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Opinion: Indabosky And The Emperor Of Rivers



Opinion: Indabosky And The Emperor Of Rivers

Tunde Odesola

It’s the peak of perfidy. A whore is missing, a drunk goes in search of her; the degenerate seeks the reprobate. This is how best I can translate the following Yoruba proverb into English without snapping the elastic cord that interweaves meaning and beauty into language: Asewo sonu, omuti nwa; eni ofo nwa eni adanu! Life loves symmetry. The Prophet of Anambra and the Emperor of Rivers, two honorable men radiating symmetric nobility.

For the Igbo, proverb is the palm oil with which words are eaten. Today, I’ll play the agidigbo, a Yoruba drumbeat danced by the wise, understood by the intelligent. But I won’t lose sight of the exactitude of language and the bluntness of truth.

Between 2003 and 2013, I was the Osun State correspondent of PUNCH newspapers. On Saturday, January 23, 2010, I received a phone call from the Alayemore of Ido Osun, His Royal Highness, Oba Aderemi Adeen Adedapo. “I have a potential exclusive for you and I want to serve it to you hot. I know PUNCH loves exclusives. Can you, please, come over, Otunba?” the monarch asked. The kabiyesi jocularly calls me his Otunba, a chief.

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Bi ise o ba p’eni, enikan kii p’ese goes a Yoruba proverb that teaches industry. The journey between Osogbo and Ido Osun is the distance between the nose and the mouth.

In a jiffy, I was in Ido Osun. I prostrated. The US-trained architect turned king said, “There’s something brewing at the Osun aerodrome. That’s why I called you. I’ve sent my security officers there on reconnaissance.”

The security men arrived while the king was holding court with his real chiefs. I’m not a fake chief, either. They conferred with the king, who rose, took me inside an inner room and disclosed to me that some people had built some shacks at the aerodrome where they carry out suspected sinister activities nightly. Because it was already afternoon, the king suggested we visit the aerodrome the next morning. But I convinced him that we should storm the aerodrome right away. Within me, I knew leaving the story till the next day was a huge threat to my exclusive hold.

So, an armed five-vehicle convoy of the king drove in front while I drove behind en route to the aerodrome that was used for airlifting West African soldiers to the Second World War.

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‘Rua ba su yami banza’ is a Hausa proverb that says ‘water doesn’t get bitter without a cause’. At the aerodrome, we came to a dense vegetation demarcated by palm fronds and a strip of red cloth. Everybody disembarked. There were three shacks within the demarcation. Two guards and I cut the palm fronds and red cloth leading to the biggest shack. We broke the door and stepped into a lightless worship centre that was draped in red cloth. We ransacked everywhere. On the altar was a confin that was also draped in red cloth. A guard and I opened the coffin.

The evil-smelling skeleton of a decomposed corpse stared back at us with millions of maggots swarming it.

At this juncture, word had reached worshippers in Osogbo that some invaders were rampaging their temple. Led by a woman, the worshippers rushed in and met us at work. The presence of the king, however, neutralised them. Nonetheless, they challenged us for disturbing their leader sleeping in his bed.

It got dark. The news filtered into town. I sent my story, pictures and a feature at the scene. My story led SUNDAY PUNCH the following day. The worshippers’ church headquarters in the Akindeko area of Osogbo was burnt by a mob while the police arrested leaders of the church.

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Religion and politics, two human endeavors that should catalyse peace, progress and development, are, unfortunately, the Achilles heels of Nigeria’s accursed fate. Like the whore and the drunk, it’s the degenerates and the reprobates that have found themselves on the pulpit and in government houses across the land.

More than ever before in the history of Nigeria, shylocks in cassocks have taken over the pulpits, indoctrinating the masses wrongly by turning the Holy Bible upside down while the Christian Association of Nigeria watches. Nobody, not even the government, is ready to protect the citizenry from mammon pastors who smash their members against walls and chairs in the name of miracles. These merchandising pastors are everywhere; there’s a bearded one in the Egbe area of Lagos, who killed over 110 persons in one day but walks a free man today.

The charlatans aren’t in Christendom alone. Islam also has its share of merchants clerics who chain and shave people in the guise of healing and teaching. Sadly, tricksters of the two faiths capitalise on the ignorance, fears and desperation of the masses to control and exploit them.

The holy Prophet of Anambra, whose intelligence outweighs a grain of millet, has moved spirituality to high heavens. The light-skinned ex-commoner calls himself a lion who is greater than his father, Jesus Claist. Probably, the prophet didn’t attend primary school to learn how to pronounce the letter ‘r’.

I watched many videos of the wrestling prophet. But two bled my heart. In the first video, the ‘Lion Itself’ raised a dead woman. In the second video, the Liquid Metal physically outpunched a self-confessed disciple of Satan. In raising the dead, the Indabosky lay on the female ‘corpse’. And his intelligent congregation shouted halleluyah!

