OF SPEAKER GHALI NA’ABA, ROTIMI AKEREDOLU AND THE FINITENESS OF THE EXISTENTIAL REALITY OF MAN
By Bimbo Daramola
Life and our existential daily realities always come with lessons but human beings , particularly Nigerian elite class will never ever want to see, learn or acknowledge and in the very least of all, accept the fact that we are still humans regardless of or even at our exalted best.
We play deaf and dumb to the reality of our limits, limitations and finiteness , we pretend or deliberately ignore our mortality and power gets into our heads and we get so pig headed while feeling like our powers are infinite and our reality as humans are forgotten, then we begin to act like the momentary power we ordinarily hold in trust has flipped our mortality for immortality.
This is made worse by the ever present sycophantic psychopaths always around us, the ubiquitous praise singers who by the minute keep pumping into us huge dosages of steroids in words and actions from the lousy titles of Your Excellency, to Distinguished Senator or Honourable , or DG, or Executive [ indeed should have been Executhief] Governor, they are the ever present ones who sing us the political elites out of touch and far from reality, their lousy and empty sycophancy nudges us out of bed in the morning and are lullabies to tuck us in at night. They understand the foibles and nuances that some men fall for and which makes some men to fall ,and deploy same to the hilt until their victims self destruct while they take advantage of such foibles from one victim to the other, yet we do not learn, the simple truism of our reality that we are bloody men after all.
Only few people behave like that king who understands how easy it is to be swept away by the dripping outpourings of sycophants, and in order to check that, he mandated an aide to always chant him to bed and to wake him up with this statement ” O King.. thou art man “! In our political space today, it is the other way round.
And we too soak it in, the full complements of deafening blaring siren, the long convoys of vehicles, the retinue of aides at our beck and call make us forget that we are at our very best human beings and that when that day comes, nothing will insulate, immune or impede the grim reaper from doing his job of reminding us of our mortality which is what death truly is. That is the day nobody will stand up for us , with Your Excellency filling the room, in case, we won’t even be on our feet ourselves anyway!
And when that day comes, a date that we are bound to keep, all of us, the retinue of aides and their dripping sycophancy will not be able to help, their effusive outpouring of fake and salacious love, driven and inspired by their selfish interests will not be able to hold the hand of the grim reaper, it will even worse , if the passage to that day is unfortunately preceded by illness or sickness, that your power, the ADC, CSO, guards will be helpless and the trillions looted become useless to you, the next beneficiaries are already plotting how to appropriate them, the known and the unknown wherever they are hid.
That day you will remember and realise the emptiness and futility of all these loot and dry, the selfish and selfishness of man , the me, myself and I, and family syndrome will come to a terminal reality.
Incidentally, through ages we have been warned in different ways, but we would never learn, we keep allowing fame, Status, powers from ill gotten wealth or position to get into our heads with their soporific and sometimes psychotic effect make us feel like Demi Gods.
It is such that no sooner will someone who one thought was a humble school mate, classmates, course mate, colleague, co-traveller in the days of struggles,by the stroke of fate or twist of life assumes temporary political positions, either as Director General of a Government agency, Member House of Representatives, Senator, Governor, Vice President or President that their will swell out of proportion and their hitherto masked but real identities will manifest.
Persons that you were closely associated and possibly in trenches together, that you did all things together, some beneficiaries of what a collective worked for, in the belief that you were bonded and bounded by thesame purpose and goals will suddenly flip and they become inaccessible and go off tangent , filled will inordinate selfish motives and different desires take over.
They now see themselves as super humans , forgetting when you were all regular people or either in the struggle together or when it was you who also had the grace to have been good to them.
They change not only attitude but themselves, make new so called friends, befitting of their new found position albeit temporary and momentary.
They forget the finiteness of their existential reality as human beings, play god and carry on as if they will live forever because of their new found fame, Status, power and most times ill-gotten weath.
But thank God, we all will come to that juncture, the ultimate leveller, the point where we will ALL be left to ourselves to face the reality of our limits and confronted by our limitations as humans and all of that momentary fame, wealth, status and power will be nothing, and come to nought, then the limits and illusions of power will be unravelled.
Like I said a lot had been said about this reality, but as humans , we will never reconcile ourselves with self evident facts rather we delude ourselves by assuming , “its for others not me”! Some of the age long reminders to keep us in check include:
In the mid sixties ,Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey had a song of warning for us , where he said ” abi ile aye ta wa yi ko? Afowo ba file ni” translated as ” is it not this world that we live in? we touch momentarily and leave it” Yet we as humans we hear but will not allow that to sink in, we carry on as if we are infinite.
