MEMORABLE GOOFS – Adewale Sobowale

Nigeria is a reporter’s delight, any day. Of course, the reading public will normally enjoy the news made by newsmakers. They will even debate and argue on some of the news.

Like the goofs!

Chief Obafemi Awolowo was tried for a treasonable felony in the first republic. The trial judge was a Yoruba man like the accused. By the way, the accused was in custody at the then Broad Street prison when news came that he had lost his son, Olusegun.

Chief Awolowo.was eventually found guilty. But the trial judge said his hands were tied. Words then went around, particularly amongst the Yoruba, who felt Awo was being unjustly treated that the judge had said his hands were tied to imprison Awo by the government in power.

Could the judge not have said that his hands were tied by the evidence before him in relation to the laws of the land concerning the perceived offence?

Must he have included that phrase?

A cross-section of Yoruba never forgave Justice George Sodeinde Sowemimo!

Before the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970, the playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka travelled to the Eastern Region. He met Ojukwu, then governor of the region. They talked things over. He met with other people too.

He said his plan was to create a third force. That force would have, he thought, prevented the unnecessary bloodshed that followed the declaration of war.

However, after Kongi left the Eastern region, he went to Ibadan. He met Obasanjo and he spilt the beans.

But like most loyal soldiers, Obasanjo felt his loyalty was to one indivisible Nigeria. And to prevent any doubts about his own loyalty, he told his superiors what transpired between him and Soyinka.

The result was Soyinka’s detention for twenty months.

Sometime during his nine-year rule, General Yakubu Gowon was quoted to have declared that the problem of Nigeria was not money, but how to spend it. I believe he must have been surprised by his country having so many petrodollars.

He was to be criticised for uttering such a statement.

After thirteen years in power, the military deemed it fit to go back into the barracks. They left power for democratic rule in 1979.

Chief Awolowo ran for president under the Unity Party of Nigeria. The ideology of the party was democratic socialism. The party pursued its programmes successfully

However, during his campaigns, Chief Awolowo said he would probe all past governments. Some UPN apologists believe the party lost the presidency for this reason.

The situation was not helped by the fact that Obasanjo was quoted to have said that the best candidate might not win the elections. This also raised a lot of dust.

Obasanjo is a man who enjoys the favour of God. He became Nigeria’s military head of state from February 13, 1975, to October 1, 1979. After his spell as head of state, he retired to his farm in Ota, Ogun State. But he wrote a controversial book, My Command. In the book, people believe he ran Chief Awolowo down.

The publication of the book led to a lot of people criticising what Obasanjo himself stood for!

MKO Abiola was a billionaire. He was a very generous man. He contested for the presidency under Social Democratic Party on June 12, 1993. While the votes were being counted, there was information that Abiola was coasting home to victory.

The prices of commodities started crashing. However, Abiola.was not to be president because the powers that be annulled the election. Some of us had to look for dictionaries to check the meaning of annul because it was a new word to us.

Abiola was to stop being President of his home because he was incarcerated by Abacha. He later died in detention.

However, one point that was popular in Abiola’s manifesto was reparation. This essentially means the collection of benefits accruing to African nations from the Western nations as a result of slavery.

Some people are of the opinion that Abiola’s failure to become president was due partly to that particular point which Western nations would have found embarrassing.

When Abiola was rumoured to have won the election, Obasanjo was interviewed in a South African country by pressmen. He was said to have asked if Abiola was the Messiah.

The then Ooni of Ife, late Oba Okunade Sijuade, is reputed to have told the Yoruba, E jade ke lo try best yin, go out and try your best, at the start of the constitutional conference set up by Abacha to intern the June 12 elections.

And this one!

The late president Yar’adua was ill for quite sometime before his unfortunate death. But the government had to go on. The president had failed to abide by the constitutional rule that he had to send a letter to the national assembly stating in same that the vice president should be the acting president and commander in chief of the armed forces while he was away.

The national assembly had to make a law under the theory of necessity. The vice president became acting president. That was on February 9, 2010.

The federal executive council had a meeting on February 10. The new acting president’s protocol officer put all the former’s papers on the VP’s table. He then promptly pulled the chair back and stood behind it.

The acting president in turn just went to the President’s table and sat down!


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