Month: September 2013
In pursuance of its campaign to eradicate malaria attack, the Ogun State Government has distributed some malaria prevention materials to selected secondary schools with boarding facilities across the State.
Speaking during the exercise held at Abeokuta Grammar School, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka reaffirmed that the State government has a zero tolerance for malaria attack and was poised to do the needful to stop its menace.
Represented by the Malaria Control Officer of the Ministry, Mrs. Olamide Adeyinka, Soyinka said 30 schools were being considered under the first phase of the exercise, revealing that 26 of such schools had already been given the materials including insecticide treated nets.
He pointed out that if properly taken care of, the insecticide treated nets could be used for as long as four years and urged the benefiting students to reciprocate government’s gesture by taking adequate care of them.
Soyinka also revealed that similar gesture would soon be extended to other secondary schools with boarding facilities, reiterating that a healthy student population remains an asset to any responsible government.
Also speaking, the Ministry’s School Health Service Co-coordinator, Mrs. Sherifat Aminu said government’s gesture was borne out of the realization that school children are the worst hit of malaria attack, saying that the programme was structured to capture as many of them as possible.
Schools that benefited from the exercise include Abeokuta Grammar School, Idi-Aba, Remo Secondary School Sagamu, Aiyetoro Grammar School and Adeola Odutola College among others.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…”
– 2 Timothy 3: 1-4 King James Version
Fellow Africans, please forgive my lamentations today. I have more than enough reasons to behave like the Biblical Jeremiah at this moment. These troubled times have compelled me to retreat into my spiritual past to seek probable reasons and possible answers to the current despair that has forebodingly engulfed us all. The world seems to be in turmoil. Even if we are yet to witness a Third World War, the world seems to be at war with itself. There’s hardly any continent totally immune from tragedies of monumental proportions. Unnecessary and preventable deaths are rife. There is nothing like taking the old and sparing the young. There are natural disasters. Famine and flooding are raging and reigning side by side. It has become too tempting to imagine and believe the world is about to come to an end, sooner rather than later.
It would be foolhardy of anyone to imagine that any part of the world is safe. There are strange things happening. Even the face of news has changed. Nothing is too vulgar to be discussed or published. Nations are getting engaged in matters that should not concern them. I used to think sexual preference was a totally personal and voluntary act. Not anymore. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are at daggers drawn. The latter have been invigorated by world leaders helping to fight for their freedom of association. I would have simply expected the matters to be handled by the courts and allow it to end there. But world leaders are now divided over satanic discussions. While the obscene debate continues, serious problems of State are inexorably ignored.
Even in Nigeria, we are spending more time arguing over child marriage and homosexuality as if we don’t have enough headaches already. Our students haven’t been to school in ages while graduates are roaming the streets in search of jobs that don’t appear to exist. In total submission to the spirit of survival, the disgruntled and disillusioned folks have turned around to become Masters of crime in a country without punishment. Nigeria has just been named the hub of scams and fraudsters in Africa. Whether we disagree or not, such is the perception of the world against us. There seems to be no light at the end of our tunnel. We have become a strange place inhabited by stranger people. I even saw an advert on television about a forthcoming “One Year of Transformation Prayers”, or something like that. My conclusion was simply that when a nation gets to this stage, the end must be close. The nature it would take is what we don’t know.
If you come from my kind of background, you’re likely to reason along with me invariably. I was privileged to have been born in the Church of the Lord, an Aladura denomination, in Obalufon, Ile-Ife, to a family of prayer warriors. My parents would later migrate to another Aladura Church, The Holy Church of Christ which was headed by the very spiritual Apostle of Christ, Baba Ayoola Akeju. My childhood days were thus steeped in some esoteric celestial fortification. We read the Bible and could recite its verses the way Muslims memorised and regurgitated the Koran. Knowing the Bible in toto was a matter of competition in the Sunday school and it came with a much coveted prize at that.
