Between President Buhari And Professor Akindele By Lasisi Olagunju

GOVERNANCE is like romance. It is not how long but how well. Sometimes it can be short and pleasant; it can also be long and awful. Whatever it is, there is a golden rule: Never assess actors based on the first experience. Some hit the ground running; some learn and improve on the job; some march, putting their gear in reverse mode. That is why unimpressed lovers ask for more and epileptic politicians seek to come back in repeated fits.

They tell us to give them another chance; they say that the patient dog eats the fattest bone. They stop only at the bony part of the conversation. Whatever has happened to the meat is for their lordships’ mouths only. I am thinking of the recent demands for new terms and for multiple sessions of involuntary love-making.

President Muhammadu Buhari wants two terms. He has one already, which he says is not enough to birth the desired baby. He is demanding a second session of painful copulation. A professor in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, competed for space with Buhari last week. As Buhari was playing Oliver Twist, asking for more than one term, the professor was negotiating for more than one session of sex with a female student.

He broke the internet for demanding sex five times from a failure who needed his crutches. The professor said he would do one today; two tomorrow; one the day after, and another the day after the last act. And the exasperated lady asked: ‘is it food?!’

The nation heard the convo and crackled in sardonic laughter. One wrong session of sex is not enough for the don who would become Tortoise. A term is also not enough for the politician who has no idea of anything. Tortoise was asked when he would stop his aimless, tasteless journeys; he replied that he would stop only when he is disgraced.

Asking for more has consequences. When Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist asked, “Please, sir, I want some more,” what was the response he got? What he received wasn’t the food he begged for; he got knocks and thrashings. Buhari declared some days ago that he wants a second term so that he could upgrade our failing country. A term is too short to make Nigeria great again, he claimed.

Once, just once and no more, cannot be a heroic act. Not in politics. Not in the other room. The professor in the viral audio demanded the five sex terms as proof of his seriousness to help the failed girl be at par with her successful mates. It is the same reason the politician tells us to vote him in again. He may have promised and failed to hit gold the first term, the messiah still insists we need his help.

The female undergraduate turned down the tonnes of sex her professor demanded and followed it up with an ocean of viral shame for the professor. The president asking for another term also flaunts the credentials of a messiah. Those are what his lovers see and fall for; only his wicked enemies see the failings of his years in the Villa.

Writing about a failed government in a failed nation repeatedly is bad enough. It is the journalese version of the scriptural verses of lamentation. It is a chant of woes and its stale tales. What does it mean to tell tales of woe every week? The Tale of Woe is a 17th century Russian story of disobedience, destruction and redemption. It is a story “nourished by folk songs about woe and verse of repentance.” It says that misfortune and afflictions are not necessarily terminal where the sinner is penitent.

Shouldn’t admittance of moral default followed by penitence precede a demand for a renewal of tenancy? Where a president promised three million jobs but delivered eight million dismissals how should the story be broken? Should the songs be of tears, rebuke, rejection and ejection or of praise and thanks to the midwife of stillborns?

Shouldn’t a man really be bitter about all these warts around here? Should tales just be of woes and misfortune with no redemptive window? I write about Nigeria and its fall in the vineyard. Like the Russian The Tale of Woe-Misfortune, the Nigerian story is the story of Adam and Eve. Fallen and debased, the country may be in the jailhouse of its rapist leaders, but the good news is that it is not a condemned criminal.

A change of moral direction will buy it its freedom from certain death. That is what the bard sings here as a regular brew of woes. And as a Yorubaman, I know that no one is so powerful as to mute the shrill of the gong of redemption; nor does crass noise kill the king’s market in its fullness. Should one stop thinking of why there are bad news everywhere here?

Teachers demand of students not diligence at their studies but sex from age mates of their daughters; they demand not brilliance but tyres from boys for the cars of the big bosses. Should one not ask why we don’t think the suffering of the hungry must stop; why life always goes on here no matter the degree of injuries inflicted by the state; why our politicians always think of the next election even when the sky is crashing on the head of the poor?

Should one stop asking whether it is the black man’s luck to remain as he has always been: retrogressive and, at best, stagnant?

The impotent man is an efulefu; he must not eat spicy foods. That is what an African proverb says. He should not even be seen near the dining table. But he is demanding it publicly here because around him are celebrators of impotence. I asked a friend if he also saw the tragedies all over. Yesterday, it was robbers in Kwara; last year, this year, today, it is herdsmen killing scores again in Benue, Taraba and Zamfara.

OAU Professor Richard Akindele
President Muhammadu Buhari

In the midst of all these, the elected leaders don’t give a damn. The only damn they give is the one that opens the second leg of power for them. And our conduct suggests to them that we don’t have other options apart from them.

Even the Ife girl that scored 33 per cent had options. She rejected the thrusts of her professor and fought back with the sense of a woman. Failed politicians can ask for more, but the Nigerian voter can also explore the options he has. He can sensibly use what he has to enthrone what he needs. But does the black man choose his leaders so that he could be free from want and disease?

American statesman, Thomas Jefferson, in his ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’ (1787) says that the black man’s inferior mind is “a powerful obstacle to (his) emancipation.” The Nigerian person can endure and excuse any pain. The black man’s raw courage, Jefferson says, “may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought” which prevents him from “seeing a danger till it be present.”

How could we fail to see this plain danger of today’s Nigeria yesterday? As the curtain falls on one horrific scene, another scene of horror opens. And some of us are still not seeing anything. We still offer men without balls food which only the potent should eat. The developed world of the white man which we love to visit and celebrate, was it built on foundations of impotence?

And you ask: why is the black man blind to what is right? Is the black man doomed to self-destruct? Even on the very rare occasions he manages to escape from the lion’s den, he still goes back to pick his hat. The lion is begging him to do same again in 2019. Here, the stars major in the negative minors.

The best things when corrupted goes down below the worst. Could that be the reason a man who parades a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Psychology, an MBA, an MPhil and a Ph.D in Management Sciences would fall so pitiably at the feet of Viagra in Ile Ife?

We may all be publicly condemning that professor and angry in self-righteous indignation, but how many who condemn him are better in conduct? Failed politicians who seek undeserved second terms are like that Ife girl. Voters who demand money to elect underserving politicians are doing exactly what that professor offered that girl. What about the governor who sleeps with favour-seeking female politicians?

The female contractor who hawks sex from ministry to ministry? All others who daily do inappropriate things and play saint?

Our politicians are that failed student seeking a bailout. They fail and insist they must pass and some of us agree that they must pass. They won’t stop insulting our sensibility quoting Oliver Twist asking for “some more.” They look down on us because the teacher who marks their scripts sleeps in their bed.

And can we see that almost all of us are like that professor in self-destructive conducts? Almost all are. We are, especially when we leave the right thing undone and insist we have done well and should be rewarded; when we demand the wrong thing from the right person; when the right thing goes from us to the wrong person; when we abandon our own marking scheme and impose non-answers as the requisite for a pass mark.

When we refuse to accept ‘enough’ as a punctuation to our inappropriate conducts. When we rush to offer condom as cure for erectile dysfunction. When we do all these, we sow fruitlessness into the soul of tomorrow.

(Culled from the Nigerian Tribune on Monday, 16 April, 2018)

Presidents, Robberies And Prisons By Lasisi Olagunju

“Every morning, as I come out of Agodi Government House, I look down and I see Agodi Prisons,” Col. Ahmed Usman, a former Military Administrator of Oyo State, once told an audience. A hush descended on the gathering as he said this. He looked around, paused for effects – and continued: “and I always pray that: ‘God when I leave here (Government House), don’t let me end up there (Prisons)’.”

The British had an awful sense of humour. In many places where they built prisons while here, the jail houses were sited not far from the government houses. They did just that in Ibadan, in Abeokuta and in Ado-Ekiti. And you ask why? Even if there were no answers from the colonial minds on why they erected those two structures face to face, has Colonel Usman not unwittingly provided one? Every person in power must remember that we live in a world of opposites. Power is one pole of a pair of opposites. The low side is carefully etched in the site of the prisons. They sit so menacingly, waiting and looking at arrogant power.

Life has up and downsides; there will always be life after power. But why is it that the powerful here feign ignorance of the other side of power? Could it be the reason very few who start well end it well?

Usman was fortunate; he left in peace and has been enjoying his retirement quietly in peace. But has that been the case with several others who held public posts?

Presidents have awesome powers, but are those powers a carte blanche – a franchise to do just anything, including wrecking the destinies of millions put in their care without consequences? The answer you get here cannot be the same you get abroad. Here, there are no consequences for anything; but elsewhere, leaders always know there is a tomorrow.

Indeed, the last one week demystified presidents, ex-presidents and all who thought themselves above the law. The world looked at the iron feet of the gods of power and discovered that they are indeed made of clay. South Korean former president, Park Geun-hye, was sentenced to 24 years in jail for abuse of power and corruption. Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, got 12 years also for corruption. Former President Jacob Zuma of South Africa had his own day in court on Friday.

