By Promise Adiele
The creative impact of the epistolary literary mode has considerably waned in the 20th century. Popularized in Africa by Senegalese writer Mariama Ba through her novella So Long A Letter, the epistolary mode penetrates social fabric, ex-raying the relationship between two interlocutors – the writer and reader. For inexplicable reasons, the epistolary mode of creativity is no longer popular at least within the literary fraternity. Yet, for Nigeria’s former military Head of State and civilian president Olusegun Obasanjo, the epistolary mode remains a virile, potent medium to address Nigeria’s multi-layered, endemic issues. Olusegun Obasanjo has become Nigeria’s undisputed letter-writing champion of the 20th century. When he writes, the country catches a cold. When he writes, the polity convulses. When he writes, Nigeria stays awake. Love him or hate him, Olusegun Obasanjo is what he is – daring, bold, intelligent, witty, and focused. It is difficult to describe Obasanjo in a few words. In 2016 while working on a project, I spent a whole day in his house in Abeokuta with the erudite Professor Hope Eghagha. After many hours of discussion, I came out with the conclusion that Obasanjo is the direct metaphor of the proverbial cat with nine lives.
Nigeria’s socio-political firmament recently caught fire following Obasanjo’s endorsement of Labour Party’s presidential candidate Mr. Peter Obi. While many people have praised the former president for his forthrightness, speaking truth to power, many others have maligned him for exercising his fundamental right as a bonafide citizen of Nigeria. Some people throw caution to the wind while insulting the 85-year-old statesman using uncomplimentary, acerbic language. Those calling for Obasanjo’s neck are mostly APC and PDP apologists, two political parties of the same degraded genealogy responsible for Nigeria’s vanquished position in the comity of nations in the world.
APC and PDP lack any shred of honour that is why they have the putrid temerity to present themselves for election in Nigeria after inflicting cancerous conditions on the polity. More regrettably, a section of the Nigerian populace suffer from dementia or loss of memory that is why they will for a split second consider bringing the two political parties back to power. No be juju be that?APC and PDP have supervised the gradual annihilation of Nigeria in the last 23 years. Under their watch, millions of Nigerians have died through hunger, insecurity, suicide, and summary suffocation. Under their watch, Nigeria has become The Waste Land and Nigerians have become The Wretched of the Earth – apologies to T.S Eliot and Frantz Fanon. With the above background, it is therefore disconcerting that the two political parties will attack Obasanjo for stating the obvious. Perhaps, it will be better if OBJ embraces moral ambiguities, lie to himself and endorse Atiku or Tinubu, people whose antecedents he knows so well.
At the beginning of the current political dispensation, every political party courted Obasanjo, seeking his endorsement and support in the 2023 general elections. I remember clearly that Ahmed Tinubu went to Abeokuta with his entourage to seek the endorsement of the former president. I also remember that serial presidential election loser Atiku Abubakar also went to Obasanjo to grovel for support and endorsement. Peter Obi was also not left out. During the visits, all the candidates recognized Obasanjos’ heavy electoral currency in Nigeria. That was why they went there in the first place. Obasanjo has international political clout and is venerated in Nigeria in no small measure. Obasanjo needed to make a choice and all things considered, he endorsed Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate. Immediately after endorsing Obi, all the attack dogs of the other two parties went to work, barking, sniffing, and howling all over Nigeria. In their shameless attempt to justify their pay, these attack dogs maintain that Obasanjo’s endorsement does not have any electoral value.
The reaction of the APC and PDP apologists towards Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi reminds me of an Igbo folkloric narrative with the monkey as a principal character. The story is told of a monkey which made several attempts, sometimes at the risk of its life, to pluck a bunch of ripped, tantalizing banana. After several failed attempts, when it became clear to the monkey that it will not have the banana, it turned around to call the banana rotten. In the words of the monkey “I am not even interested in the banana because it is rotten”. In the current era, we can use a more direct example to explain the monkey story. A young man tries to woo a lady for marriage and after several attempts, he fails woefully because the beautiful lady realizes that the young man is a criminal and not suitable for marriage. Upon realizing that the lady has rejected him, the young man turns around to call the beautiful lady a prostitute. The above analogies provide a concise example of treachery, desperation, perfidy, and double standard of extended version. Today, those who desperately wanted OBJ to endorse them are calling his endorsement worthless. It goes to the heart of the matter and exposes the kinds of characters getting ready to occupy Aso Rock.
