(Published by Premium Times, May 2, 2021)
Did Itsekiri, Delta State-born Senator representing Lagos in Nigeria’s National Assembly, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, nee Ikusebiala – interpreted, meaning, “death’s most fitting analogy is a sleep” – wife of the Asiwaju of Lagos, All Progressives Congress (APC’s) National Leader and ex-Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, know the implication of stirring the hornet’s nest? That was what she did last week when she introduced the wolf and sheep allegory into the current national discourse on the security situation in Nigeria.
Last Tuesday, at the thick of a dense discourse which had the Nigerian Senate dedicating its plenary to discussion of the excruciating security situation in the country, Smart Adeyemi, representing Kogi West Senatorial District, like one in a chasm, was suddenly seized by the plethora of Nigerian crises. In a melancholic, teary-jerking submission, Adeyemi painted a grim picture of Nigeria’s descent into anarchy. Sounding like a griot narrating the tale of war in ages past, Adeyemi cleverly wove the tapestry of the Nigerian woes and hopelessness in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is the worst instability we are facing. In fact, this is worse than the civil war. Billions of naira has been voted for security services and nothing is coming out of it. I’m a party man and I’m supporting APC but it has gotten to a point that as supporters we cannot keep quiet,” he said in a voice tinged with sorrow and hopelessness.
Outside the shores of the Assembly, separated by hundreds of kilometers, was another descent into melancholy. Abagena, a village domiciled in by Internally Displaced Persons, (IDP) was the venue of another weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, stood before seven bodies lying prostrate or face up, in different postures. Blood that oozed of their wounds had started to congeal. Ortom had no choice but to peel the dress of a governor wore on him by ascription and put on the apparel of a man in abhorrence of man whose humanity had been assaulted. He stood there, looking grim, lost and inconsolable before corpses of his kinsmen. They had been murdered a few hours before then. Leaves were flung in the sky by youth who had come to protest their killing the night before. The Benue seven dead bodies completed the state’s two-week circus of a blood-spilling orgy. All in all, a statistics of 70 murdered people, sent to their graves by men suspected to be Fulani herders, lay on the floor. In the previous week, Nigeria was like a funeral parlour, littered with dead bodies in a democratic blood spillage that had virtually all the regions in Nigeria painted in crimson colour of sorrow. Five more people were killed by the weekend.
“It is an unfortunate development. If the federal government had taken a proactive step, we will not be where we are. In the last two weeks, over 70 persons just in Makurdi local government area alone. It is not acceptable. Go to Guma, the same killings are taking place, go to Gwer-west, the same killings are taking place. This is not fair. The federal government has refused to take a proactive step to arrest this ugly situation we are witnessing here today. You recall that I alerted the entire nation when Fulanis from 14 countries met in Yola and declared that except we review the prohibition of open grazing law, Benue will not know peace,” Ortom said.
Back in the senate, as Adeyemi showed his disgust at the sport that shedding of blood had become in Nigeria, Mrs. Tinubu didn’t see blood. She saw party and its affiliation. Like a wolf aiming for the jugular of the lamb, with stains of blood caressing the nape of her jaws, this Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) went for the throat of the discourse and the discussant. “Are you in PDP? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing?” she howled.
Even though what Mrs. Tinubu meant looked poignantly clear enough, discourse analysis seems a sure weapon to tease out what the purport of her allegory meant. Discourse analysis is used as a research method to study written or spoken language, as well as its social contex. So, was the Tinubu allegory said after she had read Enoch Adeboye’s Open Heavens for that day, an early morning daily homily? In which case, she must have read Matthew 7:15 which says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”? Or did she go into her Itsekiri ancestry to interpret the death of thousands of people who have died in the hands of Fulani herdsmen under Buhari, to mean that the dead were just sleeping?
Mrs. Tinubu’s Itsekiri ancestry shares same heterogeneity with the Yoruba people. It is a mixed ethnic origin of language similar to the Yoruba and Igala, both of western and central Nigeria. Also, it shares the culture of Benin people of Edo State. In her tirade and upbraid of Senator Adeyemi last week, could she have assumed that the dead are not dead in the real sense of it?
