STATE OF THE NATION :OBJ and the ‘Ogboju’ syndrome
OBJ and the ‘Ogboju’ syndrome
By Louis Odion, FNGE
“Ogboju” is no ordinary term in Yoruba speak. It describes a false bravado by the daring in pursuit of often dubious end. It happens when the marauder is, for instance, audacious enough to turn around and blame the very crime on their supposed victim.
More and more, we are witnessing the “Ogboju” syndrome in the simmering Buhari/Obasanjo tiff. With the president suddenly breaking his own custom of silence last week by insinuating hanky panky in the multi-billion dollars power projects executed under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s watch as president, it became clear the infantry General from Daura is simply no longer willing to turn the proverbial other cheek under relentless assault by his senior professional colleague.
Since drawing the first blood with the “letter bomb” of January, OBJ has characteristically not allowed any opportunity or platform pass without peppering PMB further with invectives least expected of a statesman of his pedigree and stature.
But PMB’s own fireworks would appear to have commenced in earnest. Not only has the anti-graft agency responded by dusting up the reports of earlier probe of the $16b power deal, the Presidency further stirred things up weekend with a detailed reminder of how public institutions like the police and DSS were dragooned by OBJ to “topple” elected governors in pursuit of political vendetta. We were reminded how, in many instances, subdued state lawmakers were herded from EFCC detention camp to the assembly and made at gunpoint to impeach governors, even without a quorum.
Added to the foregoing is the whispering campaign in town linking OBJ to an alleged multi-billion dollars contract proposal involving the Mambilia power project said to have been scuttled by Buhari.
But for once, usually prolific OBJ is yet to find his fountain pen to confirm or deny this. Rather, he has since been on the back-foot, seeking portions of his latest memoirs, My Watch, as enough defence on the $16b power charge. Now, the wily witch-doctor is being force-fed generous portion of own bitter portion.
While PMB may not have fully lived up to the promise of 2015, let it however be stated that that is not sufficient alibi for OBJ to now seek to indulge his habitual narcissism by resorting to some “Ogboju” and, in the process, inflict the most brazen assault on national memory. For, as they say, that the deer suffers adversity of having its visage disfigured by a boil isn’t enough reason for the domestic fowl to appropriate the toga of the tale-bearer.
True, Buhari’s albatross in the past three years would undoubtedly include the issue of lopsidedness in appointments that have seen the South-East and South-South virtually alienated and the fact that the nation’s space remains haunted by the restless ghosts of the innocent slaughtered by genocidal herdsmen.
But each time they read or hear OBJ lampooning Buhari, I am quite sure most - if not all - of those old enough to understand things while the two-term President held sway must find themselves choked by the stench of hypocrisy, unnerved by the sheer sanctimony of OBJ’s guttural chord.
Suddenly, OBJ and his people now, for instance, want us to believe Buhari had many skeletons locked up in the PTF closet. But speaking on the same issue in January 2015, these were OBJ’s reactions to speculations against then candidate Buhari: “When we looked into it (PTF), there was really nothing amiss except that that organisation went from road-building to mosquito-net buying and all sort of things. Although there was an investigation, its report was not of any material importance. I thought that I should say it... (hoping) people will face issues rather than triviliaties.”
Suddenly, the free-flowing eulogy of yesterday has turned bitter jeremiad today.
While now dismissing both APC and PDP as “wrecked vehicles”, OBJ speaks as though the rest of us are the proverbial Bourbons afflicted by incurable amnesia. If nothing at all, he should, at least, accept responsibility for nourishing the umbrella party on the diet of impunity in its first eight formative years.
When his last-ditch desperation to grab power after Third Term came to grief in 2006, he orchestrated the rigging of the party’s constitution to proclaim himself “Life Leader” and “Head of the Legislative Agenda” in a poor imitation of the ANC model in South Africa.
As imperial president, the party leadership was made to grovel and worship at his feet.
Those who rebelled soon met sour ending. When Audu Ogbeh as national chair summoned courage to publicly disagree with him on some state policies, the then imperial majesty at the Villa personally penned a philippic. Thereafter, the resignation letter of the insolent chair was allegedly extracted at gun-point behind closed doors!
We also see OBJ’s “Ogboju” in continued denial of third term, despite overwhelming exhibits.
