ISAAC OLUSESI writes that the opposition elements in the State of Osun, Nigeria is the sinister in-operatively strategizing to stampede the state government into vegetative submission with the effluence of the pensioners’ grievances sped into sheer anarchy and unbridled antagonism twirled in ritual revelry, stemming the current wave of sundry irritations over ritual killings in Osun and other parts of the nation.
The news about some pensioners stemming the tide of ritual killings in Nigeria made a provocative but compulsive reading. Meaning that the effluence of their grievances on pension arrears and gratuities has sped into sheer anarchy and unbridled antagonism. That the State of Osun pensioners dispensed ritual killings recently to drive their demands, in the full glare of press publicity reads like some inverted reality. That is their own solution, warts and all. But that is the crux of the matter.
Pity the pensioners. The ritual killings, informed by an ancient wisdom, now grown anachronistic with age and tattered by disuse for indecency and barbarism, were carried out at the government secretariat, Osogbo, state capital, in the broad daylight. The 2011/2012 protesting retirees seized marked white and black goats, logged them against the earth to a hurtful point and made some hosed whispers into the ear of the goats. And in a flash, a fetish matchet irrupted through the animals, with blood gushing out straight down under some spells, that fired insensate hostility to the sensibility of the government.
The savagery, with inflammatory incantations, weird and ludicrous attracted a motley crowd of passers-by and civil servants; it was the retirees’ irrational underpinnings to the continuous scheme of the oppositions to make Osun ungovernable. The crowd, with wide spread righteous indignation sneered at the retirees’ theatre of absurdity and gave them the sobriquet: the ritual annex. There were no mixed emotions; the crowd raved at the protesters as no one at the scene, not even the most cheerful was amused by the retirees’ suicidal servility as no one else was chary in chiding and sending them scurry back home. The crowd was piqued as there was nothing comic about the prisoners’ disposition that rather portends tragic consequences for socially acceptable behavior. The elders ‘terrorism’ rang hollow in the young people, leaving in them a gasping hole with cold chills; they were horrified and would flinch for a very long time to come like it were some monstrous tales from some banana republics.
But the ritual killings, a shibboleth though, could be to atone for the duplicity and forensic wrong-headedness of the protesting pensioners who swarmed not infrequently on the government secretariat, barricaded the gate and laid siege to the mandarins and other civil servants going to work. The spate of the rumpus was to ignite a war of attrition, a show down with the government ferociously to court adulation of the press, but the protesting retirees were not obliged with action. What a soul of evil in the abrasive protesters, to their own discomfiture!
Unmistakably, the wild retirees had stuck out their neck without rational calculations, pounded roughshod on the streets with disdain for Osun government and flexed muscles for attention, the senior citizens show of clownishness. But they never made anybody’s day; rather they were in the business of making more enemies. And placing the grievance against their modus operandi, it is now obvious that what we have on hand in Osun are a fledging rural guerrilla, a bizarre dimension in social convulsion.
The bare-face bravado, the ritual killings opened up untoward vistas to the retirees’ rabid street protests that not only intoxicated them beyond the bonds of reasonability such that their demands earlier thought to be impregnable were made mincemeat by another vicious round of protests that roared its hoary head in a fell swoop and twirled in ritual revelry, a disingenuous alibi for ridding the crest-wave of public sentiments and parrying the barbs of public sympathy for the retirees’ demands.
The protests, warped and steeped in morbid hatred for Osun government could not be the barometer to gauge the volume of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and status of payment of pensions, gratuities, salary and leave bonus in the state because the pensioners have always acted on the basis of their own uneducated and muzzled assumptions, a bald diagnosis in beer parlour. “The state’s IGR was not up to N1.5bn, yet the pensioners LIED (emphasis mine) that the IGR and PAYE was N9.5bn.” The retirees’ pathological lie, made worst by their odios rituals, had invariably turned them into a gargoyle to hurt the state government and set Osun on edge.
What then looked like mere protests by the retirees soon showed their lethal intent to terrorize Osun governance and administration in the Maitatsine spirit. A decent to fanaticism over money! That the retirees had resolved with noisy street insistence, with embarrassing rituals that the state would not know peace means that the protesters must have quaffed some kind of drugs that emboldened them to dastardly act of ritual killings to make a point against government. The hero of Maitatsine, the anti-Islamic, anti-Christ movement, was Mohammed Marwa, of Marwa village in Cameroun.
Clearly, the protesting 2011/2012 pensioners must have had their psyche bestirred by factors external to them. Car GustarJung, the fabled Swiss psycho-analyst would say that the Osun protesting retirees must be ill. No! They are not. But Jung would insist the retirees are bedeviled by a million tiny demons that nouctionally chase them and remotely control their action in the day akin to when a first-time pregnant woman suddenly realizes she has to undress before the doctor.
