By Joseph Ebitibi Kanjo
As the governorship election in Edo State draws nearer, it is pertinent to once again re-echo the need for all political gladiators in the state and those who may have influence on the election from within and outside the state to play according to the rules of the game with a view to having a free, fair, credible and violence-free governorship election September 19, 2020.
Piece should not be new to us; it is like a Sunday sermon we listen and read here and there in preparation to every election in the country. It comes from the lower, middle and top cadre of the society including political actors whom many see as key players and perpetrators.
Governor of Sokoto State who doubles as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, in reemphasising the need for a peaceful election in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State, called on political actors in the state to shun violence and embrace peace. His call was orchestrated by the violence that occurred at the entrance gate of the palace of Oba of Benin on the day the PDP was to flag-off their campaign.
PDP governors and other chieftains led by their national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus had visited the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II to pay him homage and receive his royal blessing when the incident occurred. The sporadic gunshots which lasted for over 60 seconds shortly after the PDP campaign team left the scene saw over fifteen persons sustaining varying degrees of bullet injuries.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the party’s stakeholders’ meeting held in Benin City, Tambuwal appealed to various political parties participating in the governorship election to continue to encourage their supporters to restrain from unleashing mayhem and violence on the electorate.
“This appeal has become necessary following a small crowd of a political party that came to the Benin Monarch’s palace to boo leaders and supporters of the PDP during the flag-off of our campaign. That is a sign that the political party is planning violence.
“I appeal to leaders of the various political parties with the interest of Edo State at heart, to speak with their followers and make sure the election is free and fair,” the governor said.
There are extant laws on campaigns in Nigeria. Section 94 ( 1 ) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended ) says , “ For the purpose of the proper and peaceful conduct of political rallies and processions, the Commissioner of Police in each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja , shall provide adequate security for processions at political rallies in the states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja . ”
In order to also forestall violence , the constitution says in Section 227 , “ No person or association shall retain , organise , train , or equip any person or group of persons for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organised and trained or equipped for that purpose . ”
Section 95 of the Act prohibits certain conduct at political campaigns . Subsection ( 1 ) says : “ No political campaign or slogan shall be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious , ethnic , tribal or sectional feelings ”; ( 2 ) says , “ Abusive intemperate , slanderous or base language or insinuations or innuendoes , designed or likely to provoke violent reactions or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns ”; ( 3 ) “ Places designated for religious worship , police station , and public offices shall not be used : ( a ) for political campaigns, rallies and processions; or ( b) to promote , propagate or attack political parties , candidates or their programmes or ideologies . ”
Section 95 ( 4 ) says , “ Masqueraders shall not be employed or used by any political party , candidate or person during political campaigns or for any other political purpose . ”
Subsection ( 5 ) says , “ No political party or member of a political party shall retain , organise , train or equip any person or group of persons for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest or in such a manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organised , trained or equipped for that purpose . ”
Subsection ( 6 ) says , “ No political party , person or candidate shall keep or use private security organisation , vanguard or any other group or individual by whatever name called for the purpose of providing security assisting or aiding the political party or candidate in whatever manner during campaigns , rallies , processions or elections . ”
In addition, Section 96 ( 1 ) says : “ No candidate , person or group of persons shall directly or indirectly threaten any person with the use of force or violence during any political campaign in order to compel that person or any other person to support or refrain from supporting a political party or candidate . ”
As spelt out by the Constitution, political actors in the forthcoming governorship election in the state must once again adhere to the rules of the game; the electorates must be given opportunity to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice without intimidation, and they must let their votes count in the September 19 governorship election in the state.
In order to get more assurance from all contestants that the election would be peaceful and credible, there is need for the state Commissioner of Police to call such contestants to sign peace accord. It is has been done at the Federal level, so, this is the right time for it to be adopted at state level if there is no such at the state level.
Nigerian political leaders are found of calling for a peaceful election, but making such call must go hand-in-hand with action; that is, our political leaders must work the talk and not just lip service.
