(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, October 19, 2020)
When #ENDSARS protesters upended one of the czars of Nigeria’s 36 states, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in Lagos and he fled in surrender to Aso Rock last week, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) burst into laughter.
Buhari’s laughter wasn’t hearty. It was dry and mirthless, whizzing like a horsewhip on bare skin in harmattan. The laughter echoes the snapping of the windpipe when the tiger buries its yellow fangs in the back of the antelope’s neck, eyes glazed.
To many, Buhari’s laughter, sardonically, betrays the ultimate insincerity of Aso Rock about solving Nigeria’s problems. To some others, the unsaid words behind the laughter was, “See how dis small boy governor dey shake like leaf because of common protest. Kai, he don see fire!” In truth, I agree that Sanwo-Olu is a small boy in comparison to General Buhari.
Agitated, small boy Sanwo-Olu, who has been sacked since about two weeks ago from the Governor’s Office, Alausa, by youths protesting non-stop police killings, brutality and extortion nationwide, was seen in a viral video eagerly explaining to Buhari what Lagos State has done about the requests of the youth protesters.
Wearing a face mask and clenching a big brown envelope containing the demands of the protesters, Sanwo-Olu gesticulated and physically presented his envelope to Buhari, who has formed a habit of receiving guests without wearing a face mask, unguardedly sending a signal to the citizenry that foolhardy defiance is a protection against the coronavirus.
Talking with the haste of a pilot whose plane is in distress, Sanwo-Olu told Buhari, “They (protesters) said we should release all the protesters, we’ve released them, they said we should set up a trust fund to pay compensation to the families of the ones that have died, I’ve set up my own trust fund. Today, I’ve announced it.”
Then Buhari laughed.
If Sanwo-Olu was shocked about the graceless laughter, he never showed it. He continued, “The third one, they said that we should set up some inquiry for the persons that are bitter…(Buhari interrupts, saying: “Yeah, I said that. I said that in response.”)
Sanwo-Olu continued, “So, tomorrow, the IGP is coming to the Governors Forum, he’s going to ask each of us to set up a four-man or five-man team. And the final one is, they said we should increase the salary of the police. The IGP said he was working on that. And (the) IGP said he’s going to be working to take some of them through some psychosocial treatments. Some, they’re going to go to the Force hospitals, they’re going to clean them up and check them. The ones that can still be absorbed, they will. So, everything is working but I just want to present this formally. (He hands over the envelope to Buhari). Thank you, sir.”
For mocking, instead of mourning those who have died, many Nigerians have called the President uncharitable names. But as annoying as the President’s inappropriate laughter was, I sincerely plead for forgiveness on his behalf. I plead for forgiveness for Buhari because I know that the sweat of the dog is masked by its fur just as our President’s sweat is masked by the splendour of Aso Rock.
As desirable as laughter is, it’s open to ambiguity, I need say. A laughter can be joyous or sorrowful or empty. If I was Buhari, my line of defence against wailers would be that my laughter during Sanwo-Olu’s presentation was sorrowful. I would remind them of the Yoruba proverb, “Oro buruku tohun terin,” which says misfortune walks side by side with laughter.
To those who seek to know whether the President would have laughed if any of his children was killed while protesting for a better Nigeria, I will say: Major General Buhari’s children are obedient, hard working ladies and gentlemen, too busy to lazy about on highways smoking, eating, drinking and singing. And why would Buhari’s children march on the streets to seek a better country when there’s nothing wrong in the Nigeria that fuels the presidential jets that keep them in the air and the limousines that convey them on land?
Buhari’s sweat or laughter, if you like, is seen by many protesting Nigerians as the gerontocratic trait of a leader in need of urgent retirement away from the rigours of critical thinking and the energy-sapping demands of nation-building. A majority of the protesting youths believes that in thought, word and deed, Buhari has no purpose in governance because he’s not in tandem with modern-day democratic realities.
This is why Major General Buhari deserves our collective empathy because he’s at the end of his tether. I’m sure Buhari is shocked and can’t understand why for the first time in the nation’s history, hitherto docile Nigerian youths have suddenly found their voice and massively risen to confront their oppressors. I can hear Buhari asking, who’s funding these protesting youths? I can imagine the loss on his face when a security report shows that the youths’ call for real change is fuelled by the misrule of his government. I can see worry on the President’s face when told that the youth agitation is being powered on the social media. I can hear, ‘social media kwo? Is social media contesting in 2023?’
Buhari deserves pity because he can’t do more than laugh as the events of the past two weeks are totally beyond him. This is why it took earth-shaking nationwide protests for Buhari to know that Nigerians are being slaughtered by the members of a police force long overdue for reformation.
