By Suyi Ayodele
A troop of monkeys once approached God for deliverance from the affliction that made them monkeys. The monkeys were worried that in spite of their self-believed intelligence, the human race failed to accord them any respect. They were of the opinion that if they could look like human beings, they would get their deserved respect. God listened to them and assured them that he would re-mould them to be like human beings. He set to work and prepared a potion in the form of a lotion. To make the potion efficient, God breathed into the lotion and approved its potency. The monkeys were then summoned by God, who instructed them on how to apply the lotion on their bodies. The only caution was that the lotion must be applied at a crossroads. In Yoruba mythology, Esu, the trickster, is believed to live at crossroads (Esu oni’le orita).
The monkeys took the pot of the lotion to the crossroads as instructed. But then, they decided to vary the directive. Instead of applying the lotion immediately and becoming humans, Esu asked them to first dance around the community to announce to the human race that very soon, every monkey in the neigbourhood would look like human beings. The monkeys even took Esu’s advice beyond what the trickster said. They decided, in addition to their dance of imminent victory, to blame the human race for their past woes. They held a rally from the breaking of the day to the setting of the sun. While at it, Esu caused the sun to be at its brightest and hottest. The element obeyed. Within hours, the lotion evaporated. Evening came and the jubilant monkeys returned to their pot of lotion. Alas! They met a dry pot. It was too late. Then the scramble began. Each monkey tried to outdo the next. They were only able to get enough lotion to rub on their faces. The pot had dried up while they were dancing and blaming the human race. The only resemblance monkeys have today, close to the human race, is their faces. Even those ones have remained as ugly as oddity! Time has always been of essence in life
This is a new year. I hate to start the year in a very pessimistic way. I was in the church for the cross over night. We were asked to confess positive things to the bowel of the year 2022. I did like other congregants. I was equally present at the first Sunday thanksgiving service. I believe in all the positive prophecies of a better Nigeria in 2022. That should be the desire of anyone who has lived in the physical hell that the nation has been turned to. But beyond that, I believe more in the reality of our present situation as a nation. The reality today in Nigeria is a very grave situation. Our predilection for positive prophecies notwithstanding, the situation we are now, is in the opposite direction. We should live with that fact, if we desire the best nation as we all want to profess. It is the reality of the times we are in that provoked the story above.
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General Muhammadu Buhari, spoke in Maiduguri on Thursday, December 30, 2021- some 48 hours to the close of the year. He assured Nigerians that he would use the remaining 17 months of his tenure to do his best for the nation. The only beautiful thing about the retired General’s outing in Borno State is the fact that he realised that he has just 17 months left.
Hear him “I know I swore by the Constitution, and I will leave in 17 months. I pray that the person that will take over from us will also follow the targets of securing the country and building the economy. Without securing the country, you cannot grow the economy”. He acknowledged that Nigeria is a “great country” and accepted also that God blessed the country with “so many resources”, which needed to be developed. He then urged Nigerians to rate his government, using the parameters of what the nation’s economy, security and the level of corruption were before he came in. He asked us to juxtapose that with what is obtainable today in the segments he listed. Without waiting for our appraisal, the president assured us that the military would come down hard on the insurgents in the North West and stabilise the region. He based his new confidence on the new military hardware his administration just acquired.
His spokesman, Femi Adesina, amplifying his master’s new found strength and confidence, boasted that his boss could end insurgency before the end of his tenure in 2023; that is in 17 months time. Adesina, who shares the same Christian faith as I do said: “Those who are behind this insurgency will be taken out… and it will get to a point that the last of them will be taken out, and then we’ll get to the end of it. It can be done within 17 months that remains for this administration”. That is raw confidence coming from the master and his official publicist. That is exactly where the problem lies. Without wasting time, I tell you right away that I don’t believe that Buhari actually wanted a genuine appraisal of his administration. With the confidence of 17-month magic exhibited by Adesina, it is very obvious that for the past six years and seven months, Buhari has been listening to only those things that would delight him. That he even asked us to appraise him and his government on economy, security and corruption, tells us how detached and alienated he has been all the while. And he could not have been otherwise as he is surrounded by aides like Adesina and the rest of the hawks who hover round Aso Rock, who will never venture to tell him that his people, the same ones that gave him the mandate twice, are dying of hunger! They will never tell him that a bag of rice, the nation’s most popular food item, now sells for N28, 000 in a nation where the minimum wage is N30,000, which some states haven’t even bothered to implement. They will never tell him that the roads, streets and corners of Nigeria are now flowing with the blood of innocent citizens who are mowed down by criminals who have remained untouchable! Pray, who will tell out dear president that on those three self- appointed deliverables, he has recorded nothing but abysmal failure!
