In the traditional Igbo Ukwu society from where I hail, soup-making is a serious and expensive business. Soup was the most expensive culinary undertaking and it was also only done on Nkwo market days. Consequently, we have some proverbs around this serious soup business. One is that it is unbecoming for an adult to ‘igwo-ofe’ (being uneconomical with the soup); another is the need to be careful so that the thick soup would go round. Note that these are serious infractions for adults but may be pardonable for children. These soup proverbs have undergone serious metamorphoses and are now applied to situations when adults commit serious mischief, conduct themselves in ways that are unbecoming, or cause trouble. The recent outing and 2014 Christmas present from our writer ex-president, Chief Obasanjo surely fits into this scenario. Baba, a senior adult, generally seen as elder statesman and was just few days ago, crowned the ‘oracle of leadership’ by Babangida Aliyu, of Niger State. I refer to his new book as another Christmas present because about this time last year, he also gave us his letter bomb to President Jonathan. In November 2013, I had x-rayed the role of yesterday’s men and women in Nigeria, compared it with ‘global best practices’ and declared that ‘The curse of the yesterday’s men [and women] syndrome is that they are always better, their successors are always up to no good and they never appreciate the efforts of today’s men. Furthermore, and most unfortunately, most of yesterday’s men are hypocritical, economical with the truth and forget that the foundation for today — good or bad — was laid yesterday when they were in charge! But Obasanjo actually had a different view of things. During a keynote at the Ibadan Sustainable Summit on August 13th 2013, he declared that “It is sad that after 53 years, we have no leader that we can commend. The problem in Africa is that when one person takes over, he would not see anything good that his predecessor did.” Probably, he decided to reverse the trend by running down his successors. The presentation of the book came just after he hosted Atiku, Tinubu, Mark and the PDP governors, all of whom went on political marketing and pilgrimage. It is easy to conclude that his objective is to nail the political coffins of some of our professional and accidental politicians. His outbursts and some third-party analysis have already indicated that it will not be different from his other books. He would paint himself as the saint and others as the devil, including those who are no longer able to reply. He brought the judicial system to ridicule by the public trial and conviction of the judge who granted an injunction against the book, and directed the whole world to do something about it. The fact that he ridiculed and despised the judicial system and contravened an existing injunction did not mean anything. He continued his existing lie about the ‘Third Term’ agenda except that he has now placed the blame on over-ambitious governors. I don’t know how he would react to Ibrahim Mantu’s assertion that ‘President Obasanjo as a matter of fact solicited my support for tenure elongation, as I presume that he must have solicited similar support from other legislators’, or Gbajabiamila’s story that he was offered N100m, through Bode George to back out of the anti-3rd term struggle. His grouse against Jonathan is not that he does not listen to him; it is that Jonathan does not respond to his requests, opinions or commands as he used to respond to his predecessors. Of course, if Jonathan behaved like Obasanjo, he would no longer be Jonathan! He also wouldn’t tell us if any of these predecessors was laying political landmines for him as he has been doing for his political son.Obasanjo had written ‘My Command’, extolling his bravery as the conqueror of Biafra. Brigadier Alabi Isama was so incensed that he wrote a whole book to counter every line of that book. Isama reported that Obasanjo was shot in the buttocks and that only those running away from battle are shot behind! This present book will also attract similar re-actions. However, the question re-mains: what does Obasanjo want? He should write his memoirs; but it should be such that would build bridges and selflessly show us the way forward. I am still expecting such a book.
*this was published in the Daily Times dated Thursday, December 18, 2014