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The Land Of Shameless Leaders (III)



Tunde Odesola

Act 4: Scene I

Deities don’t read newspapers. Humans do. Orita Gbaemu is the crossroads in Osogbo where deities are appeased in August at the commencement rites of Osun Osogbo, the globally acclaimed riverine festival that uplifts culture and restores worshippers’ souls.

From time out of mind, the Ataoja, once in every August, sits in splendour under a royal canopy on Gbaemu Road to commune with the founding deities of Osogbo and herald the celebration of fecundity, purity, cleansing, protection and wellness in the land.

Orita Gbaemu isn’t only about annual deities, however. It’s also renowned as the newspaper distribution epicentre where people throng daily to read newspapers and aerate comments on topical issues. Ironically, at Orita Gbaemu, like in all newsstands nationwide, comments are free, facts are scanty.

Scene II

Today, PhD students – Kiko, Beki and Solo – are doing their individual fieldwork in Osogbo, Kano and Umuahia respectively.

At Orita Gbaemu, Kiko examines how everyday people view governance and political leadership. He sits in the crowd with a rolling tape recorder concealed in his breast pocket, listening to the drift of conversations as readers factionally engage in political whataboutism.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: The Land Of Shameless Leaders

Now, whataboutism is the knee-jerk jagbajantis common among poor members of the public who respond to truthful allegations against their political leaders or parties by alleging that the greater sins lie with the accusers.

Scene III

In Nigeria’s political whataboutism, very poor folks vigorously defend allegations against their political parties or leader(s) by bringing up counter allegations that don’t clear the air on the allegation levelled against their parties or leader(s). They’ll say, “Oh, you accuse Sai Baba of nepotism and incompetence, WHAT ABOUT the stealing-is-not-corruption mantra of the Badluck years and the holier-than-thou corruption of the Ebora era?”

For a once-in-four-years measly porridge, this is the whataboutism you’ll likely get upon raising questions on the disturbing funds found in the coffers of Mama Piss, which made her enter into plea bargaining: “Who’s a saint? Didn’t Mama Piss manage her matrimonial home more effectively than the beautiful hairdresser whose ceaseless domestic fights triggered guns on A-Sore-Rock. If you’re patient and have the stomach for political stupidity, you’ll hear: “The Bullion Vans of Bourdillon are not as sordid as the Article of Halliburton.” This is what you get when the masses, who should be grieving and protesting their futurelessness, hotly argue in defence of their candidates for the title of the Most Successful Thief after Saint Sanny Abutcher, Maradona and Ebora.

Act 5: Scene 1

In the Railway area of Umuahia popularly referred to as Isi Gate, hawkers run wildly after vehicles to sell their wares. At one of the newsstands, Solo is reading a copy of ‘Light’, a fearless newspaper that constructively criticises government policies. The cover headline reads, “Repeal ex-govs, speakers pension payment now – US advises.”

Reader 1: Wetin concern US with our country?

Reader 2: What rubbish are you saying? If you can collect millions of dollars in donations from the US, you must be ready to take advice on how the millions should be spent.

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Reader 3: The US should just leave our All-Pervasive-Congress-led government alone o. Did it advise the People-Dehumanising-Party when $2bn arms funds were being shared?
Solo continues to take notes.

Scene II

At the Galadima Road newspaper distribution centre in the commercially-busy Sabon Gari area of Kano, Beki mingles well with the crowd. She watches poor members of the public, who are adversely affected by government’s corruption and inaction, defend to the death insane government policies. She buys a copy of ‘The Truth’ newspaper, and sits down on a wooden bench provided by a vendor, who orders a free reader to get up for her.

A cover-page headline, “Two presidential jets go missing,” screams at Beki.

Reader 1: Irresponsible journalism! The jets aren’t missing. Both are in Dubai. One flew Baba’s daughter to Dubai while the other flew her pinhole camera there for her graduation photoshoot.

Reader II: What nonsense! At whose expense? Even the American president and his family pay from their personal purse when they embark on private trips.

Reader III: We’re not in America, we’re in paraDIES.

Scene III

The second lead story on the cover page catches Beki’s attention. It reads, “Anna-B bags degree in Wait-and-Get photography, paints Dubai red,”. From the illogical to the absurd, readers feast on the story, trading allegations for and against the vampires in government.

Soon, all hell broke loose with emotions boiling over and weapons and punches replacing speech. An hour later, the police, responding to a distress call, swoop on the scene, carting away edibles and arresting innocent traders.