Several interpretations of encounters between the lamb and the wolf have been made in history. The Aesop’s fable is one of them. These fables, also called the Aesopica, are a collection of fables that were the brainchild of Aesop, a slave and storyteller who lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Aesop told the tale of a shepherd who deliberately sired a wolf cub in the midst of his sheep. Upon the wolf having grown, unknown to the shepherd, the wolf returned to the flesh-eating gastronomy of its wolf ancestry. Whenever a wolf struck the pen and carted a sheep away, the wolf-sheep pretended to be pursuing the invading wolf and kept the chase until it was out of eyesight. At that moment, it shared the sheep meal with its kin – the wolf marauder. Sometimes, it would grip one of the sheep in the pen and share its meat with invading wolves as well. When the shepherd discovered the actual texture of the wolf-sheep, he caused it to be hung on the tree. This narrative is conveyed in a Greek anthology where a sheep lamented that, in suckling what looked like its sheep kin, she suckled an enemy, a wolf-cub: Not by my own will but the shepherd’s folly/The beast reared by me will make me his prey/ For gratitude cannot change nature.
Two other wolf fables in history told the story of the danger of putting up a false toga. They are 12th-century Greek rhetorician, Nikephoros Basilakis’s tale and 15th-century Italian professor, Laurentius Abstenius’. While Basilakis’ was entitled Rhetorical Exercises, Abstenius’ was Hecatomythium. They are however almost indistinguishable in the moral they conveyed. Basilakis’ began by stating that “you can get into trouble by wearing a disguise.” Thereafter, Basilakis illustrated this by telling the tale of a wolf that changed its nature, wore a sheep’s clothing, a sheepskin, which enabled him to accompany the flock to the pasture. At nightfall, the shepherd securely fastened the lock and closed off the sheepfold. With this, the wolf in sheep’s sheepskin secretly gourmands the flesh of the animals in the pen. The shepherd didn’t discover this for a long time. One day, he wanted meat for supper and picked one of the sheep. It was the wolf. In the Nikephoros fable, the moral is that evil-doing comes with a huge penalty.
At a time like this when blood has almost totally enveloped Nigeria, when the word on the lips of patriots is how to get redemption for this beleaguered country under Buhari, why was the APC/PDP dichotomy the only classification index that agitated ex-Miss Ikusebiala? In her reference to the wolf and sheep allegory, was Tinubu’s wife cleverly taking our minds back to the Aesop’s fable, the tale of a shepherd who deliberately sired a wolf-cub in the midst of his sheep? Was Buhari the wolf-sheep that was sired in the pen, now marauding our sheep?
The above becomes germane if the current Nigerian situation is subjected to a helicopter analysis. In the month of April, 268 people, including five future of Nigeria from the Greenfield University in Kaduna, were killed, ostensibly by Fulani herders, kidnappers and bandits. Fulani, Buhari’s ethnic stock, is held to be at the vortex of the killings. Fulani is said to be one of the most deadly, even if nationalistic ethnic tribes in the world. Also known as Peul or Fulbe, Fulani are primarily Muslim and are scattered round many parts of West Africa. From Lake Chad in the east to the Atlantic coast, they wander down to Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Cameroun, Guinea and Mali. Widely dispersed and originally pastoral people, the killings in Nigeria are directly proportional to the Fulani quest to be everywhere with their herds. Armed with sophisticated weapons, they shed blood with impunity.
The killings have countless times been rationalized by Buhari, in his sparse conversations, as well as by his ministers and their accomplices. One of them even said that Fulanis of Africa needed no visa to be in Nigeria. The first question to ask is, why should a ministry like that of Communication, with its indistinguishable relationship with technology, be placed in the hands of a volatile Islamist/religionist like Isa Pantami? It had earlier been in the hands of another Islamist, Mullah Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu. Religion and technology are strange bedfellows. So, was it a coincidence that the duo of Shittu and Pantami superintended over the communication ministry under Buhari?
