A Celebration of the Trivial and the Third Rate

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

“When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity” (Napoleon 1)

A celebration of the third-rate. A celebration of the treacherous and the iniquitous. A celebration of mediocrity and the unintelligent; of thievery and thuggery. A celebration of lawlessness and the trivial. A celebration of Ubanism and Adedibuism. These have been the order of politics since the advent of the current republic. But of course the current trend is not a recent invention as these have always been part of our political culture. But things were never this insidious and injurious and pervasive. We have crossed the Rubicon: civility is gone. Modicum of political tolerance is gone. Vigorous political debates and manifestoes are out. It is the season for foolishness and stupidity; a season for mayhems and grand follies.

The eras of political and intellectual titans are long gone. In spite of the mistakes they made, today, we think of them in clear and loving ways. We have fond memories of a time that once was — when men were men. And boys knew they were boys. And ruffians and the paperweights and featherweights knew their place. On our national stage were the Awolowos, the Tafawa Belewas, the Ernest Ikolis, the Azikiwes, the Awojobis, the Bala Usmans and Ajasins, and Dappa-Biriyes and the MCK Ajuluchukwus and countless others. From the North to the East and the West and Southward, were men and women with brains and élan and substance. Those days are over. The age of grand ideas is long gone. Today belong to the trivial and the third rates.

Since the passing of Chief Awolowo, Yoruba politics have been loosing direction and its moral compass. Nigeria listened when the West coughed, sneezed or tap the table. Nigeria paid attention when the sage spoke. A man’s man and a Chief’s Chief, Awo held sway over the nation’s political life. Awos lieutenants and disciples were mostly men and women of honor and distinction. What we now have — especially since the last fifteen years — are mostly opportunists, small-minds, errand boys, pretenders and third-rates who control Yoruba’ politics. Who would have thought Yoruba politics would sink this low. It’s sad.

The Ndiigbo have been tentative for too long. It has always been my contention that the Igbo made and makes Nigeria better; and that the Igbo can do without Nigeria; but Nigeria and her myriad nationalities cannot do without the Igbo. Take the Igbo out of the Nigeria equation, and Nigeria will be a wobbling giant gasping for air! However, I am not sure the Igbo (collectively) know what they want. Or how to attain and obtain what they want. The psychological prejudice of the West and North against the Igbo aside, the infighting and unnecessary wrangling between the Igbo power centers have been impeding whatever dream they may have: presidency or Biafra.

Ndiigbo must speak with one discerning voice and unite under a single visionary leader, and power center. It doesn’t help that the Igbo have all these power centers doing Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Minna’s bidding. Sadder still is the fact that the Igbo are losing their giants to illiterates and to pedestrian traders. Intellectualism and mental acumen seem to be loosing ground to nairabaggers. To think that Chris Uba and his disciples now lord over Ndiigbo is just a shame. A monumental shame!

The mental hold the Northern Elite have on their people is unconscionable. The elite use religion as an instrument of governance. They use religion to coerce the people to toe the line, subjugate them. While the elite enjoy all the fine things this earth has to offer, they tell their people to wait for their turn in paradise; and while they send their children to the Nigerian Defense Academy or to some of the best schools in Europe, North America and the Middle East, they herd the commoners to Islamic schools. While they fornicate and steal from the state treasury and commit adultery and eat and drink some of the best wines France have to offer, they slap the common man with Sharia laws.

Unless you have lived in the North, it is hard to imagine the kind of mental hold the Northern Elites have on their people; but as is evident on the ground, this mental chain is gradually loosing its grip. More and more laypeople are becoming politically conscious and freeing themselves from the shackles of religion and fear imposed by their leaders.

To say politics has gone to the dogs is an understatement. In today’s Nigeria, politics has indeed gone to the dogs and the rats, snakes and leeches. Politics is a horrible business. Men and women of honor and substance are afraid to contest or serve because of its naughtiness — hence, the audacities of people like Lamidi Adedibu and Chris Uba.