He is facing a rash of graft charges. All these happened in just one week and Nigerians went into a frenzy. Do you really think this can happen in Nigeria? You probably would get a shrug as answer from me. And you ask why? Our own leaders aren’t like those ones in South Korea, Brazil and South Africa. Ours are tanks of tact and wisdom. Here, presidents and governors sign and approve anything for anyone, including themselves, because they are the law. They not only know how to eat the isin fruit, they have also perfected the art of removing the ‘death’ in its eyes. Leaders here do not over-drink and miss their way back home to safety. They do not prepare their meals without having extra bowls for unexpected guests. They take enough to feed all dangers, including the law.

Above all, leaders here live in castles moated with their victims. They are blessed with an impregnable fort of the disinherited. The people here celebrate and protect their oppressors. They sign blank cheques for their leaders to cash. Leaders exist to spend the people’s money. If Tapa owns Igunnu and Igunnu owns Tapa, what then is the problem of intrusive law in what the two do to each other?

Those foreign countries could humiliate their leaders; it is their problem. The leader here owns the farm, the yam and the knife. He owns the law and all its fangs. So, there is no point thinking about doing good with public power. Whatever you do here ends here: there is no hell. There is no law; there is no justice; there is no prison if you stay in the power family. Whatever the leader does, there are enough followers to give him defensive walls, moats to beat back haters of his success.

The game of survival is rigged against the poor but he cares only for his oppressors. He tears himself away from himself turning the nozzle homeward. You don’t think the murdered and the murderers in Benue, Taraba, Kogi and Kwara are of the same class of the poor? It is the character of Nigeria’s character.

Our country lacks character. That is why leaders fail and are immune from karma. Character is what the Yoruba call iwa; the Igbo say it is agwa or emume. The nearest to it in Arabic is akhlaq. It is what Zig Ziglar describes as the foundation stone of “balanced success.” It is what a woman lacks which she misinterprets as ill luck. It is that thing that is absent in a household that makes it unleash ill-bred children on the society.

A nation without character toasts daylight robbery with criminal silence; sees Boko Haram as halal; excuses murderous herdsmen and celebrates rogues as role models. When a nation lacks character, it is normal to succumb to what Richard Sennet describes as “rule by misrule.” A culture of accommodation of evil; an acceptance of cheats by the cheated; a system in which the insulted “interprets” and “explains” away insults – and then “excuses” their beloved tormentor. Where you have this, you end up having a nation of deregulated calamities – a free fall of values; a patterned harvest of victims.

There is an army of victims everywhere defending the rot here. How many of the fallen in Offa last week condemned Danjuma’s call for self-defence? What could be the opinion of the wounded and their relations now after the horrendous experience? In the name of loyalty to political parties and leaders, those who should demand good governance daily look away; or they even attack those who dare to ask that government, for once, governs responsibly. But where leaders are not asked to account, what would life look like? It would be brutish; it would be nasty, short. That is why the House of Nigeria fell a long time ago. Boko Haram has closed down schools in the North East; killer herdsmen have chased farmers out of their farms in the North Central. Armed robbers are closing down banks in diverse places.

Where banks have refused to close down, they open shop 9 am and close by noon daily to escape robbery attacks. Going to banking halls or queueing at the ATM has become a journey to Sambisa. You write your will and say the last prayers. That has been a lot of the people in several rural communities. You find them in rural Kwara, in Osun and in Ijebu part of Ogun State. Life in the cities across the country is not radically different. Armoured tanks are the braces holding the shaky banking business in the cities. It is a war situation.

There was that mass murder called bank robbery in Offa. Its gravity shocked many who asked why? That is one huge alert informing us that the odious fixed account Nigeria has been operating has matured. Nigeria has sacrificed itself to the gods of unwell. The devil cannot be asked to excuse any settlement ruled by the ill-bred. A village whose head chief cultivates Indian hemp and the wife sells ogogoro (local gin) is willed to the devil already. Nigeria is that village. It has continued to give the wrong offerings to its chi. Nigeria sowed wind; whirlwind is here!

It is not true that all the murderous young men spraying bullets everywhere never wanted to do well in life. Something must have snapped in their lives turning them over to the devil. A friend said the country has become the Somalia of West Africa. Boko Haram calls the shots in the North East with its human bombs; kidnappers are the Ogbuefi of the South East. In the South West states and Kwara, armed robbers have left no one in doubt that they are the Baba alaye – the lords of the streets. Cultists and militants are in control of the South South-land and creeks. Herdsmen continue revving up their campaign of death in the North Central; villainous cattle rustlers superintend over the North West as the Amir of theft and murder.

These are the real forces ruling what we call our nation. We lost our country to them because what we call government is impotent; the leaders we have are not sentient. They perceive nothing apart from cool cash, s3x and the next elections. The law as pure fiction only fills the void whenever authority fails the powerful.

If you doubt these, ask why several communities are on forever security lock-down. Ask why more than 22 sinless persons had to die suddenly, hot death in Offa. Ask why those ones lost their lives and their assailants escaped to safety. Ask why the cries of death and bereavement were heard only in the mud houses of the dead. Ask why those voted to care refused to care. Ask why the unfortunate deaths are classified as just a line in Nigeria’s litany of woes. Ask why politicians in Nigeria have no fear of tomorrow.

Monkeys, Snakes, Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin By Lasisi Olagunju

“Their men, young and old, I took as prisoners. Of them I cut off the feet and hands; of others I cut off the noses, ears and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I made a minaret.”

That quote is one horrible monument to the memory of an Assyrian empire called Nineveh and its rulers. Nineveh, at the height of its glory, was the greatest empire on earth. It built a huge reputation for savage acts because it was powerful. To the Jews, it was “the bloody city, full of lies and robbery.”

Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BC by a coalition of victim-nations. A commentator (on how the empire blossomed and fell) notes that when you rule with wickedness and savagery, “your enemies are not likely to forget how they were treated.” When the enemies came in 612 BC, they destroyed everything, including the empire’s ‘everlasting god’, Ashur.

I was at a Christian burial service last Friday where the priest invoked what he called ‘the writing on the wall’ against leaders ruining Nigeria and its future. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin, he chanted repeatedly in revulsion at the mess the country had become. That is a biblical statement interpreted to mean: “God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.”

It points at why an empire called Babylon had to be destroyed and parceled out. A key member of the coalition that destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC was Babylon. Babylon also had to be destroyed in 539 BC by Medes and Persia, two of its allies in the war against Nineveh. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin is a Biblical sign of the end of Babylon. What does it mean to say the days of Babylon are numbered? It means no empire lasts forever. What remains after the fall of every potentate is history of his behaviour in power. If Babylon is destroyed and shared by the allied forces of Medes and Persia, what does that tell us about contemporary powers and power relations? The APC is in power today. Before this ruling party, there was the PDP which prided itself as the biggest and largest party in Africa. A coalition of friends and foes in 2015 put a halt to the pillaging moves of the PDP. Are we not likely to see Medes and Persia in 2019?

History can be very mocking of powers and principalities. Nineveh fell. Babylon fell. Before the fall of Babylon, there was Medes which ruled over the Persians; then they flipped roles: “Under a brilliant young general named Cyrus, the Persians quickly supplanted the Medes and would go on to accomplish things never seen previously in history. After bringing the Medes to heel, they looked outward to foreign lands.” With Medes as a junior coalition partner, Persia was to add the powerful Babylon to the list of its victims.

Babylon became great and forgot its beginning. It became a habitation of evil and a cage for hateful birds. The priest at the burial believed our leaders had done what Babylon did to warrant the fate that befell it. His invocation of history as prayer pointed at the need to end Nigeria’s dynasty of corruption and ineffectual power and create an oasis of peace and prosperity.

The priest’s invocation was not as shocking as the scary chorus of ‘Amen!’ that followed it. Have things gone this bad? Obviously, they have; but the naked king thinks he is still clothed in the velvet of his coronation. But there is a problem. How will ending dynasties and calving powers be applicable as solution to the problems here? I found it very difficult to understand why the congregation chorusing ‘Aamen!’ did not go further to ask the priest what would follow the end of Babylon? If you take power from the current lords of nepotism, who is that saint that will collect it and won’t replace corruptive cronyism with kidnapping and robbery?

History has not been kind in its account of what follows every dynastic change. Nineveh was destroyed by Babylon and its allies because it was an empire of wickedness. Babylon too was destroyed by Persia and its ally because of the horrid iniquities it institutionalized. The PDP was degraded in the last elections to cure the nation of corruptive afflictions. Now, APC/Buhari’s Nigeria last week scored a miserable 27 per cent for its efforts at killing corruption. That was the verdict of Transparency International which was a darling of the APC and Buhari in the years of their enemies. What was the average score before Buhari? Less than 28 per cent! Corruption is the family house of all infractions. It includes nepotism which you commit when you use your powers to give undue favours to your family members. It includes cronyism – which means what? When you tilt advantages unfairly in favour of your associates and friends, you are guilty of cronyism.

Of course, there is bribery; there is embezzlement; there is graft and there is influence peddling. Use of public power for private gain is the official definition of corruption. Does that not smell like nepotism, cronyism, clannishness and favouritism which are the rainbow colours of the Buhari government? Even when Olusegun Obasanjo, the navigator of the process that birthed the Buhari government, spoke about these infractions, what defence did the government put forward? None. Instead, it gave a long list of ‘achievements’, including generating 7,000 megawatts of electricity which has not translated to a sack of darkness at night.

