Obasanjo, The Proverbial Tortoise

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

Have you ever heard of a one man country? If you have not, I present to you Nigeria, a leading African Nation whose current President strongly believes, and he plays it out, at every opportunity, that Nigeria as presently constituted, cannot stand or survive without him.

The five PDP Governors in the South West including our own Ph.D holder, the current Ondo State Governor, have just given the President a reason to believe what his heart has been telling him all along, and when he frequently talks to God in his prayers or his dreams, that he is the modern day Moses to deliver Nigeria from servitude. All our founding fathers including our pre and post Independence leaders like Sardauna Bello, Ogbuefi Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and other juggernauts of our emancipation and freedom from the British and all the military and civilian leaders from Tafawa Balewa to Aguiyi Ironsi, to Yakubu Gowon, to Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Mohammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Abdulsalam Abubakar have only played, in

different ways, and seasons, the role that John the Baptist have played, just

preparing the way for the Messiah who has now arrived.

In Obasanjo’s foolish mindset, he is the modern Jesus of Nigeria who

knows the end from the beginning and the Beginning from the end, and who is the

only one who can lead Nigeria to the promised Land. Less than 18 months to the

end of his second and last term as President, he has not yet seen the rational

to start grooming a successor, talk less of setting in motion all the steps

necessary to make Nigerians believe he has any plan to relinquish power by May

2007. All he is doing is keeping the Nation guessing, and telling any one who

would believe, that he was caught by surprise by the request of his South West

PDP Governors that he stays for a third term, because if he doesn’t grant

their request, the whole Nation might flounder, and all his monumental

developments projects might go into ruins, as the Sun will neither rise nor set on May

30th, 2007, because of the Messiah’s departure.

The very naive Governors and their President forget that if they don’t

leave power, power can leave them. They also forget that the death of the true

Messiah, the very son of God Himself did not translate to the end of the State

of Israel to which he was born, nor the end of Humanity itself. Thousands of

years later the whole world has not collapsed.

It may be true, as predicted in the Holy Scriptures, that the end of the

world may be near, given all the signs that have already been predicted. But

the truth remains that Humanity is here today and will still be here tomorrow

and day after, for sure. By the same token, the exit of any one leader from our

body politic can never totally cripple a Nation. Leaders come and go, but the

Nation lives on, without any question. Our President and his gullible

Governors and praise singers ought to be reminded of that at all times. France did

not submerge after Napoleon. China did not evaporate with Chairman Mao. India

did not disappear after Mahatma Gandhi, and Singapore is still marching on after

Le Kuan Yu, and God’s own country did survive George Washington, and is still

waxing strong as we speak. Nigeria will surely survive Obasanjo.

The enigma called Obasanjo reminds me of a story often told by my

grandfather, the 41st Deji of Akure, Kabiyesi, Alaiyeluwa Afunbiowo Adesida the First

who is the central character of a Memoir I am currently putting together, to

mark the 50th anniversary of his transition in 1957. There were two stories

the great sage never got tired of talking about at every opportunity.

The first was the story of a court jester, named “Oleta Oba Ado” at a

time the Oba of Benin was still an “Irawo Osan to nbagba l’eru” meaning an

unusual Day time Star that causes consternation for the wise and the aged who know,

as a rule, that a star does not appear at day time, under normal conditions.

Oleta, according to Kabiyesi Afunbiowo, frequently told Oba Ado that “Ehin

Osika suon” meaning that the wicked man may prosper in the dawn and at noon, but

their life, more often than not, always end up in tragedy.

The then Oba Ado was known to have paid little attention to the constant

warnings of Oleta until one contemporary event in Benin had really proved Oleta

right to the surprise of most people in Benin including the Oba himself.

“Eyin Osika suon”. I see some correlation between the Oleta fable, and what is

currently happening in our country under our plenipotentiary President Obasanjo

who strongly believe that without him, Nigeria can hardly survive. Nigerians

telling Obasanjo to quit the stage while the ovation is loudest may be in the

minority today, but they represent the word of wisdom in my judgment. If

Obasanjo drops dead today, God forbid, his exit may slow things a little bit, but

Nigeria will still march on. A great nation is not dependent on the whims and

caprices of just one individual, no matter how intelligent or brilliant.

Just like Nigeria was able to absorb the shock of the exit of Uthman Dan

Fodio, Oduduwa, Herbert Macauley, Ogbuefi Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sardauna Bello and

Obafemi Awolowo, Murtala Mohammed and others, Nigeria is surely going to

outlive Obasanjo and still remain buoyant after his exit or departure from office.