They must borrow a leaf from former Nigeria President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who said in the bid up to the 2015 presidential election that his political ambition does not worth the blood of any Nigerian and he stood by it by accepting defeat from the main opposition, and consequently handing over power to the opposition as the winner of the presidential election-the first African president to accept defeat while in power.
Consequently, the political ambition of any contender in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State does not worth the blood of any resident. Political leaders particularly in the state must talk to their supporters to abide by the rules of the game. Rancour, violence and thuggery should be shun in the September 19, governorship election; the election must be free, fair, credible and violence-free, so after September 19, Edolites will be able to boast that their votes counted.
This became necessary with the rumoured Federal might, state might and power incumbency. When all these forces are allowed to bear in the election, it means that was is imminent and not election which ultimately should be a peaceful exercise.
Joseph Ebitibi Kanjo is a journalist and affairs commentator
OPINION: ‘Alaafin’s Stool Is Not For Sale’
By Lasisi Olagunju
An oba is put on the throne to keep “the bush at bay.” Collectively and individually, the successful oba is praised as “so’gbó di’lé/sò’gbé dì’gboro/ oba a s’ààtàn d’ojà – the successful king is he who turns forest to home; the one who turns bush to town. Karin Barber’s ‘I Could Speak Until Tomorrow’ (published in 1991) is my book of reference here. An oba that would turn his town’s rubbish heap into a market would not be deficient in legitimacy; he would not owe his ascension to the throne solely to money and its filthy influence. A king whose reign would be well would come courtesy of the blessing of God and man. In the past, “nobody could be a good oba unless he had a very broad-based support in the town” (Ulli Beier). But royalty in Yorubaland today suffers the violence of money; money is the principal speaker that speaks and gets listened to. It is our parliament and our executive; it is the judiciary. It is true that a palace needs money to breathe; it is a necessity, but it should not be the reason for a king and his super elector.
At a project inauguration event in Iseyin, Oyo State, on Friday, the state governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, announced that the vacant throne of the Alaafin of Oyo would not be allowed sold to the highest bidder. “Those of you fighting over Alaafin of Oyo’s stool should stop. Those who have collected money from people should know that Alaafin’s stool is not for sale. The stool is very important to Yoruba land; we will not allow it sold to the highest bidder.” That was quite cool, pleasing and reassuring. The governor spoke as an authentic Yoruba patriot who understands the place of the oba as the ori (head) and what it does in the life of the Yoruba society.
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One of the most difficult moments for a governor in Yorubaland is when a prominent oba’s stool falls vacant. The skies, at that moment, wear an incandescent shroud of lightning, thunder claps and storms of intrigues. Dr Omololu Olunloyo was Western State’s commissioner in charge of chieftaincy affairs when the last Alaafin was chosen in 1970. He tells dusky stories of what went into that decision. When a first class king dies and the governor allows the lowering of his guard, his face will suffer the ugliness of pimples. Where the soil is fertile, kingmakers sell thrones for princely sums and princes of means buy stools. Shortly after the immediate past Timi of Ede, Oba Tijani Oyewusi Agbonran II, joined his ancestors in August 2007, the then Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, asked the most senior kingmaker in that town which royal house’s turn it was to present the next oba. “It is everyone’s turn” was the answer the governor got. It cannot be every prince’s turn, the governor countered the kingmaker, asking him if what he was saying was that the family of the one who just died could also present a candidate. And the kingmaker replied the governor: “Ṣebí oyè bàbá won ni” (Why not? It is their father’s chieftaincy). That final answer was a code (or a red flag) for rent seeking and rent collection – a recipe for interminable litigious crisis. The governor understood what was not said, and, I am aware, he quickly closed all roads to trouble.