Here is a government, which like the monkeys above, spent the first four years of its tenure blaming everybody except himself. After the 2015 election, Buhari went into a state of coma for over six months before he could assemble a cabinet. And when the ministers came on board, those ones merely took the baton from their master and went on an uninterrupted sleep. Less than a year after coming into power, those who expended their goodwill to help the Daura General into power became disillusioned. A few of them with good conscience backed out immediately, shouting scam. Others, who genuinely believed that the “previous government left behind a huge rot”, held on, hoping that the desired changes would come even if the Principal chose not to lift a finger.
As the second tenure election drew closer in 2019, the administration, like our proverbial monkeys, went to the Nigerian God and asked for the magic lotion that would give the administration a semblance of good governance. Yet, when they got the nod for the second opportunity and were given the lotion in terms of a redeeming second term in office, Buhari, his cabinet and other hangers on, went on a victory dance and blame game. Now, 17 months to go, they have returned to the lotion pot at the crossroads scavenging for quick-fix solutions to the deep rot foisted on the nation. Ask, is there still any drop of lotion left in the pot that can make this government redeem its effete performance since 2015? While we ponder on that, let me ask again: does Buhari really have 17 months left?. I answer the two questions with a capital NO. Why?
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I don’t want to question the faith of Adesina in his assertion that Buhari could end insurgency within the 17 months left for his government. But, I know one thing for sure: whatever Buhari’s teeth pressed in the last six years and seven months that did not cry out in pain, his fingernails cannot now make it to wink in agony. A government that spent six years and seven months preparing for madness has no madness left to display in 17 months. Maybe Adesina is talking about the insurgency in Buhari’s enclave of North-West region. If he has such a limited focus, I daresay that it is very unfortunate. The naked truth staring us in the face is that there is no part of Nigeria today that is safe, free and calm. If it was possible for Buhari to take out the insurgents in the North-West, what about their cousins tagged bandits? If he succeeded in taking care of those ones, what about their nephews called killer herdsmen? What will he do about kidnappers, who have left the highways and now operate in the cities, towns and villages? Does Adesina not realise that the first step into taking out insurgents and ending the killings in the North West and any part of the country is by declaring bandits, kidnappers and killer herdsmen as terrorists? How many times has Buhari been asked to do that to no avail?
Regarding the claim of 17 months as the remaining days for the Buhari administration to end; who told Adesina and anyone who shares the same sentiment, that this administration has 17 months left?. Are we not in the year 2022 already? Between now and April, the Buhari All Progressive Congress, APC, would have conducted its much postponed National Convention. We don’t need a soothsayer to tell us that the event will come with a lot of wahala”. Out of the ‘magic 17 months’, Buhari, as the leader of the party, will spend a minimum of two months settling “family issues of the APC”. Then the nomination for the party’s presidential candidate will commence. Does the situation in the APC today indicate that such a nomination will be a tea party, where all the aspirants will just shake hands, embrace one another and move on as “one big family”? Even for the sake of argument, let us accept that there will be no acrimony and the candidate will emerge “smoothly”, won’t Buhari join his party to campaign around the country? How many months will that take out of Adesina’s “17 months”?