The second story Kabiyesi Afunbiowo was very fond of telling, is the most

germaine to the point I wish to drive home in this article. Once upon a time,

the tortoise sharing a similar mindset with Obasanjo, had made a decision to

gather all the wisdom in the world in a calabash, so he would be the wisest man

that ever lived. He went around the world gathering all the wisdom, and when

he had finished, he started looking for a safe place to hang the calabash. He

needed a place where the calabash could not be easily accessible to any man.

It occurred to him that that it was better to go hang the calabash on top of a

Palm tree far away in the forest where nobody else could easily get to it. By

so doing, the tortoise had believed he would remain the best and the only

custodian of wisdom in the whole wide world.

The tortoise had set out for the forest with the calabash tied to his

chest. When he got to the Palm tree. He started climbing with the calabash hanging

on his chest. He struggled over and over again with the calabash hanging on

his chest, but could not do it. Then all of a sudden, a little boy passing by,

had observed the tortoise, from a distance, sweating and struggling to climb

the palm tree with so much pain and difficulty. The little boy, had simply

advised the tortoise to consider putting the calabash on his back, instead of

holding it to his chest. The tortoise had followed the little boy’s advice, and in

a twinkle of an eye, he was able to climb up the palm tree to do what he

wanted to do. But on his way up the palm tree, it simply dawned on him that his

plan to keep all the world’s wisdom to himself, was one mission impossible and

the height of foolishness.

He then realized he had been foolish to even consider himself, at any

point, as the wisest man in the world. I see Obasanjo in the same mindset of the

tortoise today by thinking that without him, there can be no Nigeria.

I have read many an article on Obasanjo, but none has been more insightful

and downright honest than Rueben Abati’s article published on Nigeriaworld

today and titled, “Obasanjo’s Confessions” That article has said it all.

Obasanjo has been a bundle of contradictions in his “holier than thou” crusade

against Corruption, as he continues to dine with the devil, while taking himself as

the best thing to ever happen to Nigeria. If you ask me, I would tell you

that the Nigerian current President could be the reincarnation of that proverbial

tortoise. The President might also do well to pay some attention to the

“Oleta Oba Ado” allegory which I think offers some useful lessons in the exercise

of power. Need I say more?

I rest my case.

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Nosa February 8, 2006 - 4:09 pm

The enigma called Obasanjo reminds me of a story often told by my

I now agree with those who have been saying that this man has ran out of ideas and is now confused! Just a few weeks ago, he wrote something complimentary about the same Obasanjo he is now castigating. Hear him:

"my grandfather, the 41st Deji of Akure, Kabiyesi, Alaiyeluwa Afunbiowo Adesida the First…." What has all this rigmarole got to do with the issue he raised?

What a disastrous mumble-jumble!

Anonymous February 8, 2006 - 3:53 pm

Yout article sounds very logical indeed. The president (Olusegun Obasanjo) is Nigeria's greatest problem at present. Why is he holding Nigerians to ransome if I may ask? This man does not mean well for the country and our fragile democracy. He has parried every questions about his dubious third term agenda till today. He should learn from what the South African president said recently about any third term agenda. Honestly, Obasanjo has nothing to offer Nigeria anymore, this is the time for him to call it quit. His political antics are too crude for the twenty first century Nigeria, and the danger in this is that he is creating an imminent destruction of the country. The country can do without him and his cronies.

marshalspark@yahoo.com February 8, 2006 - 2:30 pm

The fire of his intrigue will consume him

Anonymous February 8, 2006 - 2:10 pm

Omoba, it is not for Obasanjo to groom for himslef a succesor – if it a sane country PDP cannot even think of winning another elections! The elction problem is not Obasanjos it is ours! 10 months to election, the logistics is not in place, parties are not nominating and people like you are just making noise- na OBJ do all that? You see, OBJ will know he is not welcomed if men of courage can begin a serious campaign for the office at the grassroots sending signal to the king of aso that time is up. But you kow inNigeria, all the men are women- u people are scared pants dry! Scared of EFCC because the few men that can stand for presidential election in Nigeria are thieves and don't want to declare and open themslevs up to Ribadu's scrutiny- Nigerians I say agains are cowards! period.

Uzor Nnajiofor February 8, 2006 - 1:00 pm

Wondeful analogy. The sign that always manifest with dictators are that they all think they are the best thing ever to happen to their country since slice bread. As they sit tight, they will destroy the future as they try to consolidate their day to day life. And eventually when they are force out or dies, they left the whole place in chaos. I had been saying for years about Obasanjo's arrogant but my friend don't believe me. This is the man the likes of Soyinka in the bid to save him and other/democray from Abacha and his gangs went into exile and when he came out, look out the way he was carring himself about, bad mouthing especially those that fought Abacha and those then that were telling Abacha the same thing today are those that Obasanjo is pallying with like that biggest gangster Tony Anenih, Adedibu, Arisokola etc. They are the new born again democrats but no one is fooled. But time will tell and history has a funny way of repeating itself.


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