Nigeria, the giant of Africa, that has refused to learn to walk. A fool at 58 must awaken before it’s too late.
I have been working on a couple of ideas for books for some time. The one I started with looks at the Nigerian situation; the systemic collapses; the relentless march towards State failure, and the Nigerian situation in general. I have looked at the issues through the eyes of my generation; the ones born just before, during, and immediately after the Civil War. The same one that saw the rump of a functional Nigeria, even as we can now recognise the moments in our youth, when the seeds of today were consumed by average men, who bestrode a nation, and consequently enslaved the people.
In my works and research, one name has stood above all as one of the principal architects of the Frankenstein we have been saddled with today. I speak of none other than Olusegun Obasanjo, Aremu of Ota, the Ebora of Owu, and one of the major principalities that have held Nigeria down, and assured that paradise should be hell to the people that God has blessed beyond belief.
In my quest to be fair to ‘Aremu’, and in fulfillment of my promise to visit the monument Obasanjo built – to greed- in the name of a presidential library; seeing as he not only ignored to build a nation, he helped to destroy one; I was curious to see what he (Obasanjo) built; so, I went visiting for a weekend. Oh, I must tell you of ‘Aremu the Lion Cub‘. The tragedy of a blighted land; illustrated in the capacity of the king of the jungle in the cage built by avarice.
Obasanjo’s presidential library complex is a fitting monument to the unbridled greed, delusions, and intellectual poverty of the builder. It is built in the cacophonous and pretentious image of Obasanjo, perhaps, as a salute to his youth at Ibogun in Ifo part of Ogun State. Perhaps, envious of Soyinka’s forest sanctuary some few kilometres away in the same town. Aremu has a zoo directly opposite the actual library, on top of which I was told he, The Lion Cub stays, in the penthouse apartment. Aremu has clear views of his kingdom, and his zoo has the pride of place. My wife, Olufunmilola, insisted that we visited the zoo. She was traumatised by the experience, and I shall never look at a lion the same way again.
Obasanjo’s zoo comprises a warren of walkways, carved into the rocks that were blasted before his Hilltop GRA was built. As you walk through, you come to a complex of wire mesh cages containing monkeys of all sorts- in cages that I would never allow for puppies! The monkeys showed clear signs of extreme stress, and were pacing in place, without the space to roam as intended by their Maker.
A pair of ostriches was kept in a pen that cannot measure more than 150 square meters; they are the most fortunate of creatures trapped in Aremu’s nightmare. We were shocked to the marrows to behold Aremu! If I have ever doubted that Obasanjo is wicked, the doubts evaporated at the sight of ‘Aremu the Lion Cub‘. Across the lane from the ostriches were a couple of enclosures. That was where we found ‘Aremu’.
Aremu the Lion Cub, the sign on the wall declares. Holding our noses, we drew closer to examine what initially appeared to be a pair of seriously malnourished Boer-bulls, but which upon closer inspection, proved to be a pair of young lions. Next to them, an older lion just as begrimed and clearly malnourished! No true animal lover would keep any animal in the manner that Obasanjo has caged ‘Aremu‘. I have kept Boer-bulls, and they had by far more space to run than ‘Aremu‘, another unfortunate victim of the avarice of Olusegun Obasanjo.
What’s more? Obasanjo’s short-sightedness has led to the reality of the cub’s growth being ignored, and a maturing male lion remains saddled with the toga of a cub. Not much unlike Nigeria, the giant of Africa, that has refused to learn to walk. A fool at 58 must awaken before it’s too late.
Nigeria may be likened to Obasanjo’s zoo. We the encaged citizens are little different from the animals in his cages. But it is ‘Aremu‘, the unfortunate cub and his cell mates that best tell the story of the tragedy that have befallen us under the rules of miserably ignorant, avaricious, and poverty-stricken men of limited and pimpish imaginations. In a state that cares little for human rights, ‘Aremu’ will probably die in the filth of his cage, and the starvation in which I found it during my visit.
But who cares about the rights of a lion, given a bad name in order to kill it?
A chapter in the book “Do Not Die In Their War“