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Two Flagships as a Metaphor

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 Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

“Total absence of dissent and contention is possible only in a community of angels or imbeciles.” – Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Nigerian Tribune newspaper edition of March 10, 1968 

NNS Aradu (thunder in Hausa) with pennant number, F 89 was a “tear leda” frigate commissioned by President Shehu Shagari in 1982. Rtd. Commodore Olabode Ibiyinka George was its pioneer weapons system engineer superintending the launch of precision-guided missiles at targets up to 18 kilometers away.

Now a floating wreck, she was once a state-of-the-art warship with over 190 officers and ratings onboard at any given operational time. She was the pride of our nation sending jitters down the spine of South Africa partly because she held fearsome technologically enhanced anti-submarine warfare ordinance specifically targeted at the Apartheid enclave. We were the first sub-Saharan nation to develop a blue water naval capacity altering the Cold War dynamics of the 1980s.

Aradu replaced NNS Nigeria (F 87) commissioned in 1966 as our national flagship. Ships are described as “she” because old sailors of the Bode George School would say, “Like a woman, a ship is unpredictable.” He should know because he has six wives.

A replica ship built for the Argentine Navy in the same timeframe by the same shipbuilders at Hamburg was used in tormenting the Brits during the Falklands War. Those were the days when Nigeria was Nigeria.

Barring any Supreme Court of Nigeria ruling to the contrary, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) would be sworn in as the next Nigerian president on May 29. If so, would Chief Bode George sail away to exile?

The opposition chieftain has since openly declared on March 19, 2022, “If by whatever means he (BAT) gets to the Villa, I won’t be part of this country. And I am not joking. I can go to Ghana and be watching with binoculars from afar.”

I am not a political fan of the President-elect nor will I ever worship at his Bourdillon altar. I however believe our nation requires forward momentum. So, instead of contemplating exile, I would rather, “Siddon Look” as once recommended by Chief Bola Ige (1930-2001) during a prior political era.

Agreed, there is a possibility of a judicial pronouncement canceling the February 25 election. Truth is, even if a rerun is ordered by the Supreme Court how prepared is the opposition to wrestle power away from the ruling party?

 Nonetheless, “Que sera, sera” (S.) – What will be, will be. 

Viewing from the gallery of Mahmud Jegaspeak;

 “When a wise elder, a dottijo, takes a firm stand on an issue, should he stand by his word, or should he go back on it? Pondering over this cultural-philosophical puzzle reminded me of Danzuru, the bulky steward who used to clear plates from the dinner table during our student days at the University of Sokoto.

Danzuru was a jovial fellow who went about his work with Elan. In addition to efficiently clearing plates, he was also known for intruding into dinner talk. One evening, Danzuru arrived at our dinner table and overheard a conversation about an elderly man who refused to give out his daughter in marriage to our friend despite the intervention of other elders. Danzuru promptly barged into the discussion. He said, “A dottijo is known for taking one stand. A dottijo is also known for taking two stands.”

We were annoyed by Danzuru’s intrusion but as youngsters we were also puzzled by it, so we asked him for an explanation. He said, “Normally when a dottijo takes a stand on a matter, he is expected as a matter of honor to stand by it. But if a dottijo takes a stand on a matter and everyone comes and says the stand he took is not the right one, then the dattijantaka (the mark of a wise elder) is to go back on it.”

Chief Awolowo in the title quote reminds us we can’t all be on the same political page perhaps is why he is still fondly remembered as “the best president Nigeria never had.”

 Yet, when he was cheated out of August 26, 1983, a presidential election he maintained a stoic albeit ominous calm without approaching the courts for adjudication thereby exemplifying supreme, “dattijantaka.”

Meanwhile, “Do a 180” is an English language idiom meaning, “To reverse one’s opinion or attitude, to do the exact opposite of what one intended to do. If one travels 180 degrees on a circle, you wind up exactly opposite your starting place on the circle.” – Every Nigerian expected a fight to finish for the main opposition UPN to reclaim its mandate. What is it that Chief Awolowo knew?

Eventually, every Nigerian came to know what on December 31, 1983.

Interestingly, fifty years after March 1968, BAT openly declared, “Political power is not going to be served in a restaurant. They don’t serve it a la carte. At all cost, fight for it, grab it, snatch it, and run with it.” The president-elect was speaking at the book launch of Olumiyiwa Sosanya’s, Revolution of Accountancy Profession in Nigeria: History of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) in 2018 ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

Unlike Chief Awolowo, BAT in his words has proven he is not a “dottijo” – does he then deserve any “dattijantaka” in return for us to accept him as a leader?

Agreed, Obidients are as intolerant of contrary opinion and impertinent as Buharists albeit not in any way as wildly violent compared to them in 2011 when their idol lost the presidential election, “Obi-diets are the new Buharists. They’re perpetually angry. If you’re not one of them you are against them.”- BAT stalwarts are increasingly proving themselves worse than the former and even the latter.