Scene IV

Anna-B is having her graduation bash inside the $24,000 per-night Royal Suite of the 7-Star Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. Unmindful of political, religious and ethnic affinities, children of Nigeria’s Who-is-Who grace the occasion in luxury automobiles. The MC introduces the super-rich children as Anna-B welcomes them amid booming music and perfect lighting effects.

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Anna-B: Oh, you made it here? I thought you said you can’t make it?
Moh Article: You know the airways are closed due to the pandemic. Dad had to tell one of his pilots to fly me down here.

(She leads him to the table where the scions of Ebora, Jona, Aibibi, Abutcher, Bourdillon, Hell Roof, ROtM, Weak-A, Oshy, Abbey, Ebory, Mack, etc are feasting)

MC: Make some noise for the son of 9ja’s articulate politician, Moh Article!

(The hall erupts in deafening noise)

MC: Hey y’all, listen to me real quick. I’ve the singular honour and pleasure to invite to the M-I-C, one of the land’s most gifted stand-up comedians, I-go-Faint!!!!

(The hall erupts in ecstasy)

I-go-Faint: Helloooooo sombory!!!!

Crowd: Hi, siiiiiir!!!!

I-go-Faint: 9ja no dey carry last! I’m so happy to be here tonight, I tell you. (He waits for the noise to abate)

I-go-Faint: Why una dey make noise like Magoo for custody? We funny die for 9ja: person wey dey detain people anyhow without bail dey cry for bail when dem detain am now.

(Audience bursts into laughter)

I-go-Faint: Where’s Hushpoopoo?

Audience: He dey jail!

I-go-Faint: I wish Hushpoopoo dey here make he come give una handouts to give to una fathers about how to electronically steal and transfer 9ja to white people so that dem go help develop our country quick-quick. Dis suffer too much.

(Audience screams in laughter)

I-go-Faint: This party shows the unity and love in our land. It’s the poor people on the streets, the uneducated and the unfortunate that are giving the country a bad name, portraying the country as terrorists and kidnappers’ enclave. 9ja na Turn-by-Turn Plc. You guys don dey take over from una parents. Una be the faces of Nigeria’s future presidents, governors, senators, ministers. Una fathers may quarrel occasionally, but dem dey settle their differences las-las. Why quarrel when resources plenty yanfu-yanfu to go round?

(Audience roars)

I-go-Faint: Una mothers no dey quarrel because enough time dey to gossip and enough funds dey to do manicure and pedicure abroad and also buy designers’ wears, pants, bras and bags.


I-go-Faint: Governor Pay-o-Lou do well in curbing COVID-19, but im state Assembly insist on physical sitting, a member don die now; what a great legislature led by a scandal-free Speaker!

Audience: Eko o ni baje!

I-go-Faint: Pandemic dey kill everyday but pastors and imams wan make dem open churches and mosques. Who go fight for the poor? Common man no fit think again because poverty don turn im head. Das why poor people still dey support una parents wey dey thief for government despite say na di stealing make dem life meaningless. I’ll be back after this musical interlude!

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(Climactic applause)

Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ softly overrides the applause.

Curtain falls.




OPINION: Should Elected Nigerian Leaders Undergo Psychiatric Tests?




Tunde Odesola

Guitar Boy, Sir Victor Uwaifo, is dead. But the ‘Mami Water’, which he saw at the Bar Beach and sang about in 1966 when he was just 25 years old, lives on. Today, the ‘Mami Water’ swam all the way up from the deep and boomed through a giant loudspeaker at the Ojota motorpark in Lagos, singing: “Guitar Boy/Guitar Boy/If you see mami Water o/If you see mami water o/Never, never you run away/Eh, eh/Never run away, Victor Uwaifo…” Even angels in heaven can’t resist dancing to the electrifying guitarwork of the song. 🎶Pin-pin/🎶dun-dun/🎶pin-pin/🎶dun-dun/🎶pin-pin/ 🎶dun-dun…Guitar Boy!…If you see mami water o…🎶.

A garage thug, Kilimanjaro, sings along with Uwaifo in a gruffy voice, cigarette smoke billowing down his nostrils like a fumes-belching locomotive driven by a grumpy engineman.

“That time wey Mami Water dey tell Victor Uwaifo make e no run, Nigeria never turn into jungle. Now, na Mami Water herself don dey run from Nigerians. If Mami Water and Papi Water show for Naija now, Nigerians go chop dem with dem bones and fins,” Kilimanjoro bellows, coughing big phlegm up his throat, “twah!” he spits it out. “E no go better for my enemies!”

