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Marijuana: Burna Boy Indicts Buhari [OPINION]

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Tunde Odesola

Life is hard enough without sniffing drugs. Hard drugs appear in the horizon like golden gates of escape, but they’re traps in reality. Hard drugs are the chains that cripple freedom, the substance that splits the mind from the soul, the cord that ties sense with nonsense.

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Powerful is music. The ‘m’ in music appeals to the mind. Music cured King Saul and cursed the devils tormenting his soul, caging them into tranquillity. Music pulled down the Walls of Jericho. Music is the food of love, it is the sound of joy that heralds birth and the song of sorrow that ends it.

We live in a star-struck world of superrich superstars luxuriating in superstardom, idolised by a fandom hooked on superhype, superhits, supercars and superficialities.

Now, singers don’t make music any more; they make noise. They have replaced rhythm with rubbish, they have replaced reason with rage, lyrics now drip only with sex, drugs plus alcohol and everyone in society – parents, guardians, government, clerics, schools, traditional rulers, unions – dances to the decay of our present and the doom of our future.

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An uneducated monarch in the South-West was seen in a viral video wrapping marijuana, yet neither law enforcement agencies nor the civil society community has come out to condemn the atrocious act.

At the height of his glory, the most gifted and most radical Nigerian musician ever, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, never dedicated a song to Indian hemp, his stimulant pastime. Though his negative influence in the use of marijuana among musicians today cannot be proven empirically, many Nigerian musicians who smoke marijuana today see Fela as a demigod.

FROM THE AUTHOR: Pelé: Shame Of Nigeria’s Vagabond Leadership [OPINION]

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But, largely owing to the breath of sanity in the society and the big stick wielded by regulatory bodies in the 1980s through the early 1990s, murijuana musicians who wished to glorify igbo didn’t do so openly, they used euphemisms such as ganja, Indo, kush, Mary Jane, choko for Indian hemp to eulogise their love for the hallucinatory substance.

In 1984 when the sway of Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s swagger stick typified military swiftness, a Port Harcourt-born young lad wouldn’t have have metamorphosed from Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu into Burna Boy, singing ‘I need igbo and shayo o’. Which studio would have recorded the offensive song?

If Burna Boy missed being tied to a stake and flogged naked in the open by soldiers, he surely wouldn’t have missed doing the time for his crime at Kirikiri. He would have been banned from holding a mic in private or in public for 250 years!

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From the late Majek Fashek, who ordered the misty sky to ‘Send Down the Rain’, to Tuface Idibia, who professed love to his African Queen, to 9ice who prophesied that Gongo Aso, to Danfo Drivers, Ice Prince, Olamide, Flavour, Wizkid, Davido, Naira Marley, Seun Kuti, Terry G, Eedrees Abdulkareem, Portable and a host of others, the use of hemp and, or its glorification, is commonplace among Nigerian musicians. Aside from Hip-Hop, R&B, Rap and Reggae, musicians of other genres like Fuji, Juju, Apala, Highlife etc are well into marijuana use, also.

It’s true that marijuana is now being used as a recreational drug in some parts of the world. It’s not yet so in Nigeria, and so, it remains a crime for people to use, peddle or promote it. The use of hard drugs, especially Indian hemp, has been linked to the daredevilry commonly displayed by kidnappers, murderers, bandits etc across the country. It is also a major contributor to the rise in the number of psychiatric cases in the country.

Between 1985 – when he was ousted from power – and now, Buhari has morphed from being a father to a grandfather and a great grandfather, making the weight of parenthood on him heavier. Buhari of the 80s had a voice, and he spoke.

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Today, what has changed? Who or what has taken Buhari’s voice? Why has the tough khaki-wearing father Buhari grown into a permissive agbada-wearing great grandfather that watches his children and grandchildren nationwide take hard drugs without showing concern? Why?

My mind tells me the violation of values in about the last four decades is the answer. Even Buhari himself, the advocate of the War Against Indiscipline crusade, got caught in the web of moral conflict when he declared without shame that his benefactor, the Brainless Bandit called General Sani Abacha, never stole.

