Among all the books written by man, none is as politically a warning to a ruler and as stimulating to read as William Shakespeare’s eponymous play, Julius Caesar. It had the story of a man who was said to bestride the narrow world like a colossus and who had a group of very petty men, some of whom he trusted, plotting to kill him on the allegation that he sought to be king over them. Nobody knows how a soothsayer ever got wind of the plot against Julius Caesar. After the soothsayer warned him to beware the ides of March, he sought more clarification of the soothsayer’s warning by carrying out other auguries which indeed established that his life was in danger: a lion had given birth in the streets of Rome, a slave had a hand on fire but was not burnt, and when certain sacrifices were carried out lo and behold certain vital organs of the sacrifice were missing. Added to these was the fact of his wife Calpurnia who had certain terrible dreams of a foreboding of the imminent demise of the man. As a matter of fact, she had succeeded in convincing her husband to stay home and let the day pass irrespective of the fact that he would be seen as inconsistent and full of fear.
But that was until the petty men seeking to kill him showed up. They turned the interpretations of the original auguries upside down by playing on the ego of the man they were planning to kill, telling him that all of those premonitions were the figments of the imagination and inconsistent with the bravery, valour and military accomplishments of the man going to be eliminated. Caesar bought into the vanity of vanities and played to the gallery. The thirty stab wounds that his traducers inflicted on him did not kill him but the one Brutus delivered.
From that time, people in leadership positions have learnt from that story. For instance, since American President Barack Obama took office, he has never deigned to visit Nigeria in spite of the oomph and cheer that greeted his election as first black man ever to rule the United States. His decision not to come here is not personal and I know that he does not bear any grudge with us as Nigerians. What I do know is that the man is coughed in between all the elements at the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI. These people call the shots concerning presidential movements in the US and outside of it. The President is like a slave who does not move if he is told not to move. If he moves when they tell him not to, he becomes a Julius Caesar left to be hacked down like a defenseless sheep in the wild among a pack of wolves. And let me tell you the truth, that it is the CIA, FBI and the hawks at the Pentagon that have not approved President Obama’s visit to Nigeria rather than his personal decision not to come here. They have not approved his coming here because of the risks they think that that visit would expose their Mr. President. Of course there’s the matter of the credibility or otherwise of our institutions that he’s complained about but the underlying issue here is that of a security concern and the endorsement which his visit would lend to some of the inconsistencies in our kind of politics.
See how the whole thing affected Obama when he didn’t take the advice of his advisers when the Gulf Oil Spill took place in 2010. The Media, particularly CNN was awash with sordid images of animals were covered with oil and were dying by the numbers. So Obama rushed there on a presidential visit against all common magisterial sense. But he was rebuffed by the people there, who asked him one and only one question: was his visit going to undo the spill, or was his visit going to bring all the dead animals covered with oil to life? Of course his visit was politically motivated but it backfired and the President got his fingers burnt.
So let’s bring the story home. Our President is under some very strong pressure to travel to Chibok, venue of the abduction of 230 school children. The people that are putting this unnecessary pressure on him are none other than our journalists and so-called human rights groups. Hear what David Mark has said concerning this, and published on the back page of ThisDay of 20th May, 2014: The print and electronic media are daily inundated with criticisms so destructive that, at times, one is left to wonder whether the insurgents are now the heroes while those fighting them are villains. The times do not warrant this kind of devious and divisive politicking. The impression must not be given that anybody who gives his life fighting insurgency has died in vain’.
Not visiting Chibok has been prompted by reports that bullets and bombs are still flying all over the place in the North East, and now in Kano and Plateau state where bombs have recently been detonated. Is this a place where these hecklers want their president to travel to? I don’t want to assume that the clamour for the President to visit Chibok is for him to come to harm just like the way Brutus, Casca and Cassius did to lure Caesar out to the capitol to be butchered.
Our President is not as unfeeling and as callous as he’d been painted by the army of haters and intellectual members of Boko Haram roaming free in our midst. Recall that after the Nyanya bombing, he was there at the scene pronto after the bombing and at the hospices to commiserate and condole with those who were affected. He was heavily criticized for going to Kano afterwards to dance, criticism which he deserved. But in this case, it is different. Mr. President, please avoid going to Chibok for now.