Opinion

Bayo Oluwasanmi: Oby Ezekwesili, The Wrong Enemy

April 15, 300 school girls were abducted in Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram faction of the Islamic terrorists. The abduction of the girls touched a nerve in our communities and around the world.

The abduction exposed a deeply polarized nation and the wide chasm that separates the government and the governed. The issue ripped the scab off the ugly boil of lack of security and safety in the country. It ignited a ferocious national debate on the paralysis of the Jonathan administration in fighting Boko Haram.

Then came the meltdown, the tantrums, the screams – they are just part of the scene though far remote from Chibok. Never underestimate the power of propagandists. From President Jonathan to his service chiefs and his image buffers, they provided arguments and contradictions why the girls have not been rescued.

The duo interpreters of maladies – Reuben Abati and his cousin Doyin Okupe – see themselves, alternately, as lifesaving buffers for Mr. Jonathan or double-sided punching bags for critics.

Their new tactics is distraction. Instead of trying to reason or rationalize with the victims and their families, the president and his administration decide to push their lies on the rest of us. Accusations and counter accusations, fabrications, innuendoes, and other noisy and silly interpretations of their failure to bring the girls home remain solid standbys as well.

While the Jonathan administration and the Nigerian media have literally gone asleep on the Chibok girls, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and her #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) Abuja Family keep 24/7 vigil to stay the course and keep the issue on the front burner. They made me swell with pride.

Given the evident hypocrisy of Mr. Jonathan in securing the release of the girls, it is time for him to quit posturing and act. His rhetoric doesn’t match the reality. Forgive me if I see his promises and assurances that he’ll be bring the girls home soon as a nicely presented abdication of his responsibility.

Few Nigerians have spoken with more passion and eloquent conviction than Ezekwesili about the plight of the abducted Chibok girls. Despite the soaring rhetoric of critics, she would not succumb to the dyspeptic Jonathan administration.

We should learn to respect one another’s view. We should learn to view our differences of opinion as healthy and civilized tonic for the health of our flagging democracy. We should learn to risk more and speak more truth on our national problems and tragedies. We should learn that “my way doesn’t have to be the only way.” And we should cease and desist from “my way or the highway.”

The Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan said it better:“The issue of the politicisation is very serious and dangerous, where the party in government sees anybody who doesn’t agree with them as the Boko Haramist that are out to destroy the nation.”

“What this means is that, if you do not agree with me, or if you are not in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), you don’t love Nigeria…” says Bishop Onaiyekan.“That we disagree in politics doesn’t mean we don’t love our nation. And until we get that out of our heads, not much will move forward.”

We’re witnessing a more chaotic and more divided Nigeria. Daily events support this view. Thumb back through the insults and lies hurled at Dr. Ezekwesili as the leader of sit-out protest of BBOG, it reflects the hollowness of our democracy.

The internal strife caused by critics and paid government liars fighting Ezekwesili and BBOG group is as much terrorism as the havoc done by the Haramists.If the abduction of the girls failed to inflame our collective rage and unite us with a common cause, nothing else will.
Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs is leading the war against Ezekwesili and herBBOG group. Okupe a renowned and respected seller of delicacies of lies and wrongs, in a series of tweets and comments branded Ezekwesili as a profiteer of national calamity.

“Oby stop cheap shots. U ought to hv risen above pettiness & profiting frm a national calamity. U dn’t love d girls more dan w all do,” screams Okupe.

“it’s a shame that as member of d elite class u deliberately scheme 2 exploit innocent nigerians for personal aggrandisement. Shame,” tweeted Okupe.

Calling Ezekwesili “an over celebrated creation of the past administration,” Okupe blamed her for the parent’s refusal to meet with Mr. Jonathan:“But unfortunately, the BringBackOurGirls leadership prevailed on the parents of the girls, stopped them from coming.”

“Unfortunately, political forces within the Nigerian chapter of BringBackOurGirls have decided to take this opportunity to play politics with the situation and the grief of the parents and the girls. They should be ashamed of their actions.”

Marilyn Ogar, spokesperson for State Security Service (SSS) accused BBOG group of running a bank account. She said it was a known fact the group solicitedfunds from individuals. She described the group as a franchise out to smear the efforts of security agencies in Sambisa forest where the girls were believed to be held.