FROM THE AUTHOR: Ronaldo: Grass, Grace and Grief [OPINION]

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Buhari lied. A corrupt lie. He saw a thief in dark goggles and called him a saint in white robes. The ever-increasing army of unemployed Nigerian youths watch Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress lie and make merry in luxury while the economic noose gets tighter. So, to Nigerian youths, life is hell, escape is hemp.

The youths watched how two jailed ex-governors were pardoned, they heard Aisha Buhari blow the alarm over Aso Rock Clinic fraud, they saw Buhari’s asset declaration promise crumble; they witnessed the Lekki Tollgate killings, they watched their age mates, the children of the members of the political elite, control billions and fly in private jets. To Nigerian youths, life is hell, hemp is paradise.

While the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress government busied itself flexing muscles and banning millions of Nigerians from legitimate use of Twitter, with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, shouting himself hoarse over the ban, virtually all agencies of government agencies that perform oversight functions on drug abuse have gone into slumber, including minister Mohammed, who has been snoring the loudest.

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Sadly, the Ministry of Information and Culture, National Broadcasting Commission, National Film and Video Censors Board, National Orientation Agency etc have kept mum over the glorification of hard drugs by Nigerian music artists. A High Court judge, who wishes to be anonymous, says ‘any of these agencies can drag erring musicians/producers to court for glorifying hard drugs’. Sadly, none has ever done so.

Retired Brigadier General Buba Marwa is doing a good job at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency but the agency needs to regularly raid nightclubs – the haven of open drug abuse. The agency also needs to tell Nigerians the outcome of its investigation of Obinna Iyiegbu aka Obi Cubana who was alleged to have received payments from convicted drug peddlers.

While Aisha Buhari expended her presidential energy on an obscure blogger, do not judge her if her NGO, Aisha Buhari Foundation, is unperturbed about the rain of drugs swarming the nation like a hail of locusts because drug abuse isn’t part of her mandate in the kitchen where Buhari put her. But politics is.

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When I was growing up, to be called a marijuana smoker was an invitation for family war. A parent will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the dignity of his/her child wrongly called a hemp smoker is restored. This is no longer the case as parents now form ‘Association of Yahoo Parents’ to shield, do juju, and pray for the Yahoo success of their children. Parents now buy igbo for their children.

Morning shows the day. Today, we are seeing the manifestations of what to expect from our cocaine, heroin, loud, Arizona, lean, codeine, Tramadol, Gentamicin etc consuming leaders of tomorrow.

Over the years, Burna Boy glorifies marijuana, and he sings in his recent album, “I need igbo and shayo (shayo), I need igbo and shayo (shayo), I need igbo and shayo (shayo), Shayo (shayo) shayo (shayo)…” And he was rewarded with a national award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by President Buhari, barely two months ago.

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Nigerian parents, teachers, pressure groups, pastors, imams, babalawos, atheists etc were at the national award ceremony in Abuja where Buhari dignified Burna Boy with his igbo songs, and everyone clapped.

We have failed to snatch our youths from the jaws of hard drugs. We failed to teach our children that the ‘D’ in ‘Drugs’ is ‘Death’. The monster of hard drugs that we bred is mature, it is devouring us one by one.

Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, columnist in The PUNCH newspaper and a guest writer here.

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Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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Opinion

OPINION: Ebora Fights Artikú Over Special Purpose Vehicle

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Tunde Odesola

Like Tom and Jerry, Ebora chases Artikú down the road, clutching a machete and a horn in each hand, a few cowries and amulets falling off his hunter’s regalia. Three young men ran after Ebora in hot pursuit. “Haba! Baba, Baba, please, forgive and forget, please! This is Satan at work o! Baba, pleeease,” the chasing pack pleaded. But Ebora was too fast for them just as Artikú was too fast for him.