The truth, which Buhari and his men don’t want to accept, is embedded in the admonition that “a dried palm front is tied early in the morning“. It is gratifying that the Buhari administration’s monkeys want to look like human beings (have a semblance of governance). But the unfortunate truth is that the lotion at the crossroads has long dried up while the government threw tantrums and blamed everyone but itself! More unfortunately for the government, it happens that it is its own Esu, clothed in the garbs of bad advisers, ethnic bigotry and needless pigheadedness that tricked it into embarking on a needless dance of “victory and blame game”.
Lest I forget: Happy New Year Folks!
Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same newspapers.
OPINION: Nigeria’s Pyramids of Lies and Lice
By Suyi Ayodele
Pyramids of rice
What pyramids of lies
Soar high in the sky
Promise much, give scant
Pyramids of lice
Swarm in seismic rot.
Hunger in our bellies
Testimony of common mysteries
Volcanic rumble in our bellies
Lies and lice bagged as rice
Pyramids won’t fill bellies
Safe Sufficient food.
Above lines are the best my truant poetic muse would allow. If I were a real poet, I would have deployed more iconic metaphors to depict the deceit that the General Muhammadu Buhari government personifies. The problem with the administration is that it has lied so much to itself that it now believes its own lies. Liars, we are told, must have good memories. That wisdom is lost on the present rulers. The government thinks that memory is also an encumbrance to Nigerians. That is why the government keeps on telling us one lie after the other and most of the time, regurgitates old lies and re-presents them as new facts. I gave up long ago on this chi-chi government and its strategies. A columnist once asked to know which type of weeds Buhari’s speech writers smoke. Like they say in street lingo:”na the answer we still dey find”!
It is not today that the Nigerian government started to deceive the people. Some years ago in the old Ondo State, a Military Governor was scheduled to commission a water project at Ayede axis in the present Ekiti State. The locals got to know about the event. They also knew that there was no functional borehole to be commissioned. What the LGA chairman and the contractor did was to use water tankers to fill up the overhead tanks. At night, some boys went and drained the overhead tanks of every drop of water in them. They opened the taps and drained every drop of water in the pipes too. The governor came. The ceremony was over. He stepped forward to take the symbolic drink. In his white Naval uniform, the Military Governor turned the tap. He was greeted by a hollow sound associated with drained pipes. End of story for the LGA chairman and the contractor. The Military Governor did not wait for the closing National Anthem.
Sadly enough, nothing has changed. Rather, Nigeria has moved from the very bad situation to the very worse and gradually moving to the worst of all. Last Tuesday, the Federal Government took the act of governance from the ridiculous to the despicable. In a bold step at communication eyeballing, General Buhari and the top echelons of his government introduced to Nigeria’s communication experts a new level of rebranding. The government went iconic. Before our very eyes (that sounds like a pure transliteration of the Yoruba cliché: oju korokoro”), the Federal Government “unveiled” 13 pyramids of bags of rice. The government told us that the bags of rice were produced locally; that is, every grain in those bags were gotten from our farms. I saw images of the ‘unveiling’ and literally fell in a fit of laughter ( mo r’erin arintakiti)). For sure, Buhari and his gang of inveiglers wanted to hypnotise us to believe that what they stacked and called rice pyramids were all produced by Nigerian farmers. Yes, the government wished that we would keep on shouting “heat” during harmattan!
Buhari and those who gathered at the Abuja ‘unveiling are archetypal Alli, the mischievous character in our New Oxford English Course, NOEC book of yore. Alli, the trickster, told the villagers that an angel visited him and asked the locals to come and see the heavenly guest. He added a caveat. “Only those who are without sins will see the angel”, he said. On the appointed day, Alli set up a chair and put a pair of footwear in front of it. Everybody who entered came out in a somber manner, pretending to have seen the angel. Like all scammers, Alli made a kill from the spectacle of deceit. What happened in Abuja last Tuesday is a rehash of the Alli and the Angel” tale. But thankfully enough, some of us are Ifabonmi” whose philosophy I espoused on this platform some weeks ago. It simply means: “the Oracle does not deceive me, neither will I deceive myself” – Ifaboneminabonrami. If the government does not know the truth, an average Nigerian knows. I belong to the community of average Nigerians. Let us get this straight. That last Tuesday exercise in the FCT remains a pointer to the fact that the Buhari government, apparently dazed by its abysmal performances in all sectors of the nation’s economy, will claim anything under the sun as an achievement. Only a government that is bereft of tangible achievements does that.