Lepa Shandy, a busybody hawker in the park, moves from one vehicle to the other, selling a jambalaya of medicines. “If you no get wife, girlfriend or olosho, no buy dis medicine o. Make you no go tamper your landlord wife or daughter if you no wan live under bridge,” Lepa Shandy announces.

She brings out another medicine in a colourful pack. “Dis one name na Caterpillar! Make una lift una joyful faces up and behold this one-cure medicine, epa gbogbo ise. Na New Delhi in New York City dem make am. E dey cure hepatitis, glaucoma, leprosy, COVID and AIDS. Dis medicine no dey cure HIV o. Me, I go tell you di truth. Just drink am with rainwater or well water. Das all.”

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“Ehs! Ehs! Wos! Wobi!,” Kilimanjaro calls out to Lepa Shandy, “Shey you still get ‘Total Restoration’?”

“Ha, e don finish, people don rush am but I go get am next tomorrow. Na dollar cause di go-slow. How many packs you want?” “I want half dozen.” “OK, I go bring am next tomorrow.”

Lepa Shandy: “Shey, una dey see so, na my medicine those wey sabi dey ask for so o. ‘Total Restoration’ dey cure all types of worms, obesity, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, bone marrow, diarrhoea, diabetes, too much sweating, poor hearing, weak vision and fear.”

Kilimanjaro: Shey you hear say lion kill person for Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife?

Lepa Shandy: I hear di news o. Man and animal just dey vex for Nigeria. Suffering too much. No difference dey between the Ife lion and Nigerian leaders. Both no get mercy. Both wicked well well.

Kilimanjaro: Di lion for go Az-o-Roc, after e visit Az-o-Roc, make e enter legislature, judiciary and the ministries one by one. After Abuja, make e come dey enter states one by one?

Kilamanjaro: Ha! Dem go kill am!

Lepa Shandy: Kill wetin!? Na Layon I dey talk about o, no bi lion o. Layon na combination of lion and ‘anjonu’ spirit. Even bomb no fit kill Layon. You no sabi say black power dey?

Kilimanjaro: Look, me I believe in action. Make we all comot for street, block everywhere, no work, make everywhere standstill. Na di only language wey our leaders dey hear bi dat.

Lepa Shandy: You don forget wetin happen for Lekki Tollgate?

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Kilimanjaro: Dem stop Lekki riot because na only Lekki di riot take place. If to say other states of the federation join, government for negotiate nah. Government dey tighten poor masses belt, dem dey loose dem own belt. All dia pikin don turn billionaire finish. Poor man no fit chop one meal a day again. Wo, me I wan listen to the great national debate for radio, biko!

Lepa Shandy: Na wah o.

Kilimanjaro: After Buhari ride Nigerian donkey to coma, e kari half-dead donkey give im paddy, Tinubu, wey no fit complain publicly because dem bi Taiwo and Kehinde, different sides of di same coin.

Kilimanjaro: (Tuning the stereo in the road transport union office) When dem go begin di debate sef?

The secretary of the park, Acapela, tells Kilimanjaro to tune the stereo to Radio Enlightenment and Freedom 700.07 FM.

Kilimanjaro: Ha! Dem just dey start di debate. Rich man pikin school versus poor man pikin school. E go loud!

Debate Moderator: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the Great Debate! We have two schools slugging it out today. They’re Overlords Private College, Ikoyi, and Bondage Public School, Ajegunle. The topic of today’s debate is, ‘Should elected Nigerian leaders undergo psychiatric tests?’ Overlords Private College are saying NO to the topic while Bondage Public School are saying YES. The lead speaker of each school has five minutes to speak while the supporting speakers have three minutes each. I hereby welcome the lead speaker of Bondage Public School to the podium.

Bondage Lead Speaker: My name is Idris Ayomeye. I’m from Bondage Public School. I greet the distinguished chairman of this august occasion, the incorruptible panel of judges, the accurate timekeeper, my co-debaters and the esteemed audience.

