In Nigeria, a lot happens after you lose a presidential election you’re damn sure you deserve to win. You can go the Yele Sowore way: call for a revolution with a Twitter hashtag. That works well if you are publisher—a media activist.
Or you can go the way of Prophet Obadiah: predict a civil war based on your HUMINT, make wild allegations on a popular radio, and tell the world you are ready to die—for saying nothing verifiable. It works better if you are a former deputy-governor of Nigeria’s central bank that will rather be killed than admit failure.
Obadiah Mailafia won’t readily strike you as a public-spirited Nigerian, or a household name in the nation’s power circle. No pedigree of such. The last—and only—political relevance Google will serve you if you search him online is his presidential election result in 2019. As the ADC candidate, Mailafia polled 97, 874—out of 27 million votes—compared to APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s over 15 million, and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar’s over 12 million.
Certainly, there’s little to choose between Mailafia’s popularity and his party’s. He’s just a carpetbagger.
But that he also ran for presidency gave him some bragging right as a politician, even if he has no root or structure. He feels strongly about it. And the back pats he gives himself get him so swollen headed he now imagines himself a political juggernaut, with access to reams and reams of state secrets: intel on Boko Haram and UFOs—or those planes he saw carrying weapons to the north—patrolling Nigeria’s airspace during the months-long lockdown. He also knows the name, number, and tribal mark of that black sheep, among northern governors, quarterbacking Boko Haram; he has a head-up, blow by blow, on the plot to wipe out rural Nigerians, and then polish off all the hotshots in Nigeria’s federal politics. And he has proof Buhari unleashes those Fulani bandits on southern Kaduna. All of these pieces of intel, he claimed in a talk show on Nigeria Info, are a foretaste of the big, bad, boom waiting to happen in 2022. And these troves of secrets he mines from his own security network—some rogue version of the DSS or the Nigeria Intelligence Agency working the back room for him.
In a charged atmosphere that currently envelopes Nigeria, with a government that appears to be marking time to get the hell out of the logjam he inherited and compounded, all of Mailafia’s bunk makes for good enough cannon fodder. And when it happens, he’ll either emerge or go down as a hero in the resulting blaze. That’s if he has the courage of his conviction to stay put.
To assure himself he’s the most patriotic Nigerian in this 21st century, the failed presidential candidate went ahead and put his neck on the stock. He said he’s ready to die. Not a strange idea for any populist to be willing to take the bullet.
Easier to do especially at 64.
What else is Mailafia trying to prove in this life? Not much. His looks are those of a fatcat; he has seen lots of yummy days. His ceevee, too, heaves with achievements: academic scrolls; 25 glorious years in international development career; adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; and a spell at the CBN as deputy governor[ and a post at NIPSS. It’s also on record he took a shot at Nigeria’s top job—a shot which went wide off the mark. Now he seeks to crown it all with a sparkling diadem of martyrdom.
So if he says he doesn’t care a whit paying the ultimate price for Nigeria, he sure has nothing to lose. Only that it’s a nobler cause if he dies for telling the truth—not for cock-and-bull stories he rasped out on that radio show—not for conspiracy theories. And, definitely, not for talking round—like a scaredy-cat—and keeping a tight upper lip before the DSS as he did in Jos on Aug. 12. Cowards die many times before their death.
A real martyr will grasp the nettle. And if Obadiah were one, he would name the governor heading Nigeria’s Boko Haram; he would produce the manifest of those planes ferrying terrorists’ arms about during the covid-19 lockdown; he would expose Buhari’s support, cash and materiel, with as much evidence as can nail a government backing Fulani terrorism.
These are stories worth dying for. They are revelations worth killing for. Heroes are no brinksmen seeking political relevance by flaunting damnable intel. They tell it straight from the shoulders, and don’t care whose ox is gored.
Obadiah should just have the balls to do this.
He’ll then see his wish—his desire to be killed for fatherland— materialize in good time.
But Obadiah is already changing the story. He’s playing dumb before the state agents that could make him the hero he wanted to be.
Nigerians, however, know his type. Talkers.
Their wives, too, know it’s all a lie when their husbands boast they are willing to die for Nigeria. Obadiah didn’t consult with his better half on this. Mrs Obadiah in particular doesn’t like to be a widow. She’s already appealing to international communities and all former presidents alive or dying, including the dictator among them, to not allow her husband die for Nigeria.
Well, the die is cast.
Nobody will deliver him for trying to be a hero with such brazen showboating.
Only truth will.
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