The challenge: in doing a 180 on a political figure with a fabricated background have we not by implication shredded our national moral fabric with our own hands?

One shudder at what the collateral damage would be down the line for the next generation of Nigerians. The unintended consequences might be dire.

 Yekini Amoda Ogunlere is by no means the first “wise guy” to have the impertinence to fabricate his background using such reinvention as a means to an ultimate objective in what 48 Laws of Power describes as The Strategy of the Crown;

“Christopher Columbus described himself as a descendant of Count Colombo of the Castle of Cuccaro in Montferrat. Colombo in turn was said to have descended from the legendary Roman general Colonius, and two of his first cousins were supposedly direct descendants of an emperor of Constantinople. An illustrious background indeed. But it was nothing more than an illustrious fantasy, for Columbus was actually the son of Domenico Colombo, a humble weaver who had opened a wine shop when Christopher was a young man, and who then made his living by selling cheese.

 Columbus himself had created the myth of noble background. With that fabricated story he married into an established Lisbon family that had excellent connections with royalty. Using his Portuguese connections, he moved in elevated circles at the Spanish court, receiving subsidies from illustrious financiers and sharing tables with dukes and princes. He soon realized that only one person could meet his demands: Queen Isabella. In 1487 he finally managed a meeting with the queen.”

The rest as they say became history when with generous funding from Her Majesty he set sail to find a western passage to Asia. To date, he is still fondly remembered as the “founder” of the Americas.

Columbus knew how to diligently use the tri-factor of chicanery – distraction, subterfuge, and stealth. Nigeria today has been similarly caught in a web of the same. 

Nigeria’s flagship is currently NNS Thunder with pennant number F 90 – a “Tokunbo” warship donated by the US Coastal Guard to Nigeria in 2011. Its immediate predecessor NNS Aradu has not been seaworthy for more than a decade, sailing in fits and starts for ceremonial duties in the Lagos area only. This facilitated the American donation of a 1968 commissioned vessel.

The painful irony is that our decommissioned F 87 (NNS Nigeria) is in the same age group as F 90.

How did we fall into such a quagmire of being unable to maintain and keep our more advanced F 89 afloat?

The same could be asked how somebody out of “illustrious fantasy” arrive at the fringes of the Villa.

 The metaphor here begs the question of whether or not Queen Isabella I (1451-1504) saw through Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) during their very meeting.

No doubt, the monarch’s primary interest was for Spain to remain a dominant European power by ensuring an alternate Spice route to Asia was found.

Similarly, since Nigeria’s “Mai gaskiya” cat has been overrun by the mice of leadership incompetence and proven incapacity perhaps also henceforth; “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice.” – Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997)

Should for Nigeria, the overwhelming need for a cat-like leader that would effectively catch the mice of insecurity and parlous economy trump the excess baggage of a fake antecedent?

The collateral damage caused by Christopher Columbus remains incalculable. In the US every second Monday in October is a public holiday remembering him but not anymore since 1991 when several cities and some states like Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, Oregon, and so on celebrate the federal holiday as Indigenous People’s Day instead. For many Americans and across Latin America he remains a murderer, tyrant, and scoundrel.

Will Nigerian history be prefixed B.T. / A.T. – Before Tinubu / After Tinubu?

Buyer’s remorse, “refers to negative emotions such as regret, anxiety or guilt that consumers may experience after buying an item.”

“Siddon Look” is very important in times like these, “This is a pidgin statement that speaks to a decision to fold one’s arms and watch as political incidents and events unfold without making any attempt at direct intervention. This attitude of political apathy is not nonchalance. On the contrary, it is borne out of the experience of bitter frustration that borders on cynicism.”

If the Supreme Court of Nigeria upholds the very contentious victory of the President-elect, I will vehemently disagree with such a ruling but eventually accept it, grudgingly congratulating him.

I would then do a 180 and embark on, “Siddon Look” trying to understand what the dickens that horizontal figure “8” he carries around signifies sincerely hoping there will still be a country “After Tinubu.”


A former Head of the Civil Service of Lagos State, Alhaji Rafiu Babatunde Tinubu (now late) wrote a book entitled, Onijumu Wura: The Tinubu Dynasty of Kakawa, Lagos (The Tree) as a follow-up to his biography, Paths of Honour: Reminiscences of R.B. Tinubu (2004)

The book includes names of all descendants of the progenitor of the Tinubu family from the 19th century to date. Conspicuously missing is the name of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The author claimed anyone whose name was not listed in the book was not an authentic member of their clan. Kayode Alade Tinubu, Shanusi Lawan Oluwa, and Rafiu Olubodun Tinubu disagreed arguing the book is not a true reflection of all branches of the Tinubu family. The troika nonetheless failed to specify the exact branch Nigeria’s President-elect springs on.

Indeed, as King Odewale in Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame (1971) reminds us, “The monkey and gorilla may claim oneness but the monkey is Monkey and the gorilla, Gorilla.”

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