By Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, January 25, 2021)
Music blared. Joy floated. Naira rained. Feet trampled. This is the spectacle of Nigerian lavish parties called owambe, a short-lived rivulet of opulence flowing into the sea of poverty.
Despite the sacred warning that the love of money is the root of all evils, man loves money, still. Money has many monikers; here are a few of them.
Apekanuko bespeaks the high esteem money holds among the Yoruba.
Ego, the Igbo magic word for money, is the fuel of commerce. It is different from ego, the personality framework and double-edged sword of Sigmund Freud that can kill or save.
When you hear the Hausa say kudi, they refer not to the unsung martyr of Nigeria’s modern democracy, Kudirat Abiola. Kudi, in Hausa language, is the password for business, and the stimulant that pumps fists in the air and opens mouth in shouts of rankadede.
“You’re dead without money,” says the English novelist, James, who can Hardley Chase nothing but Beauties, Money and Wine while cruising a BMW.
While money is, unmistakably, the oxygen that invigorates the earth, innovation is the blood coursing through its arteries. So, if money is this intrinsic to man’s wellbeing, common sense suggests that it should be treated with decorum. But this isn’t always so.
Oftentimes, money loses its dignity especially at owambe parties after gallons of alcohol had surged down the gullets to sit in the wells of stomachs and fiddle with the senses.
In a matter of minutes, earnings, salaries, overdrafts, borrowings and savings sprayed by friends, colleagues and relatives cascade from celebrants’ foreheads to the floor in moments of self-delusion.
Consultant Psychiatrist, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Dr. Adeoye Oyewole, isn’t fooled by such make-belief opulence.
He said, “Spraying of money is purely a materialistic display of power over others. It’s an ego trip rather than a self-transcendent expression of self. You can’t discuss the issue without looking at the fact that our leaders, whether political, academic or business, are stuck at the lowest rung of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which reflects in the primitive display of money as an instrument of power and dominance.
“When folks are self-actualised and their society encourages it, altruistic use of money for charity and helping the underprivileged are the hallmarks. It’s a self problem. It’s not a decent practice but as society matures, the practice may stop.”
Looking at the issue through the prism of royalty, the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Adesimbo Kiladejo, a medical doctor, said, “Spraying of money was a practice that started out as a show of appreciation and honour. It’s historical in Yoruba land.” The first-class monarch, however, called on members of the public to display moderation while spending money at parties.
He added, “The spender and the celebrant are at risk of consequent attack by the men of the underworld. People should obey the Central Bank of Nigeria’s regulation outlawing the defacement of the naira.”
From a medical viewpoint, Oba Kiladejo urged Nigerians to desist from close contact at parties, stressing that coronavirus was real.
Giving a historic perspective to the discussion, a Professor of History, Osun State University, Siyan Oyeweso, traced the boom of mouth-gaping money spraying at parties to the 1970s when people danced to Juju music at grand parties.
Oyeweso, who is a Fellow of both the Historical Society of Nigeria and Nigerian Academy of Letters, however, condemned the practice, saying it negated the values of hard work, transparency, integrity and dignity of the Yoruba.
He added, “Fuji artistes later jumped on the bandwagon in the 1980s and the trend has grown by leaps and bounds till date. The practice is not good for the health of the society because it puts pressure on the younger generation, the future leaders, who engage in Yahoo-Yahoo, Yahoo-Plus etc to get rich at all cost. The millionaires of those days made their money through hard work, diligence and integrity. The youths of today want to get rich quick or die trying.”
An Assistant Professor of Culture History, University of Abuja, Ranti Ojo, recalled that to boost their ego or status in the society, kings and aristocrats of yore gave money and clothes out to praise singers. “However, things have changed and the practice has grossly been abused, hence it should be discouraged.
“There are many aspects of our culture that must be stopped, spraying money is one of them because it promotes insecurity, inequality and financial imbalances in the society. Culture should be dynamic. If you need to appreciate the singer or celebrant, it should be done secretly with all modesty,” Ojo said.
An Assistant Vice President of one of the five top banks in the US, Chief Azuka Aghenu, said it was unwise to fritter money that could be used productively. Aghenu, who is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, worked with the United Bank for Africa before leaving Nigeria for the US over 35 years ago.
He said, “I’ve seen Nigerians in Nigeria and Nigerians in the US take lines of credit to spray at parties. It’s crazy. Many of those who spray at parties have poverty-stricken family members; some of them haven’t paid their mortgages, house rents, children’s bills etc.”
But Soko music creator, Dayo Kujore, differed. The Juju music star said, “Yes, money spraying is part of our culture, it can’t be stopped. Ironically, spenders dancing on stage even spend more money on ladies than musicians. There was a socialite who spent N100,000 on every lady that was dancing on stage but spent N50,000 on the whole of the band.
“Many of the stage plays you see are discounted because some celebrants would come and begin to beg that they don’t have enough money.”
Yoruba’s most profound panegyric singer, Sulaimon Ayilara aka Ajobiewe, said giving money, clothes and shoes to musicians was the heritage of the Yoruba. The Ila Orangun-born artiste said, “There’s no way the musician would know that the person spending money on stage borrowed the money. And it would be insultive to publicly tell someone spraying you money to stop.”
But Ajobiewe explained that spraying money at parties while household bills were unpaid was foolishness.
Popular highlife star, Jesse King, said his brand of music doesn’t dwell on money spraying. The Buga singer, nevertheless, said moderation should temper the inherited practice. “Excessive spending is a personal issue. According to the Holy Bible, the spender should be careful not to make other people sin. We must also consider the mood of the country; a local government chairman, for instance, would be wrong to attend a party and spend lavishly when the road he took to the party was bumpy.
“People have the right to spend their money but we must be guided by the Omoluabi ethos,” he said.
Leader, Osun-famous Peace Band, Babatunde Taiwo aka Shalom, said the desire of every musician was to make money.
Shalom said, “Thugs, security operatives, the underprivileged, staff of event centres etc all wait for us at the end of each show. I have been sprayed a phone before. It depends on how the eulogy hits the spender. But I hate people trampling on money which is more prevalent among the Igbo.”
Missioner, The Companion, Imam Musa Beekolari, condemned wasteful spending at parties, citing the Holy Quran, Chapter 17: 26-27, which enjoins Muslims to give to the needy but likened the wasteful to brothers of the devils.
Founder, Ark of Life Charismatic Global Mission, Osogbo, Apostle Mark Babayomi, said money spraying had no biblical backing. He, nonetheless, explained that Abraham’s good deeds made God swear to a covenant.
The cleric, who called for moderation, said it was better to package a monetary gift and discretely hand it over to a celebrant rather than spraying.”
Culture is dynamic. I stand with Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho in the bid to change the culture of Fulani murderousness encouraged across Nigeria by the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led calamitous APC.
Facebook: @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
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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.
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