By Tunde Odesola
Ever since I was a kid, the printed word held an amazing fascination for me than both the television and the cinema. In the last three years, you can hardly catch me seated before the mega screen of the cinema or the screen of the television. This isn’t to say I’ve grown to dislike the TV or the cinema. Nor is it because I now love news, sports, geographic documentaries, comedy, crime investigation and music less than I used to. It’s because globalisation is pushing Man to the cul de sac of hurtful individualism. Gone are the days when family members sit together to enjoy soaps on TV or series on radio or blockbusters at the cinema – no thanks to the emergence of phones, tablets, iPads etc as purveyors of digital video and audio services from online retailers such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Roku etc.
These new mass media dominators are eclipsing traditional print and electronic media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio and outdoor advertising. Today, there’s no radio station in the world I can’t access on my phone in real time. Today, my phone not only serves as a tool for wellness, calling, texting, buying and selling, travelling, research etc, I also have the full complement of all the stations on Xfinity live on it, availing me the opportunity of watching live football games, among many other amazing programmes.
Last week, I was browsing in the social media sea of my weather-beaten phone when a video sailed in onboard the ship called WhatsApp. Though the video wasn’t a documentary by National Geo Wild, it was, nonetheless, from the animal kingdom. In the video, a huge dinosaur was seen before a mirror in a cozy apartment. Dinosaur is a big word, you know. But most great things come in small packs. Because of my love for the printed word and for simplicity, I looked up the word ‘dinosaur’ in the dictionary to see if it has a short form and ‘dino’ popped up. Wow! So, the word ‘dino’ is the short form of dinosaur, I thought to myself as I suppressed a burst of laughter.
The dino in the luxurious apartment that looked like a hotel must have strayed in from the wild because it was clearly a misfit in the habitat. Strangely, when it opened its mouth, it began to sing like a human being. This stupid dino must have been overawed by mistakenly finding itself in a human environment and couldn’t help exhibiting the animalistic traits in it. With crooked fingers, the dino tried futilely to video itself in its new-found human environment, using a phone. It attempted to focus the camera of the phone it was holding on itself in a bid to show its face to the human world. But its wish won’t just materialise; the camera won’t lighten up the face of the animal. The pudgy fingers failed to capture the monster’s face on the phone’s camera. Or maybe the camera sensed rightly that the hand holding it was a beast’s, not a human’s – hence, in protest, it blurred the face of the dino into an evil mask unworthy to be shown to humanity. The animal also sang a song of sorrow in the background.
That was when I remembered the late Fuji maestro, Chief Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, in his 1981 evergreen album, ‘Suuru Baba Iwa’, which contains the classic song about the gorilla that wanted to become a human being. In Barrister’s tale, the gorilla failed to remain in isolation for seven days as God instructed it, jumping out to celebrate anticipatory victory on the sixth day of a seven-day miracle. Just like the gorilla in Barrister’s song failed to become a human being as a result of impatience, the dino in the WhatApp video fell short of exhibiting humanistic ideals because of insane greed as captured in the brainless song of lamentation that it sang.
This is the Yoruba song the dino broke into, “Bami gbe o (4x)/Bukata mi, enu mi ti fe, bami gbe(2x)” Translation: “Help me bear them (4x)/My financial commitments are enormous, help me bear them (2x).”
For believers in Darwin’s theory of evolution, the video could earn them bragging rights because it showed the dino replicating human’s manipulative trait. After the first few lines of its supplication to God for assistance in its financial obligations, the dino, in subsequent lines, revealed the real intention why it shot the video – to bask in the opulence of ill-gotten wealth. Knowing full well that children resonate with the masses, the dinosaur cleverly began by begging God for assistance in the payment of its children’s school fees and the payment of its staff salaries. Then it went ahead to the raison d’etre of the video, listing its houses in Dubai, USA and London as some of the financial obligations God should help it bear.
The madness is surely not in its early stages, it seems advanced. The madness gripped the dino by the scruff, seized its soul as it listed the cars in its garage to include Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, begging God to sustain its ostentatious and greedy lifestyle. As the foolish dino was singing about its perishable earthly possessions, it simultaneously showed off the apartment’s elegant interior, videoing the mirror, kitchen, television, trash can, carpet, chairs, lamps, stools, table, drinks, curtains, ashtrays, neighbourhood etc.