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(The audience roars into applause)

Bondage Lead Speaker: I’m here to support the motion that Nigerian leaders should and must be subjected to psychiatric tests. Permit me, Mr Chairman, sir, to open my speech with these two Bible quotes: Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people”; and Romans 6:1: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin and expect grace to abound?” These Bible quotations sum up the story of Nigeria, a country, where wickedness and injustice rule. It’s a country where the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission prosecutes and secures the conviction of a Nollywood actor, Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, for ‘spraying’ the naira while the same EFCC looks the other way when Fuji musician, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde, and one undignifying monarch, the Olu of Owode, Oba Kolawole Sowemimo, engaged in criminal abuse of the naira. I must commend the Egba Traditional Council for suspending Sowemimo over his disgraceful act. He should be sent back to ipebi for proper tutoring. I don’t know how some characters become obas in Yoruba land.

(Deafening applause. Kilimanjaro, Acapela and many people listening to the debate in the garage jump up in jubilation)

Bondage Lead Speaker: Mr Chairman, sir, Nigeria is a country of promise-and-fail leaders. President Olusegun Obasanjo set up the Oputa panel to try the wrongs of the past, but General Badamosi Babangida, who was accused of many wrongdoings blatantly refused to show up, and nothing happened. Babangida never appeared in court despite incriminating allegations over the death of Dele Giwa. Those who killed MKO Abiola and his wife, Kudirat Abiola, are walking freely today. One of them, a Major, is even pontificating all over the country.

(Kilimanjaro grabs a chair, puts it on his head and dances, shouting, “More! More! More!)

Bondage Lead Speaker: The Presidency, police, ICPC, rights activists, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, etc see how people abuse the naira daily, yet they look away. Nigeria looks away as public hospitals have turned into morgues, public schools have become havens for hoodlums, roads have turned into deathtraps, electricity supply has turned to darkness supply! If a country can so brazenly exhibit injustice and brutality, tell me why its elected leaders shouldn’t undergo psychiatric tests. Please, tell me why.

(Shouts of ‘Tell them!’ ‘Tell them!’ Tell them! from the audience fill the hall)

Mr Chairman: (Hits his gavel on the table) Order! Order! Order! (The hall becomes less rambunctious)

Bondage Lead Speaker: (Wipes his face with a handkerchief and sips some water) General Muhammadu Buhari promised to jail the looters in the President Goodluck Jonathan administration. Who did he jail? Were we all not in this country when Patience Jonathan sought a plea bargain? Were we not all in this country when Buhari and his cabal brought in a fake airline as a national carrier, spending millions of dollars on the fake airline? Can someone tell me why our leaders shouldn’t be subjected to psychiatric evaluation? President Tinubu has been in the saddle for almost a year, chasing shadows, haunting the worst Central Bank Governor in the history of the country, Godwin Emefiele, but conspicuously leaving out Buhari, whose bidding Emefiele did. Can someone tell me why our…

Kilimanjaro: Ha!!! NEPA!!! Dem don cut light for studio o! Dem don become uncomfortable o. Haa! Naija and government magic…


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OPINION: The Ibadan Protest Against Hardship




By Suyi Ayodele

An Ibadan man accompanied his wife and daughter to the market in search of salt to add to their tasteless pot of soup. That was in March 1881, when the city was besieged by hunger and war. It was a season of famine. The man who accompanied his wife and daughter to the market lost one of them right there, he became ‘wifeless’. What happened? His wife was bartered away to an Egba man by his daughter for a measure of salt! Yes! The daughter exchanged her mother for salt! That was the terrible situation Ibadan was at that time. The economic strangulation of that period took away the most critical ingredient from the people’s table, salt. Ibadan people and those from the adjoining towns and villages prepared their meals without salt and ate what the Yoruba people call àté (tasteless meal). The situation arose because Ibadan was at war with so many of its neighbours such that there were economic blockades against the city. How was the matter resolved? The entire episode and what the Ibadan did can be found in The Rev. Samuel Johnson’s book: “The History of the Yorubas” (556-560).

Ibadan is not just the capital of Oyo State. In the Yoruba political and social configurations, Ibadan is much more than a mere capital of a state. There is something peculiar about the city. In elementary geography, we were taught that Ibadan is the largest city in the West African sub-region. Again, the city of Bashorun Oluyole is more than being the largest city in West Africa. Ibadan is the capital of the Yoruba race. It is a city that every Yoruba man or woman must pay attention to what is happening there. The people of the city salute themselves as “Ibadan Mesiogo.” The simple translation of that praise name is Ibadan people know the answer to every poser; and you cannot get the best of an argument with an Ibadan person. The city has a way of influencing what happens in other Yoruba towns and villages. It is a unique city, a pacesetter of sorts! The old Western Region always waited for Ibadan to act and the others would follow. If Ibadan boils, the entire Yoruba landscape boils. Check out the history of the city, there is no tribe or sub-ethnic group in Yorubaland that is not represented in Ibadan. As a result of the numerous wars and battles, the forebears of Ibadan had fought, won and lost, all tribes, as far as those from Benin Republic, Togo and others, have their kith and kins in Ibadan. It is a city nobody should toil with.

