Against the Run of Play: This is a Review, or Maybe Not

So I read Segun Adeniyi’s Against the Run of Play. It is a project I waited keenly on. And it was in no small measure influenced by my emotional connection to the 2015 Presidential election, a connection I believe a vast majority of the people above and below the Niger also had. This is a review, or maybe not.

Segun’s book opens to the very rigorous, intellectually stimulating, and ideologically compact bickering that goes into the selection process which eventually produces presidential candidates, and by extension, Nigeria’s Presidents. So foolproof and honest is it, that it can be summarised in two words; Tribe and Religion. Segun might not have thought it that way, but the first few chapters bared the time, energy and resources that is invested in deciding on who governs the country, and nowhere is competency considered. This process is the reason why the product Jonathan could not be firm on issues that involved the likes of Abba Moro, Stella Oduah, Diezani, Patience Jonathan and other powerful and influential people within his government whose actions/inaction/utterances at a point or the other dealt major blows to his tenure. It is this same process that will ensure that Buhari will not be firm with Babachair Lawal and the many others who have gotten involved in acts that demand grave consequences. It is this same process that is preparing Osinbajo in the background, should President Buhari become too ill to continue. And if or when that happens, second guessing the outcome or expecting something entirely different will be very, very, Nigerian.

Since the book was entirely about how Goodluck Jonathan was removed from office, I paid rapt attention to sections and paragraphs that had his side of the story. Unfortunately, he spent the time blaming everyone, but himself, the commander in chief of the armed forces during his term. That is an astonishingly high level of weakness; to not be able to take responsibility for your own actions; publicly endorsed actions or tacitly endorsed actions. Like Charles De Gaulle said “Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.” Goodluck Jonathan lacked character when it mattered the most, and it pains me to admit that by so doing, he was a disappointment. Maybe he would have been better or done better if the process that brought him in was different. Maybe everyone who occupied that office would have e acted differently if the process that brought them all in was different. Maybe he would have been much worse. Who knows right?

The handling of the Boko Haram crises was one that did more than pique my interest. It not only showed why Boko Haram festered, but also why something bigger will arise. One thing that caught my attention in all of these, apart from how ineffective Jonathan was in handling the crises, and the religious and ethnic dimensions that was selfishly brought into it by the PDP and the APC, is how El Rufai went from pushing for a Christian--Pastor Tunde Bakare--to be Buhari’s running mate, to putting up inciting comments and posts about Christians being behind Boko Haram. It is now so, more pertinent, to note that El Rufai, who played a major part in pushing some of the most inciting narratives about the cause and root of the Boko Haram problem in the run up to that election, now presides over a state that has seen a spike in the killing of ethnic and Christian minorities in Southern Kaduna. It is this same process/cycle that has influenced the recent push of the very dangerous narrative up North that President Buhari might have been poisoned. But let me not deviate.

Last but not the least is the typical Nigerian inconsistency and hypocrisy that was put to the fore. It could be seen in President Buhari’s response when hundreds of innocent Nigerians, including corpers, were killed after he lost the 2011 Presidential Election, and his comments during the run up to the 2015 elections when police officers were killed by members of the Ombatse cult as quoted in the book: “The SSS boss or whoever that said he has left everything to God has no right to do that. Constitutionally, Nigerians can practice any religion they want or even if they don’t want, they can be atheist or anything they want to be, that is constitutional. But nobody should hurt a citizen of Nigeria and then get away with it, not to talk of slaughtering at least 56 law enforcement agents and then somebody coming out from the system to say such a thing. It is either that person doesn’t know what he was talking about or he shouldn’t even be there.” Fast forward two years to when the Nigerian army shot and killed over 300 shi’ites in Kaduna, and the outrage by a President Buhari is at best minimal. The biggest hypocritical act carried out in the book, unfortunately was from the author himself. Being that he did not mince words in his depiction and description of former President Goodluck Jonathan in his book, it was a tad bit disappointing that two years into a Buhari government that has seen a padded budget, a missing budget, an economic recession, the killing of hundreds of shi’ites and IPOB sympathizers by the Nigerian army, herdsmen killings, suppression of the press and free speech, illegal detentions, total disregard for court orders, trillions of Naira in amassed debt, a padded 2017 budget, the bombing of an IDP camp by our own airforce, the IDP grass cutting scandal, the CBN recruitment scandal, the FIRS recruitment scandal, and an all round economic hardship on the populace with no capital project to show, this was all Segun Adeniyi had to say: Unfortunately, almost two years after the election, ill-health now seems to be defining the Buhari presidency. According to Segun Adeniyi, it is ill-health that is defining the Buhari Presidency and not the numerous issues mentioned above.

I did not set out to give a review of Segun Adeniyi’s Against the Run of Play. What I have done is to simply put down my observations and deductions from the scenes played out in his book. It is a book I will recommend, not because I agree or disagree with its contents, but because in a country where history is seldom documented, and where the main characters in the 2015 Presidential election have all passed the life expectancy of the average Nigerian which stands at 54 years, we might never have another widely researched account.

It is telling, that all who were interviewed in the course of this book did so not from a cell in Kirikiri, Kuje or the Port Harcourt prison; all of which have housed more honorable men, and ended the lives of many others. It is saddening to say the least, but that does not seem to matter anymore, as the play has resumed.

I am on Twitter @Saatah