By Sunny Igboanugo
Amerigo Bonasera was a longtime friend to Vito Corleone, otherwise known as Don Corleone the alter ego of The Godfather – that Mario Puzo epic novel depicting the mafia influence of the American society. However, unlike many who had pitted their tents with the godfather, in the Italian neighbourhood, he would rather avoid him and his syndicate, because he felt the consequential backlash could rub off on his well-laid business and reputation as a law-abiding, straight American citizen. On many occasions, the godfather courted his loyalty, but he rebuffed it, feeling safe inside the protective cocoon of the American system.
But that same system failed him when his prized daughter was attacked and assaulted by his boyfriend and his friend. Maria Bonasera was not only his only daughter, but the only child and despite his fears, was the goddaughter of Carmela Corleone, the wife of Don Corleone. Kelvin Moonan, her new American boyfriend had tried to rape her after she rebuffed his sexual advances, but after succeeding in fending him off, the young man, aided by his friend, Jerry Wegner, beat her so badly and damaged her beautiful face.
Completely gutted, Bonasera, a successful owner of Funeral Parlour, did the right thing, or what he thought the right thing in America. He went to court to seek justice for his daughter. But instead of putting the rapists away, at the most for their clearly heinous crime, after finding them guilty, the judge did the unthinkable – he handed them – suspended sentence. So, the two young men walked out free from the same court leering and practically mocking him – no thanks to the powerful influence of their parents, who pulled the strings from behind.
Suspended sentence?! Bonasere had exclaimed before the godfather in whose presence he ran to seek the real justice. After chiding him for rebuffing his earlier offer of protection in preference for trust in the American system, Don Corleone accepted his request to give him justice. However, he would not accede to Bonasera’s extreme demands. He had wanted the godfather to kill the two young men. But he declined. Bonesera’s daughter was still alive. Let her attackers suffer the same way she suffered, was his own option.
Pressed further to the option of murder, offering to pay for it, he again reprimanded his kinsman for trying to lure him to commit murder, particularly on the wedding day of his daughter. “Bonasera, Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would have been suffering this very day. And if by some chance, an honest man like yourself made enemies, they would be my enemies. And then, they would fear you,” he had emphasised?
Having agreed to help him in his own way in return for his “friendship” he had given the job to his executor to conclude. At the end of the day, the two young men were so beaten with so much damage to their faces that their parents could not recognise them. So, that was how Bonasera, who had earlier pledged his everlasting loyalty by kissing the shoes of the godfather, got justice. Nothing could have given him more excitement and satisfaction than the disfigured faces of the two boys, splashed in the newspapers the next day.
But did Bonasera not pay eventually? Of course he did. But he did in a different way, different from monetary payment. Don Corleone, had visited him at the funeral parlour, three years after. His irascible son, Sonny had been heavily disfigured by the bullets of the competitors and enemies of his mafia organisation. He wanted his Italian brother and friend to fix him to look normal and fit for presentation for an open-casket funeral. Bonasera, who was the best in the land, ought not to have touched such a job, coming from Vito Corleone, a criminal to be avoided. But he was in debt, so high a debt. Backing out was out of the question. Either by way of gratitude and conscience or by knowing the grave consequences of saying no to the godfather, he was in debt.
How apt this story to the new reality in Nigeria of today. For years, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had played the same role of Vito Corleone, though at a different level – politics. Countless Nigerians who were hurt one way or the other, found succour in him and through him.
When Muhammadu Buhari, before the end of his disastrous outing as President between 2015 and 2023, tried, or so it seemed, to shirk this obligation of playing ball after Tinubu single-handed made him President, either due to patriotism, knowing that Tinubu would probably be a worse calamity or out of mischief to hand over to another Northerner, knowing his proclivity for nepotism, he was stopped in his track. Tinubu simply reminded him where he was coming from.
He was not only quickly reminded of his debt – remember Tinubu’s Abeokuta declaration and his infamous Emilokan speech – but the enforcers moved in. They were the ones who completed the first stage of the project at the All Progressives Congress (APC) convention in Abuja, beginning with the Northern governors, who took the initiative to rally around him. Now, you might be wondering why the North with their touted unquenchable taste for power could become so amenable. Well, mafia debts are paid to the full.
Asari Dokubo, currently has a standing army ready to go to war against naysayers on his behalf. His reason: Tinubu was his patron when as the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), he was arrested and detained by the Federal Government. Tinubu fully provided for his family including a home in Victoria Garden City (VGC), one of the most glamorous areas of Lagos. Debt!
If, perhaps, you are wondering what debt Yakoub Mahmood, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who virtually threw caution out of the window by practically killing the 2023 presidential election owed, listen to Chibuike Amaechi. The former Governor of Rivers State and former Minister of Transportation, provided the answer when he told the world how his appointment came via the Tinubu camp.
So, why then would anyone be surprised about our own dear Prof. Wole Soyinka? He provided the answer to his current wacky undertaking long today before now. To every ear, he had told the story of how Tinubu and his family provided for him when he was down and out on return from exile imposed on him by former Nigerian despot, the late General Sani Abacha who went after the necks of leaders of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), of which he was one during his iron-fist reign.
He himself narrated how Remi Tinubu, the supportive wife of the former Governor of Lagos State, now President, provided him with pots and pans and other household utensils to start life anew. He also told the world how Tinubu it was that got him a letter of recommendation with which he then approached the government of Taiwan for the rice contract that supplied his daily bread. Nobody knows whether that source and the stream of income thereof has closed yet. Kongi did not tell us.
So, what would you not do for someone who fed you when you were hungry and probably saved you from the frustration of starvation and even death? Today, South Africa, despite all the threats from Europe and the US, has remained the major ally of Russia in Africa for the simple reason that the country was its bastion of struggle and hope to extricate itself from the vice grip of white man’s rule during the struggle for apartheid.