FAWEHINMI'S DEATH REVEALS FAULTLINES IN NIGERIA

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nigeria is a complex country with faultlines that run throughout its length and breadth. The faultlines that comprise the various interest groups and issues within the nation's body politic are equally complex, and according to some, indecipherable. In many cases, however, some of the faultlines are hidden under layers of other distracting and more obvious issues, but, nonetheless, they exist and it takes a well-trained eye to identify them. The recent death of Gani Fawehinmi has revealed previously unnoticed faultlines and suggests that others are about to become more pronounced.

GANI, THE CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER
Ganiyu Fawehinmi died on September 5th, 2009 of lung cancer. Prior to his death, Gani, as he is popularly called, was considered one of Nigeria's most respected civil and human rights lawyers. He was a critic of various Nigerian governments, military and otherwise, and for this, he was arrested and detained on several occasions. Most recently, Gani refused to accept Nigeria's highest honor, the Order of the Federal Republic which current President Yar'Adua sought to bestow upon him. Gani, instead, based his rejection on the inability of the Nigerian government to achieve 8 specific goals outlined in his public letter to the President and the nation.


A younger, yet still politically conscious, Gani Fawehinmi

A FAULTLINE APPEARS
Gani challenged the removal of Nuhu Ribadu from his former position as head of Nigeria's anti-corruption unit, the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Ribadu, who fled the country when his life was in danger, is currently speaking all over the world about anti-corruption efforts in Africa, and Nigeria in particular. Yet, somehow, after Gani's passing, Ribadu made his way into the country to pay respects to the family of the late legal icon. This ability to enter Nigeria and leave the country despite the fact that some powerful interests in Nigeria seek Ribadu's head on a platter indicates that there are those in Nigeria with the power to directly challenge the Federal Government, the nation's president and others who seemingly control everything that happens in Nigeria.

Nuhu Ribadu when he was in the EFCC

During his brief and unexpected visit, Ribadu was warmly received by Fawehinmi's family and news soon spread bringing many others to cheer for the visitor. Despite the fact that he is persona non grata in his own country, Ribadu was able to make his way to see Gani's body and take the time to pray for the late lawyer. After which, he allegedly made his way to the airport and left the country,leaving nothing but confusion in his wake.

THE CONSEQUENCES
In the 2 years that Yar'Adua has been president, much has been said about his health and his ability to steer the national ship as a capable President. Regardless of what anyone might have thought, Ribadu's ability to enter and exit the country flies in the face of Yar'Adua's capacity as Head of State and calls in question the government's ability to protect and guard its borders. This, unfortunately, further weakens the President in the public eye.

Additionally, Ribadu's brilliant and brave act of paying homage to Gani further illustrates that there are individuals or a consortium of individuals with the power to exert control despite the wishes of Yar'Adua and his cohorts. This is a direct challenge to the authority of the President and the power wielded by those in cahoots with the various channels of power in Nigeria. And, did any foreign governments playe a role in ensuring Ribadu's safe passage to and from Nigeria? These facts, in turn, begs the question of whether these individuals, groups or foreign governments exercised this power for the greater good of the people or simply for their own personal interests. Because it is unclear who has the power to facilitate Ribadu's waltzing act, one can only hope that the faultline presented by these individuals is one that will benefit Nigeria in the long run. However, any weakening of the office of the Presidency, despite who the holder of that office is, might not put Nigerians at an advantage. Considering Yar'Adua's previous response when he felt threatened (right before his trip to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj when he shuffled the military establishment, had bloggers Asiwe and Elendu arrested and allowed his political party to callously allege treasonous offenses against opposition party), all Nigerians must be careful what they wish for and hope that this act by Ribadu (and those who enabled it), while brilliant in its machinations and calculations not backfire to the detriment of the people.

Nevertheless, it is on Yar'Adua as President to keep the various faultlines that create Nigeria in check, and any blame for the weakening of his ability to do so, rests entirely on his shoulders. That being said, draconian measures by this President will not endear him to the people, nor will the perception that he is weak and incapable of leading, help his cause. This President has a hard job to do, and all well-meaning Nigerians (including this writer) wish him the best. But, for the benefit of Nigeria, this President must produce positive results and manage the various faultlines without creating more. Nigeria definitely does not need any more faultlines, as it has more than enough.

May Gani rest in perfect peace.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Nigeria, Be Careful What You Wish For
- Ribadu's Removal
- Ribadu Demoted; Likely To Be Arrested
- Sabotage: Aondoakaa vs. Ribadu Et. Al.
- Political Soap Operas: Nigerian Style

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culturesoup said...

Very interesting and puzzling story as lots of questions remain unanswered.

I have mixed feelings about this - his ability to sneak in and out suggests a challenge to the president's authority as you've said but really on what legitimate grounds would they have held him?
Ribadu is definitely a marked man but if as it seems the security forces are restrained from arresting him because of the lack of legitimate grounds, i think the situation is better than it used to be. Everybody would have known it was a total sham and for whatever reason (fear of looking bad in the international community perhaps) they didn't want that. In the military days even exclusion from the Commonwealth didn't cause the rulers in chief to bat an eyelid. Or perhaps things aren't any better and they just didn't get the chance to grab him. I can't tell which it is.

9ja_Kuti said...