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(Flashback)
With a lipless mouth on a rectangular head without eyebrows, eyelashes and definite ears, only a cartoonist or a caricaturist can be proud of the creature called Artikú.

Artikú’s solid frame shows his creator was generous with form but stingy with details, blessing him with a flat face, high cheekbones and two bead-size nostril tunnels overlooking a chiselled, strong jaw. Artikú is handsome in a fearsome way.

Artikú got his education on crime street, not in the classroom, making him insanely capable of anything in the dark arts of thievery, and the automobile industry rose up in acclaim of his wizardry about 20 years ago when he manufactured and co-patented with his former boss, Jenera Ebora, Special Purpose Vehicles that ran on the wheels of fraud.

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In eight inglorious years, the Ebora-Artikú Special Purpose Vehicles plied the superhighway of corruption constructed by the Peoples Democratic Potty (PDP), ferrying billions into private accounts.

Ebora is the human contradiction that lives on Olumo Rock. His life is the pull and screech tug-of-war between good and evil with the latter triumphing inside his milkless heart.

During the day, Ebora dances in the sun of statesmanship. At night, he goes stark naked, unbarring his fangs, horns and claws, stuffing his agbada with looted shekels of gold, betraying family, friends and conscience; Ọmọ òru là á sè’kà.

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Over two decades ago, elite conspiracy brought Ebora and Artikú together at a garage called Ass-or-Rock after (M)oney-(K)udi-(O)wo, the popular driver of the people’s hope and mandate, died in conspiratorial suspicion. Gladly, Karma came and the romance between Ebora and Artikú barely lasted four years before things fell apart.

Today, the foot of the corpse which Ebora and Artikú buried many years ago is sticking out. Artikú’s former disciple, waving the flaming sword of Michael the Archangel, has vowed not to bear the surname Archmugu anymore, blowing open the lid on the dirty secrets.

FROM THE AUTHOR: 2023: Outgoing Herdsman, Incoming Bala Blu [OPINION]

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(The Genesis)
There was excitement in the air as Ebora and Artikú took charge of the Special Purpose Vehicle at the Ass-or-Rock garage. Thugs of the National Union of Transport Workers came out in large numbers, brandishing weapons, drinking alcohol and smoking. The thugs hailed Ebora and Artikú as ‘Your Excellency’.

Religious leaders, traditional rulers, workers, students etc were fully represented at the ceremony. After all said and done, Ebora, the driver, stepped into the gleamy SPV with Artikú, the conductor. They both admired the vehicle like little children would admire a new toy.

Ebora: Dis SPV na oyooyo! You dis boy, you bi winch! Where did you get this SPV idea from?

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Artikú: (Smiles) It have tay, sir. SPV is the new abracadabra that can make money disappear. It can convey any amount of money. Remember the suitcases, sir?

Ebora: Oh, those suitcases! Did they disappear in SPVs?

Artikú: (Chuckles) It was during the regime of General Muhammodu that the suitcases disappeared. I was at the border that day. The suitcases that I saw with my two korokoro eyes just disappeared. I was shocked.

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Ebora: You don’t mean it!?

Artikú: I mean it, sir. That’s why I modified this vehicle and called it SPV. It’s unlike the physical vehicles that transported those suitcases. It’s better than the BBVs – Bourdillon Bullion Vans. The SPV transports invisible cash of any denomination.

Ebora: Oh, I see.

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Artikú: Sir, I suggest we get more SPVs for the numerous màgò-mágó we would soon embark on.

Ebora: (Revs the vehicle.) That’s ok. Artikú, you’re criminally creative! O ya call passenger make we run one trip kia-kia.

Artikú: Ok nah, oga mi. Lagos! Lagos straight! Lagoon straight!

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Ebora: Artikú, Artikú, Artiku! How many times did I call you? Open your ears very well and listen to wise counsel. This SPV, uhm, we must be very careful o. We go make money, but we must be discreet. You know the bedbug? You know how it operates? Ehn-ehn, that’s how I want us to operate – suck and hide. No dey show yourself o. The people wey give us this vehicle dey watch us o, and I’m a man of integrity. After each trip, I go take 75% of the proceeds, you go take 22, we go give the cooperative people wey get di vehicle 3%. Is that ok?

