IBORI, TINUBU AND TRUMP
A high school mate of mine recently celebrated the birthday of Chief James Ibori on Facebook with this post – “Happy Birthday To The Odidigboigbo Of The Universe…Our National Leader…Chief James Ibori…”. Others added their comments to his post – “Happy birthday 2 an excellent leader …”, “Happy birthday to a distinguish leader” and so on.
The more I read these comments the more I realise why we are where we are as a people. I was also tempted to use the cliché – It is only in Nigeria that someone like Ibori will be celebrated this way. Then, I remembered the fallacy of that cliché. Most people who use it, have not travelled outside Nigeria and know little or nothing about what non-Nigerians do.
I remembered Trump. With all his documented harassments, racist tweets and un-statemanly attributes and attitudes, Americans might still vote him for a second term. I also thought about Senator Bola Tinubu, the landlord of Lagos State. And I realised that these three individual shares one significant thing in common. Their power is derived from their ethnic or racial base, and they exploit it.
While visually documenting the 10th Year coronation anniversary of the Ovie of Uvwie at the Ovie’s Palace in Effurun, Delta State with my students from the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation’s Harmattan Workshop, I saw Ibori in proximity for the first time. I immediately realised why he is called Odidigboigbo. Ibori is a force. He is still young and healthy and can probably continue to be the most important kingmaker in Delta State for a long time if everything remains as it is now.
The kinsmen and women of Ibori, Tinubu and Trump suspend their sense of reason whenever a matter concerns them and become imprudent. Yes! That is what we become. Because I am guilty also. We stop thinking about their glaring failings, the big picture and we concentrate on the bones they throw to us.
Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld once remarked that “Passion often makes fools of the wisest men and gives the silliest wisdom.” Nepotism can replace the word passion in the above quote. With the skills of Ibori, he is supposed to be celebrated by Niger Deltans and even Nigerians, just like the skills of Tinubu and Trump could give them widespread international honours.
These men are courageous, cunning but unfortunately small minded with reference to their talents and the resources available to them. Nonetheless, their kinsmen are often blinded to their small-mindedness that truncates the greater good and eventually makes them local heroes and national zeros.
No one can tell the sharing formula between the worst governor yet in Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Ibori or the royalties he gets from the present governor. The scope of Tinubu’s impoverishment of Lagos with reference to what he has acquired and continue to acquire through the stooges he installs as governors would blow our minds when these revelations eventually comes to the open. The complicity of Trump with regards to Russia and the compromises he has made to destroy the legacy of the United States of America as the bastion of democracy, rule of law and human rights has negative multiplier effects globally.
The rise in home grown terrorism by white males and violent white nationalism in the United State is a direct offshoot of the words, actions and inactions of President Trump. The present killings and kidnapping of innocent citizens in the South-West of Nigeria is also an offshoot of Senator Tinubu’s words, actions and inactions. Likewise, the underdevelopment and indebtedness of the petroleum and monthly allocation rich Delta State, is also a result of the legacy of Chief James Ibori.
I call on Urhobos, Yorubas and Americans to think objectively and acknowledge the truth about these men. They are reasonable men whose ambitions make them to do unreasonable things that negate our collective peace, prosperity and progress. Trump’s words and actions is destroying the progress America has made in race relation for centuries. Tinubu’s greed and ambition is the hinderance withholding Lagos from becoming the next Singapore. Ibori’s kingmaking roles is preventing Delta State from maximizing her potential as a geographical location with one of the highest human resources in the world.
Ibori’s supporters will state how he transformed his hometown and empowered his loyalists. Tinubu sycophants will tell you his political dexterity is what is giving the Yorubas relevance today. And Trump’s minions will tell you he is making America great again. These narratives are the manifestation of our irrationality. Because Trump, Tinubu and Ibori care more about but their sustenance and upward mobility than any other consideration. If Ronald Reagan was alive and opposes Trump, he will be insulted by Trump. Just like Tinubu will disrespect Chief Obafemi Awolowo if he was alive and opposes him.
Vitor Belfort once remarked that “Legacy is not what I did for myself. It’s what I’m doing for the next generation.” So, I also call on Ibori, Tinubu and Trump to think about their enduring legacies and become men of the people, instead of men of their people. For Ibori and Tinubu, they could use their giftings to transform the South-South and South-West respectively, positively and enduringly. For Trump, instead of being a hero of white supremacists, he could use his considerable fearlessness to do what is right and become a true leader of the free world.
Ata Ukuta – editor, www.towncryyers.com