Life was different in those days. We prayed and worshipped at the slightest opportunity. We supplicated when we woke up, when we set forth in search of daily bread, before we ate, after we finished quaffing the meal (as gratitude for the provision), at the school assembly, during break time, at close of school, at dinner and before retiring to bed or mats, whichever was applicable or available. In most homes, it was impossible not to know God. There were criminals, no doubt, but they were few and far between. And we knew them within the community. Most of them were just rebellious and rascally. Civil servants and politicians lacked the audacity to pilfer wilfully or steal without limit.
Slowly but steadily, life changed, gradually and progressively. Missions became ambitions. The falcon stopped listening to the falconer. What used to be a game for the minority has since become the pastime of the majority. It has become a crime to be poor under our climate. It is a sin punishable by banishment and abandonment from family and friends. If you couldn’t beat them, you were left with no option than to join them. But something was bound to give ultimately. When the time came, we lost the essence of our beings. Our souls disappeared into rarefied air.
The journey has been long. And we’ve had to meander through the labyrinth of formal and informal education. As kids, we got enmeshed in all manner of contradictions. First was a clash of tradition against modernity. Both had a common enemy in Religion. The former was based on supposedly crude doctrines while the other was anchored on the fear of hellfire. The traditional religion united the community. The New Religions, Christianity and Islam were polarising. The conflict was amplified because of the syncretic disposition of Africans. Our people were no risk-takers and preferred to try all religions and combined whatever concoctions accompanied them. Their reason was simple, even if selfish. No African was sure of which religion would lead him to heaven or any such places. He had to play safe by joining this and that. After all, many roads always lead to the market place.
The confusion came in school as we read more books and literature in particular. A taste of Philosophy and Logic would complete my slide into sporadic cynicism and eventual obfuscation. I was a greedy and voracious reader. I had read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. And I was fastidious about my Faith. I went to a Catholic school, St. John’s Grammar School, in Oke-Atan Ile-Ife, where the fear of our Principal, Reverend Father F. Cloutier, a French Canadian, was the beginning of wisdom. His word was Law, and no soul was allowed to flout the school rules. I enjoyed the school Mass and all those songs interspersed with Latinisms. I still hum Ave Maria till this day. I was green with envy each time Catholic students and teachers received the Communion, which we were persuaded to believe to be the body and blood of Jesus. I often wondered why the privilege could not be extended to all of us, after all the owner of the body and blood never discriminated against anyone. That was the height of my wild phantasmagoria.
All that soon gave way to a new experience. We got introduced to African Writers’ Series, published in those good old days by Heinemann Books. Ile-Ife at that period paraded some of the best bookshops in Western Nigeria and this fed our appetite for literary gluttony. It should not be surprising that the ancient city produced some Deles of journalism, Dele Giwa, Dele Olojede, Dele Agekameh and yours truly.
I was endlessly fascinated that the African man was able to write better English than the original owners of the language. Most people used to think English literature was personified by William Shakespeare, Chaucer, William Butler Yeats, John Keats, Charles Dickens, Samuel Butler, and others. But Olaudah Equiano, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi, Elechi Amadi, Christopher Okigbo, Gabriel Okara, Mabel Segun, Flora Nwapa, Omolara Ogundipe-Leslie, Zulu Sofola, T. M Aluko, Chukwuemeka Ike, Amos Tutuola, Buchi Emecheta, John Munonye, Kole Omotoso, Niyi, Abubakar Gimba, Osundare, Femi Osofisan, Zaynab Alkali, and many others changed that assumption.
