A stoning On The Plateau
By Sonala Olumhense
Last Monday, President Umaru Yar'Adua visited Jos. It was an unforgettable trip for him: his convoy was stoned by local youths.
Three and a half months earlier, from November 28 to December 3, 2008, Jos was the epicenter of local fighting that was originally described as "political." It seemed to have started as a popular protest of the local-government elections, but deteriorated into sectarian violence.
Within a few days, about 400 people had died: new statistics to be added to the thousands that had died in similar conflicts in the city in 2000, 2001 and 2004. Thousands were injured and displaced. Homes, mosques, churches, schools, markets and businesses were burnt down.
Where, meanwhile, was Yar'Adua? Oh, he swept into Jos, sirens screaming. He was even armed with a gleaming executive ambulance and-presumably-medical personnel and supplies.
But that was only last Monday. No, he had not come to speak about the lives that had been changed forever by the conflict in late November and early December. He had not come to commiserate with bereaved families. He had not brought milk for orphaned children. The ambulance was for his private use; he had not brought doctors or medicines for the injured. He had not come to the area to speak about reconciliation, or about rebuilding homes and schools and businesses. He had not come to speak about how he would resurrect mutual trust among the people, combat unemployment, or rehabilitate fractured religious and ethnic relationships.
Yar'Adua had come to Plateau State from Abuja, less than an hour away by air, purely on private business: a traditional ruler had died, and he wanted it known he cared.
This is not difficult to understand. When the president travels, it has to be for an important purpose.
That must have occurred to the youths of North Jos Local Government Area. More respectful of the dead than they are afraid of the living, they began to gather their stones when they learned Yar'Adua's motorcade was arriving. Evidently, they resented his driving over the still-drying blood of their brothers and sisters. Unafraid of both federal might and state capriciousness, they wanted their anger or their poor city.
Monday's event was the second time he was being humiliated in the same area in just over two years, the first being when he campaigned for office. At that time, he was armed only with political clich�s and promises; today, he has great power, and he will want to exact vengeance. That is the nature of power and privilege in Nigeria.
Yar'Adua's worshippers in Plateau State have already indicated they will hunt down the culprits. Daniel Manjang, who is a Special Adviser to State Governor Jonah David Jang, has warned that the state government will exact punishment upon those responsible for the incident.
It seems Mr. Majang really thinks the boys of Jos North care about this. What is likely to happen is that in its vindictiveness, his government will round up any number of the jobless it can find, and throw them in jail. Then they will take steps to deny the people of the area drinking water and roads and scholarships for their children and their place in development planning.
All of which will answer the wrong question, because what communities such as Jos North have been trying to tell this and previous governments is that they do not have anything in the first place.
In any event, the right question is: will Yar'Adua stop visiting Jos North and similar communities throughout Nigeria?
This is important because the incident of last Monday is but a metaphor for the situation in our country. Once upon another time, Yar'Adua is alleged to have said: "To move forward, we have to start from the poor."
Unfortunately, there is nothing in his two years in office that shows he remembers he may ever have thought this way. Under his watch, the poor continue to be ignored, or massacred-or killed in large numbers, as Jos saw four months ago.
Under his watch, high-profile thieves continue to multiply, and they enjoy visiting rights to the presidential palace. His government and his political party flaunt the fraudulent and the mediocre that ought to be in jail: on the same day the President was stoned, for instance, the story broke that his party chairman, Mr. Ogbuluafor, had 'bought' a N400 million mansion in Abuja. The property was allegedly paid for through manoeuvres that included a crooked rice deal in the Sokoto State government that brought in N150 million. Other PDP personalities, including former Zamfara State governor Ahmed Sani Yermia, threw in the rest.
Little wonder Yar'Adua was thoroughly embarrassed in Jos, if he is truly still capable of embarrassment, because unlike the shoe-thrower of Baghdad, the young men of Jos spoke some strong words: "Thief, thief, go away," they cried, "We do not like you."
Yar'Adua may do whatever he pleases with those young men, but such punishment is not going to change the minds of those who refuse to accept his weakness or his complicity. The real issue is the pain and heartbreak of trying to stay alive and sane in Nigeria while Yar'Adua offers but a semblance of governance.
