The Eagle and the snake

by Sam Omatseye
This is not the time for some naysayers to hope. They are the vipers on the path of this democracy. They have nightmares over May 29. Some of them are otherwise wise people. They are lawyers of apparent substance. They are clerics with claims, however dubious, of hugging the Comforter. Some are writers who manage to believe God endows them with force and elegance. Professors as protesters, pastors lacking pastures, SANs sans sound, and those who write without light. Many of them, however, belong to a coven of miscreants. They are the sort that makes a crowd without eyes or ears but only a tongue of the profane. To paraphrase Shakespeare, they are spendthrift with their tongues.
Their point is simplistic: they should not swear-in Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because someone or other is challenging the legitimacy of his victory at the polls. They say the matter should be adjudicated and the winner determined before he can mount the seat. This view would have been wise if it was not dubious. It would have made sense if it was the first time a man would win an election in Nigeria and if the law forbade such an investiture.
It might have made sense if those making the claims did not vote against Tinubu, or if they have not confessed their aversion to his candidacy. If they were neutral, or were strangers to the Nigerian history, we might say, well, they mean well. But they are pharisaic bunch.
But these men and a few women, who utter such pretensions, have made themselves serpents of the transition. Some of them are writers. They think because they have a platform to write essays, they have become servants of justice. But they are false savants. They decree victory without scoring. They anoint a pretender to the throne. They conjure figures, invent voters, charm geopolitics into being and believe them enough to make them into gospels and breed goons of believers. They rarefy their choice candidate’s drivel as oratory, refine his backwoods logic into classic philosophy, don him with a cassock. They have made a faith for themselves and revel in the fanatics they have bred. It brings to mind Shakespeare’s line on cheering fans of the Roman ruler, “If Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less.” It is the sort of loyalty, as Shakespeare says, that makes “our faith folly.”
So, they suffer from what some sociologists call status anxiety. What will become of them when Tinubu says, So Help Me God and Shettima follows suit? What will turn in their stomachs, especially those of the Christian faith who would not tolerate any other when they show allegiance to another faith? They were here when President Goodluck Jonathan did this to his own God. It seems anathema to accept it in another even if Jesus Christ had admonished wheat and tares to dwell together. They will have duel in the hearts. They are imagining a Tinubu in Aso Rock and Remi Tinubu as first lady. They are unable to accept the fact of a majority vote unless it is their majority, or reality unless it is their reality. They want to sing Wike’s song, As e dey pain dem, e dey sweet us. They are afraid, some people will sing it at their expense. But Tinubu has not given a hint of gloating. He wants a rainbow nation of cooperation. They don’t want to accept his love. Somehow, hating him feels like a spiritual thirst.
So, it is not because they believe that it is wrong to swear anyone in before dispatching the cases in court. It is about the person, not the law. If it is about the law, they know they are wrong. They know that the law is clear about how many days a case can last in court. It is, on the whole, 180 days. They knew this before the election. Like poor EPL fans, they want to discard the referee and change the rule before it is 90 minutes.
Maybe they did not know. Or when they knew, they decided to reimagine what they knew. The Poet Shelley urged everyone to reimagine what we know. By doing that, we expand the frontiers of our imagination. As Einstein said, “knowledge is limited. But imagination encircles the earth.” He further says
“imagination is more important than knowledge.” So maybe they are expanding their knowledge. But this is a fake version of the imagination. You cannot say you are reimagining it when the law is clear. You can only do same when there are caveats and windows. But the law is what it is. Some of the clerics should remember Paul who wrote, “for we can do nothing against the truth but for the truth.”
They know that they are full of mischief. This is not the first time since 1999 that we are having presidents sworn-in while challengers are wailing in the court room. Tinubu himself is a paragon of judicial endurance. We and a few of these clerics were in this country when he waited for close to four years while Oyinlola puffed in office. He won the case for Rauf Aregbesola. Adams Oshiomhole waited while Osunbor peacocked in office before the courts overturned his reign. We were all witnesses when Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) proclaimed, “one by one by God.” It came to pass in Ekiti and Ondo as well.
OBJ will not have the courage to join the raucous chorus because he was sworn in while Olu Falae challenged his victory at the polls. Muhammadu Buhari became a citizen of the court three times. He, too, exercised patience while May 29 elapsed. Jonathan was the only person who did not summon SANs for a pay day. He had no bloodlust for office after six years. He knew he would lose as others had done. He had misgoverned enough.
Some lawyers have said it was a misnomer that a few men who call themselves justices would sit and determine the fate of a people. One of the lawyers called for a change of that order. He has a point. But he was echoing Bibi Netanyahu, the Israeli leader, who wants to upturn the finality of supreme court verdicts. He wants a rubberstamp legislature to cancel a court pronouncement if it runs counter to his interest. He is a subvert of justice. He is undergoing a corruption trial, and the prospect of a guilty verdict terrifies him.
Our lawyers should not be turning matters upside down. They are saying the right thing for the wrong reason. Like Netanyahu, such lawyers want to compromise the inviolability of the court verdict because they do not want a Tinubu presidency. They know the consequence of undermining the court: anarchy. Hence, Israeli streets erupted in protests. Our mob without eyes and ears are becoming gangsters of the law.
Soyinka called some of them fascists. It is strange that some clerics have joined them in calling for the subversion of the law. They are, in essence, calling for the army. Some of the clerics were in this country when soldiers made us serfs in our land. They were the days of decrees and gulags. This writer, as managing editor of Abiola’s Concord Newspapers in Abuja, was stalked by two SSS cars every day until I escaped in the heady era of June 12.
Some of the mob without eyes and ears are so sure that the 25 percent view of Abuja will nullify the victory. Hence, they just want that aspect to be ruled upon. This is without merit because even the LP and PDP did not isolate those cases. They cannot eat their cake and have it. These “25 percent And-ers” are a desperate bunch.
They want to ambush the constitution. They think they are wise. They don’t even know how to keep supporters. Their chief apostle is on a mission to reconcile. He even tweeted a reconciliation, but our avatar said he did not reconcile. The literary patriarch who could have been their friend they abused and mocked out of their orbit. They turned his affection for them into what Shakespeare called cold fire, wolvish-ravening lamb, fiend angelical.
They cannot, no matter how much they try, upturn the constitution. They are the vipers slithering inside a tall grass waiting for the venom moment. But the law, bearing Tinubu, is a bird stalking the sky with its bold, piercing eyes. The bird sees it. The snake thinks it is ambushing the rabbit, but it is the prey, a prey of its self-destruct conscience. The bird, in its benevolent majesty, would just soar ahead. And the Nigerian bird is the eagle, regal, gorgeous and, where necessary, ruthless.

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