decision’s as long as possible and until all the facts and forces that will be potent at the moment are revealed”…Winston Churchill.
As much as I admire his style of writing, I am afraid Idowu Akinlotan’s extreme and oft-times pessimistic views on the Nigerian project are deserving of some response if not for the sake of argument than possibly to dislodge the influence of his biased write ups on psyche of many Nigerians.
His column PALLODIUM which features on the back page of the Nation newspaper on most Sundays is one that I usually look forward to because I had up till now considered him as one of Nigeria’s foremost opinion moulders and critical analysts.
In the past few months, I have had reason to question my dedication to his column. My position stems from the fact that he seems to be losing his credibility and objectivity as he makes to address issues of national interest. It seems to me that the fiery columnist now prefers to use his pen as a weapon with which he so zealously castigates the person of President Jonathan. His persistent criticism of the administration’s every move smirks of the handiwork of one who is carried away by a deep hunger for recognition or perhaps he is playing out a script designed by the so-called opposition to run the reputation of the administration aground.
The PALLODIUM is not only losing its objectivity but is also beginning to serve as a platform for the expression of misguided opinions capable of misleading the less discerning amongst us. I personally have issues with most of his opinions and though I may not be as gifted as Akinlotan in the use of words, I take it as a personal mission to speak out against his use of the column to continually defame the Jonathan administration. I am not a political office holder nor do I belong to any party. I am first and foremost a Nigerian, who from the depth of my heart realize that Nigeria may not achieve that greatness we all dream about in my life time. I am however encouraged to hope for the best at least for posterity’s sake. The situation we find ourselves in is an intrinsic part of many a nation’s history. With conflict or strife, we may be moved to take each other for granted to the detriment of our unity and the democratic process.
My disappointment in Akinlotan is further accentuated by the fact that his lines of argument are often biased and taken from a unilateral point of view. Seldom if at all are his criticisms constructive. Rather the venom his words carry reveal a person who is gradually making a name for himself as a national irritant. I am now forced to see him as dancing to drum beats of the opposition; namely the ACN whose views I believe PALLODIUM really represents.
This write-up was occasioned by his recent article in the Nation’s publication of Sunday, May 19, 2013 where he so despairingly centered on the issue of the recently imposed state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. Not only did Akinlotan describe the initiative as being superfluous, he also had this to say about President Jonathan; “President Jonathan, I have argued does not need a state of emergency to take the measures he has just adumbrated. But none in the National Assembly will have the heart to tell him that. I am persuaded that indeed the proclamation reeks of offensive politicking. The Northeast is anti-Jonathan and will stay so until 2015 and beyond. The President does not have any emotional attachment to these states and could care less what they feel as he said when he reluctantly visited them in March. Judging from his anger as he read his speech in a tremulous voice on Tuesday, Dr. Jonathan was evidently tormented by his private demons and was intemperate, unstatesmanlike and full of unnecessary fury. His supposed fierce mien was not as some imagined a ploy to display presidential toughness; instead it betrayed his boyish instinct for sophistry, his rustic impulsiveness and his burgeoning ruthlessness and dictatorial tendency”.
While Akinlotan argues that Jonathan doesn’t need a state of emergency to take measures, he failed to proffer an alternative. I ask him though; Did President Jonathan not attempt to reach out to the insurgents? Did he not time and again appeal for them to lay down their arms and state their grievances? Though he initially opposed the idea of granting amnesty to ‘ghosts’, did he not later buy wholeheartedly into the initiative? While the amnesty idea was being fine-tuned, the Bama incident came up and Jonathan was blamed for what was deemed the excesses of the Nigerian security forces. Shortly after, there was a massive reprisal by the Boko Haram insurgents which resulted in the death of many innocent souls including a number of security personnel. Of Borno State’s 27 local government areas, the insurgents were said to be in control of no less than 20. Nigerian flags (a symbol of our sovereignty and unity) were pulled down and replaced by unknown ones. For me and I believe a majority of Nigerians, that singular move was an affront and assault on our territorial integrity. In the face of all this, what was the President supposed to do? Was he to sit down with arms folded while the wanton killing of Nigerians and destruction of properties continued?
Has Akinlotan forgotten so quickly that the people of Odi did far less harm before former President Obasanjo ordered the tanks to be rolled out? When the same President Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau State, was the carnage up to half of what Boko Haram have wrought? When a state of emergency was declared in Ekiti State again by Obasanjo, were the reasons for it so compelling? Why then must Jonathan’s declaration be different? Why the attendant criticisms of a course of action that is clearly within his powers to enforce especially as it is in response to an armed threat to our national security?
