I have not found reasons to make somebody my enemy and I don’t pray to ever make any person created in the image and likeness of God an enemy because I have not seen somebody who won a lottery or smiled to the bank for having enemies. In short, for me it is not an achievement. What do you think?
Anyway, for those who like gathering enemies round themselves like the sand on the sea shore, pray that the Wizard of Ota is not among the people you see and begin to suffer from acute indigestion. If he is, go and buy a casket because the Oba of Ota farm, like a stubborn bone in the throat, can neither be swallowed nor vomited. So, the best way to avoid him especially if you are a politician is to join your ancestors. Belief me or not, suit yourself.
One thing I know is that Baba Iyabo is blessed. If you say he is not blessed by God, who is like him in our political arena? From East to West, North to South Nigerians have dreamt to be in his shoes but they were swept away by the tidal current of the shark-infested dark and dirty waters of Nigerian politics. So fortunate is Baba that fate smiled generously on him and the kingmakers handed over the crown to him when the bullet of Col. Dimka Sunka caught General Ramat Murtala Mohammed. Baba was also wise enough to play the game according to the rules and handed over the mantle of leadership to Shehu Shagari. This single act made him the beautiful bride of the West that thinks it is their prerogative to sow the seed of civilian rule in Africa not minding about what Africans think or have to say. Baba is also one of the biggest miracle of the contemporary Nigerian politics, having escaped from the clutches of the goggle-wearing tyrannical dictator who sent him to prison and rode from prison to power in 1999 and for eighty years his imperial majesty ruled Nigeria until the third-term agenda was thwarted by the National Assembly.
Other Nigerian leaders who were once tenants in Aso Rock were dumped into the dustbin of political irrelevance the moment they left office but the Wizard of Ota has remained a force to be reckoned with since he left office more than a decade ago, to the discomfort of his political foes. I am sure that even his enemies in the dark corners of their mind will acknowledge that as far as Nigeria is concerned OBJ is to politics what the late Professor Chike Obi is to Mathematics. He not only knows the rule of the game, he plays the game very well.
Here, I hasten to make some disclaimer before some people will begin to think that I have been settled. I am no fan of Baba Iyabo and personally don’t see anything good in his leadership style that is worth emulating.
However, there is a virtue in him that I admire a lot; his ability to call a spade a spade no matter whose ox is gored. I am saying this because Nigeria is a nation where ‘political correctness’ has moved from being an article of faith to a dogma. Ours is a political climate where you dare not say your mind especially if it will not be in the interest of the powers-that-be. In our political, religious and traditional settings, thinking outside the box is considered a rebellious act and is cruelly treated as such.
Baba may be every other thing you may think of but one thing I know is that he is not a coward because it is not an easy feat to speak your mind, especially when you have skeletons in your cupboard. Some of us that tried saying things the way they are landed in trouble and suffered from all forms of persecution at the hands of tin gods. If, like OBJ, all the Ekwuemes Gowons, Babagidas, Abdulsalams Shonekans and Jonathans of this country speak from the roof top, Nigeria could have been a better place. Why are they not speaking? What are they afraid of? If not that he who comes to equity must do so with clean hands will this people continue to maintain conspiratorial silence even when the country is burning as if Nigeria is a confessional? Surely, Baba has enough share of blame over the state of Nigeria today but we cannot deny that he has made valuable contribution to the national growth no matter how tokenistic it may be. It is also a truism that he has some element of patriotism in him; a scarce commodity among Nigerian political and business class.
Since this white people arrogantly think that every good thing must be measured with their standard, what are they waiting for before giving us a second Nobel laureate in Literature? Could it be that they have not heard of the literary cannon the old Otta wizard have been firing from all corners against his political friends and foes? If Baba opens his mouth, a lot of people suffer from acute indigestion and when he picks up a pen and paper the rate of hypertension increases by a hundred per cent among the political class. In short, he has proven that the pen is mightier than the sword. With his pen and mouth he gave Abacha sleepless night and he also contributed immensely in sacking GEJ from Aso Rock with his letters. The shoeless fisher man is now busy somewhere in Otuoke licking his political wound after he deceived himself into thinking that Abuja is a rehearsal ground for incompetency and ‘political stubborn head’. No wonder he incurred the wrath of Baba’s pen.
The Grand Pa from Owu is retired but not tired of politics. Recently, his pen remembered the address of the Nigerian parliament and things are no longer at ease for NASS. He forced the Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives to learn how to write letters but not without first sweating like Sallah rams in order to convince Nigerians that Baba’s letter have k-legs.
For Professor Wole Soyinka, Baba is the Doyen of Nigerian College of liars. I may not disagree with the most distinguished professor. We have witnessed Nigerians who deliberately throw caution to the wind with the intention of deceiving the unsuspecting public in order to protect their inordinate ambition.
However, be that as it may, we cannot throw away the baby with the bath water. The Wizard of Ota is not a saint but we cannot deny the fact that there are elements of truth in all the letters and books he has written so far. From ‘My Command’ to ‘My Watch’ their literary value and contribution to political discourse cannot be under emphasized. For now, no former Nigerian leader has the intellectual discipline and courage to put pen on paper like him. His love for politics of letter is a welcome development, especially now that the education sector is heading to the rocks and the reading culture is in comatose.
The Wizard of Ota may not be a Mandela but he has introduced a new dimension to our politics; the politics of letter. And by doing so, he has left a legacy that will outlive him. The Doctor of Letter has written his mind when occasions called for it. Instead of making him your enemy, write your own for I have just written mine.
Martin-Hassan Eze, a Free-lance Journalist, Columnist, Writer (09056563790) wrote in from Kotangora, Niger State