The government took that line of action because it fails to embrace the reality that this nation is populated by far more intelligent people than the pummelled and hopeless few who unwittingly sell their franchise for a paltry N2,000 and vote cretins into power. That is why the Commander-in-Chief left serious state matters like insecurity, banditry, killer herdsmen and Boko Haram to go for a show of lies like the ‘unveiling’ of rice pyramids in the midst of ravaging hunger and wanton lack in the land. Like a common louse which fetes on human blood, the government, in the last six and half years, has been wriggling to the rhythms of lies played on the graves of hapless Nigerian peasants, who are daily killed on their farms in their aspiration to ensure food sufficiency in the country. We have cried, mourned, wailed and shouted ourselves hoarse for the government to come to the aid of these farmers and others from all walks of life who are daily felled by bullets fired by social misfits and sons of sulphuric Hades who spill the blood of the innocent without repercussions. All entreaties have fallen on the deaf ears of the C-in-C who bears rule by the benevolence of our thumbs. Just when our situation is getting to the boiling point and with the general elections around the corner, the government curiously just realised that its “Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has so far supported over 4.8 million smallholder farmers across Nigeria for the production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock”. One of the results of the elusive programme, Buhari told us, was last Tuesday’s 13 pyramids of unprocessed rice on display.
The Nigerian Tribune did a very beautiful editorial on the matter on Monday. The paper interrogated the rationale behind the pyramids and suggested that the ‘unveiling’ is “a move reminiscent of the groundnut pyramids that once symbolised the era of abundant agricultural produce, especially of staple food in the country”. The editorial opined that “The unveiling was ostensibly to demonstrate to Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s efforts to improve food production in the country had begun to yield results”. The piece told Buhari the home truth. Nigerians “merely feasted their eyes on the mountainous bags of paddy rice stacked before them without any improvement on their badly degraded welfare arising from relatively unavailable, and more significantly unaffordable, staple food in the market”, it said and dismissed the event as mere “photo-op”.
For me, the “unveiling” gave a clear idea of the level of reasoning in the government circle. How on earth did the government expect Nigerians to believe the bags of rice were produced on our farms? Which farms? The ones ravaged by the killer herdsmen and their cousins- kidnappers and bandits? Take for instance, Benue State, which is called “The Food Basket of the Nation”. How many farmers are on their farms in the state as we speak? Governor Sam Ortom answered that correctly. He described the Abuja rice pyramids as “artificial”. “The 419 rice pyramids in Abuja are fake and aimed at mocking hungry Nigerians. The government should chase out terrorist foreign Fulani herdsmen harassing farmers for them to carry out farming activities in the country”, the distraught governor said. Pray, why would a government which has genuine intentions for the people display stacks of unprocessed rice which, by that very reason, are susceptible to lice infestations only to remove the same stacks for processing before flooding the market? What point was this government driving at? Why not process the rice and ensure it is ready for the market before the picturesque display which brings to mind the old and jocular ‘oju lo fi rii, ete e o baa (you merely beheld it with your eyes, your tongue will never taste it) taunt?
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Why showcase a food item, whose price is as high as Olosunta Rock in Ikere Ekiti? Granted that the government is terribly alienated from the people, is there not a single individual in this administration who has the gumption to tell the president exactly what the people are going through? Did any of Buhari’s fawning aides tell him that millions of families could not afford to buy rice this last Yuletide? Is it the same commodity that Buhari was talking about when he enthused that “more people were showing interest in investing in our agribusiness” because of the “large (profit) margins in this business”? Are Nigerians showing interest in agribusiness so that they could be kidnapped, or murdered by herdsmen, or have their wives raped in their presence and their daughters openly defiled?