Sometimes, it is the princes and their houses who run after kingmakers and assail them with irresistible cash. Throne purchasers pursue chiefs up the hill and down the valley. The same happens to key people around the approving authority, the governor. Even small me, as the governor’s spokesman, I received august visitors from the town of Ede who said they came to thank me. Thank me for what? They said I issued a statement in which I promised that government would “follow due process in filling the stool” and because of that they brought gifts. Where I come from, a child’s most precious possessions are his mother’s and father’s prayers. I got plenty of such prayers against missteps before I became an orphan, and I pray daily for those parental fortifications to dictate what I do, what I say, what I eat. My elderly guests said they brought kola nuts for me; I told them I inherited hectares of kola nut farms from my father but I don’t eat kola nuts. They fixed their gaze on me; I also looked at my ‘appreciative’ throne-seeking visitors and smiled. I showered them with rejective thanks. They left with their kola nuts in their pocket.
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Who or what should choose the next Alaafin? The answer is in tradition and religion, encased carefully in lore and anecdotes. Priest and professor of Ifa religion and a former vice chancellor of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife, Professor Wande Abimbola, offered an insight in November 2022 in an interview published by the newspaper I edit. He told this story: “In ancient times, there was a vacancy in the stool of the Alaafin. In those days, Ifá would choose from among the princes. So they had the list of all the princes; they presented all to Ifá and Ifá rejected all of them. After exhausting the names of all the princes, the kingmakers were worried about what to do next. One of them said: ‘there is one person who lives in a village far away. He carries his load of firewood to the town once a week. He goes to the bush, cuts firewood, takes it to the town every week to sell. After selling, he would go back to the village. His name is Otonporo. Why don’t we try him?’ So they consulted Ifá if Otonporo would be fit for the throne, and if the Oyo Empire would be prosperous under his reign. Ifá said yes. At that time if Ifá had chosen you as the new Alaafin, the kingmakers would meet you in the house wherever you were. Otonporo had just put his heavy load of firewood on his head, coming to the town. They met him as he was leaving his abode in the forest. They shouted: ‘Otonporo, da’gi nùn; ire ti dé’lé kokoko’ (meaning ‘Otonporo, throw away your firewood; great fortune is awaiting you in the city.’) Otonporo became Alaafin and ruled for a long time. He was a successful king….” None of the rich princes in the metropolis got the throne; it was one hewer of wood somewhere deep in the bush who got the crown – and brought peace and prosperity to Oyo and its people.
A good leader is to his people what a good child is to its parents. When a child takes the right steps, the mother sings delightsome tunes; when a child opens its arms, it delights its father (omo sí’sè o wù’yá/ omo sí’pá, omo wu baba). Every Yoruba person should be proud of Governor Makinde’s stance on the Alaafin stool. His vow that the stool won’t be sold to the highest bidder is good news. It means we won’t have an Alaafin that has no regard for etiquette and protocols; one who routinely violates values and would be beating up other obas in private and public places. When a government makes a vow to do good, the people would be assisting themselves by helping it to get the promise fulfilled. We should be interested in what is happening in Oyo town and what will happen to the stool there. We should particularly note the governor’s choice of words. What he said was not a guess-work; he was sure of what had happened and may still happen to the process. He hinted that some people had taken money to force an unworthy stuff into the vacant ààfin in Oyo. Who took money and who gave money?
