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Of Nigerian Kings and King-makers

Posted on Friday, 5 July 2013 15:21

scene one

Nigerians from all walks of life flock to the durbar in the village square to hear what the king-maker has to say.

In a country where transparency, democracy and an accountable public service are in short supply, the setting of a political love-hate story unfolds.

In many countries, spectators have watched similar plays, and have taken to the stage to transform and change shared realities.

scene two

As the curtain rises on the second scene, the king-maker, Obasanjo, guides Jonathan from his position as deputy governor in Bayelsa State in 2005, to the top, first as governor, and then as vice-president.

Jonathan becomes king. But Jonathan’s reign comes at the expense of a northern king, who, according to a secret pact, ought to have been king upon the death of another northern king – late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

scene three

But, as the third scene unfolds, King Jonathan will not relinquish his crown to a northern king, regardless of the secret pact. This makes the northern kings angry.

Soon after, the enraged northern kings turn to their northern elites – the makers of king-makers – demanding justice.

Rumours that King Jonathan will seek the crown when the year of the crowning comes are whispered through the warm nights and cold mornings.

The whispers make the northern kings bluster and carp in their chambers. South-eastern kings, however, dream of the crown in their nightscapes.

scene four

And so it is that the makers of king-makers summon the king-maker, Obasanjo, asking him to fix the mess he has made. After all it was he, Obasanjo, who picked a king who would ignore the secret pact. Obasanjo, the king-maker, becomes the king-breaker.

Assigned to break the king he once made, Obasanjo must deliver the crown back to the northern kings, who wait impatiently.

scene five

The king-breaker’s quest is on. The crown, and the unity of the kingdom, are at stake, as history beats its drum.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian community has gathered at the village square for their periodic durbar, pondering about the crown and who must wear it, and asking among themselves: Is this unfolding battle about the secret pact? Is it about the crown? Is it about ethnicity?

scene six

A scene that promises to be full of suspense. As the drums of history continue beating and the flutes of time sing, the people of the kingdom wait under the scorching sun for the king-maker-cum-king- breaker’s verdict. ●

Konye Ori is a columnist for the web edition of The Africa Report, an adjunct professor of communication at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, and a TEDx Curator.

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