False charges and a sizeable bribe secure the government’s propaganda Facebook lynch mob against Ezekwesili: Kelechi Ekezie: “I doubt it if Oby and her flock really want to see the end of this Chibok stuff as it provides them a consistent vent to attack and insult the FG…”

Obilo Anthony: “jobless idiot.” Mike Dumebi Oliti: “Baboons on the run way to chibok. Who will cage this woman from this dance of death?” Nonso Odimegwu Ndibe: Ezekwesili is fast losing her credibility over his. She should retrace her steps. Harris Eluwah: We no mind you at all, when you tireyou will go home. Nigeria don pass this level.”

Is anything legally and morally wrong with Ezekwesili’s actions? Why is Ezekwesili so vilified and lampooned? Why is the government and its agents so restless, so angry, so fearful, and so obsessed about Ezekwesili? What are they afraid of? Why are they afraid of a woman who leads a protest group without the ancient world’s equivalent of a shot being fired?

Why are they all out to lynch her with first class tirades? Ezekwesili only saw a need and a void to be filled and she stepped in. Instead of agonizing she organized mothers to pressure the government into action. Did shecommit any political heresy in doing so?

The answers are not far-fetched. The more corrupted our leadership, the more confronting uncorrupted individuals like Ezekwesili are and the more they are denied honor or recognition. Alienation is separating itself from the truth. In acountry devoid of honest and truthful people, Ezekwesili is actively denied and is an outcast.

The goal of Jonathan administration and resigned Nigerians is not to honor the truth that Ezekwesili and her ilk represent. Being over corrupted, they denied and repressed the truth, overtime they will need to find their way back to some truth in order to repair and heal our overly corrupted nation.

It is difficult for resigned, egocentric critics and persecutors of Ezekwesili to acknowledge her gifts and talents. Her detractors feel by acknowledging Ezekwesili’s gift and dedication to BBOG group would make them inferior or worthless in comparison. This is typical of insecurity in humans under the duress of human condition.

The uncompromising truthfulness of Ezekwesili is both utterly confronting and utterly ego-deflating. Which is why the government and its evangelists of falsehood find it difficult to agree with her or acknowledge her essential difference.

In a country where the leaders are unable to think truthfully, where the citizens are consumed by terrible darkness and suffering, people like Ezekwesili must not cave in to coercion to abandon their cause.

Ezekwesili’s action practically demonstrates that one person with courage is a majority. Courage gives her the power to let go of the familiar. The test of courage comes when we’re in the minority. Her convictions help her to stand alone.

It’s not surprising therefore that whatever she does, some people will think she’s wrong. She expects trouble, so she projects courage. Leadership is the expression of courage that compels others to do the right thing.

History has shown that when a nation tries to ignore and even destroy its truth seekers and champions for justice, in the long run; it will need and appreciate and even to the point of revering them.

The sit-out protest led by Ezekwesili is one of the civilized ways to confront the political disorder of the Nigerian political system. If the Jonathan administration and other shameless critics are prepared to consider and accept reasoned argument, there should be no conflict and division over the rescue of the girls. The message Ezekwesili is trying to send to the government is to make a midcourse corrections or better healthy accountability. And most importantly, she wants the government to define and identify reality.

So far, we have examined the various claims by the government as to what is being done to bring the girls home, and we find such claims to be untrue. Nigerians have discovered that the government and its agents are liars.

Great Nigerians like Tai Solarin, Ayodele Awojobi, Gani Fawehinmi, Bala Usman, Bola Ige, Bamidele Aturu, and others only received due credit for their achievements after they died. Also, many gifted Nigerians died in extreme poverty and anonymity only to be resurrected and glorified by subsequent generations. All talented and gifted people encounter this problem.

Ezekwesili as unresigned fighter for justice must endure persecution to revealing the truth and the inevitable estrangement from her fellow citizens. Not surprisingly, the divisiveness of her missiongreatly impacted upon her personal life. Her mission leads her away from the government and fellow Nigerians and even put her at variance with Nigerians.

The problem for Ezekwesili is hopelessly trying to have her adversaries appreciate her work, and this has a dangerous capacity to exhaust her. To stand against a government of denial is an extremely lonely occupation and it leaves Ezekwesili isolated from society and without honor in her own country.After all, no prophet is accepted in his or her home town.

Ezekwesili is the wrong enemy.

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Bayo Oluwasanmi can be reached via [email protected]

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