Before the debut of the present political dispensation, Ibadan played significant roles in bringing about democracy. During the era of the expired dark-goggled military tyrant, General Sani Abacha, Ibadan was the city which never allowed the perfidious two-million-man march for Abacha to transmute from a military dictator to a pseudo-civilian president to take place without consequences for the organisers of the shame called solidarity march. The city defends democracy. It also has the capacity to end democracy, when it veers into dictatorship. Ibadan, as the capital of the then Western Region was a study in democracy and fairness. It played that role adequately well in the First Republic. It was also from Ibadan that the beginning of the end of the First Republic started. A dynamic city, Ibadan never suffers fools gladly. When the First Republic was turning to a one-party state, with brazen political shenanigans being displayed arrogantly by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) government of the day at the centre, Ibadan responded appropriately. By the time the smoke of the operation wetie cleared, the First Republic was gone! The same feat was repeated in 1983, when the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) announced its “moon slide” victory at the state gubernatorial elections. The riots that broke out in Ibadan on August 13, 1993, over the governorship election in the old Oyo State (Oyo and Osun now), spread like a harmattan conflagration to the defunct Ondo State (now Ekiti and Ondo States). Barely four months later, the Second Republic died like its predecessor.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: What Is Killing Our Obas?

Yesterday, Monday, February 19, 2024, Ibadan was in the news again. Very early in the morning, residents of the city trooped out in their thousands in protest against the hardship in the land. It was a “peaceful” protest though; it was nevertheless a pregnant one. The protesters were out on the streets because of the rising cost of living and economic hardship Nigerians are subjected to in the last eight months. The Monday protest by Ibadan residents is significant, especially, to good students of history. Anytime residents of Ibadan are subjected to economic hardship that has the tendency to cut short their lives, they always rise to the occasion. They do this, when, for instance, essential commodities are going out of the reach of the people.

Nigeria is not at war at the moment, but Nigerians have started selling one another to cushion the effects of the present economic hardship. Just as the Ibadan young girl bartered her mother for a measure of salt, mothers have started selling their children to raise money to buy food so as to take care of the remaining children! We are in terrible times. Things are not adding up again. Prices of essential food items have gone out of the reach of the poor. Even the rich are gradually feeling the heat. The tension in the land is palpable. Nigeria is at its combustive end. Nigerians now eat to be alive, and not to be filled and satisfied. Prices of goods, especially food items, are as unpredictable as the weather. The price of a measurement of beans in the morning is no longer the same price in the evening in the same market and by the same seller! The real tough times are here. The pains and agony in the land are real and menacing. A friend said, “The traders are mean and exploitative.” He had more to say: “What has exchange rate got to do with the prices of gaari and plantain?” He asked. I responded by asking what the gaari seller would do anytime she needed to buy a Milo beverage for her child and discovered that the price had tripled from what she paid the last time. This is elementary Economics. The gaari seller is merely reacting to the pull of market prices. She needs to make profit to be able to buy other items that her household needs for survival. For instance, if the plantain seller has an on-going building project, and he bought a bag of cement at N5,800 mid-January, with the same bag of cement going for N10,000 now, he would probably not sell a bunch of plantain for the same N3,00 he sold it in January. This is why the idea that the government would try to control the prices of food items is laughable. It shows that we have complete novices at the helms of our economic policies. How on earth do you control the prices of what is not yours? Same way the decision to break into storehouses of some businesses, or to seal up some stores as done to Sahad Stores, Abuja, by the Federal Consumer Competition and Protection Commission (FCCPC), remains base. It is a confirmation of the height of cluelessness of those in government at the moment. If you release all the items in all stores and silos in Nigeria today, how long will they last? When they are exhausted, what follows?

