March 24, 2023

Be careful what you wish for!


By Donu Kogbara

RECENT events remind me of a contradictory saying I first heard as a child: “Be careful what you wish for because you might get it.” The English nun – a teacher at my convent school – who directed this warning at me credited it to an ancient Chinese sage who was, she said, trying to make people understand that when they fervently pray for something, they don’t realise that the glittering prize they yearn for can turn out to be a poisoned chalice. 

In the wake of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s electoral triumph, the atmosphere in Nigeria is gloomy, to put it mildly. OK, so it’s natural for those of us who didn’t vote for him to be depressed. However, one would expect APC members or Asiwaju fans who supported his presidential ambition to be emitting jubilant vibes. But they aren’t. When I bump into them or speak to them on the phone, they come across as listless, embarrassed even. 

The reason for this absence of joie de vivre is obvious: The unethical and desperate methods that Tinubu’s acolytes used to win their Oga the crown have been widely condemned by millions of Nigerians and several influential foreign organisations. The people who organised this outcome for Tinubu are clearly adherents of the Machiavellian belief that “the end justifies the means”. But they probably didn’t realise how bitterly the rest of us would respond to their violence, intimidation, tribalism and fraud.

The pushback has been extraordinary. And now, Peter Obi, one of the rival candidates who is refusing to accept defeat, is adding sensational and unprecedented drug-related accusations to the usual rigging complaints that follow every Nigerian election. 

Then, to make the fight even juicier and more scandalous, Obi is dragging the American Government into the fray. In other words, even if Obi doesn’t succeed in snatching victory from Tinubu at the end of the day, he will inflict substantial and permanent reputational damage on Tinubu by placing longstanding drug allegations on the table and asking the world to shine a spotlight on them and participate in endless discussions about Tinubu’s past. 

I suspect that a day will come when Tinubu and his team will wonder whether they were wise to wish for victory at any cost. And, by the way, 

I am not saying that Tinubu didn’t win. I am just saying that there was so much electoral misconduct and so much disgraceful collusion from some INEC and law enforcement operatives that chaos ensued. Which means that nobody can say, hand on heart, that Tinubu deserved to be declared president-elect.

A sound observation

SOMEONE sent this to me via WhatsApp and I think it is so true:  Of course the same Igbos who voted Ireti in Abuja are tribal bigots in Lagos. Same Igbos voted Abiola with similar voter percentage as Obi. Same Igbo bigots that voted OBJ, Yar Adua, GEJ and Atiku all with the same vigour became bigoted the moment they voted Obi. OBJ won in the entire SE but Obi wins in Lagos and the Igbos are accused of vaulting ambitions to takeover SW and change traditional institutions. An arguable pattern on the horizon is that Igbos get unfairly profiled. The hateful narrative is propagated using mainstream media personalities (Bayo Onanuga, Femi Fani-Kayode et al) to drive it. It festers for a while and eventually erupts into violence against Igbos in far off places in the North. The difference now is that there is social media that has provided a platform for a quick counter narrative that interrogates the skewed narratives and presents a more balanced perspective.

Has it happened to you?

LIFE is complicated and most humans have found themselves in such situations at one time or another. You wish for something that looks wonderful and it turns out to be super-stressful, soul-destroying or downright dangerous. 

You yearn to be with someone you think will be a fabulous companion or perfect workmate and he or she winds up making you miserable. The other day, I read a really sad story about Nigerian youths who flee to foreign countries in search of better lives then find themselves stranded, unemployed and homesick. Last year, I accepted a job in a place I had wanted to contribute to  for years because it seemed so ideal for me. My professional skills, personal experiences, contacts and areas of interest were very compatible with the focus of the organisation in question.

Furthermore, the person who offered me this dream job was an old friend. And I assumed that we would have an excellent rapport. But guess what?  I tried my best to fit in and deliver quality work. But the job rapidly became a complete nightmare because I became a target for stupid, corrupt, heartless gossips; and I was forced to leave after three months.

Dear Vanguard readers, if you’ve wished for something that you later regretted getting, do please share your stories with me.  I’m always interested in the vagaries and complexities of the human condition, whether we are talking about superstars like Tinubu or regular folks like you and me.