Then we crossed the boundaries of Nigeria to other climes and encountered George Awoonor-Williams (who later changed his name to Kofi-Awoonor), Ayi Kwei Armah (author of the stupendously famous The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born), James Ngugi (who also changed his name and is now called Ngugi wa Thiong’o), Nawal El Saadawi (the Egyptian feminist writer), Mariama Ba (Senegalese author and feminist), Nuruddin Farah (the Somali novelist), David Diop and Birago Diop (both Senegalese poets), Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize winner in literature from Egypt), Mongo Beti, Ferdinand Oyono, and Mbella Sonne Dipoko (all three from Cameroon), Okot p’Bitek (the great Ugandan poet and my former teacher at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University), David Rubadiri (the charming Malawian poet who was also my teacher at Ife), Akinwunmi Isola (my teacher, mentor and supervisor at Ife), Alex La Guma (South African novelist; I enjoyed A Walk in the Night), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1st President of Senegal, a poet of distinction and leading member of the Negritude movement) and many other great African writers. They provided great reads and perpetual inspiration.
A few writers affected and influenced me so much. In Philosophy, my all-time idol was Bertrand Russell, the British mathematician, logician, historian, social critic and literary giant who despite being a scientist was awarded the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature, in celebration of his multi-dimensional writings. His highly controversial work on religion, Why I am Not A Christian, combined with Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason nearly conspired to turn me into an atheist. As if that was not enough, the works of Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi and Awoonor convinced me Africa had its own variant of civilisation before the coming of the Whiteman. Ngugi and Awoonor were not just talkers, they were doers. Both went ahead to reject foreign names and embraced the Gikuyu and Ewe names respectively.
Ngugi even went a step further. He stopped writing in English and opted to write only in the Gikuyu language of Kenya, leaving the choice to whosoever desired to translate his writings into world languages. It was a decision that rocked and shocked the literary world. Many of his global fans were livid and seething with voluble anger. Kofi Awoonor, on the other side of West Africa, faced his own ordeal in Ghana. He was labelled an Ewe irredentist who saw nothing good in other tribes. His predicament was further compounded by his foray into politics. He was even imprisoned for possibly aiding and abetting a military officer. He was a Jerry Rawlings supporter and represented Ghana as a Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Not very long ago, he was Chairman, Ghana’s Council of State, but carried on with his academic life.
Let me now come to the climax of my sermon. I’m astonished that Kofi Awoonor, an icon of African literature, travelled last week to Ngugi’s Kenya to participate in a literary festival but he never returned to his country alive. He was hacked down in a haze of bullets by terrorists who stormed the Westgate Mall, in Nairobi, while he was visiting with his last son, Afetsi, who managed to escape with bullet wounds.
At 78, Professor Awoonor was full of life. The last time I saw him two years ago, he was very handsome, agile and spritely. He was happy to meet a Presidential candidate who was a great lover of literature. I had read his most celebrated work, This Earth, My Brother, several times over. Little did I realise his mission on earth would end so abruptly.
In the next few days, he would be cremated, at his request, and have the ashes sprinkled, perhaps over his Eweland. As if waiting for death, he had meticulously prepared his own funeral to the minute details.
An elephant has fallen and all Africa can do is to mourn. The King has gone on a journey into eternity. Even the oracle must die and leave behind his bags of divination. That is the fate of Kofi Awoonor.
Life is indeed an irony and a jigsaw.
My Condolence To the Adedayos
It has been a week of tragedies. If you live in Lagos, you must be very familiar with the fast food conglomerate, Tastee Fried Chicken, owned by the superbly successful couple, Mr & Mrs Kunle Adedayo.
The sad news is they lost their only child, Mr Bunmi Adedayo, an Executive Director of their family business, to the cold hands of death, just days ago.
To say the least, I was totally shattered by the terrible news. Bunmi was one fine gentleman, hardworking and respectful. We met on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London the other day and he came over to my seat to say hello. I didn’t realise it was a final goodbye.
I pray God consoles his parents, young wife and very young kids.
Good night, Bunmi. Rest in perfect peace.
