Diran OdeyemiThursday, October 9, 2003
[email protected]
London, UK



hile the controversy ranges on as to the true cause of Senator Chuba Okadigbo's death, my heart-felt sympathy goes to the family at this moment of their grief. It is my prayer that God will grant them the courage to bear the irreparable loss. Whoever has lost a husband and a father would know the pains the Okadigbos are going through at this moment; this is why we must all remember them in our prayers today and always. Nigerians, most especially the Igbos, shall miss Okadigbo for his flamboyancy in private and public life.

I am however astonished at the buck-passing and controversy as to who and what killed late Okadigbo as if he was not meant to pay the supreme price of dying one day and by any means. This is why at times I cannot understand Nigerians, majority of who proclaimed themselves as either devoted Christians or faithful Muslims. Who does not know that death is the ultimate that will come at any time and without a notice irrespective of who and what is responsible?

I believe he who does not create cannot kill without the creator's approval, if therefore it is the turn of Okadigbo to answer the ultimate call of nature, let his death not be politicised. The former Senate President was a controversial politician in his lifetime, I believe his friends will not be doing him any good by instigating another round of controversy after his demise, he deserved to rest in peace now that he has passed on to join his creator or ancestors.

Death at age 61 may be regarded as unripe and untimely by his political friends, but going by the recent claim of the deceased at age 60, that he has lived a fulfilled life of having everything, cool money, fresh wines and women, I beg to disagree that he died unsung or at an unripe age as previously cursed by late Nnamdi Azikwe. Okadigbo in his inner contentious mind lived a happy life, his friends and family attested to it, why would anybody want to cry more that the bereaved?

If the intention of the police was to send Okadigbo to grave in tears, thereby using "poisonous" teargas on him, they obviously have failed this time around, the man is smiling his way to heaven, leaving this sinful world for them to continue their madness or mad dog characteristics.

On a separate note, I was shocked that ordinary teargas would kill a flamboyant, powerful politician like Okadigbo who I perceive, like other top politicians, to possess tested African insurance (juju) that gives immunity against more dangerous weapons from opponents such as amulets, bullets, charms and other hazardous missiles. This is one of the criteria of joining Nigeria politics. Being a politician without "protection" is akin to committing suicide, politics especially in Nigeria is a real business venture over which some are ready to kill or be killed.

If it is proved that the man (Okadigbo) died of ordinary teargas shot by the police whose better understanding of managing crowd is damaging lives, it then means "Oyi of Oyi" died in the hands of mad dogs he ought to have tamed when he had the power to do so.

As a former Adviser to President Shehu Shagari, he should have called the mad dogs some bad names and have them castrated or at least re-orientate them to behave in civilised manner towards fellow Nigerians. This he did not do in his lifetime, he was busy doing other stuffs.

As Senate President, Okadigbo should have legislated against unwarranted harassment and biting by mad dogs as represented by the police and thus save many souls that were consequently lost during peaceful protests by harmless Nigerians. This he did not do neither did he raise a finger to disagree of this in his lifetime; he was busy doing his other business.

Now that he is dead, there is no second chance for him to do those things he did not do. Okadigbo has gone on to become part of history and the question is what are the legacies he left behind for passing through this world? The great lesson to learn and this is that the life we live will soon be past but the things we do for posterity will endure the test of time.

Having said that, I want to move a motion that we do a post mortem review of the life of the departed to see if from the demise of this "illustrious" son of Nigeria other surviving eminent leaders would learn some lessons about life and death. In doing this I also want to call for the adoption of a fair rule for both the dead and the living whereby we can always speak objectively without being accused of breaking the retrogressive rule of speaking ill of the dead.

Of all the encomiums pouring in to eulogise late Okadigbo, how many are true reflection of his roles, duties and achievements either as Adviser to President Shagari in1999 or as Senate President in year 2000? Why would anybody want to idolise Okadigbo as the best Senate President Nigeria ever had when his inglorious exit and impeachment from the seat remain evergreen till date?

Can anybody ever pray to have another Okadigbo as Senate President ever again in Nigeria? Will Alhaji Idris Kuta who found Okadigbo guilty of corruption say of him "here lays the remains of an honest Nigeria who died while offering selfless service to his country"? I doubt it much.

While all the hypocrisy goes on, let other criers know that the amount of tributes and praises will not determine anybody's qualification to make heaven, it is the good work done to humanity that counts before the Almighty. Begging God to forgive inequalities of the departed should be our prayer at this time and not playing to the gallery in memorised grammar.

Is this not the same Okadigbo that had 32 vehicles of various shapes and brands as official cars as well as spending millions on vanities of life? I know for sure that he will not be buried with any of his worldly possessions other than in Igbo costume neither would he be buried in limousine. He would ride to a six-foot grave in ambulance and be buried outside the palace-like mansion he built. These I believe are the basis on which we should be seeing life and death rather than the lip and eye-service some politicians are paying as tribute.

I beg to disagree that late Okadigbo was a saint of which his political colleagues are now painting him unless there are other good contributions he made secretly that are not known to us while to be fair to him, he was not a devil reincarnate like late Abacha. He was a politician who came, saw but did not conquer.

Late Okadigbo like the hypocritical praise-singers that survived him fell short of our expectation as leaders who had the opportunity but failed to lead well. The evidences are too glaring.

It is not that I expected late Okadigbo to be an angel in the midst of devils, no, far from it. What I am saying is that an accurate measure of his account on earth will be good to recount if that will serve as a reminder to other existing leaders that the evil they do today will live long after their demise. Good name and integrity is better than formulae "3W" (Wealth, Wine and Women).

Talking about the police, I grew up to know them as "kill and go" I started tasting their brutality right from my youth which up till date has not stopped, even now that I am an occasional visitor to the country. I have inhaled smoky teargas on several occasions during my University days up to a point that I started perceiving it as perfume with good fragrance. This situation I am sure has not changed. Each time police are called out to control crowd, many people must be killed as evidence of a job well done either from expired teargas or from accidental discharge from mark 4 rifle of the illiterate police whose understanding of protection means demolition.

Now that police brutality has claimed a VIP (very important personality), a former Senate President for that matter, our legislators will sure sit up to review police methodologies, not because they were concerned about previous police killings of students and human rights activists but because a political leader is involved.

Shall we then start to pray in late Tai Solarin's modified phrase, "May their road (souls) be rough" so as to be able to have a listening government that will feel exactly how the shoe they put on our legs pinches us.

A nation where souls have hierarchy, wherein the soul of a Minister is perceived to be more important than that of a jobless Ajegule resident will not know peace just as a country where the right to life and living is measured by wealth; power and position will not progress.

On to your hands I commit Nigeria O Lord. Sanitise it in your own divine way. Amen and May the soul of Okadigbo rest in peace.