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As it was with the worshippers at the Osun aerodrome, who were manipulated, the Anambra priest, who boastfully calls himself various undecipherable names, beats, slaps, punches, headbutts and slams worshippers in absurd miracles.

A couple of sorcerers have called Pawoseh a fake and challenged him to an open contest. Responding to one of his challengers, the lion of Anambra said two corpses should be provided for him and his challenger, and he who raises his own dead is the powerful one.

If he truly possesses the power to raise the dead, Indabosky should visit isolation centres across the country and heal coronavirus patients, he shouldn’t waste his anointing on raising the dead.

Indabosky has brought enough shame to the body of Christ such that CAN can’t continue to keep silent. It should worry CAN that someone who calls himself a Christian prophet is mostly seen spraying money, preaching war and violence. Validating the prophetic circus, a university awarded Liquid Metal an honorary doctorate degree to complete the cycle.

On the same edifying frequency with the Anambra prophet is the emperor of rivers. A few days ago, the wicked emperor became the law, the gavel and hangman.

A citizen had allegedly breached the law of social distancing by opening up his space to merriment. Instead of allowing the law to take its course, the emperor, whose name is the short form of ‘wicked’, threw out the citizen with the bathwater and demolished the gourd. Ridiculously, the emperor proclaims himself as an apostle of the law. But his action glorifies wickedness in law.

Not too long ago, the grunting emperor publicly abused a traditional ruler, calling him unprintable names during a meeting with traditional rulers in his kingdom. Calling the traditional ruler a boy and a sycophant, who ran errands some years back, the emperor threatened to sack any traditional ruler caught not clutching his sceptre at meetings.

Just like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission incurred N10m fine against the Federal Government in the SIM card saga involving President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, the guttural emperor will incur a fine against his kingdom over his latest ruthlessness – at the fullness of time.

Sadly, however, the responsibility of paying the fines incurred by the EFCC and the emperor will be borne by the masses. That’s the tragedy of a people eternally abused by priests and politicians.

Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, writer and a columnist with the Punch newspapers




OPINION: Why Were Miyetti Allah And Tinubu’s Iyaloja In Ibadan?



By Suyi Ayodele

The tiger approaches the dog for a game. It offers its tail to the dog to touch and play with. The innocent dog, thinking that it has a new buddy, wags its own tail in amusement. Every elder around watches the dangerous offer with bated breath. They asked rhetorically: what manner of play can the dog possibly engage in with the tiger (eré kí ni ajá únbá ekùn se)? Every seeming conviviality between the two four-legged creatures always ends up bloody for the dog. That has been the case from time immemorial. In the wild, while other carnivorous animals leave the leftovers of the prey for lesser ones to feed on, the tiger is not blessed with such generosity. Like the python, the tiger leaves no leftovers. That is why it is saluted as Ekùn a je eran, je egungun (the tiger which eats both flesh and bones). So, you may wish to wonder what benefits the dog will derive from any relationship with the tiger? The tiger is pathologically belligerent; you don’t blame it for that. It is its nature . It needs no friends and makes none.

Wisdom is never in short supply in Yorubaland. No! It has never been! Elders too abound to teach moral lessons from their past experiences. The problem with the South- nature West at the moment is the greed of its political class. Those with crass ambition are the ones calling the shots in the region at the moment. They are the gang of the end-justifies-the means, who can do anything to achieve their set goals- goals which ultimately are self-serving. Nothing is too big for these dregs of humanity to sacrifice as long as they get whatever they desire. The entire Yoruba race can go into slavery for all they care. What matters to them is their ambition. Why people are not seeing this or pretend not to see it, baffles me.

The next round of general election will be held in 2027, which is some three years and a few months away. However, the battle for the soul of Nigeria has begun in earnest. There is no pretence about the fact that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is desperate for 2027. Only the Almighty God stands between him and his second term; nothing else, at least within the power of mortals. Tinubu will do anything to get his second term. He will sell where he needs to sell, buy what he needs to buy. Nothing will be too precious for him to trade off. He will be mean where meanness is required and meek where meekness is desired. The battle for 2027 is not for the weak. It is like a forest where only the strong-hearted (odaju) can foray. To achieve the aim, a lot of things will be sacrificed. People will equally be sacrificed. Old ties will be broken, and new ones knotted. Ex-foes will become friends, and old friends will be dispensed with. That is the way of ambition. The end will always justify the means. There will be nothing permanent; there will be nothing indispensable; Yoruba race inclusive. A man like Tinubu does not dwell on past achievements. He is like the sound of the proverbial dane gun. Ò kù ni ìbon úndún (there is something else is the sound the gun gives). Winning the 2023 presidential election is just a launching pad to him. When a child sets his mind at ascending his father’s throne, every item on his way becomes a transactional instrument to achieve his aim. In one of the essays submitted to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), one of the candidates has this to say of ambition: “Humans are greedy creatures. Nothing will be enough for them….” The beat has started. Like the fox that he is in the Nigerian political space, Tinubu has started to test the waters. He is doing this indirectly and directly. He was in Ibadan last Saturday, April 20, 2024. No, Tinubu was not in Ibadan in flesh and blood. His men were there to set the stage. He was adequately represented by his blood too, the first product of his loins; Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, the Iyaloja General of Nigeria.