Corruption has gone worse under the APC government, according to Transparency International. Buhari and his government say that cannot be true: What else are we supposed to do that we haven’t done? We have used the past two years and nine months naming and shaming thieves. We have touched the untouchables and shamed the saintly crooks. We have recovered billions in local and foreign currencies and kept the loots for public good. We have stormed privileged homes at midnight and put fearful judges in handcuffs. We have seized powerful generals, air marshals and naval admirals and put them on trial for stealing billions to fund their greed. We have done more than has ever been done in this land flowing with loose Naira and careless dollars. Now this Transparency report has awarded a miserable 27 per cent to Nigeria for 2017. What marking scheme did they use? Who used them? What has gone wrong or what went wrong?

Really, what marking scheme did the examiners use? Does Buhari know that his government has been very transparent in its misbehaviour? How did we know that we have a multibillion naira State House clinic without paracetamol? Rodents chasing out big men out of Villa offices despite billions in maintenance contracts; snakes of the devil swallowing millions; monkeys invading farmhouses to mine senatorial millions; secret recruitments of nephews, nieces and children of mistresses and concubines to fill elite spaces; NNPC contracts without due process; reinstatement and promotion of associates caught pants down. The government did all these and exhibited them for all to see. Transparency International saw them too and was not amused.

Nineveh was destroyed because it was evil. Babylon which destroyed Nineveh was sacked because it became a city of foul spirits and of wicked use of power. Persia which sacked Babylon became history because it refused to learn and change from the evil acts of the past. When you remove dynasties and retain a nation’s character of evil, you have changed nothing. That is what I took from Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. He talks anticorruption but demolished his enemy’s building last week and took over the land. That site will soon become a park to fulfill the vow of the powers of today. El-Rufai has also reportedly forwarded a N30 million bill to the same enemy-Senator as ground rent on another property. If the enemy does not pay N30 million in 30 days time, the building will also go down. That governor may be short in stature, but he has a very robust sense of (in)justice. There is methodology in whatever the petite governor does, including in his demolition ways.

Now, how much support does this governor’s (mis) behaviour enjoy from Abuja? We may not know because that power locus does not speak and does not act against wicked allies. What, therefore, is the difference between what the kings of Nineveh and Babylon did and what happened last week in Kaduna? The government there demolished a building because its enemies turned it to their office. The mind that did that obviously had no sense of history. That history-less mind has a script such as: If you dream of contesting against me in the next elections, I will demolish your house. If you don’t have a house, I will go after your father’s house. If your father has/had been too careless not to own a house, I will gun for your grandfather’s grave.

The kings of Babylon did similar things. Today, history remembers them and what remains of their empire: “A large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris” 85 kilometers south of present day Iraq. No power (and empire) lasts forever.

Our Fulani’s Expensive Cows By Lasisi Olagunju

Did you read Professor Ango Abdullahi in a national newspaper yesterday? If you didn’t, this is what he was quoted as saying on why Nigeria won’t stop grappling with herdsmen’s attacks: “The land belongs to Nigerians and herdsmen are Nigerians. If an Igbo man can go to the North and set up a business, why won’t herdsmen go to the South, including your village, to graze their cattle?… Where we come from, you don’t pay for land, you only ask for permission to use it. That is why I said you people are biased against other people and that is why the peace of this country will be very difficult…” That is from a member of the Fulani elite and spokesman of northern elders’ forum. Through him, we can now understand the enormous problem we have on our hands.

For our Fulani pastoralist, in the beginning was cow; and since that beginning, nothing else has mattered — and nothing else matters even now. Not human life. Not the sweat of farmers; and not even the integrity of our men in power. How many lives have been lost since we started this cow war across the country? I remember the horrendous 73 in Benue. Ango mentioned hundreds in Taraba and other places. There were forty-something corpses in Zamfara and those single-digit murders in other states across the South. Where herdsmen struck, those who died had to die so that sacred cows could graze and live large. Nigerian cows are the new gold – costly, deadly. You cannot be sure that as you read this, many more people are not dying the shameful death of cattle.

Muhammadu Buhari deserves our sympathy. It is not easy at all to be president of anywhere. Being president of Nigeria can be a punishment if your ethnic group is in the eyes of the storm. Those you back with everything are the first to stab you for doing nothing for them. President Buhari is easily a typical Fulani man. He loves his cow so much that he ignores every other thing. But in the last one week, at least two Fulani leaders have accused him of abandoning them. Chairmen of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Kwara and Oyo states spewed bile. They said Buhari had not done well for them, his kinsmen. They even threatened to report our president to God. Could it be that the God of herders is different from that of their victims? This is Fulani’s worst moment ever, they said. One of them did not forget to add that they won’t vote a Buhari in 2019.

They were right. This moment is the very worst for the Fulani and his costly cow. It is the scariest for the usual and the unusual victims of Fulani herdsmen — farmers, office workers and even air travelers. This is also the worst season for Buhari himself as he swims in his own beef pepper soup. Every strongman has a heel of vulnerability. Jonathan had his own in that far corner called Chibok. The bloodhounds called killer herdsmen appear to be this president’s own Chibok girls. And it is shocking that both presidents’ response mannerisms are identical in tragedy. Jonathan felt the Chibok disaster was contrived to fight and stop him. He ignored the victims until it was too late. Buhari feels the noise about what herdsmen are doing all over is pure injustice. The herdsman’s ancestral paths – north to south – have been blocked. So, why wouldn’t they kill to clear their way? Ango Abdullahi said something like that. Buhari’s defence minister also said so. The president heard him; we heard him too. There were cries for the sack of the minister who defended the aggressors. Buhari didn’t hear that; or he didn’t know what wrong the gentleman said (or did) that must take him out of his job. He ignored the calls. The man is there in the full glory of power, waxing lyrical, enjoying his fura de nunu. He will remain there until the market is over.

The Nigerian cow and its Fulani are the new lords of our manor. Runways and hallways are their conquered playgrounds. They get bolder by every official endorsement they get for their misbehaviours. They started deep in the bush, oppressing farmers and their luscious wives. Then they moved to the villages and took over harvests in communal barns; then to the towns, grazing in flustered palace grounds. They then, with the swag of conquistadors, marched into the cities and universities – even attempting the takeover of a local government.

Farmers and other victims of this new terror feel betrayed by Buhari. They say he is backing his kith and kin. Blood is thicker than water and it goes without saying.  Herders too feel their Fulani brother has abandoned them. God will ask him, they vow.  That is what you get when you are a hawk with forgetful talons. You must never have power and be very absent in your responsibilities. A leader must never be indifferent in all moments. That has not been the case with Buhari. He has been visibly absent where decisive presence is demanded. And as we look up to the man who is our president to do something, he looks down on us and wonders why we are troubling his preparations for re-election. Goodluck Jonathan did just that four years ago. What we feel is called deja vu. We were here before.

Where I come from, the cow is just meat. It is nothing more than meat. And how much meat do we need to fill our contented cheeks? We do not think any hunger for beef should make us turn cow to an ancestor deserving veneration. But the Fulani thinks his cow is not second in command to any other creation. It is the god of his existence. That fact is in the Fulani man’s mythology. The first Fulani to be rich followed the direction of a water spirit to worship and water cows. He ended up with great wealth and others, till today, follow his example. There is also the Fulani folktale of “A man, his sons and a Cow” adapted into a book years ago by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).  It is the story of a man whose love for his treacherous cow made him disown all his three sons. That is the life of the Fulani. The cow has rights over the rights of any other creature. And I hope that is not the explanation for the cold shoulder victims of Fulani attacks have been receiving from those they chose as their leaders.

How long will the Fulani go with his current campaign for space and more space? He will go far unless he meets his match. That is his history. He is a celebrated king of marathons who rarely loses campaigns. Whether in or out of the bush, the Fulani is the wily snake that skins other animals. He is the timid leopard that takes over the forest with the sneaky smile of the powerless. Leopard is the patient aggressor, the ferocious great watcher of the idiocy of his victims. Someone said it is ‘the supreme hunter” with the “symbolic magic of nocturnal energies and creativity.” Hear Ango Abdullahi again on why the herdsmen had to kill: “The truth is, if you want to kill me and I have a chance first, I will kill you; or do you want people to be killed and not defend themselves? By your reporting, you have denied them justice and government also has denied them justice by not going to arrest those that are killing them. So, they defend themselves.”