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Things happen daily around us; only that we are too blind (or too drunk) to see them. But if the eyes are attentive enough, they should have no problem seeing through the dank alleys of nostrils. It is not as if the decay in our obaship system started today. Maggots and nestling peckers have, long before now, been gutting the Yoruba royalty. Pioneer arts, culture and tradition scholar, Ulli Beier, was here from 1950 through the ’70s. He observed the Yoruba society’s unique monarchy and its democratic mainframes. He noted that in the selection of an oba, every part of the community had a say in it. He added that the Yoruba held the belief that an oba that lacked broad-based support in the town could not be a good king. In exasperation, he lamented that “now, people more or less buy the office, or they are imposed by the government.” The German uttered those words decades ago. Ulli Beier said more about the journey with so much poignancy in this narration: “In the 1950s, I met a generation of oba like Timi Laoye of Ede, Oba Adenle of Osogbo, the Olokuku of Okuku (Oyinlola) and many more. They were Christians and they understood the changed political situation. They believed in education but they were also strongly committed to upholding the dignity of their office. They also understood the value and wisdom of ancient Yoruba traditions. They were an impressive group of men, of kings. They did not use their office to enrich themselves; and they were absolutely accessible to the people. Now, you have a generation of oba, many of them political appointees who have by-passed traditional election procedures in a shameless way. A surprisingly large number of these new oba have been accountants or big businessmen before ascending to the throne. Some see the office as a means of making money. Various governments keep them in tow by throwing a few contracts their way. You now have an oba who shamelessly asks: ‘where is my envelope?’ – a new euphemism for ‘haven’t you brought any money to give me?’ So, how is Yoruba society going to cope with such problems? Should this ancient institution be abolished? Can it be rejuvenated, and, in such a way that we can keep politics out of it? Can it still play a vital and positive part in contemporary and future Yoruba society? If not, can it be replaced by something else? And what will that ‘something else’ be? Who or what will give a sense of direction and cohesion to the Yoruba town?” (Ulli Beier in Conversations, 2012; page 84-85). Beier asked the right questions: in the face of this thing we called ‘democracy’, shouldn’t the institution of obaship be abolished? Or can it be saved with rejuvenation? How? Who will save it?
The kingmakers in the Otonporo case above had a choice: they could sell the Oyo throne and strut the metropolis in accursed beaded wealth. The priest too had a choice; he could collect money and pick a candidate his oracle did not command him to pick. But both sides did not take the route to personal and communal ruin. They knew that every bad behaviour had very bad consequences. A purchased throne, most times, results in having a bad oba. And, what is the effect of having a bad king? A bad king is exactly the public equivalent of a bad head. A town can survive lack of rains but no society survives the ravage of bad leadership. Leaders without legitimacy reverse gains no matter what riches they inherit – they make bush of their society and ruin their people’s good head. Look around you. It is real. I quote Karin Barber again: “…the ruins of abandoned houses overgrown with bush, the traces of whole ruined settlements, remain as a warning that at any time, the conquest of the bush can be reversed…” True. The quickest way to reverse “the conquest of the bush” is to invest the powers of the state in the wrong hands. Athens and Sparta were Ancient Greece’s powerhouses. They convulsed and lost their luster to bad choices. The frailty of the polis is a constant warning that we must never plant thorns and thistles where rose is desired. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi died in April 2022; he was a very successful king and a pride to the Yoruba, home and abroad. When he died, the question was: who steps into his shoes and when? That we are still asking that question in September 2023 is to our collective shame as a people.
Senator Adams Oshiomhole’s Grand Strategy For Edo’s Future
By Fortune Ehis
In the heart of Edo State’s political arena, a high-stakes chess game is unfolding, and former Governor Adams Oshiomhole is making his moves with precision. Oshiomhole, a key figure in Edo politics, has been drawing attention for his efforts to shape the state’s political landscape, particularly in the looming battle for the next governor.
At the center of this unfolding drama is the agitation by Edo Central for their shot at producing the next governor. Oshiomhole, known for his godfather role in Edo politics, previously played a hand in the election of Godwin Obaseki, a governor who he later had a falling out with. Now, he appears determined to renew his influence by imposing Dennis Idahosa, the member representing Ovia in the National Assembly, as the APC flag-bearer, and Victor Eboigbe, his in-law from Edo Central, as the running mate.
However, behind these apparent moves, Oshiomhole’s true intentions seem to lie in securing Edo North’s hold on the governorship once again. He is rumored to be favoring Clem Agba as the Edo North APC flag-bearer, with Valentine Imasuen as the running mate. This move puts him in direct contention with another key figure in Edo politics, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is also favored to fly the party’s flag.
One notable aspect of Oshiomhole’s strategy is his nomination of ministers from the state, which, critics argue, predominantly comes from his ethnic group, Etsako, without giving due consideration to other regions like Owan and Akoko-Edo in Edo North. This has sparked debates about equitable representation within the party.
