Friday, January 2, 2009


“Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."- Eugene V. Debs

Today, instead of commentary on commentaries, I will try and pick the best of 2008 political columns from Nigeria about Nigeria. I am sure many of the readers here do not agree with my picks so I urge you to send your own picks to me and I will try and include as many of your picks in the column next year. Send your picks to

Sonala Olumhense: Number one on my list of course is perhaps the most widely read online Nigeria political column titled “Keep Sahara Reporters Alive.” In it, Sonala Olumhense, acknowledged and praised the arrival of citizen journalism in Nigeria and deflected the attack on it by agents of the status quo. Let me quote him:
“I am a student of good journalism. Good journalism empowers. Good journalism
builds. Good journalism is the only foundation on which the democratic state can
flourish. But good journalism is difficult journalism. Good journalism must hunt
down the facts, as inconvenient as they might be. The more important the facts,
the more difficult they are to hunt down. Still, the difficulty of obtaining
information or ensuring the accuracy information does not diminish the burden of
responsibility on the journalist. That, of course, is the ideal. The dwindling
quality of Nigerian journalism in recent times is stark proof of how difficult
this standard is to meet. Our journalism thrives—sadly— on commentary, not
reporting. Nigeria has 130 million columnists; our only limitation is editorial
space. In recent times, the Internet has permitted the arrival of Citizen
Journalism as an important genre in this trade.”

Mohammed Haruna: Let me confess that I was tempted to pick Mohammed titanic battle with Dr. Olatunji Dare but instead I picked this piece titled “Between God, Obasanjo, Yarádua And The Rest Of Us.” The article was published onlineI want the reader to judge if Mohammed is right or wrong:
“As with his Third Term agenda, Obasanjo’s attempt at playing God by imposing
someone of doubtful health and another with a question mark over his integrity
on Nigerians as president and vice-president may yet come back to haunt him.
Already, he is known to have complained about Yaradua’s reversal of several of
his policies. Who knows, he may eventually overcome his infirmity and live long
enough to completely dismantle his benefactor’s obnoxious legacy… In the
meantime the rest of us should learn at least one big lesson of the predicament
Obasanjo has plunged us into by imposing a dubious presidency on the country.
And this is simply that if it ain’t broke, as the American’s would say, don’t
try to fix it. This policy of power rotation that has since become a convention
of our politics was a foolish attempt at fixing a system that was not as broke
as we imagined. In any case, the policy is patently undemocratic, even
anti-democracy. God may be the final word in whatever we plan or do but He gave
us the faculty to distinguish between right and wrong. In other words we owe
ourselves to do our own bit before we leave the rest to Him.”
Okey Ndibe: I am also tempted to pick virtually all of his columns this year, principally because he writes with clarity, and panache. He is always a joy to read any day. In this piece titled “A motion against moving forward” he captured the subjugation of Nigeria by its politician in a more poignant way. Hear him:
“The statement about carrying along all stakeholders is just as hollow and
dangerous. It implies that Nigeria does not belong to all its citizens, but to a
small clique of alleged stakeholders. Pry further and it becomes clear that the
so-called stakeholders are men and women who have privatized the nation’s
treasury. They are, in other words, men and women whose stake—if Nigeria were a
polity founded on observance of the law—should be in jails. Nigerians appear in
danger of being sold another toxic deal in the alleged name of moving the nation
forward. Over the last three weeks, I’ve been told by several sources that a
quiet discussion was going on among “stakeholders” to solidify a consensus on
Nigeria’s contentious 2007 presidential election. And, according to these
sources, the emerging consensus is for the presidential electoral tribunal to
affirm the legitimacy of Umar Yar’Adua’s “election” as president.”

Kole Omotosho: My final pick is titled “The Care of Times” published by The News Magazine on December 9, 2008. Here Professor Kole Omotosho explores the relationships between African tyrants and the resigned stagnation of their subjugated citizenry. Hear him:
“What is clear from all these examples is that, yes, time takes care of these
monsters but it is usually not without the help of some human hand, some human
push. Times change. There was the end of the cold war that made the type of
yo-yoing between East and West as exemplified by Siad Barre impossible. Perhaps
the price of commodities will fall to such an extent that they become dirt cheap
and those who own them, especially oil, would no longer command instant and
uncritical respect.”
There you go folks, those are my picks, what are yours? Please note that in making your picks you are allowed to pick those political columns that are not readily available online. Email your own picks including, author, dates of publication and publishers to

Happy holidays