How much low can it sink? To think that this dino has no record of inheritance or industry to justify its profligate status highlights the degeneration in the zoo called Najria. To think that this dino was only a fledgling a few years ago and now shamelessly flaunts thousands of hectares of grassland with edible fruits, nuts, vegetables and game for gluttonous consumption show that some animals are shameless thieves, and this fact tears the heart asunder. To think that the dinosaur, who later became one of the leaders in the animal farm, could think and act worse than a maggot is quite disturbing.
I wish human beings can seize this dino and drag it to the psychiatrist for a comprehensive mental evaluation because it needs help urgently. Dinos are extinct creatures, we must keep this last dino alive to teach future generations our story of greed, stupidity, laziness, bigotry, gluttony, avarice, wickedness, deceit and corruption.
I just can’t stop pinching myself and asking, “How did this dino stray into humanity? How?”
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist and a columnist with Punch newspapers
Viral Disease Breaks Out In Ogun, Okada Riders, Scavengers Infected
There is a suspected outbreak of a viral disease identified as Gastroenteritis in some parts of Ogun, the State Government has said.
The disease which is also known as stomach flu broke out in Magboro, Ofada area of Obafemi-Owode Local Government, Ogun State.
The State Ministry of Health informed that the disease is spreading among okada riders and scavengers in the environment.
DAILY POST learnt that viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection marked by watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes fever.
The disease is usually caused by contact with an infected person or by ingesting contaminated food or water.
Healthy people who have the disease may recover without complications. However, medical practitioners say it could be “deadly” for infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems.
The Commissioner for Health, Tomi Coker, while confirming the outbreak of gastroenteritis in a statement, said the reported cases “were predominant among commercial motorcyclists and scavengers in the area.”
She explained that the index case was said to have recently returned from a trip outside Ogun and that she has been linked to the source of the outbreak.
The health commissioner said a public toilet was the channel of transmission, adding that the toilet has been sealed up for sanitation.
“The causative agent cannot be confirmed yet because appropriate sample could not be collected as there was no active case yet to commence antibiotics,” the Health Commissioner stated.
She disclosed that a number of people “are currently receiving treatment to control the number of casualties.”
The commissioner blamed an unregistered clinic being run by a quack as having contributed to the outbreak, regretting that cases were being managed unreported.
Meanwhile, Coker informed that the state government has set up a treatment centre at the Magboro-Akeran Health Centre, where curative items have been made available by the Department of Public Health.
Adjourning communities had been sensitised on what to do and where to seek care or report any suspicious cases, she said.
Opinion: The Reign Of Abba Kyari
By Tunde Odesola
So much dust has been raised since Abba Kyari bit the dust last Friday. When he walked the surface of the earth, the Chief of Staff to the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was omnipotent. He was a sociologist and a lawyer – two unique fields that expound theories and ideas in human behaviour and regulation. Kyari combined his learning with the abdication of powers by Buhari to emerge the most powerful CoS in the history of the country. James Arogbofa was the random CoS to President Goodluck Jonathan. He never had Jonathan in his pocket.
When Kyari coughed, service chiefs shivered. When he sneezed, the Office of the Vice-President got goose pimples. When he yawned, ministers clapped. When he spoke, his word came to pass. Even Aisha who belongs in the ‘kitchen and the other room’ failed woefully to turn Buhari against Kyari. She tried hard, but she failed. She employed emotion and the media, she failed. Kyari was Buhari and Buhari was Kyari. Mammam Daura, the unelected but all-powerful 80-year-old uncle of Buhari completes the comatose Fulani-Kanuri gerontocratic trinity at the apogee of Nigeria’s rulership.
Upon the death of Kyari, the land was expected to be soaked in tears. Grief and heartbreak ought to be enrobed in green and white sackcloths. Mourners should see one another in glistening tears streaming down sorrowful cheeks. Nigeria should quake in gloom. But none of these is happening; the land is not mourning Abba, the son of Kyari. The land only opened up and swallowed his body, never to be seen again.