Robert Stevenson it was who said, “The world has no room for cowards.” And as far as I can tell, we have not seen or heard the end of the impeachment saga in Ibadan. There is more to come. One or more or a combination of the following is likely to happen:

One: there will be court battles instigated by Mr. Rasheed Ladoja. Should he succeed in the court of law, Chief Adedibu is not going to take the judicial slap lightly. He will resort to what he knows best: illegalities. And should the impeachment hold, Ladoja and his proxies are not likely to simply fade away. Win or lose, Ibadan will never be the same again. From now until eternity all the major participants and their supporter will suffer one way or the other. Forgiveness will be hard to come by. In fact, there may never be forgiveness. Ever!

The more I think of Ibadan and the illegalities and mischief of the last couple of weeks, the more I think of Robert Kaplan’s 1993 Balkan Ghost: “… a dim stage upon which people raged, spilled blood, experienced visions and ecstasies…What does the earth look like in the places where people commit atrocities? Is there a bad smell, a genius loci, something about the landscape that might incriminate?” Ibadan and Oyo politics will never be the same again.

Two: Henceforth, Mr. Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala (the “Governor”) will not and cannot truly have a peaceful night rest. No matter how hard he tries. Why? He knows or should have known the manner of man, the manner of deity Adedibu is: no matter what you feed him, he will want more and more and more. You give him your blood, he will demand your spleen and liver and heart. And even if you gave him your heart, he will want your soul. To do business with Adedibu is to do business with the devil. Either way…you are screwed.

Come to think of it: from now onward who will ever trust Alao Akala? Here is a man who betrayed his boss, friend and brother. What kind of a man would do something like that? You are finished if the world does not trust you. Chris Akala, like Chris Uba is not a man to be trusted. Oh, would Mr. Akala stay on as the Deputy Governor in the event Governor Ladoja returns to claim his mandate? From now on Alao Akala must go to bed with one eye open and the other closed; with one leg on the bed and the other on the floor. He must go to bed with the door firmly locked and the windows ajar. He must watch over his shoulders.

Three: whether the impeachment holds or not Chief Lamidi Adedibu is not likely to escape unscathed. Legally or extra-legally, he will be chastised. He will face the music. The jury is still out on Adedibu. Posterity and history will be the final arbiter of his deed and journey. My Muslim and Christian friends say they are committing his tomfoolery to the hands and will of God. However, I am sure that history and posterity will not be kind to all those who kept quiet in the face of the commotion and calamities that took place in Ibadan. They were silent when they should have spoken; they praised when they should have condemned and they condemned when they should have praised. But more than that, they allowed their fear of Lamidi Adedibu to cloud their manhood and their voice of reason and equity. They kowtowed to the wishes of rascals and vagabonds.

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Anonymous January 17, 2006 - 3:11 pm

It's becoming clearer that OBJ is not the saint some clowns wanted to paint him as few weeks ago. The absurdity in Ibadan happened under his watch and collusion——actively or passively.

Now we know that our "nascent" democracy is doomed. To all the governors and the fallen sons of PDP who had a golden opportunity to nip this mess in the board, serves u right!! To all my fellow country men, we should not let these fools kill us twice, 'cos we're all dead.

Anonymous January 17, 2006 - 9:07 am

It was ok. It teaches some strange things unrevealed. I like the structure of the article. The writer should keep it up & try to improve more.

Anonymous January 16, 2006 - 2:00 pm

I think your view on the Oyo issue , and by the extension the nation's state is trully excellent .

Anonymous January 16, 2006 - 12:49 pm

A conundrum situation in Ibadan! The recent ousted of Ladoja as governor of Oyo State exemplifies the law of retribution -Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap! Ladoja earned my sympathy until facts began to emerge on his alleged roles in 2003 election. He's reported to have deliberately flouted Oyo state's High court's order to swear in AD candidates that won the election as Reps and Councillors. He instead sworn in PDP flagbearers who lost the elction woefully both in the field and court.

So, Ladoja's predicament serves him right.

Anonymous January 16, 2006 - 8:49 am

Nicely said, and I am writing Adedibu Obituary ahead of his time and that his carcass shall be fed to dogs..I give it one year. To the new scion of Akintola political lineage, he should learn what has happened to Akintola ins yorubaland of today, he Akala risks being a leper..a stinking one for that matter. Anger is in the land, and I can feel it: I know every Nigerian does, either in the street or the barracks- let those who have ears let them hear.


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