The thief Buhari would call a saint, then gave a sermon on why thieves should not steal from fellow thieves…
I have always known that I am blessed with the gift of writing. But I had failed to harness the gift to any purpose beyond my law practice for a long time. After a while, I all but forgot about it. And then my awakening happened. I found myself possessed of a heavy burden for Nigeria, and not being a man of violence, I found an outlet in writing from a place of very deep pains. Writing is the only outlet for the threatened implosion.
Fela, the one who is not in need of a surname, in answer to a BBC reporter’s question on the inspiration for his music, said, and I shall paraphrase; I write my music from my experience, my reality, and perhaps, if I lived in Europe, I’ll sing of sex, love, cars, the countryside, and other such mundane things. But my songs reflects my living realities. The Nigerian situation was the catalyst that awakened a passion, and unlocked a God given gift. Blame Nigeria for the missives I shall be inflicting on you.
I shall be recounting a story told to me by a friend. His uncle, a rascally old man, with whom I am acquainted, told him the story, and I will happily stake my credibility on the veracity of the story. I am very well acquainted with the friend who repeated the story to me, and I know the old rascal who told him the story. Both are men of honor, and neither have ever lied to me in the decades that I have known them. Re Gallantuomo.
The old man lived in Ibadan during the years when the expired dictator, the one and only begoggled bandit, Abacha, was GOC at Odogbo Barracks, in Ibadan, in the 1980s. He became very good friends with Abacha, did him several favors, had him admitted into the right circles in Ibadan, and it was a friendship devoid of the bloody civilian asking any favor of the powerful general. Abacha had a lot of respect for the old man.
When Abacha seized power, he tried to get the old man to serve in his government, but he declined. He preferred to be a member of a small kitchen cabinet that the man would consult from time to time, and Abacha had a lot of time for him. He was given unfettered access to the C-in-C. But self respecting man that he is, he kept his distance from the madhouse that is the Aso Rock Villa. Another Ibadan man, the old rascal’s friend, needed to reach Abacha to make a business pitch, and the old man was asked to facilitate the meeting.
Meeting done, Abacha walked his visitors to the door, bade his old friend goodbye, and told him to tarry in the car, that he had asked Ismaila Gwarzo to arrange some “transport money” for him. The old man went into the car and indeed, Ismaila delivered an envelope stuffed with $50,000:00.
The old man’s friend was suitably impressed, but the old man asked him to tarry a while, and tag along, that all would be clearer in only a few minutes, but they must return inside to thank his friend, and to confirm a hunch. What hunch? His friend enquired, to which the old man responded with hearty laughter, and off he went back inside to see the C-in-C.
My general! The old man hailed. And he then proceeded to thank Abacha for the $50k sent. “Wayo Allah! “ Abacha bellowed! Ismaila! He yelled, in an enraged loud voice. With lowered head, Ismaila appeared, unable to look the enraged imperator in the eye. “How much did you give my friend for transport?” Abacha demanded. “$50,000:00 oga” Ismaila muttered under his breath.
Abacha proceeded to reveal to his friend, how he had left specific instructions for him to be given $150,000:00 before he was brought to the villa from his hotel, and the thief Buhari would call a saint, then gave a sermon on why thieves should not steal from fellow thieves.
I hope for once, it might be said of me, that you read a piece I wrote, untainted with pain. Unstained by my burden for the country of my birth. I hope the day shall come, when I’ll write, just for the sheer joy of expressing a God given gift, for now I ask, that you continue to tolerate me, even as I share my burden with you.
Shalom! To all men of peace…..
First published 12 October, 2018.