Nigeria: Political, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Discussions

By

Ahmed Garba

Death, they say awaits everyone.  And for us Muslims, it is unthinkable to question the event itself or its timing.  We generally don’t engage in that ‘jibby-jabber’ nonsense about why? why now? Why this person or that person? etc.  We humbly accept death as an unavoidable finality.  However, the sad crash of Nigerian Navy’s Helicopter, Agusta A109E that occurred on Saturday, December 15, 2012 yields itself to a lot of questions.

Crash Site

Crash Site

According to the reports, and perhaps for the first time in the history of Nigeria, we are to learn that our so-called democratically ‘s’elected president had commandeered for his own personal use, in his own village, a $4 million helicopter purchased with public funds, and intended for

the use of the Nigerian Navy!  Furthermore, as a mark of his I-don’t-give-a-damn generosity, he also thought it appropriate, to permit the use of this helicopter by his advisers.  This is how we now have on our hands, deaths at a funeral.

Nigerian_Navy_A109

Nigerian Navy’s $4,000,000 Agusta A109E

Now, these facts compel one to wonder how appropriate this conduct is to the practice of presidential system of government.  Since Nigeria’s constitution was fashioned after the United States’, it is imperative to compare what obtains in the U.S. with respect to how a U.S. President uses public/military resources with how it is done in blundering Nigeria.  It turns out that an American President has no right to arrogate to himself a military helicopter for use other than official purposes.  In fact, an American president is required to pay part of the cost of running Air Force One–the president’s official jet, if the aircraft is used for non-official reasons, such as, campaign travels:

“When Air Force One is used for political purposes, the president often reimburses the government for the cost of food, lodging and travel. The president or his election campaign pays back an amount that is “equivalent of the airfare that they would have paid had they used a commercial airline”, according to the Congressional Research Service.”

Source: http://uspolitics.about.com/od/CampaignsElections/a/Air-Force-One-Cost.htm

Yet, in our vulgar imitation of the American system, we have found ourselves burdened by an absolute Emperor instead of a President.  We appear to have a ruler, whose sense of impudence is crass beyond believe.  Let us go back and see if we can find any precedent where Nigeria has ever witnessed this churlish, inelegant conduct by previous heads of state.  We never heard of Gowon parking a military helicopter in Wusasa or his village in Plateau.  There was never any evidence of Babangida, despite his evilness, housing a military helicopter in Minna; we have no such proof for Abdulsalam either; nor do we have any proof that Buhari ever stored a military helicopter in Daura.  Now Obasanjo may be a different case, we may have to continue looking all over that expansive farm in Otta, but my guess is that we may still come up empty, because incestuous and crass as he may be, he still knows better than to be so overtly crude.  You’d think that these people, given their military background, and the absolute nature of their reign of power would have resorted to such boorishness, but no, it has to happen when we discovered ‘garrison democracy’ under Ebele.

Young Commander Daba

Young Commander Daba

Six people perished in the crash of Agusta A109E but, two of these people–Commander Murtala Muhammed Daba, and Lt. David Adeyemi Sowole did not have to be there, if we had a president and a system that respected law, order, and human life.  These officers were supposed to be doing true and honest “Navy” work, not taxiing civilians all over the creek, like cab drivers.   I don’t know much about the man, Pa Tamunoobebara Douglas but, so far, I have not been able to come across any evidence that suggests that the man had contributed so much to Nigeria, that his burial commanded the sacrifice of highly trained officers of the Nigerian military, and the use of military resources.  It is therefore, an insult to the Nigerian military personnel to be used in this manner.

Some people have been eager to justify the use of this helicopter and the young officers because they were transporting a retired General.  This is hogwash, utter and complete rubbish.  We have General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s ruler for 9 years; General Babangida, Nigeria’s ruler and destroyer for 8 years; General Abdulsalami, Nigeria’s ruler for 1 year; General Buhari, Nigeria’s Head of State for about 2 years; Shehu Shagari Nigeria’s President for 4 years; General Obasanjo, Nigeria’s military ruler for 3 1/2 years and civilian president for 8 years!  Now, when did we see any of these people accorded the luxury of flying a Navy helicopter for personal trips after they had left office?  In fact, any of these people will be considered more qualified for such honor than Azazi, a man whose checkered record includes association with the shady characters of MEND.  Furthermore, we have been told that the helicopter made anywhere from 10 to 15 trips on that fateful day, are we to believe that Azazi enjoyed flying in the helicopter so much that he was going back and forth those many times?

Since Ebele came along, we have been hearing all sorts of noise about the Ijaw nation and their (Oyel) oil.  Everything about Nigeria is predicated on ‘our oyel’.  I have to ask, since they love their creek, their ‘oyel’ and their general so much why didn’t they supply their ‘boys’ to fly their general?  After all, some of their MEND boys have been sent out for flight training at Nigeria’s expense.  Besides, using ‘their boys’ and leaving ‘our boys’ alone would have eliminated the insinuation of foul play, and conspiracy theories that are now beginning to occupy idle minds.

As for Saucepan, I mean Suswan, who has been trying to capitalize on this incident to whip up ethno-religious conflict, let us recognize his hollering as an indication that, perhaps the deal he signed with the Oracle that got him into the governor’s mansion is coming due.  Consequently he is jumping ahead to pin his imminent demise on someone else.  It wouldn’t work.

The unfortunate deaths of these young officers should be enough to motivate any well-meaning members of the legislature to sit up, confront and curtail the excesses of the despot that Nigeria calls president.  I would also hope that when Azazi’s funeral rolls around, the people of Ijaw nation do not expect to have another Navy helicopter ferrying them around in the Creek, since Pa Douglas already took down one, along with two non-Ijaw young officers.  Only Yakowa’s people should now be allowed to requisition for one.  May God forgive the dead,  Ameen.

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