Adenike Adebayo: Our Journey to Independence
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
On a fresh October 1 evening in 2035, Lagos’ elite gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel and Casino, Mega City Drive for a black-tie dinner in honor of Dr. Adenike Adebayo, currently the Nigerian Minister of Finance. President Ugochukwu Osuji had appointed her last year
after his re-election for a second term in office.
Adenike was being conferred the prestigious Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s Person of the Year Award, a coveted prize named after the elder statesman who alongside other heroes fought for Nigeria’s second independence in August of 2015 and declared same in October 1 to coincide with the date of Nigeria’s first independence.
As Senators Rosanwo, Raymond Eyo, Bello el-Rufai, Rinsola Abiola, Oyalowo, and others looked on, Adenike began her acceptance speech by thanking God and a list of “distinguished guests. ”I
would like to thank God Almighty, my family, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.” There was absolute silence, the type that usually precedes a large explosion. Then there were gasps from the audience, because everyone at the event was certainly old enough to have heard or lived through President Jonathan’s brutal dictatorship that was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. So why was he being named as a statesman at an event such as this?
Most people assembled at the event knew about the period of near-genocidal horror that swallowed the country after the death of President Yar’Adua in 2010. And they knew the role President Jonathan personally played in the horror disguised as “Boko Haram”, as well as the atrocities and corruption he and his regime inflicted on the nation, they were right to have gasped when Adebayo thanked Jonathan at the Lagos Mega City dinner named after one of the fathers of new Nigeria.
“There was really no government in Nigeria”, says Sanders in a recent interview in New York by Time Magazine, who watched Jonathan up close when she served as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.
“Jonathan was probably as incompetent as anyone could ever get as president of any country.”
While he was president, Jonathan was plagued by many shadows. He made decisions based on visions revealed by self-serving pastors, often making baffling pronouncements such as his declaration in a 2011 speech “I am ready for mass revolt” and during a televised speech in 2012 “I don’t give a damn”. He was under the erroneous belief that he was somehow ordained by God or some higher authority to rule Nigeria. Jonathan further divorced his mind from reality by routinely blaming his critiques for all the bad decisions made by his administration. While his habit of drinking a substance called ogogoro, a traditionally produced alcohol had very negative effect on him.
Everyone remembered how he surrounded himself with aides whose sole responsibility was to tidy up after every public engagement, as he was bound to say something out of line. Last week, his former National Security Adviser Azazi, revealed that Jonathan should have been a psychiatric patient. Somehow that was not surprising at all.
Nigeria’s third experiment at democracy had ended with Jonathan, shortly after the People’s Democratic Party massively rigged the 2015 election, conniving with Prof. Jega’s INEC to return Jonathan and almost all PDP Governors as winners of their respective elections. Few days after his swearing-in, Jonathan named members of his cabinet amidst riots, and mass disobedience against the election results. He drew his ministers mainly from his tribe, the Ijaw. And as his paranoia grew, he filled all positions of power with his immediate clan from Otueke. In effect, his extended family became the state. Diezani, his ‘Super Minister’ also became the governor of Anambra state. Everyone recalled how she named Anambra an oil-producing state while she was the minister of petroleum. This was done in order to ensure continued access to oil funds and immunity from prosecution for her corruption and stealing of public funds.
Increasingly demented, Jonathan had ordered the Police and the Army in a joint effort to seize and arrest any citizen that protested his election, in the same manner as in the January 2012 occupynigeria protests. Opposition leaders were arrested under false pretexts and many fled into exile. As Nigerians trooped out in their millions, total chaos and anarchy reigned. The occupynigeria movement organized youths from all corners of the country in an unprecedented synchronized manner that permanently featured on CNN and Al Jazeera throughout the revolt. Workers downed tools including oil sector workers, transport sector operators, PHCN plunged the country permanently into darkness.
Inevitably, the economy plummeted. Agriculture collapsed. The regime of Jonathan responded by ordering mass deployment of soldiers killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians. Life became unbearable and millions began to flee into neighboring countries.
To maintain power amid the growing chaos, Jonathan deployed relentless terror. Random arrests and torture were routine. Public executions were commonplace. One Alhaji Balarabe Musa called Jonathan “confused and incompetent”, a gross understatement indeed. Sonala Olumhense of Sahara Reporters was arrested for criticizing Jonathan upon entry into the country, beaten and detained without charge. Jonathan made a televised announcement telling Nigerians to get used to the way he ran the country. He recruited thousands of hungry youths to defend him and his corrupt government on Twitter and Facebook. To the international community, Jonathan explained the terror perpetrated by his administration as his response to “Boko Haram”.
Crimes like these had been familiar to the African continent particularly the Africa of the 1970s to 2010s when dictators like Uganda’s Idi Amin, Nigeria’s Abacha, Zimbabawe’s Mugabe, Libya’s Ghadaffi and Egypt’s Mubarak dominated the continent, unleashing terror on their own people. But what set Nigeria’s Jonathan apart, says Wole Soyinka, is the totality of the slaughter. The regime didn’t just murder intellectuals and suspected opponents. It wiped out their families and even entire villages in Northeast and Northwest of Nigeria, hiding under the “Boko Haram” excuse. No one is certain how many people really died.
