By Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, February 8, 2021)
Gangan is the hourglass-shaped talking drum covered by cowskin that talks in the voice of man. Unique, the gangan talking drum is Yoruba’s invaluable gift to the world.
Quite unlike countless artefacts stolen from Africa, and transported to Europe, America and beyond, I believe that the talking drum was left unstolen because the gangan can’t talk without the dexterity of the fingernails – a fact supported by the Yoruba proverb, ‘ati ranmu gangan, kii sehin ekanna’.
But dexterity, in the case of gangan, belonged to the black man. Probably frustrated by in-dexterity, the white man let the talking goatskin, the wooden hourglass and its strings be.
Two weeks ago, the gangan roared in Igangan town of Ibarapa in Oyo State. Just like in the days of yore when drummers accompanied warriors to the warfront, I heard the gangan clearly, saying, “Sunday Igboho npale ogun mo, orisa ma je o t’enu mi jade!” Meaning: “Sunday Igboho is preparing for war, may the gods forbid me saying so.”
About three weeks ago when I interviewed the Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land, Chief Sunday Adeyemo alias Sunday Igboho, he talked passionately about Yoruba culture and tradition.
Despite the mystique surrounding his persona, Igboho was respectful. Without knowing my age, he accorded me the honour due to an elder brother, using the English noun, ‘sir’, and the Yoruba pronoun, ‘e’, both of which confer seniority – while talking to me.
Our talk centered around whether or not African bulletproof aka ‘ayeta’ or ‘odeshi’ truly exists. Igboho insisted that ‘ayeta’ is real and vowed to stake his life and N10m against anyone who doesn’t believe that African bulletproof exists. He said, “I will stake N10m against the N10m of anyone who doesn’t believe African bulletproof exists. The person should bring his gun and shoot at me. I will win the bet.”
A few days after Igboho spoke to me about ‘ayeta’, he visited Igangan and stood in the gap for his embattled ethnic nationality, which has come under incessant murderous attacks by Fulani herdsmen while the Yoruba political leadership, with the exception of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, maintained criminal silence.
Shortly after the gangan thundered victoriously in Igangan, echoing the liberation of Oduduwa children from rape, kidnapping and killings by Fulani herdsmen, a dirge was heard at the Tinubu Square in Lagos.
Ogini? Kilode? Wetin happen? Who die? Media attention shifted swiftly to Tinubu Square, where a torn gangan was found in the possession of a footman singing the songs of sorrow and crying more than the bereaved.
What’s the mission of this flunkey? The manservant wanted to outshine his master and reap quick media traction from the emerging Igboho sensation but met his Waterloo in a classic comeuppance.
Blinded by ambition, the opportunistic, imprudent and chauvinistic fellow danced naked to some anti-FEMInist music at the popular OJODU bus stop near Berger, in Lagos, when a rickety okada crushed him for his blasPHEMY.
The Igboho I know is a commoner, who doesn’t have access to questionable public funds like Nigeria’s politicians in the federal executive council, state executive councils, federal and state legislatures, and local government councils.
The Igboho I know is a 48-year-old tribal-marked man who spoke the only language President Muhammadu Buhari understood – force – forcing the northern president to sack his redundant service chiefs after yearly strident calls for the removal of the underwhelming military chiefs by Nigerians fell on deaf ears.
Shamefully, in order for the removal of the service chiefs not to appear as forced by the Igboho enigma, Buhari rewarded the failed military chiefs with ambassadorial posts when they’ve not even turned in their letters of stewardship for assessment.
The cluelessness of the trivial Buhari administration is further highlighted by the three-month tenure extension of the IGP, Mohammed Adamu, on the premise that the President is searching for the right candidate. This is the most stupid excuse for dullness. I don’t know how Buhari would use just three months to search for Adamu’s successor when he couldn’t do so in the last two years Adamau has been in the saddle.
The Igboho I know is a tribal lord, just like Buhari, who told all other Nigerian ethnic nationalities to vacate their lands and water for his Fulani kinsmen to freely use for Ruga.
