Is Obasanjo now very old, senile? By Kassim Afegbua

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Like a man no longer attuned to the workings of this world, he gave his orders; quite brusquely. He gesticulated like one who couldnt acknowledge or reckon social cues, basking in his flatulent ego and self righteous dignity. Obasanjo is a man whose background though shrouded in mystery, twice rose to become the number one citizen of this country; but his upbringing is not accounted for anywhere. Following his open letters, now legion, to even listening to his argument as to why the kings needed to stand to greet him and the Oyo gorvernor, Governor Seyi Makinde, it appears that confusion has taken over. The family name Obasanjo is not a popular name in Yorubaland, and there have been reports of Obasanjo’s Igbo ancestry which has still not been debunked. Some even alleged that he’s without siblings and not much is known of who raised him. He alone dominates the Obasanjo lineage and ancestry. His trajectory has been one of very interesting contradictions. At a time, I had said that Obasanjo’s trajectory is an open sore that is irredeemably contrived with several incongruities. The former President is a subject of contradiction; he preaches one thing, and does another. He pretends to be a man of integrity and anti-corruption, but his lifestyle appears far beyond the trappings of his known and legitimate income. As a president, he was a dramatic actor who always courted attention and traveled the route of the ridiculous. On leaving office, he foisted a dubious election on the country such that even the beneficiary, Late Umar Yar’adua had cause to lament the ugly outcome. This is the same Obasanjo that finds fault, and complains about everything about Nigeria. He over-rates himself, trying to be the other voice. He lives in a world of his own, more as a garrulous elder statesman, who loves to hear his own voice. Well, the Oyo state people per adventure, got what they deserved. With all the sane, active and well meaning Nigerians in this country, they brought someone from the cold cabinet to commission their projects; to what end?

Every adult who is compos mentis knows the veneration to which Kings are treated in Yorubaland, and everywhere else in Nigeria. It does not matter that some kings are foisted on their people, especially when there is no hereditary in terms of succession. Even under such an atmosphere, the resolve is usually that the ancestors would act to correct the anomaly. Kings are the administrative heads at the local level, the basic level of society and they sit on their thrones for their forever!!! They represent the local gods in the communities and kingdoms. In fact, during the colonial era of indirect rule, the Emirs represented a tier of administration in the North on behalf of the colonialists, because they enjoyed the reverence of their people, and it was easy to use their traditional structure to facilitate the indirect rule system. Traditional rulers were made District Heads of their respective kingdoms for ease of administration. Kings generally epitomise the collective aspirations of their people in terms of traditions, values, culture and morals. They are treated as semi-divine by their subjects, and all Nigerians are subject to one king or another irrespective of what public office they hold. Public officers are voted in and voted out, every four years or as the case maybe; but kings usually sit on their thrones till death. The King, in consultation with his ancestors has the power to abolish certain held beliefs which might not fit into the contemporary world of today. Once certain rituals are carried out, libations are poured, incantations are recited and kolanuts, are broken and served to the ancestors, the King can pronounce any verdict. Ascending the throne of their forefathers follows a certain pattern in terms of observing the rituals. In some kingdoms where hereditary is the order of succession, not so much trouble is brewed. But in Kingdoms where ruling houses apply democratic process to choose a new successor, it is often dappled with avoidable crisis. Even if the Oyinbos come here and desecrate our kings, should we too do the same?

There is no one culture that is superior to another, no matter the size of the community. What often dictates the flow of kingship power depends on the individual king and the charisma of his rulership. Some kings have fallen short of the conditionality of their throne. Some are garrulous, while others conduct themselves with respect and are charismatic. All of them are expected to be accorded some veneration and respect from citizens. Kings also respect constituted authority because under our laws, a certain percentage is reserved for them in resource allocation through the Local Government Authority, as they are the closest to their people. In Yoruba land, kings are treated as second to God. His word is law. “Kabiyesi”, as they are often hailed with, conveys their terrestrial authority; i. e, the King cannot be questioned. Whatever the King does is never seen as wrong. His subjects cannot interrogate him. He’s deified as a supernatural being that represents the tales of two worlds; the dead and the living. Every community has its own set of cultural values and traditions, and the kings are usually the repository of such doctrines. There are kings, and there are kings. Politics has affected so many kingdoms and their kings in manners that have eroded the sanctity of their semi-divine supremacy. A King or Oba that is truly worth his salt knows exactly how to carry the dignity and integrity of his throne to the admiration of all. Take the Oba of Benin for example from centuries ago till present day, the uniqueness of the throne and the respect attached to it cannot be decimated. Even under colonial invasion, the Benin Kingdom remained unbowed to any external aggressor and that has remained so. Till date, the Oba of Benin retains its royal potency and reverence.

Against this background, what former President Olusegun Obasanjo did in Iseyin, Oyo State at the commissioning of a 54-Kilometre Road constructed by the Governor, was such a bad spoiler; it was most distasteful. Obasanjo utterly polluted the atmosphere of conviviality at that ceremony. It was more of a sacrilege, that a common chief in the palace dared to order kings to stand and sit; such brusque ordering! Yes, he was a president, and the political head of Nigeria, but he was never and is not a king. When he was president, he bowed before Kings when he was decorated with a chieftaincy title. No matter his status today, he remains a common subject of his own king and other kings. He doesn’t understand the language of the ancestors. As I said before anyway, his history and upbringing is unknown. He cannot weave together the world of the dead and the living. He cannot assume to know what it takes to crown a man as King. The rites of enthroning a king, and the rituals associated with the process are only known to those who are the Kingmakers; who too, immediately, become subjects of the king once he is enthroned. No matter how young or old the king is, he should never be treated with disrespect or contempt. His veneration is not about his physique, but more about the throne. For instance, The Dein of Agbor was a very little boy when his father died. The lot automatically fell on him to succeed his late father. The Agbor community held the position for him until a time when he could dispense wisdom in discharging his traditional duties; the people did not usurp the young man because of his age neither did they denigrate him. The tradition is the tradition. It is the culture. These are cultures that have endured generations.

Obasanjo’s upbringing is historically unknown and cannot be inferred about; hence he carries on with life in an attention seeking way, taking advantage of what fate thrusted upon him. He joined the army at a time that only failures did so. He rose through the ranks by learning engineering, but I am told that the only road he supervised as an engineer, somewhere around Zaria, was impassable from the day it was built till this present day. It has been abandoned due to poor engineering work. So when fate landed the leadership of Nigeria on his lap, as a result of the 1976 putsch that took away Murtala Mohammed, he was handpicked to run the country. He hurriedly conducted election that brought up the curious twelve-two-third political arithmetic that ushered in Late Shehu Shagari. During the civil war, news has it that Benjamin Adekunle a.k.a Black Scorpion had concluded the battle, only for Obasanjo to surface from the blues to claim the surrender victory. It wasn’t merited because the real soldiers and officers who fought the battle knew exactly who did what. In his second coming, he tried to seek an extension of tenure in the name of third term, even though he denies till date; even though he pointedly told some of his friends and associates that he needed six months extension. His failure to get their nod surreptitiously led to the emergence of Umaru Yar’ardua, who in his vainglorious calculation, was expected to die before he exited the office. Yar’ardua presided over the country for three years before he departed this sinful world; may his soul continue to Rest In Peace. Chief Obasanjo is not just an attention seeking former President, he tends to overrate himself and his political relevance.

For the 2023 general election, Obasanjo openly supported Peter Obi of the Labour Party, thinking that his political irrelevance would push Obi into the Villa. He didn’t just lose in his state, he lost even in his Ward and polling unit. Even during his own election in 1999, he lost in his polling unit, Ward and Local Government. His acceptability in his domain seems nonexistent maybe because of his beliefs and lack of traditional knowledge. So, when such a man sees Obas of his South-West geopolitical zone, whom he ought to venerate, rather than display jackboot mentality like he did in Oyo it is disturbing but traceable. How does Obasanjo expect others to accord him respect when he has desecrated the kings and their thrones? When he has treated them with scorn and derision to the consternation of onlookers. Indeed, the kings should not have obeyed him. The derision would have been his, if the kings had disobeyed his order. He would have swallowed his pride in shame. He would have recoiled to his ego, and appeared small in their collective eyes. They should have behaved like the late Deji of Akure, Oba Ademuagun, who refused to stand up when the late Premier of Western Region, Obafemi Awolowo had sauntered into their arena. That is how to retain the sanctity of the throne and the crown instead of kowtowing to the whims and caprices of a former president. A common chief of Obasanjo’s emanation is not higher than the 20kobo postage stamp affixed to his letter of appointment as a chief.

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