A disclaimer is appropriate at the onset of this piece; I am not the one who said Obasanjo has 49 necks; no! The copyright belongs to Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe.
Last Sunday, August 28, he spoke to SUNDAY SUN newspaper, and it was vintage FANZ! The last time I saw him, he was being wheeled into an Abuja-bound plane, at London’s Heathrow Airport, I think in March. Indisposed for a while, Nzeribe has not lost his ability to surprise.
The interview revealed a man confronting mortality and the associated crisis of aging. Nzeribe told his interviewer: “There is nothing a man does in life I have not done….youthful rascality, politician, sportsman”, adding poignantly: “I know I’m going to die (one day), nobody wishes to die…”.
But away from Nzeribe’s psychological confrontation with mortality is the far more compelling expose on the Nigerian ruling elite. He has played often controversial roles within that class, and knows enough: “There is no country in the world that you don’t find corrupt politicians or corrupt administrators”. But in Nigeria “we have not really had a leader who was determined or is determined to fight corruption.
All we have been getting is lip service-corruption, corruption, corruption”. Nzeribe ranged over several issues from the recent Senate probe, intra-party issues in the PDP, zoning, rigging of votes, EFCC and the face-off between Obasanjo and Atiku. When asked whether he supported calls to invite Obasanjo to face the Senate, he said it was the right thing to do “but the person you are talking about happens to be a being with 49 necks; there is no how you can strangle it.
You know Ali Baba and the 40 thieves? This one is the other way round. Nobody is going to touch him. He’s the boss; he’s the mother of anti-corruption campaign that did not yield one conviction”. Nzeribe added ominously, that “there is no way we can progress with corruption being our signature tune”.
Well, last week, Obasanjo revealed one of Nzeribe’s vaunted 49 necks to SATURDAY PUNCH of August 27, 2011. The old despot interestingly said of himself: “I have never planned elaborately for myself, but I have never also stopped planning”. Most central was third term; and again, Obasanjo refused to own up, spinning the reader into what must be his closest “confession” about it: “There is nobody, alive or dead, in Nigeria that will say that I called him to say I am gunning for third term…
Many people were in it for their own different reasons. Some governors because they would also be beneficiaries. I never had a hand in the third term agenda; I’m not saying that some people close to me, like ABC, ministers and some others were not involved in it”. We severed one of the 49 necks by defeating third term; but with 48 more necks in place, no wonder Obasanjo can afford to mock Nigeria: “I dey Kampe”; “I dey laugh!”.
In case you didn’t see it, even General Abdulsalami Abubakar joined the spin train, in SATURDAY SUN of August 27. He had to respond to allegations by Major Al-Mustapha, about his role in MKO Abiola’s death. Too many necks: Obasanjo’s 49 and those of others!