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Emir Of Kano’s ‘Insult’ To Tinubu

Truth be told, this government is like the typical hawk that thinks the man below doesn’t see it. Who in Nigeria does not know that this regime is a heavily transactional administration? Who is not aware that while the poor people are struggling to make ends meet, our new husbands are living in obscene luxury? When you run an absolute transactional government with the meanest of personnel superintending over the golden departments of the State, you cannot but have a catastrophe of the present magnitude. The rate at which Nigerians are being impoverished on hourly basis by this administration, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu may go down in history as the most unfeeling president ever in the history of the country. That, itself, is as sad as it is ungodly! Nigerians are no fools. I hope the government knows that. They can make comparisons. Nigerians knew that the administration of the People’s Democratic Government (PDP) was bad for them. That was why they voted the party out of power in 2015, after 16 years, and replaced it with the present All Progressives Congress (APC) regime. The people also know that life was much better under the PDP than they have now. Worse still, Nigerians can also see that there seems to be no difference between the eight years of General Muhammadu Buhari’s absent leadership and the eight months of President Tinubu’s bizarre leadership with oddball economic policies! This is becoming too much of a disaster for the people!

This is why I became agitated when the news flashed that Ibadan residents had joined the fray. Penultimate week, it was in Niger State that women trooped out in protest. Last week, Ota people in Ogun State were also on the streets. I saw the video of the protest. I asked myself what the government was doing to arrest the situation. Midway into this piece, a senior colleague sent yet another disturbing news about the protest that broke out in Otukpo, Benue State, over the high cost of tuition fees at the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo (FUSHO). In Ibadan, the protesters were more direct. One of the placards they carried had the inscription: “Tinubu gooooo”. Some others read: “End food hike and inflation”; “Tinubu don’t forget your promises”; “Give us good health facilities.” I pray President Tinubu will pay attention to these cries by the people. My wish is that the president acts and nips these pockets of protest in the bud lest other cities pick up the baton and what started as isolated protests become a coordinated and simultaneous venture across Nigeria. Ibadan has a way of enhancing democracy; same way it has the capacity of either resetting or unsettling demons and ‘democracy’.

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OPINION: Emir Of Kano’s ‘Insult’ To Tinubu




By Suyi Ayodele

The land of Samaria was once under intense hunger. There was hunger in the land, occasioned by a serious famine. The famine was caused by the siege laid on the city by another king, Beh-hadad, the king of Syria. The situation was such that cannibalism became the order of the day. Two women agreed to eat their sons. The first one, in her fidelity to the agreement, killed and boiled her son for supper. The duo ate the meal. When the time came for the second woman to also offer her son, she reneged. King Jehoram was passing by. He heard the wailing of the first mother and inquired what afflicted her. The woman narrated her sordid story. Of course, the king was troubled. He rented his clothes, and put on a sackcloth in mourning. He took a personal oath and promised to have the head of Elisha the prophet, blaming him and his prophesies for the trouble in the land. This account is rendered in 2 Kings: 6 25-31. Every bad leader blames someone else but himself, for the failure of his government. Something similar is already happening in Nigeria. Parents have started selling their children to buy food for others! Samaria is already here. Is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu aware?

In a situation akin to what my people call: omo ina laa ra si’na (you send the child of fire to fire), the Emir of kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, sent the First Lady, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, to her husband, President Tinubu. The emir told Mrs. Tinubu thus: “Tell your husband to address hunger and insecurity in Nigeria”. The emir admitted that the two issues of hunger and starvation “did not start with this government but the situation has become more alarming and needs urgent attention.” Again, the Kano foremost traditional ruler admitted that “although we have several means of communicating to the government on our needs and requests, but your way and means is the surest way to tell the president the actual happenings in the country.” Alhaji Bayero spoke through an interpreter to the wife of the president, who was in his domain to perform a formal duty. Check the emir’s background, you will find him a well lettered individual. But he chose to speak in Hausa to a non-Hausa-speaking guest. There are ways with emirs, when they address ‘aliens’. But I will not delve into that here.

It is rather unfortunate that the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, who lost his tongue for the complete eight ruinous year that the Bayyajida II, General Muhammadu Buhari, ruled this country would suddenly find his voice in the eight months of Tinubu’s administration. It is true that once one is down because of a big problem, the inconsequential ones would seize the opportunity to trample on one’s tummy, and the balls to toys. Where was the Emir of kano when Buhari brought this country to its knees? For eight solid years, where and when did Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero send any message of “urgent attention” to Buhari to address the insecurity and hunger in the land? Do we blame the emir, or the man, Tinubu, whose masquerade has refused to dance very well in the arena to give one courage to point out and say: “here comes my masquerade? One can only hope that Tinubu will understand that more insults would come his ways from very underserving quarters unless he sits up and act. If there are people in his government putting ‘sand in his gaari’, the president should get rid of them unless he is a ‘sand-sand’ man himself. Nigerians are tired of excuses. Tinubu is the one elected president and not all these guys that are running all over the place, doing nothing like Sisyphus in Hades. So much for emir Ado Bayero and his bad-belle message.