FROM THE AUTHOR: Marijuana: Burna Boy Indicts Buhari [OPINION]

Artikú: Yes, baba; it’s ok. Thank you, sir.

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Ebora: That’s why I chose you as my assistant. I know you’re not greedy.

Artikú: I’m not, sir.

Ebora: O ya, call passenger, good boy.

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Artikú: Lagoon straaaaight! Lagos straight! Lagos!

(Later, Ebora meanders the fully loaded vehicle out of the garage, singing ‘Buga’ by Kizz Daniel as passengers chat.)

Passenger 1: Dis country don pafuka, walahi!

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Passenger 2: Na for dis yeye country wey dem go paint money watercolor, come make am scarce. Na only suffering sure pass for dis country.

Passenger 3: No, na suffering and death…

(The vehicle reaches Lagos safely.)

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Ebora: O ya, bring out the passenger fares make we share.

(Artikú brings out all the fares he collected and Ebora uses his 75-22-3 percentage sharing formula.)

Ebora: Help me keep my own share, I’ll collect it later. You know I’m a man of integrity; nobody must see such an amount of money on me. After two trips, I’ll retire to my village.

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Artikú: Ok, sir. After your second trip, I’d like to succeed you, sir.

Ebora: That’s ok.

Artiku: Lest I forget, sir. We need to supply electricity to the garage and its environs. We also need to sell off old properties of our transport association.

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Ebora: I’ll leave everything to you. I’ll approve funds for the electricity supply and also approve the sale of the properties. But, Artikú! Artikú! Artikú! How many times did I call you?

Artikú: Three times, sir.

Ebora: If you no wan die, no die my money o.

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Artikú: Lailai, oga mi.

Ebora: O ya, call passenger make I go my second trip. Call Port Harcourt-Abuja passengers.

Artikú: Yessooo, oga mi. Port Harcourt-Abuja straaaaight! Poracourt-Abuja! Poracourt-Abuja straight!

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The vehicle reached Abuja via Port Harcourt safely but Ebora didn’t get up from the driver’s seat, scheming for a third trip. He was about to call on Artikú to bring the money with him when Artikú suddenly burst into tears.

FROM THE AUTHOR: Pelé: Shame Of Nigeria’s Vagabond Leadership [OPINION]

Ebora: What’s wrong, Artiku. Somebody died?

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Artiku: No, sir, it’s the money, sir?

Ebora: Which money!?

Artikú: It’s all the money, sir – the passenger fares, money for electricity supply and money for the sale of properties, sir; all is gone, stolen, sir!

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Ebora gets up in annoyance, pulls off his agbada, revealing a regalia with cowries and gourds. He pulls a machete and a horn from under his seat and chases Artikú who was shouting, “wayyo Allah!’, ‘I don die o!’…

Tunde Odesola is a senior journalist, columnist with The PUNCH newspaper and a guest writer here.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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OPINION: Tinubu And The Ways Of The Wasp

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By Suyi Ayodele

There are two insects in Yoruba cosmology that are similar. But they are very distinct. One is oyin (Bee). The other is agbon (Wasp). Both equally sting in their unique ways. Oyin, for instance, is less aggressive and stings only when it is threatened or comes under immediate danger. It is an insect that is naturally defensive; it stings once. On the other hand, agbon is very aggressive, territorial, domineering and controls its space. It suffers no incursion and intrusion into its space. While oyin and agbon live in almost similar nests (with oyin’s own a bit concealed), agbon openly displays its abode, daring anyone to come near it. Now, when these two insects set out to fight, oyin stings and leaves marks of the attack on its victims. That is not the way of agbon. Agbon deposits its poison in its nest and when it wants to use it, it goes back to the nest, uses its buttock to collect the poison and deposits the toxic material into the bloodstream of its victims. Agbon stings multiple times. Victims of agbon stings live in pain for days! Again, Yoruba describes such a fighting strategy in a proverb: “Ile ni Agbon ma nko idi si ko to ta – the wasp goes back to its nest before it stings. The’ home’ (nest), to the wasp, is its ultimate strength.