The activities of the Boko Haram insurgents have led to the crippling of the economy of an entire region and have adversely affected the way of life of the people. How can the likes of Akinlotan hold the views they do on the declaration of a state of emergency by President Jonathan. He goes further to downplay what is on record as one of Jonathan’s greatest speeches made before the elders and prominent citizens of both Borno and Yobe States during his visit in March. Was he (Jonathan) not right to advise that he would them (the elders) responsible for continued bloodletting in the affected states? Do we not all know that many of those so-called elders interact with the insurgents? How I ask were his words out-of-place? Is Jonathan expected to go fedora cap in hand pleading with the insurgents while countless Nigerians are mowed down by bullets on a daily basis. Surely not! His stand on the matter and the declaration of a state of emergency are in order. His firmness and perceived fury are equally in order. By daring him, the insurgents dared the rest of us.
There must be peace in the land at any cost. We may not be residents of the affected states but wherever one lives in Nigeria, one lives from one day to the next under an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. How can we progress under such a shroud? I do not hold brief for President Jonathan and do not necessarily agree with some of his policies. However, he is my President and I owe him my allegiance. While I will exercise my right of expression to the fullest like Akinlotan so fitfully does, I will (unlike him) be mindful to do so in a manner that makes way for solutions that will lead to sustained development and lasting peace.
To describe the state of emergency declared by Jonathan in the affected states as offensive politicking is rather cruel. How can Akinlotan say in one sentence that it is politicking and in the very next line insist that “the President does not have any emotional attachment to those states and could care less what they feel”. I ask Akinlotan; what then is President Jonathan doing it for? He might as well leave the region to fend for themselves since he doesn’t care for their votes or support should he decide to run for a second term. Or is his action meant to assuage other parts of the country and win their sympathies and support towards a second term dream? Come on now Mr. Akinlotan sir; you can do better than that. My introductory quote made by Winston Churchill is meant to give you a perspective on leadership that I believe you lack. I do hope you will learn from it and mete out less disrespectful invectives at our leaders.
I am equally irked by Akinlotan’s attempt to dress the ACN in the clothing of saints. In a write-up filled with so many paradoxes, he had claims that a day after the Jonathan’s declaration the ACN spontaneously denounced the declaration and was in fact playing politics with the issue of insecurity. According to him, the ACN much more than any party did well to publicize its initial opposition to emergency rule and went ahead to describe the party’s leadership as realists. For me this was a huge joke. What in their declaration makes them realists? The same ACN who consistently described Jonathan as being weak and un-presidential in his approach to issues. When he did eventually stand up to the occasion they were the first to cry foul! Who if I may ask are the ones playing politics. Wasn’t the opposition’s initial objection to emergency rule born out of the fear of losing those states and subsequent votes come 2015? After the opposition’s outing in Borno State earlier this year where they doled out cash gifts to the state governments what else have they done to follow-up in the quest for sustained peace in the region?
It is my personal opinion that people like Akinlotan give the Yoruba a bad name. With the likes of him, I am not surprised that politically inclined opinions emanating from the Southwest are often dismissed with a wave of the hand. It seems we play to the gallery every time.
This write-up is not aimed at causing any dissention. Rather it appeals to the minds and hearts of all Nigerians to give peace a chance. We cannot afford to play politics with every national calamity. We are all responsible and should put love for country first. Nigerians must wake up and stop being used by the few who do not have our interests at heart. My brother egbon Idowu, please endeavor to preach more of tolerance and peace in your articles. The power of the media is great and a misapplication of perspectives could lead to dissentions even you cannot predict.
God will surely see us through.
OLU ADEKUNLE Snr.
- Breaking News: Military commence massive aerial bombardment of Boko Haram camps in Borno (mojidanisa2.wordpress.com)
- Three Nigerian states under lockdown (aljazeera.com)
- Nigeria army imposes curfew on city (bbc.co.uk)
- Nigerian army begins raids on Boko Haram in Borno (sheyeagbede.wordpress.com)
- Borno State Update: Troops Capture Boko Haram’s Camp (9jabasket.wordpress.com)
- Nigeria relaxes curfew in northeast (worldbulletin.net)
Posted on May 21, 2013, in Guest Columnist and tagged Amnesty, Boko Haram, emergency rule, GEJ, Nigeria, opposition, Pallodium, President Goodluck Jonathan, Winston Churchill. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.