A playful grand-uncle of mine, while alive, earned a reputable alias from his popular aphorism. He was fond of singing to children, ‘‘Where he-goat wrestled, grasses do not grow there.’’
So joyful children began to sing back to him, ‘‘Where he-goat wrestled.’’ And he would playfully respond, ‘‘grasses do not grow there.’’ Soon ‘‘where he-goat wrestled’’ became his alias. But if sometimes he was having some mood swings and children happened to sing it to him, he would infuriatingly reply, ‘‘Where your mothers’ cunt wrestled, their pubic hairs do not grow there.’’
The surprised children would run away, still mischievously singing it back to him. Till date, my grand-uncle’s children and grand-children are referred to as the children and grand-children of ‘‘where he-goat wrestled’’. As in many human utterances subject to the power of tongue, that my grand-uncle died in a circumstance with the same semblance as his aphorism. He was violently killed in a typical scene. Till date the scene where he died, grasses never grew there. His blood trickled down the road pavement and left a clotted dark patch, even unto this day. My uncle’s aphorism and, especially, its strange mimic was his crude way of saying, ‘‘Where two Elephants fight, the grass suffers.’’
In a way, for the sake of this article, I am a proud grand-nephew of ‘‘where he-goat wrestled’’ because I know ‘‘the grass suffers.’’ I simply have a grasp of the essence of what I intend to write. Meanwhile you should note that children still feel dismayed when their mums’ name and cunt are mentioned, even in jokes. Simple as!
There is seemingly no love lost between President Mohammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo. They are a herdsman and a farmer respectively. And the entire space of Nigeria is their Benue State. It didn’t start today.
When an ugly circumstance elected then Lt-Gen Olusegun Obasanjo head of state in 1976, the top echelon of military brass began to shop for his deputy. The cast narrowed down on then Lt-Col M Buhari, who possessed certain unexplained ‘‘qualities.’’ It was Lt-Gen O Obasanjo and Lt-Gen TY Danjuma who opted for Lt-Col S Yaradua. Their reason was both simple and selfish. They needed someone with malleable character. That is, someone they could control or bend like pawn. In today’s Nigeria, malleability of character can merit you guest of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.
Soon the citizenry realized that the top military echelon were mainly those middle ranking field officers, who lead the civil war campaign. They thought that, having risked their lives in that campaign, and only army General Obasanjo took all the glory, the state and its treasury and oil wells were their exclusive reserve and prerogative. So, they took turns, milked the state dry and left it panting like a fish abandoned ashore. In short this was the much military gossip could tell.
In 1984 the military coup d’état, which saw off Maj-Gen M Buhari as head of the junta, was hinted to Gen O Obasanjo (rtd). He gave his tacit approval, mainly by his body language. As soon as Gen O Obasanjo was hinted, he characteristically picked his nose. That incident of the New Year eve of 1984 at Dodan Barracks, especially the manner in which the then Maj MS Dasuki and company arrested him, still peppers Buhari.
Now welcome to 2018. This is Benue State, Nigeria. The fight between Buhari and Obasanjo reminds me of my uncle’s aphorism. It also reminds me of medieval Europe, when men fought their enemies from horse backs. In medieval times, whenever a battle line was drawn, as is the case in Nigeria today, commanders of each warring side – herdsmen versus farmers, locked sword with each other until throat was slit. And that’s the determining factor, whether or not the entire army remained unharmed.
Vocal Obasanjo assumes he is the self-appointed senior prefect of all Nigerian politicians, including apolitical past presidents. He wears the toga of a patriotic and incorruptible citizen. And so he looked straight in the eyes of President Buhari and told him point bank (and rightly so): You are incompetent; you have failed – Killings everywhere. For that alone, PMB opened the case file of Bola Ige – the one called the Cicero, whose death was a shame on humanity, whom was killed in the wake of Obasanjo’s presidency due to his rising political influence. No matter how the public craved to know what happened to Cicero, who was then a minister, the mystery surrounding his death, which was politically motivated, remained unresolved.