Sadly, it’s on record that no Fulani herdsman has been prosecuted and brought to justice by the Buhari presidency despite damning evidence of complicity.
In its characteristic knee-jerk approach to issues, security sources said the Presidency’s first reaction was to attempt to arrest Igboho, but was advised against such a move for fears that the tension already generated by Fulani killings nationwide could result in simultaneous protests that would be larger than the #Endsars riots.
The Sunday Igboho I know is far more compassionate and courageous than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, all Yoruba governors, except Akeredolu, all Yoruba leaders, ministers, senators, and House of Representative members who have kept quiet because they and their children are safe from killer Fulani herdsmen.
The sound emanating from the gangan being beaten by spineless and greedy Yoruba political leaders is clear. It says, “Bamu, bamu layo, awa o mo bi Fulani npa omo enikankan, bamu, bamu la yo.” Meaning, “We’re filled to the throat, we don’t know if Fulani kills anyone, we are filled to the throat.”
The same thing goes for 99.9% of Yoruba obas, whose member, the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Adegoke Adeusi, was killed by suspected Fulani kidnappers, but who didn’t speak against the killing. Well, if a foremost oba was killed and Yoruba obas kept quiet, won’t they go dancing shaku-shaku if sons and daughters of nobodies in their domains are killed or raped? Yet, this set of leaders clamour for constitutional empowerment.
Only the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, wrote an open letter to Buhari, warning of the tragic consequences of the actions of Fulani kidnappers, herdsmen, and the general insecurity in the land. A couple of other Yoruba monarchs may share Alaafin’s views, but they need to speak up against the killing and raping of their subjects.
The Igboho I know understands the language of the fascist Buhari regime. Force is the language. Former US President Donald Trump thought Nigeria was in a democracy when he asked Buhari why were Nigerian Christians being killed over an alleged Islamisation agenda.
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, General Olusegun Obasanjo, General TY Danjuma, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bishop David Oyedepo, emirs and numerous leaders of thought have warned Buhari that Nigeria is about to collapse, but the Katsina warlord will never listen because the only language he understands is force.
That Buhari’s next-of-kin presidency granted university licence to the General Sani Abacha family, last week, gives an idea of the depthless corruption subsuming the All Progressives Congress-led government.
If Abacha, Buhari’s benefactor, didn’t steal the country blind, maybe Nigeria would today have the capacity to store millions of COVID-19 vaccines about to be donated by western countries but which are at the risk of getting spoilt as a result of inadequate power supply.
Since I met Igboho at the Osun Peoples Democratic Party secretariat in the Dada Estate area of Osogbo in mid 2000, he has never changed from his down-to-earth nature. With what he did in Igangan, the puppy of Igboho is far better than the toothless and clawless lion of the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Gani Adams. I won’t gloat and beat my chest, saying I predicted the unfitness of Adams for the Kankafo post in 2017. The lesson I took away from Adam’s appointment was that to err is kingly, to forgive is divine.
My advice for the Igboho I know: You’ve blunted the sword of the Fulani with your palm, they’re coming from the highest places to demystify you. Be prepared, talk less, issue press statements. Nigerians are on your side, and they’re watching.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame by Tunde Odesola (2)
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 20, 2021)
With a tongue roughly twice the length of its body, and a brocade of dubious colours for skin, the chameleon is the ultimate invisible animal predator.
Without premonition, small creatures like worms and insects searching for daily bread disappear suddenly into the Bermuda Triangle in the belly of the dodgy chameleon via a sticky, snappy tongue.
Like worms and insects, in June 2021 alone, 1,032 Nigerians met sudden death in the hands of gunmen and kidnappers across the country, according to a fresh security report.
Approximately, the 1,032 casualty figure translates to 34.4 wasted lives per day, excluding deaths by sicknesses, auto accidents, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, etc in a peaceful country in pieces.
Home or abroad, the fate of the average Nigerian is mournful.
Home-based Nigerians are plagued by physical and psychological deaths just like Nigerians abroad are not spared psychological torture and humiliation in Nigerian embassies.