Or, doesn’t Buhari together with his ministers, legislators in shallow chambers, principalities residing in Government Houses nationwide, the Inspector General of Police, secretaries to federal and state governments etc know that the police are killing, raping, maiming and extorting innocent Nigerians before these protests? They all kept quiet because they don’t represent the people. They only represent their pockets.
While Buhari and Nigeria’s past generation of leaders shout, “Off the mike,” the fresh blood out on the streets of Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Osogbo, Ibadan, Owerri, shout, “Soro soke!” a synonym for, “Speak louder!” While Buhari, Goodluck Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo and their failed political leaderships are enmeshed in innumerable corruption allegations, the young generation of youths protesting on the streets demand openness, probity and equity.
Today, every Nigerian political office holder is afraid. They know the scales are falling off. Nigerian youths have torn the ‘lazy’ tag pinned on them by Buhari. They’ve also defied the notion that only money can mobilise the citizenry. For 60 years, the old order has failed the nation. A new order is rising. May it birth safely.
If the millions of jobs created by Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari administrations are true, no youth will be out on the streets today. If the thousands of hectares of farmlands they yearly vote billions of naira to cultivate are real, hungry youths won’t troop out to the streets for food at the protest grounds. If there was electricity in homes, some of the protesters would sit back at home to watch TV. If Buhari gave hope, the youths would cope.
Nigerians have perpetually listened to the broken record titled, “Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.” Today, I laugh to see these funny leaders running helter-skelter, negotiating the country’s peace. Well, Buhari should know that being out of power for 21 years can’t kill the lust for power in Nigeria’s military. Half a word is enough for the wise.
In captivity, when a tiger or lion tastes human blood, it’s killed instantly because the big cats will kill more people after tasting human blood, for human blood is tastier than other animals’ blood because of its saltiness.
Nigerian youths have tasted the power to change the ills of their society. I pray they never remain the same again.
God bless Nigerian youths.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Igboho writes President Buhari, by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, July 25, 2021)
Shugaban Nigeria, ya kwana uku.
Your Excellency, I do not seek to rouse the ghosts of the slain victims of Fulani Ghoulish Nomads (FGN). Before you hasten to add hate speech charge to the list of rootless allegations your rulership has levelled against me, let me quickly state, sir, that ghouls are not only located in northern Nigeria.
They’ve sprouted and taken over every inch of the land ruled by your underachieving regime, wearing the masks of terrorism, corruption, rape, banditry, ritualism and daily bloodshed – kicking Nigeria in the teeth – with no end in sight.
Aare Buhari, though the dead have long buried the dead, their ghosts won’t just rest in peace. So, the spirits of the dead continuously hover over the face of the waters, crying for justice and seeking repose, but getting neither from your bullying regime.
Before my letter reopens the bleeding wounds of the past, permit me to do a brief and formal introduction of myself, sir. My name is Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo. I’m a 48-year-old indigene of Igboho town in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State.
Your Excellency, if Oke-Ogun evokes some sense of utter disdain in you, I understand. It was Oke-Ogun that caused you to storm the Oyo State Governor’s Office, Ibadan, in October 2000, in company with some prominent Fulani leaders, on the allegation that some Yoruba farmers allegedly killed 68 Fulani herdsmen in a reprisal. Do you remember the incident, Baba Yusuf?
God bless his soul, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, the first executive Governor of Oyo State in the Fourth Republic, who hosted you and your aggrieved entourage from the Caliphate.
Before he spoke on the occasion, Lam, as the governor was popularly called, first called on the state Commissioner of Police, and the state Director, Department of State Services, both of whom told you to your face that the alleged death of 68 Fulani in the hands of Yoruba farmers was untrue.
Lam also called on his deputy, Chief Iyiola Oladokun, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Michael Koleoso, both indigenes of Oke-Ogun, and the chairman of one of Oke-Ogun LGs, Chief Ademola Alalade, to speak. They all told the truth which indicted the Fulani in Oke-Ogun as the killers of their Yoruba neighbours.
Your Excellency, when he spoke to round off the meeting, Lam advised the Arewa Consultative Forum to seek the unity and peace of Nigeria at all times.
Baba Buhari, though I never attended a university, I’m not an illiterate. I can read and I can write, despite starting out as motorcycle repairer. Through hard work, self-improvement coupled with my belief in Ifa, I’m today an employer of labour.
Shugaban Nigeria, just like you don’t write your speeches yourself, I didn’t write this letter myself, too. Baba Zahra, mi o gbo oyinbo nla nla, walahi! I don’t understand big big grammar. But I understand justice and truth. This is why the cause I champion, which is the emancipation of the Yoruba from daily killings, victimisation and repression, is being supported by true sons and daughters of Oduduwa. The support is what produced this letter, Your Excellency.