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The Yoruba worldview is mythical. Nothing happens to that Race by happenstance. Generally, Africans are esoteric; but the Yoruba people are in a class of their own. An average Yoruba person places a premium on his/her home. Ile ni abo simi oko – everyman retires home after the day’s work on the farm. Home (Ile) is literal and metaphoric in this sense. Whenever a man draws strength from his cultural background, the Yoruba people say “o pada sile” (he has gone back home). So, Ile does not have to be the physical structure. Most often than not, when a man has troubles navigating the turbulence of this world, he goes back home. There is a saying that captures that: “ode ma nle ómó pada sile” – the outside chases a child back home. When it is tough outside, the Yoruba encourages the child to go back home. Why do they give such counsel?

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Between Atta Ebira And Ohinoyi Of Ebiraland

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Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling and ruining APC, went back home last week. If I were him, I would have started my last Wednesday presidential campaign in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, with a proper Ijuba (reverence) for my forebears. I would have chanted: Baba mi Oloyeloogun okun o (Greetings to my fathers the ones who double as wizards and sorcerers). I would have called them their names as: Osoogun sule, soogun saja (He who keeps his sorcery at home and in the ceiling). I would have told the crowd why my forefathers behaved that way – k’Oso ule ba mu tule, ko mu toke aja a gbe omo re (so that if the wizards within take hold of the charms in the house, you use the ones in the ceiling to avenge your child). I would have told my forebears why I embarked on the Ijuba by reporting my traducers to them thus: Oso ule tii hi kesiri omo re (the wizards at home are already troubling your child); Aje ule tii hi kesiri omo re (the witches at home are already pummeling your child).

 

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I would follow that with an Ofo (Invocation) that those sages taught me; to wit: Hin wi ki mi ba ti ri han (You said when I see them – wizards and witches). Ki mi wi a si han (I should tell them). Apa beri ni ti oka (When you kill the cobra, you cut off the head). Apa laya ni t’ere (When you kill a python, you slit the bowel). A little Ogede (Incantation), declaring the impossibility of their gang up against me would follow. I would have told my political enemies, within and without, that: Ha mu agada muni duro de Erin (Nobody holds the short sword to await an Elephant). If you like, take that to mean the hoarded petrol. Han mu kumo sona hi de Efon (Nobody holds the cudgel to confront a buffalo- the redesigned Naira). Han mu obe usijele dani de Ekun (Nobody holds the blunt common knife to fight the leopard – BVAs and other reforms in the electoral process). Having done those ones, I would then call my sidekick and minstrel, K1 De Ultimate, Wasiu Ayinde Barrister, to go esoteric by chanting Ayajo (Evocation) on those who have elected to truncate my presidential ambition. The last act would have been for K1 to sing Orin Ote (Rebellion songs laced with proverbs). Whenever there is a discord, every song becomes a proverb (Ija de; ori di owe), our elders say.

 

Then, finally, I would address the people; my people, in their own language, irrespective of the presence of those who don’t speak the Yoruba language. A masquerade is addressed by the language he understands. I will tell my people my pains and let them know that I belong to them the way the rag belongs to the dunghill (t’eni ni t’eni, t’akisa ni t’aatan). The matter at hand requires the support of my people. Tinubu did virtually everything I said here except the Ijuba, Ofo, and Ogede. And truth be told, Tinubu’s travails in the hands of his ‘friends’ have gotten to a level that the cosmic must be invited. I appreciate that in his Wednesday outing. He could not have been otherwise. For the first time, and by my reckoning, Tinubu acted like a proper Yoruba man. I love his bi yio d’ogun, ko d’ogun; bi yio d’ote ko d’ote – if it turns out to be war, let it be war, if it turns out a revolt, so be it – posture. His goat has been pushed to the wall, Tinubu must turn back and bite.

