Ahmed Yahaya – Joe
“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” – Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)
Ahead of the 2003 polls on July 20 2002 the man then known as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi openly advised GMB not to go into partisan politics, “I am convinced that the situation of Nigeria and its elite today is worse than it was in 1983.
Compared to the politicians who populate the PDP, ANPP, and AD today, second republic politicians were angels. Buhari waged a battle against second republic politicians, but he is joining this generation. Anyone who rides a tiger ends up in its belly. One man cannot change the system from within.”
Instead, Sanusi recommended General Buhari to, first of all, strengthen civil society by creating more Buharis.
Commodore Ebitu Okoh Ukiwe as a brilliant naval officer was coopted as Chief of General Staff (CGS) in 1985 without being part of the conspiratorial dynamics that gave life to the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC).
He was not a member of the inner circle of planning or operations in the palace coup that overthrew the Buhari-Idiagbon-led junta.
The Abriba-born naval officer took up the appointment despite not being part of the Nigerian military, “stock of professional coup merchants and artisans.”
Before his appointment as the Flag Officer of Western Naval Command by those his junior colleagues, he was busy embarking on numerous professionally relevant courses in naval aviation, mine-sweeping, gunnery, torpedo, and anti-submarine warfare.
By the time he was concentrating on making good his sea-watching and ocean-navigation certificates they were too busy planning and executing coups.
When he sat to dine with them he forgot to use a long spoon.
Ukiwe after leading the task force of assault operations by sea into Cotonou in the neighboring Republic of Benin to checkmate the mercenary sea invasion to rescue President Kerekou’s regime in 1976 earned the well-deserved admiration of his fellow officers and ratings who nicknamed him, “Gaddafi”.
Soon after, he earned a Master in Defence Studies from the United States Naval University at Newport, Rhode Island which qualified him to be the pioneer Director of the Naval Faculty in Jaji.
No doubt a highly apolitical officer he was never part of the, “profound personality clash and divergence of expectations and priorities among the officers (and civilians) who originally conspired to effect (or benefit from) the removal of President Shagari in 1983” yet those in the epicenter eventually made him their number two. A complete outsider who thought he could change the system from within Dodan Barracks.
Ukiwe according to the 48 Laws of Power had the “bad luck of good luck” this is because in the rhythms and patterns of power, “good luck is more dangerous than bad luck. Bad luck teaches valuable lessons about patience, timing, and the need to be prepared for the worst. Good luck deludes you into the opposite lesson, making you think your brilliance will carry you through.”
Political bad luck for Peter Obi in 2023 translates to the potential for better governance for the nation in 2027. Then he would certainly do things differently with more scheming and better strategizing. He would certainly be more flanking in his maneuvers and better adept in plotting while in the interim strengthening civil society by creating more Peter Obis across the nation.
For the records, Ukiwe was not immediately removed from office due to the OIC palaver. Those accomplished coup artisans bid their time until he crossed swords with Defence minister General Domkat Yah Bali (Ukiwe’s previous commandant at Jaji) over the acrimony between military and political precedence.
In the attached picture to the right of Ukiwe is his senior civilian aide, Yusuf Mamman who informed his principal of the arrival protocol of the October 1, 1986, military parade at Eagle Square. The IBB-approved order of arrival was service chiefs and IGP, Ukiwe, Bali, and the Commander in Chief then the National Anthem despite the CGS being the most senior officer by the commission in the entire AFRC by then.
Predictably the CGS took exception to such an arrangement and stayed away from the occasion. At the following AFRC meeting in Lagos after Independence Day it was Abacha that moved the motion for Ukiwe to step down for being absent from a state function without valid excuse suggesting the CGS become Navy chief instead. Rear Admirals Patrick Koshoni, Murtala Nyako, and Promise Fingesi rejected the suggestion. The rest is captured in the attached 36-year-old Newswatch magazine front cover.
Like PMB in 2015, Peter Obi is a presidential candidate with enormous goodwill and tremendous support. Both however have not had any political incubation period in active opposition to fully understand the dynamics relying mostly on their personal appeal and charisma.
Only a well-organized political opposition can build the kind of issue-based consensus that can offer meaningful change of ideas, ideals, and ideology in office. Our presidential system is too transactional. It can undermine any well-intentioned tenant at the Villa as we have seen in the last seven and a half years. No elected president can change the system from within.
There are too many institutional booby-traps and a defective constitution that has conferred too much powers and lassitude to the real problem of Nigeria – state governors.