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Ibadan is crucial to the Yoruba race. Whatever is sealed and delivered in the city of Iba Oluyole is sure to be delivered in every nook and cranny of Yorubaland. That was why a group of people, operating under the auspices of Commodities Farmers’ Organisation in the South-West, gathered to sign an ‘agreement’ with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), on peaceful co-existence between Yoruba farmers and the itinerant Fulani herdsmen, otherwise known as herdsmen. The leader of the Commodities Farmers Organisation, one Olusegun Dasaolu, speaking at the event, which was held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, said: “We have signed the peace pact to put a stop to farmers/herders’ clashes. The first step we are going to take is to identify who are genuine herders in the South-West. We have also agreed together to collect or collate data in that regard.” He added that the ‘agreement’ would ensure “that the South-West farmers return to the farm, and also to promote food security in the country….” By that statement, Dasaolu and his promoters recognised that South-West farmers were off their farms because of the issue of incessant clashes with herdsmen. So, in Dasaolu’s reckoning, for the Yoruba farmers to return to their farms in their ancestral land, there must be an agreement with the herdsmen. He talked about “collecting or collating” data of the herders to identify “genuine herders”. Yet, this sudden commodities farmer never realised that the first step that the late Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the former governor of Ondo State took was to ask herders in the state’s forests to come out and be registered. It was when that call was not heeded that Akeredolu mobilised his fellow South-West governors, with the exception of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State -who for obvious reason was not committed to the idea- to form the Amotekun Corps, which has been doing a yeoman’s job in the entire Yorubaland. The question is, how come that suddenly, the Miyetti Allah group that would not obey a state governor was now dancing Fuji ropopo in Ibadan because of a Dasaolu? I will not be tempted here to ask: “who bankrolled” the Ibadan peace ’agreement’?

He who forgets history is bound to repeat it. When history repeats itself, it does so in a more devastating form and format. History is about to repeat itself in the entire Yorubaland. Unless something is done before it is hatched, the entire Kaaro Oojire (Yoruba Race) will lose its existence to the Fulani expansionist movement. That is what the Dasaolu ‘agreement’ with his new friends in MACBAN led by the group’s National President, Othman Ngelzarma, is all about. The impending calamities embedded in the ‘agreement’ will happen to the Yoruba race all because President Tinubu wants a second term, and nothing more! Anyone can dispute this assertion. Time will tell. Pity! What Uthman Dan Fodio and his expansionist army could not achieve on the back of horses with deadly arrows and swords is what Tinubu and Dasaolu are giving to the descendants of Fodio before our very eyes!

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The agreement last Saturday between the Commodities Farmers’ Organisation and Miyetti Allah is a dangerous agreement. It is an agreement that will bring no peace because the other party does not understand the language of peace. Whoever midwifed the misadventure; whoever piloted the bad episode, must either be ignorant (which I doubt), or mischievous (which is most likely), but certainly greedy and unfeeling. The bad ‘agreement’ is like a loaded gun. Elders of my place say kò sí omo rere nínú ìbon (a loaded gun gives birth to no good offspring). Check history very well. The Fulani stock has no history of fidelity to agreements. The entire Hausa land which allowed them any leverage in the past, are living in servitude today. Yoruba lost Ilorin to the descendants of Dan Fodio because Afonja signed an agreement with Alimi. When the time came for his ‘friend’ to eliminate him, Afonja’s body was pierced with so many poisonous arrows such that he died standing as the arrows maintained equilibrium for him! When he was found to be dead, his corpse was burnt by the Fulani soldiers who acted under the supervision of Alimi! Dasaolu should take some time off his ‘farm’ and read a bit of our history. He will learn that it is foolish for a man to use his two hands to locate the head of a cobra in the burrow.