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Ahmed Tinubu did exactly what a wasp does that Wednesday. He was very dramatic about it. The APC presidential candidate in the February 25 election, is a man that this era will not forget in a hurry. I am beginning to pay more than passing attention to his political trajectory, especially as his “life-long presidential ambition” is concerned. Between June 2022 and Wednesday last week, Tinubu has brought to the fore the relevance of home in the Yoruba configuration, more than anything else. “Ile ni Ile nje” – home will always be home – is the message that I am getting from the former governor of Lagos State. At the heat of the APC presidential primaries last year, I had a discussion with a very elderly friend. The old man expressed the wish that Tinubu would drop his presidential ambition for a younger Yoruba man (he mentioned three names). He asked for my opinion on that wish. My answer was simple. You don’t advise a man not to aspire to take his ancestral chieftaincy title. We argued if the Nigerian presidency is an inheritance and I answered in the affirmative. The old man said I was wrong and lectured me on politics and intricacies of power. I listened to him.

 

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When on June 3, 2022, Tinubu uttered that statement which was pregnant with an entitlement mentality to wit: “E gbé kinni yi wa, èmi lókán” (bring the thing, it is my turn), I called my elderly friend to remind him of our discussion. Tinubu chose Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State to utter the quoted words. It was at a time when the threat to his ambition was at its highest decibel. He had toured virtually every state of the Federation without causing any uproar. But when he realised that some elements within the APC, led by the Aso Rock Villa cabal, were about giving him the short end of the stick, he went to Abeokuta and spoke. He was strident in doing that. He ensured that Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of Kano State was present. Tinubu spoke in Yoruba Language in June 2022. Ganduje, a Fulani, could only look on. That is called “figure it out”. And Aso Rock got the message. The APC presidential primaries’ field was left ‘plain’ thereafter. Tinubu won the crown. But will ascend the throne?

 

Now the real election is around the corner. But Tinubu has been running around like the candidate of the opposition party. He gets little or no support from his ‘friends’ he helped to power. Just as Tinubu said in June 2022, but for him, General Muhammadu Buhari would not have been president. What did Tinubu do to ‘install’ Buhari as president? Simple. The Lagos big man assembled the most vicious arsenal against the then president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. From outright lies to propaganda, intimidation to blackmail, Tinubu and his gang railroaded Jonathan out of Aso Rock Villa to his Otuoke waterside country home. The heat was so much that even before the last ballot was counted, Jonathan was already in Bayelsa State. The Tinubu propaganda machinery told Jonathan that there would be bloodbath should he win the 2015 presidential election. The Izon man went philosophical. “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”, he sang. Even when the card reader would not recognise his thumb and those of his family members, during the voting, Jonathan did nothing.

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Jonathan eventually voted and ‘lost’ the election eventually, too. Ever since, vessel-loads of the blood of Nigeria has been shed and we move on as a nation as if nothing has happened. One of the greatest weapons the Tinubu Mafia used to undermine Jonathan administration was artificial petrol scarcity. The agonies Nigerians went through to buy the commodity pre-2015 elections were such that anybody else could have defeated the then ruling PDP. Little wonder that Tinubu became agitated when he started seeing queues at filling stations across the country, weeks to his own election. A man who kills by the sword does not like anyone to take a sheath near his neck. It is therefore not out of place for Tinubu to have labelled those behind the current fuel shortage as enemies of his ambition. Tinubu knows them to be the thieves within.

 

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But the fuel issue is not the only worry of the lord of Lagos. Like any normal human being, Tinubu could not understand why the government of Buhari would choose an election year to change the colour of the highest denominations of the nation’s currency. The man was upset such that he described the Naira redesigning as mere painting. He was angry at his frustration in the hands of his ‘friends’. He said he was coming with a revolution. Baba Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State, tried to caution him. Tinubu asked the crowd to tell the elderly ones around him on the podium to allow him to speak his mind. And in speaking his mind, Tinubu told his ‘enemies’ that even if they changed the “ink” on the Naira, or, if they liked, they could spend and become bankrupt, he would win the election.