FROM THE AUTHOR: Opinion:Soyinka’s Wisdom Cures Buhari’s Impotence
Haba! Since the bell tolled for Abba, the land is not soaked in tears. But the wind echoes drum beats of comeuppance and indifference. In countless communities across the land, fists punch the air. Flutes float on songs. Online and offline, many laugh and rejoice, happy that a calamity has befallen Aso Rock. They smack their lips and taunt Aso Rock to carry its pots of ashes alone. This is the tragedy of governance or misgovernance, if you like. Nigerians’ indifference to the death of Kyari is embedded in the distance between the Buhari regime and the Nigerian masses he swore to serve. The unmourning masses’ retaliatory apathy against Buhari and his hegemony is located in the numberless, undelivered electoral promises; the suffocating inaction and creepy-crawly corruption that have characterised the nepotistic administration.
I won’t mourn Abba Kyari. I won’t gloat over his death, either. For death is the iron curtain that falls with a finality before the actor on stage performs his finale. One day, some day, everyone is going to kick the bucket. It’s Kyari today, it could be me tomorrow or you, yes you, the reader, next week. Whenever I go to my grave, I look forward to being judged solely by the deeds of my hands. I don’t expect to gain eternity through unanswerable prayers by clerics for the repose of my soul. For it is appointed unto men to die once, after death – judgment. I know for a fact that no amount of eighth-day firdaus prayer or memorial commendation service will change a scarlet list of endless sins into a whiter-than-snow, paradise-deserving passage to eternity.
Tyrants, their cohorts and the ignorant will always say, “Shhh! Don’t talk ill of the dead!” Yet, they read history books stuffed with the villainies of Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Sani Abacha, Illiya Bisalla, Bukar Suka Dimka, Basorun Gaa, Efunsetan Aniwura, etc and talk about them. Are these villains still alive? These naysayers never stop to think that if God doesn’t want mankind to learn and talk about the dead, the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran won’t brim with the stories of tyrants.
True Christians pray daily to be like Jesus Christ, the son of God. The same way true Muslims seek to emulate the holy Prophet Muhammed (SAW). If Christianity, Islam, African religions, Buddhism etc preach afterlife punishment and reward, there’s nothing wrong in believers taking notes from the lives of departed men and women. It’s not being judgmental. It’s exploring God’s innate freewill deposited in Man. That’s why He created Man in His own image. Particularly, Jesus, in Matthew 10:34, says, “…you are gods!” Similarly, David says in Psalm 82:6, “You are gods, And all of you are the children of the Most High.”
FROM THE AUTHOR: Bishop Oyedepo, Enenche’s Unholy Example by Tunde Odesola
Kyari is dead. I’ll leave, entombed in peace with him, the legacy of his public service. The countless number of articles churned out in favour or disfavour of him since his passage amplifies Nigerians’ desire for good governance. It also shows Nigerians’ growing impatience to break away from the past stupidity of turning the other cheek and keeping silent in the face of poverty, diseases, hunger and government’s indolence. I’ll interrogate Kyari’s last five weeks on earth and attempt to show why Nigerians on the street fail to feel his demise.
Breaking the news of his coronavirus infection, Kyari told Nigerians that he had made his ‘own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so much pressure’. But Nigerians weren’t fooled. They knew that the decrepit nature of public hospitals informed Kyari’s preference for the much more efficient and costlier private hospital that he ostensibly checked into in Lagos. Public healthcare facilities treating COVID-19 patients, even now that the country’s cases are rising, are not burdened. Though sick, Kyari still engaged in the syllogism of his health.
Integrity embraces transparency. Corruption cuddles secrecy. From Europe to America to Canada, Australia and Asia, the world battles coronavirus with openness. The infection, treatment and healing of British Prime Boris Johnson; wife of Canadian PM, Gregoire Trudeau, and many global personalities were splashed online across the world. But the whereabouts and treatment of Kyari were kept away from Nigerians. The terse statement from the Presidency announcing his death was like a secret cult signal, giving no information about his age, his underlying illnesses, the hospital where he died and his family. If the Presidency says that Kyari had the right not to disclose his medical information, I’ll ask: why did he publicly disclose his infection and course of treatment?
Many Nigerians on social media hailed the coronavirus as a leveler. They said it was the first time privileged government officials couldn’t twitch their noses as they went through dingy Nigerian airports to hop on the next flight for medical treatment abroad. If governments had fixed facilities back home, the ridicule officials faced today wouldn’t have occurred. The situation got to a head for Aisha Buhari in 2017 when she lamented that the over N3.2bn budgetary allocation to Aso Rock Clinic in 2017 was money down the drain as the facility had no syringe. It’s to the eternal shame of the Buhari regime that there was no public hospital in the FCT that could treat Kyari. Medical tourism by government officials isn’t only a waste of public funds, it’s also a veritable avenue for corruption.