The Yoruba, at the moment, have a bigger challenge at hand. The penultimate Saturday’s unsuccessful invasion of the Oyo State Secretariat by miscreants who plied the name of Yoruba Nation agitators is enough wahala. The task before the six states of the South-West, and their brothers in Kwara and Kogi States is to identify every operational cell of these dregs of humanity and flush them out. They cannot afford to add a covert RUGA engagement to that. There is no need to look for a pseudonym to describe the ‘agreement’ with Miyetti Allah; it is pure RUGA. If Mrs. Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, who supervised the ‘agreement’ for her father pretended not to know, the rest of us should let her realise that we know what it is. It is slavery dressed in the garb of peace. What kind of peace does a man need such that he offers his father’s shrine to a stranger to defecate? What is the content of the ‘agreement’? Is it in line with the counsel given by Femi Adesina during the administration of Muhammadu Buhari that for us to live, we should give up our ancestral land to herdsmen? By this new ‘agreement’, does it mean that herders will have free access to our farmlands? Are we ready to give up anything so that our son can have a second term? Is that the new ill-wind blowing our way?

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Let us get it right. Yoruba are not that naive. Our forebears handed us an egalitarian society. They were not cowards. They sacrificed a lot to ensure that the boast of dipping the Quran into the Atlantic did not materialise in their time. What Buhari tried unsuccessfully to achieve in eight years is what some greedy elements are offering their Fulani lords on a platter of gold. They have forgotten the caution of our elders to wit: ohun tí ehín tè tí ò ké, owó èékáná ò ka (whatever the teeth press and does not moan is not an assignment for the fingernails). Those who signed the Ibadan ‘agreement’ with Miyetti Allah are no farmers. I doubt if they can even stalk cassava stems correctly. What is propelling them is greed. They are all Mr. Giwas (traders). They represent nobody; at least not the farmers in my home state of Ekiti. What is the size of Dasaolu’s plantation, if any? What is the population of his Commodities Farmers’ Organisation? Who does he speak for and on whom is the ‘agreement’ binding?

President Tinubu has a maximum of eight years to rule, if he wins his second term in 2027. He cannot afford to sell an entire race into slavery in the name of an asinine ‘agreement’ with a truculent group like the Miyetti Allah. What this agreement portends is peace of the graveyard. It should, and must be resisted by all men of good conscience. Those who want herdsmen to have free access to their homestead can do so without dragging the entire clan into such an imprudent venture. The labour of our heroes’ past should not be in vain. Imagine that the late Akeredolu has not even completed his registration among the Saints in heaven and this is already happening to the good fight he dedicated the latter part of his life to fighting! It is indeed true that a home is settled only when the illegitimate child has not come of age.

We shall go beyond asking the Alálè Yoruba to visit those behind this plot to enslave the Yoruba race in the 21st century with their fiercest ire. We must equally resist them, vehemently, I dare say! This is not a call to arms; it is one of our minimum obligations under a democratic setting. May the spirits of those who have gone before us fight those who want to hand over our children as slaves to those who never conquered our forebears. Standing on the authority of Alaafin Aole, we declare to those behind trading our land off on the field of politics that: when they walk on Yoruba land, may they hear the sounds of the footsteps of the invisible; when they eat, may they never be filled; when they drink water, may they remain thirsty! May Oduduwa Atewonro, and Agboniregun join forces to turn their days to night! Ase waa!

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OPINION: Bobrisky’s Masque, Yahaya Bello’s Boa



By Lasisi Olagunju

“When you reach home, tell my mother,
Say it was a boa that his son transformed into
And never returned home.”
The actor comes on the stage singing and dancing, his troupe festive around him. He invokes his powers and turns into this and that. Everything he fancies, he becomes.
Then he goes back to man.
The world applauds him.
The man becomes a roof-climbing, banana-eating monkey.
The applaud gets louder.
He turns to a woman – like Bobrisky- complete with all the charm of the seductress; he beckons on men who could dare but none comes forward. He gets no suitor. Then, his drummers warn him: Ilè nsú / T’óbá burú tan/ Ìwo nìkan ní ó kù (it is getting dark; you will be alone if things get bad).

If you are warned, listen to what the world is saying. In his ‘The Poetry of the Yoruba Masque Theatre’, Professor J.A. Adedeji (1978) says better what the bata drums say: “Don’t be careless, evening is approaching/ Aiyelabola; If the worst comes/ You will be left alone to your devices.” The tragedy of man, of all of us, is that we always deny the advent of dusk. The masked one hears the beats and ignores the beats. He takes one more step and turns to a boa – and darkness descends on his performance.

The boa-man struggles with himself. He tries every trick in his bag of charms. He chants every incantation in his pouch; he bellows every shout. He draws blank; nothing works again for the influencer. The world has hacked into the actor’s act; life’s principal coders have changed his password. The boa cannot shed the snake skin and adorn the human costume he came with. Aiyelabola will die a boa.

His troupe sings his dirge; his audience his elegy: “Aiyelabola d’ere, o b’ere lo.”

Defeated, Adedeji writes, the boa sings:

“When you reach home, tell my mother,

Say it was a boa that his son transformed into

And never returned home.”

Tell the world, Aiyelabola d’ere, o ti b’ere lo.

