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By Chido Nwangwu, USAfrica ONLINE, June 1996

I missed many things, but official Nigeria was not one of them. I was free for 18 weeks from the embarrassment of having to remember, or be reminded, that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is my president; or that this corrupt contraption is the government of my country, or that these lawless and unruly streets are the sad facts of every day life in my country; or to know that for every official speech or statement I read or hear it is often the opposite that is the reality and truth - the unfortunate fact being that many of the officials who say that they are fighting corruption are often at the very same time committing it.

I did not miss the fact that my country is in the thick of a grand make-believe designed to hoodwink the people into believing that the government is planning, arranging and getting ready for elections when everyone knows it is not. Who therefore is fooling who in the ethical tug-of-war in which the listener knows the truth as much as the liar is unwilling to say it?

Or, if you insist, who is fooling whom? Nor did I miss the fact that for 18 weeks I was no longer a resident of Abuja with its power failures, with its dry taps, with its dangerous nights, unsafe roads.


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But, despite everything, at least something could improve. Abuja streets had become cleaner and the traffic in them saner.

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Achaba or Okada is gone. It was not that they were dangerous-to others and to themselves; it was not that they were a nuisance; it was not that they constituted a law unto themselves - traffic cops, summary judges, bloodthirsty lynchers and all; it was not that they didn't know or didn't want to, obey the traffic code; it was, in fact, the fact that they were all these. Jumping onto Okada was in many respects like jumping to a conclusion: and they have concluded many lives that way. Riding one was like being thrown into prison, with the added probability of thereafter proceeding to hell.

Your freedom is gone; you have put your health at risk and your life on the line. Well, finally, at least the Obasanjo regime is not without achievement! Who would have though that anyone could rid Abuja of the cyclists? This credit, if made, is a valid claim. But will the others stand scrutiny? For the nation an event has occurred with respect to which it is difficult to act and impossible to remain in active. He is the veritable dumper par excellence; and an accomplished master adept at political acrobatism and human ladder disposal.

Very soon it will be listed as one of the achievements of this regime in its so-called fight against corruption. But we must remember, as Ayo Obe recently revealed, that despite all efforts by her group in Obasanjo refused to adopt their submission and present it as an Executive Bill. He adamantly refused and they had to adopt a circuitous route to the National Assembly that almost took forever. And even if Obasanjo had spearheaded its passage, the fact that it only saw the light of legislative day at the twilight end of his second term, we must wonder whether at some stages the bill had not become the victim of an Executive-inspired filibuster; so that by the time it finally became law, Obasanjo would not be around to be its victim, but could always turn around to claim the credit for its passage.

There you go-Jack, the Reaper, again ripping up every reputation except his own. Meanwhile, the revision of voters register is proceeding as planned-very slowly-so that it will not have concluded even when the deadline is reached. In addition, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is said to be about to be embroiled in another unnecessary controversy with respect to transparent ballot box patent infringement.

K. O. Mbadiwe

This is expected to lead to the institution of legal action by Bedding Holdings Limited, the patent holder. Thereafter, according to a warning issued by Bedding, the ballot boxes will be the subject of restraining orders by courts, which will make them unavailable for the election. It is time bomb all along the way. The voters may not be reviewed and the register be ready for the elections on time. If it is, the ballot boxes may not be available. If they are, he will devise a more potent bomb. You said he will not have a third term by hook; now he is telling you he will have it by crook. Following the spate of airline crashes in the country and the fact that people saw grounds to blame it all on practical carelessness rather than pure accident, many people vowed never to travel by air within the country.

Some said they have exceptions that they can fly - Aero and Virgin. There is little doubt that even this qualified confidence in these airlines is because of the foreign element involved in them. In other words, Nigerians aren't willing to trust their most cherished possession-their lives-to their own kind. And what a shame! But come to think of it, who isn't terrified of the anything-goes attitude of the foolhardy, unnecessary-risk-taking Nigeria professional; or the corner-cutting strategies of profit-maximising local airline owners; or the I-don't-care attitude engrained in the public-service mindset of the personnel of Nigeria's aviation regulatory agencies; or, indeed, the inexorable applicability of the laws of nature that determine that anything that goes up must come down-gently or with a big bang?

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And despite all this, he thought that the solution was all to be found in a name. In other words, when Obasanjo failed to operate a national airline successfully, he incorporated another one. And, remember, that you are never allowed to forget that he left 26 planes in the national carrier; and by the time he came back, there were only six planes.

And then apparently he proceeded to kill them. When they formed the new national airline to call it Virgin Nigeria-a cute name, no doubt, but entirely misplaced. How on earth can you call Nigeria virgin when it has been raped all over the place-at home and abroad, on week days and at weekends, in broad daylight and at night-by every Tom, Dick and Harry of a public officer and allied businessmen?

Recently, Obasanjo said he was a democrat, which ought to be news, but he had always bemoaned the fact that he still didn't know his successor. Then he made a long list of those to whom he would hand over.

The Nigerian - An African Statesman UNFULFILLED

Very strange. Someone should help tell him that usually democrats wouldn't know their successors until after a free and fair election. Yes, elections that are free and fair - not merely free-for-all nor a mere vanity fair. It is doubtful if Chief Olusegun Obasanjo really understands what democracy is supposed to mean, or what a constitution is supposed to be or what in fact his role and limits as a president are.

Perhaps he does, but there is always the possibility that since he has at various times credited himself with being the author of the transition programme and the handover, he sees himself as Nigeria's democratic god-winner of the war, winner of the peace, the arrester of the drift, the creator of democracy, the eminent statesman-and so above the stricture of the democratic code. And so, he can play it as he deems fit. There is one thing about power, which everybody ought to have known-that it is very sweet.

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And so it is. And it is always made sweeter by corruption. Corruption tends to empower; and absolute corruption empowers absolutely. His recent history consists in the main in fighting a war he didn't absolutely believe in and emerging an unfinished hero, inheriting the nation from General Murtala Mohammed and, in his own self-proclaimed conclusion, righting all its wrongs and once again inheriting the nation and, starting with electricity power supply, reforming all its problems.

But to get at the essential Obasanjo you must exorcise from the psyche of His Excellency a chronic Abacha complex, which, like an Oedipus complex, has to this day remained unresolved. Perhaps, this way, we may understand his tendency to return every good turn with a bad. To understand him, you need to understand the psychology of a pardoned ex-convict, always seething and steeped in a siege- mentality which has produced in him this irrational hatred for imagined enemies; and you have to fathom this obey-before-complaint mindset of a retired commander, and then cathechise the Christianity of a born-again aborted foetus.

In particular, it portrays the fact that Mariology always points to Christ, being indissolubly linked with Christology, and also has intrinsic unity with ecclesiology. I was born on 30 January at Aba in Eastern Nigeria. We have five grown-up children and seven lovely grand-children. I am an active member of St. My interest in Christian Theology was kindled in through a poster from Wesley College Bristol affiliated to the University of Bristol inviting applications from people interested in Christian Religious Studies.

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On verifying the authenticity of Wesley College as a designated ecumenical centre for Christian religious studies, I successfully enrolled therein, in What for me started as occasional studies soon grew into a full B. A, degree course in Theological Studies. At the end of my second year in , I was up-graded to commence the M. Thence, I was admitted by the University for an M. Litt degree in April I have not always been a Roman Catholic Christian having begun my early life, first, as an Evangelical C. Anglican; then as a Methodist. I became a convinced Catholic through my active participation in preparing my children for the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation, and by attending Mass regularly with them every Sunday.


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Degree course. My earlier professional life and work experience was in Pharmacy, a profession I had practised for almost forty years before I came to Great Britain.