London: The inauguration of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), UK Chapter. In attendance was Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly; Yinka Odumakin; Nasir El Rufai; pastors from the Gain Group and other activists that formed the SNG, UK chapter. I was representing the Transform Nigeria Movement. I listened carefully as these gentlemen enunciated their vision and mission to cleanse the atmosphere of Nigeria politics so that - quoting Mr Odumakin - “a Mr Elombah can come back to Nigeria one day and contest for the House of Representatives and be assured that the votes of the people in his constituency will count.”
It was a moving occasion, as Mr Bakare - who has this extraordinary ability to speak with such force and emotion that turn your eyes misty - narrated how Nigeria has been held in the jugular by thugs that have captured our nation, allowed by a seemingly docile populace whose “social mobility” has quenched. What I heard that day seems to hold out hope that, at last, some people are determined to bring forth the change we all desire. At the end of the launch, I attended another meeting with a journalist from Nigeria, where I confirmed what Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State, said at another gathering of the SNG - that Nigerian politicians look at activists as “wooly-eyed dreamers”. This journalist (I will call him Mr J) said if we are hoping for a Nigeria where the people will freely elect their leaders in a free and peaceful election, we still have a very long way to go. Some of the things Mr J narrated cannot simply be published. Suffice it to say he pointed out that “Nigeria is not a country, but an organized criminal outpost for crooks whose interest is personal aggrandisement and not the business of taking care of its citizens”.
Mr J further told me that whatever I read is merely a tip of the iceberg and that if I get to know the actual amount of looting that goes for governance, or the debauched life lived by some of the people I admire in government, I won’t sleep at night.
Recently, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, publicly engaged in fisticuffs over a dispute of who should cut the ribbon announcing the opening of a simple bridge in Sango-Ota, in Ogun State. How did thugs get to capture governance in Nigeria? Mr Bakare said at the inauguration that he will never encourage any sane human to go into Nigerian politics in this polluted environment. But he added that members of the SNG might go into politics, “after the atmosphere has been cleansed”.
The RSVP process
I think what we are seeing is a civilian version of the military in power. Or the militarised version of the civilians in power. Who killed Bayo Ohu and Godwin Agbroko? IBB felt challenged by Mamman Vatsa and charged him with coup plotting and killed him...now tell me who felt uncomfortable with former Attorney General, Bola Ige and had him murdered? Who killed Harry Marshall, Dikibo, Odunayo Olagbaju? Who killed Ahmed Pategi and his police orderly? Who killed Victor Nwankwo, the younger brother of Arthur Nwankwo? Who killed Kudirat Abiola, John Nunu, Funsho Williams, Chimere Ikoku, Ayodeji Daramola, Dele Arojo and Isyaku Muhammad? With the passing of each year, the list grows longer and longer.
Mr Bakare believes no good Nigerian can succeed as a peoples’ politician and serve the people within the polluted waters of Nigerian politics because the others will change him into one of their kind. Mr Bakare also believes that only when the people exercise their rights and take powers back into their hands, by selecting their candidates and ensuring free, credible and peaceful elections, will such a cleansing begin. He called this cleansing process RSVP: R-Register to vote, S- Select your candidates, V-Vote, P-Protect your votes.