The overwhelming corruption yet pervading most Nigerian embassies despite numberless media reports in the last six years attests to the failure of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari led-regime in curbing dishonest dealings that have cemented the green passport in the hall of infamy.
Lamenting the nasty treatment she went through in the hands of officials at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK, a registered nurse, Kemi Samuel, who has lived in England for over three decades, said she suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whenever she visited the commission.
A registered nurse with more than 30 years under her belt, Samuel recalled that every Nigerian in England, notwithstanding their locations, was required to physically come to obtain visas, renew passports or get new ones.
Samuel explained that it was ridiculous that she renewed her 10-year British passport within two hours at Her Royal Majesty Passport Office, Globe House, London, while she laboured to renew her five-year Nigerian passport after visiting the high commission on seven different occasions.
She said, “If you want your British passport to be done as an emergency, you need to visit the passport office, but if you want to follow the normal process, it will arrive in your mail within four to five days.
“The reverse is the case in the Nigeria High Commission, where officials allow applicants to shunt the queue after bribing them. The officials were nasty to young and old, and they’ve no regard for children, women and the physically challenged. I was breastfeeding my baby and I had to leave my work each time I visited, meaning that I was losing money.
“In 1997, an immigration officer wanted to steal my passport at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. He hid my passport among the documents he was clutching and he said I didn’t give him my passport, and he was trying to walk away. I raised my voice and told him to bring out my passport from among the papers in his hands.
“In 2010 when I wanted to renew my passport, they said there were no booklets from Abuja, so I had to use my British passport.
“Between February and August of 2016, my daughter and I visited the high commission over 20 times to renew our passports! Nigerians came from other European countries to renew their passports, too.
“There was the pitiable case of a female Nigerian student who needed her passport to renew her studentship. She said that was the 11th time she had come to the commission.
“When we got to Nigeria, the carousel didn’t work as there was no light at the airport, prompting passengers to use the light of the phones. All that was strange to my daughter who suddenly felt pressed to use the toilet. She ran out of the toilet when she saw heaps of maggots.”
A Nigerian resident in Houston, Texas, who doesn’t want his name in print, lamented that he was asked to pay an unreceipted $20 as car park fee at the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta, Georgia.
The 50-year-old applicant, who is from southern Nigeria, said, “The embassy won’t process applications for more than one year, and after the expiration of one year, the applicant will be required to pay a fresh $195 as passport fee. Since it was the embassy that failed to produce passports as and when due, applicants should not be made to pay twice for passports.”
Nicknamed BB, the sad Nigerian also alleged that his online application was changed and ‘sold’ by embassy officials to another applicant who had bribed them.
“I picked up my American passport that can enable me to enter about 200 countries visa-free in my mailbox. I don’t know why my Nigerian passport, which nobody wants to see, is so problematic,” he said.
Complaining about the terrible treatment meted out to visa and passport applicants at the Nigeria High Commission in London, a Nigerian, Sunday John, said applicants were never given appointment when they apply online.
He said, “They won’t give you an appointment when you apply online because they make money by giving appointments to those who have bribed them.
“Passport fee is 75 pounds but they will charge you between 300 and 700 pounds through the backdoor. I refused to pay, and I’ve since not been able to take my wife and three children to see my mum in Nigeria.
“I wanted to open a business account but because I’m not British yet, my nationality was required. The non-issuance of a passport to me has put the business I’m planning to do on hold. I’ve vowed not to bribe them because if I do so, I’ll be encouraging corruption. Sadly, other African nationals in England get their passports in a matter of days.”
Sharing his ordeal, another Nigerian, Mr Frederick Oluwole, who has lived in New York for over 30 years, said passport production at the Nigerian embassy in Manhattan was delayed because of lack of ‘nylon’ covering for passport pages.
Oluwole said, “They took my unsigned money order from me. They didn’t allow me to write my name on it. What they would later do is to write their own name on it and collect the money on the order, and pocket it.
“They talk down on you as if they’re doing you a favour. An official had to fly to Nigeria to bring common ‘nylon’ which could have been sent through courier.”
It’s the same hopeless song in Ottawa where the Nigerian embassy in Canada is located.