The second is the story of a rich man, a man of power, means and fame who after all his material acquisitions and eartly acquisitions was in search of immortality.
So he went to a herbalist, and told the herbalist ,” Baba mo fe se oogun aiku abi Gbekude i.e [bind death]” I.e Baba, I need the power or the Juju that will keep me alive forever or that will bind death!
So the herbalist realising the folly of the rich man told him to go and look for the skin of a strange animal called “agiliti”[ I don’t know the name of the animal in English].
The rich man beclouded by his inordinate wish to live forever deployed his means and might, contact and capabilities, in search of the Skin of “Agiliti”.
It was in the quest for this life sustaining skin that the rich man met , an old man who inquired why the rich man was looking forlon and despondent.
The rich man was forced to tell the old man why he has been so distraught and greatly disturbed, as the search for “oogun aiku” or “Gbekude” i.e [medicine to prevent death!] or “suspend death” respectively has remained fruitless and unproductive.
The wise old man then told the rich foolish man, that he had been on a wild goose chase, and that the Juju man just wanted to be on his wage list in perpetuity, the rich man was shocked and asked the wise old man why?
The wise old man then said to the rich fool, that if death could kill ” agiliti ” itself , whose skin the Juju man said you should look for to stay alive permanently, of what use will the skin of the dead agiliti be to you?
The folly of some men who forget that they are men regardless of their new found status, power, fame, wealth [mostly ill gotten] confounds indeed !
Thirdly is the story of the rich man , the bible described him as the “rich fool” in [Luke 12 vs 20] who momentarily in his wealth conscious giddiness state went boasting even as some still do and is their stock in trade is till this day, he looked at his wealth all around him and declared in self fulfilment and exaltation, and said gleefuly that” My heart sit and enjoy, look all these things that you have been able to acquire by your Strength…and while saying that, the voice came to him, ..today an account of your life shall be demanded of you..he met with the reality of his mortality!
Lastly, the story of Alexander the great! A man of power, fame, means , status and dreaded on account of all that he wielded.
On his dying bed 🛌, he had three death wishes as communicated to his aides, first, that medical doctors should carry his corpse to the grave, secondly, that on his way to where he would be interred, gold and money should by scattered on the way to line the pathway, as the corpse is being taken to the grave, and last wish, his hands should be left dangling out of the coffin.
The aides were surprised at these very queer wishes from a dreaded and feared rich and powerful but now feeble and dying man and because he was dreaded , they knew his words were like decrees, they had to be complied with.
For clarity, the aides summoned all the guts to ask Alexander the Great why these strange requests ? 🤔
He volunteered explanations, Alexander the great said, the request to have Medical Practitioners carry his dead body was to remind everyone of our mortality, and when that day comes , no one, no doctor can stave it off.
The request to have money thrown on the road to line his path was to show the futility of wealth, and that when we are confronted with our mortality test, our wealth will be useless and lastly his hands to be left dangling is to affirm that on that day, we would not be able to loot, grab and store anything for ourselves.
So with all these reminders and many more, it’s amazing why humans still lose the touch with their reality and the finiteness of their existence when they come into power and their new status?
A lot till this day still strut on as if they own the breath from their nostrils,Our recent history is replete with examples, Gen Abacha, Aba kyari etc
As dreaded was General Sanni Abacha, no one fired a bullet, when his mortality test day came, all the body guards , brigade of guard, Presidential guards were helpless, the agent of the test went past all of them and straight into the safest fortress in Nigeria, and asked him to keep his date , on that day, being a General did not matter, the Commander in Chief of armed forces was commanded to tag along for his final walk.
I am reminded of all these and more and that is why personally, my life is so moderated by these reality and as much as I can, I try to live it while I sympathise with those still caught in the woolly haze of their momentary power, material accomplishments and acquisitions wether acquired rightly or illicitly conferred by the stroke of luck combined with the defective society that we have found ourselves.
The news of the death of these two great Nigerians,that of former Speaker House of Representatives, Speaker Ghali Na’aaba, and Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu former Governor of Ondo State today is yet again startling, just as it is whenever a powerful man had to keep his date with the agent of our mortality test.