Fellow Nigerians, you will all agree with me that the only business of politicians in Nigeria is about winning elections, by hook and by crook, in order to settle down pretty to the business of unprecedented looting and wasting of the people’s commonwealth and resources. The biggest scam in the land is the unproductive governance that makes it possible for a certified and certificated pauper of yesterday to gain instant access to power and wealth as soon as he wins or rigs himself into office. This is why elections have become matters of life and death in Nigeria and nothing is spared in the process. Everything imaginable is thrown into the ring and we’ve been regaled with stories of all manner of stunts by office-seekers and power-grabbers. One would not have worried much if all the hullaballoo was about making the lives of the citizens better and bearable but it is far from it.
The sad reality is that no political party has been totally immune from the brigandage that has clearly taken over and engulfed our political existence. Human lives have become meaningless and without value in our nation. We don’t know at what stage Lucifer crept in like a thief in the night and took total possession of our affairs. Politics is no longer a game for the weak or faint-hearted. You have to know how to do it the way they’ve always done it or get kicked out of the race. The stakes are too high while the rewards are equally stupendous.
It cannot be otherwise and I will explain momentarily. It is about the fight for the control of Nigeria’s Black Gold in the form of oil and gas which is practically at the jugular of our precarious economy. Raw cash is at the heart of the matter as well as unparalleled power of life and death. It is unlikely that any politician in the world enjoys the type of privileges available and accruable to a Nigerian politician. There is no bigger goldmine anywhere on the surface of this earth and this not an exaggeration. The politician and his cronies can get away with almost everything effortlessly. To attain power is to obtain an automatic license to mint money and acquire unbelievable wealth.
As I write this, I’m watching a report on BBC World and what is termed Nigeria’s Criminal Crude, an intricate web of collusion and conspiracy from the lowest to the highest levels by roguish gangs involved in the massive stealing and humongous appropriation of our vast crude deposits. This obviously lucrative occupation is apparently oiled with the actual and active collaboration of very powerful forces that are able to offer adequate protection to these daredevil rings of accomplished plunderers. The criminality is as intricate as nuclear science and may not be easily decipherable to the ordinary man who’s not versed in the art of incredible deception.
It is estimated that oil theft in Nigeria has reached the unimaginable mark of between 100-400,000 barrels per day with no hope of it abating in the foreseeable future. Even official figures of what is lifted, processed, refined, sold and/or reimported are disfigured with no one being able to render appropriate accounts with mathematical accuracy. Depending on who you talk to, you are most likely going to get as many illogical answers to as many incongruous questions you ask about the state of affairs in the oil sector.
The scandalous subsidy regimes in which trillions of naira evaporated and vamoosed into thin air have produced neither scapegoats nor reliefs. There were no reasonable and tenable explanations offered even if they were badly sought and needed. It was as if it was such a normal occurrence everywhere that demanded no plausible clarification from those saddled with such superlative responsibilities. What makes it even more horrendous and worrisome is that the government at the centre is majorly controlled by a son of the soil, who would have been expected to jealously protect the huge mineral deposits it has pleased God to bestow on the Niger Delta region, as well as undertake the most aggressive developmental projects ever known to these parts of the world. Unfortunately that has not been the case.
This is why I find the cries of those fighting for the South-South zone to retain presidential power in 2015 very unpatriotic. I won’t get tired of saying my preference is for the best candidates to emerge from any part of Nigeria. Even if it were possible to employ a surrogate President to lead us from any part of the world I won’t mind. Nigeria has reached that comatose and terminal stage that we urgently need to get serious about seeking comprehensive surgery. Those who cannot see or feel the necessity for a complete overhaul of this debilitating system are those benefitting from this peculiar mess. It is unfathomable how some Nigerians think we can sustain this cycle of madness perpetually without suffering a cataclysmic fall sooner than later. They are those who take elections as mere rituals and rites of passage into eternal paradise on earth.
For those in that school, no manifestos are needed to sell the policies of political parties to the electorates and no ideology is necessary as the Bible of governance between the government and the governed. Those days are gone, probably forever, except something drastic takes place to shock us out of our present state of inertia, when we knew the difference between the Unity Party of Nigeria and the National Party of Nigeria. We are not likely to witness a very robust and cerebral debate that separated an Abiola from a Tofa before the June 12 1993 Presidential election. It is such a tragedy of monumental proportions because once upon a time even students union elections were won by eloquent and not delinquent debaters.
