In life and in death, Gen Sani Abacha, the unsmiling dictator who ruled Nigeria like a personal prison, was a short man. His military precursor and Public Enemy Extraordinaire, the brutal General from Minna, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, isn’t a tall man, either. Standing at 5’6’’, Italian journalist and the father of fascism, Benito Mussolini, was considered a short man among world leaders just as the leading dictators of the Russian revolution, Vladmir Lenin (5’5’’) and Joseph Stalin (5’5’’), were seen as short men, whose eras witnessed large-scale tyrannies, ethnic cleansing, hundreds of thousands of executions and famines which killed millions of people.
‘Good things come in small packages’ is an idiom which counsels that size doesn’t always equate to value. Taking the idiom a notch up, the wisdom of the elders whispers a warning saying that it’s not the size of the dog that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog.
Therefore, I’ll not castigate anyone on the basis of height for height is nothing but a physical attribute. From the first man to enter outer space, Russian Yuri Gagarin (5’2’’) to writer and poet, Voltaire (5’3’’), and American music superstar who won seven Grammy awards, Prince (5’2’’), to Singer Paul Simon (5’3’’) and multibillionaire philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (5’2’’) etc, the world is brimming with short men and women who have made their marks in life.
But there’s a certain short and powerful man in Nigeria that’s threatening and giving global superpowers hell on a roof. His surname is el-Rufai. His first name is Nasir, which means ‘a helper’. He’s the governor of Kaduna, a state which has witnessed lots of ethnic bloodbaths in the last four years and more. El-Rufai is working assiduously to help his fellow Fulani mallam from Daura, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, get re-elected as president of the country next Saturday. Intelligent and assertive, the size of the fight in el-Rufai’s dog snarled its fangs at the European Union, Britain and the United States, last week, when he vowed that anyone from the aforementioned power blocs, who tries to interfere in Nigeria’s coming general election, would be sent back to their countries in body bags.
Body bags are bags used for carrying corpses.
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Specifically, el-Rufai said, “At the end of the day, it’s Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters that will line up and vote on February 16; let us wait for the results, and if the results are not what we expect them to be, there’s a process to challenge them. We have election tribunals; challenge them. President Muhammadu Buhari did that three times, he never resorted to violence, he never called for violence; he went to the Supreme Court three times… We are used to losing elections – those of us that came from opposition…, we never resorted to violence… If we have a suspicion that the security agencies are biased as the governor of Anambra has complained to the President; raise the flag, give the authorities the opportunity to change them, but don’t try to create trouble…
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we’re waiting for the person that will come and intervene (hitting the table with his hands for emphasis), they will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country; we’ve got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible, and we know the histories of the countries that are trying to teach us these things…”
The Federal Government, through the ruling All Progressives Congress, threw its weight behind el-Rufai’s statement, saying: “What Governor el-Rufai said clearly is the position of this government, that we are proud as Nigerians and we are ready to defend the integrity of this country, and that any country that thinks in the name of election will want to interfere and dictate to us or intimidate us in anyway, it is unacceptable.
“That is clearly what Governor el-Rufai has said. The Peoples Democratic Party can twist it the way they want. Governor el-Rufai never said people should not come and observe or monitor elections. And he was not referring to people who are genuinely coming to monitor and observe the elections…”
When novelist, poet and editor, Josiah Holland, penned his famous lines: “God give us men. The time demands/Strong minds, great hearts/true faith, and willing hands; Men whom the lust of office does not kill/Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; Men who possess opinions and will; Men who have honour; men who will not lie…” he surely didn’t have el-Rufai in mind.
But I’m totally in support of el-Rufai on the need to put foreign interlopers in designer body bags made of thick camel skins with the epitaph, “Rest in hell, idiot!” And when the intrusive foreign powers rain down wicked sanctions on Nigeria for Boko Haraming the western busybodies, Kaduna State would rescue the nation by exporting Made-in-Kaduna body bags to other unfortunate countries led by blood-thirsty leaders. Being a pragmatic leader, el-Rufai’s administration could reenact the glorious years of the groundnut pyramids by bequeathing body bag pyramids to a Federal Government bereft of sound economic ideas. I support el-Rufai because nobody has accused him of being a thieving moneybags; he’s just a little man with a lion heart. No, don’t tell me lions are blood-thirsty felines, many moneybags now own lions as domestic animals. I salute the uncommon kindness of el-Rufai, who vowed to send back the corpses of murdered intruders to their respective countries in body bags. After all, decomposing and dismembered corpses dot the streets in many states of the federation today. Anyone who says el-Rufai should rather seek legal redress and not body bags should go and read the histories of short men in power.
The sin of the West is its insistence for things to be done the democratic way. Kaduna is in the North, where hand-held swords ride on rich horses galloping down the dusty road lined by impoverished citizens. Of course, Kaduna is not a state in the US or Britain or Ghana, where even the memory of the dead is accorded respect. Kaduna is the famed land of the mafias.
A non-initiate to the blood-thirstiness of Nigerian politics would say my beloved governor el-Rufai should have made his points without reference to body bags. A greenhorn would say that nothing amounted more to hate speech than the outburst of my petit governor even as some would say that hell of a statement by el-Rufai rank higher in the order of infamy when compared with former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘Election is a do-or-die affair’ ignoble statement. I didn’t bother to read the response of the PDP to the el-Rufai statement because I’m sure it would beggar commonsense and elevate name-calling. But I believe the words of the Director-General, National Task Force to Combat Illegal Importation of Small Arms, Ammunition and Light Weapons, Dr Emmanuel Okereke, who lamented on Saturday the number of illegal arms and weapons in circulation, saying: “We’re worried about this. There’re, indeed, so many illegal arms in Nigeria. Some arms were imported by politicians, including some governors…”
In Nigeria, government impunity dwarfs good conscience, talent and reason. With impunity as Nigeria’s first, middle and last names, the festering virus has laid a once thriving nation to waste. The plague has permeated every pore of the nation resulting in the clergy doling out anointing and blessings according to the pockets of the laity while frustrated citizens mete out jungle justice to suspects and the law looks on, arms akimbo.
Welcome to the ultramodern Kaduna Body Bags Factory, where the dwarf still sees the world from the view height can offer.
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