In an interview with Obadiah Mailafia, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, published in a national newspaper yesterday, Obadiah had alleged that one of the reasons why Pantami is a sacred cow at the Ministry of Communications, in spite of allegations of his extremist views, was the need for him to carry out a Fulani demographics agenda.
“Through Pantami’s devious NIN palaver, they are allegedly importing millions of aliens and issuing them with passports, national identity cards and voter cards. They are fighting a demographic Jihad to ensure that the North is the demographic majority by subterfuge. And then they will have a free license to call the shots in perpetuity. They have allowed hundreds of thousands of killers to invade our country,” he alleged. So, could Buhari, rather than Adeyemi, be the wolf that is putting on a sheepskin so as to devour our sheep?
Again, it is apposite to ask whether former Miss Ikusebiala was speaking like a mother when she made that wolf and sheep statement. Even if she spoke blindly in defence of her partisan leaning, didn’t she have human feeling? Did she speak like a Nigerian who was aware that the country was about to explode as a result of the Jihadization of Nigeria by Buhari?
Ex-Miss Ikusebiala would be excused if it she realized that she had predecessors in history. An insouciant statement of that kind had been made by Queen Marie Antoinette in 1789. As famine ravaged France and cost of bread got to its apogee during the reign of her husband, King Louis XV1, totally bereft of what the ordinary man on the street was passing through, France’s Ikusebiala had told the people in a widely notorious French phrase, Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, translated to mean, Let them eat cake. That carelessness ruptured France. So, could it be that, ensconced in the fortress of Bourdillon and the comfort that bullion vans bring, Ikusebiala does not know that Nigerians are hemorrhaging badly under Buhari, in a way that political partisan is lame and lax to stop?
Let ex-Miss Ikusebiala continue to preface party before the people’s woes. Her husband, the Asiwaju, is known to be notorious for placing the cart before the horse as well, putting a dead-on-arrival political ambition before the slaughter of hundreds of Nigerians. This is making the callous wolf to dig its teeth into our flesh a step further. The truth, however, is that we are getting close to a rupture. As Jamaican Don Carlos sang, there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of the teeth.
BUNI AND APC’S 40-YEARS-IN-POWER GRANDSTANDING
When politicians project that they would be in power ad infinitum, what exactly is the content of their projection? Is it spiritual, logical or mere wishful thinking? The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) regaled Nigerians with this projection a while ago, to the consternation of many. How can perishable man, who flowers today and tomorrow is cast away; possessed of a glowing skin today but tomorrow is a mass of maggots, project a kingdom for an uncertain tomorrow? So when Vincent Ogbulafor, some years ago, said that the PDP would be in power for 60 years, Nigerians wondered what was the content of his audacious projection into an unknown tomorrow?
Upper week, Yobe State governor and All Progressives Congress (APC’s) interim national chairman, Mai Mala Buni, walked that same boastfully ruinous path. Indicating that he and his party had not learnt any lesson from the downfall of the PDP which ‘fell yakata’ shortly after such biblical Nebuchadnezzar boast, Buni advertised that same toga. In Abuja last Tuesday for the inauguration of a 61-member Strategy and Contact Committee set up ahead of the 2023 general elections, Buni had thumped his chest as is the wont of the boastfulness of his political party constituency and declared that the APC planned to remain in power for 40 years of 10 consecutive terms. Savouring the company he kept, with governors of the party by his right hand side, senators on his left and a sprinkle other party faithful, Bunu declared magisterially: “Our vision is to provide a wheel that will drive the party to go beyond 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and even 10th term of office.”
