The ‘omnipresent' Baba Iyabo, I dey laugh

Olaitan Ladipo

Since everyone has been attaching all sorts of labels to the old general from Owu, I decided I must add my own. Who knows, the national assembly may decide tomorrow to pass a law making it illegal to call Obasanjo names. What do you mean that is impossible; the Speaker is his kinsman, or to be precise, his kinsman's son. Forget their little spat over ‘I can romance anybody' Patricia. When they get to Abeokuta and start singing those Lishabi songs, anything can happen.

What about the Senate, then? What do you mean, what about the Senate? The Senate man, is he not a soldier? All OBJ needs to do is shout Mark, and he will stand to attention, yes, sir! But, he is retired, same as OBJ. So? Once a soldier, always a soldier.

Poor OBJ, when frustrated enemies are not cursing him, their hirelings are abusing the old man. You know, special assistants, editors, spokespersons, and all. I can understand all of that but there are others that keep attributing supernatural powers to him. The other day Levi called him omniscient. Before that, someone had named him the ‘ebora' of Owu - the forest demon of Owu. What does OBJ have to do with Jews?

No, no, this one is a Nigerian, Levi Obijofor. Well, my friend Okwudili, he is part of a research project to trace Igbo Jewry, so, you are nearly correct there. Anyway, this Nigerian Levi, he described OBJ as omniscient. That is a grammarian's way of calling you a know-it-all. To put it better in vernacular, a mister-too-know. I am serious. I had looked it up in the dictionary before then, for good reason.

You see, my church pastor likes to pray with those big, big grammar words, which half of us in the congregation hardly understood. He would stretch his hands forward and say, O Lord my God …the omnipresent …the omnipotent …the omniscient, and so on. Since I wanted to be sure the man was not raining curses on those of us that put only N5 in the offertory bowl, I decided to look it up in the dictionary. There, it said the meaning of omniscient is someone who has no limit to his knowledge. Yes, the Almighty. God!

That is my point - I have no time for sarcasm - nobody should compare OBJ to God. Before you know it, the old general might start to believe it. You know he has built a university in Abeokuta. He has built a cultural centre; he has built a secondary school, a primary school, even a nursery, and a church and, what else? Yes, in addition to a 100-room mansion on the hilltop. Before you know it, he would build a shrine, you know, like that old Iraqi emperor, what is his name now, not Saddam; his great, great, great grandfather; yes, Nebuchadnezzar!

That was how he started, that Nebuchadnezzar. He built beautiful Babylon. He built a fortress wall, built a hanging garden. He made roads with marble, but before anyone knew, he had written his name on even the cobblestones of Babylon. Finally, he built a gigantic image of himself and asked (no, commanded!) everyone to bow down to it. By which time, nobody dared refuse except some three suicidal Hebrew boys. There you go again about Jews. I cannot help history, can I?

One thing I find disturbing about OBJ is the way a whole nation can be in such awe of a retired old soldier, seventy-four years old. Well, his friends say, add five years to that. His children say, add ten. Not to forget his enemies, who pray that Allah will not add another minute.

I choose to believe his children though. As for his friends, you know it is humiliating enough to have to admit that a man five years older is still chatting up your daughter's friends when you are already overdosing on Viagra. I thought this was meant to be for family reading. Sorry!

What I am trying to say is that (assuming suggestions for OBJ's age have a normal distribution) it is easier for the friends of a man with a mean age of eighty to hide their inferior sexual complex within a standard deviation of five. For someone that failed STA101 in university, you are very analytical.

However, what is it about Egba men and their unusual libido? It must be something in the drinking water of Abeokuta. Remember the other prominent Egba son? The one that won elections. Rumour had it staffers never allowed girlfriends to visit at their office when the big boss was around. Why? Forget it, we must not speak ill of the dead.

Well, how about the other Egba man, Abami Eda; he wedded twenty-seven women in one day. That tells me his talents were not limited to music. Is that the reason he did not wear clothes? Well, if you had to service as many as twenty-seven wives day in day out, not forgetting the senior wife in Surulere who would still demand her own share, clothes certainly could constitute an encumbrance. Remember what you said about the dead. Oh yes, I keep forgetting he too is dead.

You see, all these Fela-this-Fela-that makes you think he is still alive. That is the legacy of genius. It never dies. Even Barack and Michelle went to see his musical on Broadway. Why Broadway, what happened to Glover Hall, National Theatre, Abuja Conference Centre, etc? They say we cannot afford to pay the actors. Remember, these are not Genevieve or Baba Suwe; exchange rate is 150 to 1.

Rubbish! Even young Bankole (another Egba man, you see) could pay all of them for a whole year, no sweat. All it will require is another contract to supply bicycles to national assembly messengers and cleaners.

Careful what you say about young Bankole. The other day, only God saved that boy from Imo, Independence or whatever his name. One blow and they would be gathering his front teeth in Nkalagu.

Well, still talking about Egba men and their libido, word has it that still another Egba man had a reputation when he was professor in Ife. Which Egba man again? The one with the award. No, no, the man is Remo, from Ijebu. Nevertheless, did he not grow up in Ake? He wrote about it. Yes, that is what I am saying about the water they give to little boys in Abeokuta to drink.

Actually, this could be a good business idea. You know, ‘mungani bleep bleep bleep' (like you said, we need to watch the language, but I am sure you know about what I am talking). The other day, this Hausa vendor in Lagos kept barging me with his ware, insisting my spouse would be grateful for it. I went straight home to confront my wife for going behind me to complain to a total stranger.

So, you see, if we can bottle the Ogun river water and market it as aphrodisiac, we will be rolling in it. Money, I mean. No starting capital. Negligible overheads. For advertisement, we simply mention three or four Egba men's names. Nearly all revenue will be profit!

Look here, you started all these with saying you were going to give Baba a new name of your own. Yes, I have not forgotten. Do you not agree it is unfair the way everyone keeps calling the poor old man only bad names?

Well, even you will agree that the general committed enough atrocities to justify taking him to Mena in Saudi, to replace the three Jamarat pillars, and to double the number of missiles each pilgrim should throw. OBJ, in holy land? Stop blaspheming now, before I pronounce a fatwa on you. If you like pronounce Rukkayat, I do not care.

Did you say Rukkayat? Funny, you should mention her. I hear she is the next governor of Kwara, come April. It is true. Let me tell you, if Baba Oloye puts up a chicken in Ilorin, it will become governor. Is he that powerful? Powerful, ask former governor Lawal. He is dead. Well, I could not ask you to go to Okene; that would be disrespectful of an eighty-three-year old elder statesman.

Talking about powerful daughters (sorry, daughters of powerful fathers), is Iyabo too going to be governor in Ogun State? That, I cannot say but tell you what, that Iyabo is definitely a chip off the old block. Did you see how she challenged Gbenga's bodyguard to fisticuffs during that church service in Ogbomoso? Which Gbenga? Don't be stupid, how many Gbenga come from Ogun State?

It serves Gbenga right though. He should have learnt his lessons from that Ekiti upstart. Can you imagine it, that one called Baba the father of bastards? As soon as these small boys occupy government lodges for a short while, surrounded by police orderlies and disorderly females, they forget how to be orderly in the presence of men of the old order.

So, I am now prepared to give the general my own appellation. It is the omnipresent Baba Iyabo, and you only need open any Nigerian newspaper to see what I mean.

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