When the ‘world’ is involved in someone’s case, what is customarily ignored attracts global opprobrium; even the ordinarily routine becomes problematic, song becomes abuse, and the key that used to open doors stops working. One day, we will know why the young man called Bobrisky was suddenly taken too seriously by drama-loving Nigeria.

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The pioneer of Yoruba waka music, Batile Alake, invokes chants in her evergreen songs. In a particular album, she sings about entering the farm through the furrow and escaping the whips of the farm owner by not stepping on his (yam) heaps – poro ni mo gbà/ kí olóko má nà mí/ mo ti dá ebeè kojá. In another song, Batile sings about the unusual and the attention which bigness attracts: “B’érin bá w’ojà á j’ogún àpéjowò omo aráyé (when ponderous elephant saunters into the market square, he inherits the world as his audience).” It is possible that Bobrisky, the actor, got that sense from the quaint world of the spirit of money and fame. On social media and in the social sphere, he was/is news – bad and good news – many times not exactly good. But he enjoyed it and sought to live it in defiance of whatever his world thought. He saw the world as a festival of sort and dressed himself up for it in coarse cottons of disgusting shock. Listening to strange beats, the man danced his way into the moral marketplace as a woman and stepped on the toes of his world.

For breaking a pot of water, the child who repeatedly spilt drums of palm oil without consequences was docked in a court in Lagos some days ago. Bobrisky is in jail for doing what Duro Ladipo calls “ritual theatre”, that which many do impulsively as a cultural practice – spraying money at social parties. In the times of our fathers, ‘spraying’ was not the word; money meant for the forehead never touched the ground. If it did, it was a taboo broken. But, today, àkàrà has become bones in the mouth of the toothless. Money-miss road nouveau riche dudes dance on a canvass of cash to proclaim their success. What autumn does to leafy trees is what they do with the naira. They carpet the ground with careless currency notes, plod rough-shod and record their misbehaviour for us to sorrow about. They incite the poor to query the poverty in their destiny.

I read a piece on “Ritual Killing, 419, and Fast Wealth in Southeastern Nigeria” published in the ‘American Ethnologist’ of November 2001. The author, Daniel Jordan Smith, marvels at what we do here with paper money on foreheads at social parties. He explores the drama of our doing it, how we do it and why we do it: “The act of spraying itself has become a performance, and those who do the spraying are often drawing public attention to themselves as much as to those they are supporting. In the act of spraying, the dance of the sprayer is watched and admired, but most importantly, the quantity and denomination of the bills pasted to the foreheads of the sprayee is closely monitored. People who spray large sums of money are roundly applauded by the crowd…” The paradox (and the lesson) here is what Smith admits: “such ostentation is resented even as it is admired.”

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Singer Portable’s ‘brother’ who claims ‘sisterhood’ is a goat immolated to make other goats stop misbehaving. Won pa iji han iji. But, he is just an actor, a masquerader monetizing his mime of our unserious world. And we are really unserious. Of all the inmates in our house of sin; of all the sicknesses in our sick body, Bobrisky is what takes our precious time and judgment. Locking him up is our loss.

A perfect Aristotelian tragic protagonist, he will be in solitary misery for six months at our expense. Everyone thinks he deserves to be where he is. Even those of us who accept that he is just an alárìnjó (itinerant, walk-and-dance masquerade) insist that his choice of style is dirty. But there is neither disgust nor ugliness in drama. It is either a tragedy or a comedy or the concoction in the middle. Everything is about costuming and packaging and marketing. If my good old literature teacher, Professor Oyin Ogunba (God bless his soul), were around and he watched this spectacle, he would describe the man as drama. Read Ogunba in Oyekan Owomoyela’s ‘Give me Drama Or…’ I did. “A masked figure at a festival,” Ogunba argues, “whether he dances or speaks or does neither, has, by his mere appearance, created a situation of potential dramatic value.” The jailed young man has the mask; he has the chant; he has the gait, the dance. He has the drama and an excitable audience. His face and costume are just life-mimicry gone awry. He shouldn’t have suffered an overkill.

In the grove of life’s principals, there are many masks of varying potency. It appears that Bobrisky entered the grove without paying his dues. It is ìbà that saves goat from being tied down as sacrificial lamb. He didn’t do that and lost control of his panel. There is no system the world cannot hack into; the principalities of this plane are code-crackers. They reduced the cross-dresser to a helpless influencer who could not influence the winds from blowing him into jail. It happened to Aiyelabola, the powerful masque-actor who turned himself into a boa for effect but could not go back to the human he was.

The world overtook Bobrisky and locked him up. He thought he could recreate himself to a woman and be crowned queen of the covens. He didn’t learn from Aiyelabola who moved from man to boa and slithered off forever as boa. May we not step on the eye of the earth.

