The word ‘aqd (عَقْدٌ plural عُقود) literally means ‘a bond’, ‘a covenant’ or ‘a contractual agreement’ between two or more people . In Qur’ān 5:1, Allāh says, يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ “O believers! Fulfil your contract obligations…” A trade contract between a seller and a prospective buyer is an ‘aqd. Similarly, a business agreement between two partners (as in partnership business) is also an ‘aqd.
When prefixed to ‘Nikāh’, as in عقد النكاح ‘aqdun-Nikāh’, it connotes a ‘marriage contract/solemnization’. It’s a simple religious rite performed by the father of the prospective bride, his designate or her male guardian (mainly from her biological father’s family or her son, according to the ترتيب الأولياء sequence of guardians). It requires no ceremony or pomp. It’s simply an acceptance of marriage proposal by the prospective groom. زَوَّجْتُكَ بِنتِي فُلانَةَ “I’ve married my so and so daughter to you”, or any other expression that implies consent. In other qords, it’s a contract of ‘offer and acceptance.’
Walīmah (وَلِيمة) on the other hand connotes ‘a feast’. It’s defined literally as,
اجتماع مجموعة من الأشخاص الذين يعرفون بعضهم جميعاً أو يعرفون أحد الأشخاص في هذه الدعوة لتناول الطعام، غالباً بغرض الاحتفال أو لهدفٍ آخر
“A gathering of a group of people who are known to each other or who know one of the congregation for the purpose of eating food. Mostly, such occasions are as a result of celebration or for some other reasons..”
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When prefixed to Nikāh, as in Walīmatu’n-Nikāh (وَلِيمة النكاح) or (وليمة العِرس), it implies, ‘a wedding feast’. In contemporary usage, it’s otherwise known as wedding reception.
Ruling on ‘aqd and walīmatu’n-nikāh
According to the Shari’ah, ‘aqdun-Nikāh is a compulsory rite, for it’s the only activity that confers legality on marriage contracts. This is the express meaning of the words of the Most High, فَانْكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ “Marry them with the permission of their family…” (4:25). This is explained by the hadīth of our mother, Ā’ishah (may Allāh be pleased with her), that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said:
” أيما امرأة نكحت بغير إذن وليها فنكاحها باطل فنكاحها باطل ، فنكاحها باطل
“Any woman who gets married without the permission of her guardian (waliyy), then her marriage is invalid.” (He repeated it three times.)
As for the Walīmatu n-Nikīh, then, it’s ruling is that it’s Sunnah (a recommended act), and not obligatory. Ibn Qudāmah, rahimahuLlāh said in Al-Mughnī:
لا خلاف بين أهل العلم في أن الوليمة سنة في العرس مشروعة، لما روي أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أمر بها وفعلها. فقال لعبد الرحمن بن عوف، حين قال: تزوجت: أولم ولو بشاة.. إلى أن قال: وليست واجبة في قول أكثر أهل العلم.
“There’s no difference of opinion among the scholars on the Waleematu n-Nikaah being a Sunnah (non-obligatory act) based on the report that the Prophet ﷺ said to ‘Abdurrahmān bn ‘awf, after the latter informed him about his marriage, “organize a feast, even if it’s with just one sheep”. (Ibn Qudāmah thus continues discussion on this matter) until he said, and (the walīmah of nikāh) is not compulsory in the view of most of the scholars.”
Simply put, while ‘aqdun-Nikāh is compulsory and inevitable, the Walīmatu’ n-Nikāh is not.
Who organises the walīmatu’n-nikāh?
Organizing the wedding feast is primarily the duty of the groom at his convenience (time and place). In the hadīth of ‘Abdurrahmān bn ‘awf cited earlier, the instruction was clearly directed at him. The Prophet ﷺ said, “May Allāh bless you. Organise a walīmah even if it is with (serving the meat of) just a sheep.”
