Re-visiting Achebe?s A man of the people in Nigeria


By Martin-hassan Eze

Late prof Chinua Achebe, the famous African magical writer like the legendary musician Fela kuti (late) have proven to be better prophets than some of these dubious and criminal minded Nigerians wearing the roman collar and parading themselves as pastors. No other African writer dead or alive, have made much impact in the world and have projected the immense intellectual wealth of Africa like Achebe. His ?things fall apart? travelled round the world like a volcano.

Prof. Chinua Achebe
Prof. Chinua Achebe

Achebe, who has since joined his ancestors in the great beyond, was a patriot of immense distinction whose pen openly advocated for good governance. During his life time, he rejected the national honours that is now dished out to mid ?day criminals and cronies of the government in power whose credentials is blacker than charcoal. First, he refused the so called ?un-national? honour during the dirty regime of former President Oluesegun Obasanjo for his involvement in a political cul-de-sac that resulted in the first kidnap of a sitting governor(Chris Ngige) Secondly , he rejected G E J and his Greek gift over monumental corruption and impunity in Aso Rock .

I came in contact with Prof Chinua Achebe (late) through his ?chike and the River? in my first year in secondary school at Saint John Bosco secondary school Doma-Nasarawa state and Literature-in- English was to become my best subject through out my secondary school days solely due to the ?achebenic? encounter with ? Chike and the river?. My father was a voracious reader. His truck loads of novels attests to the fact that as a young man, he spent most of the penny he earned in buying books. I read most of Achebe?s novels from my father?s shelve. Achebe wrote ? a man of the people? just before the first Nigerian military coup led by the Okpanam born Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzuogwu ended the first Republic. Corrupt and kleptomaniac?s political class in the first republic had turned Nigeria into their fiefdom pillaging, plundering and squandering the nation wealth.

Unlike so many false prophets and fake pastors that dots the religious circle today and who do not add any value to the nation, Achebe?s ??a man of the people? is a literary master- piece of prophet worth. It was Achebe who once opinionated that, ?stopping an average Nigerian from corruption is like stopping a goat from eating yam?. Pitiably, the political class of today which chief Nanga represented in Achebe?s novel have not proved him wrong. Today, the Nigerian political class have grown above building a four storey building with stolen money and lusting after everything and anything on skirt to the looting of the National treasury in such a manner and magnitude that defies national comprehension.

The current ware of terrorism, poverty and underdevelopment sweeping across the Nation in a sense can be linked to the political school of mis-governance, impunity and assassination that chief Nanga and koko in the ?A man of the people? attended and which our contemporary political class in the past 16 years of PDP misrule have mastered and upgraded to a science of governance. The various campaign of violence that greeted the recent presidential campaign trail may be an open check for the khaki to cash if care is not taken. Achebe?s ?A man of the people? is a pointer that misgovernance, bribery and corruption, playing the political game out side the rule are elements of bad governance that jeopardizes democratic idea necessary for peaceful co-existence national growth and development.

Our problem is multi-directional and hydrated but if corruption is properly caged by actors in the political arena, then, we can begin to think of rusting our rat without burning its tail. It is worthy to state that the new born set of political class and active citizens must unfailingly do the needful towards building a Nigeria we will be proved of as citizens because the prophecy of Achebe is still potent today and the issues that killed the first Republic and pushed the writer into searching for his pen is still very much with us today. As we have rejected the PDP?s sixteen years of misrule and impunity and elected the people?s general, let us revisit Achebe?s masterpiece and use it as our mirror. Sai Nigeria! Need I say more?

2. Nigeria: The politics of stonecracy
One is at liberty to say that it is not funny to see men who should have known better sow yam and expect to harvest cassava at the end of the planting season. My people say that those who live in glass house avoid stone like a Jew avoids a leper. What is surprising however is that events have proven that many a people disregard this old age wisdom to their even peril? But if man should forget the location of his mouth, can he forget that the law of karma is alive and active?

When Judas Iscariot, the finance minister in the messianic cabinet of the Messiah betrayed his master with a kiss for dirty pieces of silver, the lure of filthy prevented him from realising that for every action there is always an opposite and equal reaction. When Judas could not bear the shame of his actions, he hanged himself after throwing away the profit he made from betraying his master.
The presidential campaign have come and gone. But it is to remain a lesson for visionless, aimless and mission-less politicians who think they can take Nigerians for granted. While we celebrate the victory of the people, it is salient we don?t forget the various drama that the electioneering unfolded for doing so will amount to eating roasted yam without palm oil.

The other day, the campaign trail of GEJ was greeted with stones instead of smiles in some Arewa states. Those who claim to love GEJ more than some of us were quick to condemn the unholy action. Others went as far as threatening thunder and firestone if a stone should smash the head of GEJ. It is not that this writer agrees with the apostles of ??stonecracy?? after all, there are legal and logical means of expressing displeasure about a political leader or his policies, projects and programmes in every civilized society. The stoning of GEJ is unacceptable but the reactions of Mr President?s foot soldiers are laughable because the stoning of public personage is not new in Nigeria so, why all these name calling from militants?