Had Yar'Adua genuine concern for right and wrong, he would have arranged to make a major statement on the recent crisis during his visit. He could have spoken about the vexing citizenship and ownership question that continues to divide Nigerian communities that have otherwise lived together for decades. He would have remembered the hundreds that died needlessly. He could have shown concern for the economy by visiting car dealer Hamidi Idris, whose Femma Motors, Jos' biggest dealership, lost over 200 cars.
Those youths must have put their lives on the line sadly knowing that they do not mean much in Nigeria's scheme of things, and that at any time, someone else may be starting another riot that will consume them. So they stepped into the path of Yar'Adua's gleaming new imported vehicles, and possible bullets.
Let us thank God the president's guards did not shoot. But let us be grateful those boys did not have access to the kind of firepower their mates in the Niger Delta and in robbery gangs now possess.
Then let us remember that once back in Abuja, Yar'Adua proved the cynicism of those boys right. The first order of business was the so-called Electoral Reform Act. Contrary to his advertised aim of ensuring that our electoral law never again shames us as it did in 1999, 2003 and 2007, the president dumped the panel's most pivotal recommendations. His narrow-minded decision guarantees that his party will "win" every election, and they can put in office, any office, whatever animal they desire.
When you think about it, that is the kind of leadership that makes the best of men want to reach for rocks and broken bottles. This is what Yar'Adua meant by the "children of independence" taking over?
Re: A Stoning On The Plateau
Dapxin posted on 03-15-2009, 04:59:42 AM
commentary after commentary, we keep easing in + out of the 4years of disaster that we got bequathed by the father of modern disasters, of course, with our own complicity.
I wish now that the precedence has been set, we find ways to stone him + his gangs of thiefs, wherever they seek to mis-respresent us.
Its a long road for Nigeria even if we are effectively off target still...
Re: A Stoning On The Plateau
Gongo-aso posted on 03-15-2009, 05:54:05 AM
You always write well. You are consistent and I've not heard about you receiving land in Abuja at the expense of the suffering masses.
Without being unneccessarily prophetic, one can see that Yar Adua will suffer "sudden extinction".
With the embracement of thieves and looters and the recent distortion of the electoral reform blueprints, Yar Adua is actually more EVIL than previously thought.
Nigeria will survive him because that Nation has a way of doing that.
Re: A Stoning On The Plateau
Dem posted on 03-15-2009, 06:32:53 AM
At least, a landmark is finally achieved by this govt. Our history books can now record that YD's was the first administration that introduced the 'Executive Ambulance' to official convoys in Nigeria.
Mobile govt; mobile everything.
>>>>> BTW, has anyone heard from Jonathan lately? Is he still the VP?
Re: A Stoning On The Plateau
PAPIG posted on 03-15-2009, 09:03:48 AM
NEITHER YAR'ADUA NOR ATIKU....NOR PDP
It is embarrassingly obvious that the PDP is a safe haven for unrepentant and militant thieves. Anyone in the PDP and i mean ANYONE, including CARDINALS, IMAMS, ALHAJIS, IGWES and those planning 'to return to the fold', is there or going there to be part of the GRAND LOOTOCRACY. If you want to be extremely wealthy or simply survive, want to be protected from the necrotic arm of the Nigerian law following a lucrative career in the DRUG BUSINESS and want to be treated ABROAD for MEDICAL CONDITIONS with the Nigerian tax-payers footing the bill, the place to be is the PDP. Who cannot appreciate the 'allure' of this PDP in an uncertain world of diminishing returns especially as it applies to the black gold - OIL?
Yar' Adua MUST not be allowed to continue in ASO-ROCK not because his ill-health precludes him from performing his duties, but because he has decided to serve ONLY the interests of convicted thieves like Onanefe Ibori. Welcoming known DRUG LINCHPIN tells you more about this soft-spoken frail man. But how can he do without all these unsavoury characters who will not hesitate to engage in further heinous crimes including KIDNAPPING and MURDERS to protect their interests? This is where we the people come in.
We must choose leaders who are untainted either by their own criminal deeds or by association. You must think there are no such Nigerians on planet earth. You are dead wrong. Yes, they are VERY VERY FEW, but they exist.
