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Published October 31st, 2010

This parable of Tortoise, the trickster came to my mind as I was thinking about current events in my dear State; Ogun, the Gateway State. The wiry ex-general has confounded us on many issues in the past to the extent that one must be careful not to assume that he has learnt from history or has the capacity to perceive reality.  History tells us that many egoistic and greedy ambitious leaders met their doom due to their inability to decipher the time to stop and listen.  Talking about history has brought my consciousness to the world of folk tales. As usual the tortoise always occupies centre stage. From time immemorial, this animal, with its own unique way , has always fascinated me.  

Tortoise is ugly, slow, and sneaky. I was told from childhood that Tortoise harbours many existential secrets. No folk tale was ever told without a didactic meaning. In one of the tales, Tortoise made a noisy preparation and announced that he was going to the market. His curious neighbour, seeing that the day was far gone, asked: “When will you return?” tortoise replied, “Not until I’ve been disgraced. I thought of this parable when the timeless story passed to me by my father came to my memory once again. My Grandfather’s village is called ‘Idi-Ori’, one of the numerous villages around Abeokuta. My grandfather until his demise was a very rich farmer. His wealth was well known not just in his village but other villages around. He was a generous giver. But despite his generousity, he was much envied for his wealth and his charisma. A well endowed, tall handsome royal looking gentleman with money and large expanse of lands for farming and harvesting was well loved by the masses that are recipients of his goodwill. In comparison, there is this story of yet another farmer not as old as my father but older than me.  This Particular farmer though very rich now was not born rich. God bestowed on him greatness through his chosen career of defense before he became a farmer. He is well known for his love for women of all shades and class with many children as a result of sexual philandering.

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Through his chosen career, he became No 2 and then No 1 as a result of a failed Coup that killed his immediate boss. He disengaged at the promised time and handed over to a civilian government that did not have clear winning votes which made people to perceive the election was rigged towards a chosen candidate. Some will swear that he did this because of his aversion to having another Yoruba man in the same position he once occupied. He wants to be the only one celebrated at that level. Despite the flaws in the election, people embraced the result in order to have democratic government. After this, the man, I will simply called ‘JBO’ became a farmer. As a farmer, he started secretly to play politics though he was not known then as a Politician, his greatest wish is to be the only one Leader known and recognized from his area.

When a free and fair election produced the symbol of democracy called OKM and this election was annulled, he rose to defend the annulment against his kith and kin telling whoever cared to listen that the man, OKM was not the Messiah of the people. The people never listened to him, they rose against the annulment, many were killed, many were maimed and many more were sent on exile. During the Beastly & Gestapo reign of another autocratic leader from JBO defense Constituency, the man JBO was sentenced to serve a prison term. As a prisoner, he turned to God, asked for forgiveness of his numerous sins and the ever loving, ever merciful God did forgive him and gave him a miracle of second chance, he never envisaged. Did he use his second chance well? That is a debate for another day. From prison, he went back to his dilapidated farm, and thereafter got lucky.

The North wanted to assuage the feelings of the West and amend for the crisis the annulment of election caused by looking towards the region the acclaimed winner came from. He was chosen to carry the new torch and with the support from the North got back to position No. 1. This leadership was handed over on a platter of Gold & of non-resistant though he failed woefully at home and lost his deposit even at the ward level. It is worthwhile to mention here that his embrace of politics did not change the mind of his kith & kin from his betrayer of a fellow brother. His first coming as a leader after his prison experience as stated earlier recorded electoral defeat from his homestead; the historical victory his party recorded in his second term was not as a result of new love for him but through the hard work of the then governorship candidate, Ogidi Omo. A known enigma and a visionary most loved by his people for his freshness and documented ‘Contract with the People’. Ogidi Omo injected new ways, new ideas, young vibrant professionals in politics into the game and the people embraced him. DGO style of leadership is spiced with equity, justice, fairness, and compassion. His style of leadership is a blessing from God, and very few leaders possess these attributes. No wonder the envy and hatred. DGO unique leadership style makes him tower over and above his peers. It is no wonder then, that he got the massive votes of Ogun State not just for the first term but also for a second-term in office. Yorubas’ are sensitive people and highly enlightened voters. The Yorubas’ from NUGO State in particular are traditional and historically sought to be led by leaders with high moral credentials. In more ways than can be enumerated; DGO is like the late sage and leader by his actions and deeds. DGO has transformed NUGO State and opened investment opportunities never enjoyed before in the State. The Agricultural Policy of his administration is one of the best in the world. DGO service to humanity was started when he set up the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF). Prior to GFF, he has been an individual philanthropist and he has touched several lives, the needy and the poor not only in Nugo State but in the whole of Federation, no wonder his people loved him and will follow him unlike JBO the farmer. The fortunes of the largest party swelled up and changed for better in NUGO state only when DGO and his associates joined the party.

