by Rachel Ogbu
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was high on dark humour recently when he jokingly told former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme at his birthday celebratory conference event that he was already close to the ‘departure lounge.’
Obasanjo said, “The only octogenarian on the high table, and I don’t think there is even another person on the other side of the table, even in the hall (that is up to 80 years).”
“My brother and friend, and I think the Senate President regards you as a true democrat; I will join the others in congratulating you on your recent crossing of the bar.
“But let me just warn you that crossing the bar or becoming 80 something, you are getting nearer the departure lounge.
“I will get into the car park with you, but I won’t go into the departure lounge with you.”
His comments elicited laughter from the audience, including Ekwueme and Obasanjo was heard telling the octogenarian in pidgin, “As we come, na so we go go,” which could be interpreted as meaning that those who came to the world first would be the first to die.
While Obasanjo was born on March 5, 1937, Ekwueme was born on October 21, 1932.
Obasanjo spoke on Party Politics in Nigeria and Lobbying, the Lobbyist and the Legislature, in a conference the National Institute for Legislative Studies organised in Ekwueme’s honour.
Before Obasanjo spoke, Senate President, David Mark; his Deputy Ike Ekweremadu, and the Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, had congratulated Ekwueme on attaining 80.
Other friends and well-wishers had elaborately marked Ekwueme’s birthday in Abuja and other major cities in the country.