FROM THE AUTHOR: Buhari, Gbajabiamila And The Greedy Bats
Nigerians weren’t oblivious of the sheer hypocrisy in Kyari’s burial. Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, had earlier warned that the Federal Government won’t release the corpses of patients that died of COVID-19 pandemic to their families. But not only was Kyari’s corpse released for public burial, the number of the people at the burial was far more than the few people at the house party actress Funke Akindele threw for her husband. While Funke and her husband were convicted and the people that attended her bash underwent self-isolation, hundreds of potential vector-dignitaries that attended Kyari’s burial departed to mingle with the society.
Today, Nigerian masses are wiser, they’ve left eye-service mourning to politicians. To be mourned by the people, you must earn it. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Chief MKO Abiola, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, Fela Anikulapo, Sam Okwaraji, you all earned your mournings by the people. Rest in Peace.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, writer and a columnist with the Punch newspapers.
Opinion:Soyinka’s Wisdom Cures Buhari’s Impotence
Before 1975, the name ‘Gabber’ meant nothing to me. It was just any other nice-sounding monicker. But after I watched Sholay, India’s most successful movie in the last 50 years, at Rainbow Cinema, Mushin, Lagos, in the mid 70s, I began to hold the name in suspicion.
Gabber’s initials are GS. He’s the supervillain in the 1975 superhit movie which broke all records and ran for more than five years in Mumbai theatre. His surname is Singh. Gabber Singh is the ultimate, archetypal villain of the multi-billion dollar Indian film industry.
I was taken to the cinema by one of my uncles, boda Jide. Wow! I love the electronic darkness of the cinema. With its colorful, larger-than-life pictures, booming sound effects and fluorescent-white screen, the cinema holds a spelbound charm at all times.
Sholay’s storyline is simple but arresting. The bandit, Gabber Singh, kills the family of a retired police chief, Thakur Singh, who employs the services of two small-time thieves, Veeru and Jai, to help capture the criminal.
Clearly, I still can hear the bewitching Hemma Malini, (cast as Basanti), the commercial horse cart rider, singing and wriggling her beaded waist. I can see the tall and handsome Dharmendra (Veeru) and the sexy Amitabh Bachchan (Jai), riding their joint scooter in daredevilry, shooting their way out of harm. I can see the young Amjad Khan (Gabber Singh) smiling as he supervises the torture of Dharmendra, and the armless Sanjeev Kumar (Thakur), riding on the wave of vengeance. I can’t forget the song of avowed friendship between Dharmendra and Amitabh, Hum Nahi Todenge. Literature, good music, soap operas and movies were the hallmarks of my childhood.
FROM THE AUTHOR : Bishop Oyedepo, Enenche’s Unholy Example by Tunde Odesola
In today’s Nigeria, literature is coughing up blood, music is writhing in viral vulgarity; porn, violence and materialism reside in soap operas and movies while science and technology is the leper in a godforsaken colony called ignorance.
It’s not only Bollywood that has a cult figure with the GS initials. Nigeria’s political theatre, Aso Rock, also does. Aso Rock’s GS is the inimitable dramatis persona called Garba Shehu, who, years ago, rode hopefully towards Abuja in the convoy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s aspiring presidency, but changed seats after the BAT shrieked at midnight and swung the pendulum of power to Katsina.
While the supervillain Indian Gabber is a master who gives orders, the superhero Nigerian Garba is an obedient servant who takes orders from seen and unseen masters, and carries them out with the swiftness of a conscienceless sword.
When you’re spokesperson to a President without a school certificate, insult becomes a weapon against reason, coercion displaces the rule of law, sycophancy swallows merit and victimisation becomes a state art – all in the defence of presidential ineptitude, corruption, nepotism and ethnicity.
Like Gabber, Garba is fearless. He’s no respecter of age, intellect, dignity and civility whenever a voice of reason rises against his lean and incompetent master in Aso Rock. Garba threw decorum and honor out through the window last week when Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, called attention to the weak ex-soldier’s everlasting lethargy and unconstitutional action by single-handedly locking down Abuja, Lagos and Ogun over the coronavirus outbreak without the consent of the National Assembly.