All these fit into the history of Fulani relations with all he interacted with right from his hazy Judae-Syrian roots, through North Africa to the Futa Jallon, to Northern Nigeria. He leaves his unforgettable marks for good or for ill. The stripes and marks you see on others’ faces are called tribal marks. But they are scars imposed by the realities of slavery and slave trade. The Fulani predators and their white collaborators were drivers of that era. Scholars agree that throughout history, the Fulani movement into and subjugation of  others follow a set pattern: First, with the flag of peace and friendship in his hands, the Fulani moves into any land he covets. He gets land grants and uses his dairy products to make more friends. Then he resents being under his hosts; he revolts and subjugates his landlords. That is the pattern. Look around you. Look at the short history of the APC and the long knives carving it today. Who was the leader of that party before the 2015 victory and who is the leader today sending others on houseboy errands? Peep into the near future and sigh for him who won’t learn. Look back – deep into the long history of ethno-political relations in Nigeria. The greedy chief wants the king’s throne at all costs. He won’t take heed of all the warning signals everywhere. The ambitious flings his destiny into the hands of the Fulani to his sorrow. You can’t ride the tiger to anywhere else apart from its belly. It is the lesson of history. That should explain the current tension and why the Fulani demands, but can’t have, new lands to make his colony.

A Thousand Yoruba Proverbs For Baba Buhari

By Lasisi Olagunju

What kind of king uses his finger to clean his anus, uses it to pick his nose and then proceeds to pick his teeth with the same finger? That is what we see when the one we trust shocks us with a dingy behaviour. Saintly President Muhammadu Buhari has replanted an uprooted diseased tree in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). His people say it is to make the place healthier! Could it be that some people are not what they claim to be? That favoured tree, omo, is chosen for gbedu, the palace drum, because of its integrity. And we saw bigger trees in the forest before we settled for this Buhari variety to build the royal drum. Now, can you hear the eerie sound that comes out of his gbedu?

The king farts and we smile and congratulate him. It is a symptom of healthiness. And the king’s health is the health of the kingdom. Now, should the king up his game by defecating right there on the throne? Should a king so spoil himself luxuriating by defecating in his royal apparel? No man becomes sweet-smelling by shitting in his pant. The palace bean cake is made of excreta and the clean king loves its taste; but the palace cannot be merry in its stinking majesty. No.

Hundreds who voted for character in 2015 are re-examining their thumbs. Did we make a mistake? Should one struggle with character the way a borrower fights with his unfit garment? Is it not only a borrowed pair of trousers that is felt too tight at the waist? Did the preener of that election dress his ugliness with face powder and anoint himself with camwood without taking a bath? And we didn’t notice!

A king’s honour is his armour. The farmhouse adds to the farmer’s glitz and glamour. Our palace has become a buffet of intrigues and holy sleaze. But the king insists the horror we see around him is purifying. His plantain is going bad but he says it is ripening! Who is that farmer that sets his hut ablaze because he wants to kill a bush rat? This king sets the house alight because he wants to cleanse it of a bush rat, he says. What would he have done if the enemy had been the rattle snake in the crevices of the sharpening stone? Sometimes when a king does not know when to stop chasing phantom foes, he breaks his wrist chasing the mouse in his bedroom. And truly, our elders say all true leaders do not beat the communal drum so hard that it is torn. An elder that spoils the fun in dance steps and drumbeats loses his age. Lost is the elder who divorces a horse rider in order to marry a pedestrian. I see in Buhari’s disdain for his party, its manifestoes and chieftains. The baking of self and class destruction.

Am I talking too much? When a man sets his farm beside the king’s, chances are that the king’s hoe could give that person’s toe a bloody nose. I also know one does not contemplate the world in silence and yet become victim of the king’s sword. But is it not said that silence is the foundation of ill luck, of bad luck and of misfortune? There are several heads in the shrine of the palace, majority of those skulls are of the innocent who kept quiet when silence wasn’t golden. It is not every time when the family head shits in the sauce pan that you see and keep quiet. That is why these thousands of nuggets are placed before Buhari, the one with our power, to pick and chew.

You are called a character fashionista but look at your palm oil jar: it is corked with a smelly rag. What beauty reeks in stinking filth and insists clean men caress her? It has been one day, one scandalous controversy in the house of integrity. When the village fashion icon is seen in rags, should the village edge him on until he enters the full market stark naked? The shame of nudity goes not just to the unclad; all who watch the obscene share in the blot on common decency.

That NHIS matter, why did Buhari do that? Should a man who is accused of theft be seen dancing with his neighbour’s lamb? Critics of the king say he is not against graft if it is committed by favoured men of the palace. They say the king condones any shit provided it is from the anus of his kith and kin. And they cite examples which the king’s doctors couldn’t cure with the usual spin. And now this NHIS thing!  And this is an anti-corruption government. When a lamb insists it is a he-lamb, let it not come forward without horns on its head. A chief hunter with a toy gun is a fake. That one with a wooden gun is not a hunter. At best, he is a clown entertaining the bored. When you make promises of integrity and fairness, you don’t go sleep with harlots of filthy existence.

At the beginning of this marriage, loud promises were made. Have those promises been kept? They said it is too early to ask. The wife is still promising she will birth male and female even after months of due diligence in the bedroom. She asks the worried household that the last wife who was sacked, what did she deliver in the 16 years of its noisy copulation with the husband? This APC is working hard to bring forth viable offspring, not nitwits of the 16 years before her entry. Her efforts are not felt for now because of the witchcraft of the first wife.

The narrative is that the PDP is the bloodhound. It sucks in the unborn to shame the pregnant. Even with witch-hunting exercises routinely staged, that evil party is still changing costumes, joining the chorus to condemn its own years in power. So, for Buhari and his APC, the mosquito of expectations that perches on their tender parts must be crushed with care. Patience is, therefore, the keyword here. Buhari’s people are still not tired of saying Nigerians are very impatient. But should I tell them what they don’t know? Their hero is that loud farmer who farms by the roadside. When you farm by the roadside, our elders say you must be seen working day and night on the right things. Otherwise, every dog and every goat will mock your indolence and failure. To replace the fulfilment of those effusive promises of 2015 with fresh 2019 promises must attract ridicule and rejection. You cannot do that. You cannot also tell us you have delivered the goods using some unintelligible jargons. If you do this, we will remember the proverb of the one with a dead manhood whose vibrant children reside beyond the seas.

A king belongs to all. That is what makes the town calm. Where the king fetes his household and flogs other compounds, there will be uproar in series. Buhari rules with only his far northern brothers. But his men tell us he rules not with his omo iya. They say the ones who share the king’s powers among themselves are just his half-siblings and their look-alikes. That is the narrative from Aso Rock. The men from Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and from Kebbi are not Fulani like Buhari. They are what? We are not told. But a king who picks all his chiefs from only his royal lineage will rule alone. He cannot benefit from the varied wisdom of the community. He cannot sleep and close his eyes from the blinding flashes of his indiscretion. Did our elders not rebuke that elderly glutton who thought his throat was the only road to Oyo? The greedy elder carries his own load home. Who would carry the basket for the aged who eats without looking at the yawning mouths at his back? Should he, at all, expect the deprived to assist him with the burden? That is why elders must not perform oro with the indiscretions of youth. Unfortunately, we are told that the one who is greedy, covetous and clannish won’t know his illness until he is told. And who tells him? His kinsmen. They are the ones who hold the mirror for him to see his ugliness. Could that be why General Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida wrote those lines to General Muhammadu Buhari?

Yesterday’s promises belonged to that distant year called 2015. There are fresh baits in the deep of 2019. But is it not true that certain table manners suggest you are okay with what you’ve had? Among such are belching and farting loudly to disconcert the host. It is like you ate, farted and washed your hands and now you are talking about eating more. The food providers must quickly usher in new customers. Age, in its advanced form, always deflates ability. The white man designed retirement age to save the tired worker from his greed. The tired who loathes retirement is like bat, the only animal that eats until it vomits. Bat can’t stop and won’t stop, but must you join his Tortoise on this journey to disgrace? The hawkish bird of prey called kite can hunt and it has proved its prowess with chickens. Going forward in this bad weather is kite going for the snail. It is an overreach.

Proverbs are the horse of admonition. Admonitions are also the horse of proverbs. The wise and the knowledgeable are the only ones who dance to the beats of counselling. May this king not be like the last addled swimmer who misbehaved at the River Ogun. Yemoja, the river goddess, swept that one away

Herdsmen And Olusegun Obasanjo

By Lasisi Olagunju

Herdsmen are the new vultures of Nigeria. Everyday they flap down south to eat intestines of surprised cassava farmers. They are the terror eagle daily gliding down to feed on the liver of the one planting the village maize. When relations in their sorrow cry and weep, the herdsmen’s hawk pounces down to eat the crying eyes of the bereaved. Everyone is worried, terrified. Everything has its assigned place in life. Maize has its ridges, cow its ranch. There is a problem when rapacious vulture leaves its place on the baobab tree to feed in the easy nest of the dove. That is what Fulani herdsmen are doing to farmers and the government says the aggrieved should not shout. The killed should accommodate their killers. The herders in power also want to kill the gong and its voice. The government calls it hate speech. They say it must stop or those who spew it get frozen like eja oku Eko, fish of the poor.

The Buhari government enjoys digging its own grave everyday. Everything it does progressively drops its signal from 4G to No service. And many of us feel really sorry that we have to write against the spirit of esprit de corps. That is the spirit we’ve always had for our own Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu. These are gentlemen who don’t deserve the Sisyphean job they do for Muhammadu Buhari. King Sisyphus in Greek mythology did well for his people but he was crafty, deceitful and wicked. Authors of the myth say he “promoted navigation and commerce but was avaricious and deceitful. He also killed travellers and guests…He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his iron-fisted rule.”

