For How Long Will Our ‘Rulers’ Roughshod Over Us? BY Ajiroghene J. Oreh

HOW LONG            HOW LONG 1

JUST barely two weeks to celebrate his one year in the exalted office, General Mohammadu Buhari, (GCFR), former absolute Head of State, and (un)fortunate president of this proverbial nation christened Nigeria has reciprocated with this cruel decree of ‘subsidy removal’, thus, foisting untold hardship on Nigerians who voted him as the general overseer of the nation for a tenure of four years. What a salutary one year in office present from a hearty and kind-hearted President!

For too long, our leaders, oh-sorry, rulers have roughshod over us. Disillusionment and disenchantment have been the lot of Nigerians. As the great Nigerian poet, Niyi Osundare ironically puts it, the helpless and hapless Nigerians bears “benevolence of the body politic”. We have been betrayed and battered for almost six decades by our neocolonialist. Three times Nigerians gyrated, 1960, 1993 and 1999. The first epoch, in 1960 when the colonialist Britain reluctantly and grudgingly granted us political independence. That epoch was greeted with a euphoria. The celebration was rudely quelled in 1966 by coups and counter-coups, bloody Civil war (1967-1970), etc. In all, the hapless Nigerian people who bear the “benevolence of the body politic” became vanquished. Hunger, poverty, death, unemployment, despair engendered by the towering corruption of our rulers became the lot of the oppressed segment of Nigeria. This trend continued to the last decade of the last century. In June 12, 1993, when it was time to change the rickety battery of rulers after clarion calls, Nigerians came out enmasse to vote their man, the man of the people, Bashorun M.K.O Abiola of Ogun State. On June 23, the then dictator, General Ibrahim Babaginda cruelly cancelled the election that he saw will bring a new lease of life to the people. That cruel act by the self confessed evil genius infuriated the Nigerian people, and the Nigerian people took to the street revolting against their oppressors. Amidst the popular revolt and later handing over to an interim national government, General Sani Abacha, the Minister of Defence to General Babaginda staged a palace coup on November 17, 1993. During his reign as Head of state, he unleashed terror, assaulted, massacred thousands of Nigerians. This is beside the untold hardship he subjected Nigerians to. General Abacha’s stay in office is not lost in our human memory card. Nemesis dealt severely to him, he died shamefully on June 1998. Next on line was the diplomatic Abdulsalami Abubakar who became the Head of State, and who coordinated the transition programme initiated by his former boss, General Abacha who wanted to be president-for-life!

Again, Nigerians were roughshod, as another tyrant in civilian garb emerged as the president in 1999. During his eight years term (1999-2007), Chief Olusegun Obasanjo roughshod over us and monopolised power. He was an absolute civilian ruler, who massacred Odi, dehumanized Nigerians. This reckless dare-devil’s cannibalistic tendency started in November 1999, just barely six month into his civilian regime, he invaded and destroyed Odi, a town in Bayelsa State, under the guise of searching for alleged killers of some police personnel. The brutality of this horrendous act is poetically captured in Part 11 with the title ‘Odi’ of the Isoko-born international poet, Ogaga Ifowodo’s The Oil Lamp (2005). Reading the poem, one encounters the callousness and insensitivity of the civilian government towards the plight of the people of Odi. The bombing of Gbaramutu, attendant harsh realities of the policies and programmes of the Chief Obasanjo’s led government on the poor populace shows how our rulers have rougshod over us.

Next was the ambassador of peace, Dr. Goodluck Ebele ‘Azikiwe’ Jonathan (2009-2015). The high point of his, was in January 2012 when he removed ‘fuel subsidy’ against protest from Nigerians who bear the “benevolence of the body politic”. For weeks, the Nigerian people united and protested against the cruel decree. The country was brought to a standstill. Everyone took to the street in popular revolt of the attendant price hike the so-called removal of fuel subsidy caused.

Now our “ebullient’ president from the caliphate has removed the fuel subsidy he once protested about. Wants to rougshod over us. NO!!! Enough is enough for our rulers. It is time Nigerians who bear the “benevolence of the body politic” to unite and stage a popular revolt. We must put an end to this continued maltreatment by our nation’s rulers. It is time to besiege national centres, the National assembly, Aso rock seeks to be governed the way other people are governed in other climes. We have the natural resources to engender everything good. It is time our rulers start to behave as leaders. Nigeria is overdue for utopia. It is time a new rain tumbles down!


Oreh, studying English and Literary Studies, DELSU, Abraka

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