Where do we go from here? The solution is not too difficult to find and actualise. Nigerians must insist on a much thorough electoral procedure when next the politicians come knocking. The reasonably educated voters must go all out to educate those who may wish to waste their votes as usual. We must demand a comprehensive elucidation of what the candidates have to offer the hapless voters. A nation without ideology and principle of governance is ostensibly doomed. This theoretical platform is the plank on which the soul of government itself rests. It must be noted that it is not possible for government to know and do everything or tackle all problems. But it must strive to identify the few cogent areas that must be handled with total passion and commitment.
We are not likely to find saints in politics today but we must seek out as many performers as possible. The task of rebuilding Nigeria can best be handled by those who had shown sufficient promise and action in their previous engagements. A country as impoverished and problematic as Nigeria is in dire need of accomplished fixers. We have them in all the parties but this time around they must assemble themselves in a new political configuration. We must change the way things have been done in the past that led us to nothing but unmitigated disaster.
Social welfare must be seriously considered. The level of poverty and mass unemployment has made this absolutely imperative. The new political leaders that will emerge out of the present rubbles of total confusion must give a new commitment to the people. The first thing they must do is about how to reduce the atrocious cost of running government in Nigeria. It has become too extravagant and unsustainable. If something drastic is not done about this, I’m very certain that the country will witness an unprecedented conflagration one of these days. Just like we warned about the implosion that is currently ravaging the People’s Democratic Party and we were scorned at as prophets of doom, we are predicting a major explosion in the country if this present drift is not speedily arrested. The new leadership must demonstrate a willingness to share in the plight of the people by visibly reducing their outlandish propensity for spending money strictly on their class while the rest of the people live below poverty lines.
No nation has ever developed with a credit system. The emerging leadership must display a fresh understanding of how to fight endemic corruption. Those people who are thinking that only certain incorruptible leaders can wage the war against corruption and indiscipline have missed the point. Corruption in Nigeria, like in most parts of the world, is largely systemic. It is not limited or restricted to those in government alone. Its root cause is traceable to the pressure on everyone to operate under a cash and carry regime. This makes it impossible for most people to survive on their regular incomes without subscribing and succumbing to self-help and sharp practices. Our economy therefore must be restructured in such a way that citizens would be less dependent on a system that forces them to live perpetually in fear of how to raise instant cash for everything whether they can afford it or not.
Education naturally is the key that can unlock the door to the future. Our future leaders must tell us how they want our youths to catch up with the rest of the world in the academics. We cannot continue to churn out half-baked illiterates with worthless certificates. An embargo must be placed on creating more institutions when the existing ones are hardly viable. We must explore the possibilities of merging some of the schools for better and effective management. If we fail to improve on the quality of our graduates we shall ultimately end up with not just the unemployed youths but a mass of unemployable ones as well. Of course, we can imagine the spiralling negative effect that will have in the area of security of lives and property.
On a departing note today, job and wealth creation must be deliberately and assiduously worked out. A certain percentage of our annual budget must be committed to providing opportunities for some of our brightest minds in all fields of human endeavour. A drastic reduction in the salaries and emoluments of public servants and political actors will certainly go a long way. It is a sacrifice that must be made or we stand to risk a future of total collapse of our society through the handiwork of people without hope or help. If we can find enough resources to fund our leaders’ unnecessary flights of fancy, it must be possible to substantially alleviate the general poverty and misery in the land through genuine commitment.
Before the next elections arrive, we must settle some of these issues or return to our state of hopelessness. God save Nigeria.
Culled from: Thisday Newspaper
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The Olokola free trade zone will hit the ground running in few weeks’ time as the government of Ogun State has been working tirelessly to harness the socio-economic potential of the deep sea port.