Unfazed Obasanjo spat on the face of PMB, when he reminded the president of the cattle rustling and the catholic priests, whose lives were cut short in an avoidable circumstance. Instead of resigning his presidency on the grounds of incompetence, PMB requested the unresolved case file of Chief Harry Marshall, an astute politician of the south-south extraction, whose life was cut short violently on his way to nowhere. Chief Marshall’s blood stained vehicle was an eye sour and so disgusting. It remained a testament of man’s inhumanity to man under former president Obasanjo. Chief Marshall’s dead was unresolved, although the case file is being resuscitated.
While fear and anarchy loomed within the political circles during the presidency of Obasanjo, the nation was treated to a show of shame. The corpses of the Igwes, while in state, was shown on the national television streaming live from the crime scene of Anambra State. While the nation wailed, the corpses feigned less concerned and looked straight, ahead-ahead not looking back, in the spirit of Anglican funeral. Yet Chief Olusegun Obasanjo parades himself as the plenipotential of Nigeria.
There is no such a disappointment as PMB. There is this thing wrong with Buhari as a person. You know, that austere, sectional and led back fellow, who is unrelentingly unforgiving and whose style supports the thought of northern agenda. Whether or not he accepts it, to hell with him. When Obasanjo accused Buhari of nepotism, PMB opened a certain case file. It was Obasanjo, during his presidency, who abused the government of Anambra State, by raising a certain Chris Uba. Obasanjo reined anarchy and mediocrity over the state. Anambra is the cradle of Igbo nation. Whatever affects it trickles down to the rest. To destroy Igboland, the presidency does not need to detonate an ordinance. Only raise an idiot as a leader in Anambra – despite the personalities therein, and the entire Igboland begins to feel it. It was this state that Obasanjo tried to destroy, despite sentiments of receiving the instrument of Biafran surrender in the same state. Obasanjo raped democracy, toppled senate presidency after senate presidency, muffled opposition voices and many more. And our Grandmaster Chinua Achebe saw all these and cried out in ‘‘There was a Country.’’
Consistent with his public image of insensitivity, a miserably passive PMB and his cohorts shifted to Kano State, where they marked marriage feast of the daughter of Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, the state governor. While they danced and made merry, Benue indigenes kept long faces at the graveside of more than 73 innocents. And as the ground shook in Kano due to ballroom dance, its tumult caused the earth dust to cover the corpses in faraway Benue. PMB and company danced on their grave. Many literate Nigerians are still developing the story-line of what really happened in Kano versus Benue.
And as soon as Obasanjo tried to make a political profit out of circumstance, PMB foot soldiers reminded him of one incident in July, 2006. Funsho Williams was gruesomely murdered in Lagos – Bola Ige style. It remained unresolved.
The next line of action for Obasanjo is to unsheathe the sword of Operation Python Dance; Monkey Smile etc in order to make a case of militarization of our space. To that end, the acolytes of PMB are reviewing Operation Odi and Zaki Ibiam – coincidentally in Benue, where soldiers unleashed the worst forms of military hardware on innocent citizens in peace time. Obasanjo then withdrew his tactics.
Now, what are the possibilities of ensuring that the he-goat wrestles hard? Hun! If the farmers unite behind the lead farmer, perhaps the he-goat will never wrestle at all. For instance, if the grand design by the tribe of the herders to exterminate the middle belt and make an in-road to the southeast is properly exposed, farmers can have a field day, starting from Benue and extending to the Fouta Djallon. Or, the head of farmers can continue to cry of frame ups, in order to attract public concern.
Assuming Buhari and Obasanjo relocate to Benue – the physical battle ground for herders and farmers, throat may be slit. This will include their fauna and foliage, in the Part 2, of the caricature fight of the titans.
For now it seems every fist cuff went abruptly quiet. Indeed, where he-goat wrestled, grasses do not grow there.
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