Baba o, I am citizen Igboho, a creation of the abject Nigerian leadership. Like millions of my ilk living in the nooks and crannies of the country, I’m a product of years of government neglect.
When your government kept silent as Fulani herdsmen butchered my people day and night, I embarked on the road called self-help and employed bravery, street wisdom and defiance to rescue my people.
This was after Dr Fatai Aborode, Europe returnee, was killed in his Igangan community of Oke-Ogun by suspected Fulani herdsmen when he complained that his 400-acre cashew farm was eaten up by Fulani cows.
President Buhari, though Aborode’s murder was one death too many, your regime kept silent and did absolutely nothing to assuage the killing or assure the people of Igangan of their safety. Also, popular herbal trado-medicine practitioner, Alhaji Fatai Yusuf, aka Oko Oloyun, had over a year ago been killed along the Igbo Ora-Eruwa Road in Ibarapa, among many other deaths. Ironically, sir, hundreds of captured Boko Haram terrorists were granted pardon and rehabilitated into the society, after alleged deradicalisation.
Baba Halima, I’m not a criminal. The pervading sense of hopelessness, injustice and insecurity in the South-West was why I went to Igangan and gave the Fulani therein an ultimatum to vacate the land.
Sir, do you know that long after my seven-day ultimatum, the Emir of Muri Empire in Taraba State, Alhaji Abass Tafida, has also given a 30-day ultimatum to Fulani bandits. But he hasn’t been declared wanted.
Your Excellency, as I said early on, I may not understand big big ‘turenchi’, but I can read and I can write.
I read on Sahara Reporters website that the emir didn’t only give a 30-day ultimatum for Fulani killer herdsmen occupying Taraba forests to vacate, he also said, “From now onwards, if anyone is kidnapped from this emirate, we will go into the bush and kill any Fulani man we see.”
General Buhari, if a Yoruba or Igbo monarch had said what Emir Tafida said, the fire emanating thereof from Aso Rock would’ve burnt the crown on the head of such a monarch into ashes. But because the emir is from the North, Aso Rock looked away like a corrupt invigilator who has been bribed by cheating students.
Baba Hadiza, what have I done wrong? I’m only fighting for my people, just like you took up the cause of your people and led a delegation to Lam in October 2000.
Oga Buhari, in 2019, you also led a delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York, where, in your own very words, you advocated ‘the rights of the Palestinian people to have their own country…and live in peace in their own land’.
Having said this to the ovation of the world in 2019, President Buhari, what is the justice in your rejection of the clamour for self-determination being championed by me and my fellow comrade, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, when southern lives are not worth a fart under your regime?
Baba Fatima, it’s natural if your health is diminished by old age, but I know your memory is still intact to remember that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2012, lamented that his government had been infiltrated by Boko Haram terrorists.
Ogagun Buhari, your own regime is no better. It’s even worse because whereas it was Jonathan’s government that was infiltrated then, it’s your cabinet that has been infiltrated by Islamic fundamentalism now.
A beloved member of your kitchen cabinet and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had, in a sermon years before he became minister, openly expressed views sympathetic to the notorious al-Qaeda group and Boko Haram, describing the slain al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, a worthy Muslim. Pantami also expressed happiness that infidels were being massacred.
Infidels in the eyes of the Pantamis peopling your cabinet would be no less than millions of Christians, traditional religionists and believers of other faiths in Nigeria. With such a minister in your cabinet, Mr President, what’s the guarantee that the war against terrorism isn’t a lip-service by your regime?
Only God know how many innocent Nigerians were killed by Islamic terrorists who took up arms against perceived infidels having been fired up by Pantami’s destructive sermons.
Instead of investigating Pantami to check if he had been truly deradicalised or not, the Presidency rose stoutly to his defence, and said the leopard has changed its spots.
I, Igboho, didn’t say one-hundredth of what Pantami said. Today, Pantami is a free man but I and the supporters of my cause are being hounded by your regime. Two members of my family were killed when DSS attacked my house. This nepotistic attitude is unbecoming of a father, mujin Aisha.
Your Excellency, I’ll close with the words of your forebear, Uthman Dan Fodio, “Conscience is an open…”
Thank you, sir.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
Opinion: Do not kill Kanu and Igboho, by Tunde Odesola
Reflections on the man Nnamdi Kanu, by Chimamamda Adichie
Yesterday I announced that I would unveil my thoughts regarding the IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. Several people reached out, advising me to be neutral and steer clear of political discourse. They meant well for a young female writer with a reputation to protect, an image to project, and the care not to cause offense. I almost yielded but changed my mind this morning.
The Igbos are the same people about whom I wrote my current published work, In Blood and War, a book set in the then troubled Biafra.
On principle, I consider it unethical to make money off retelling the struggle of this tribe, and in the same breath be silent about their same struggle.