Bobrisky is a metaphor for the hypocrisy of this society of masked men and specialists. He is also a metaphor for self-violation. In court, he disowned his feminine costume and pronounced himself man. He is, in significant ways, a metaphor for a politician called Yahaya Bello. What happened to the cross-dresser is exactly what is happening to the former Kogi State governor. He is being asked by his troupe mates – the igneous caste of his cast – to come out and account for his years in power. There is a big lesson here: An Egungun that is conscious of life out of the mask will behave well, will limit his performance to dance and songs; will carry no whips, and will whip not the helpless.

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Andu is the name of one Egúngún (eégún) in a Yoruba town which enjoys the throne with the king. Ulli Beier in his ‘The Egungun Cult Among the Yoruba’ (Presence Africaine, 1958: 34) says “Andu enjoys great power and privileges. He may, for example, sit on the king’s throne when the king is not present.” What do you think would happen if this Egungun extends his privileges and starts contesting the stool with the king, the Timi of Ede? The storm and the drama that we saw around Bello last week were what normally happens to temporary men who think themselves permanent. When ‘big’ men eat food meant for the gods and step on sacred toes and the world takes note, they are condemned to run kitikiti katakata as Bello did last week. The consequence he suffers is the fate of the bird called agbe: his feathers got dyed in indigo. The aluko bird was not created henna, his colour was made so by an angry world. When the world felt offended enough by the egret’s unacceptable ways, it dipped the bird in a pot of snow-white chalk. The world is sufficiently angry with the actor called Yahaya Bello; it is cooking a pot of bile for him to feast on.

One Muslim cleric waxed a record in the 1970s with a line that made a lot of sense. I can’t remember the cleric’s name but I can’t forget that he sings about the powerful who think themselves faster than life. But, he says, the world is not that cheap; it storms their sail and sinks their ship. “Won ro pe won le aye won ba/ Aye o je bee/aye da won nu.” The Titanic, its competent crew and its arrogant builders come to mind here.

My people would look at Yahaya Bello and see the opposite of careful chameleon who walks gingerly through life. Chameleon is asked why his feet rarely touch the ground. He says it is in deference to the earth; he says the ground must not cave in under his weight. “This world (aye) is a dangerous and difficult place; it is full of negative forces that hinder, even destroy, one’s life.” Benjamin C. Ray was of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, United States, when in 1993 he wrote the above quote in a research article on ‘Aladura Christianity: A Yoruba Religion’. The quote, peeled from Ray’s 27-page piece on ‘aye’ and its forces, summarizes what I am saying here about moderation, about doing right and stepping away from wrong even if you have the grit of a lion. Ray is not alone. Professor Karin Barber’s scholarship is on Yoruba’s ways and means. Her mental visage on man and precarious power, published in a journal called ‘Africa’ in 1981, sees the solitary worldly ‘man’ who is “picking his way …between a variety of forces, some benign, some hostile, many ambivalent.”

Did Shakespeare not say justice whirls in equal measure? Today’s eegun, our ensemble of powers and principalities, can also learn from the fate of Bello, a whitened lion in flight. Their own festival of immunity will end one day, and the children of the grove will no longer have free balls of bean cakes. Listen. The antidote to darkness is light. If you don’t want to die a boa, don’t live a boa. What is happening to Bello tells even deities that they are not immune from (and to) the ravages of an incensed world. When the forces of life face and fight a rogue masquerade, they tear off his mask and call women to come and watch. And, of course, an Egungun dies the day he is paraded naked before a coven of weird beings who piss from behind.

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OPINION: Onitiri-Abiola And The Madness In Ibadan



By Suyi Ayodele

Date was Monday, August 29, 1955. Oba Isaac Babalola Akinyele, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, sat on his throne. There was an august visitor to be received by the monarch. He had in attendance some of his prominent chiefs like the Otun Olubadan, Chief Kobiowu, and the Ashipa Olubadan, Chief Akinyo. From the political class, Oba Akinyele invited the colourful Adegoke Adelabu of the Penkelemesi fame. It was an important occasion for Oba Akinyele. One of his subjects, a woman of no mean repute, had requested to see the monarch. Adunni Oluwole was not just an Ibadan indigene. She was a force among the political elite of her time. Her pint-size notwithstanding, Adunni was a political juggernaut; she had her own political party, the Nigerian Commoners Party (NCP). The clamour for independence was at its highest then. Adunni Oluwole was futuristic. She suspected that if given independence, the majority of Nigerians would suffer in the hands of the few that would take over from the colonial masters. So, while others were asking for independence, Adunni was of the opinion that the British should not hand over power until the masses were bold and educated enough to confront the monsters that the political class represented. To achieve her aims, she moved from one palace to the other: from one town to another, canvassing and mobilising the people against the clamour for independence. The Yoruba called her party Egbe K’Oyinbo maitiilo.