Narrating his nightmare, a Nigerian, Valentine Abiodun, disclosed that calls to the embassy were never picked.
“When someone eventually picked my call after weeks of calling, I told him I had been calling the embassy repeatedly, the officer said he travelled. I was shocked, and I told him the embassy wasn’t a private business that should be held up by an official.
“I told him I had sent in my passport for renewal. He told me they’ve not received it. Because I was tracking the passport, I told him who received it at the embassy.
“Then, he said I should call back. When I called back, he said he had seen it, adding that he would stamp and send it to me through mail. I said he shouldn’t. By 2am that night, I got a car and travelled down to Ottawa, getting to the embassy in the morning to pick my passport.”
A young Nigerian living in Mississauga, Ontario, Emmanuel Ogunlade, said he just received his renewed passport, which he had been processing since January 2020, two weeks ago.
Ogunlade said, “It was a terrible experience. I travelled to the Nigerian embassy, Ottawa, a journey of 427km, thrice after uncountable calls that were not answered before my passport was renewed even as I paid $23 twice for prepaid envelopes. They sent an email saying that they’ve sent my passport to me, but it was false. They later admitted they’ve not sent it.”
An anonymous female resident of Dubai said Nigerians now go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai to obtain their passports because of the hardship encountered at the Nigerian embassy in Dubai.
Uhhmm, Nigeria, under Buhari, is rich in corruption, home and abroad.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame (1) by Tunde Odesola
Opinion: Buhari is worst president, Ortom is right, by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 6, 2021)
Hooray! The leaves are falling! It’s autumn, the evening of the four seasons. Harvested crops and fruits, in baskets, are heading to barns from farms.
Winter, spring, summer and autumn. Each period of the season walks on three legs. December, January and February are the three legs of Winter, Spring springs on March, April and May; Summer walks in the sun of June, July and August while Autumn descends the stairs of the season into September, October and November.
Autumn is the birthing of the farmer’s long-planted seeds of hope, which undergo fertilisation and growth in spring, and maturation in summer. It’s the period when farmers reap the fruits of their labour. When sweat is sweet.
Autumn, aka Fall, is the period before winter which is the coldest of the seasons. And winter connotes nightfall or death when to sleep is to wake and to die is to live.
But autumn is not the period when Samuel Ortom, governor of Nigeria’s food basket, Benue State, should dare Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), a 78-year-old herdsman, whom he described as the worst leader ever when it comes to security, corruption, economy, human rights, press freedom and keeping promises.
Not a herdsman, Ortom, a governor and a rancher, made some of his bulky allegations in August. And as the allegations rage into autumn, Ortom has yet to renounce his heresy against Buhari, the great Fulani president.
Call it a jinx, I don’t care; August is never Buhari’s lucky month, it’s December, the month of his birth, when like Macbeth, ambition overtook him and he stabbed to death the democratically elected government of the late President Shehu Shagari, a fellow Fulani, in the final hours of December 31, 1983. Macbeth wasn’t lucky with August, either – he was killed on August 15, 1057.
Call it the height of cold-bloodedness, if you care; the bloodiest of Nigeria’s generals, Ibrahim Babangida, likewise, chose his birth month, August, to drive the dagger into the back of Buhari, his former boss, in a palace coup on August 27, 1985. Is there an art to find the mind’s construction on the face? I doubt it. But I know karma is consistent.
According to the Ortom of Benue, nothing good can ever come out of the Buhari regime in all the periods of the season – winter, spring, summer and autumn.
In August, Ortom said on Channels TV, “Mr President has a set mind. Mr President believes that for peace to reign in Nigeria, there must be open grazing, there must be provision for cattle routes…It is very clear that he (Buhari) wants to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria. But he’s not the first Fulani president, (Shehu) Shagari was Fulani president, (Umaru) Yar’Adua was Fulani president, they were the best presidents in history, but President Buhari is the worst.”
There seems to be nothing august in August for Buhari. Reacting to the abduction of a major and the killing of two soldiers at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, in August, retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi, who described himself as a Professor of Global Security Studies, in an interview monitored on Channels Television, said known sponsors of Boko Haram live in Aso Rock.