OBJ’s clearly worded letter to Nigerians especially young Nigerians is timely, straight to the point, and nothing short of an axiom. Some disgruntled persons are peddling the empty but spurious narrative that OBJ wants to achieve third-term through Peter Obi’s inevitable victory as president. At 85, one wonders what pecks or items of materiality OBJ would be clamouring for which he does not have. Some people have also peddled the very offensive idea that OBJ is jealous of Tinubu – nothing can be more violating. Tinubu and his apologists are well aware that Tinubu’s name cannot be mentioned where OBJ’s name is mentioned. Tinubu cannot eat on the same table with OBJ whether internationally, in the Nigerian or Yoruba contexts. OBJ is an accomplished man in every ramification. A one-time military head of state who fought a civil war to keep Nigeria one. He also served eight years as an elected civilian president of Nigeria. Obasanjo is not a saint, nobody is a saint but to compare OBJ with Tinubu is to explode the foundations of human sensibilities. We know those who kept quiet while Fulani terrorists massacred Yoruba people and killed Pa Fasoranti’s daughter?
Obasanjo’s call to Nigerian youths to take back their country by voting for Peter Obi resonates with millions of Nigerians disenchanted with the twenty-three years of macabre dance of death orchestrated by APC and PDP demagogues. While it can be argued that many Nigerian youths are conscious of the prevailing anomalies in the country, many of them are ready to endorse a system which reinforces their hopeless situation. There is no justification why PDP or APC should go near Aso Rock again. These two political parties have gas-lighted Nigerians plunging, 133 million people into excruciating peonage and penury. In 2015, Nigerians fell for the dubiety masterminded by Tinubu and co. Today, Nigerians can judge for themselves if the country is better or worse than it was in 2015. Today, the same APC that promised heaven and earth are here again promising the same things in the most shameless way. I remember the promises of 2015, they echo in my ears like it happened yesterday. I was part of those who sheepishly fell for the gambit. But today, I am part of those who have recovered from the hypnosis of the deceptive mantra of change. OBJ’s letter only reinforced what Nigerian youths already want to do – to vote out those who think Nigeria belongs to them.
Obasanjo’s call to Nigerian youths to take back their country by voting for Peter Obi resonates with millions of Nigerians disenchanted with the twenty-three years of macabre dance of death orchestrated by APC and PDP demagogues.
Look around and see the kinds of characters who will be in positions of power and authority in the unfortunate event that APC or PDP returns to Aso Rock. They are still the same characters who have been recycled and proven to be monumental failures in public office. Nigerians know better. OBJ knows the secrets of this country and the underbelly of almost every politician in Nigeria. OBJ loves Nigeria in spite of his failings as an elected president of the country for eight years. He knows the presidential aspirants more than any Nigerian and he knows the criminals among them. He also knows the committed one among them. In 2023, voting for Peter Obi will summarily bring an end to corruption that has held the country by the jugular for many years – crude oil theft, all the shenanigans going on in CBN, ill-equipped army, fraud of monumental dimension going on in the corridors of power – all of these will stop with Peter Obi’s election and OBJ knows it.
Some people have argued that it will be an aberration for a Fulani man to succeed another Fulani man as if Nigerian belongs to the Fulani. They also argue that a South Westerner shouldn’t be president again after OBJ’s eight years in power. In conclusion, they say it is the turn of the South East to produce the next president of Nigeria. While these people may have their points, I do not pander to sectional or ethnic sentiments although these play important roles in politics. The point is that in terms of character, health, background, honesty, and deliverability, Peter Obi towers above Atiku and Tinubu. Nigeria needs a new beginning. We have seen PDP in all their treacherous posturing. We have seen APC in all their incompetent and subversive identities. In the Nigerian search for order, accountability and recovery, Peter Obi and Labour Party is it. The interesting is that Peter Obi will not have the luxury of eight years. Nigerians are now fully aware politically. If Peter Obi does not perform, he will be voted out after four years because power right now belongs to the people. Nigeria must be retrieved from the hands of a few who gloat over the grave of the youths and the defenseless, poor citizens.
Thank you Olusegun Obasanjo. Ndewo Sir!!!
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University