By Jimanze Ego-Alowes
Is ex-dictator, ex-president, General, retired, Olusegun Obasanjo, a great strategist? Or has Obasanjo been surfing, gratuitously, the waves of big ticket successes? In other words, is Obasanjo harvesting greatness off unearned luck, not gritty genius?
Like any issue Obasanjo, this also comes with ”K Legs,” all apologies to the general. However, the best way to straighten the K-ness is to reverse engineer Obasanjo and his achievements, if any.
Give or take, there are these high watermark achievements to Obasanjo’s careers, as soldier and politician.
1. Obasanjo received the Biafra surrender signatures, but on the behalf and instructions of the then dictator and genocidaire, General Yakubu Gowon. Of this historic rite, even Obasanjo promoters concede it was a matter of ”destiny” than bravery. In other words, others fought, but Obasanjo’s Chi awarded him the laurels, the surrender. Chi is Igbo for personal destiny or luck.
2. And it so happened that another genocidaire, General Murtala Mohammed, plotted a coup. Of this coup, Obasanjo has confessed he had no hand in it. He was a mere geopolitical beneficiary of Mohammed’s morbid northernism. For those who think Mohammed ever wished well for even the devil, the question is: How can an unrepentant genocidaire,ever become a nationalist? Mohammed only wanted a southern (Chief of General Staff) mask for his putrid sectionalism. He cherry-picked Obasanjo from a shortlist of the pliant and willing.
Anyway, what happened next is a miracle of good Chi. An unsuccessful coup occurred and the genocidaire, Mohammed, was shot dead. And upon no efforts of his, Obasanjo popped up, not like a bad penny, but a brand new dictator. Little is the matter if Obasanjo emerged a placeholder dictator.
Whether Obasanjo performed creditably or not as placeholder dictator is debatable. But one thing is given; it is that the titular position of dictator made Obasanjo from hence a Nigerian big man per excellence.
3. Anyway, after his stint as gratuitous dictator, Obasanjo perhaps felt a need to star properly in things literally, to earn his epaulets. So he careered into a new profession. It was, and still is, the profession of playing a national gadfly.
Then, ”the come came to become” and the said Obasanjo met his nemesis, General Sani Abacha. Apparently, Obasanjo misread Abacha. Cut from a cloth that is tougher than khaki, Abacha was trained to fire first, and ask later, who the victim is.
And quickly, Abacha blasted through the Obasanjo gambit. Abacha simply processed Obasanjo through a trial, found him guilty and fit for execution. According to Abacha, Obasanjo is now to meet his self-created Chi. This is because the law that okayed Obasanjo’s execution was created by Obasanjo himself, Abacha asserted.
4. On the death row, Obasanjo’s Chi-oma – good Chi – said nope! So, it was something of an urban miracle that the same Obasanjo turned up, ”a moment” later, an elected president. By all accounts, Obasanjo’s contribution to his elevation as president, just as dictator, was nearer to zero and furtherer away from infinity. The musketeers who fixed things were reputed to be fellow alumni generals, like Danjuma, etc.
5. Later, Obasanjo magicked his second term, but that was on a dictatorial platform and thus is no of credit. (Nigeria’s presidency is a constitutional dictator’s platform.) So as is evident, Obasanjo’s greatest achievements are all of Chi-oma, of his god’s doing great favors upon him. In other words, he is Nwa-Chi-na-emere-m; loosely, the man whose god favors greatly. He is not of aka-ikenga-m; loosely a man of his own achievements.
If we took on the Obasanjo signal failures, the following are indicated:
1. Tellingly, Obasanjo instituted a Third Term project. And it so happened he failed woefully in this self-chosen mission. He denies the attempt, but there are mounting evidences, both nationally and internationally, one has to believe his accusers. Anyway, what is important is that Obasanjo’s genius, or ikenga, if he has any, failed him in his Third Term bid.
2. Next comes the epic engagement against fellow ex-dictator, and sitting president General, retired, Mohammadu Buhari. Obasanjo wanted Buhari dismissed from greatness, if not history.
But in the end, Okonkwo threw the cat; sorry Buhari floored Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Obasanjo. Obasanjo was the principal corner man for Atiku. Yes, the case is in court… but we are working with the data as are.
Given the above, the question is insistent: is Obasanjo a good strategist or a man whose epic palm kernels are cracked for him by the gods?
To help us get around the solution, here’s Obasanjo’s own confession about the matter, the routing of his Team Atiku by the Buhari Pirates.
“Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time. Even when figures, facts and statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar. Buhari believes he can get away with impunity and deceit as he seems to have done on many occasions in the past.” https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2019/01/25/still-on-obasanjo/
On this alone one can dismiss Obasanjo as a poor strategist. Why? You don’t go to the jungle trusting the beast, whether it is in Biafra or Russia, in Nigeria or Korea. The Waffians even put things clearer: no paddy man for jungle.
