When two elephants make love, its the...

Tonye David-West, Jr., Ph.D
Political Scientist

What most people do not know about Obasanjo's diplomatic prostitution since he came to office is that he is amassing support for his reelection bid in 2003. There is more to his two official trips to the US than meets the eye.

...grass that suffers.

his Swahili proverb when juxtaposed with the Nigerian political situation becomes all the more relevant. However, if I may be so bold and ask the Swahilians to indulge me ever so briefly, I would like to replace the words "make love" with the word "fight ", so that the proverb would read, "When two elephants fight, its the grass that suffers."

Without equivocation, the Nigerian political landscape is setting the stage for the fight of the two elephants if reports that retired General Ibrahim Badamasa Babangida will contest the 2003 elections are anything to go by. If indeed that happens, there would be no love-making between the two former generals, or elephants, if you will, it would all be fighting, blood-letting, blackmailing and you name the rest, between IBB and Obasanjo, while all along, the poor Nigerians, symbolized here by the grass, will bear the unbearable weight of the elephants. Could you imagine such burden?

There is no question that both men have limitless piles of "amunitions" with which to subdue the other man. In the case of the incumbent, we are talking about the well oiled apparatus of government, state funds, media, security, sweet-talking spokesmen and women, those with slippery lips better known as "okra lips", spin doctors, and lets not forget the ever so essential international community.

When two elephants fight...

The new and flourishing relationship with the US will come to bear on the side of Obasanjo. Contrary to popular belief, he is a very intelligent man, a master manipulator if you will---our modern day Maradona. What most people do not know about Obasanjo's diplomatic prostitution since he came to office is that he is amassing support for his reelection bid in 2003. There is more to his two official trips to the US than meets the eye. He has been, in earnest, forging a closer tie with the US as evidenced in the invasion [of Nigeria] by US military personnel who are currently populating our priced capital city of Abuja and the northern state of Sokoto.

When two elephants fight...

Obasanjo will turn to the American for succor. It is his hope that when push comes to shove, and it will come to shove if IBB runs, in the battle of 2003, the Americans will be right there to see him through and watch him re-takes the oath of office to rule the country for yet another four years. Its all well calculated, a deliberate endeavor to checkmate the likes of IBB and other generals who would want to take a return trip to the cookie jar. To underestimate the wherewithal of the farmer from Otta is to be oblivious to the machinations of the Nigerian political machinery. General Victor Leo Malu, former army chief, saw it coming and warned his boss. But for his honesty, he got the pink slip along with other service chiefs who saw the same trend.

When two elephants fight...

It will be time for Obasanjo to warm up to his people---the Yorubas, who rejected him outrightly in 1999. They are coming around now, they too are well aware of the price at stake, of the battle that awaits. He is their own, their son and they would not forsake him no matter how hard they try. They know that the elephants are getting ready to do battle and they want the elephant in charge of things to retain his position. But IBB is no small potato either. His arsenal consist of stolen money from the Nigerian people amounting to billions of dollars.

But most importantly, he has the backing of the other retired generals like Muhammed Marwa, David Mark, Tunde Ogbeha, Ike Nwachukwu, etc. There is a reason for this, there is something in there for them. The stakes are very high and they are very aware of this. They have an unfinished business with Obasanjo, a score to settle and what better way to achieve that than to make him pay at the national polls?

They are the puns in the bloody war that is looming, the forerunners, the front men. Some were retired prematurely and they want their pound of flesh. The scary part is that some of them are in power with Obasanjo, they are in the Senate and in the House. They are the very ones who have been frustrating his development plans, the Judases in our midst. What Nigerians do not know is that the scramble for Aso Rock started immediately the president took the oath of office on May 29, 1999.

Seemingly, Obasanjo is trapped by a cabal of powerful and dangerous interest group, working in concert inside and outside Aso Rock. The sole purpose is to sabotage his government and derail its mission. There is evidence that the cabal is succeeding as it has weakened his hold on the polity, slowed down his economic reforms and has for the most part made him a lame-duck president. We all know how long it took the National Assembly to pass the last budget. The delay was not unconnected with this well rehearsed plan to frustrate this administration out of its wits.

A further example can be drawn from the power [NEPA] situation in Lagos, the nation's largest city. Perturbed by the fractious power problem in Lagos State and its damning effects on both life and business, the governor of that state, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, became innovative in an attempt to put an end to the power mess. The meritorious outcome of his cogitation was the Independent Power Project (IPP), an $800 million, two-phase project aimed at enhancing constant power supply in Nigeria 's commercial nerve center.

What a noble idea. But what has happened to that project now? Is Lagos getting constant power? The answer is a resounding NO. The project was killed by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Aliyu Muhammed Gusau and his cohorts in NEPA and the Power and Mines ministry. Gusau, it should be recalled was a point-man in the IBB junta and a native of Gusau, Zamfara. Uptil date, he remains a close confidant of the former dictator. There was a reason why this project was killed even before it got a life of its own. Its simple logic---if Lagos had constant power, the Obasanjo administration would take the credit, a feat that had never been accomplished by any government in Nigeria, military or otherwise.

Gusau is said to be more powerful than the president and deliberately ill-advises his boss. The goal is to destroy Obasanjo's image before the electorate, so he would be rejected resoundingly come 2003. There are many instances of ill-advise given to the president as evidenced in the eradication of Odi from the map of Nigeria, the adoption of Sharia in the north and the attendant riots, especially, in Kaduna. The OPC debacle and the various outbursts of former president Shagari and retired general Buhari in daring the federal government to stop the northern states to proceed with Sharia.

Its all part of a grandiose effort, a carefully thought out plan to undermine Obasanjo in 2003, to ensure that he returns to his farm in Otta. To them, Obasanjo is biting the fingers that fed him, his sins are many---but the most sordid of all sins is his tight control of the cookie jar. They want that jar by all means and they would stop at nothing in getting it. Or will they?

Gusau seems to be the main man in this on-going battle between the generals. He is IBB's main weapon against Obasanjo and it seems Obasanjo is unaware of that and that would be his ultimate demise. Gusau is an insider, he knows the ins and outs of the president. He is very influential and widely consulted before decisions are made in Aso Rock. He controls the president's schedule--who can see him and who cannot. He tells the president where to go, when to go. He seats at the security table with him, he gives him those reports, skewed as they may be. He knows what is going to happy in the future. He is a soothsayer, of sorts.

Its no wonder that he was in London when the OPC fire was consuming Lagos and other western states and in Paris when Kaduna was on fire as a result of Sharia last year. He was conveniently out of the country in the two most trying moments of the Obasanjo's administration in a feigned mission of loot recovery, an abberation of his own position as NSA. How could he have foreseen the OPC and Kaduna riots as to leave the country at the most opportuned moment? How? It only begs the question.

When two elephants fight...

Nigerians will be the casualties in the mindless politicking for power and wealth. The citizens of Lagos, Kaduna and the people of Odi have paid the price already. Unfortunately, there is more where that came from for all Nigerians. The worst is yet to come. The Swahili people have since told us, that when two elephants make love, its the grass that suffers. But make no mistake about it, none whatsover. There is no love-lust between this two generals, they are not political bedfellows, never have been and do not expect any love-making between them. Don't be fooled by the chirade and the public relations shenanigans. They are two elephants waiting for the ultimate entanglement and when that happens its the grass, the poor Nigerians who will be afflicted a gaping wound, while the two elephants, at the end of the bout, will walk away unscathed.

When two elephants fight, its the grass that suffers.