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Now, how does one defend president Tinubu in this matter? On what ground should one stand to say what the emir said was, and remains, unbecoming of a man of his stature, given the calamities that have been the lot of Nigerians in the last eight months. However, one must point out the anomalies in the emir of Kano’s message to Tinubu. Our elders say that only a madman will say this is where my brother was disgraced yesterday without doing anything about it. So, I will impose on myself, and briefly too, the role of a devil’s advocate, here, if only to set the record straight.

A lot has been written about the level of hunger in Nigeria today. The last eight months of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government have been horrible for Nigerians and Nigeria. The streets are not smiling. But our new husband, President Tinubu, is behaving like he doesn’t know our situation. Ikún, the deaf squirrel itself, ought to have heard the agony in the land by now; how much more the president. But, if President Tinubu has the tendency of the deaf, we as diviners also have the duty to repeat his divination several times (korokoro laa ró’fá adití). The messages from the divination boards are not good. They are very ominous. Hunger has joined our legion of afflictions. President Tinubu can no longer pretend not to know what is happening. And it doesn’t matter what his hangers-on are telling him. Nobody is happy in Nigeria anymore. That is the bitter truth. The lamentations from those who broke limbs and heads to put Tinubu in Aso Rock Villa are louder. They wail, nowadays, more than those of us they labelled ‘Tinubu’s enemies’. Like I told a very close friend; I have passed the stage of being labelled ‘Tinubu’s enemy’. Why should anyone befriend failure in the first instance? Who romances sheer ineptitude, if not a hypocrite?

Every king has an inner caucus he listens to at critical moments. I witnessed that several times when Kabiyesi Òjó Àmúpìtàn Olúyeyè Òjoyèbugiòtèwó (he who gets to the throne and uproots the tree of conspiracy), was the Onise of Odo Oro Ekiti; the oba of my town. Whenever there was a knotty issue, Kabiyesi would listen to all the people; he would allow them to talk. Then turning to his chiefs, he would ask (depending on the matter), a particular one among them this: “Ngbó Obadòfin, Kú a ti wí? (Listen Obadòfin, what do you say to this?). Once Kabiyesi asked any of his chiefs that question, the one so asked would know that the oba was looking for the truth and nothing less. And he got more than enough pieces of quality advice. Who is that inner man who can tell President Tinubu the whole truth and nothing but the truth about our condition? Who has that capacity? Who has the boldness, the courage and goodwill to tell the president that Nigerians are dying of hunger in instalments? Or, better still; do we ask, what truth does Tinubu tell himself when he is alone? I read a disturbing piece on Sunday. The author, Taiwo Adisa, Nigerian Tribune’s General Editor, wrote that some close associates of the president could no longer reach him to give him the feedback from the streets. Is that true? Is that why the president has been unfeeling in the past eight months? Who are the ones who see the president as they wish? What do those few privileged ones tell President Tinubu?

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I am not a prophet of doom. And I am not afraid to be labelled, also. Disaster looms at the rate we are going. Hunger is already in the land. Unfortunately, there is no market in Nigeria from Nasarawa to Ògún, Gombe to Anambra and everywhere else, where there are no foodstuffs on display. What is lacking is the purchasing power. The quality of our Naira has depreciated so much that a huge amount of money buys nothing from the market. A senior colleague buys a particular brand of milk regularly. He says it has a low cholesterol level. The last time I drove him to the store, a tin was sold for N650! He refused to buy it. I refused to persuade him to buy it. The following day, I asked him how he managed to have his cereal without the milk. He told me that he resorted to taking Cocoa beverages. What a life! That is the situation across the country. The Tinubu government responded by saying it would release millions of tonnes of grains to the market. I shook my head in pity. Is that the solution? When the stocks from the national silos are exhausted, what will the people resort to? Or, are the stocks from the exalted silos inexhaustible? Besides, how much will it cost a trader in New Benin Market to travel to the silos in Auchi to buy the grains and bring the same back to Benin to sell? In Benin City and adjourning towns and villages, a litre of fuel goes for an average of N660. Due to the bad roads between Benin and Auchi, commuters spend an average of seven hours for a journey of less than two hours before. They are at the same time at the mercy of kidnappers and other felons on the highway. So, Mr. President, if a trader succeeds in making the journey to Auchi and back to Benin after 14 hours, how much will she sell a mudu (measurement) of beans? This is the problem confronting the people all over.