Adding an intriguing twist to this political narrative is the emergence of Mary Alile, a relatively unknown figure in Edo politics. It is speculated that her husband may be tapped as Clem Agba’s running mate if Valentine Imasuen declines the offer. Mary Alile has been nominated as the National Women Leader, a position that can significantly impact the party’s dynamics.
As Edo State gears up for what promises to be a closely watched political showdown, Senator Adams Oshiomhole’s maneuvers have set the stage for a high-stakes battle for control and influence. Whether his efforts will ultimately scuttle the agitation by Edo Central or pave the way for a new chapter in the state’s political landscape remains to be seen. One thing is certain, though – Edo’s political future hangs in the balance, and Oshiomhole’s role in this unfolding drama will be closely scrutinized by all.
OPINION: The God That Cut Soap For Wizkid (1)
This is the citation of Èsù, the Yoruba god of protection, benevolence, chief enforcer and messenger between heaven and earth: Èsù Láàlú, ògiri òkò, onílé kángun kàgun ọ̀nà ọ̀run, jọ̀wọ́ má yọjú s’ọ́rọ̀mi. Èsù Lároóyè, afi àdá olójúméjì tọrọ epo lọ́wọ́ ẹní lépo! Èsù má se mí, ọmọ ẹlòmíì ni o se.
If I successfully translate this panegyric into English word for word, and Èsù, in gratitude, offers me his meal of boiled eggs, palm oil, bean cakes, pigeon and corn, placing it at the crossroads where three footpaths meet, I won’t dine with Èsù with the longest of spoons. It’s not that I’m afraid, it’s just that I’m watching my weight and height.
Translation: Èsù Láàlú, rock-solid, the owner of the ramshackle dwelling on the bumpy road to heaven, please, do not meddle in my affairs. Èsù Lároóyè uses a two-edged sword to beg for palm oil from the palm oil owner! Èsù, do not bewitch me, bewitch the child of someone else.
Courage can seize Èsù and make him command his disciples to fight for power, snatch, grab and run with it but inspiration falls like invisible dew on the insightful to birth breathtaking accomplishments.
Inspiration is a major step in the journey to discovery. Inspired in 1974 by the labyrinth that Ojúelégba, a Lagos district, was evolving into, Afrobeat superstar, Felá Aníkúlápó-Kútì, the Abàmì Èdá, reached for his saxophone, slung it over his shoulder and blew evergreen air into it, producing the album titled Confusion.
Forty years after Felá alluded to the higgledy-piggledy nature of Ojúelégba, popularly noted as the ‘paki’ end of the ‘buttie’ Surelere, Grammy award-winning superstar, Wizkid, sang Ojúelégba. Unlike Felá’s Confusion/Ojúelégba, which is a song of protest, Wizkid’s Ojúelégba is a song tracing his humble roots and the struggles of an emerging star.
In the beautiful song laid on melodious sound, Wizkid sings, “Ni Ojúelégba/They know my story/For Mo’Dogg Studio/I been hustle to work eeh/Ni Ojúelégba ooo/Me and Siddy/For Mo’Dogg Studio/We been hustle work eeh…”. He also hails the endless prayers of his mother, saying, “E kira fun mummy mi/ojojumo la n s’adura…”
Despite his ruthlessness, Èsù was lenient with Felá and had been lenient with Wizkid aka Weezy, together with millions of Nigerians, especially Lagosians, who have been distorting his name for ages.
Ẹlẹ́gbà is another name for Èsù, among the Yórùbá. Though ‘ojú’ popularly means the eye. It also means arena, spot or shrine – like ‘ojúde oba’ or ‘ojúbo’. So, ‘Ojú Ẹlẹ́gbà’ means the Shrine of Ẹlẹ́gbà. And not Ojú Elégba, which means the ‘Arena of the flogger or cane seller’.
