Touch Me Not, I Am In the Opposition By Abubakar Usman
Last week, I wrote a piece on the divided opinion and perception Hon. Dino Melaye has attracted among users of social media, particularly twitter as evident in the mosaic praises and insults rained on him, either for his new found love of activism or his antecedents prior to what he is now known for.
As expected, reactions to the piece depict the divide on the perception of whom and what Dino Melaye truly represents. What was however surprising is the opinion by some of the readers that anybody who has joined the opposition, particularly in the quest to rest power from the present government is enough to spare him from criticism.
I am one of those who believe that we need all hands on deck to dislodge this useless and clueless administration of President Goodluck Jonathan who has brought us “fresh Air”, but that does not automatically make everybody who wants President Jonathan out of office better than him or his government. In as much as we need every available hand to achieve our aim, we must not lose sleep over the fact that some of these people who are today claiming saints in the opposition need us also to get into power and continue from where the present government may stop in their looting spree. This is particularly so when the actions of some of these people casts doubt as to their real intention of either being in the opposition or turning activist.
We have had incidences of people who were once activists or in the opposition, but acted against the very thing they preached when they tasted power. Chief Ebenezer Babatope popularly referred to as Ebeno Topsy was one of the right hand boys and hatchet men of Obafemi Awolowo. He used to be a fearless critic of the status quo with many of his powerful articles, but once he was appointed a Minister under General Sanni Abacha, he turned 180 degrees and became willing to compromise some of his long-held beliefs and some of the things he wrote about the Government in power at the center and their total incompetence.
24yrs ago, precisely in 1988, University of Jos had an SUG President named Labaran Maku. This man led a team of students who rioted against the plan by the then military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida to remove oil subsidy. He termed it “a crime against the Nigerian masses and a war against the poor”. That Labaran Maku is today not just the Minister for information who said the removal of oil subsidy is long overdue. “He is in fact the Minister of propaganda communication,” one of the loudest sycophants in the Jonathan’s government.
Another person worthy of mention is the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati. Abati was one of the fewest men who stood their grounds and took sides with the people just few years ago. His pen was a hot coal in the throat of the disappointment called ‘politicians’ in Nigeria. He was simply the peoples Bishop, but Abati has left his flock to fallow in the woods. Today he is the mouth piece of the reactionaries.
The question is “how long can you hold on to your belief after you must have been inducted into the team of vampires that rule over us? If you are not with them, you claim to be different, but as soon as you joined them, you turn your back to the very principle you preached against.
Femi Fani Kayode for example, was one man who tasted it all. He was at different times during Obasanjo’s tenure as president, Special Assistant (public affairs), Minister of Culture and Tourism, and then Minister of Aviation. Not minding his antecedents as one of those who spoke against the regime of General Sani Abacha, Fani Kayode turned himself into a loud mouth and the rabid attack dog of the President Obasanjo, while he served as his Special Assistant. Despite being a ‘public figure’, he was so reckless with his utterances that he even attacked the very people he teamed up with to fight Abacha. Today, Femi Fani Kayode is doing all he can do align himself with the very opposition he barked against. Like so many other politicians who lost out in the power game, Fani Kayode used the opportunity of the Occupy Nigeria protest to re launch his activism and has since taken to writing opposing articles to the Jonathan’s government. Is this the kind of person we should call an opposition activist?
The trend is simply, when you lose out in the game, you become an “opposition” figure fighting for the masses by criticising every move of the very people you teamed up with to impoverish the masses. Have we dared to find out how many of these opposition politicians in ACN, CPC, ANPP etc that were not at one time or the other, members of the PDP? Many of them are only what they are today because they have fallen out of favour and lost out of the power equation in the corrupt People’s Democratic Party-led government and therefore taken on “the opposition” mantra to salvage what is left of their dying political relevance.
I can go on and on and on, but the message we should take from all these is that our quest to wrest power from the present government should not make us lose sleep over the people whose hands we are going to entrust the next government on. Many of us may not have the opportunity to serve in government. It is still these very people we are going to put there as president, ministers, governors etc. If we allow them to ride on our back to the center of their selfish ambition, we will have ourselves to blame.
That does not in any way mean they should not be supported to dislodge this government. If it requires us marching behind this ‘activists’ of today, just like we did during occupy Nigeria when we marched relentlessly, not minding the ulterior motive of those leading us, we must do that again, but when it becomes necessary for you to criticize some of these people, we should also not fail to do that so they will have at the back of their mind that they are dealing with informed people.
It will make no sense dissipating energy, resources and time only to wrestle power from one vampire and hand it over to another vampire.
I am Abubakar Usman
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