A Falling Out of Thieves or Old Men Behaving Badly?
'When rogues fall out, truth is revealed, and honest men get justice.' (1838 A. Jackson Letter 26 Mar. in Correspondence (1931) V. 545) The rogues have fallen out, and honest men may come by their own. (1866 C. Kingsley Hereward the Wake XV)
When thieves fall out, honest men come by their own (Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs). While there is said to be honour among thieves, an inequality or a sharp deal in the distribution of booty has often cast the apple of discord into the midst of a band of formerly seemingly harmonious plunderers. Of such a nature seems to be the present falling out of two owners of Nigeria, twice-leader, (military and democratic) Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) and former military dictator and strongman, the self-styled 'Evil genius', also popularly known as 'Maradona', Ibrahim Babagida (IBB).
Actually they have never been the best of mutual admirers or friends, and this is not really the first time they've fallen out. In fact, they've fallen out since birth. What had actually bound them together were the military 'esprit de corps' and their mutual plundering, raping and negligence of Nigeria in which they have, more than any other past and present rulers of Nigeria combined, plunged their people into despair, poverty, untold hardship and misery. They would do well to acknowledge and repent their culpability in this allegation.
Looks like all is not well between two members of the Axis of Evil, and like I opined, all has never been well between these two dinosaurs of Nigerian politics. I call them dinosaurs because, like these extinct animals, IBB and OBJ are excessively big and the next course in their lives will be to become extinct, because earth, and indeed, Nigeria, has no room for them. Is the world missing dinosaurs these days? No. An empathic No; all they are good for since they became extinct is to teach us lessons in survival.
Were dinosaurs ever any use to the world? Well, this is arguable; I suspect in those millions of years ago, with hardly any human around (so the archaeologists and scientists told us) dinosaurs were ruling the roost, brainless brutes rampaging all over the land without any defined purpose. However, I guess they must have served some purpose in the evolutionary development of Man and the Earth. So all their existence was not totally useless, if you ask me.
Have you seen the comparisons to these our two former leaders? While the exchange between IBB and OBJ should not be considered mainly for its puerile and repugnant conformation, it confirms to us the minds (or mindlessness) of the leaders we have, unfortunately, allowed us, willingly or unwillingly, ride roughshod over us for over 50 years. It is not a pretty sight.
Compatriots, it is not a laughing matter! It is very serious. We just don't stand back and enjoy these two dinosaurs hammer each other. We have to look at this from another angle? Somebody told me they were putting up an act, and that we will soon see Babangida rush over to Otta to make up with Obasanjo, and say all kind of words to the effect that, 'Obasanjo is my Oga, I mean no disrespect, and I was misquoted by the irresponsible Nigerian Press'. Such miserable and shameless act in public? From two leaders recognised (or perhaps not?) all over the world, who ruled with iron-hands over 150 million people for a combined total of 18 years? I don't think so!
Have the two descended so low? Like hell no; they have been descending low for a long time. Leaders who steal from their people have always descended into the lowest part of the human cesspool.
I say it is no laughing matter to us; the only people who will be laughing are the newspaper editors and owners, who are selling papers because of the reprehensible antics of two corrupt and unrepentant old foggies.
Can you imagine Bill Clinton and George Bush Jnr having a go at each other this way? It again shows the immaturity and senseless personality of our African leaders. These are not statesmen as they would like us to perceive them, but outright rogues, opportunists and charlatans, who found themselves in power because of our very own apathy and carelessness. Yes, we must share the blame.
A digression here: Admiral Augustus Aikomu, who was Babangida' one time Vice President or Vice leader or whatever they called themselves in those days, died a couple of days ago. Like we always do, a lot of encomiums were heaped upon the man. Sorry, I am not one to dance over a dead man's grave, but I suppose that whenever anybody dies in our society, we tend to be sentimental and totally ignore that person's life and his works when he was alive. Apologies to my good people of Edo State, where Aikhomu hailed from, but what exactly did the man do for the progress and welfare of the people of Edo State, except perhaps his family and close friends? Incidentally he was part of the corrupt administration of the same IBB, wasn't he? As far as I am concerned, people like him (and we have so many of them in our dear country) are not missed at all. The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones, so let it be with him, to paraphrase Shakespeare in Julius Caesar.
Back to my dinosaurs: This is again not just a matter of old men behaving badly and calling each other names. Apart from not respecting themselves and being shameless or not ashamed of the evil they perpetrated against their countrymen and women, as former Presidents, they obviously know a lot of secrets about each other.