In the course of her crusade, Adunni wrote to Oba Akinyele, seeking the permission of the Olubadan to come and address Ibadan people on why they should not support those asking for independence. On her arrival, Adunni told Oba Akinyele and the people gathered that if the whites were chased away and the politicians took over from them, the common people would suffer untold hardship. To avoid that, she asked the Olubadan to use his influence and mobilise his subjects not to support the transfer of power from the British colonial masters to the Nigerian slave drivers. But she was not allowed to finish her message. Chief Adelabu (Penkelemesi) was reported to have interrupted her abruptly, almost to the point of physical assault before Oba Akinyele restrained him. Oba Akinyele recognised the toughness of Adunni’s resolve, but nevertheless asked that Adunni should be taken out of the palace and banished her from ever entering the palace. The late Professor Kole Omotoso recorded Adunni’s encounter with Adelabu in a more dramatic form in his book, one of the most authoritative documentations of Nigerian politics, Just Before Dawn (page 200-201). Omotoso called the book faction (fact and fiction). But the Adunni story is fact. Though she died before Nigeria gained independence, events after the 1955 episode have since justified Adunni’s prediction that after independence, a few would become masters and dictators over the majority.

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The Yoruba political, social and cultural set up is egalitarian in nature. It is a race known to have given equal opportunities for both sexes to actualise their potential. In the traditional set up, the position of Iyalode (leader of the women folks), has been as prominent as that of any male chieftaincy title. In some Yoruba towns and villages, occupants of the Iyalode chieftaincy play important roles in the selection of obas. This also underscores the respect accorded women on esoteric matters because the women folk are regarded as an important part of the tripod which governs an average Yoruba community (Oba-in-council, the awos and the owners of the night- our mothers). It is therefore not out of place for women in Yorubaland to rise and speak whenever occasion demands. The likes of the legendary Efunsetan Aniwura, the Iyalode of Ibadan (1829-June 30, 1874), Efunroye Tinubu (1810-1887),; Iyalode Bisoye Tejuoso (1916-1996); Chief (Mrs.) Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900-1978); Mama Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo (1915-2015), who after the passing of her husband, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1987, held the Awolowo political dynasty and the entire Yorubaland intact, and the most recent, Iyalode Alaba Lawson (1951-2023), came to mind as some Yoruba matriarchs who used their positions, positively, to project the Yoruba nation to the world.

With the rich culture of decency that the Yoruba women folk have attracted to themselves and the race, one cannot but be worried that in the 21st century, a Yoruba woman can afford to wage a senseless war against her land under the guise of fighting for an independent nation for the Yoruba race. I am talking here about the last Saturday invasion of the Oyo State Secretariat by some miscreants who claimed to be soldiers fighting for the actualisation of an independent Yoruba nation. More appalling in the whole meshugaas, is the claimed declaration of the Democratic Republic of Yoruba (DRY), by Modupe Onitiri-Abiola, who claimed to be one of the widows of MKO Abiola. Shortly after the invasion of the Oyo State Secretariat, Onitiri-Abiola’s video of the declaration of her fanciful DRY hit the internet.

In the four minutes and forty-two seconds video (the version i got), the woman said among other things, in plain Yoruba Language: “We are indigenous people. We are sovereign people; we are ethnic nationalists. We have decided to secede from Nigeria on November 20, 2022. And today, April 12, 2024, we decided to finally leave Nigeria. I, Modupe Onitiri-Abiola, proclaimed the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Yoruba today, Friday, April 14, 2024. From today henceforth, Yorubaland has commenced its own republic. By that virtue, it has now become the newest nation in the world…” The video was obviously recorded a day before the invasion of the secretariat. After watching the video, I have been trying to situate what actually prompted her and her backers to embark on such a mission at this point. I have been trying to fathom which Yoruba nation she was talking about. I checked her pedigree; the only thing I could get is her conjugal relationship with the late MKO. So, I asked myself: being Abiola’s wife is now a qualification for one to lead the Yoruba race? Nnkan mà se wa o (something terrible has happened to us)!

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No doubt about the fact that Nigeria, as it is composed now, needs restructuring. Nobody, especially anyone who has been following the political trajectory of Nigeria since the collapse of the First Republic on January 15, 1966, will be comfortable with the way things are in the country. The current political dispensation has, since its inception on May 29, 1999, foregrounded, more than any administration before it (civilian or military), those things that divide us more than any hope of unity. The eight years of Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle between May 29, 2015, and May 29, 2023, projected a part of the country above the rest of the nation. The Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration that took over on May 29, 2023, has not fared better. Rather than address the agitation of imbalance in the appointments of personnel into key areas of government that characterised the Buhari government, Tinubu too has gone a notch higher with his one-sided appointments. If Buhari was accused of Fulanising governance to the detriment of other ethnic nationalities, President Tinubu too has shown that he has no fair mind as his Yoruba boys, especially his Lagos and Ogun Alleluyah orchestra, are all over the place. Nigeria indeed has never had it so bad as we have at the moment. The nation needs a surgical restructuring; one that will give equal opportunities to the citizenry without recourse to place of birth, political affiliation and religious creed.