 

The use of “ink” is deliberate. Nothing fundamental was changed in the so-called redesigned Naira note. A good elementary Fine Arts teacher, doing dye and tie, would do a better job. And there was no mistake about who Tinubu was talking to. The scarcity of fuel is a problem of the APC government which he foisted on the entire nation. The redesigning of the currency is the policy of his ruling party. The inability of the citizens to swap their old currency notes with the new ones is a hungry monkey that only the Buhari-APC led government can find enough bananas to feed. One can therefore understand why Tinubu’s megaphone, The Nation newspaper, the following day came with the interpretative headline: “Tinubu: fifth-columnists behind petrol scarcity, naira redesign row”.

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READ ALSO: OPINION: My Magun Experience

Tinubu knows that he has vicious enemies within the APC. That is why he called on K1, in Abeokuta, to beat the drumbeat of rebellion and lace it with “Ayajo nla” (big evocation) over their heads. That he called for ayajo is very instructive. Among the Yoruba esoteric cult, the most feared is the man who is very versed in Ayajo. Ofo, Ogede, Aasan and Ayajo may be esoteric siblings, but Ayajo is far ahead of them and is dreaded among its other siblings. Ayajo brings to bear what is not. It goes to the “isedale” of the object (the source). It traces the history, the event itself and the consequences that followed and asks for a repeat of the feat. When you see a man with a good sense of ayajo, run! And Tinubu, I dare say, is justified to have asked for Ayajo at this time. His traducers deserve such!

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How do you reconcile the fact that of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Tinubu’s president and leader of his party, Buhari, would only feature in only 10 states! That is outlandish! Of the 10 states, Buhari was scheduled to be in Ilorin, Kwara State but he chose to go for a ‘peace Award’ in Mauritania. He was billed to be in Abeokuta last Wednesday, but Buhari left Lagos for Dakar, Senegal. Buhari accompanied Tinubu to Bauchi on January 23, but he said nothing. Why? They said the sound system went bad. Phew! Sunday, January 29 was for Sokoto, but that did not hold, probably a change in the timetable. Yesterday, Monday 30, was the turn of Akwa Ibom State. Buhari was nowhere near the venue of the rally to canvass votes for his candidate. Ask again, how many states has the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, gone to with his presidential candidate? Is this how to reward a man, who came to you and said, “weep no more, we will support you and you will win” and made you win the presidency after three unsuccessful attempts? The coming weeks and days are going to be very interesting.

Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East, Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the newspaper

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OPINION: Food, Culture, And Colonialism

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By Nnimmo Bassey

The important position of indigenous food systems in the struggle for food sovereignty cannot be over emphasized. We understand this by reminding ourselves of what the concepts ‘colonial’ and ‘colonialism’
mean. The dictionary defines colonialism as “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” As telling as this definition is, it leaves wide swathes untouched. While it is
true that colonialism is hugely built around political and economic
planks, it also significantly impacts socio-cultural, environmental, agricultural, and other spheres. It impacts all these spheres by controlling and subverting what existed before the conquest. We need to emphasize these approaches: control and subversion.

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The subversion of food systems was intentionally constructed through the colonization of thought, a phenomenon that persists as coloniality. Why subvert a food system? The reasons for this are many. The colonizers needed to displace labour invested for local needs while expanding and consolidating labour to meet the needs of the colonizers. By emphasizing a cash economy, farmers were forced to neglect their own needs, derided as subsistence farming, and to offer their labour in exchange for wages. The colonial powers scored double on this count by introducing plantation agriculture and bringing in the locals as farm hands.