If the next leader must be a Northerner, why not ABUKALDIR BALARABE MUSA? He meets the CONSISTENCY test. Meaning, he has remained TRUE to the cause of the COMMON MAN inspite of many temptations to the contrary e.g. joining the PDP like Abubakar RIMI to swell his private pocket even after losing a wife allegedly orchestrated by these same militant thieves. BALARABE MUSA must be pushed and supported with the necessary wherewithal to propel him to ASO ROCK. The means to that must never be through the IBORIS, DANGOTES, ANENIHS, NNAMANIS and OTEDOLAS of this world. It must be through WE THE PEOPLE. We won't mind the Nigerian equivalent of Warren Buffet or Bill Gate, stupendously rich individuals, who will not stand in the way of common people having the basics of life; water, light, decent houses, roads, schools and hospitals. Hospitals they won't shun themselves.
And if it must be a man or woman from the south with business credentials, he or she must also be uncompromisingly HONEST and must also pass the CONSISTENCY test. Please look beyond people like PAT UTOMI and think GAMALIEL ONOSODE. The latter is unlikely to be controlled by his big business friends and will pursue programmes likely to benefit the COMMON MAN. His lifestyle and the friends he keeps will tell you the full story. We must nevertheless insist he knows that poverty is not alleviated through UNFETTERED MARKET-FORCES. This is a massive compromise for me as he is ideologically suited for a right leaning polity that may have contributed to our retrogression as a society. His HONESTY, SPARTAN LIFE-STYLE and CONSISTENCY brings out my pragmatic side. If we let these individuals be sponsored by the militant thieves, we would be back to square one and worse with no hope of redemption for our children. Hence we must watch OSHIOMHOLE like hawks. He is yet to pass the CONSISTENCY TEST!
I have left out GANI FAWEHINMI on health grounds. If he is however up for the job, who am i to discountenance him. Afterall, a man with a much much weaker disposition (apologies for comparing this non-starter with a battle-tested doyen of the people) on every account, currently calls the shot at the behest of the Iboris of that world.
We must never be as dangerously naive, docile and supine as we are prone to in our E GO BETTER and GOD DEY mentality . The PDP brigade and their MILITARY allies will not sit down whilst we plot to send them to jail and retake all their loot for the tax-payers. If they refuse to let peaceful change take its course, we must take them HEAD-ON in the language they understand and we must make it as less asymmerical as possible. You do not need SO or my humble self tell you THEY WILL NEVER LET PEACEFUL CHANGE TAKE ITS COURSE. For instance OBASANJO and ATIKU have already revealed TOO MUCH of their THIEVERY and it must be COVERED UP AT ANY COST. GO FIGURE THE REST.
They have already sown the seed of their own nemesis in the stone-throwing JOS YOUTHS and the more realistic and street smart? counterparts in the NIGER DELTA (are they really street smart given that they allowed ALAMIYEISEGHA, IBORI, ODILI and GOODLUCK JONATHAN, loot their commonwealth with no repercussions?). NANS must be RESURRECTED and the NLC must be ready to roll. We the people must decide the RULES OF ENGAGEMENT well ahead of the D DAY, which may be soon, especially as they have fired the first salvo. The proposed 'deregulation' of 'OIL' or the next ELECTION that they have already decided the outcome.
We must comprehensively DEFEAT THEM wherever and however they choose to play the game. We have no other choice. Our time has come.
Arise BALARABE MUSA, GANI FAWEHINMI, GAMALIEL ONOSODE, FEMI FALANA,
FESTUS IYAYI, Workers and WOMEN of Nigeria, NMA, NBA, NUPENG, UNEMPLOYED YOUTHS IN THE NORTH AND SOUTH OF NIGERIA and especially the NANS THAT PRODUCED FEMI FALANA AND UBANI. Our time has come and as they say in the CREEKS, NO SHAKING.
Thank you SO for being a TRUE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. Unlike others, you PASS THE CONSISTENCY TEST and i am truly proud to be one of your teeming readers. GOD BLESS and be careful when you are next in our capital city as the overwhelming technology there may enslave you.
Re: A Stoning On The Plateau
Akuluouno posted on 03-15-2009, 09:12:42 AM
It is just that I am wary of stoning. Recall that in the 2nd Republic, the onset of the stoning of politicians marked the beginning of the end. It is an eerie reminder of the beginning of the end, the canary in the cage to ascertain the future survival of the Republic.
May God save Nigeria
Re: A Stoning On The Plateau
Kay Soyemi (Esq.) posted on 03-16-2009, 04:38:20 AM
I didn't know you had this much passion and rage in you!!
Or is it a case of SO-overdose?
But I know how you feel...I stand shoulder to shoulder with you on this battle cry.:shake: