BY OGACHEKO OPALUWA.
I have always been fascinated by the saying that ‘what goes around, comes around.’ Once in my infantile indulgences while in secondary school, I tried to demonstrate to my friends what the adage meant. Many of my slow-learning classmates that were wittier than me in vernacularly conversations could not fathom the popular English adage which had more or less become a personal anthem to our English teacher.
Whenever our soft spoken but firm English teacher got frustrated with any errant member of our class especially yours sincerely, he’d tell us not to worry because ‘whatever goes around, comes around.’ He always reminded us that we were going to grow into responsible adults some days and perhaps, some of us were going to end up becoming classroom teachers like him. What he did not doubt however was that most of us would become parents too.
According to Mr Nkem or ‘Mr Syntax’ as we referred to him out of earshot, we would appreciate how irritable and frustrating the recalcitrant behaviours that we displayed in his class were when we become parents.
So one day while sitting around a round table that spun 360 degrees on a wooden fulcrum that was hoisted on a flat wooden base, I decided to give a practical meaning to ‘what goes around, comes around’ for the benefit of my confused classmates. I had a well ripened and tantalizing mango on me that my friends had their sights fixated on even though I was wise enough to tuck it safely into one of my school uniform’s gummy pockets that served as fortresses against prying eyes of my ‘longer throat’ friends.
I told them aforehand that I brought out the mango from its sanctuary to demonstrate the practical meaning of the adage only and therefore none of them should bother to salivate over its inviting looks. Although disappointed with my ‘caveat’, they nonetheless nodded in agreement for me to proceed with my demonstration.
But I did not trust all of my friends despite their nod of approval; especially one nimble-footed mischief monger among us. On any ordinary day, he could scoop the inviting mango off the round table and take-off. He was a fast runner and I was sure that none of us that sat around the round table would have been able to reach him once he gathered momentum on those tiny gazelle like feet.
So I had to extract extra assurance from him before I proceeded with my experiment. And so I placed my mango fruit on the round table but not before telling all my friends that were seated around the table to shift backwards and maintain safe distances from the table. I spun the table gently from my standing position and gravitated with it slowly along its 360 degree spin; making sure that I wedged myself protectively between the rotating table with the mango and each spectator that was sitting around it.
If any of them had as much as batted an ominous eyelid toward the mango fruit, I would have dashed for it and that would have been end of the demonstration. If they liked, let them continue to wallow in ignorance about the meaning of ‘what goes around, comes around.’ ‘How that one come concern me na’? Fortunately, curiosity got the better of them as they sat fixated, gazing forlornly at the table and not minding that my slender body blocked their views of the mango on the rotating thing. At least, they were sure that the mango was there otherwise I would not have bothered expending much energy following each rotation of the table on its 360 degree trajectory.
At the end of the fifth or so turn, I asked if each of them saw me come to their respective fronts while the table spun with the mango. They all answered in the affirmative. I asked further if they needed to shift their positions before I came in front of them. They answered negatively in unison. I proceeded to explain to them that the answers that they gave me was all the adage was about; emphasizing that if they exercised patience and waited in their respective positions for any changing circumstance to unfold, they would surely see or feel the outcomes from wherever each of them sat or waited.
I used the saying ‘what goes around, comes around’ to illustrate unfolding developments in Nigeria’s political landscape in order to situate their antecedents properly.
Sometimes in 2006 when Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo drafted the late Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua into Nigeria’s presidential race, those that knew or were close to the late Governor and subsequent President of Nigeria warned Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that the man he was rooting for to succeed him was not healthy enough to withstand the rigors of governing a problematic country like Nigeria.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo would have none of it and dismissed the warnings as mere rumours and the handiwork of envious rabble-rousers. He went ahead with his scheme and practically dragged the amiable, forthright but lethargic late Governor and President around campaign grounds across many of Nigeria’s 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. This was too much for the health of the late self-effacing Governor and President as he was rushed to Germany for emergency medical treatment in March 2007 even before commencement of elections. This was followed Shortly by speculations that the PDP’s presidential candidate in 2007 general elections had passed on while receiving medical treatment abroad. His family, friends and political party debunked the claim as did his vociferous mentor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who spoke with him openly through a phone loudspeaker from a campaign ground.
Late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory won the 2007 presidential race and was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May, 2007. Regrettably, presiding over Nigeria’s convoluted affairs took its toll on his fragile health shortly after assuming office. By December 2009, he was flown to Saudi Arabia for what his selfish kitchen cabinet dubbed ‘medical check-up’.
But it was far worse than the Aso Rock cabal that was hell-bent on keeping political power at all cost in order to remain in corridors of power, would have Nigerians believe. In order to fortify their position, the cabal ensured that our amiable but gravely ill late president did not formally hand over power to his sitting and active Vice President, Dr Jonathan Ebele Goodluck; a Christian and an Ijaw man from Bayelsa State in Nigeria’s South-South geo-political zone. When many Nigerians began to agitate for return of their president whom the cabal maintained was fast recuperating and in good spirits or the national legislature evoked relevant constitutional provisions to enable Vice President Goodluck Jonathan act as Nigeria’s president, the cabal hurriedly and surreptitiously brought the ailing president back to Nigeria under cover of dark to prevent Nigerians from having their way.
As a Nigerian proverb goes, ‘man proposes but God disposes.’ Regrettably, the death of our amiable and perhaps the best president Nigeria ever had, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was announced on 5 May, 2010.
This ended all the intrigues, lies, subterfuges and manoeuvres of the wicked , gluttonous and selfish cabal that gravitated around the late gentle president.
Currently, a similar scenario is playing out around the presidential flag-bearer of the APC. Apart from speculations about his poor physical and mental health, Nigerians have continually beheld and heard many physical and auditory evidences of the man’s poor health. Yet, many scavenging and greedy politicians that have either benefitted, are benefiting or hope to benefit from the man’s politically facilitated huge financial chess are shouting themselves hoarse trying to convince Nigerians that their candidate is as healthy as a baby.
So, what former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba man from south-west geo-political zone of Nigeria did with the aid of a northern cabal in 2009 is what a south-west cabal supported by a motley sprinkle of ambitious northern politicians is replicating currently in the lead-up to the 2023 general elections. Surely, what goes around, comes around. Like that of former President Obasanjo and his northern cabal, the lies and intrigues of this south-western cabal is unraveling before their very eyes everyday; especially on campaign grounds where they have to either make their candidate speak less or practically snatch the microphone from his hands hurriedly whenever he began to stray incoherently.
However, what baffles me is that, rather than accept their fate and save themselves with their teeming followers imminent embarrassment as Nigeria inches closer to the 25 February, 2023 polls, APC members have decided to go dirty with wild and patently false accusations against their real and perceived opponents.
First, it was Mr Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Nigeria’s Labour Party (LP).
When he seemed to be gaining some youthful momentum, desperate members of APC began to spin false accounts of Mr Obi’s stewardship as Governor of Anambra State and insinuated that he was involved in money laundry through foreign shell companies and offshore bank accounts that are domiciled in popular tax havens.
Next was the calculated harassment of LP’s supporters that are mostly the ubiquitous and enterprising Igbos that are contributing more to the economy of Lagos State and by extension, that of South West geo-political zone and Nigeria generally than an average Yoruba person that claims to own Lagos. APC thugs, led by their mega rich leader known popularly as ‘MC Oluomo’ go about every nook and cranny of Lagos and other South Western States with guns, cudgels and sticks looking for anyone that dares to support Mr Obi of LP openly or displays his banner or sticker on any vehicular and non-vehicular platforms.
Such will be sure to return home with broken heads and bloodied noses if they are lucky to escape alive. A few that managed to escape in their vehicles recently from rampaging APC youths arrived home with shattered windshields and dented bodies of their vehicles.
As it were, the stage is being prepared for another ‘operation wetie’ in the fashion of ‘wild, wild west’ of early post-independence era. On a more subtle note, there are allegations of discriminatory distribution of electoral PVCs in Lagos and parts of Kogi State against non-Yoruba tribes and non-APC voters; although these were debunked by the INEC.
That does not mean that attempts were not made or that the charade was never contemplated because as our people say, ‘there is no smoke without fire.’ Despite the various attempts to diminish or stem the galloping profile of LP’s presidential candidate, the APC failed woefully and instead triggered an anticlimax in favour of Mr Obi.
Then came the turn of PDP and it’s Presidential candidate. Of course the main opposition party, the PDP and its old war-horse presidential candidate in the person of Nigeria’s former Vice President during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has been the APC’s unending nightmares as the 2023 general elections approach ominously.
Against the backdrop of APC’s abysmal performance over the past 8 or so years of being in power in Nigeria coupled with many poor choices of its members, most Nigerians are displaying open rejection of the APC. Like LP’s Obi-Datti mass movement, the PDP appears to be in resurgence; attracting old and new politicians into its fold from other political parties, including the APC. Even though most Nigerians have not completely forgotten PDP’s misdeeds while in power, especially under former President Goodluck Jonathan, they nonetheless feel they faired better under the PDP than under APC’s current political and socio-economic strangleholds in the name of governance. As expected, the APC has been in denial of ability of resurgent PDP to wrestle power back from its hands until recently when they began to see mammoth crowds of supporters and well-wishers thronging the party’s campaign grounds.
This coupled with the many high profile defections and revelations by those coming into PDP’s fold from the APC seem to have jolted the APC back to reality. Their hackneyed songs and refrains of PDP’s past poor records of governance and corruption seem not to impress many Nigerians anymore.
If anything, the crass ineptitude and mindless corruption that Nigerians have witnessed under President Muhammad Buhari and the APC have benumbed most Nigerians to any refrain on PDP’s corruption and poor governance records. Having realized this, APC has now decided to take down the PDP’s Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. First, the APC recruited a known conman and professional blackmailer that claimed to be a former aid of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The lad claimed to be privy to some sleazy activities of PDP’s presidential candidate. While Nigerians and indeed the world awaited mind boggling accounts of corrupt activities of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar while he served as Nigeria’s Vice President, the young whistleman known as Michael Achimugu could only talk about a N100 million donation to the PDP in 2007 by one of the party’s former Governors from North Central State through a Special Purpose Vehicle ( SPV).
It turned out that the said donation was made from the State’s ecological fund alongside other allegations of misappropriation of the Fund for which the donor Governor was convicted and jailed. So people like me started to wonder if that was all the earth-shaking revelation that the impressionable whistleblower promised Nigerians while the nation was waiting to see or hear revelations that would displace the N87 billion or so that President Buhari and APC’s embattled Accountant-General of the Federation was alleged to have stolen.
Mr Achimugu threatened to release more damning revelations about PDP’s presidential candidate and so many Nigerians waited eagerly, thinking he was ‘reserving the best for last’, only for the jobless lad to begin reeling out dubious and not so interesting personal and family ‘secrets’.
Rather than diminish Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s profile as expected, the childish and patently spurious claims of Mr Michael Achimugu have paradoxically uplifted the profile of PDP’s presidential candidate.
The realization of this is viciously rankling the ranks of APC stalwarts to the extent that the party’s presidential spokesman and a serving minister went into his accustomed infantile legal petulance that endeared him to many Nigerians back then and which brought him to limelight. In his somewhat prurient legal hubris, the spokesman of APC’s presidential candidate gave Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies an ultimatum to prosecute Alhaji Atiku Abubakar within a given time frame, failing which he would approach the courts.
The ultimatum expired without any response from the agencies and in keeping with his threat, he has now taken the matter to court seeking for the disqualification of PDP’s presidential candidate over Mr Michael Achimugu’s allegations.
I, personally won’t have been bothered over the exercise of APC minister’s constitutional right were it not for his endless and vexatious high octave vocal rantings about his readiness to go to jail over the allegations against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. For me, he can voluntarily rot in hell for all I care. ‘Haba, the thing don turn to rofo-rofo fight like that’? This among other gutter tactics of APC stalwarts shows the degree of frustration and desperation in APC’s camp currently.
What they forgot to realize is that, whatever goes around, comes around. The PDP was once in this type of political quandary; around this time in 2015 to be precise, in the season of general elections in Nigeria. By this time in 2015, many political parties and politicians have arrayed themselves against the PDP, ready to end the political monopoly of the former ruling party and wrestle power from its soiled hands.
And so, with the political astuteness, influence and affluence of APC’s current presidential candidate, a motley crowd of political parties and politicians coalesced into what we know today as APC.
The assemblage of Nigeria’s ‘progressives’, as they branded themselves, danced vibrantly and provocatively on campaign rostrums while belching out many sins of the PDP.
Incumbent former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP was deserted by most of his party’s henchmen, especially northern politicians that were harping on ethno-religious notes as he desperately sought re-election. He courted alliance of south west geo-political zone and almost emptied the national vault for many political middlemen and drifters that promised to deliver the zone to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
They simply ate his money and vamoosed into the ranks of the progressives while Dr Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to incumbent President Muhammad Buhari sheepishly. What could former President Goodluck Jonathan have done any way? The rantings of a million ‘Orubebes’ were no match to the grand conspiracy and betrayals that was orchestrated against the former president by northern and south-western politicians led by APC’s current presidential candidate.
The ‘Jagaban’ of Nigerian politics basked in his newly found cult like personality and became the political fixer of the progressives. Fast forward to 2023 and compare what we are witnessing currently with what transpired in 2015.
Another season of conspiracy, betrayals and desertion abi? What goes around, surely comes around. This is not to suggest that political karma is limited to APC’s camp. Don’t get me wrong please.
Even the PDP is not spared the agonizing fate of reaping what some of its leading members sowed in the past. For example, the festering internecine war between Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the so called G-5 Governors also bears the hallmark of ‘what goes around, comes around.’
Ask former President Goodluck Jonathan about his ‘former’ party’s current presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Did the current presidential candidate of the PDP not also abandon him after loosing the party’s ticket to the former president? Did he not join the ranks of Nigeria’s ‘progressives’ to scuttle the gentle-manly former President’s re-election bid?
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and some of his supporters have approached former President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in the proctracted feud between PDP’s presidential candidate and the G-5 Governors. From all indications, the former President would neither intervene nor take sides with any of the parties.
As the Hausas would say, ‘aniyan kowa ya bishi’, translated to mean ‘let everyone’s wish follow him or her’. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar knows the game more than most of his rivals and so, he chose not to begrudge the former President neither did he join issues with anyone that refused to help his current predicament.
After all and according to him, power belongs to God and He bestows it on any person that He likes. This is unlike APC’s presidential candidate and his sedated crowd of supporters with their entitlement mentality. APC leaders and members are currently behaving as if Nigeria is a bazar bar where revelers take turns to win and despoil at will. Indeed, APC’s main man and his followers are going for the spoil currently; practically lashing out at everyone and everything that they estimate is responsible for their waning political fortune.
Someone around APC’s fragile candidate needs to however summon courage and let him know that, the thing that goes around which he spun in 2015 has come around. The same people that he wooed and encouraged to desert Dr Goodluck Jonathan are now deserting him in droves.
As if that is not bad enough, some of his choices and poor judgement arising from a blinding ambition has alienated him from some of those that he would ordinarily have called ‘aburo’. If I were Remi, I would have simply carried my darling husband away from the maddening street crowds into quiet and hidden recesses of her matrimonial home to nurture him back to health. It is more honourable and rewarding to be a kingmaker at times than being a king.
For now, let Nigerian politicians know that, whatever goes around, must certainly come around. This said, I pity an average Nigerian politician because he or she hardly learn any lesson and forgets too easily.
OGACHEKO OPALUWA is a Freelance Journalist and a Public Affairs Analyst. He contributed this piece from Addis Ababa.