He said, “Recently, 400 people were gathered as sponsors of Boko Haram. Why is it that the Buhari government has refused to try them? Why can’t this government bring them to trial if not that they are partisan and part of the charade that is going on?
“You remember this Boko Haram issue started in 2012 and I was in the Military Intelligence at that time. We arrested those people. My organisation actually conducted interrogation and they (suspects) mentioned names.
“I can’t come on air and start mentioning names of people that are presently in government that I know that the boys that we arrested mentioned. Some of them are governors now, some of them are in the Senate, some of them are in Aso Rock.
“Some people have the mindset to Islamise the nation and they are in government. The DSS knows them, the NIA knows them, the DIA knows them because it is the DIA that conducted the operations that arrested the (400) suspects.”
To whom much is given, much is expected. If a commoner like me know that August isn’t Buhari’s favourite month, why didn’t Ortom, a seasoned politician, and Olawunmi, the courageous navy commodore know? This is why I will depart, at this juncture, from Ortom and Olawunmi, and return my unalloyed allegiance to President Buhari, who is bigger than Nigeria’s Constitution.
If you think the President isn’t bigger than the country plus her Constitution, why was the Central Bank Act prohibiting the abuse of the naira suspended whenever Buhari’s children are wedding?
Even Buhari is bigger than religious laws. Or, why was the merciless-on-the-poor, acquiescing-to-rich Kano Islamic police, Hisbah, not at the wedding of the President’s son, Yusuf, to Zahra, the daughter of the Emir of Bichi, Nasir Ado Bayero, to arrest guests who wore outlawed haircuts such as Afro and mohawk?
Some of the great Hisbah police prescriptions for godly living include banning of lewd music, banning commercial motorcyclists from carrying two females at a time; banning of alcohol consumption, and banning boutiques from displaying clothes on full mannequins – you must remove the heads of the mannequins because they promote idolatry.
Many poor people have received varying degrees of punishments, including public shaving of hair and public flogging for contravening these paradise-seeking laws.
But the ears of Hisbah police were deaf to the lewd Naira Marley song, “I’m Coming,” sung at Yusuf’s wedding and its eyes were blind to the cleavage-revealing clothes worn by some female guests.
Did you see the video of the prodigal bus ride of Yusuf’s silver-spoon friends that attended the wedding, and the security around the bus?
Did you see the hysterical sons of Nigeria’s leaders donating naira and dollars worth over N500,000 to their bus driver, who was merely doing his work, even as they made a lousy show of it?
A particular scene in the viral video shocked me. Yes, e shock me. It was the handsome young man referred to as Osinbajo by his boisterous friends. He donated $100 on behalf of ‘me and my brothers in the South-West’. I ask, are the millions of unemployed graduates and touts in the South-West part of the young Osinbajo’s brothers? There’s God o.
Did you notice the dexterity with which Osinbajo peeled a $100 bill from inside his bag with his two hands, a move suggesting that a lot of more dollars were still in the rich black bag.
I watched another viral video. This time, from Afghanistan. It taught a great lesson in integrity. It was the video of Afghanistan former Minister of Communications, Sayed Sadaat, who now delivers food on a bicycle in Germany.
Talking about his new job, the 49-year-old British-Afghan dual citizen said both his job as minister in Afghanistan and delivery man in Germany involved serving people.
Sadaat, who holds degrees in IT and Telecommunications, and hopes to take up a job in the telecoms industry as soon as he learns basic German, said he was not ashamed of his current job.
Sadaat served for two years as minister, and voluntarily quit his post in 2020 because he didn’t want to soil his hands.
Explaining that he was proud of his new job, Sadaat said he could have made millions of dollars as minister.
“I could have bought buildings in Germany and hotels in Dubai, I wouldn’t have needed to work. But I’m proud that my soul is happy and I have nothing to be guilty (about). So, I’m doing an ordinary job. I hope other politicians also follow the same way to work with the public,” he told journalists.
May God bless Nigeria with leaders like Sadaat, amen.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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