By Donu Kogbara
EX-PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, are at it again. These two grand old men have been at each others’ throats for years; and it doesn’t look as if their colourful verbal battles will end anytime soon.
Last week, my colleague Emmanuel Aziken, Vanguard’s Political Editor, wrote about their most recent war of words – which revolves around “My Watch”, Obasanjo’s controversial new autobiographical trilogy (it’s the subject of legal action, so not yet widely available). Excerpts from Aziken’s report:
Soyinka gave a rebuttal to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest book…describing it as a narrative by a career liar always determined to crookedly project himself above his true standing among men.
Affirming his general detestation of such men, Soyinka said the Obasanjo brand was compounded by the inclination of even foisting the lies on members of the younger generation.
Obasanjo had in his book flayed Soyinka as a self serving critic who he said always sought to shine out among men claiming, that the Nobel Laureate is a “misfit as a political analyst, commentator or critic.”
He had written “For Wole, no one can be good, nor can anything be spot-on politically except that which emanates from him or is ordained by him.”
Continuing his assessment of Soyinka, Obasanjo said: “He is surely a better wine connoisseur and a more successful “aparo” (guinea fowl) hunter than a political critic…,” adding “I take him seriously on almost all issues except on the political particularly Nigerian politics.”
Replying, in a treatise, titled Watch and Pray, Watch and Prey, Soyinka said: “I had fully attuned myself to the fact that our Owu retiree soldier and prolific author is an infliction that those of us who share the same era and nation space must learn to endure. However, it does appear that there is no end to this individual’s capacity for infantile mischief, and for needless, mind-boggling provocations, such as his recent ‘literary’ intrusion on my peace.
Perhaps I ought to interrupt myself here with an apology to some mutual acquaintances – ‘blessed peacemakers’ and all – especially in this season of ‘peace and goodwill to all men’. Please know that your efforts have not been entirely in vain. I had a cordial exchange with Obasanjo over the phone recently – engineered by himself, his ground staff and/or a chance visitor – when I had cause to visit his Presidential Laundromat for the first time ever.
During that exchange, I complimented him on making some quite positive use of landed property that was acquired under morally dubious circumstances, and blatantly developed through a process I denounced as ‘executive extortionism’….
…Our author invokes God tirelessly, without provocation, without necessity and without justification, perhaps preemptively, but does he really believe in such an entity? Does our home-bred Double-O-Seven believe in anything outside his own Omnipotency? Could he possibly have mistaken the Christian exhortation – ‘Watch and Pray’ for his private inclination to Watch and Prey?…
Soyinka goes on to describe Obasanjo as a “Master of Mendacity” and “irredeemable egomaniac” who is heading for “twilight disgrace”.
Obasanjo is also scathingly accused of issuing a “grotesque” statement and “ignoble fabrication”. And so on. And on. And on and on and on!…until we reach the conclusion of this particular diatribe, a gleeful: Chei! There is Death o!”
Talk about an un-merry Christmas message and festive ill will!
Soyinka, being a professional writer and pundit, is the more verbose of the two and has the upper hand when it comes to dishing out abuse with style.
But Obasanjo is no slouch on the insults front. He is also (as President Jonathan has discovered!) pretty skilled at putting people down when they annoy him.
Anyway, I nearly fell off my chair, laughing, when I read about the latest Soyinka/Obasanjo spat. I find the rudeness that they unrepentantly fling at each other hilarious; and I’d like to thank them for providing me with free entertainment at a time when Nigeria is not the most cheerful place on earth.
Xmas message from APC
IN a Christmas message to Nigerians, the APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that hope is on the horizon for the millions who could not celebrate this year because of the gloominess that prevails across the land.
“Many cannot travel home due to fears of kidnapping, ethno-religious crisis and insurgency…Many cannot celebrate due to the effects of the economic downturn, as manifested in the weakening Naira and falling oil prices, both exacerbated by widespread corruption.
“Many will mark the holidays in darkness as the country’s public power supply seems to have fallen in a direct proportion to the huge funds ostensibly pumped into the sector in the past few years. Many will be stuck on the roads that have become clogged due to their poor state.
“While there is no magic wand to solve the myriad of problems facing our country in one fell swoop, an APC government will begin to positively impact on the citizenry within its first few months at the helm, to such an extent that Nigerians will have a better Christmas celebration in 2015.”
Alhaji Mohammed went on to solemnly promise that APC will create three million new jobs per annum, sternly tackle corruption, employ an extra 100,000 police officers, establish a properly-trained and equipped Federal Anti-Terrorism Multi- Agency Task Force to destroy Boko Haram and immediately introduce better pay and conditions for all security personnel.
Fine and thrilling words indeed!
Naija politicos have a habit of failing to deliver once victory is in the bag. If APC does wind up winning the election, let’s pray that it sticks to these pledges and doesn’t turn out to be as disappointing as the bunch who are in power now!
Merry Christmas and happy New year to all Vanguard readers and their friends and families.