You are currently viewing Two for 1 kobo, by Lawal Ogienagbon
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HEN last did anyone see the kobo? It has been long, right! The kobo was not phased out. It was not withdrawn from circulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It eased itself out of the system when it became a rejected legal tender.

Under the law, the kobo remains a legal tender, but hardly can it be found in circulation because it has lost its store of value, as economists would say. It has become archival material; a museuem piece to be put on display. Once a legal tender loses value, it becomes worthless. It is not worth the paper it is printed or the coin it is minted. This is sadly the fate of the kobo, which many of us cherished as kids.

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We could buy sweets and biscuits with it; as well as guguru and epa (popcorn and groundnut) as the coins, if we had two or more, jingled in our pockets on our way back from school or to the playground. It was also fun betting with the kobo. All these are now in the past. The kobo is now dead as dodo. If anyone holds the kobo today, they won’t get it to spend.

Before it is even out of your pocket, you would be bombarded with questions, such as, where did you get it? Is it still in circulation? In a jiffy, some of those around will collect it from you, look at it with nostalgia and tell the younger ones about the legend of the kobo and its enormous value in its heyday. The kobo became extinct when the public all of a sudden stopped accepting it. It began with traders, who felt that the money had lost its value as there was nothing that they could sell for one kobo.

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The rejection spread so fast that even the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, (is it still functioning?) was forced to stop minting the kobo. The kobo attained its legend when secondhand cloth dealers around major bus stops in Lagos started using it as a sales gimmick. “Bend down and pick your own”, they bellowed at the roadside, “two for one kobo”. I recall the fate of the kobo as I mused over the endorsement of the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

If people had followed Obasanjo’s body language since virtually all the candidates turned his Abeokuta, Ogun State home to a Mecca of sorts to seek his blessings they would have known where he was going. Obasanjo, like another former leader, likes to play god over the affairs of the nation. They want to be consulted before contestants throw their hats in the ring and where this is not done, they feel slighted. On this score alone, they are ready to work against such a contestant.

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So, it is in the enlightened self-interest of a contestant to go to Abeokuta or the Minna Hilltop residence of former self-styled military president Gen Ibrahim Babaginda in Niger State for blessings to show the world that they have the backing of these ‘kingmakers’. Politicians are suffering for what they created with their own hands. What are the political antecedents of Obasanjo and Babaginda that they must be consulted by presidential candidates who wish to win the election?

Neither Obasanjo nor Babaginda is a politician in the mould of former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, the late Maj. Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua, who, with the help of others built the political machine known as Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) some years after retiring from the army in 1979. Yar’Adua worked with highly experienced politicians to become a political colossus in his lifetime. He built political bridges across the country as he nursed the ambition of becoming president.

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He was done in by the maradonic Babaginda who banned him and other politicians from the contest then. At best, Obasanjo and Babaginda are military politicians, that is politicians in uniform, not grounded in the politics of the real world.

Obasanjo was like a lost needle when he came out of prison in 1998 and was offered the Presidency on a platter. He was running from one politician to the other across the country begging for endorsement after weaning himself of the statement: “how many presidents do you want to make of me in my lifetime”?

Some eight or nine years later, that same Obasanjo had become so used to being president that he did not want to leave again. It is the same Obasanjo that endorsed Obi on January 1 in his letter to ‘’young Nigerians’’. Who else, but those who do not really know him? When endorsements, as we see them now, become two for one kobo, they lose their worth. Look at those endorsing Obi. Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Obasanjo and Niger Delta chieftain Chief Edwin Clark.

Who are they politically? How many votes can they give Obi in their respective regions? Can their endorsements translate to votes for their preferred candidate? The answer is capital NO. They have exercised their rights to back the candidate of their choice. That is where the matter ends.

It is now left for the electorate to exercise their rights to vote for the president they want on February 25 and this Obasanjo, Clark and Adebanjo have no control over. I have nothing against the trio, I only blame candidates who run to them to be anointed despite knowing full well that they have no electoral value whatsoever.

Their endorsements will have no effect on the poll. Mark my words.


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