The State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun disclosed this when he played host to the Ogun State Elder Consultative Forum in his Office. He further assured that recreation centre will be established for the elderly in major towns in the State.
As a government that accords so much respect to the elders, the state government took a break from usual Monday State Executive Council meeting to receive the accredited representatives of the Ogun State Elder’s Consultative Forum.
Inaugurated on the 9th October, 2005, the forum comprises of a broad spectrum of the state’s high-level intellectuals and accomplished senior citizens. The membership is selected from every division of the state. Members are invited on their individual integrity and record of service to Ogun State and the nation in all fields of human endeavour.
Expectedly, they accessed the activities of the government in the last over two years, just as they gave some suggestion to fast track the Rebuilding Mission. Ogun State Governor, who was happy to receive the elders pointed out the plans of the state government for the older citizens across the State.
On Olokola Free Trade Zone, he stressed that what his government has done on the project in just over two years of his administration surpasses what has so far been done since the commencement of the project.
He speaks further on the infrastructure, that the best is yet to come. He sued for prayers, cooperation and support of the elderly and the people of the state in general.
It has come to the knowledge of the Nigeria Police Authorities that many young and able-bodied Nigerian Youths desirous of enlisting into the Nigeria Police Force are being hoodwinked by fraudsters into believing that the Force is currently engaged in recruitment/enlistment exercise.
It has therefore become necessary to inform members of the public that no recruitment/enlistment exercise is taking place now at the Force Headquarters or at any of our institutions, Commands and Formations.
However, the Force will duly inform the general public whenever it intends to recruit/enlist personnel through appropriate channels, including public advertisements in the media.
The Public is therefore advised not to fall victim, by making monetary payments or any other consideration to fraudsters masquerading as agents of the Police. The public is further advised to feel free to contact the Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) in their State of residence or the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) nearest to them when ever in doubt on all issues relating to recruitment and other policing matters
Your Excellency, I’m compelled to write you again today since I don’t have any other form of access to deliver this to you. I’m also not sure you read the other open letters I have written to you, especially ‘My Kobo Advise to Mr President’. If you did I hope that you digested the content and pondered on them as I expected you would. My doubts are due to your continued actions.
You must be wondering why I have chosen the present title. The reason is not far-fetched. Since my Kobo advice seems not to have resonated with you and your aides, and our budgets are now quoted in trillions, this title is ostensibly symbolic and truly emblematic of our latest craze and propensity for mentioning figures that most calculators won’t be able to evaluate.
The decision to write this latest epistle was reached after watching the bizarre movie that was acted by your fellow party men and produced by very senior directors of your seemingly formidable political organisation. Let me confess that no scriptwriter would have visualised such melodrama on any regular day. If anyone had ever suggested that such a humiliating scenario would occur we would have dismissed it as a product of a cruel imagination or lunacy. But we saw this one before our very eyes and became stupefied to say the least.
Let me assure you, Sir that it is in the nature of politics and politicians for such brickbats to occur. We must thank God for little mercies because we are lucky in these parts that citizens don’t pelt their leaders with rotten eggs and juicy tomatoes. You would remember that someone once threw shoes, javelin-like, at President George Bush during a Press conference and his face could have been badly bruised and readily bloodied but for the fact that his reflexes were superbly efficient and automatically responsive.
It is for this reason that I wish you can put the matter behind you as quickly as possible and forgive even if you cannot forget. It is sad that you apparently did not envisage the tragedy that was going to befall your party and tear your members asunder. Those of us on the side-lines knew it was a matter of time before the implosion would ignite and ricochet across the land like an Iraqi bomb. The collapse of a party that had held Nigeria by the jugular for the past 14 years was destined to carry some collateral damage with it.
If you and your aides were politically savvy, you probably would have managed the situation better. And if the truth must be told, most of strategists you parade are nothing but tyros who know little or nothing about the complexities that make up Nigeria. They sit in their gilded cage of Aso Rock and forget you are inhabitants of the place today through the sheer trickery of providence and convoluted collaboration of godfathers.