Plantation agriculture encapsulates the core practice of colonialism. It entailed land use conversion — often through massive deforestation and land grabbing. It also promoted monoculture by growing specific crops to meet specific needs of industry and colonial appetites. Monocultures damage soils as well as labour. In Nigeria, predominant plantations included those of oil palm, cocoa, rubber, and coffee. These crops were termed cash crops, meaning that they were cultivated for cash rather than for food. This approach persists today as our governments see useful agriculture as the one that earns foreign exchange, irrespective of the state of food insecurity in the nations.

Colonial agriculture thrived not only by producing crops for export, but
it also benefited from altering the appetites of the colonized. These changes did not happen only through advertisements, the indigenous foods were denigrated as uncivilized and sometimes simply forgotten due to a chronic absence of the crops or ingredients for preparing the foods. Today, the erosion of varieties is exacerbated by many related factors including the prevalence of junk foods, hybridization of crop varieties, genetic manipulations, and hostile seed laws.

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Farming for cash relegated diverse crop varieties needed to maintain
nutritious food systems. The centrality of agriculture and food in our cultures got dramatically eroded through colonial plantation agriculture and the fixation on cash rather than seeing agriculture as a pattern of living. Industrial agriculture has led to the capture of the sector by corporations who care for profit more than the planet. They don’t only muddy the waters in our countries but also do much harm in multilateral spaces where they lobby to erode regulations and safety measures.

When it is said that farmers are poor and are not making a living from farming due to lack of value addition, we should examine the underlying factors to that state of affairs. And unless those factors are addressed, labelling farmers as resisting change or as lazy misses the point. When farmers become landless, that is a big problem. When farmers’ seeds are criminalized while seeds of doubtful value are promoted, those are debilitating factors.

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Our farmers have selected and preserved seeds, crops, and animal
varieties over the centuries. They have kept a stock of varieties that
both provide food and meet our medicinal and other needs. They kept the norms that preserved biodiversity. They practiced rotational farming, mixed cropping, and seasonal fishing. They understood the rhythms of nature and maintained the natural equilibrium by being respectful of the Earth. Colonial agricultural production for industrial and external markets led to the promotion of monoculture plantations. The prevalence of investment in industrial agriculture has given rise to monocultures of the mind, to use the title of a book by Vandana Shiva. This mentality elevated the measuring of agricultural productivity per hectare without considering whether the land has been cultivated with a
monocrop or with a multiplicity of crops.

Decolonizing our food systems, reviving our culture

Without doubt, the decolonization of agriculture is the way towards the preservation of crop and animal varieties, rebuilding our food systems, thereby, recovering our culture. A decolonized agriculture invests on support systems for farmers, including by providing extension services and providing/upgrading rural infrastructure. It also means preserving local varieties, ensuring that farmers have access to land and, funding research institutions to build a knowledge base on healthy soils and resilient indigenous crops. It would also mean putting farmers on the driving seat of agricultural policy, elevating the precautionary
principle in biosafety issues, and outlawing harmful pesticides. It
would again mean placing a moratorium on all types of agricultural modern biotechnology as this is a key means of eroding species varieties besides threatening outright extinctions.

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Decolonizing our food system will liberate our tongues and bring back
forgotten tastes. It is the way to revive our cultures and bring back
vibrancy into the lives of our rural communities. Species harmed by
chemical inputs in industrial agriculture would recover and play their roles in pollination, assuring farmers of bumper harvests and breaking the chains of import dependence. A decolonized food system uncovers the falsehood of genetically engineered crops presented as climate smart agriculture whereas, if anything, they are truly climate stupid.

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Food and culture are inseparable. Food is at the centre of our festivals
and ceremonies. Food sovereignty is achievable only in a decolonized
food system. In such system, we know where and how our foods are
produced and our farmers are true knowledge holders and cannot be
deceived to plant varieties they don’t know or want. A colonized food and agriculture system enslaves farmers, disconnects people from the soil and exposes citizens to great harm.

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It is our duty to demand safe food, support our farmers, reject
monoculture, and decolonize our foods and minds.

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