For doing these horrible things, Sisyphus was condemned to roll, for eternity, a massive rock up a hill. His eternal task is simple. He rolls the rock uphill, gets almost to the top only for the rock to roll back. He starts again almost to the top and the rock rolls back to the bottom. He is still there as you read this, rolling, sweating, swearing, as the rock, for eternity, rolls back to the base of the hill. That is what I see in our colleagues trying to spin things for this government. It is a fruitless labour. I’m not even sure it is not a sin against God looking away or defending killings and lies repeatedly.

I have seen the very many efforts being made to decimate Olusegun Obasanjo for daring to write the tenant he helped put in Aso Rock. Many Nigerians don’t like Obasanjo. I’m not very sure I am not one of them. The reasons (sins) are as many as our population-180 million. Some don’t like his Machiavellian politics; some loathe his guts. Some don’t like the fact that he loves women and flaunts it. Some loathe him because of his claim to being not a Yoruba but a Nigerian nationalist. The reasons are sometimes fundamental, sometimes very banal. I don’t like him because he is never there to defend the Yoruba when his weight is needed. Then, is he a warm person? We are taught to respectfully greet elders anywhere we meet them. A colleague once did just that for Ebora Owu. He said the old man simply looked away. Some other time, one of his senior aides introduced my friend to the former president at the Lagos airport. The old man cast a furtive glance at him and walked away to his aircraft. Wetin you do am? I asked the gentleman who said he honestly didn’t know. But really some friends said he was lucky. They congratulated him for escaping Obasanjo’s verbal shots. They said he can talk down anyone, especially journalists. But why? People offend big men for several reasons. Sometimes, it is money or women, daughters of eve.

Years ago, Obasanjo banned journalists and dogs from his Ota farm. Why dogs and journalists? I hope to ask him one day why he grouped journalists with dogs. But should anyone’s opinion of the Obasanjo person play any role in the appreciation of his latest intervention? It shouldn’t and it will not. And so, I say that he has done very well reminding birds of prey of their expiring tenancy on the branch of the market tree. Obasanjo’s statement was tonic for a tired, despondent citizenry. He spoke about everything that is wrong with the government we have. Herdsmen, crass nepotism, all. He spoke at a time everyone up there had gone dumb. He is a patriot despite his warts.

But there is Obasanjo’s suggestion of a third force as cure for the current politics of herders. Nigeria’s ailment is resistant to all existing drugs. The remedy has been worse than the disease. The sick is not improving. He is, in fact, deteriorating fast. If the patient is not improving, let his relations get him another physician. Should there really be any argument about that? But changing hospitals and doctors will be meaningless if the old therapy is all the new caregiver has to offer. Every knowledgeable doctor should know that patients with drug-resistant illnesses are at “increased risk of worse clinical outcomes and death.” That is the current situation of Nigeria. We must discharge (rescue) our country from its current diseased hospital even against doctors’ advice. But the third force will work only if it is not coming with the usualness that landed us here. Whatever it is coming with must include a comprehensive restructuring plan for what we call Nigeria. That is the mood of the nation, even the APC is playing the game. I hope the new force listens.

The privileged in the Villa don’t like what Obasanjo said. It is their job not to like it. But are they proud of what their minister of defence said on muzzling the media? And on herdsmen and the mass murders in Benue? There must be something very fundamentally wrong with a 21st century government that endorses trekking from Maiduguri to Lagos. They say grazing cattle from the deserts of northern Nigeria to the southern forest is a valued culture that must be preserved. That was the tragic logic of our Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Alli after the National Security Council meeting last week. And herders had to kill because their ancestral grazing routes were blocked by farmers. The wages of sin is death. The punishment for farming on privileged routes of the Fulani is summary execution? I shuddered as I listened to the man who swore to defend all of us. Who did we offend for us to merit this punishment?

No one hates the Fulani as human beings. Many have lived in peace down south since the beginning of their lineage. But no one likes having an enemy as a roommate. Your host can’t be drinking water and you drink blood. The new strain of Fulani is riding roughshod over others outside that ethnic belt. These ones plant heads when the farmers who are housing them plant yams. Farmers look forward to harvesting corn, our herders look forward to harvesting human heads. Everyday, the news is about blood, death and sorrow wherever they pass. The tragic reality of the trekking Fulani’s case is the consistency in the reaction the victims get from their elite. A Fulani member of the House of Representatives proudly said cows had more values than humans. Then this Fulani Defence Minister added his own defence of the carnage. Then there is the silence of conspiracy from the boss of them all. And they want all of us to also press the mute button. They want the market of grief to be still and quiet. But will Onikoyi stop going to war when Aroni, the medicine man, has refused to stay at home? And we are all casualties of this raging Fulani war. When the farmer is scared away from the field of today’s crops, what will the hungry eat tomorrow morning? The way to shut victims up is to stop hurting them.

Gani Adams: Eni Ogun In Times Of War

By Lasisi Olagunju

You do not become the Aare and lament that there is no war to fight. If the enemy refuses to charge at you, go out and take the war to his doorstep. Or you provoke a rebellion at home and crush it without mercy. That is the raw meaning of Kakanfo — patriotic (sometimes), rebellious (when threatened), courageous, heady, merciless, merciful, tough, warlike, bloody and unyielding (in war).

Kakanfo is Eni Ogun — the one custom-built to fight wars. And that fits Gani Adams who became the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland two days ago. Slowly and steadily, he paid his dues. From roadside carpentry to soldiering, to field commander, and now supreme commander! It is a testament to the power of fate over man. Destiny is ayanmo; ayanmo is what fatalists say succumbs to no musket of man. And that was what was celebrated in Oyo Alaafin on Saturday. Adams was already an Aare before the installation. He rode on the back of destiny and determination laced with raw courage, humility and patriotism to the top of gallantry.

Before Kakanfo, what we had was Onikoyi — the intrepid head of the eso (royal guards) who never accepted death from the back. He was that lion who beheld war of friends and foes and rejoiced. Then came Kakanfo. He is called eni ogun (man of war). If you like, call him eni oogun (man of magic/medicine). If you like, still, call him eni oogun (man of perspiration). He fights life as war. He breathes the breath of his magical ancestors and sweats through the battles of daily existence.

I wish the new Aare well. But can he look back at the lives lived by his predecessors, the alaseku — the ones who did it and passed the staff down the line? Yoruba history has many tongues. One says the road was prepared by Seereki Apala — the restless first son of the grand old Onikoyi Oladogan who fought without boundary and got the praise of the Alaafin. Was he the first Aare? No. History does not say so but he was the first sign that the king needed a Field Marshal. Kokoro Gangan — the one famously called the Scorpion of Ode Iwoye — was the first Leopard installed in Oyo. There was also Oyatope. After him, there was Oya’bi who put an end to the wickedness of Bashorun Gaa. Oya’bi got rid of Bashorun Gaa but soon died (in peace) on his way to receive his king’s honour. Then the blood-thirsty one took over. He was Adeta, “the well dressed Ogun who makes them spill blood profusely.” There was Oku of Jabata. After him came Afonja who demanded the title and was given and then fought his lord with the same zeal he fought his enemies. Afonja fought and vanquished the Alaafin but he soon fell at the feet of his foreign allies, forever a lesson in how not to recruit outsiders to betray one’s race.

Gani Adams is the 15th Aare. He has behind him a line of other men of war and ambition. From 1797 to 1825, there was Toyeje who fought conspiracies and faced treachery and betrayal and was not subdued by the ugly powers of tragedy. He was a man of war who died peacefully. The Kakanfo chieftaincy is steeped in mysteries, miseries and unpredictability. Was that why Toyeje’s successor, Edun, was shifty in loyalty to the Alaafin and the Yoruba and spiteful of the grand old Onikoyi Adegun who gave him the title? Kakanfo Afonja used the Fulani against his land; he was not the only one who did. Edun did, too. At Kanla war which was to remedy the tragedy of Ilorin, Edun sold his people’s victory to the Fulani of Ilorin. History says this Kakanfo gave way to the enemy in the heat of battle. The Onikoyi, surrounded by the Fulani, “fought and fought bravely and fell like a hero…the Alaafin’s army was routed and the people fled away in confusion.” And Onikoyi was Alaafin’s prime warrior who relished war and its spoils. A warrior’s praise names are his banner: He is the one war corners in the forest, and becomes dweller of forest; He waits for death well stacked and packed; Onikoyi is the one who goes to war to capture the enemy and trudges home with swarms of slaves. He is the one who goes out to raid but returns to meet his homestead raided by thieves. On his way back from war, Onikoyi loses more than the pearls at home. He crosses the path of the grand thief and gets his head chopped off by the thief. His descendants boast that they know whose homesteads their father raided. They add that they know too whose father was the thief who raided their father’s home. And his children say they know who their father beheaded and they know who beheaded their father.

The tragedy of power is the multiplicity of misfortune that clothes it. Onikoyi was betrayed and the Fulani won and kept Ilorin forever. And how did Kakanfo Edun of Gbogun end his reign? He fell too, like Afonja, at the hands of his Fulani allies. His Ilorin friends in the next Gbogun war pursued and caught him at Gbodo. “His head was taken off, raised upon a pole and carried in triumph to the camp, and from thence to Ilorin.” His homestead, Gbogun, in eternal ruins.