The mere fact that the government took the “unveiling” of their imaginary rice pyramids to Abuja gave out the government. Some three years ago, they told us about LAKE Rice (Lagos/Kebbi Rice). In June 2018, General Buhari also commissioned a “multi-million Naira automated rice seeds and seedling factory”, described as “Africa’s first-ever”, in Cross River State. Governor Ben Ayade, also, a week ago, announced that “an ultra-modern vitamised rice mill”, in Ogoja area of the state was ready and awaiting President Buhari’s commissioning. Pray, why were the rice pyramids not erected in Kebbi or Cross Rivers State? What happened to the elementary economics theory of “proximity to raw materials” as a factor in localisation of industry? How can the government be penny wise and pound foolish by spending extra funds to move “the bags of paddy straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria”, as Buhari announced? Simple answer. Nigeria is like that self-delusional farmer who called his 100-heap yam farm a 200-heap farm. At the fullness of time, he will harvest 100 true tubers of yam and another 100 imaginary tubers of yam. Nigerians know that there is no rice sufficiency anywhere in the country and that this efulefu government has no willpower to securely keep farmers on the farms in order to aid food sufficiency in the country. Let the President be told in clear terms: Except those ensconced in the rocky mansion in the Federal Capital Territory and their close acolytes, Nigerians are hungry. Chikena!
Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same paper.
2023: Tortoise, The North And The Rest Of Us
By Suyi Ayodele
I begin today’s sermon with Mr. Tortoise and the naming ceremony of his three children. Tortoise once had three male children. At their naming ceremony, their father asked them to choose their names. The first child said he would like to be called “he who learns from two mistakes”. Tortoise dismissed him as a useless son. “No wise child learns from two mistakes”, Tortoise submitted. Taking a cue from that, the second son said he should be referred to as “he who learns from one mistake”. Again, Tortoise threw him out of his house as a hopeless son. “One mistake is enough to kill a child”, father Tortoise intoned. The last child stepped forward and said his name is “he who learns from other people’s mistakes”. Tortoise killed a cow in celebration of the last child’s naming ceremony. “A child who learns from other people’s mistakes is the only wise child that will grow up and inherit his father’s estate”, declared Mr. Tortoise.
2023, no doubt is Nigeria’s father’s estate. Only a child who learns from the mistakes of the others will occupy Aso Rock after the election. If the South failed to clinch the presidency in 2023, we may have to ask all the southern political gladiators, who aligned with the North in the past, to tell us the names of any of their Southern forebears who aligned with the political North and benefited from such political matrimonies. History benefits only those who are ready to learn from it.
I am not necessarily sold on storytelling. I grew up in a pastoral setting. Our pastime was storytelling, especially good folklores, in the cool of the evenings. In writing this piece therefore, I combed my native folkloristic repertoire to take me on a voyage, back to my rich past. A past that tells me that every human event can be likened to the beating of the “Agidigbo” traditional drum. Agidigbo drum gives its percussion in proverbs, hermeneutics and mysteries. Only the very wise can decode the embedded messages in the sounds. The uninitiated, out of lack of understanding dance to Agidigbo’s beatings haphazardly. The 2023 presidential election, with the recent happenings, has turned to the metaphorical Agidigbo drum. The North is the drummer. The rest of the country are the dancers. The discordant tunes down South is an indication of how naive the South has been in understanding the messages of the North’s Agidigbo drum. They once told a father that his son was an ignoramus. He responded by saying that he is comfortable as long as the child did not die. Pray, what kills more than ignorance.
In my analysis of the North and its love for power, I draw wisdom from the parable of the groundnut farmer and the animal called ikun. Ikun is in the phylum of the mammal, squirrel. This particular specie is noted for its deafness and its penchant to relish groundnuts. When our elders see a man who opens his two eyes and makes a silly mistake, they describe such a man as: “o ri oko ikun nile, o gbin epa si” (he sees an ikun infested farmland and plants his groundnuts on it). Any political alignment by a southern politician with the North is akin to a farmer who plants his groundnuts on a land infested with ‘ikun’. There is no harvest for such a farmer at the end of the farming season. The South-North farming season began in 2015 through 2019. The harvesting season is 2023. Unfortunately, the southern political groundnuts farmers have, all along, been planting their seeds on the North’s ikun infested farmland. The ‘harvest’ is what we are seeing now. How the rest of the country did not realise this and understand the North and its political power play baffles me.