In legal terms, Jonathan’s campaign of annihilation didn’t qualify as genocide because it wasn’t intended to wipe out targeted ethnic groups. But it did qualify as a monstrous crime against humanity – one of the worst in history. By any measure, Jonathan’s name belongs alongside those of Adolf Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Stalin, and notorious rulers of the 20th century who turned their states into killing machines.
Governments and international organizations, knew about the horrors unfolding in Nigeria. They simply chose to ignore them. The Soviet, Cuban and Chinese governments all actively supported the Jonathan’s regime and showed no interest in its atrocities. The French government actively courted Jonathan in hopes of securing resource contracts and bringing Nigeria closer to the fold of French Africa. Various agencies of the United Nations were active on the ground but they, too, chose to say nothing. Even the United States showed no interest as long as the flow of oil was secured.
Only in July 2015, when the regime was visibly crumbling and the country looked less like a modern nation than the set of the movie Armageddon, were condemnations issued by the United Nations and the European Commission. The end came when a visibly deranged Jonathan executed members of his own party and political appointees in his administration for belonging to the “Boko Haram” terrorist group. The ruling elites were shocked and that was the last straw. Mallam El Rufai, Otunba Dino Melaye, Adenike Adebayo, Omojuwa, Ayobami, Seun Fakuade, Femi Fani-Kayode, Seun Olufoye, Ogundamisi, Jude Egbas, Ekekeee, Grimot, Teejones, Tayo Adams, H. B. Gumi, and so many other Twitter activists led a massive protest August 1 2015 that led to the removal of the brutal government of Jonathan, including the Legislature and the Judiciary.
After the departure of Jonathan and his transfer to The Hague for crimes against humanity, a Sovereign National Conference was organized. The resolutions of the Conference returned Nigeria to a federal system, devolving economic and fiscal responsibilities to states and local governments. Immunity clause was removed entirely from the constitution, and the House was removed from the national assembly. Membership in the Senate became a part-time position and their salaries were pegged on the civil service system. The budget of all states was structured uniformly, prescribing percentages of expenditure for education, health, infrastructure, and reducing considerably the powers of the president and governors. A people’s court was introduced into the judicial system which resembled the American jury system, designed to return justice to the people. A state police system was developed and implemented. All corrupt individuals of the past regimes were given a chance to relinquish their loot. However, those that attempted to hold on to public funds were prosecuted and brought to justice.
Within 5 years, though Nigeria was not among the 20 largest economies, it registered growth rates in two digits from 2016 to 2020 the average growth rate was 13%. Throughout the decade 2020 to 2030, Nigeria experienced exponential growth and everything changed. Regional capital territories were created to give each of the 6 regions a center of excellence and development. Nigerians in Diaspora moved back home in doves, bringing with them investment funds and innovative ideas.
Today, Lagos Mega City looks like Las Vegas and Atlantic City rolled into one. Abuja looks like Fort Lauderdale in Florida, unemployment rate went down to 4%. Nigeria’s education system is being compared with that of Korea and all of sub-Sahara Africa troop to Nigeria for healthcare. Today, there are more than 1,000 universities in Nigeria and 50 of them are named among the best 1,000 in the world.
Freedom House, a respected Washington non-governmental organization that tracks political and civil liberties around the world using a numerical rating system continue to be very optimistic about Nigeria. Its data shows virtually a sharp change from the past decades. A U.S. State Department human rights report over the same period registers great improvements in Nigeria. US President Chelsea Clinton, said last week that Nigeria is a key example of how good leadership and commitment to service can turn a country around in only one generation.
This 20th independence (2015 – 2035) is significant in the life of every Nigerian because there is really cause for celebration. Nigeria has come a very long way and has lived up to its destined greatness. Therefore, in a packed event like this one in Lagos Mega City, where invited guests sang songs of revolution and freedom along with the musical groups that came to perform, Dr. Adenike’s recognition of Goodluck Jonathan was shocking.
But she continued, “This very day 20 years ago, our country yielded the call of every child, woman and man for change. We declared independence from godfatherism, corruption and regionalism. We declared this country ONE NIGERIA!” she was interrupted by a thunderous applause. “We went to work as one country; we brought in young people from every part of the country irrespective of tribe, we retired our senior citizens, consulting them only when there is need. We put thieves in jail, we prosecuted those that fed fat on our commonwealth, and we removed federal character laws replacing them with a total merit system.” Another bout of applause followed. She went on “None of these would have been possible if President Jonathan had not pushed Nigeria to the brink of total collapse”, the whole room exploded with applause, with shouts of support and a standing ovation. “And that is why I thank President Jonathan for playing his role in bringing Nigeria to where it is today 20 years later.”
“Imagine where we would have been if Nigerians had not taken their own destiny into their own hands. Imagine where another four years of Jonathan would have put this country. Imagine if we had taken charge of our destiny sooner rather than later, certainly our progress would have started much earlier than it did.” “Most importantly, I thank all Nigerians for playing a role in our independence.”
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
GOD BLESS OUR FATHERLAND!
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