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Saturday, 7 May 2016


  • Bashorun J.K. Randle, OFR, FCA

President Mohammadu Buhari
When Professor ‘Folabi Olumide chose Harbour Point, Victoria Island for the celebration of his 80th birthday, he failed to produce his secret identical twin brother-President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, but we shall come to that later.

Bashorun J K Randle
The party was not meant to be “the party of the year.”  It was just great fun and the ambience was a perfect score – food, drinks, music, poetry, dancing plus a review of two books written by the celebrant.  Such infectious joy and abundance of conviviality are increasingly rare while we are under siege as we ponder on the destiny of a nation that has been ambushed by vandals, bandits and marauders.  All the same, the celebrant accompanied by his radiant wife Folasade made the event memorable by reminding us that even if its only by a thin cord, we are still connected with civilization.
 The sacrifice of Monday – the first day of the week, for Thanksgiving and the acknowledgement of the bountiful mercies of the Almighty is too little a price to pay while wrestling with the profundity and complexity of change.  The climax was the recessional hymn:
“We expect a bright tomorrow
All will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow
All, all  is well.”
On Tuesday, the party continued at our private Club  on Victoria Island, Lagos for the weekly lunch (ladies strictly forbidden).  The celebrant in his usual manner walked in and sat quietly at his table (number 4).  He had a glint in the eye and the new spring in his heels did not go unnoticed.  Ever the perfect gentleman, he limited himself to a few words of thanks to those within earshot who had been at the party.  Like Buhari, he is a man of few words.  Certainly not your noisy neighbour.  All that we managed to extract from him was the admission that with eight decades behind him, he really did not feel any different today than he did the day before.

Anyway, matters look a different turn when the President  of the Club (in absentia) proceeded to announce the names of those who had celebrated their birthday since the last lunch, with Professor Olumide as the latest celebrant.  As if determined to continue with the celebrations of the previous day, he had provided plenty of wine to lubricate our lunch.  This may have provoked an eminent retired professor of dentistry to launch into flawless Latin to hail the celebrant (a repeat performance of the toast he had delivered at the birthday party).

I cannot now recollect at which point we got rid of the St. Gregory’s College, CMS Grammar School and the Igbobi College boys but as the afternoon withered into evening the wine was still flowing.  The only ones left were King’s College Old boys as confirmation that stamina and endurance are in our genes.

Inevitably, matters drifted to feasting and masticating on the two books by the celebrant – one a collection of poems and the other his autobiography.  It was typical of Harman’s House boys (from King’s College) to commence a clinical examination and surgical operation on the literary exposition of our distinguished birthday boy and surgeon.  By common agreement he had succeeded in connecting the left brain with the right one.  Stylistically, his poems are more in the style of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865 to 1939) than John Keats (the English Romantic poet 1795-1821).  Without doubt he has mastered the intricacies and ethereal melodies of rhyming couplets.  Most of the poems are devoted to the adoration of the Almighty and appreciation of “God’s divine love” – a subtle tussle between supplication and exhortation.
We have the author’s testimonial:
“These poems always give me inner peace
and tranquillity surfeit of sublime equanimity.”

His invitation to us to partake of the feast is irresistible on account of his “utter candour, wholesome honesty”.
“How many years must a man exist
before his mind is at peace ?
How many books must a man digest
before he can hope to be wise. ?
It is all due to “constant search for truth”.

He soars majestically:
“The beauty of a rainbow, set
majestically, in the heavens
arching across clear skies
for man and beast
to know the creator lives.”

Then he calls us to battle:
“each of us, the task must face
Fight our battles, fair and square
Yield no ground.”

Perhaps the best offering is : “ode To The Surgeon”
“a paediatrician is a physician who
indulges in ‘child’s play’ !

an obstetrician is obsessed by
child birth, and genitals !

a psychiatrist is a
physician of the mind, the soul !

a physician is a ‘drug-peddling,’
much talking physician !

a pathologist is an ‘after-death’
physician, morbid and cold
a surgeon,
God bless him, is
all these, and then more,
a lot more;
We are driven to truth and finality
“for, at autopsy
The truth must emerge.”