The demons are the opposition elements in the Osun Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) desiring in-operatively to take over the state driver’s seat. They are identifiable by their odour, oscillation, orphanage, osmosis, mascara, matador feet shuffle and oddities of a pig, intruding on the Osun opulence living room. The murk tends always to make a joke of good taste of the Rauf Aregbesola government in the state. Proverbially, the hands of the protesting retirees are those of Esau but their menacing street actions are those of Jacob, the opposition PDP. The protesters practically carried out the spirit and letter of the adventures, wishes, whims and caprice of their PDP god-father in Osun. And like orphans, the retirees on the streets are always too glad to be noticed, too anxious to please, too self-full to caution self, too spoon-fed to paddle own canoe, too noisy to do a re-think, and too out-going to look back. They acted the drawers of water and hewers of wood for the god-father because they lack the reach, the clout the muscle and the courage, except the beggarly courage. A descent to servitude!
The PDP god-father knows that the way to the retirees’ ear is through his mouth and has always hosted the pensioners under his roof where they tackle pounded yam with egusi soup and the rump of cow leg, mopped up with cognac to drive the crumbs down the stomach, all in the puny effort to order the pensioners around for protests, to clampdown on the state government. “The sight and sound of free men clamouring to be chained is not an edifying one,” wrote John Simpson in his famous essay, “Watching For The New Dictators” (1972).
And everything after each PDP crumbs, played cheaply to the gallery of the god-father. What an authoritative instance of being masterly by half. The retirees then pushed full steam, switched from protests to protests and acted on the streets more PDPic than Fayose, apparently to be noticed and rewarded with more crumbs from the PDP god-father’s table, a throw-back accoutrements of the by- gone PDP potentates in the Oke-fia state government house, Osogbo.
The fetid wrinkles of the restive protests on the fore-head of the retirees cannot be beauty lines. The Osun PDP is the sinister, the dictator that rigs up the contraption for the menacing gravitas of the street protests with ritual killings in the state. The 2011/2012 retirees in the PDP hatching asylum had fledged into an untamable hawks and political snipers. They shot at the heart of Osun and laid ambush unpatriotically to disparage the government and infuse deadly fear into Osun people.
To be sure, like Umaru Dikko in asylum the protesting retirees had their loyalty where their mouth is. Dikko was President. Sheu Shagari’s Minister of Works; Chairman, Special Task Force on Rice; and Chairman, Shagan’s Re-election Committee in 1983. But December 31, that year, Dikko woke up to hear martial music and he fled into exile in England from where he gave the new military government of General Mohammed Buhari, a Jihad, corresponding to the notorious escapades of Anini, the underworld kingpin. Or, in the name of what did the retirees steam–roll Osun in the last few weeks, Maitatsine? Rituals? Dikko? Asked Pavel Litvinour in Das Gesunde Volksenfundem, the Healthy Instinct of People.
There can be no confusion as who really are the pensioners in Osun, and no uncertainty as to who are the steam-rollers, the lackeys who daily throng the corridors of the opposition in the state. Evidently, those who hope for the growth of democracy in Nigeria should get alerted to the steam roller group, too short, very short on the responsibility of senior citizens and too long, very long on the minutiae and antediluvian.
The group, brutally injurious to public interest, ironically thinks its PDP god-father could do things better in Osun. No hope should be pinned on the group that makes the job of governance difficult. Osun people must decide to make the group and other retirees, old and new run through Senior Citizenship Education (SCE) in Psyche Re-orientation and Re-development; Statesmanship and Civic Duties; Current Affairs and Application; Watchdog Ethics; and Logic of Research, Negotiation, Dialogue and Documentation. The senior citizenship class cannot a place for high school rascals- that should be the hub of the training manifest
Asking the protesting retirees to apologize is otiose; the matter on hand does not need any such big stick, though the retirees’ fetish disposition stands a mere frail against the current climate and sundry irritations over ritual killings in Osun and other parts of Nigeria. Osun people would not roll out red carpet for the fetish retirees neither would the government decorate them with any garland. But the protesters should be forgiven at least to serve the end of social justice. To look away, is to prick the conscience of justice as no action of man is ever sacosanct that time and circumstance cannot render unjust, unwisr and untamable. The wiser-than-thou propensity of the retirees has alienated them from Aregbesola. To criticize him is not to risk the awesome combination of blasphemy and treason; he is not one who coughs and expects the other person to shiver.
“The gratuities of pensioners in Osun are well over N9bn and the state could not afford that now”. To be otherwise is like the retirees wanting Aregbesola to turn chunks of stones into loaves of bread. But the man whose government had travelled the long, bumpy and tortoise road to be, has always embraced utilitarianism, satisfying the greatest yearnings of the greatest number of Osun people by its massively populist development politics, policies and projects in all parts of the state. Not the parochial, selfish interest of a few groups, or any single person in particular.
The retirees in the state should accept that these are times which call for studied perseverance and dedicated vigilance. Globally, the times are really bad, angry man on the street and hungry man at home. In place of the protesting retirees’ wiser panache, vigilance on government actions to ensure the survival of democracy and increased development of the state by offering constructive suggestions and alternative possibilities will make governance easier. Chaos will not resolve any issue, drawing line in the sand will only compound it. “There is a sleeping cop in all of us. We all can be brutal, we all can be bestial,” warned a graffito written during the 1968 French student revolt.
I have the words of Leotolstoy as food–for-thought for Osun protesters. “I sit on a man’s back choking him, making him carry me; yet I assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all means possible, except getting off his back!
- OLUSESI is Assistant Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research & Strategy, All Progressives Congress, State of Osun.