May 10, 2007
3 mins read

We have delivered the mandate given to us, which was to ensure that our party emerged victorious in the elections. We have effectively carried out the task. We should also be given roles to play in the government. Some of us are foundation members of the party and we had slogan that if the monkey works, the monkey should eat. We would like you to remember that. The baboons should be excluded”. – Senator Wali Jibril, leader of PDP coordinators

Can we measure political developments in society on the basis of reigning styles of caps that people wear within a particular conjuncture? Apparently, we could. If you would in fact discover that the cap has been a statement both of style and of politics for a very long time. During the heady days of the politics of the 1950s, Illorin Province was at the heart of a bitter political struggle between an alliance of the local Ilorin Talaka Parapo ( ITP) and Chief Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) on the one hand and the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) on the other.

The ITP/AG alliance won the elections into the Ilorin town council and the AG had hoped to use that to excise Illorin from the North and effect a merger with the Western Region. It became a very sore point in Illorin life. But what I find interesting, for the purpose of this narrative, was that the Yoruba cap became subverted in the popular imagination in Ilorin when it was named ‘Aalowesi’ ( we shall NEVER join the West) by Ilorin’s people. Up to this day, it has retained that name in Ilorin.

Or who can forget the political and fashion statement which the Shagari cap made during the Second Republic? Tall like a skyscraper, it expressed the triumphal excesses of the ruling elite of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN); and lost in the time warp of that period, Chief Solomon Lar’s continued attached to that style of cap speaks volumes about the wasted opportunities of those years in Nigeria’s political life and a style that became passé when the military organized a coup on December 31, 1983, which swept the entire cream of the political elite into prisons around the country.

Chief MKO Abiola’s flamboyant style was matched by the time he entered politics during the Babangida regime’s transition programme with the unique way that he wore his cap. It became both an expression of the assuredness of his place in style and a reflection of his new political status. Middleclass professionals of all hues, especially in the Lagos area, wore their caps in obvious admiration for the chief and in a subtle expression of dissent when Abiola was incarcerated by the military junta of General Sani Abacha. The political turmoil in the country which followed in the wake of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections would lead the Nigerian political elite to accept the reality that a route out of the logjam was to effect power shift to the Yoruba; this came about in 1999.

Power shift was represented by the national dominance of the so- called power shift cap, which President Obasanjo and members of the Yoruba political elite now in power in Abuja used to express their triumphalism over the past eight years. So a short history of politics can in fact also become a history of style. This is where Olabode George enters our frame. The diminutive ex-naval officer took the power shift cap to a different level with the ‘Aboti Aja’ cap of the Yoruba people. An unrepentant clown and court jester, Olabode George became one of the most visible members of the Obasanjo entourage over the past few years. Small in stature, he needed to do the most expensive things to appear like a giant, and in the process became one of the main hate figures of the Obasanjo administration.

Olabode George enjoyed his place in the limelight as a foot soldier for Obasanjo; he told an interviewer at the height of the third term debate that Obasanjo had a divine call to develop Nigeria, hence the need for tenure elongation to be able to answer the divine call to service. He was in the forefront of the obscene gathering of the so- called Southern leaders in Enugu where he told the gathering that it was only in Nigeria that there were more people in the arid region of Nigeria than in the forest region of the South. He then vowed to his listeners “ And we shall change it”! That faux pas was his final fine hour in the limelight of Nigeria’s politics under the Obasanjo administration. The meeting where he shot his mouth like an old Dane gun was to mobilize a Southern constituency  to supportObasanjo’s third term agenda. The Nigerian people defeated Third term and clowns like Olabode George had to beat a retreat, especially because there was also the small matter of corruption at the Nigerian Ports Authority under his watch that had not been tidily whitewashed for him.

Nevertheless, Olabode George went on to named as the Direction-General of the Yar’ Adua/ Goodluck campaign. The election has been massively rigged and Bode George, the smart midget, is positioning himself for lucre in the new dispensation. He has dropped the old Yoruba cap and New NIGERIAN newspaper  of Thursday, 3rd May,2007, had two pictures of the man marching smartly beside his new quarry,Umar Yar’ Adua, with a Northern Nigerian cap on his head! The king is dead; long live the king! Political jobbers like bode

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