The person who betrayed his people died in war and yielded the space to Ojo Amepowuyi who was there before magical Kurunmi came in 1840. Kurunmi was the tragic hero who was with Oluyole in the many wars against the Ijebu and their Egba neighbours. Unfortunately, Kurunmi thought his insistence on tradition was right. He would not recognise the Alaafin who succeeded his father. He insisted that “the king’s son must die with the king” and his people sang the song with him. He was the one who had to die — broken, completely at the hands of his Ibadan friends. The Kakanfo stool then took a false move to Ibadan where Afonja’s son, Oluyedun gave his father’s title to himself. He soon died and his co-claimant “the wicked one who would not die” — Ojo Aburumaku proceeded to get it from Alaafin. This tough one fought friends and foes until the god of thunder stopped him at Igbeti. He was struck by lightning, but he was “the wicked one who would not die.” He did not die but his position was taken by Obadoke Latoosa of Ibadan who fought and won wars against Fulani marauders and their Yoruba allies. Then on August 11, 1885, he too slept in his war camp at Kiriji after suffering a revolt by his war chiefs.

Ladoke Akintola was brilliant, mercurial and eloquent. He became Kakanfo in 1964 and had role models among some of his predecessors. He too made friends abroad and foes at home. He did what some before him did and died as they died. The Aare stool became vacant on January 15, 1966. On January 14, 1988, it was filled once again with a man of means and uncommon generosity. Moshood Abiola had money. He had children. He had people. He had all and enjoyed all. He wanted more and went for power. His northern friends said no and stopped his momentum. But Kakanfo must not come home empty-handed. Abiola was defiant. He was loud and brave. And then, like some others before him, Kakanfo Abiola fought and fell at the feet of his friends from the North.

These were the men who wore the magical leopard dress, cap and sandals of war before Gani Adams came on January 13. They were the wearers of the shoes our friend stepped into on Saturday. The Kakanfo title is not just about war, blood, betrayals and death. It is not just about two hundred and one deep incisions in the head stuffed with 201 mystery preparations. It is about friends and fate. It has also its own peculiar canine fashion. The title has rhythm and rhyme. Think of an Obadoke yielding the Kakanfo space to a Ladoke. Think of Akintola ending it on January 15,1966; and Abiola starting his own on January 14, 1988; and, now, Adams’s epochal entry of January 13, 2018. Could this gradient be a mere coincidence in dates and figure combinations?

Gani Adams is a very good man taking up a tough job. He has lessons to learn from those illustrious strongmen and the interesting times that preceded him. The Aare cannot say there is no war raging now. These are not normal times for the one called to service. He cannot recline in an easy chair when marauders are at home and on the way. Can the warrior sleep when men cannot farm and women cannot fetch water in peace? May the new Aare be a success story. From now on, the Aare will be required to act and speak to Nigeria on its dance of death.

2018 Prophets and Prophecies

By Lasisi Olagunju

“IN the inner recesses of the mind,” says Cicero, “is divine prophecy hidden.” Right from the veranda of today, humanity wants to see what tomorrow holds. Man loves sitting on the shoulder of prophets to gaze at the future. This eagerness to see tomorrow today is what has sustained Nostradamus and the prophets. Sometimes writers get the “divine impulse” to tell the improbable. Sometimes you do time travelling and write. I did in December 2016 preparing you for the shocks of 2017. Can you remember reading this?: “…I see a country in search of health. I see a sick nation begging to breathe. I see the lion in his sickbed. I see other animals doing eye service, ‘working’ for the quick recovery of the king of the jungle. I see all manner of medicines for the infirm sovereign.

I see wolf and I see fox, rivals in a deadly game of power and strategies and stratagem and death. I see as each designs the end of the other standing on the infirmity of the lion. I see deadly animals of greed scheming personal profits on platters of patriotism and loyalty to the sovereign…” Someone said writers are prophets. The above was written here in December 2016 about events that would shape 2017. And what did 2017 say on those words? Was the lion sick? Yet, 2017 prepared the road for 2018, the year of grimmer realities.

The year 2017 started on a note of hope and great expectations. It soon entered the turbulence of uncertainties amid prayers and supplications for the health of the sovereign. Muhammadu Buhari’s friends said his ill health was the sickness of the nation. They were right. The country too was ill. It still critically is. Friends of the president were out, doing their usual permutations. Rats competed for space with princes in the palace. Then the man came back and well and all was quiet.

“I have never been this sick,” Buhari confessed, crossing off the spin that suggested he was merely abroad to rest and run tests. Then there was calm and a sigh of relief. These turned out a mere interlude. Further tests took the sovereign to London. A very long absence and fake news of incapacitation took over. The lion was back, up and well again. The worst was over. Then the year changed gear and drove straight into the station of petrol scarcity and Federal jobs for the dead. 2017 ended in despondency. What a year!

A brand new year starts today and it won’t be a bad idea to look again at the horizon. This is, after all, the season of prophecies and prophetic dances. And we are a very spiritual people in this clime. So, what is there to look forward to in 2018? The country will live its reputation for the scary. It will take the usual suicidal dance steps on the brink. The Kim Jong-Uns of Nigeria will test their political nuclear warheads in the new year. Nigeria’s crust will shift.

The country is a forest of great beasts. It will prove its mettle in the new year. Lions will roar, move and fight. Elephants will dance and shake the forest. Heady Buffaloes will fight regal lions in battles of blood. There will be rumbles in the jungle. You remember the Rumble in the Jungle, the historic October 30, 1974 boxing event in Kinshasa, Mobutu’s Zaire? That bout saw a former heavyweight champion,Muhammad Ali, knock out habitual winner, George Foreman in the eighth round. Reviewers say the fight was “arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century”. For Nigeria and its politics, 2018 (not necessarily 2019) is the year to watch for rumbles and epic battles.

There will be governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states in the new year. One on July 14, the other September 22. These two bouts will set the tone for the real battle of 2019. Both will present war models that will define Nigeria going forward. There will be deceptions and desertions. Friends will become mortal foes hacking down reputations. Friends and foes will form new alliances. Ekiti will be a combination of the comical and the tactical. Buying and selling, offers and acceptance wrapped in what Roman jurists called dolus bonus (good trickery) will drive the war. From the noise, smoke and fury of this war in Ekiti, a decisive victory will go to Napoleon. Osun will not keep its 2014 reputation of Napoleon’s Battle of the Three Emperors. This coming war looks set a blitzkrieg – “short, fast powerful attacks” complemented by encircling, overwhelming speed and surprises. The state will be a blitzed field. Napoleons and Hitlers here need prayers.

The iron dice of 2019 will start rolling from these two states and it won’t be funny at all. This fact, in particular, makes the stakes in these two states to be very high for Abuja and Lagos and their disparate allies. Successes in enterprises and wars incite imitations. And, all victories and defeats are costly and full of lessons. Generals know that their business is a life-and-death enterprise that demands very careful planning and deployment of brain and brawn. A composite model for the 2019 battle will be made by Abuja from the 2018 lessons in Ekiti and Osun states. In that model, there will be blitzkrieg; there will be annihilation, exhaustion and, even, incapacitation.

Political parties are organic beings. The APC and the PDP are entering the new year gasping for breath. They are big, they look strong but they are very unreliable. They both suffer brain hemorrhages but their minders live in convenient denial. Only quick, adequate attentions will save them from fatal convulsion in the new year. They may, in fact, end up atrophied soon before the year reaches its noon. And just as the American NASA discovers new planets almost everyday (some of them earth-like and within the habitable zone) so will new political parties come out to challenge the bumbling big two. Wailers wailed because some dead persons were on the list of President Buhari’s December appointees in 2017. They should be ready to wail at the resurrection of one of the parties that died so that the APC could be born. Specialists at waking the dead have almost completed the rituals. The dead will come back to fight for a repossession of its inherited widow.

For Nigeria, the new year will be a year of great betrayals, deception and surprises. The year will distinguish thinking godly thoughts from embracing heavenly virtues. Manipulative gods and heroes will increase the pace of their descent on the popular psyche. Governors and governments will unleash weapons of mass deception on the people on a scale never seen before. Broken hearts, broken heads, broken minds, broken allegiances and broken promises will strew the landscape.

Government and their partners in business will lay siege to the masses as the fight over earned and unearned subsidies will get messy. We should pray against many being stranded on the highways of the new year. And seers who remember the past would insist that breaking vases of hope wouldn’t be news again. They will remind us that kisses of disappointments birthed the nation; that falling and rising have been watering Nigeria’s stunted growth from birth. And that disappointments shouldn’t tickle anyone again.

They will remind us that the overcast skies of 2017 were seen as very normal in the years before. So, there will be very many usuals in the new year. The country will maintain its track on the orbit of hope, disappointments and hope. The new year won’t be just about grim occurrences. There will be interludes of mirth and laughter. The new year calls for vigilance, prayer and proactive actions. May God lift the siege of elite greed and wickedness on the nation in the new year.