It is beneath morality for a writer to choose to speak only when it favours him or her. To retreat to silence in order not to ‘taint’ reputation.
To speak on this particular issue, of the man called Nnamdi Kanu, does not tribalize me or my works of literature. Especially as this remains an age-long fear of most writers; the fear of offending, a fear of stepping on toes, of banishment by a displeased societal sect, and even possible ostracism.
I speak because the making of a villain or hero often depends on who tells the story. Representation matters, when perspective becomes the thin line between an activist or a terrorist.
WHO IS NNAMDI KANU?
Nnamdi Okwu Kanu is a Nigerian Biafra political activist, and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB.
In a move to create an independent state for the people of old Eastern Region of Nigeria through an independent referendum, Kanu founded IPOB in 2014.
He began his activism for the freedom of Biafra as director of Radio Biafra in 2009, and anchor of Biafra awareness under Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
NNAMDI on Referendum, and SECESSION
According to Article 2 of the nation’s constitution, Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’.
Our law does not recognise the right of a state to break away from the union. The only way to legally grant such an option is through an amendment to the law.
Hence, Nnamdi Kanu’s call for a referendum.
Same constitution only addresses two scenarios where a referendum is recognised – state boundary adjustment and the recall of a member of the National Assembly.
Headstrong on this path, Nnamdi Kanu ran into trouble with the Nigerian government and was first arraigned over allegations of terrorism, money laundering, treason, others, on October 14, 2015.
Later granted bail in 2017, he fled Nigeria in September after the military invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, in the southeast of Nigeria. A move that prompted the Nigerian government to secure a court order proscribing IPOB as a terrorist group.
Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts remained unknown until his recent arrest a few days ago. He and his co-defendant are currently facing treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. He also faces charges on unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society. The presiding judge adjourned the case to July 26, 2021.
Last week, while parceling one of my books to a buyer, a young boy of about 20 years old was making a call beside me.
At the end of his call, I understood four things:
1. He was negotiating to pay 200k to obtain a form that will identify him as a Niger Delta militant
2. This young man was not a militant
3. Incriminating himself and mortgaging his future through filling out such form would enable him get his share of the amnesty dished out by the Federal government monthly.
4. Our government negotiates with terrorists.
Since the arrest of the IPOB leader, my feed has been agog with posts casting aspersions on his person. Of which majority are made by Igbos, falling over themselves in a frenzy to denounce Nnamdi Kanu.
Meanwhile, a regular Hausa man is yet to put aside his Suya trade, cast on ashes and put on sackcloth, and then come on social media to endlessly bemoan the menance of Boko Haram in the country.
My ear still itches, awaiting the day a regular Yoruba man would take a chill off a peppery dish to criticize Obj. for not being the messiah we had hoped for. No, he is their brother. They must not speak bad of him.
Neither are the Ijaws pausing the oil bunkering trade in the rivers long enough to come online and rant about distancing themselves from militancy in the Niger Delta region.
I am yet to see any of these tribes measure the size of their phallus by how hard they throw their kinsman under the bus.
But not your average Igbo man.
No. Not the average Igbo man with itchy fingers, who masturbates off lambasting Nnamdi. The Igbo man must belong. He must trend. It is fashionable.
The Igbos are a bit too extra on this table.
GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY?
Still on the call for secession, on the 2nd of June 2021, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria made the below ‘heartwarming endearment’ to the Igbos on Twitter :
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The above threat from the house of the presidency stinks of beating a child and asking him not to cry.
No one in their right mind departs a good home, one that is working.
Shouldn’t the real question then be . . . why do these people so badly want to stay apart from the rest of the nation?
First demonize a people, call their outcry terrorism, then their injustice becomes acceptable, their oppression becomes deserving.
Guilty or not guilty?
Nnamdi’s methodology may be rad, but his intentions are understandable. And for that, I will not throw him under the bus. Unbridled passion, passion without diplomacy, is all I see.
In the words of Peter Tosh, everyone is crying out for peace and none for justice.
I ponder in idle musings:
Whether Nnamdi is a terrorist, depends on what you mean by a terrorist. Yesterday it was Sowore. Then the youths at the Lekki tollgate. Today Nnamdi. Or could it be that this country only understands you better when you act mad?
On nitty-gritty, we might have become a nation that picks and chooses the brand of terrorists deserving of amnesty. Perhaps the class with guns and doing the most harm are more deserving on the VIP list. That is the only way the massacre of the armless IPOB youths can make sense.
One day, in a saner clime abounding in freedom of speech, I will laud the beautiful corruption of a beloved country called Nigeria
Till then, we will watch the brave made into examples, and shiver at the spectacle, until fear seals our lips and sends us tumbling back into the tunnel of silence.
Kanu not in court, case adjourned till Oct 21
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