This is a grim and depressing essay and the subject matter is painful to digest. I take no pleasure in writing it and I would suggest that those that are easily hurt, over-sensitive and unduly emotional should stop here and go no further because this is not the stuff for weak stomachs or gentle souls. Yet those that choose to go on and read it to the end can be rest assured of one thing- that there is a purpose for this interesting contribution and there is a morale to the tale. Now sit back, relax, fasten your seat belts, prepare for take-off and come fly with me. Here it goes. When one studies the history of our country critically and takes the time to do the appropriate research, one thing becomes very clear- that, in Nigeria, politics and the power game is a dangerous calling and terrible business which, more often than not, comes with a heavy price tag.
In the early 60?s Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region, lost his first son and years later his second son and second daughter were cut short in the prime of their lives. Chief S.L. Akintola, his bitter political rival and the second Premier of the Western Region also lost his first daughter in the early 60?s and years later, his youngest son was also cut short. Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode, the Deputy Premier of the Western Region, who was a close ally and second in command to S.L. Akintola, lost his second son. Sir Adesoji Aderemi, who was the Ooni of Ife, a close ally of Awolowo and the first ceremonial Governor of the old Western Region, lost his first son. Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Premier of the old Eastern Region and Nigeria’s first and only ceremonial President, lost his first wife.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s second democratically-elected President lost three wives and one son many years ago whilst Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region, lost two sons and one daughter. Awolowo and Obasanjo went to jail for three years each whilst Ahmadu Bello went to jail for three months.
When it comes to our military rulers the story of consistent tragedy is no different- General Aguiyi-Ironsi, our first military Head of State was killed. General Yakubu Gowon, our second military Head of State, was toppled from power, exiled and lost his brother. General Murtala Mohammed, our third military Head of State, was killed and lost both his son and son-in-law. General Olusegun Obasanjo was our fourth military Head of State and we touched on his misfortunes earlier. General Muhammadu Buhari, our fifth military Head of State, was toppled from power, locked up for a number of years, lost his mother whilst he was in detention and was not allowed to attend her burial, lost his number two (General Tunde Idiagbon) in very strange circumstances and later lost his daughter. General Ibrahim Babangida, our sixth military Head of State, was eased out of power and compelled to ”step aside” amidst massive controversy and turmoil and later lost his wife. His number two, Rear Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, lost his first son, Chief Ernest Shonekan, our first and only Interim Civilian Head of State, was badly humiliated and toppled from power. General Sani Abacha, our seventh military Head of State, lost his son, was removed from power and was killed. General Abdulsalami Abubakar, our eigth military Head of State, as far as I am aware is the only exception and appears to have escaped any misfortune.
Yet the picture is very depressing. This is indeed a catalogue of tragic events. Sorrow and pain just appears to be following sorrow and pain. It is a vicious circle of misfortune and calamity. 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 ruled our country from 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, wisely, never stayed at the Villa at all but who 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 there 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 before the end of their tenure they either lost their own life or the life of their spouse whilst there. The story is that once the three year mark is passed the curse sets in and the clock begins to tick. At the end of the day only one of the two spouses comes out alive. As my friend and brother Mr. Femi Adesina of the Sun Newspaper once wrote, I say ”Jumping Jehoshaphat”. This is truly frightful. Yet one wonders- is it all a mere coincidence or is there more to it than meets the eye?
Whatever the case and whoever we choose to believe it is my sincere prayer that the Villa curse is broken (assuming that such a curse exists) and that no one else will suffer the same fate as those that lived there for three years or more before them. Given the fact that the bible says that the Lord ”reveals to redeem” and that the blood of Jesus is more powerful than any curse I have every confidence that eventually it will be.