Peter Obi as Atiku’s joker

[FILE PHOTO] Atiku Abubakar of PDP

In 1993, I was on the entourage of the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola to the palace of the Odezuligbo Nike, the late Igwe Edward Nnaji.

There, I witnessed a very interesting, but intriguing development, which, not only went to a great extent to emphasise a major aspect of that great Nigerian, but also, had one or two lessons to teach about life, regarding the truism of how past actions could influence future outcomes.

What played out during that historic visit, find quite germane and instructive, as it might be related somehow to the current political trajectory playing out in the Nigerian polity. I shall return to this. But, first, let me digress a bit.

Recall the recent incident that took place in the palace of the Ooni of Ife, between the revered Yoruba monarch and the youthful presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore.

Remember how the young man descended on the Kabiyesi, with his anger for being kept waiting. While rejigging your mind on this, try also to reflect on the personality of the late Pillar of Sport in Africa.

I’m sure that your mind is telling you one or two things about the profile and pedigree of the late business mogul, for whom, at the prompting of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, the entire country went on its knees to beg for the wrong done him over the unforgettable issue of the June 12 1993 election.

Now, It may surprise you to know that Abiola, also waited for several hours on end, I’m sure longer than the vivacious online newspaper guru, before the eventual emergence of the Odezuligbo from his fortress. It could not have been otherwise.

Regardless, if MKO, was hurt in anyway, he never betrayed such sentiments. Of course, Abiola was a chief and a traditionalist, which Sowore is not.

So for that reason, he might have been quite familiar with the fact that it might not be a mark of respect that the monarch took his time, because in that inner recesses of his palace, a lot of things could have taken place beyond the comprehension and knowledge of the less-initiates.

There could have communications and consultations far more important to make than pandering to personal courtesies and niceties, without which the palace and all it stood for could be imperilled.

By African standard and norms, no monarch worth his salt would be waiting at his doorstep to receive his guest, no matter how westernised he might want to present himself. There could be exceptions, perhaps for his contemporary – say the Oba of Benin visiting the Obi of Onitsha.

In that case, both speak and hear the same language. For any lesser mortal to seek to be treated in the same manner, such as Sowore attempted to, was, in my view, a childish desire to enjoy senior joke. And what a hard way to learn this bitter truth? I’m sure that the lesson(s) learnt, as he left the palace of the Ojaja 11 that faithful, Sowore and his group, would have become more circumspect, soberer, wiser and more prudent with their ideas of managing rascality, impudence and imperviousness, especially in the homes of such beings.

I now return to that historic visit and what played out between the two late icons in their own rights.

Recall that at the time in question, Abiola, was unarguably the richest man in Nigeria, at least by public perception.

Don’t forget that he was also an employer of labour, with hundreds of thousands of people on his payroll directly and millions of others, indirectly.

Remember that by that time, he was already the Aare Onokakanfo (the commander-in-chief of the Yoruba Armed forces). Don’t forget his clout, nationally and internationally and his fulsome connections, wealth, power and influence.

I particularly recall, how many of the people at the Enugu Airport on that day of his arrival, were practically taken-in by the size of his mint private jet. The picture comes flooding in right now.

Yet, despite his long waiting, Abiola, in spite of who he was, his flowing agbada, notwithstanding still went down to prostrate before the monarch of Nike.

He neither complained of being kept waiting, nor played on his own personality as a national and international figure. Those were secondary.

But, that is not actually the story. First the asides. Igwe Nnaji, I’m told, spoke perfect English, like his visitor.

Yet, there was an interpreter that translated the conversation between them, as he would choose to communicate only in Igbo, to everybody’s amusement, if not delight.

Now, the gist. It came during the introduction. It was then that the interpreter, ‘informed’ the monarch that this was the same man that undertook to completely repair his palace when it was gutted by fire, several years back.

Ahh! That did it. That particular information, practically got many in that huge hall completely enthralled, if not transfixed.

This was an incident that took place several decades before Abiola began his real quest for the number one job of the country. Your guess is as good as mine as to the rest of the story.

Why do I recall this? Since the emergence of Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, as the running mate to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar for next year’s presidential election, many permutations have cropped up in an attempt to determine the political capital he might be bringing to the table towards making the task of returning the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to power next year possible.

To be continued tomorrow.
Igboanugo, a journalist, wrote from Abuja.

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