Crying With Laughter At Christmas

By Lasisi Olagunju

“GRIDLOCK in Lagos. Seven hours in traffic from Ikoyi to Ogba,” one girl cried out on Facebook on Friday. And so what? Was she the only one in that traffic? What about the one who was stranded in the middle of nowhere on Lagos – Ibadan Expressway? Or the one who (also on Facebook) sobbed Friday night: “I’m just boarding for my 6.30pm Abuja – Lagos flight at 11pm.” And the one who queued from morning till midnight only to go home with “it is finished, we are sorry” when it was his turn at the fuel pump. Or the hungry one whose last ‘card’ could neither buy fuel nor pay for okada, yet had work to go. And the one who said in exasperation that he was “stunned and stupefied” by the odious inaction from the government.

They are all victims but they will soon become like drunkards, forgetful of their penury. We are a country of hope and denial. We solve problems by shouting and smiling at them. A BBC correspondent once described Nigerians as a people with “remarkable patience but for the wrong things.” The same journalist said Nigeria “can make you want to cry with laughter or with tears…” Who is that person that will say the description does not fit us? ‘Playing penalty to throwing’ is very routine in our engagements. We have been long married to disappointments that we no longer feel the agony of opportunities lost.

It did not start today. The cause of fuel crises in Nigeria has the endurance of the curse of Alaafin Aole. It is potent and generational. Aole was that Alaafin whose destiny was to suffer betrayal and bury the glorious empire his ancestors bequeathed to him. Aole’s top general betrayed him and asked him to die, but he wouldn’t go quietly because none of his valiant ancestors had done so. The king who would die left an implacable curse for the betrayer and his generations. Death-bound Alaafin Aole stepped out to his palace forecourt, an earthenware dish, a bow and three arrows in his hands.

He then shot the arrows, one to the north, one to the south and the third to the west. Then he unleashed the spirits against his nemesis: “May curse be on you for your disloyalty and disobedience. May your children disobey you. If you send them on an errand, let them never come back to bring you word again. To all these points I shot my arrows you will be carried as slaves! My curse will carry you to the sea and beyond the seas; slaves will become your master.” Then, for maximum effect and permanence, Aole smashed the dish to the ground, stepped on the pieces with his right foot and yelled: “A broken calabash can be mended but not a broken dish, so let my curse be irrevocable.”

Some political historians would insist that the curse appears truly permanent, irrevocable. The victims are helpless; they only talk of it whenever it strikes like a serpent. That is the parallel I draw with the serial suffering of the Nigerian at the hands of Nigeria and its governments. But what exactly is our sin to suffer rotational ineffectual buffoonery in leadership? We have not betrayed any cursing spirit! We, are, indeed, the betrayed. But we have been carried as victims, north, west, south, east, PDP, APC.

Everywhere we go, it is scarcity of goodness. Don’t just look at your suffering at petrol stations. Look at telltale signs of failure in leadership – without borders, everywhere. Look at the curse called Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos. It does not matter whether the president is Olusegun Obasanjo or Umaru Yar’Adua or Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari. It is of no consequence that a Babatunde Fashola is the current minister in charge of that road. Forget it. He was on that road many times as governor exasperated at the incompetence or the insensitivity of the Abuja people. Now, he has been there for more than two years. Has there been any difference between now and what that road enjoyed under Tony Anenih and Adeseye Ogunlewe? The gods themselves appear stuck in the gridlock of Nigeria.

Governments fail us with glee, and with bliss we romance them. We invest in presidents and governors who wantonly fail and block us and we respond by doing self-help, creating bypasses. Problems run their full courses here and go away on their own and we resume our normal lives – waiting for the next problem. This creepy petrol problem will go as it came. We will shout ‘ope o’ and continue flashing our stupid smiles. Nothing will happen to the creators of this crisis and their salesmen and women. We won’t press any social or political charges against the culprits who promised change but delivered continuity of suffering. We are used to suffering and sheepish smiling. When pipe-borne water became gold, what did we do? We whined and cursed and moved on. Each household then became a local government creating its own family waterworks. And that has not stopped the water boards from writing and spending budgets. It has not stopped them from trying you – their victims – with monthly water bills.

Today is Christmas and you must be one of “them” if you can’t predict that the day’s trending words would be petrol and NEPA. Before you say Merry Christmas, check properly for what ‘merry’ means. This Christmas cannot be merry when whether you are in church, mosque or home, the custodians of electricity join fuel suppliers to complete the circle of wreckers of celebrations. They dance ‘disco’ with power and take light and give darkness and heat. They fail Nigeria and get compensated by their patrons, the big men in government. The big men in government betray us and still insist they are our faithful servants. But Aole was also master to Afonja, the one who betrayed him. The one who betrayed Aole was also master to the Jamma who killed and publicly burnt his (Afonja’s) corpse in Ilorin. Our universe is cyclical in betrayals and consequences. The structure of Nigeria itself is built to betray its poor. That is why every effort to change the tragic course of the country has taken it back to business as usual.

Two years ago, we were tired of excuses and failures. We fought friends and family and queued to topple the old order. We changed the ruling party and the president and then went for thanksgiving. Today, we are back to the past, stranded in filling stations, airports and bus parks and we ask: why again? Can you sincerely blame anyone if the system has failed you today and you are stranded? Governments serve tea without sugar; soup without salt and we drink and eat and clap for the incompetent cook. There is no fuel from Buhari and you are looking for some helpless marketer to hang. The culprit is in the mirror, check him out. You clapped away your comfort and welfare when you applauded derelict Nigeria and idiocy of persons in government. This journey to the past is the punishment for the complicit citizen who sees saints among whores.

The way to redemption is to first stop making excuses for Nigeria and its government. They cannot be helped. The solution is not in replacing Peter with Paul every election cycle. We have seen how futile that is. This old, defective structure is the curse. It throws stones already. It demands a fresh start.

Meanwhile, Nigeria and its fuel and power issues won’t make me forget to shout out to my Christian friends: Merry Christmas!

$1 Billion For The Interminable Boko Haram War

By Lasisi Olagunju

Nigerian governors are wise flies; they don’t follow the corpses of their victims into the grave. They leave the dead to disintegrate on their own, ignoring their natural openings and antemortem wounds. When a president fails and falls, our governors move on like evil spirits to possess the next president.

We have seen it twice with Umaru YarA’dua and Goodluck Jonathan. Those were helpless captives of some rapacious governors who used and left them. It is scary that even those two were not as possessed as the current high priest.
This one gives and gives anything with suspicious devotion to his possessors. There is an incestuous relationship going on between Abuja and the state capitals. Incest is romantic relationship outside socially permitted circles. It is a taboo in many cultures but Abuja, right from the beginning, loves taboos. It enjoys breaking conventions. So, it is just normal that today’s Abuja also does seedy things with the small gods in the state capitals. They play ping pong (give me, I give you) with the common patrimony of the land. And they tell the people it is in their interest to so do.

The president (or the presidency) that we have today romances state governors too much in the dark to arouse suspicions. Governors know now that staying in Abuja 20 out of the 30 days of the month is the new wisdom. They take turns to occupy Abuja giving no space for deep, probing questions from the presidency. And the smart ones among the governors no longer have to think and sweat to get money. They know that Abuja plays ball with minimal fore acts.

Between these two blurred divides, there has been an enrichment of Nigeria’s politico-economic dictionary. Before Buhari, we never heard (or had) cryptic phrases such as “Budget support,” “Paris Club loan refund”, “Commercial loan restructuring.” These are ATM phrases that ensure states (and their unknown consultants) get credit alerts regularly. They are constructs that have made acute the hunger of the unpaid government worker. There are many more phrases designed to confuse the poor on what the powerful do with the commonwealth. Now, the hungry states have upped their game of cash. They met and decided to reciprocate the various gestures of President Muhammadu Buhari. Last week, they dashed the almighty Federal Government $1billion from the Excess Crude Account. “The NGF decided to support the presidency just as it had been supporting states on their own problems…Lack of unity between the presidency and governors in the past led to poor governance.”

That was Abdulaziz Yari, chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF)’s explanation for the uncommon generosity. He didn’t say if there was a presidential demand before the governors decided to supply the dollars. Now, when you have a defective federation as Nigeria and you have a president and governors doing collaborative sharing and spending, you should be alert and alarmed.

The president turned 75 yesterday. Enemies and friends serenaded him. Dogs of power fawned over him; even the Nigerian sheep bleated testimonies of his uniqueness. I congratulate him that none of his enemies has, so far, described this $1billion war chest as a birthday present. Some three, four years ago, it would have been so described if the president of that era was celebrating his date of birth. But 75-year-old Buhari needs prayers. I fear if he is not careful, the governors will soon make a Goodluck Jonathan of him. No one who sits on a pedestal of integrity acts so casually de bonne foi (in good faith) with persons who know not the colour or the facial marks of good faith. It doesn’t take a long time for a lion to turn into a pig. All that is needed for the elegant big cat to be dirty and to stink is to swim in the cesspit of pigs. History is good, especially if the student is ready to learn. And Buhari is the student here. He needs to know the story of that account where multi-billion dollars are always available to fund suspect projects.