If your kitchen cabinet understood the rudiments of politics, they would have hopefully averted this monumental disaster by avoiding a war they were bound to lose before it even started. They allowed you to be messed up and tossed around due to their gross incompetence and pomposity. Your rabid supporters are behaving like the peacock or to be more precise like the soldiers of fortune that most political jobbers are often are in Nigeria. Pity is they still can see the handwriting on the wall nor decipher the code of grand conspiracy that is so palpable. They are gloating all over the place and deluding themselves about the power of life and death which you wield as the Nigerian President. But a power misused is a power wasted. Reality is not all wars are won through the use of force or violence.
I will now go ahead to highlight some of the terminal mistakes made by your embattled camp and juxtapose with what I consider to be the practical solutions to these humongous problems. Whether we like former President Olusegun Obasanjo or not he’s a man who truly believes in the unity of Nigeria. I cannot but be very charitable to him on this occasion. As a man who played a crucial role during the Nigerian civil war, I believe this has made him permanently paranoid and terminally neurotic about the likelihood of Nigeria ever breaking up in his lifetime or even thereafter. Obasanjo was therefore the one man God used to make it possible for an Ijawman to ultimately become the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
It is no longer relevant or important to us if Obasanjo did what he did genuinely out of love for the so-called minorities to have a chance or for very personal and selfish reasons. Even if his decision to install as President and Vice President a sickly Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and a taciturn Dr Goodluck Jonathan is turning dangerously pyrrhic, credit must still go to Baba Iyabo that he fulfilled all righteousness by handing power to you through the backdoor, thus empowering you to grab the chicken that lays the golden eggs that we all savour today. The essence of this unusual but objective hagiography on Obasanjo today is that you should have done everything humanly possible to tolerate and accommodate his human foibles and overt idiosyncrasies.
The costliest mistake you ever made was to have allowed your relationship with a veteran of many wars to degenerate to the level fisticuffs or what the Yoruba call ‘roforofo’. It is a battle you can’t afford to fight because you have no chance of winning it at the end of the day. Please try and tell those illusionists who typically swarm around the corridors of power like locusts that if they have forgotten how God brought you to the pinnacle of the temple, your memory and gratitude are intact. And that you will never encourage Lucifer to send you on a kamikaze dive.
The second mistake was the manner your acolytes exposed your second term bid prematurely. It was totally unnecessary. As an African, you must be aware of the adage that a wise man always keeps the name of his impending baby to himself until after his wife delivers. The manner they’ve been threatening hellfire and brimstone if you don’t secure a second term has been very rude, crude and outlandishly provocative. No Jupiter can stop you from running if you so desire and eventually decide to try your luck again. It is true that you promised to serve only one term but it is still entirely your privilege and prerogative to change your mind. That can’t be a crime because we all do it most of the time. It is also your Constitutional right and you should not have been lured into dissipating some badly-needed energy on useless rigmarole and semantics.
Sir, if I were you I would have concentrated rigidly and passionately on delivering the dividends of democracy by making life better for the generality of Nigerians. Your greatest armour against real and imagined enemies is performance. If you can make conscious effort to curb the wasteful ostentation and the obsession for pomp and pageantry ascribed to your office I’m certain even your vociferous critics would become your assiduous fanatics. What you have advertently done by abandoning governance on the altar of pecuniary politics is to allow your common enemies to gang-up and have enough time to mobilise their war-chest, assemble their arsenal and fire their long-range missiles.
The third mistake is the commonest in all wars known to mankind. You opened up your flanks by fighting too many people on too many fronts. Only a poor General does that. In the haste to crush the rebellion of some of your former foot-soldiers as well as your implacable enemies, you got sucked in because you were stupendously engaged in too many directions. This was bound to take its toll on you and your combatants. Coupled with that was the obvious fact that you underrated your opponents. That is usually a regrettable strategy in guerrilla warfare.
