He did it like the oracle he was. That was more than two years ago. Now the stark reality stares us gravely in our bare faces.
Even in death, he remains profoundly relevant. We cannot dare to do without him. You have no viable option. You can’t do otherwise. That will be monumental negligence.
They called him Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He held sway, May 5, 2005, to March 26, 2007. He also tried his luck in politics. In 2019, he was presidential candidate, African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Mailafia is certainly no more. He died September 19, 2021, aged 64. But fond memories of him refuse to depart from our hearts. He was dear to us.
He passionately warned. Sadly, we were stiff-necked. He was mocked, derided. Sycophants among us scorned and ridiculed him. They christened him “mere alarmist.”
Mailafia and his views were largely ignored. He was allowed to rot away with his brain; uncelebrated, wasted. They claimed we lost him to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its repercussion; we are paying dearly with our lives. Oh, what a queer nation we hold in our fragile hands.
What exactly did we miss in Mailafia? What really stood him out? Why did he not fade away like others before him? Mailafia came, saw and conquered. He fought the battle of his life. He did it for our collective sake. He was forthright, candid and outspoken.
He feared no man. He tormented our tormentors. He instilled palpable fear in them. He was a thorn in their thick flesh. An enfant terrible of some sorts!
And this is the glaring proof. He told us point-blank on August 10, 2020. He was blunt and gruff. He cared less whose ox was gored. He was unequivocal and frank to a fault. His startling disclosure:
“Let me make some revelations. Some of us have our internal security networks.” He was honest to confess: “We have met with some of the bandits’ high commanders who have repented. They told us that one of the northern governors is the commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria.”
This is worrisome: “Boko Haram and bandits are one and the same. They have a sophisticated network. During the lockdown, their planes were moving up and down with ammunition, logistics, money and distributing them in different parts of the country.”
His accurate and incontestable exposure: “They are already in the rainforest of the South, they are everywhere. They told us that when they finish these rural killings, they would move to phase two.”
Moving forward: “In phase two, they will go into the urban cities, moving from house to house killing prominent people.”
Mailafia was emphatic. Precision was his hallmark. He hit the nail on its head: “I can tell you, this is their game plan. By 2022, they want to start a civil war in Nigeria.”
That civil war is here with us. Those who should know kept unwise silence. They carelessly chose to feign complete ignorance.
They opted to treat Mailafia with utter disdain and a long spoon. His guts threw them off balance. They couldn’t withstand his bravery. They were baffled. His stubborn audacity stunned them.
They never contemplated Mailafia could be so assiduous, meticulous and diligent. All the three rolled into perseverance and determination. What manner of species is Mailafia? They wondered into the air.
His perturbing predictions are falling into unpleasant places. His fears are becoming astonishing actualities. Very sad but true!
The terrorists are perfectly acting their script to its detail. They intensified their rampage at the beginning of this year. The North retains its unenviable position as a killing field.
Evidence abounds that Mailafia’s fears are living with us right now. Yes! They are glaring and overwhelming. Samplers:
The terrorists did the unthinkable on March 27, 2022. They hijacked a passenger train from Abuja to Kaduna. They killed some at will, led many others into their forest.
They were spurred to up the tempo. They invaded St. Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, Owo Local Government, Ondo State. Over 40 worshippers were massacred. The dreaded Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), claimed absolute responsibility. These terrorists would not be deterred. The rage continued unabated, almost unchallenged. On July 5, the terrorists took their violence to the heart of Abuja. They hit the Kuje Correctional Centre real hard. More than 800 inmates were released into the system.
They came back days after. A patrol team of the Presidential Guards Brigade was ambushed. Two soldiers were killed, six others kidnapped. The list is legion and endless. Tragically, it’s still counting. Things took more awful turn. The palpable tension gripping residents of Abuja changed gear for the worst.
The security threat took a deeper, frightening dimension. This forced the United States and the United Kingdom out of their shells. Promptly, they issued travel advisories to their citizens. They were to depart Nigeria immediately.
It was a red alert and for safety. The citizens did not mess up with the timely advice. They started leaving in large droves. Australia, Canada and Ireland could not take the huge risk. They took a wise cue and followed suit. They agreed Abuja is literally under siege.
The Federal Government was taken aback. It was mystified and confounded. It did not take kindly to both the alarm and the alert. That was expected. No sane government would ignore such damaging advisories.
Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd) is National Security Adviser (NSA). The onus fell on him. He rose stoutly to the challenge. He would not look the other way. He stood in the gap for the regime. He displayed the “hard stuff” he’s made of. He laboured hard to rubbish the advisories.
He led the service chiefs to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. There, he got the needed steam.
After the jaw-jaw, he was fuming and boiling. He couldn’t hide his angst. He told his strictly journalist-audience: “Any exaggerated sense of insecurity, any hype about a disintegration of our security forces, intelligence agencies, is unfounded.”
He sang the old, odd song again: “I want to assure Nigerians that, so far, the situation has been under control. Intelligence and security agencies have made a lot of arrests.” It’s their normal abnormality.
Monguno’s beats go on: “I will want to dispel any illusion about any heightened sense of insecurity. It is false, it is irresponsible for anybody to give that signal.” He dismissed the caution: “It is an unnecessary distraction. And as far as we know, there is nothing untoward so far.”
Mailafia never gave up on us. He was caring and tenderly. He told his story to whoever cared to listen. He didn’t hide anything. Not even from security agencies. On his volition, he opened up to them. We had enough time to make reasonable amends. And right the wrongs. But we faltered. We refused to see what Mailafia saw.
We shunned, despised him to our peril. We watched him labour in vain and cry to death. The reason we wallow in pain and agony. We shamelessly left the right things undone. We chase imaginary shadows unending.
Insecurity blossoms, festers! Even in the face of strenuous and sustained official denials. They domicile deeply in delusion richly laced with illusion. You won’t want to pity them.
They are making Mailafia to turn in his grave. He’s without regret, saying: “But I warned you.” Yes, he did with all the strength in him. He played his part very well.
Now. Two years after. See what has become of Mailafia’s apt prophecy. His memories are striking. We are truly “breathless.” Aren’t we?