I decided to write this piece at home yesterday. Staying at home afforded me the opportunity to know another level of suffering in the land. Intermittently, I heard people knocking at my gate. Each time I tried to check, I discovered they were people I had never seen in the neighbourhood before. They were carrying all manner of containers, looking for water. I realised that there are boreholes around but no water. Why? In the last one month, there has been no electricity supply in the neighbourhood. One of them told me that they were just approaching any home with overhead water tanks to ask if they could fetch water. I had no choice than to open the outside tap for them to fetch water. That would be at a huge cost of N660/litre fuel to pump the water. It then dawned on me why I saw some fellas who came to the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), secretariat with jerry cans in the booths of the cars to fetch water. The implication here is that once there is power failure and electricity is cut off, the people suffer. This is another area that this government should look into. It is not just about releasing the never-sufficient grains; it is also about providing the means of cooking the grains for the people – water, gas and the ingredients to make the meal palatable.

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I am worried for President Tinubu. I am worried that he is the one demystifying himself. Where are the attributes of his ‘Lagos Magic’? They told us he is the sole architect of modern Lagos. Where is the magic wand? In under eight months, everything has collapsed under the watch of the ‘chief strategist’ himself! They boasted that the president would come to government with the best of brains? The last of Thomas Erikson’s tetralogy is titled: “Surrounded by bad bosses and lazy employees”. The first chapter of the 2021 book has this sub-title: “Really Bad Leadership-and Its Appalling Consequences”. In it, the Swedish behavioural expert says: “Good leadership is dependent on the boss and the staff understanding the symbiosis they are working in and both parties realizing that they are dependent upon each other to get the system work”. He goes further: “…Every one of us, at some time or another, has had an incompetent boss and wondered why he or she doesn’t do their job better. Some bosses don’t exercise any leadership at all, which makes them unnecessary. And that raises the question: a boss who doesn’t actually lead – what’s the point? (Page 11). This is exactly the question Nigerians have been asking in the last eight months. Who is leading this government – the same super magician we were sold in February 2023? Nigerians have also been asking: where are the technocrats, the best brains they told us were coming? Who in this government can match our Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? Who among the Tinubu boys is in the same league with Oby Ezekwesili? Who among the present lot can compete with Akinwumi Adesina, Frank Iweke Jnr. and the powerful host of technocrats that were in the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s governments that these present lords termed ‘clueless’ and accused of ruining the nation? What sort of leadership is Tinubu providing? My people said when the lead giant ant misses the road, its followers become a flock without a shepherd. What exactly is the economic drift of this administration? What is its focus? And how long does the government think the people will endure its voodoo monetary policy of “ways and means”, which, in street parlance, is printing of money to pay federal government workers’ salaries every month, before something would snap?

“Is Hangry Real? The Connection Between Anger and Hunger (Why Hunger Sometimes Erupts as Anger)”, is a June 24, 2023 publication in the “Verywellhealth” platform, written by one of their contributing writers, Mark Gurarie. In the piece, the author says: “To feel hangry is to feel anger and irritability due to having an empty stomach. Though it emerged as a pop-culture term, ” being hangry” is real. Researchers have linked feelings of irritability and anger to low levels of blood sugar and the hormones released as a result.” Underneath the piece is this piece that elaborates on the risks of hunger by asking the hypothetical question: “Can hunger cause anger?”, which it answers thus: “A study says there may be risks. The data showed hunger was associated with 37% of changes in irritability, 34% in anger and 38% in pleasure, which suggested the emotions were caused by fluctuations in hunger. “Hangry” here, is a neologism, a combination of hungry and angry. It is defined as “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2018). Experts in the field assert that being hungry can make one to be “irritable”. Our streets are filled with countless people with irritable behaviours. They have started acting in groups. That accounts for last week’s protest across some cities of the country. Banning the movement of food items from one state to another, or from one region to another, is not the solution. Every state or region has its own advantage and no part of the country can hold the other to ransom over food supply anymore. If the situation is not immediately addressed by the government, it will snowball into something unpalatable. We can no longer pretend that all is well with us as a people. If nobody wants to tell the president this, let us on this page tell him: Mr. President, Nigerians are hangry.

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