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Babatope Folade: The wisest chief in Nigeria


Babatope Folade: The wisest chief in Nigeria

by Stanley Azuakola

One thing however is a fact: Obasanjo has proven to be a maverick, a strong local politician and the most proficient in the political linguistics of Nigeria. Even the evil genius “IBB” has conceded in silence to the Wise Chief from Nigeria

The headline of this piece was inspired after memories of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli flashed through my mind. If Niccolo Machiavelli meant to write The Prince as representative of what should be in society, he has probably inspired someone or someone has acted what Machiavelli’s book contains. Our own Balogun of Owu, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo fits the role of the prince. He is the Prince.

Many have constructed Obasanjo’s two shots at power as acts of providence. The first time, he had to bear the loss of Murtala Mohammed and steer the ship of the Nigerian nation to a democratic society. The second time, he was delivered from the jaws of prison and death. This assumption is politically palatable and sits well with a nation of people that are very religious.

One thing however is a fact: Obasanjo has proven to be a maverick, a strong local politician and the most proficient in the political linguistics of Nigeria. Even the evil genius “IBB” has conceded in silence to the Wise Chief from Nigeria.

The 1979 elections is a good place to start typologizing the manoeuvrings of the chief. He handed over to Shehu Shagari as against the popular perception that Awolowo won that election. Some say it was because Awolowo threatened to look into grey areas that threatened the existence or rent of some silent elite. The chief became suspect from this moment onwards.

The 1999 era heralded the return of civil rule to Nigeria. However, the occasion was predated by events that put our nation on the brink of socio-political unrest. The Abacha government whisked many old retired military officers in jail. Shehu Yar ‘Adua lost his life in the process and Generals Diya, Olanrewaju and late Abdulkareem Adisa received their fair share of jail time.

The activist civilians such as Bola Ige, Olu Falae and Chief MKO Abiola were all victims of the regimes detention spree. General Obasanjo was not left out of the regimes cleansing. According to popular accounts he narrowly escaped what would have been ingenuous murder through lethal needles.

The original campaign and activism had been orchestrated by Chief Abiola. Chief Obasanjo was crowned after all for the efforts of Chief Abiola and his volunteer foot soldiers. Chief Obasanjo was not without enemies or political vultures such as Atiku’s PDM machinery and some overlords in the national assembly. But like the sea predator snake, the wise chief watched, watched and watched in wisdom.

The Machiavellian wisdom unfolded after Atiku attempted a political sabotage on Obasanjo at the PDP convention. The chief prostrated for him in Yoruba fashion and Atiku in his political folly agreed to let the chief run again. That was the beginning of cancerous growths in Atiku’s political career.

The impeachments of Chuba Okadigbo, Adolphus Wabara and the loss of Ghali Na’abba’s House of Representatives seat came after the trio differed from the position of the wise chief. In Yorubaland they say “Aje ke Lana, Omo ku loni” -The witch cried yesterday, the child died today. This is instructive.

Baba held the traditional institution of his hometown, Owu, to ransom in the process of installing a new king. He practically selected a king for his people. Who doesn’t know that he his king in practise?

The part I must not forget is the way the wise chief dealt a blow to the military establishment after his inauguration. The military brass, especially those who have acted as political vampires were retired. That has been one of his most fantastic political chess moves.

The wise chief in his detribalized Nigerian garb ensured that the middle belt and the North East were politically distinct from the core north. He has also tried to remove the Yorubas from the selfish and tribalist natured partisan opposition schema that has been reinforced over time, though almost unsuccessfully by Bola Tinubu and Rauf Aregbesola.

Baba also had his economic highs; the downstream sector liberalization was a good one. He had the monetisation policy, sanitation of the FCT, Consolidation of the banking sector, National Health Insurance Scheme, and Pension Reforms. Power was a disaster and Transcorp was an economic joke and a mockery of sensibilities of Nigerians. This doesn’t nullify the political wisdom of our Chief.

The spider of the shenanigan and wiles of Obasanjo spun a new one –third term. Thank God several interest groups fought this proposal. Thanks to Ken Nnamani, Uche Chukwumerije, Atiku Abubakar and the defunct Alliance for democracy. Baba wetin sef, haba? Third term? Noo.

Then a new one, Obasanjo chose Umar Yar’ Adua to succeed him as president and he did. Yar’ Adua didn’t make it, he had poor health. Enters Goodluck Jonathan, baba fought to get his substantive presidency validated. He also ensured he confronted Atiku successfully, after he and Atiku laughed politically in the papers and on TV.

Baba is still full of intrigues; he fought Anenih when he wanted to take over the BOT chair from the latter. A week later they were both seen drinking palm wine. They both fought Atiku again at the PDP primaries. Today, it’s Goodluck fighting baba and he appoints Anenih as NPA chairman. The following weeks, Anenih fights for BOT chair again and baba wants Ahmadu Alli for the position. Fellow Nigerians, don’t be deceived, these men never fight. Obasanjo and Anenih can never fight. They are political twins. Many have lost this game but they may still be relevant. I mean people like IBB, hmmm- yes, IBB. Obasanjo is still the wisest. Obasanjo is the wise chief from Nigeria.

Babatope Folade is a critical theorist and could pass as a post-structuralist. He is a graduate of Pan African University, Victoria Island, Lagos. He has a passion for global and local policy analysis. His greatest influences are Emerson, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Marx,Joseph Schumpeter, Engels, Obafemi Awolowo, and Professor Robin Mansell. Folade currently works as a Business Analyst consultant to small businesses and a Research Associate with the Knowledge Economy Group at the Pan African University, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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