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Get me right. The North is not entirely bad. But the North is incurably bad, incurably selfish and self-conceited, when it comes to political power. The DNA of the North does not share power with anybody. The North has just one business. That is the government. Government is the North’s only industry, investment and company. To understand the relationship between the North and power, you have to understand the allegory of the Agbigbo bird. Politics to the North is like the agbigbo bird (hoopoe). Of all games, a good hunter will tell you that no hunter kills an agbigbo bird and shares it with anybody. It is simply too sweet to be shared. It is the same bird that the rest of Nigeria successfully hunted with the North in 2015 and 2019. We expect that by 2023, the North will give us our own share of the venison. Taa, I speak the street lingo. No hunter does that. I tell you why in another Tortoise folklore.
Tortoise entered into a turn-by-turn eating game with other animal hunters. The rule is such that whichever game an animal killed, he would share with others. Everything went well until it was the turn of the Tortoise. He killed an agbigbo bird. The other animals gathered in his house to eat. When Tortoise realised that he was expected to share venison from his agbigbo game with his fellow animals, he picked an unnecessary quarrel with his wife after which he climbed a tree and refused to come down. After entreaties, Tortoise gave a condition for him to come down from the tree. He said he must be allowed to sing his family traditional song, for those who are angry in his clan. They obliged him. What did he sing? “Iyawo mi gbe agbigbo kuro ni le” (My wife, hide the pot of agbigbo soup). The wife responded: “I have kept the pot of agbigbo away. How could I have married you all these years without knowing your character”. Some wives married husbands they don’t know. The rest of the country cannot be too ignorant to know that the North will never share the agbigbo meat with anybody at the fullness of time. This is why the cacophony of political songs down South, the number of aspirants and all the political permutations, juggling and the rest of them, are meaningless to me. We first need to ask what direction is the North going. The answer is right here with us as delivered by Professor Ango Abdullahi.
Last Saturday, at the Arewa House, Kaduna, venue of the meeting of the Northern Leaders of Thought, convened by him, the former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, made the rest of us to understand that the North is the ultimate decider of our collective political destiny, any day. Hear him: “I heard that somebody was saying he’s the kingmaker and now wanted to be King. Is not that I want to be seen to be arrogant but the North has always been the kingmaker”. Professor Ango Abdullahi is the North and the North is Ango Abdullahi. When he speaks, we know the direction the North is going. Ango is a professor of Agriculture and also, a professor of Northern Nigeria politics. He made the quoted statement in his opening remarks at that meeting. Please pay attention to the gerund, “opening”. In elementary Stylistics, we were taught that what is most important is usually foregrounded. Nigerians should therefore have no doubt why the elder statesman foregrounded the topic of “kingmaker”. No-one should also be in doubt about who the remark was directed at. Every man knows which proverb affects him except those who are afraid to enter the ring and fight. The choice of the abstract noun, “somebody” in Ango’s remarks is deliberate. His choice of word is informed by how the North has always perceived all their southern political allies; they are mere “somebodies” (somebody).
“Somebody”, in any linguistic and semantic analysis, has negative connotations. In Yoruba Language, it means “Lakasegbe, Lamurin or Tamedu”- abstract human being; an inconsequential, faceless persona non grata, whose real identity may be expunged at will. “Somebody” is a nondescript personality. That is exactly what Ango called the rest of us. It amounts to another pot of ignorance to think that Ango meant only one individual. We should be wise to know that whatever ails Aboyade (chief priest of Oya deity), ails all Oya’s devotees.
