By Dele Sobowale
“You’ve had your share of drinks and mirth; its time to think; it’s time to go”.
“The present officers of the House of Representatives should remain in their respective positions for two years, up to June 5, 2013 when the Party policy programme and decision of zoning [emphasis mine] to the Southwest should be implemented”.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman BOT of PDP, July 26, 2011.
This article could have been titled “SECOND CHILDISHNESS SETS IN” and it would still be apt. Baba Iyabo who claims to be 76, but whose son, Gbenga, had also told us that “my father does not know his real age” and who on top of that parades two birthdays, is in “The last scene of all,/That ends this [his] strange eventful history,/ [Which] is second childishness and mere oblivion,/ Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything”.
(William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 in AS YOU LIKE IT. Certainly, this was one of our favourites of all the plays of William Shakespeare in the days when schools still taught anything. And few of us will ever forget the quotation above about the stages of human life. Unfortunately, some individuals, like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, don’t know when to quit the stage – until they are thrown off the platform.
Such individuals labour under the delusion that they are indispensable; forgetting the admonition by General Charles De Gaulle of France that, “The graveyards are full of indispensable people”.(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 102).
When Mandela stepped down, after just one term (and here was a man who could have asked for twenty terms and got them), he also resigned from active politics and became the father of his nation. Clinton, Bush, Tony Blair, Kufur (to mention a few) have served as their nation’s head of government and they have gone home and stopped meddling in party affairs. Not, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Permit me to make some digressions (just for laughs and illumination) because, invariably, someone will send me a text message asking me to leave OBJ alone; after all the man left office in 2007.
Those who hold to that puerile position would be well advised to ask Obasanjo to leave the political arena – before he gets thrown out unceremoniously. Tortoise was the favourite animal in Yoruba folklore, cunning rather than wise, he was always full of schemes heavily laden with hidden selfish agenda. One of the stories told to me, on the knees of a greatly loving grandmother, Madam Onikepo Agbe-Davies (nee Olukolu), had it that the tortoise was asked the same question each time he was going out.
“When can we expect you back?” And he gave the same answer, ”When I have thoroughly disgraced myself”. Similarly, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I used to go night crawling in bars and night clubs in the COMBAT ZONE of Boston, USA, with my friend Kowalski, who left the world with the immortal words “There is no dispute which a punch in the nose cannot fix”,
I learnt then that there were some drinkers, who, whether attending parties or patronizing bars, would not leave until they are virtually thrown out. For those, bouncers were hired by the various joints in downtown Boston to throw them out at 2 a.m still pleading “Give me another drink! I want another drink, damn it!”.
Obasanjo is gradually approaching the stage when the PDP will either throw him out themselves or hire “bouncers” to do so. Area boys are available for duty in that event”. This man just “gotta go!!”. But before his fans develop hypertension, let me give the reasons – apart from the examples of other former leaders given above. It will be a short but useful history demonstrating how an old tortoise can easily become a public nuisance.
Back in 2007, when late President Yar’Adua fainted during a campaign outing and was hastily flown out of the country, everyone would remember the theatrical phone call by Obasanjo to Yar’Adua, who was rumoured to have died, “Umoru, are you dead?” Quite clearly, only Baba Sala, or Samanja, Zebrudaya, or some such comedian, would have expected that the person who answered his call was taking the call from the grave. But, behind that piece of buffoonery was a more sinister detail.
Yar’Adua’s terminal illness was already confirmed. Indeed, only all the money which an oil-producing country can muster kept him alive for much longer until all human ingenuity had to succumb to overpowering providence. The fact that “Umoru” was miraculously pulled back from death’s door, before the 2007 elections, was known to those in charge of our fate at the time. Like the political vultures that they are, they were waiting for two things.
First, that the man would not die before the “selection” of 2007. And, second, once he died, to pounce quickly and vitiate the zoning policy of the party, which the founding fathers, in the absence of Obasanjo and Jonathan, had put in place to ensure that every zone of Nigeria eventually produced a President.
The tortoise-like cunning, masquerading as wisdom, revealed itself when, within hours after Yar’Adua’s death was announced, Obasanjo was thundering “Jonathan, you must run; don’t tell me you won’t run!!”. As a former President and two-times Head of State, OBJ knows better than anyone the enormous power of incumbency in Africa. Even, Jonathan, a novice to power, should have, within a few weeks of acting, begun to appreciate the tremendous power potentials of the presidency.
However, as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BOT, of the PDP, which is the custodian of the party’s “soul”, so to speak, Obasanjo should have known (and I believe did know) that a novel and unforeseen event has occurred, calling for a re-examination of the basic zoning policy of the party. As the Chairman BOT, he was/is the Chief Justice, his, the court of last resort for the party.
Obasanjo’s unfortunate pre-emptive utterances, and his statement to the BOT, partly quoted above, conclusively proving the point, was the beginning of the predicament in which the PDP and, perhaps, the nation finds itself today. The reader can imagine a situation where a matter subject to litigation occurs, and even before the initial briefs are filed in the lower court, the Chief Justice had already delivered a ruling in favour of one of the parties!!!
A wiser and well-meaning Chairman of the BOT would have quietly, waited and gone about to achieve a consensus, or at least an overwhelming majority, for Jonathan without publicly uttering a word. Unfortunately, Jonathan, the receiver of the poisoned chalice, did not realize, perhaps until now, the diabolical motives of his “benefactor”. If he had, perhaps, he too would have acted differently. Now, he is faced with more monster problems, each threatening to tear this nation apart, than any Head of State in our history.
It was no surprise to me that Obasanjo’s proposal was unanimously turned down; and according to reports, it was also decided that it should not be included in the day’s proceedings. A sounder slap in the face has never been delivered to a Chairman who has lost all credibility among the Board members. Only senility and the imbecility that frequently come with advancing age could have prevented Obasanjo from knowing in advance that such fate awaited him on that fateful day.
Virtually all the Northern members of the BOT represent the “old guard” – the people who were there at the creation of PDP before Obasanjo crawled in. Even the silent ones among them still resent the manner the party’s zoning policy was set aside. They are in the majority. Among Southerners, two, at least, would never support Obasanjo after the way he dealt with them when he had absolute power.
Chief Tony Anenih, a former Chairman of BOT, faithful ally of OBJ, was thrown off the seat in a contemptuous manner he would never forget or forgive was one. The second, my great senior brother, mentor and friend, Obong Victor Attah from whom Obasanjo seized 172 oil wells and returned 86 which Rivers State again wants to snatch (MORE ON THE OIL WELLS LATER)….