The death of these two men, both of whom are fairly well known to me also is humbling in many ways, Speaker Ghali I met as Speaker , in the heat of the fight with President Olusegun Obasanjo and Arakunrin as vociferous democrat President of Nigeria Bar Association, then through the struggle for Alagbaka Government House.
In their own rights, successful Nigerians, who have contributed to the advancement of democratic practice and our nation through the powers they wielded at different times.
It was like 2023 was determined to end on this sombre and sober note for us ,with tge unfortunate harvest of these men most untimely i will say, again this further humbles me and brings to mind the illusions of power, you can try to hold on to it tenaciously, in vice grip but someday, sometime, one day by one design or the other , natural or otherwise, it will fall through.
So eventually Speaker Ghali Na’aaba would have to go and rest As the Hausas will say, Kwana Ya kare! He has paid up now the one debt we all owe.
Even though I believe if the selfish and self centred political class that he belonged to had seen him and treated him more sincerely as one of them tgat should be cared for, as a human being beyond the office, the latter part of his stay on this side of the great divide may not have been as traumatic and him not traumatised by abandonment of the class he belonged to rising up to number 4 in this nation with a record of standing firm for a collective purpose when occassion demanded.
This was a man who stood up and squared up to President Olusegun Obasanjo as the 4th Speaker of Federal Republic of Nigeria, in defence of the institution, integrity and authority of the parliament and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He defied the powers of the then President and deferred to a political class that hailed him when in office but same political class dropped him when he was out, abandoned him to his realities and left him in the lurch regardless of his fidelity with the people.
He did not amass wealth, he was a man of faith, simplicity was the garb he wore and spoke the truth and truth he spoke to power. “Olooto kii leni”
At different times I visited him in Wuse 2, and just to cheer him up, he won’t talk much, he would hold my hands in feeble grip, with a distant gaze in his eyes but still had the steely resolve of goodness and well meaning self left in him
He bore his medical challenges almost alone with equanimity, and save for a few conscionable people who rose to support him when his health became seriously challenged and impaired.
A Serious Lesson learnt by me.
May Almighty Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him Aljanah firdaus 🙏
As for Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, a very engaging personality, at different times, I was with him at Rock View Hotel in Wuse 2, that was his usual hotel, before he became Governor, anytime he had a matter in court he was here and I used to go chat with him, infact when his ticket was hanging in balance there were three of us with him and offering our own perspectives and contacts to reach out to about how to survive it, well he did, and the man i knew as President NBA turned out not be thesame as Governor! But the rest as they say.
The most painful is how his minders handled his latter days in office, for whatever reason , I believe his latter days should have been handled with devoid of all the drama
A lot of sobriety would have served everyone well and better if we understand aur finiteness as humans, particularly granted the situation that life eventually presented before today. All the drama of those days were unnecessary if only people are conscious of our mortality.
For me , our mortality is the greatest humbling factor in life, constraining anyone who cares to live responsibly [this is not a message for alcohol drinkers alone i reckon], calling for a life of modestly and moderated in disposition to temporary political and even professional positions, status, fame, wealth and earthly recognitions.
If only we could adopt this consciously, I believe our world will be a saner place to live in for everyone, relationships will be truer, more sincere, nor exploitative and taken more seriously, we will be less avaricious and capricious , we will uphold the human dignity more and not relate with people on the basis of their life low estate realities.
All the titles and titular expressions, Your Excellency, Distinguished Senator, Executive Governor, Executive Director General, Executive Chairman, Distinguished Senator, Chairman House Committee, bla bla , all these will not matter when the day comes for a rain check of our mortality.
What will matter is ” who truly was the man” and the answer will be found in the footprints that would have become indelible that nothing can rewrite or wipe away.
No matter how well the latter day revisionists want to launder or deodorise the putrid odoriferous stench reputation that will ooze out after that appointment with death is kept, it will certainly not go away. And surely this is one appointment that ALL OF US WILL KEEP one day! Then we will be confronted with our reality and realities, barefaced.
For as long as no one has the Juju called “Gbekude ” then our mortality should temper our conduct and lifestyle with humility.
Aljanah firdaus to the indefatigable Alhaji Umar Ghali Na’aba, a.k.a the Lion and, May the soul of Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu SAN rest in peace.
The memories we have and kept of the dead particularly men of power, means and wealth will determine their places in the hearts of people they came across while alive and their place in history.
Congressman Bimbo Daramola
27th December, 2023