Then comes the verdict:
“Only God is the perfect Surgeon !!”
For those who have neither time nor disposition to stand and stare or smell the flowers, the author’s sojourn in Saudi Arabia has located an oasis:
“Could His magnificent ecstasy,
     such blissful calm, utter beauty,
nature’s natural land-scape,
    modestly designed off-white
castles, standing erect
     on deserted pre-maghreb prayer streets;
lonely alleys, clear
      dark cloudless skies
now dotted with
      sparkling stars,
 the orion here,
     over there, the
milky way…”

Behind and beyond is the groping for love:
“she speaks to me,
voice serene, calm
     yet vibrant and sonorous
she speaks to me
tenderly !”
but loneliness is never far away:
“On a lonesome night,
in a far-off land,
   Oh ! how my love will
fly to you !”

Followed by fear, desperation and despair
“to summon sleep; a beer, a scotch
maybe a pill.”

The search is for happiness in the wrong places
“will these cells grow ?
  try them in the spleen
    complex plumbing job,
      portal flow to spleen !
will these liver cells find happiness,
 neatly lodging in the spleen ?”

Fortunately beauty and God are inseparable:
“As sunset greets the skies
and daylight’s charms depart
  no fears disturb my heart
for God within resides.”

and joined by love:
“true love is everlasting,
    fed by faith and understanding.

I must confess that I very nearly prescribed the author’s medicine to him as retaliation when he asked me to review his poems.  The job should be given to a committee !!
“Committees for making plans
and committees to check the plans
Committees that wreck these plans
a Committee to make new plans !”
Eighteen pages of the book are devoted to riveting photographs from the family album (and rightly so).  Each photograph tells its own unique story and provides confirmation that indeed a photograph is worth a thousand words.

On page 283 we are provided with the smoking gun.  The caption is:
“Professor ‘Folabi Olumide (Vice-Chancellor) receiving the then, military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, at the Lagos State University in 1984.”
The photograph has gone viral as concrete evidence that the two principal characters in the photograph are somewhat / somehow related.  After subjecting the photograph to intensive X-ray, digital forensic audit, & 3D investigation and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) the conclusion is that they are identical twins !!  They are both of the same height; they are never without their glasses; same ophthalmological prescription; exactly the same gap toothed smile; follicular identity (balding) is without doubt the same; and both of them portray similar Spartan disposition and insistence on self-discipline.  As if to throw us off the scent, one professes Islam and is a devout moslem while the other is a committed Christian (even though his children have gone Pentecostal).  One wears a beard but the other is clean shaven.

Beyond that, Professor Olumide is a prolific poet as evidenced by his book of poems.  His twin brother is no slouch in that department – going by the assertion of Ikegu Oke:
The Poet In President Buhari
“Now at seventy-two
There is a limit to
What I can do.”
The common traits are a legion – their puritanical posture, prudence, frugality, and reticence bordering on laconism (monosyllabic).  They are both self-contained.  Professor Olumide is even more explicit:
“I simply loved being on my own and I
guess that was why I wrote the poem titled:  “The Joys of Solitude”.  It is not that I like loneliness.  Loneliness is not the same as being alone.  You can be lonely in a room that is full of people and you can be alone with your thoughts even in a crowded room.”
For both of them, being enigmatic comes with their disposition – as second nature.  One minor difference though is that Professor Olumide has no knowledge of guns or other weapons (only the scapel) but the general, even though retired can still throw a grenade (whether political or otherwise).  Our political landscape and economic/sociological scaffolding are studded with IED’s [Improvised Explosive Devices].
Professor Olumide spoke for both twins when on page 54 he declares:
“I knew very early in life that I needed to work hard, which I later termed as ‘perspiration’.  For me, there was a lot of perspiration.  Give or take, eighty to ninety per cent of my achievement was gained through perspiration while inspiration made up the remaining ten per cent.  That was me.  Some folks relied on just a little bit of study and they were fine but not me; I had to put in a lot more.  I knew that and never deceived myself for a minute that I had the ability to succeed without working very hard.  Neither did I try to get into the social moulds of other students, who were outgoing and popular.  I was a totally different breed.  That’s not to say I was one of those complete introverts, who had no social life whatsoever.”
He has added almost as an after thought:
“Granted, I loved sports but I knew it wasn’t my line.  Even now, I watch football but I am not fanatical about it.”
We are also provided with a glimpse of the secret weapon:
“I believe my life had always been structured.  I usually have a goal (not football !!) which I tried to follow as much as possible.”
Then comes the clincher (or clanger !!):
“Football is good but education is more important considering our level of development in Nigeria.  If only most of the money spent on football can be spent on education, things would be a lot better, particularly for indigent students.”
Of course, President Muhammadu Buhari’s blood type is a closely guarded secret but Professor Olumide has voluntarily disclosed this to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
It turns out both the President and the Professor share the same blood type which is a common feature amongst identical twins.  However, what is startling is that CNN recently featured the four children of President Buhari – three girls and a boy.  It turns out that this is an exact match with the offsprings of the Professor – three females namely, Oyinkansola, Olajumoke and Olufunmilayo plus a male Rotimi.