The ECA from where our current champions yanked off $1billion is a product of intense Cold War between the presidency and the governors. Olusegun Obasanjo created the account amidst muffled resentment by the governors. It was against the law and tenets of federalism. That was the inaudible argument of the governors and their foot soldiers in the legislature. The noise was countered with dreadful silence by the patriarchal president in the Villa then. He had his way, grew the account, spent from it to fund his power projects and moved out of power. By the time Obasanjo was leaving in May 2007, the account reportedly had a balance of above $9.574 billion. Then a president installed by the governors came in. The clamour to share the money grew among these new gods who now had one of them in the Villa. And the sharing commenced. Umaru YarAdua, who inherited $9.574 billion left $4.93 billion three years later. His successor, Jonathan, reports say, grew the account balance to $8.7 billion but handed over $2.07 billion to Buhari. He claims that the governors forced him to draw down the accounts. It is from that $2 billion he left behind that Buhari’s Change presidency has been blessed with $1 billion by the appreciative state governors.

Nigerian governors are like deserts. They think it is their sole destiny to take; they don’t normally give. Jonathan listened to them and got wrecked and abandoned. Now, the habitual taker is giving out a billion US dollars freely to an ascetic patriarch. When a consummate greedy miser offers you his meal, think more than twice before you take it. Soon (and that soon will be very), Buhari will have to reciprocate this uncommon love from the governors. The time to slap a king is that moment when a fly perches on his cheek. The miserable balance in that account will soon be needed by the governors to fund their fancies. Buhari won’t have a choice; he must rub the back of those rubbing his own now. Every leader writes his own history.

Boko Haram has the colour and scent of dollars. This latest $1 billion is needed to fight the Boko Haram war. That is the claim of the governors. Jonathan also took a loan of $1 billion to fight Boko Haram. His National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has been in detention for three years because his office took $2.1 billion to fight Boko Haram. Every year, we budget billions to fight Boko Haram. It looks like this is a war that will finish Nigeria. The goal of all wars is to kill the enemy. It, however, appears almost certain this war is primed to sink Nigeria, murder its economy. The Boko Haram war may never end, especially when it looks like it is cool business for some people. A carnivore says: “Where there is blood, there is plenty of food.” This war may end when another is invented by those whose vintage wine is blood. Really, most wars, says Jeb Sharp, “don’t have neat, triumphant endings; they are far messier and more inconclusive than we imagine them to be.” I’m afraid that precisely is what we have with this Boko Haram war. It is a peculiar mess. The more we are told it has ended, the more it kills and consumes billions of dollars that should feed the living.

The United Nations in March this year put the Boko Haram damage since its start in 2009 at about $9 billion – that is about N3.3 trillion. And we are not done yet with the losses- we are still counting. As we count the damages, we also chalk up spendings in billions of dollars. The government said early this year that the country (over the years) had spent $4 billion to defeat the insurgents. Since that statement was made, a lot more has been spent and a lot more will go into that pit. The latest is the $1 billion our governors are dashing Buhari’s presidency to fight the insurgency. Buhari will take it; he won’t look at the law. He won’t ask what the real owners have to say. But then, you and I must not stop asking — what is happening here?

Husbands For Supper

By Lasisi Olagunju 

Woman without character are closing the gender gap in violence. Character is a woman’s front teeth. The one who loses them has lost the mainstay of her beauty. A woman without character cannot make a desirable wife. Ugly wives are the ones who have lost character. When a woman settles scores with daggers and swords, she is no longer a woman. She has crossed the line to the wild red zone of violent men. Some women merely nag; that is the extreme of their violence.

Coughing woman

Russian writer, W.R.S. Ralston wrote about a wife who “lived on the worst of terms with her husband and never paid any attention to what he said. If her husband told her to get up early, she would lie in bed three days at a stretch; if he wanted her to go to sleep, she couldn’t think of sleeping.

When her husband asked her to make pancakes, she would say: ‘You thief, you don’t deserve a pancake!…’” But sometimes the violence goes beyond mere nagging. Some pretty nasty wives butcher their husbands to feed their passion. There was a Mary Elizabeth Wilson in the United Kingdom. Between 1955 and 1957, she “loved and lost four husbands…inheriting money after each death.” And she was audacious enough to leave traces. According to the BBC, “not only were the gaps between the weddings short, the marriages themselves were short.” At one of her many wedding receptions, her friend asked her: “What shall we do with these (excess) sandwiches and cake?” Wilson replied with laughter: “We’ll keep them for the funeral.” That husband soon died. Mary Elizabeth Wilson was exposed and jailed. She died in prison in 1960.

The killer wife can be at once as sly as the tortoise and foolish as the insane. She can also combine those attributes with the lustfulness of the dog. Our elders say it is not wise to buy cloths bound in bundles. It is wisdom to seek and see the nakedness of what you are paying for. You married a playboy deliberately because he played well. So, why lose your mind because he does what you know he does well? Do you kill a dog because it barks? Do you kill a ram for its effective use of its horns? What manner of woman would kill her man because he is seeing another woman? I ask because husbands appear to have, lately, become endangered species. In Filin Jirgi area of Gusau, Zamfara State, housewife Hauwa’u last week stabbed her husband in the chest and back with a broken bottle. His offence: he was planning a second wife. In Abuja a few days earlier, Maryam killed her husband, Bilyamin because he was dating another lady. In Ibadan last year, a female lawyer stabbed her husband to death because another woman was suspected to be in the man’s life. Now, playboy husbands are nervous. They are almost begging their wives to also cheat on them if they are caught pants down.

If he is not content with what you have, why not take a walk? Should you destroy your life because a man can’t stay faithful to his marital vows? Women who cook their playboy husbands for dinner lose all. They lose the meal and even the kitchen and its aroma. It is a total loss. Killing the man is suicide for the woman. If the union has kids, then it is worse. The dead is released while the living battles life and its judgement. It is a complete defeat for the woman. The man becomes the hero, winning the sympathy of an accommodating world. The wise knows murder is no solution to infidelity. It did not stop it a million years ago, it won’t now. A very wise female once told me her husband was free to roam the bushes. The only ‘but’ was that he must not come home with thorns.

Yet there are some who kill without drawing blood. The Yoruba call those ones apanimayo’da. Their swords are forever sheathed yet they kill with the swiftness of the dagger.

They murder their husband with excessive love for what would destroy him. They push their men, back and forth, like a swinging door. They are ota ile – the enemy within. The Grace woman in Zimbabwe is one loud example of such nemesis. From office secretary to the lady of power, she would not stop until destiny stopped her. The history of Nigeria is replete with so many of such Graces lacking the grace of goodness. It is worse if the man is a Robert Mugabe who has surrendered the levers of his manhood to the one without scrotum. The woman demands the difficult, he does it for her yet she pushes him to attempt the impossible. “Even if he dies, his corpse will contest and win next year’s elections,” Grace Mugabe boasted early this year. And her husband breathlessly tried to catch up with her huge appetite for godlessness. You remember the wailing king seeking communal help to pluck the moon for his queen? Fruits of difficult trees are not enough, she must eat the moon. And the man jumps, falls, jumps again, panting. If his overused heart packs up while struggling to satisfy his Jezebel, she moves on. Other victims are on the queue, waiting to be killed by what they love. The man who is blessed with a million stars twinkling in his sky is doomed with a killer wife. She is that woman who forgets the toils of the small beginnings and starts competing with inscrutable fate. She fights the angels around her man and brings down the stars of her glory. She kills him with his destiny…

Back to wives who are quick with swords and daggers and beer bottles. Should a woman kill because her man cheats? The wages of sin is death, yes. If sleeping around is a capital offence, who does the killing, the law or the victim? Is it not said that an eye for an eye will create a city of blind men and women? In some cases, women who fell their husbands are strangers to their growth. Like the Abuja woman who married someone else’s husband. The unfortunate man left his first wife to marry her. She is like that person who picked a gem by the roadside and jealously vowed to die over it. What should the real owner who lost it do? She met a dead buffalo by the river bank and drew cleavers. What was she thinking when she was climbing his bed? The huge meat by the riverside did not drink to death! The one who leaves someone to sleep with you will leave you to sleep with someone. This husband was somebody else’s game and would not stop playing games – and she should know. But no! She became a phone tracker, reading text messages and running mad.

The times have changed.

Men too should feel what their women feel. There was an age when Akesan was the frontier of Oyo. Just answering a man’s name is no longer a woman’s end in marriage. The frontiers of behaviour in marriage have moved with the times.

Jealousy used to be the spice, the taste in the polygamous soup. But the woman sleeping beside you today sees you as her exclusive possession. Sharing and caring are ancient virtues long dead with a permissive past. Fishing in any available pond imperils everyone. But drawing daggers and killing spouses cannot be the way to discipline errant men. Our elders say a husband’s death makes a woman poorer. If to be widowed is the worst of misfortunes, how do we describe the woman who murders her husband? She loses all. And if their union has products, the loss becomes generational. So, woman, if your husband is no longer the man you married, don’t kill yourself by driving a dagger into his heart. The sensible thing to do is to just quit.