After the needless drama at the Lagos airport when the SSS tried to truncate his trip abroad, Mallam Nasir el Rufai was greeted at his destination with evidence of further misguided action by the Jonathan government. That was the spectacle of the recycled Dr. Doyin Okupe providing a specious political thesis that confirms the crisis of thoughtlessness in government. Dr. Okupe asked that critics of the government should tell it what to do, wrapping his defence of incompetence around a false patriotism.
It bears repeating that the duty of patriots is to stand up for their country, not necessarily for its government, especially one as uninspiring as the incumbent. Had more patriots stood up in Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa, millions of lives would have been saved. Service to one’s country includes being able to acknowledge when the responsibilities of office seem beyond the ken of its government.
The federal government is failing to tackle terror, kidnapping, armed robbery and other forms of insecurity. It is right that it be held to account for these failures. The best response the government can give its critics is performance, not cheaply questioning their patriotism. The Jonathan government cannot outsource to others the duty to provide good governance and the quality of leadership that can inspire the country.
It was the patriotism of many citizens in the Save Nigeria Group, including Pastor Tunde Bakare and Mallam Nasir el Rufai, that helped make Goodluck Jonathan acting president against the machinations of the Yar’Adua cabal. It was the patriotism of citizens, expressed in the discourse and agitations against fuel subsidy removal, that exposed the trillion naira subsidy scam. Better still, it was the patriotism of these citizens that pressurised the government to reluctantly indict their friends and financiers that were found wanting by the National Assembly probe into the worst corruption saga in our chequered history.
When the government is not begging the opposition for ideas, it is busy trying to cocoon clerics. Nothing stops priests from caring about the conditions of living of those to whom they provide moral and spiritual leadership. And their status as priests neither abrogates their citizenship nor constrains their right to free speech. Tunde Bakare is not the first priest to perceive his responsibilities as embracing a concern for his country’s fate. He is following the illustrious examples of the Reverend Martin Luther King in the pursuit of civil rights in the United States, and Bishop Desmond Tutu in fighting racism in South Africa. The courage of these clerics helped make their countries freer and more equal, and the world, a better place.
Dr. Okupe is apparently keen to impress in his new job. He should do it with fidelity to history, and cease calling patriots that stand on principles his brothers just so he can smear them. If the Jonathan administration wants El-Rufai to provide them a manual on governing Nigeria, they should do so nicely without violating his civil rights, harassing him incessantly or suggesting that the man wants to run for an office now being desecrated by an occupant who blames everyone but himself for his zero performance.
Media Advisor to Mallam Nasir El Rufai
10 August 2012