It should have been clear to you that you had to employ a new, even if temporary, modus operandi once the Governors loyal to you were soundly and roundly beaten by the Amaechi supporters. If I were you Sir, I would have made a tactical withdrawal by sticking to the lie that I knew nothing about the Nigeria Governors Forum crisis and maintain my straight poker face. I would have reassessed the efficacy of those who sold the dummy that all was well but could not deliver the goods after fallen jejunely for the scam of collecting some fake signatures. What I expected you to do was to accept the temporary defeat with equanimity and invite Rotimi Amaechi into a room and embrace him warts and all. You seemed to have done this at Port Harcourt Airport and expected you build on that window of opportunity. I was one of those who saluted your statesmanship on that occasion but was sorely disappointed when you allowed the opportunists to send you back to the trenches.
I still don’t know who subsequently persuaded you to fall for the self-immolating decision to continue to recognise the Jang faction when it was obvious the man lost the election fair and square. That was the moment you lost all moral authority and rights by allowing some political adventurers to drag you down the depths of their abject pettiness. You should have borrowed a leaf from Obasanjo’s experience with the once powerful Atiku Abubakar who controlled the Governors and practically brought the former President on his knees begging for support. As a veteran soldier, Obasanjo was sufficiently trained in the art and science of tactical retreat. The crafty General knows that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.
The example of Obasanjo’s strategic cowardice was very instructive and opulently didactic. As he told everyone who cared to listen: what Atiku did was tantamount to pulling out a loaded gun and pointing it at his head. He knew it was no use arguing with a man who could pull the trigger in a mere matter of seconds. The only option left was to use the power of native intelligence and foxiness by persuading the man not to commit premeditated murder. Once Atiku made the error of pitying his supposed prey and showing mercy, he became a dead man walking himself. Same goes for James Ibori who walked into a similar trap.
Sir, though your case is slightly different it still bears some resemblance to that of Obasanjo. Your infantry men wasted all your bullets without catching an antelope not to talk of capturing elephants, the king of the forests. You should have wooed Amaechi to your side at all cost because he was apparently equal to all your own combined forces. A hunter should always be proud of a brave son. You can do with a few guys like that in the days of tribulation. It is noteworthy that Governors control their states. How do you hope to secure your second term ambition if you control less than half of the states in the country? What is more, Amaechi is capable of delivering one of the largest votes to you from Rivers State or conversely waste most of it if he decides to be vengeful.
Finally, I wish to assure you Sir that it is not an act of timidity to seek peace and tranquillity in a country where everything seems to be going haywire. Whosoever tells you to unleash terror and mayhem on your enemies is not a true friend. Elections are won as a game of figures. The candidate who is able to attract the largest number of voters becomes electable. Rigging may never work like it used to due to several developments in the world. The New Media, otherwise known as Social Media, is breaking down walls of intimidation and oppression. Telephony and the internet combined have become more lethal than most conventional weapons. At the touch of buttons, many wonders can instantly unfold and make it possible to monitor occurrences in distant places. There is also the human factor, like the case of that Kwara man who rejected the fake election that awarded him victory when he knew in his heart that he lost. Mass education is beginning to change how we do many things even if slowly.
Your best bet is to stay on the path of honour, peace, equity, justice and unimpeachable truth. God has been too kind to you. Even if you return to your village today, you have enjoyed what no one has ever attained before which is being permanently in power and high positions since coming into relevance and prominence from relative obscurity. There is nothing more to add. If you work harder on a few of the content of your Transformation Agenda, you may easily end up as a hero. Getting a second term if you stay lucky will then be icing on your national cake. You don’t need all this stress and blackmail in the name of seeking what is not necessarily glorious. I read somewhere that a man is powerful when he controls power and powerless when power controls him. The choice is yours.
Sir, permit me to conclude with a powerful Yoruba proverb: when we are praying not to be put to shame but the prayer is not instantly answered we should start praying that God should at least keep us alive.
This is my story. This is my song.
Culled from Thisday Newspapers