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Baba Ahmed, Northern Elders Forum Secretary, amplified Ango’s claim on Monday. In an interview on Arise TV, Ahmed explained why the North would not allow the nation to hold any census in 2022, ahead of the 2023 election. He said that the majority of northerners are in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. The NEF scribe is blaming the rest of us for the North’s self-inflicted injuries, occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram, bandits and other felons. The characters that chased northerners to IPDP camps are northerners themselves or the North’s imported cousins from the neighbouring countries. But the rest of us must suffer for it. The benefits of census notwithstanding, the North said we cannot have it. And you know what, that is final!
‘Olua’, a deity in my hometown, spoke about what makes a cult go into extinction. Olua ordered that children should be allowed into the inner recesses of his shrine. His priest asked why. The deity responded that any cult which forbids little children to come into the inner recesses of the shrine will eventually go into extinction. This is the same thing my Lord Jesus Christ did when He rebuked His disciple to “suffer not the children to come unto me for unto them belong the Kingdom of God”. Awoism is a political philosophy and movement which survives till now because children were allowed into the inner recesses of the avatar’s political shrine. We need to ask ourselves, down South, why, after we tried, many times, to create another political philosophy different from Awoism, the southern political dynasty or philosophy appears to be going into extinction. If by 2023, the North succeeded in giving us another Fulani president, we would all have ourselves to blame. Truth be told: we have learnt nothing down here. Eshi o (what a pity), as my Ijesha cousins would exclaim! I say no more for now.
OPINION: Obi Cubana And The Drug Pushers
Globally, crime is the fugitive that lurks behind every insane quest for money, power and drugs. In most underdeveloped countries, Nigeria inclusive, crime walks unashamedly naked, bigger than the aforementioned threesome, bending the arms of the law over backwards like a twisted branch of a tree. In developed countries, however, crime – silent and unobtrusive – works hand in glove with money, power and drugs, wreaking havoc like cancer.
Let’s talk about numbers. For certain, three is a very powerful number in the physical and metaphysical realms. The integrality of three is universally seen in the body, spirit and soul composition of man, and in the three elements that make up the world – heaven, earth and water, as well as the division of day into morning, afternoon and night. When something happens three times, it’s neither a mistake nor a coincidence.
In Christian orthodoxy, the oneness of God the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit in a blessed threeness summarises the sojourn of man, his fall, and salvation. The horn-headed Lucifer tempted Christ thrice. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
Trinity as a symbol has universal significance. Traditional religion worshippers offer sacrifices to the gods at junctions where three footpaths meet. Every tribe has their own worldview about the perfection of number three. The Yoruba would say, “aro meta kii d’obe nu,” in agreement with the perfection in trinity.
Even the late British naval intelligence officer, journalist and writer, Ian Fleming, renowned for his James Bond 007 series of spy novels, buttressed the unignorable importance of three as a number, saying, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
Last week, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency quizzed 46-year-old internet celebrity, Obinna Iyiegbu, aka Obi Cubana, over the payment of THREE different tranches of money by drug pushers convicted in New Delhi, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Lagos, Nigeria, into his various bank accounts.
Cubana inherited no fortune from his parents, just like his trusted 40-year-old second-in-command, Pascal Chibuike Okechukwu, aka Cubana Chief Priest, who was a shoemaker in Aba, Abia State, with his father, a few years ago.
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Cubana graduated with a B.A in Political Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1998, served in the National Youth Service Corps in 1999, and barely six years later, he had become a multi-billionaire in Nigerian currency, founding Ibiza Nightclub in Abuja.
From my findings over the weekend, Cubana came under the radar of security agencies when foreign intelligence services, in partnership with their Nigerian counterparts, established that THREE drug convicts separately paid various sums of money into his accounts.
A highly placed security source disclosed to me, “He (Cubana) has been under secret investigations for months based on what our foreign partners shared with us concerning the details of payments into his accounts by convicted drug pushers.
“Coincidentally, the NDLEA was the agency that arrested one of the drug pushers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, in 2016, securing conviction against the drug pusher in 2017.
“Apart from the NDLEA case against him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is also looking into money laundering allegations against him. That was the reason why the EFCC also invited him.”
