English proverb has it that “A man who lives in a glass house should not throw stone.” That ancient saying seems to have outlived its usefulness in Nigeria as many men, desperate to hoodwink the incoming generation or prevent them against same, have resorted to the culture of writing autobiography with biased mindset.
Non-fiction writing, either biography or autobiography, is an honourable vocation if done with good intention, contrary to the tradition fast spreading in this clime. Here, this laudable venture has become an avenue for documenting lies or an annotated truth chiefly written to emerge the principal character a luminous image or even a larger than life stature.
Even established writers like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe have gotten their unfair share of criticism for delving into autobiographical writing expeditions. Soyinka was seen as a pompous writer by the critics, mostly his colleagues, who thought his personal accounts in “Ishara: Essays Around My Father,” “Ake: Years Of Childhood” and “Ibadan: The Penkelemesi Years” were too intimidating to true, while Achebe was tagged an ethnic jingoist, especially with the publication of “There Was A Country.”
Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Ogbagba II, the Awujale of Ijebuland, incurred the wrath of former President Olusegun Obasanjo over some comments made about the latter while he called the shots in Aso Rock. The monarch in his book, “Awujale: Autobiography Of Alaiyeluwa Oba S. K. Adetona, Ogbagba II,” written seven years ago, labels Obasanjo a ‘Judas’ among Yoruba people, especially for not supporting the revalidation of June 12 annulment.
Also, according to the king, the Judas used Nuhu Ribadu, as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, to harass Mike Adenuga, the telecom giant player. However, Obasanjo claimed he did not read the book until his associates drew his attention to the pages where the monarch denigrated him.
No doubt, Awujale has a history full of epochs and landmarks, not just in his private life but also as a king of almost six decades on the throne of his ancestors, ruling from Ijebu Ode since 1948 when he was 26 years old.
Over the years, Awujale has distinguished himself among other first class monarchs, especially in his Yoruba region of the country, apparently living above board when many of his royal mates have got reasons, hiding behind the banner of religion, business and tribe, to soil their hands. Awujale remains a man of integrity even when some other traditional custodians like him had been removed, demoted or disgraced out of office for either being meddlesome, irksome or troublesome.
Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, recently in a letter addressed to the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba S. K. Adetona, berated the revered monarch for allegedly lying against him in his autobiography, published in 2010.
Oba Adetona claims in the book that Obasanjo used the EFCC under the chairmanship of Ribadu to persecute, blackmail and extort telecoms mega player and owner of Globacom, Mike Adenuga, who is a cousin to the monarch.
The monarch added in the book that Obasanjo thereafter started hounding Adenuga when he felt he had links with his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, in the internecine war that went between the two at the presidency at that time.
However, declaring everything in the book as blatant lie peddled by the monarch, Obasanjo wrote a lengthy letter to the Oba where he debunked all the ferocious lies against his person in public life. The ex-president said spreading of falsehood about him by Oba Adetona was unbecoming of a first class monarch like him.
“The extract from your Autobiography, “Awujale: The Autobiography of Alaiyeluwa Oba S. K. Adetona, Ogbagba II”, published by Mosuro Publishers 2010, pp. 187-195, which I attach to this letter was presented to me for my attention.
“Your assertion in the publication was a tissue of lies and untruths. Olopade is one of my best friends. And yes, I would be at his birthday celebration but I would not have invited Mike, your cousin, to meet me anywhere other than my office or official residence as President of Nigeria.
“Kabiyesi, do you think I would set the press up to capture me and Mike in a photograph for the newspapers? That would be puerile of me as President. Of course, I could not say that Mike could not do that. That you think that I, as President of Nigeria, would descend to such depravity makes me think of you much less than I thought of you, until now.”
It would be recalled that the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, once described Obasanjo as somebody who should not be taken seriously and that he had no respect for him.
Soyinka said this, at an event organised by Globacom in his honour, while reacting to Obasanjo’s comments about him in a memoir titled “My Watch” written by the former president.
“Obasanjo is entitled to his opinion. The question is ‘who can respect the opinion of a liar’? He is a liar and can prove that. He has been described as an economic illiterate. His book, ‘My watch’ is full of lies. In fact, he began the book with a lie when he said that he deplores lies, and he repeated it several times.
“I’m not bothered when somebody like Obasanjo passes his opinion about me. I have no respect for Obasanjo. He is a liar. I am writing a book titled, ‘Republic of Liars,’ and Obasanjo has a prominent place in it. The book will be out soon.”
In “My Watch” Obasanjo wrote “For Wole (Soyinka), no one can be good, nor can anything be spot-on politically except that which emanates from him or is ordained by him. His friends and loved ones will always be right and correct no matter what they do or fail to do. He is surely a better wine connoisseur and a more successful ‘aparo’ (guinea fowl) hunter than a political critic.”
A position that Obasanjo reiterated on Channels TV during a programme tagged Book Club, that “Wole Soyinka is a gifted man. I have always acknowledged that but he is a bad politician and I have also always said that. And that is my own point of view. He may agree with it, he may not agree with it.
“For instance, I know that if I want somebody to give me the best wine, one of the people I will go to is Wole Soyinka and I know he has a taste for good wine and I said that in the book.”
Obasanjo also dismissed a rejoinder to his book titled, “Watch the Watcher,” written by the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Dr. Yinka Odumakin. He said the book was unworthy of a place on the shelf of anybody’s library.
Obasanjo added that “Yinka Odumakin was hired to do the hatchet job and he did it. It was part of the campaign of Goodluck Jonathan and he did serve the purpose of Goodluck Jonathan. But whether Goodluck Jonathan gained from it or Yinka Odumakin gained from it, well, it’s now left to history.”
Obasanjo, in his four-page letter to Oba Adetona, added that “It is not only in the case of Obajana Cement that you were rumour-mongering about me. You have done that repeatedly on many occasions. The latest one you did in 2016 was you telling me that you heard that I had gone to Rasak Okoya to seek to marry her daughter, Abiola, when it was the girl that came to appeal to me to intervene to placate and appeal to her father to forgive her for all her misbehaviour to her father.
“I did and the father and daughter were reconciled. I told you even then that it was unbecoming of an Oba. Of course, I am used to such rumours, slandering and insinuations since my days as a Unit Commander in the Army and I have developed thick skin. If ten per cent of the rumours ascribing businesses and properties I know nothing about were true, I would be the richest man on earth.”
Apart from mentioning Obasanjo in the book, Oba Adetona included big names like General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd), Chief Earnest Shonekan, late Ibrahim Dasuki (Sultan of Sokoto), late Ooni of Ife Oba Okunade Sijuwade, late Oba of Benin Uku Akpolopolo Omonobanedo, Ereduwa I, especially the roles they played in the June 12 mayhem. Babangida, like Al-Mustapha – Chief Security Officer to late General Sanni Abacha, has promised to write the untold story of June 12 cancellation just as Mustapha claimed to be writing a book to unmask how Abiola was killed by his friends. Young readers and watchers of socio-politico-economic developments in Nigeria, however, should be patient and read between the lines to discern these venomous ‘periodicals’ being published with suspicious motives.