In Nigeria politics and the power game is a terrible business which, more often than not, comes with pain, anguish, humiliation, hardship, death and tragedy for those who reach the top. It is rather like playing Russian roulette. Let us look at the facts.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region, lost his first son in the early ’60’s and so did Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, the second Premier of the Western Region, around the same time. Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode, the Deputy Premier of the Western Region, lost his second son a number of years later. Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Premier of the Eastern Region and Nigeria’s first and only ceremonial President, lost his first wife.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former military Head of State and second democratically-elected President lost three wives whilst Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region, had no sons. Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Obasanjo all went to jail for three years each though they were all eventually acquited, pardoned and released and later came into their full glory.
S.L.Akintola was killed in the prime of his life just as was Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first democratically-elected leader and Prime Minister. As a matter of fact they were all killed on the same night- January 15th 1966. President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria’s second democratically-elected leader and first President lost three children whilst he was in power and was locked up for one year after he was toppled. Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12th 1993 Presidential election, lost two wives, was locked up for 4 years and was eventually killed.
President Umaru Yar’adua’s older brother, General Shehu Musa Yar’adua, was killed whilst he was in prison and he himself died just over a decade later after he became President. President Goodluck Jonathan lost his brother and his mother-in-law one year after the other.
When it comes to our military rulers the story is no different- General Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed. General Yakubu Gowon was toppled from power, exiled and lost his brother. General Murtala Mohammed was killed and lost both his son and son-in-law. General Muhammadu Buhari was toppled from power, locked up for one year, lost his mother whilst he was in detention, lost his number two (General Tunde Idiagbon) in very strange circumstances and later lost his daughter. General Ibrahim Babangida was eased out of power and later lost his wife. Chief Ernest Shonekan was humiliated and toppled from power. General Sani Abacha lost his son in mysterious circumstances and was later killed.
This is indeed a catalogue of tragic events. Yet the most curious phenomenon and bizarre series of events of all is the fact that every single Head of State or President that has stayed in the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja for three years or more has either ended up dying whilst there or has lost a spouse before leaving office. Babangida did not stay in the Villa in Abuja for up to three years so he and his wife escaped what has come to be known as the ”villa curse”. It was the same for Chief Ernest Shonekan who never stayed at the Villa at all but chose to preside over the affairs of the nation from Aguda house next door and who remained in power for barely six months. General Abdulsalami Abubakar stayed at the Villa but he remained in power for less than a year. However Abacha, Obasanjo and Yar’adua were not so lucky- each of them stayed at the Villa for three years or more and either lost their own life or the life of their spouse whilst there. They say that once the three year mark is passed the curse sets in and the clock begins to tick. Is this a mere coincidence? Is the whole thing nothing but superstitious humbug? Possibly so, though I doubt it. I am simply guided by the facts and we must each make of them what we will.
Whatever the case it is my sincere prayer that President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, who have already hit the three year mark at the Villa, will break the curse (assuming such a curse exists) and that neither of them will suffer the same fate as those that were there for three years or more before them. Given the fact that the bible says that the Lord ”reveals to redeeem” and that the blood of Jesus is more powerful than any curse I have every confidence that they will.
I am not a superstitious man but I don’t believe in coincidences either. Where there is a consistent pattern and series of events then good old fashioned common sense and logic demands that questions must be asked and answers must be provided. When one considers all these facts and series of misfortunes that have trailed our leaders in the last 53 years of our existence as an independent state one cannot but conclude that there has indeed been a harvest of hardship, pain and death attached to some of the highest and most prominent offices in the land.
Power comes at a terrible price and those that wield it have, more often than not, experienced terrible pain and anguish in their lives. That is the price that many have had to pay. What a tragedy. Yet at the end of the day I wonder whether it was all worth it. For as the bible says, it is all ”vanity upon vanity- all is vanity”. May the Lord continue to comfort and heal the wounds of all those that have lost their loved ones over the years, including every single family or person that is mentioned or referred to in this essay, and may the souls of the departed continue to rest in perfect peace. God be with us all.