It began in his home state Bayelsa in 2011. For some flimsy excuses, (the incompletion of a hotel project stated by GEJ) GEJ smiled in Yanegoa as group of hired thugs and riffraff hurled stones on former Governor Timipre Sylvia. Despite the fact the chief security officer of his state was stoned, Mr President nor his megaphone saw no reason to speak out against the ignoble act. A year later, after he used federal might to frustrate Mr Timipre Sylvia out of the gubernatorial race, he let the cat out of the bag. Hear him ??you have brought people from Abuja to Yenagoa today. The only thing I want to tell you in the presence of Bayelsa state is that I was here in this place some months ago and Bayelsans stoned the governor. You must work hard and make sure that Bayelsans don?t stone you. The day I come here and Bayelsans stone you; I will follow and stone you?. Now, do we still need prophets to tell us that GEJ is so much in love with stones to the point of praying for opportunity to join rogues, militant and ?yan banza? in stoning a duly elected governor of his state? Now that the masses of Arewa, tired of his mis-governance and provoked by his Impunity have decided to administer to him the same dosage of drug he gave to Timipre sylvia, why is he crying wolf? Why are his mega-phones in the creeks threatening innocent Nigerians who are victim of his corruption infested government?
My people say that ?one doesn?t throw a stone in the market square for the victim may be a brother or wife.? For Nigerian political elites and indeed all Nigerians the defeat and the stoning of GEJ is a pointer to the fact that the law of karma will and must catch up with us depending on our actions and inactions because those who sow the wind reap the whirlwind.

3. Nigeria: leave INEC alone
When the witch cries in the night and the child dies in the morning, the murderer is known because the evidence is clear. Pitiably, this wisdom dies not hold water in Nigeria because all the Nigerians dead and alive are all saints so no one is capable of spilling blood. Yet, Nigeria is a republic that outsmarts the black beast with two horns and a long tail in doing everything ugly, messy and bloody.

There is nothing in Nigeria the sell like pointing accusing fingers and shifting blames. A man is caught pants down with a neighbour wife, instead of showing remorse for the immoral action, he will quickly tell whoever that cares to listen that the devil was responsible. A young man consumes alcohol like ?Zobo? and when his liver and kidney are down and death smiling at him, he remembers immediately that his uncle in the village is behind is misfortune because he does not like his face. A
Business apprentice is settled to begin his own business. Free from his master, he engage the service of everything on skirt and when his finance melt like candle wax, he will run faster that John Benson, Chioma Ajunwa and Usein Bolt in accusing the witch from his village. This is Nigerians for you; a people afraid of taking responsibility, joyous in pointing accusing fingers and magnanimous in shifting blames.
As a writer and commentaries, my pen has had enough reasons to openly disagree with the looter-in-chief in Aso rock and his battalion of kleptomaniac cronies. However, the blame heaped PROF. ATAHORU JEGA after GEJ in collaboration with the service chief forced him to shift the February 14 presidential pools for fear of the imminent defeat that awaited them and the shameless display of ?Elderless? Godsdey Orubebe during the collation and announcement of the Presidential election results have forced me to pause and powder.

I for one, l can bet my precious penny in defence of Prof Atahiru. Records are there for the world to see. He was among the dogged activist and advocate for human right and good governance as a lecturer as the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria during the dark days of military dictatorship. However, this is not the best of time for the former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria as some mischievous elements and haters of democracy are doing everything possible to shelve his head in his absence.
The doyen of INEC whose tenure end this June is the 11th indigenous chairman of an electoral empire and the first from Arewa to occupy such a prestigious position since the British ?wuru wuru? and ?mago mago? forced a sacrament of matrimony on three strange bed follows. The first Nigerian to occupy the post was Eyo from cross river state. His brother Michael Ani replaced him after he left office. Justice Victor we-wiskey from Delta state stepped in to conduct the 1983 election. Prof Humphrey Nwuosu from Anambra state was in charge of the June 12 election that was annulled by the maradoma from Minna. In 1999, Ephraim Apkan from Edo state conducted the election that brought ObJ to power and was later replaced by Dr Abel Gubadia also from Edo state whose tenure ended in 2005 and opened the door to the Imo born Prof Maurice Iwu.

After a close watch of political arena in Nigeria for more than a decade have come to realise that INEC leadership are escape goats. Ask Prof Humphrey Nwaosu he will tell you the agony he suffered under the hand of his compatriot only because he was keen about discharging his duties and responsibility without fear and favour.
It is pity that commentators who should have known better have continue to expose their scandalous ignorance about the function of INEC. INEC was established by an act of parliament and it function are judiciously guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Acts. No doubt, most Nigerians who claim to be lettered don?t know the first line in our constitution not to talk of the Electoral Act yet we assume the role of a judge, jury and prosecutor in a case we know nothing about.

Do we expect the leadership of INEC to act outside ambit of its office? Is it the duty of INEC to ensure security Voters and voting materials during election? When we fail to inculcate good moral in our children and they turn to become street urchin and political thugs that maim innocent voters and steal ballot boxes, is INEC to be blamed? When the security agencies sign a memorandum of understanding like the ?Ekitigate? and ??Imogate? to rig election is INEC equally to be blamed?. When we make our daughters ?conference material?? for politicians, sale our voters card for a penny and collect stomach infrastructure fee to voter for the wrong candidate like the people of Ekiti did is it INEC business? What about the menu of hatred, tribalism, nepotism and false hood that politicians dish out during campaign which we know are lies but help in spreading in the social media? Is INEC also to be blamed? Walahi, I pity Prof Atahiru Jega and INEC.

Two things Nigerians must understand is that we must join INEC in fighting politicians like ?Elderless? Godsdey Orubebe from the Machiavellian school of thought who will do anything, everything, everywhere and anytime to ridicule and undermine INEC. Secondly we must know that ?the world is held together by four formidable pillars. The wisdom of the learned, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the value of the brave? methinks that Prof Atahiru Jega have proved the aforementioned pillars in the discharge of his job. So, can we let INEC and Prof Jega be? Sai Nigeria!!

Source: Martin-hassan Eze

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