Monday, November 22, 2010

The Maradona in Me

*Arthur Nzeribe

‘If another civil war breaks out now, I’m more than eager to sell the latest weapons of mass destruction to both the federal side and the new Biafrans’

“I have a President nicknamed ‘Maradona’, who has done everything he said he would not do, and has not done everything he said he would do. My President set out initially trying to be loved by all and to please all but ends up being doubted by all for being unpredictable and contradictory… He dribbles and joggles Nigerians better than Maradona does with football players, but does he score with the ‘hand of God’ as Maradona does? My distant view and assessment of my President is that of a consummate soldier, leader, strategist, ruthless and selfish politician whom we believe to be a humanist, an opportunist in the political arena, a good manipulator of men and circumstances, by his own admission ‘a law breaker,’ having participated in all but one of the illegal acts of coup-making in Nigeria.”

Wait, Arthur. You mean you once wrote all these about the new president-in-waiting?

Sure. But you haven’t seen or heard anything yet. Just let me continue reading out my views about him… “He is a man who does not completely break with his enemies, nor completely embraces his friends, there is an iron fist inside the gloves; thus a winner in the deadly game of power. The only Nigerian leader so far, both from the military and civilian folds, who appreciates what power is all about and uses it effectively for his own ends as do most rulers…”

Wait a minute. I still don’t understand why you have chosen this portion of your book to read to the audience during the literary fiesta for Kongi’s birthday.

How naïve can you be? Open your eyes and read between the lines… “Like Maradona, my President is the best in his chosen trade, to wit, soldiering, and by public acclaim, the best juggler and dribbler in the art of governance and politics in the Nigerian scene since independence. I admire certain qualities in my President. In fact, I see a bit of me in him. My President is bold, courageous, fearless and full of enterprise. He is cunning and foxy. I am. He knows what he wants, plans for it and goes for it deliberately, believing that the end justifies the means.”

Wayo, Allah! Chei!! So, this is why you have chosen to read from your last book — Nigeria: Seven Years After Shehu Shagari? You mean you want to launder the image of this man again?

If the price is right, why not? After all, after revealing all the skeletons in Maradona’s cupboard in 1990, I was still readily available to serve the self-interest of the military president and his henchmen in aborting the June 12 election. But, actually, that’s not my motive for reading those excerpts from my book. If you read between the lines, you’d see Maradona’s character sketch, and my own self-portrait as a cunning, foxy businessman. This is not meant as self-advertisement but as an attempt to explain my roles so far in the polity. Since 1999, you’d have seen my finger in every controversial, if not stinking pie in the House. Wherever the beef was you were likely to see me as the butcher. If you want to cut any senator or representative down to size, or pieces, you can always count on my dexterity with the knife. And this, perhaps, explains to you why I am the vulture-in-waiting, ready to perch on the carcasses and corpses left on the battle field after the gun smoke would have cleared from the Panambra crisis.

Ah! You mean you are the hawk in the proverb who feeds fat on sacrifice? That is immoral.

Imo-what?! There is no morality in business and don’t forget that I am first and foremost a businessman. Everything I do is an extension of my business frontiers and, like the Maradona in the script, the end justifies the means. If another civil war breaks out now, I’m more than eager to sell the latest weapons of mass destruction to both the federal side and the new Biafrans. Whatever each party does with the goods bought is not my headache. Mine is to sell and collect my own money.

So, you live on blood money?

Stupid man. In business, there is no blood money. Profit is both the watchword and the password or have you ever heard of anybody who goes into business with the aim of going bankrupt?

No, but, at least, there should be a little bit of morality and rationality.

My friend, you are cunningly dragging me into the realm of ethics and I can assure you that I’m not one to shy away from arguments. If you have read my other books, you’d realise that I depend on the power of logic to canvass my views and opinions. I don’t dance to suit anybody’s drumbeat and rhythm. Neither do I play to the gallery. I am a businessman through and through. By the way, do you know how I secured my ticket to this destination? I had to fight my political opponents right from the NPN days, thug for thug, naira for naira, rice for rice, garri for garri, okporoko for okporoko and ogbono soup for ogbono soup, and my voters, sorry, my people, love me for this. They see me as the Oyibo (white man) of business and Enyimba (elephant) of cash-and-carry politics. So, they combined the two and gave me the title of Oyi-nba of Okuta. My people are as creative as the blacksmiths of Awka.

Which means you truly have a pedigree of creativity. Which other titles are we expecting from you and how soon?

The first one is Obasanjo: Another Hope Betrayed. This is meant to prepare the ground for the next president, the way Buhari and Idiagbon were shoved aside from the political scene. Don’t ask me who commissioned the book because I don’t want to be accused of being a double agent. The second is Maradona: Return of the Political Nymphomaniac while the third is Nigeria: A Nation in Captivity, a major book on which I have been working since the military seized power in 1966.

I hope these are not satanic verses?

How can? Will you call The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, a satanic write-up? They are just products of my creative imagination. No more, no less.

Arthur, the Prince!

Ummh, yes, but call me the Maradona!

*This Opilogue was first published in TELL on February 23, 2004.

1 comment:

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