While some Yórùbá dialects refer to God as Eledumare or Eledua, some others refer to the Supreme Being as Olodumare. It’s the same case when some Yórùbá dialects refer to Èsù as Ẹlẹ́gbẹ́ra, both Ẹlẹ́gbà and Ẹlẹ́gbẹ́ra mean ‘rescuer’. It’s the Yoruba Bible writers who erroneously named Satan Èsù because of his penchant for mischief. The Yoruba god, Èsù, isn’t the same as the biblical satan. Èsù, in the Yoruba pantheon, is not a fallen angel. He never rebelled.
Aside from Ojúelégba, which is widely mispronounced in Lagos, Agbó-ti-kú-yò, a community in Agege, is another place that’s commonly mispronounced. The correct and full pronunciation is Agbó-ti-èkú-yò. Èkú is the mask/clothing of the masquerader. Indigenous Agege residents are reputed for celebrating masquerade festivals with masquerade groves widespread in the community. So, Agbó-ti-èkú-yò means someone happy to wear the masquerade. The masquerade is the mask or clothing or èkú, and the wearer of the masquerade is the masquerader.
Also, the seat of power in Lagos State, commonly referred to as Aláúsá, is wrongly pronounced. The right pronunciation is Aláùsá, the place or owner of walnut – because the area was formerly a walnut plantation.
Though the mind is the incubator of inspiration, it’s not wrong to say that the eureka of inspiration can be shouted in the strangest of places. A few days ago, I was having a telephone chat with a former colleague and retired popular broadcaster of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Osogbo, Osun State, Folasade Odunlade, whom I’ve not seen in about a decade. “Tunde, Nigeria ma ti wa le gan,” she started in her unmistakable voice, going on to lament the level of insecurity nationwide. “Nowhere is safe o…,” she continued before she suddenly groaned in pain, “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Iya Yetunde! Ah…,” I was alarmed. I thought her house was under attack. “Sade! Sade! Sade! Ki lo n sele!? The phone went dead.
I continued to call until she picked up. “Kilo sele, Sade?” I asked. It’s mama Wizkid?” “Mama Wizkid?”, do you know her? “Yes, I do,” she responded. “I’ve seen the news of her death earlier in the day, I’m sorry. It’s good that she witnessed the stardom of her son,” I consoled.
Sade wailed, “Sometime ago, she was ill but she recovered after treatment abroad. Her death caught me totally unawares. Our paths crossed around 2001/2002 when she was working at the National Commission for Museums and Monuments office located inside the Ataoja Palace, Osogbo. I was working at the OSBC. She was a Christian, though her husband is a Muslim. I had a shop, SIMAK Frozen Turkey and Chicken, beside Olive Branches Schools, Oke-Fia, Osogbo; she lived with her uncle, Baba Senjobi, a hotelier, next to my shop.
“She was always going to Lagos every weekend because her husband and children were living in Lagos. We gisted almost every evening. She paid me visits at work while I paid her visits, too. In fact, she was the one who made me visit the Osun Osogbo Grove for the first time because I was initially afraid.”
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Sade said the mother of three girls and one boy (Wizkid/lastborn) later got a transfer back to Lagos and they lost contact afterwards.
She explained that after she retired from OSBC, she took up the job of Special Assistant to the then Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Lasun Yussuff, in 2015.
“Iya Yetunde linked up with me in June 2015 before I became an SA to the deputy speaker. I didn’t know her son was the world-famous Wizkid. She was the one always looking for me. She found me and we continued with our friendship. She told me her son bought a car for her and that she went to church with it, and it was stolen at the church. She didn’t disclose Wizkid’s name then. I just thought it was just any other vehicle. And she didn’t specify the type.
“It was later when I discovered that Wizkid is her son that I restricted her visits to me because I was afraid she might be kidnapped, but she was so free, unassuming and humble. One time, I imported a popular poundo yam brand. The consignment was huge and I couldn’t sell them off on my own; she would come in her brand new Landcruiser and pack the poundo yam from my Magodo residence to Oyingbo, to help me sell them to Iya Alimi and other traders. I would have been in deep financial trouble if she didn’t help me sell the poundo yam off, using her own contacts. If she had a party, she would send her driver to come pick me up, and we would go together,” she said.
To be continued.
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola
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