By Tobi Christopher Oluwasona
The Godfather: Part II is not an ordinary movie. It is both a prequel and a sequel to the original mammoth cinematic epic, The Godfather. One of the main characters, Michael Corleone said, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”. He had learned the lesson from his late father.
For people who might not have had the chance to see The Godfather: Part II, here is a condensed snippet. The movie is actually a density of two stories, that of Vito Corleone as a young man, set in the 1900s, introduced to the criminal underworld by his friend Clemenza.
For this young man, it was the beginning of crookedness, murder, vileness, perversion and depravity. The other side of the story narrates the life of Michael Corleone, the leader or “Don” of the Corleone family business in New York, set in the 1950s. His life was a labyrinth of perfidy, treachery and subterfuge. Quite recently, the youths in Nigeria embarked upon protests from Lagos to the nation’s capital and parts of many other states calling for police reform and demanding an end to brutality.
These protests, termed #EndSARS, quickly engulfed social media in flames and became a global phenomenon. The demands of the #EndSARS protests were not inexhaustible, infinite, innumerable, intangible, obscure or shadowy. Particularly, they were: one, immediate release of all arrested protesters; two, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensations for their families; three, setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reported police misconduct within a period of 10 days; four, carrying out psychological evaluation and retaining of all disbanded SARS operatives before they can deployed (this should be verified by an independent body); and five, the government should increase police salary and they should adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of the citizens.
However, as most legitimate and peaceful causes are often derailed, infringed, usurped and appropriated by flagitious and contemptible fellows in its execution, so did the protests. The protests eventually turned bloody on the evening of October 20 when a group of soldiers fired live ammunitions into the crowd of the protesters at the Lekki Toll gate.
The subsequent events, as a result of the zealous military assault, heralded lives lost, properties destroyed and economic activities halted. All these incidents, if the protesters had been satisfactorily negotiated with, could have avoided the resultant carnage, butchery and massacre. The shooting at the largely peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate by soldiers has become a watershed in the history of protests in Nigeria.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, in his response to the #EndSARS protests issued a statement titled, The #Endsars Protests; a Fundamental Lesson in Democratic Governance. The written statement served two major thrusts: one, commiserate with those who lost lives and properties with a recommendation of some sort of compensation for them; and two, engage his political enemies in a fierce rebuttal, exoneration and counterclaim.
Indeed, a larger portion of the statement, apart from a few lines used to commiserate with the casualties of the Lekki Massacre, was used, as would have been expected, to settle scores with his political enemies.
He discredited his alleged act of ordering the shootings at the #EndSARS protesters. He wrote, “Here, let me directly address the sharp point aimed against me. I have been falsely accused of ordering the reported deployment of soldiers against peaceful protesters that took place at Lekki on 20 October 2020”. He claimed that the piece of news was a “complete and terrible lie”.
Furthermore, BAT illuminated and jazzed up his restraints, imperfections and difficulties with the current administration. He argued, “As a political figure, I am accustomed to people attributing to me all manner of indiscretions of which I have no knowledge and in which I played no role. I have usually ignored such falsities as the cost of being in the public eye.” This portrayal, he said, “is the foulest of lies”.
Likewise, BAT used the occasion to highlight on his political flagellation, with the aim of achieving some form of atonement with the people. Thus, you read in his speech such phrases as, “Some maligned my name”, “I became the most available scapegoat”, “They then sought to sow enmity between me and the people”, “Efforts against me”, “Terrible and vile fabrications now cast at my feet”, “The slander aimed at me”.
He referred to the actions of his political enemies as, “Terrible and vile”, “Hate”, “Unfounded animus”, “Gossip”, and “Evil fiction”. It is evident that BAT does not wish to keep even his enemies closer. He perceives little or no redemption or reconciliation with them. To him, his enemies are fortified to scuttle his future political ambitions and he offered no hope of accord, concord, rapport or harmony with them.
It is said that our attitude is a reflection of our evaluation and assessments of people, groups and objects in the world and it impacts our perceptions and behaviour towards those people, groups or objects. Our expressed psychological tendency to evaluate a particular situation with either favourable or unfavourable outcomes is often a reflection of our personality, decision making process and our judgments.
For me, I doubt if BAT’s overall evaluation and response to the #EndSARS protests is sufficient, normal and satisfactory. His expressed emotional assessment implied by his written statement was utilised to largely condemn his critics and perceived enemies to hades. This is a move that might haunt him politically for life. His speech could have been used in a statelier manner to win over his critics. Rather his expressed views, drawn from the deposits of his conscious or unconscious emotional bank, missed the mark. The Holy Writ also admonished us, “if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink”.
I perceive that BAT lost an awe-inspiring opportunity due to his incomplete, narrow, partial and fractional assessment of the #EndSARS protests. This would definitely not help to keep his friends close and even his enemies closer; both virtues which remain indispensable to his future political ambitions.
He rightly noted and concluded, “Lekki tollgate killings have complicated matters for me”. When and how the manifestation of the complications would evolve remain a matter for future discourse, but there are strong indications that BAT’s future political ambition of emerging as Nigeria’s future President might have been nipped in the bud.
Back to Michael Corleone.
His father had taught him that to succeed, he needed to keep his friends close and his enemies even closer. His ability to consolidate on his gains and opportunities lies on these two strategic pillars of virtue.
Yet, Michael Corleone did fail.
At the end of the three-hour long movie epic, we see Michael cut to a solitary figure. A coldblooded and inanimate psychotic gangster sitting on a chair, perhaps reflecting on his heartless and emotional emptiness, a moral desert you might call him. Just before his solitude, he ordered the execution of his elder brother, kicked out his estranged wife and confirmed the assassinations of all his enemies. He cut a dejected figure, a callous emperor of a vain empire. He had not kept his friends close, nor his kept his enemies even closer.
The Godfather: Part II won six Academy Awards including the most coveted award of Best Picture for 1974.
Written by Tobi Christopher Oluwasona Johannesburg, South Africa Email: firstname.lastname@example.org +27735657333
– Oct. 30, 2020 @ 14:19 GMT |