The same mindset is also on display whenever and wherever presented a platform to pontificate on corruption. Apparently, his guiding philosophy is: do as I say, not as I do. Who, for instance, will forget the abominable spectacle of dirty undergarments exposed over PTDF when OBJ and his deputy Atiku Abubakar chose to fight dirty.
Through the public hearing conducted, we heard how funds meant to develop the oil sector were converted to purchasing SUVs for OBJ’s concubines.
Yet, Saint OBJ continues to sermonize on morality in public office. But when he ruled, his own queer lithurgy did not see any iniquity in auctioning prized national assets and allocating oil blocs to newly incorporated Transcorp where he had personal interest euphemistically classified as “blind trust”.
When poor varsity teachers downed tools in protest of poor pay and underdevelopment of tertiary education in the country back then, sharp-tongued OBJ soon descended on them as saboteurs and hypocrites who would send their own kids abroad while shutting the school gates against the children of the poor at home. His own solution: he hastened the setting up of his own “world-class” university in Ota, obviously as alternative to those denied by ASUU.
We also saw OBJ’s “Ogboju” in commandeering industry captains and state governors to raise a whopping N7b for his personal presidential library in Abeokuta on the eve of his exit. Meanwhile, the National Library mooted in 2002 amid national fanfare never really got off the ground.
Asked recently by the Yoruba service of the BBC about the prospects of enlisting in OBJ’s political movement, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, was unsparing. Thumping his temple in a supreme gesture of denunciation, he retorted jocularly: “Then, I should have my head examined by a psychiatrist.”
So, when they say millions have enlisted behind OBJ today, the big puzzle is whether the queue passes through the street sheltering the psychiatrist’s studio Soyinka insinuated.
For Ajibade @ 60
Sani Abacha’s gun-toting goons came for TheNews lead writer Dapo Olorunyomi. But in an extraordinary show of leadership by responsibility, editor Kunle Ajibade volunteered himself to be taken away instead, following a scathing cover story the magazine published on what would become known as the phantom coup of 1995.
Of course, that self-sacrifice marked the beginning of Ajibade’s journey to Abacha’s gulag for three harrowing years in defence of truth and liberty. He chose not to keep cowardly silence in the face of tyranny.
Indeed, the chronicle of popular resistance of Nigeria’s military despotism of the 80s and 90s is incomplete without acknowledging the likes of Ajibade who showed courage under fire.
As he turns 60s, here is saying happy birthday to one of Nigeria’s journalism icons.
Wherever he is, Nicolo Machiavelli must be chuckling at the little drama unfolding today east of River Niger - Anambra specifically. Men, said the 15th century Italian philosopher, tend to forget the passing of a beloved more quickly than the loss of patrimony.
Machiavelli’s words are playing out in the aftermath of Dr. Alex Ekwueme’s death. What started as a gossip soon after the former Vice President was buried in his native Oko town in February finally blew into the open when Emmanuel Chukwuma, the Archibishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province and known counselor to the Ekwueme’s family, pointedly accused Federal Government officials of “playing smart” with the funds approved for the burial.
Of course, that put the Dr. Chris Ngige (who was the deputy chairman of the FG’s burial committee), on the spot.
Obviously intent on appropriating some political mileage, Ngige had reminded everyone that the government of which he is Labour minister had been gracious enough to relieve Ekwueme’s family of all the financial burden. But since the family had paid the same bill and collected receipt, it was only natural that those in the know quickly exchanged suspicious glances following Ngige’s claims.
Checks at the London hospital eventually brought some relief. Contrary to insinuations, it was confirmed that FG actually wired the said £200,000 directly to the hospital, but only after the bereaved had already paid in November. On receipt of the transfer, the hospital did the right thing by transferring the same amount back to Nigeria’s Central Bank.
What would now seem the new bone of contention, according to a Sun report, is that whereas the CBN is ready to pay in Naira, the Ekwueme family prefer Pound Sterling they disbursed to the London hospital. Small matter, you may say. But the devil is actually in the details. Of course, as a matter of sovereign pride, the government’s banker should not be seen engaged in any local transaction with forex. But the unspoken displeasure of the bereaved would likely be the fear of being short-changed when “official rate” is applied. Of course, CBN will calculate by official rate. By the time Ekwueme family approach the black market, the naira cash received would certainly command far less than £200,000.