Equally, relevant are the traumatic experiences which Professor Olumide has gone through starting with:
“Oluseye studied theology in Britain.  He was ordained in 1971 in Birmingham and has since lived in Britain ever after his ordination.  He later got married and the marriage produced five children.  Unfortunately, a fire accident which occurred in 1984, took the lives of all five children at once.  My brother is yet to fully recover from the tragic occurrence but we thank God for the endurance He has given him, in the face of adversity.  He was made an archdeacon in Nigeria, though still resident in Britain.  He is now retired.”
He also had to contend with false accusation of corruption when he was Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU).
“Despite putting in my best, there were accusations from certain quarters that I was trying to use transactions such as the customizing of the guest house cutlery, to siphon money from the university into my personal purse.   God knows I came out of LASU poorer than when I got there.”
Then came the ultimate humiliation:
“Perhaps the most disappointing episode for me during my LASU years was the case of the honorary doctorate degree ceremony for Professors Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and J.P. Clark, three legendary icons, that was abruptly cancelled a day to the event!  I was stunned !!  There was no prior notification and no reasons given for the cancellation.  It threw us into total confusion and despair.”
However, he ultimately triumphed:
“Sincerely, when I consider the resolve of my detractors, and the opposition I faced, I cannot but thank God that I went in and came out of LASU intact.  I did my first term which was four years and then another two years which made it six years in total.  I thank God that my records are there for all to see.”
What is uncanny is that President Buhari has survived similar traumatic experiences not the least of which is the loss of his beloved mother while he was in detention (but the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida would not release him if only for a day or two to attend the funeral).  He also lost his first wife (and a child or two along the way).
Besides, he contested presidential elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011.  On each occasion he believed rightly or wrongly that he was robbed by rigging.  He took his case up to the Supreme Court but the verdict was always against him.  He refused to give up until he finally triumphed in 2015.  The rest is history.
Beyond that, we need to rewind the tape back to 27th August 1985 when he was toppled by his then Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Ibrahim Babangida.  He was arrested in Dodan Barracks by a detachment of soldiers led by the quartet of Major Lawan Gwadabe; Colonel Abdulmumini Aminu, Major Abubakar Dangiwa Umar and Major John Madaki.

President Buhari can benefit immensely by deferring to his twin brother’s prescription in dealing with Nigeria’s myriad of problems:
“Since we deal with human beings, it is a whole range of interactions between us and the patients, our calling, as well as other members of the team.  Particularly in surgery, there is the surgeon, his assistant, the anaesthetists and the nurses.  It is a whole team which entails detailed team work and everyone has to play their part, with the surgeon being the leader.  You have to communicate with the patient, find out what is going on and pin down the problem, which is the diagnosis.  The patient must be told what tests are to be carried out, the natural history of the condition, how it ends and how it progresses, what you should do and what could happen if you did not do it.”
Unfortunately, General Buhari is not only fighting corruption he has adorned his battle gear to fight demons and monsters without checking the stock level of the anaesthetics.

Last week, Professor Adebayo Williams delivered a brilliant verdict:
“The historical providence behind a Buhari presidency at this point in time stems from the fact that he is the only one with the integrity, the mass appeal and the moral charisma to carry out the painful cultural, political and spiritual reform needed …….”
We should be forgiven for being somewhat baffled by Professor Olumide’s description of his day job:
“A vast flux of my work after I returned to Nigeria was centred around endoscopy of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts.  This requires that we look into the intestine from the mouth, on to the anus – upper GI Endoscopy (stomach and adjacent areas) and lower GI Endoscopy (colon and rectum).”
Pray how is this different from the work or audit trail of chartered accountants who are engaged to carry out forensic audit?  Little did we know that Professor Olumide is our professional colleague.  So also is his identical twin brother – General Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander-In-Chief Armed Forces of Nigeria.

Bashorun J.K. Randle is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region. He is currently the Chairman, JK Randle Professional Services. Email:   jkrandleintuk@gmail.com

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