Eripa is a sleepy town in Osun State with indigenes wide awake to the nuances of good-naturedness and diplomacy. The town’s name asks a question, meaning: “Did you succeed in killing it?” Killing what? Hold on, please. The myth of Eripa’s evolution is steeped in the communal self-preservation battle waged by the rocky town against a ghastly elephant that tormented the populace several years ago. This particular rogue elephant periodically escaped from the pit of hell, swooping on the town, destroying mortals and materials.
Scientifically, nothing best illustrates the brainpower of the average elephant than its 5kg brain size in comparison to the whale’s 2.5kg brain size despite the largest whales being 20 times the size of an elephant. In truth, the tongue of the blue whale is the size of an elephant! In acknowledgement of the elephant’s immense intelligence, Greek philosopher, Aristotle, more than 1,000 years before Eripa’s creation, described the elephant as “The beast which passeth all others in mind and wit.”
The lethality of Eripa’s elephant resided in the element of surprise with which it launched its attacks. Whenever the mammoth visited the community, it stomped “sorrow, tears and blood” along its path, galloping down the hills, disappearing into the greenery. Maybe, the murderous elephant would’ve been captured alive if Eripa warriors had collaborated with their invincible counterparts in the neighbouring land of the valiant, Igbajo, where palm wine is savoured in brass goblets.
But Eripa warriors won’t share their glory with warriors from another land. Exasperated by the elephant’s impunity, one day, Eripa warriors converged and went after the male beast. At an age when the gun was alien, the warriors only had juju (abenugongon), spears, daggers, machetes, clubs and their limbs to do battle. The red elephant (erin pupa) couldn’t contain its rage upon seeing the derring-do of the warriors. It came surging. But the warriors stood their ground in the intense battle. Blood flowed from men and animal. Eventually, the beast fell, men yelled in victory and the indigenes asked their returning warriors, ‘Eripa’? “Did you succeed in killing it?” A prince of Eripa and retired lecturer at the Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta, Dr Bade Adeyemo, said unity and collective will were key to the killing of the elephant. Adieu, Eripa elephant.
Hundreds of years after Eripa liberated itself from the monster elephant, another elephant has emerged. The new elephant is a genetic embodiment of corruption, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, crime, religiosity and tribalism in an oxymoronic unitary federation. The modern day elephant is not reincarnating its voracious eating and destructive habits in Eripa. Nigeria is its footstool. It doesn’t attack and retreat into the forest. Today’s elephant strolls majestically within the precinct of power and scorns blindly foolish voters who glorify, maim and kill to demonstrate their love for irresponsible politicians.
Each time the Eripa elephant ravaged and the leaders and warriors kicked up dust in counterattack, the citizens asked, “Did you succeed in killing it?” Lurking behind the question is an unspoken demand for proof should the leaders of the Eripa nation claim they had killed the beast. In contemporary Nigeria, civilisation is an incubator for backwardness. Instead of imbuing the citizenry with probing minds to question anomalies by religious and political leaders, Nigerian civilisation sucks the brains out of citizens, replacing them with docility and stupidity.
Eighty-six-year-old Prince Adeyemo, whose forebears founded Eripa, recalled that the leaders and people of the community spoke in one voice. Speaking through his son, Adeolu, the scholar said, “The fabled red elephant terrorised the people. But the people of the town collectively went after it and killed it.” The historic perspective of the octogenarian buttresses the importance of unity in achieving peace and security in nation building.
Eripa people identified their common enemy and stood up to it just like the President Muhammadu Buhari government has identified the antidotes to killings by herdsmen, corruption, terrorism and nepotism – giving cheer and reasons for Information Minister Lai Mohammed, born-again Christian Femi Adesina, and veteran journalist Garba Shehu to flaunt the matchless achievements of the Wise Man of Daura. Experience is the best teacher. Having sacked the most corrupt, utterly inept and resoundingly ordinary government, the Buhari-led administration, upon assumption of power, launched an aggressive campaign against the demons of corruption, insecurity, poverty, unemployment and crime, which disrobed the Goodluck Jonathan administration of honour and accomplishment.
In a hurry to deliver on electoral promises, a highly prepared Buhari government failed to appoint ministers, six months down the line, without a reason despite warnings by economists that delay was likely to hurt foreign investment. The burning desire to speedily move the country back on track from the derailment which the Jonathan administration wreaked saw the Buhari government also forgetting to appoint change agents into several government agencies, leaving the appointees of the Jonathan administration whom the electorate had sacked – to continue in office for more than three years.
An army General not easily given to emotion, the need for stability in the country must also have informed Buhari’s continued retention of characterless ministers and deadwood service chiefs while the economy tumbles and insecurity is crowned. Having an unstable country, for the retired soldier, is treason. Hence, the man in flowing ‘babanriga’ has learnt to fly like a witch on the symbolic broom of the All Progressives Company.
The broomstick is not the only object of teleporting; the Peoples Demolition Party has rediscovered its umbrella. The umbrella is another great teleporting totem; simply spread your umbrella during a gale, and up you go in the air. But remember, Jonathan plunged headlong into the Atlantic Sea in 2015 when voter protest shot down the umbrella midair. Today, the APC is cruising high in the air, defecating on voters whose sweat planted the palm trees that produced the broom. Still smarting from the Humpty-Dumpty fall it suffered in 2015, the PDP has gingerly spread out its umbrella yet again, and it has lifted up in the air after voters toiling below in plantations began to hail the umbrella. This was after the witch refused to heed labourers’ yearnings in the plantation for three years.
For now, the witch on the broomstick is flying at a higher altitude while the wizard riding the umbrella is coming up slowly at a lower altitude. The witch looked down to the wizard and accuses him of greed, saying, “You ate for 16 consecutive years, yet you sulk over my three years at the broth. Haba!”
Wizard: Four years is too short for you to know how sweet power is. This is why I must stop you from winning another term because if you do, you’ll discover the true taste of power, and would be difficult to uproot.
Witch: Now that we’re out of earshot from the gullible electorate, I’ll make you a deal; let the umbrella merge with the broom; stop these comic defections and peace shall reign in the land. Nigeria’s resources are enough to outlast 1,000 lifetimes.
Wizard’s face brightens up, “Your idea is a great possibility,” he says, smiling.
(A commotion is heard in the plantation below)
“What’s that?” Witch asks, looking down the plantation.
“A dogfight has broken out between our supporters in the plantation again. Fourteen people have died,” Wizard says, winking.
“These people, will they ever learn? I’m going higher into the clouds, I can’t stand blood,” says Witch, spitting phlegm on the plantation.
“I’m coming along with you. The day these people know nobody cares for them is the day they’ll revolt,” Wizard says, farting and blowing his nose out on the plantation.
At a crossroads on the plantation, a lonely preacher sermonises loudly, “Exodus 22(18): Never let a witch live. Leviticus 19(31): …Never seek after wizards…I am the Lord your God.” “Vote your conscience in 2019.”