As much as we agree that we don’t have the best of structures at the moment, it is unthinkable that the solution will be a broad day-light secession! The truth is that the last set of nationalists that have ever traversed the Nigerian political landscape were those lofty politicians of the last five years of colonial rule and the first three years after independence in 1960. Before the January 15, 1966, coup led by the late Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, it was obvious to all discerning minds that Nigeria was “a mere geographical expression”, as espoused by Chief Awolowo in 1947. There is nothing to show that the country has grown into nationhood. Fifty-four years after we fought a needless civil war that claimed over two million lives from both sides, all in a bid to “keep Nigeria one” in spite of the glamourous insertions in our various constitutions- the affirmative cliche of Nigeria being “one indivisible and indissoluble Sovereign State”- we have demonstrated that we have not learnt anything from our history. The elite class has not done anything to promote the unity and oneness of the country. Even the followership, as long as the current events favour us, we don’t give a hoot about how others fare neither do we exhibit any empathy towards those who seem to be holding the short end of the stick in perpetuity. We think more of what is in it for us and our ethnic groups than what is in the overall interest of the nation. That type of orientation breeds nothing but continuous agitation.

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When one considers all these, to pray for the oneness and unity of the country becomes an arduous task. Every person of good conscience will agree that Nigeria cannot continue the way it is now. Something must be done to address the various agitations across the nation. When a Fulani man is at the centre, the Yoruba man is not happy. When it is the turn of the Yoruba man, the man up north feels that he is being short-changed. Yet, the third leg of the tripod, the Igbo race, is left in the cold to suffer its fate. We fought a war for 30 months. We ended the war and affirmed that: “there is no victor; there is no vanquished”. Over five decades after the ‘affirmation’, we still see the Igbo as “those who attempted to break away’, and as such, not fit to be number one in the country. This is the kind of feeling that emboldened last Saturday’s thoughtless action of Modupe Onitiri-Abiola. However, we cannot but caution Onitiri-Abiola that this is not how to be a heroine. She could read more about how Mrs. Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti led the Egba women on October 5, 1946, and Nwanyereuwa, led the November 18, 1929, Aba women’s riots. Those were great women in their own right.

My greatest concern in the current matter is that it happened in Yorubaland. With our sophistication, cosmopolitan outlook and enlightenment, it beats one’s imagination that a group of people would wake up, arm themselves and march to the Oyo State secretariat to “take over” the place. One of the things that came to my mind is that if, for instance, those DRY ‘soldiers’ had succeeded in taking over the Oyo State Secretariat, what follows? Would that have meant that their gang members in Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos States would replicate the same? How many men do they have? What is the size of the arsenals? What a joke! But who do we blame for this charade? How long have we been asking that the Yoruba elders should put their house in order? How long have we been clamouring that Afenifere should detach itself from the apron of Yoruba political marauders- the very ones who believed in restructuring before they got to power but would not touch the same ideology with a 10-foot pole while in government? How did Baba Ayo Adebanjo feel when he read the news of the Ibadan invasion; what agitated the mind of Pa Reuben Fashoranti on seeing the video of Onitiri-Abiola’s ‘proclamation’? Is this the Yoruba of their dreams, a nation without leaders? I would not bother about Professor Banji Akintoye, leader of the Yoruba Nation self-determination group’s response to the Ibadan event. Those sages who warned us not to show the young folks the length of the phallus so that they don’t begin to think that everything that is long is an object of procreation are absolutely right. Like they say on the streets: Akintoye go explain tire.

Above all, the last Saturday incident in Ibadan is a wake-up call to the nation’s leadership. They should be worried that that type of thing can happen in Yorubaland. Whether it resembles ‘gate’, or it does not resemble it, one is advised to set a trap for it (Ó jo gàté kò jo gàté àwòn laa dee de). Who knows who has copied the template? How many of us in Yorubaland ever thought that something close to that could happen in our backyard? When the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) started its agitations, what name did we not call them? The nation must do something before we have a conflagration in our hands. Beyond punishing those behind the Ibadan saga -, and I think they should be thoroughly punished- we must address the factors that are responsible for such reprehensive behaviour. It should not be dismissed as one of those things. It is obvious that Nigeria needs restructuring in all aspects. Any further delay will bring more of Onitiri-Abiola’s type of ‘proclamation’. Truth is, many are waiting in the wings to follow suit. It was the Igbo the other time. It is Yoruba now. Who knows who is next?

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