Breaking News

Two captains, one ship, no destination

By Dele Sobowale

“Governments are best classified by considering who are the “somebodies” they are in fact endeavouring to satisfy.”—Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947.

Two captains in a ship is a veritable prescription for a shipwreck. One West African nation is on a dangerous voyage on life’s oceans. It has two captains. Captain I, for lack of a better title, had been in sick bay for some time. One rascally political adversary talks about “life support”. It is plausible given that the first Captain has been as silent as Egyptian mummies for long. But as late American writer, Henry Miller, wrote over sixty years ago “The dead have powerful lungs.” But in 2017 we are discovering that those presumed to be barely audible can indeed make very loud noise too.

So, on Sallah Day, June 2017, Captain I, previously inaudible, spoke as if he had a powerful loudspeaker built into his throat. He addressed the passengers in the boat in a language alien to most of them. The noise was ear-splitting. Was the choice of language deliberate? Was he indicating to the rest of the voyagers in this doomed vessel who are the somebodies he cares about and the rest can go and jump in the sea? Was it inadvertent – result of a mind deadened by psychotropic drugs administered to prolong life a little bit? For those who did not speak the language, almost two hundred spoken in the land, it was a deliberate insult which they will surely remember in 2019. It was the last straw;  confirmed most of their fears before Captain I was selected in 2015.

They were astonished then when his first twenty appointments were so lopsided as to disregard all the safeguards for equitable distribution of the dividends of a victory towards which everybody contributed. They saw all the top security positions going in one direction; one security outfit recruited more people from Captain I’s state than six states in another zone put together. One Permanent Secretary enjoyed service tenure elongation twice. It was unprecedented in the history of the Civil Service and she was from the group of somebodies Captain I endeavours to satisfy. Herdsmen until his election were occasionally deadly. Since his rise to the top they have tacitly acquired the licence to kill and go free. No other group enjoys that immunity from arrest and prosecution for willful genocide. All the elements of deliberate discrimination came into sharp focus on Sallah Day. There was no error involved. All these reflect the mindset of Captain I.

Yet, back in 2013, when he was chosen as the flag-bearer of his political alliance, the question was raised about the man’s known proclivity for discrimination against other ethnic groups in the land. His associates from other areas were quick to re-assure the rest of the people that the man has changed. Apparently, these professional political dissemblers had discovered a way to bend dried crayfish. The voyagers believed them. That was until Sallah Day. Certainly, having seen the secret revealed, every attempt will be made to ensure that Captain I learns English between now and the next Sallah which comes in approximately seven weeks. But, the damage has been done. The rest of the travelers now know that they have been served the same old wine, in new bottle and with a dazzling new label. Human waste packaged well.

“If con men fool you once shame on them; if twice shame on you”, according to old adage –slightly modified. Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865, put it more elegantly. “You can fool some of the people all the time; you can fool all the people some of the time; but, you can’t fool all the people all the time.” (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS,VBQ, p 62). There is a message in that for those who repackaged stale wine and offered it to the people in 2015 as pure vintage. Nobody will believe them again, if they try that trick again as some blockheads among them are contemplating – certainly not in the entire South and the Middle Belt. Captain I declared his stand on Sallah Day; the rest of the people know what to do in 2019. Let us leave Captain I for now. We will return to him shortly. Let us turn our gaze to Captain II.

“But Fortune’s honey turns to gall..thus Fortune with a slight turn of her will brings men from joy to sorrow.” Geoffrey Chaucer, 1342-1400.

When a man took an envelope to Captain I, nominating Captain II for the post of second in command, after failing to clinch the job himself, the bearer of the envelope must have felt extremely sad – for the job that got away. When Captain II was told that his name was in the envelope, he must have felt extremely happy – for the stroke of good Fortune that came his way. It is possible that there is a reversal of joy and sorrow today. Captain II is in hell – suffering in silence.

Apparently, when Captain I is in deep sleep, II holds command. That, on the surface is a fortunate development. But, in reality, II’s role is to clean all the sh*t that Captain I has left while awake. He can hardly set a new course on his own; he can’t discipline staff; most of them treat him like an impostor and he still has his own assignments to undertake. The children of old Israel asked to make bricks without straw will feel better treated than “suffer-head” Captain II. That was bad enough.

On Sallah Day, Captain II also made an announcement to the voyagers. Now here is a fellow who could shout Halleluyah without a microphone and people half a kilometer away would hear his voice. On Sallah Day, his ringing voce was drowned out by the voice of Captain I speaking in tongues. Nobody, even with an Evans gun pointing at their heads, can remember what Captain II said on that day. His boss has dumped him among the people he does not endeavour to satisfy by using the language Captain II’s own people down South don’t understand. They have been officially removed from recognition.

This is important because the 2019 elections are less than twenty months away. If Captain II remains in that stricken boat as 2IC, he stands a good chance of going down with Captain I. Tying one’s coach to a locomotive out of control and cascading downhill is not a pleasant experience; and it shouldn’t happen to a nice guy like Captain II – a nice guy in the wrong profession. May be he should have remained in the Camp redeeming lost souls like mine. May be.

One character whose role remains for us to examine – the one called Leader. Before and after the elections in 2015, this eminently nice fellow gathered around himself some of the best and brightest liars money can bring together into one political association which later merged with Captain I’s own non-descript outfit. As far as power struggle for the Rock went, they were two perennial losers until they formed the alliance giving them a fighting chance. Leader took all the credits for wedding a hippopotamus with a giraffe. Somehow the combination succeeded. The alliance won the big prize in 2015. Leader was covered with confetti; everybody shook his hands and hailed his political sagacity. They all forgot that back in 2011, Leader and his former gang had tried to convince the voyagers that Captain I, at 69 was too old to be President. Their spokesman, a serial dissembler, drummed it into everybody’s ears until the man lost the election.

“Liars ought to have good memory”. Sidney, 1622-1683. (VBQ p 127).

In 2013-2015, the alliance had taken place; a new political machine was born. Perpetual peddler of falsehood was appointed again as megaphone. Captain I was the flag-bearer. Miraculously, the same people who proclaimed that Captain I was too old to be president at 69, discovered he was still young enough at 73!!! He won the election and the ship of state set sail with Leader breaking the champagne bottle on the mast. Little did Leader and his admirers know they have launched the political equivalent of the TITANIC. That was the boat whose designer proclaimed that “even God cannot sink it.” The boat set sail and was ship-wrecked on its maiden voyage. Those who in 2015 claimed that Captain I at 73 was strong enough to stand the strain of office – like Leader – have their wreck lying somewhere. Truth has triumphed over falsehood.

That too is important. Those who insist on re-cycling their tired Captain I should realize that they can’t fool all the people all the time. This ship is going nowhere with Captain I on board anymore. The travelers need a new and fresher helmsman.


An Abuja High Court carpets EFCC for poor preparation in the ex-Minister Moro trial. Another case involving El Zakzaky’s CSO was adjourned on account of prosecutor’s absence. A third was adjourned until October because EFCC’s witness was not in court.

Later, the FG will blame courts and defendants lawyers for delaying cases. Their friends in PACAC will blast justices if they lose.

Truth will always triumph.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.