What is on ground does not however justify Buni’s self chest thumping. When he came on board in June, 2020 as a result of a welter of condemnations against Adams Oshiomhole’s garrulousness, Buni’s choice unsettled so many party bigwigs. The main cause for worry was why a sitting governor would be chosen to superintend over the affairs of a party which had so many worthy party faithful to man that position. Since then, the implication of Buni being in office for the overarching party interest has been subjected to acute grilling. Even the PDP called on the Yobe governor to resign his dual positions as governor and APC’s Interim National Chairman, citing a pronouncement of the Supreme Court which labeled the leadership of the party “irresponsible and reckless.”
Two major states have fallen in the Supreme Court as a result of technical discrepancies. While Zamfara State’s APC, on May 24, 2019, fell to the intra-party dispute in the party, Bayelsa was to follow suit later. On the Zamfara issue, the court had held, among others, that the APC did not hold valid primaries preparatory to the 2019 general election. It thus voided the APC’s erstwhile victory in the 2019 governorship election, while making a consequential order which directed the party which had the second highest scores in the election to step into the office. In Bayelsa as well, the Supreme Court, on February 13, voided the APC victory just a day to the governor’s swearing in.
With the casualty that the APC has been facing, rather than a boastfulness of its staying in power for the next 40 years, what the party ought to have safeguarded was its continued hold in its 19 controlled states, which is under serious threats. Methinks that putting its house in order by showing Buni the door should have been the most pressing decision on the card of the ruling party. Recently, APC escaped being axed by the whiskers when the election petitions tribunal sitting in Ondo State said it had no jurisdiction to remove its elected governor. This should be a wake-up call for the party. If the tribunal had granted the prayers of the PDP, by implication, every action – and they are plenty, including the recent registration exercise – taken by the APC since Buni became caretaker chairman would have been voided, thus ending Buni’s peacock claim of the party being in government for the next 40 years. Unless it wakes up from its self-inflicted slumber, shows Buni the gate and reorganises itself, a stitch in time may not be able to save the boastful APC from the catastrophe to come.
GBENGA ADEBOYE: 18 YEARS AFTER THE GNOME’S EXIT
Last week, specifically on April 30, 2021, humorist, broadcaster and multi-talented Master of Ceremony, Elijah Oluwagbemiga Adeboye, clocked 18 years underneath the surface of the earth. He had died on same day in April, 2003. Born September 30, 1959 in Odeomu, Osun State, Adeboye had spent a sizeable portion of his life pulling the stern-faced to the jukebox and getting them to smile to his rib-cracking humours.
To describe Adeboye as an enigma was an understatement. He combined an eclectic broadcasting talent with singing, humour and entertainment. In his death, Southwestern Nigeria lost a major talent and entertainer.
Adeboye was a chief host of popular radio programmes on Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation, right from the early 1980s, which he tagged Funwontan Oduology, as well as many other in virtually all parts of the southwest. He had the ability of mimicking personages and went by the moniker, Alaye Mi Gbengulo. Those who knew him still dive into the nostalgia of his generosity but he would be remembered by the power of his comedy. He moulded so many broadcasters who today are always in sober moods every April 30, one of whom is Yemi Sonde, a.k.a. Jigan Akala.
A number of mysteries and mysticism surrounded the person of Adeboye and his short eclectic entertainment career. One of such was his deep romance with traditional African medicine. Those who knew him claimed that his life was as mysterious as his person. Some of this he demonstrated even on many of the programmes he handled for radio stations across the west. He was profound, arresting and spellbinding whenever he stood behind the microphone. One of such profundity was exhibited in a series he entitled Itu Baba Ita, a recreation of an errant personage who was also an outlaw.
Adeboye battled forces, seen and unseen, whose upper hands wedged him to his sepulcher. A few months before his final death, he had been rumoured to have died, the harrowing process of which he later sang about in about the last vinyl he produced before his final death. He had an initial unpleasant encounter with the late Fuji icon, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, a tiff which was unclear whether the duo reached an armistice before their individual passages.
Those who knew Adeboye said he died due to kidney-related disease while to some, he was a gnome who had finished his assignment on earth and was due to join the spirit world. May his soul continue to find anchor in the bosom of his creator.