Chief Bola Ige, 70, the attorney-general of the federation, is a lion in the winter. There is hardly any public officer today whose career has traversed the entire spectrum of the country's attempts at legitimate government. At 31, in the First Republic, he was at the vortex of the Action Group, AG, crisis when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was pitted against his deputy, Chief Ladoke Akintola.
During the Second Republic, he was one of the five governors of Awolowo's Unity Party of Nigeria. Today, he is in the centre of power, still the fulcrum of controversy. It is as if his public career is calibrated along the contour of modern Nigerian history.
He is a hero of many battles, most recently the historic struggle against military rule, and he has survived them all. He rides the storm with tested skill and panache and like his mentor, Awolowo, nobody in the republic can be indifferent to Bola Ige, the Cicero of Esa-Oke and grandmaster of Yoruba politics.
Ige held strong views and beliefs and this has led him to many prisons in the land. Today, he, to the discomfiture of some of his colleagues in the Alliance for Democracy, AD, is in the cabinet of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Both of them became friends in 1967 when Ige was a commissioner in the old Western State and Obasanjo was a commander of the army brigade in Ibadan.
As it was in the beginning, Ige is still at the centre of hot controversies, both at the national level and among his kinsmen, the Yoruba of the South-west. His actions and inactions fuel fears and speculations. His current legal fireworks at the Supreme Court, asking for the interpretation of the constitution, have ignited widespread fears and controversies across the country.