I am more interested in knowing what these secrets and the hold they hold over each other are. But, unfortunately, being Africans, these secrets will probably go with them to their graves, because to spill them out will hasten their demise. And as a matter of national interest and security, spilling those beans might well cause a disruption in the polity. So I don't see them doing that. Their advisers and those who tremendously benefitted financially under them will call them to order. I can already envisage emissaries going to and fro from Otta to Minna, trying to patch things up. I am sure by now; the two dinosaurs are already regretting opening their mouths at each other.
That tells you another thing or two about the intellect and wisdom of our leaders. And why we have been unfortunate to have this ilk of people ruling us for so long.
Look at it: Obasanjo calling Babangida a 'fool' - one thing Babangida is not, despite all his shortcomings, is that he's a fool. However, it could be that in his old age, he's becoming senile. Unrepentant, he is, of course. Then Babangida calling Obasanjo a 'plunderer' - well, I have no defence for Obasanjo here, but he is not the only plunderer of our nation, Babangida is too.
Whatever, the plain truth is that both of them are not telling us the truth of the matter, and they probably never will. If Babangida is insinuating that Obasanjo wasted the petrodollars that came his way by not addressing the needs of the country, and Obasanjo said Babangida should bury his head in shame for not building a single power project plant during his eight years in power; let us ask both of them - what needs of the people were addressed by both of them when they were respectively in power for 8 years each; where is the $12 billion that Nigeria made as a result of the Kuwait War windfall that accrued to Babangida, and also where are the $16 billion power projects of Obasanjo?
Talk of the kettle calling the pot black! For me, it is okay for them to wash their dirty linens in public, but of course, they have also shamed Nigeria. According to football parlance, the two of them should be charged for putting the country into disrepute (but of course, they already have, anyway). These are leaders not trusted by other world leaders, who look upon them with contempt. I am not absolutely sure about this but the general rumour is that Babangida will not be issued any visa to enter the United States (He was only allowed to enter the US on compassionate grounds to see his dying wife, Mariam, just over a year and a half ago)
That Nigerians, their own people, hate them is not a fault of anybody, but theirs alone. And believe me, we do really have good and just cause to hate our leaders, past and present, be it Federal, State, Local, Lawmakers, and civil servants. We do have just cause. When you see our neglected and under-equipped hospitals, underfunded and neglected schools and universities, our death-traps called roads; our corrupt authorities; unnecessary deaths, hardship, poverty and misery on the streets; high unemployment, crime, insecurity of life and properties, overpaid and underworked lawmakers; arrogant, corrupt, brainless, visionless and thieving government officials and politicians; decayed infrastructures; who wouldn't hate our leaders?
My opinion is that Obasanjo and Babangida are birds of the same bloody feathers. They are both rogues in power, or as the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang, Vagabonds In Power (VIP), and I am not mincing my words, though I know, according to our traditions and culture, we should respect our elders/leaders. But elders must also respect their juniors too. Leaders must also learn to follow too. Not these people. They don't respect us; they don't follow anybody except themselves. But they want to be followed always. On the total, they came, saw, looted and left their people counting the cost, the counting of which may be for a very long time.
On the human perspective of this shameful act, I suspect all this 'bad belle' is because IBB is angry and that OBJ failed to hand over power to him as previously agreed amongst them. Remember, IBB 'stepped aside' because of June 12. Stepping aside means he had the intention of coming back later, but OBJ checkmated him effectively. IBB had the misplaced confidence that Nigeria is there for him to take anytime. Wrong, boy!
For Obasanjo, he hated younger people to disrespect him. (Nobody is even sure of how old he is) He is senior to Babangida in the Army and in age, and that IBB could be so bold to disrespect him or go against him is anathema to his sense of tradition and culture.
Moreover, a very SHAME ON THEM; after visiting prolonged poverty and misery on their people, they now want to entertain us with more of their idiocy and irresponsibility. Nigerians do not need this kind of entertainment; we are already judged one of the happiest people in the world, despite the hardship and sufferings we undergo in our daily lives as a result of the irresponsibility, depravity, selfishness, greed, idiocy, arrogance and negligence of Obasanjo and Babangida and their ilk.
But, my people, it is not enough to call them names and be angry with them; it is not enough to chide them and slap them on the wrists like little children; it is not enough to laugh at their antics and say, waoo, let's wait till they burn themselves out; we need to take them and others remaining of their ilk out permanently. These people are still breeding like-minded, corrupt, arrogant, despicable and brainless future leaders like themselves; we need to nip them in the bud before they grow.
How do we do this? We tell them we've had enough of them.
By Akintokunbo Adejumo.