The victory the State and the entire SW states recorded initially gave JBO false sense of acceptability. He became meddlesome and dictatorial; the result is the loss of some of the SW States through judgments of the Judiciary. As with these lost States, he has started creating confusion, chaos, and division in Nugo state that have all elective offices from the same party. He forgot that it was not his personality or hard work that won those elections and gave the party victory. JBO’s indiscipline and rude daughter is also compounding the issues and eroding further the trust of the people. She forgot the person that first gave her the taste of political power and constantly misbehave as if she is the only president’s daughter. The sing-song of the duo is “Not until I’ve been disgraced”. I sincerely hope JBO listens to the word of wisdom, come down from his high horse before he is totally disgraced by delegates and electorates. I know when people get old; they face many health and psycho-social challenges like dementia, acute confusion, depression, paranoia, suspiciousness, phobia, and social change in status to mention some samples. No matter how much he tries to deny it, JBO is an elder, an old man. Some of these psycho-social challenges are confronting him and he truly needs to slow down. JBO need to control his social challenges as a result of his real not declared age. As a sister, I plead with him to confront his status changes since he is no longer No. 1 either at the National level or State level. The idea of fostering candidates on the party cannot work. We know ourselves, we know genuine party members that have been sustaining the party through hard times financially and other forms of support.

The story of David and Goliath is recorded in the Holy Scriptures and taught to many children in the Sunday school.  It is very apt now to quote the sayings of David to Goliath; David said to the Philistine (Goliath), “You come against me with Sword and Spear and Javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, ……………… All those gathered here will know that it is not by Sword or Spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give all of you into our hands NIV.” In the battle of Supremacy in Nugo State, the Will of the LORD shall prevail. It is not JBO or even DGO that will install DGO’s successor but God. It is necessary here to sound a note of warning that the LORD will arise and let all his enemies be scattered; enemies of progress and protector of ‘Me’ and ‘Me’ only. DGO is God’s anointed and chosen by Him to do His Will. He is today No. 1 in Nugo State; anyone who attempts to rubbish him or plan against him shall and will be thoroughly disgraced. A word is enough for the wise.

In conclusion, let us refresh our memories with some of the folk tales of Tortoise: There was a party in skyland to which winged animals had been invited. Not one to be left out of any kind of merriment, tortoise negotiated with the birds to take a bunch of feathers on loan to enable him fly with them to the party. On reaching skyland, tortoise announced that he had changed his name to ‘All-of-you’. The birds laughed at him not knowing what was coming. When the stewards brought a giant tray of food, they told the visitors that the food was for ‘All-of-you’. Tortoise grabbed the tray and wolfed down the food. Next came drinks for ‘All-of-you’; then dessert and take-away, all for ‘All-of-you’. Tortoise grabbed everything. At this stage, the birds saw through his trick. In anger, they retrieved their bunch of feathers from him and flew back to earth. Featherless and friendless, tortoise had no option but to fall back to the earth. His shell broke into a thousand pieces but he was still alive. He begged an army of termites building a mound nearby to come to his aid. They proceeded to start re-assembling the shattered pieces of his shell. While they were at it, tortoise wondered aloud if any of them had fouled the air. They said no. He then asked why they smelt so badly. Astounded by his ingratitude, they decided to assemble his broken shell in ridges, thereby ensuring that generations of the tortoise would forever remember the day their ancestor opened his mouth too wide. A wise sage once said that an ingrate is but a robber in disguise.  Another Tortoise story says: After a heavy bout of drinking at a funeral party, tortoise bared his mind to his co-revellers. “I wish there would always be a party like this every weekend.” The others warned tortoise not to say such a thing because funeral parties could only be held when someone died. Tortoise retorted, “I don’t care if somebody has to die before a funeral party can be held. What’s so strange about anybody dying anyway? I’m not bothered as long as there is a big party where I can make merry.”  The following week, the town crier did his usual rounds of announcing new developments in the community. There would be a funeral service and party over the coming weekend, he announced. “Who died?” asked an elderly man in the gathering. “It is my painful duty to announce the untimely death of Mr. Tortoise,” said the town crier, “May his soul rest in peace.” Didn’t one other wise man say what you wish for others can overtake you? A word is enough for the wise; here I draw the curtain for now. Shikena!

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