Eehhh! Mba! Mba! Mba! Cubana isn’t guilty of dealing drugs yet. He remains innocent until found guilty by a law court. The money paid into his accounts by the three drug convicts could be money for lifetime accommodations in any of his hotels in Lagos, Abuja, Owerri, Enugu and Port Harcourt.
Cubana is street-wise. He defended himself in an Instagram interview with On-Air Personality, Daddy Freeze, on Saturday. But his defence was the most devious sleight of the tongue.
Cubana said, “I was in detention for four days and three nights. I didn’t feel bad because I knew the agency would do a thorough job and if I am cleared, I’d be let go (sic). There was no witch-hunt, nobody was after me. But to link me to drugs? I’ve never felt so low. To me, it’s repulsive.”
He continued, “I was never accused. I was never linked to anything but they said somebody paid money into my account, and I believe that the agency in question is a very responsible one. I know that at the end of the day, they would make their findings public.”
For me, there goes the stupidest defence since wanted-for-crime Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, alleged witch-hunt after collecting $20,600 from internet bandit, Abbas Ramon, alias Hushpuppi, to silence a smaller internet robber, Chibuzo Kelly Vincent, who threatened to expose a $1.1m fraud Hushpuppi was set to commit against a Qatari businessman. Kyari had hushed Vincent into silence by putting him behind bars and instilling fear in him, thus clearing the way for Hushpuppi to go ahead and defraud the Qatari.
For a celebrity role model with 2.5 million Instagram and 1.9 million Facebook fans to admit in an interview that he was linked to drugs, and to say in the same interview he was never accused, never linked to anything, was a dirty slap on the faces of his fans who he’s taking for idiots.
What Cubana probably wants his fans to believe is that he spent four days and three nights in NDLEA detention teaching the chairman of the agency, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (retd.) how to slaughter 500 cows for suya, juggle wads of naira notes with the feet, and stone friends with bales of foreign currencies.
In the Instagram interview, Cubana was careful not to condemn the NDLEA that detained him (an innocent man) for four days. I had expected Cubana not to be vague, and to disclose what he sold to or brought from the three drug convicts that warranted them paying monies into his accounts.
If the NDLEA detains a small me for ONE day and the EFCC quizzes me on allegations of drug and money laundering, I’ll demand unreserved apologies from both agencies, and head to court if they fail to apologise.
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For someone in the hospitality business, drug and money laundering allegations would hurt Cubana’s brand as millions of rich Nigerian customers who stream into his hotels daily are likely not to want to associate with a patron alleged to have links with drugs and money laundering.
The crazy way millions of Nigerian youths idolise get-rich-quick celebrities has fuelled crimes such as Yahoo-Yahoo, ritualism, kidnapping, drug peddling, armed robbery etc. Poverty, unemployment and lack of life-changing opportunities occasioned by bad governance have imperilled Nigeria’s youths, exposing them to crime.
Unfortunately, instead of laying good example by sending fugitive Kyari to the US as requested by the FBI, the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led regime has continued to shield the Kanuri police officer while another Nigerian wanted by the US for drug-related offences, the late Senator Buruji Kashamu, was commendably holed up in his Lagos residence for many days and almost sent to the US by the Buhari government.
The craze for living large is pervasive among Nigerian youths. The son of President Buhari, Yusuf, has many multi-million naira motorbikes that his job of being a first son cannot support. The son of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was seen in a viral video, clutching a bag of foreign currencies, and uproariously doling out dollars in a country whose National Bureau of Statistics says 83 million Nigerians live below the poverty line.
This is the same country, where two bullion vans ferried an undisclosed amount of money into Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Bourdillon residence during the 2019 national elections. Another Nigerian, Obinwanne Okeke alias Invictus Obi, is currently serving time in US prison over multi-million dollar fraud. How this type of country would raise credible youths for critical nation-building responsibilities is beyond me.
I know Cubana is innocent and has nothing to hide because, in the dark world of drugs, power and money, three things cannot be long hidden: they’re the sun, the moon, and the truth.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, columnist with the Punch newspapers and a guest writer here.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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