Anyway, the Igbo have a fantastic insight on the matter. According to the storyline, Mbe-di-ogu or tortoise the master strategist was about initialing an alliance protocol with Nwa-ebule-ako or Ram the wise man.
The protocol required that one of the charges of Mbe be apprenticed to Nwaebule. And remember, both Mbe and Nwaebule are masters of the game. And as such, are all masked men despite their forged optical plainness.
Anyway, the big question for Mbe was, which of his sons was to be culled and apprenticed to Nwaebule. Of his seven children, he auditioned them on this puzzle: ”How many times will you be fooled before you become wise?” And from the eldest to the second to the last, the answer was 7th, 6th etc, correspondingly. When the last kid was asked, he answered:
”Genius is to be wise before, not after the rites. Before I am to be fooled, I would have been in the zone, maka onye agholi ka agbara. Our elders have taught us alliances are built on smiles and retired in frowns. The tragedies of our elders are ours to profit from, not repeat.”
The insight of this great Igbo tale is that it is completely un-strategic to purchase any alliance with your vulnerability. This is because all alliances, no matter how high-minded, collapse on the first day of their victory. Perhaps Obasanjo was naïve. However, save he counts on his Chi-oma, he should have known like Mbe, the greatest Aka Ikenga in all history, that you do not purchase another’s victory with the feasibility of your own misery.
Perhaps it plays well to end on this quote: “If, as Chinua Achebe said, Nigeria’s problem is that of leadership, then Obasanjo, having ruled for nearly 12 of Nigeria’s 50 years of independence, is a quarter of our problems….” https://www.ft.com/content/225ca84c-0316-11e0-80eb-00144feabdc0.
And a part of that failure is in poor generalship, not in Chi-ism. Obasanjo has a supreme Chi, no doubt, but he has remained a poor strategist, a weak Aka Ikenga. And lest we forget, Davido is doing so well because he is hooked to Chi-oma – to a good Chi. Napoleon forgot this, divorced Josephine (meaning God will increase), his Empress and lucky mascot. Next, Emperor Napoleon lost his empire. Davido Ronu! All else is humor.
What’s Igbo for Intellectual?
Too often one reads of Aka Ikenga, a group of Igbo persons, it appears, describing itself or being described as the intellectual arm of Ohaneze.
One is at loss what that means. Plus or minus, the impression one gets is that Aka Ikenga is made up of Igbo professionals, including possibly professional academics. That is academics, as concerned citizens, rather than as vectors in the work of the invention of new knowledge.
The following are thus true.
1. Aka Ikenga is wrongly translated as intellectual arm. Ikenga in Igbo and conceptually, is not related to intellectual work. Ikenga is of the expression of learned skill or strength. And this is in the non-spiritual or intellectual sense. For instance, there is a saying: ”ka nwoke epe na mpe ikenga ya kwu oto.” This means that a man’s small size can belie his material achievements. And such achievements are in and of the material – like being accountants, lawyers etc, that is of professionals. By that category, Aka Ikenga is a proper Igbo description for the gathering of professionals.
The key inclusion is on professionals. And this is reinforced by the prefix aka. In Igbo, Aka is used as synonym for person in action and accomplishment. Eg. Aka na achi mba.
The Igbo word for intellectuals is related and should be derived from ala or ani. Ala is the divine or god manifested. That is why Igbo name their children Ani-che-be. In fact, Professor Achebe’s name is a diminutive of Ani-che-be, meaning ”may the divinities, not the earth, protect us.” The earth is taken as a mere manifestation of that divinity.
The point is that all human societies may be categorized into two, the temporal and the spiritual. Just as the Bible says ”the fear/[worship] of the lord is the beginning of wisdom,” of all scholarships, all universities and learning are outgrowths of the fear or worship or founding of the mysteries of divinities, like Ala, Allah, Yahweh etc.
For example, the Arabic word Mallam began life, meaning priest. Today, a Mallam is just a teacher, secular or otherwise. For instance, Mallam Ali Makele, now dead, was not a Moslem, but a northern academician etc.
And the equivalent of Rabbi and Mallam in Igbo land is Eze-ala or Eze-ani. Therefore, the body of Igbo intellectuals should be called Ndi Aka Ezeala, not Ndi Aka Ikenga. Or words derived from such.
Even more, there are no ”signs or wonders” that Ndi Aka Ikenga are in the business of producing new knowledge. And if they are not, how come they are intellectuals or think tankers? Intellectualisms are in the production of new knowledge, not in the acquisition and mothballing of certificates. All else is humor.