By OLURANTI AFOWOWE
The search for social relevance and economic survival, in the face of daunting economic challenges that Nigerians daily confront, is assuming dangerous dimensions. It has degenerated to the level that some Nigerians even declared themselves HIV positive when they are not, simply to access international monetary supports.
For perceived economic and perhaps, political gains, Nigerians have been known to tell outrageous lies against people who were hitherto their confidants and political bosses. The key witness against Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the infamous treasonable felony (coup d’etat) trial of 1962 was the man Chief Awolowo established his law firm/chamber with. This possibly explains why Dr. Wale Okediran contended: “Many more politicians have been destroyed by their supporters than by their opponents.”
It is within this purview that the view expressed by Major Seun Fadipe, in his reported interview with the Nigerian Tribune of Saturday, March 23, 2013, has meaning. As Jean Paul Richter posited, with benefit of hindsight, “a man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another.” To say the least, Major Fadipe, in the reported interview, portrayed himself as a political novice, incoherent and illogical person.
True, Major Seun Fadipe has a right to his own opinion, no matter how jaundiced the opinion may be. What is distasteful is for the man to conceal his personal grievances and inordinate political ambition (legitimate or otherwise) under the banner of public discourse.
Permit me to be specific. The caption of the interview is a direct quotation of Major Seun Fadipe words -‘We planned coup against Abacha.’ In other words, Major Fadipe acknowledged implicitly that he joined others to plan the purported 1997 coup against Abacha. In the same interview, Major Fadipe contended that he did not know when the coup was being planned by the Army Generals. Let me quote his precise words: When General Diya and the other Generals decided to remove Abacha, was I there? No I wasn’t there. When they started their plans, I was not there…
Haba! Major Fadipe, what should we believe? In one breath, you said, we planned coup against Abacha, yet, you admitted that you never attended any meeting where coup was planned against Abacha. This inconsistency clearly depicted you as a man who hides ‘the truth behind the facts’ (liar). He was apparently a victim of circumstances and power configuration dynamics that he never really comprehended. Perhaps, Major Fadipe’s inordinate desire to be socially relevant affected his reasoning faculty.
To put this discourse in proper perspective, it is very apposite at this juncture to briefly examine what Gen. Oladipo Diya stands to gain from the court of Nigerian public opinion by insisting that the 1997 coup d’etat was contrived against his person. Suffice it to say, at the time of the purported coup d’etat, Gen. Abacha’s leadership had been sufficiently discredited and in the international community that a coup would be undoubtedly welcome by all sundry.
Again, Gen. Abacha played prominent roles in several coups in Nigeria. Is it therefore, morally wrong to organise coup against him? In a nutshell, Diya stands to lose nothing by admitting that he planned a coup against Abacha. Obviously, Gen. Oladipo Diya’s position that the 1997 purported coup was a set up, was not informed by any perceived personal gain for him.
This is what made it pertinent to re-examine Gen Diya’s position on the coup story. It is a historical fact that Diya’s position that the 1997 coup was contrived against his person was not an after-thought. He has maintained this position from the very first day he was arraigned before Gen. Victor Malu tribunal in Jos. Let me quote Diya’s famous statement at the opening session of the tribunal: “Where is Bamaiyi? I am surprised that the Chief of Army Staff is not here. He is the mastermind, the executioner and the planner of this incident. I am not going into details of that now because this is a clear case of set up. I am the target and it is organised right from the top.”
Sixteen years after, nobody has contradicted this statement nor has any principal actor in the coup saga denied the truthfulness of the statement. From simple logic, if Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi was the chief planner of the coup, and he was never tried nor was he removed as the Chief of Army Staff throughout Gen. Abacha’s regime, does that not suggest that the coup was a set up from the very top as stated by Diya?
Again, can one, in good conscience, suggest that Major Fadipe was ignorant to recognise the methodology of Gen Abacha for eliminating his perceived enemies (real or imagined)? So, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua, Col Bello Fadile, Col. Yakassai, Major Akinyemi, Mr. Niran Malaolu, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, to mention a few, planned coups against Gen. Abacha?
The pertinent question that will agitate the mind of any objective reader of this present discourse is why should Major Fadipe persistently insist that the1997 coup was not a set up against his erstwhile boss Gen. Oladipo Diya? The answer to this important question is not far-fetched. First, during the famous Oputa Panel sitting, Major Mustapha, the Chief Security Officer to Gen. Abacha, openly declared that Major Fadipe was his ‘boy’ and that he planted him on Gen. Diya. Evidently, Fadipe was a member of the ‘inner circle’ of Major Mustapha.
Indeed, after Fadipe was released from prison, it is on record that he went to live with another ‘inner circle’ member of Major Mustapha who became governor in one of the Southern Nigeria states between 1999 and 2007. In other words, Fadipe was merely doing the biddings of his paymasters who set up Gen. Diya in the first instance. Second, he had to insist that there was a coup in order to conceal his ignoble role (mole) in the entire coup saga.
Third, Major Fadipe, within context of ethical standards of Nigerian public office holders, has understandable grudge against Gen Diya. It is a known fact that Gen. Diya abhors unethical self-enrichment. He insisted on very high moral standards for himself and his personal staff in their public conducts. With the benefit of hindsight, Fadipe plausibly never forgave Diya.
In spite of all that happened between Abacha and Diya, (including assassination attempt on Diya on December 13, 1997), it is on record that the latter has never, for once, used uncharitable words to describe his erstwhile boss. One cardinal lesson from history is that those who strive to destroy others through deceit in order to gain economic, social and/or political advantage invariably end up being destroyed by their deceits. Everyone who contrived against Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the infamous treasonable felony trial of the 1960s not only went into political oblivion but also regrettably some even paid with their lives. This is an instructive lesson for the Fadipes of this world.
• Afowowe writes via [email protected]