Like Soyinka, several lawyers, including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, faulted Buhari’s overbearance, stressing that the husband of Aisha possesses no such powers to unilaterally close any state’s borders. But Garba chose not to contend the illegality of Buhari’s action with the lawyers because, unlike Soyinka, they didn’t beam a torch on the darkling failure that has enveloped Buhari from Nigerians. The poet-essayist-novelist wondered how Buhari, who had been on ‘AWOL’ (Absent Without Leave), suddenly woke up after a long siesta to start issuing orders, closing Abuja, Lagos and Ogun to movement for 14 days.
FROM THE AUTHOR: Buhari, Gbajabiamila And The Greedy Bats
If Soyinka had only criticised Buhari for the lockdown, Garba wouldn’t have been unleashed. Soyinka became Buhari’s object of attack because he (Soyinka) highlighted the pounding absenteeism that has become the cornerstone of the Buhari regime.
However, Garba neither deployed wisdom nor common sense in his attack on Soyinka, leaving discernible members of the public wondering how many certificates are missing in Aso Rock.
In a language decipherable to a primary school pupil, Soyinka, who didn’t criticise the global medical recommendation of lockdown, revealed that he himself was in self-isolation but he stressed that Buhari should simply have gotten the National Assembly to approve his lockdown wish, lest the country descends into illegality. The laureate even called on legal luminaries to help shed light on the legality or otherwise of Buhari’s action, warning that if left unchallenged, Buhari could wake up some other time, and declare a vindictive lockdown on any state – long after the COVID 19 pandemic had ended.
In his profoundly empty and unwise response, Garba steered the argument away from Buhari’s idleness and cow-in-a-china-shop meddlesomeness, which Soyinka raised, saying the playwright should write a fiction about coronavirus. In an infantile attempt to ridicule Soyinka and diminish his literary genius, Garba belched, “Professor Soyinka is not a medical professor… Across the world, mandated lockdowns are in place…Perhaps, Wole Soyinka may write a play on the coronavirus pandemic after this emergency is over.” It’s obvious that Garba is oblivious that all democratic countries, which effected lockdowns during the ongoing pandemic, first got the approval of their legislatures.
By trying to trivialise literature, Garba opened himself up to ridicule as a shallow image-maker, who is shockingly unaware that a captivating novelist, Dean Koontz, foretold the outbreak and deadliness of coronavirus more than 30 years ago. Medicine as an offshoot of science and technology is critical to human wellness just as literature as an offshoot of arts is the adhesive that prevents the world from falling off the map of human dignity – teaching language, culture and tradition. Unlike the misleading gospel of Garba, neither of science and technology, and arts is superior to the other. Probably, Garba is the type of parent that would force his child to study medicine when such a child has the talent to outwit Messi to the Ballon d’Or or outsing Cobhams Asuquo to the gong or beat Sanyeri to crowd applause.
FROM THE AUTHOR: The Crowning Of Shekau
Few days after Garba’s defence, Buhari, uncharastically saw sense in Soyinka’s wise counsel as he later sought and got the approval of the Senate for the closure of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun, putting a needle to the balloon of shame inflated by Garba. A report by Vanguard newspaper of April 4, 2020, confirms Buhari’s compliance with the rule of law. Hitherto Buhari’s capitulation, Garba and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had insisted that Buhari was right in his usurpation of the National Assembly’s powers. If the President was right, why get the approval of the N/A in the long run?
After Buhari trampled upon Nigeria’s constitution by sacking the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on December31, 1983, Generals Gbadamosi Babangida and Sani Abacha wouldn’t have had the guts to seize power in 1985 and 1993 respectively if Nigerians had resisted the criminality perpetrated by Buhari and his gang in 1983.
Expectedly, the impotence of the commander-in-chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces to check the growing dehumanisation and killing of innocent Nigerians, especially in the South, by Buhari’s zombie-soldiers failed to stir the milk of human kindness in Garba. Or has Garba not seen viral vdeos of bestial soldiers, mostly of northern extraction, ordering people to swim in sewage? If Nigerians had resisted soldier-police oppression since the 1970s – as advised by the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – the incessant killings we see today won’t occur.
This is the essence of Soyinka’s homily to Buhari. Political aides should help their principals see issues in true perspectives. This is a better way to earn a living rather than bark at imaginary shadows.
FROM THE AUTHOR: Borno Burns, Bayelsa Boils, Buhari Dey Kampe
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, a columnist with the Punch newspapers.
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