Faultlines you call this? some call it a gap big enough to fit kanye west's ego.

its disturbing but whats more disturbing is the governments reaction to it. if you ask me, if he is a wanted man and he is able to do a Rent-a-ghost in an out of nigeria without being found out. heads should be flying already, both in the customs, imigration, SSS and whoever. and IGP Onovo coming on tv and stating he doesnt believe Ribadu was in town till he sees pictures is even more unbelievable. we would have asked for the tapes at MMA to be run to see if there was a disguise or at least who dropped him off or picked him up but that would only lead to more questions.

meanwhile, a journalist got silenced in his home and the same security force that a visibly 'wanted' man slipped past are the same ones vowing to find who ordered the 'take out'

NaijaBabe said...

Though I'm not very familiar with the RIbadu story, I do agree that there are holes to be filled. However, does he really need to be arrested?

Anonymous said...

"...scary stuff mehh!!! could there be an underground "brotherhood" in naija? ..."

"...its scary cz people like that can be decidin the fate of 9ja over Beer n we'd be none the wiser"

- Charizardonfire (from discussion on Twitter)

Beauty said...

"This President has a hard job to do, and all well-meaning Nigerians (including this writer) wish him the best" should be reserved for those that do not know love. Of course we all wish our Yardie well. Wishing things would be good or turned around will not make it so though. The fault lines have become black holes tearing our country apart. President Yar'Adua may see the deaths of Fawehinmi and The Guardian journalist, Bayo Ohu as failures of the past. But who really cares? People are simply not confident about the future is the problem.

Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil. - Plato. Why should it take others to inform those we paid to serve us that "There is no substitute for knowledge". It is free and available now, even though, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Worldwide, Pastor E. A. Adeboye is concerned the enemy has sneaked in through the Internet. Below is proof of ignorance we scream about daily, never mind the trash publishing that goes with it.

"The Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, in a statement on Friday, said the greatest challenge facing producers and users of industrial and business statistics in Nigeria is the absence of reliable and consistent data.

To this end, Abubakar Muhammad, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said, an awareness creation workshop is being organised by the ministry ahead of the 2010 National Census of Industries and Business in Nigeria.

He said: “The lack of accurate data on the number of industries and businesses operating in the country is one of the greatest challenges facing the development of the sector. We cannot ascertain the actual number of establishments that are dead, moribund, have changed names or products, or that are functioning."


INFORMATION=KNOWLEDGE=INFORMATION

Nigerian Entrepreneur said...

To say this is worrisome is an understatement. While many may feel that the undetected entrance and exit of Ribadu is a slap on the government, I agree with you that it is a slap on us as a nation.

It simply portray the fact that we lack security as a sovereign nation.

That said, I for one won't like Ribadu arrested for any cooked up offense while those that stole from the treasury walks freely as sacred cows on Abuja street.

I won't give up on Nigeria. In the words of Martin Luther King, I have a dream, and it will surely come to pass. Nigeria will become a praise on earth to the glory of God. Call it wishful thinking, but that is my conviction.

I enjoyed this article. Thanks for sharing.

webround said...

Yes, Ribadu entered the country but it doesn't necessarily mean the country is porous. It could be argued that it was a one-off security lapse cos 'security lapses' have also occurred in 'more advanced' countries e.g. the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated right in the midst of his bodyguards. The Israeli Prime Minister is reputed to be more closely guarded than the American President (even though it's not as flamboyantly displayed).

It is also possible that the authorities were aware and simply did not want to arrest him because they felt doing so would create more headache for them (the fall out of protests and maybe possible outrage).

Could also be that an officer who is sympathetic to him (Ribadu) simply made the 'call' that nothing should be done to him.

In summary, one can argue that there are so other possible and valid explanations to Ribadu entering the country than the often pointed reason that it is a confirmation that our borders have always been porous and is still porous,after all there are reporters/bloggers who have reputedly been arrested right at the airport when they arrived the country

unsurprised said...

I'm not surprised this can happen. On my last trip to Nigeria in December - I watched 3 different instances of people go through immigration without a valid Nigerian passport or an entry visa on the passport they had on. All you have to do is make noise or dash someone money and you can get through immigration.

Anonymous said...

You forget that Ribadu is a former (?) policeman and despite all that we hear through the official lines, he still has a remarkable following within the Police ranks.

There's something called the 'Blue Wall' - the rank and file of uniformed police men who always protect their own whether still serving or retired. Ribadu just needed to make a phone call and he had the Blue Wall to protect him - going in and out.

As for the Customs, Immigrations, SSS and others, its a question of 'espitit de corps'.

You are even talking of Ribadu, what about Erastus Akingbola, former MD of Intercontinental Bank?

Anonymous said...

You forget that Ribadu is a former (?) policeman and despite all that we hear through the official lines, he still has a remarkable following within the Police ranks.

There's something called the 'Blue Wall' - the rank and file of uniformed police men who always protect their own whether still serving or retired. Ribadu just needed to make a phone call and he had the Blue Wall to protect him - going in and out.

As for the Customs, Immigrations, SSS and others, its a question of 'espitit de corps'.

You are even talking of Ribadu, what about Erastus Akingbola, former MD of Intercontinental Bank?

- NIMMO

Beauty said...

Today is the 60th birthday of the founding of the People's Republic, which Mao Zedong declared on October 1, 1949. Enrollment rate for primary school children was 20%. Today, it is 99.3%. Ave life expectancy was 35 years and now 73 years. Abacha in politics is such a gas.

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