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Note: ‘Abdurrahmān bn ‘awf was one of the wealthiest Muslims at the time. So the Prophet’s ( ﷺ) emphasis ‘even if with the meat of just a sheep’ was meant to indicate that he doesn’t need to necessarily expend much to organise the feast.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn, rahimahuLlāh said: “It (the walīmah) is prescribed for the husband, because the Prophet ﷺ said to ‘Abdurrahmān ibn ‘Awf: “Give a walīmah,” and he did not tell his in-laws to do that. And because the blessing is greater for the husband than for the wife, because he is the one who sought the woman; it is very rare for the woman to seek the man.”
Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 12/321
It’s important to emphasize this point because majority of Muslim parents (the brides’ especially) seem not to know/jettison this Sharī’ah. They assume that it’s their right to dictate the when and how a wedding feast should take place, and often put a lot of burden on their son-in-law. This mentality needs to change if indeed we desire a blissful marital life for our daughters. There’s no harm if there’s a joint agreement between both families on this issue, but to assume a draconian position, bullying the groom into taking forceful decisions is repugnant to justice, good conscience and natural laws.
When can the Walīmah be organised?
The most appropriate time for organizing the Walīmatu n-Nikāh is immediately after consummation of marriage. That is, after the first sexual intercourse between the newlyweds. Shaykh bn Taimiyyah rahimahullāh said:
ووقت الوليمة في حديث زينب وصفته تدل على أنه عقب الدخول.
“The time for organizing the walīmah, according to the hadīth of Zaynab bint Jahsh (one of the prophet’s wives) is after consummation.”
وجاء في مغني المحتاج: والأفضل فعلها بعد الدخول لأن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يولم على نسائه إلا بعد الدخول. انتهى…
“Its also mentioned in ‘Mughnī al-Muhtāj’ of Al-Khatīb Ash-Sharbīnī, ‘and the most appropriate time to organize the walīmah is after consummation because the Prophet ﷺ never arranged a walīmah for any of his wives until after consummation.”
وفي مختصر خليل في الفقه المالكي: الوليمة مندوبة بعد البناء، قال في الشرح الكبير على مختصر خليل: والمعتمد أن كونها بعد البناء مندوب ثان فإن فعلت قبله أجزأت.
Similarly, it’s mentioned in ‘Mukhtasar al-Khalīl’ (a principal book on Mālikī fiqh), “The walīmah is prescribed after consummation.” It’s stated in ‘Ash-Sharh al-Kabīr, a commentary on Mukhtasar al-Khalīl’, “the position of the Madh-hab is that the walīmah should come after consummation. However, if it were done before then, that suffices.”
What next for couples after ‘aqd?
These days, one of the issues I’m dealing with is that of failed marriages after ‘aqd and before walīmah as a result of minor disagreements or loss of interest due to infatuation and lust. Some couples have disagreed over the legality or otherwise of living together before the walīmah is done or being in ‘Khalwah (seclusion without a third party) and having sexual intercourse. There are also cases of whether or not the lady will observe any iddah in case they got separated before consummation since they haven’t had the walīmah.
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Recently, I’ve heard of so many instances where the walīmah was delayed for months or even years after ‘aqd with spouses losing interest in each other. In between the ‘aqd and walīmah, some have found love elsewhere; some have had petty disagreements and irreconcilable differences and decided to call it quit.
One of the major causes of disagreements is whether or not couples can start being together in seclusion without the lady’s mahram. Some parents insist that their daughters cannot stay with their suitors after the ‘aqd until the walīmah is done. But the question is, can we still consider two lovers as strangers to each other after ‘aqd?
The Sharī’ah is very clear on this issue. What constitutes marriage and confers legitimacy of consummation on the couples is the ‘aqd by the bride’s father, his designate, or her guardian. As soon as the offer and acceptance had been done, he is permitted to be in seclusion with her and to enjoy her sexually and otherwise (with or without walīmah).
In the event that they separate after ‘aqd, and before consummation, there’s no ‘iddah (waiting period of 3 menstrual courses after divorce) on her. She’s also entitled to half of the mahr promised to her, if such agreement is reached. And if such agreement has not been reached, then, she’s entitled to some benefits based on what he can afford. But if it has been consummated, then, she will receive her full mahr and will do the ‘iddah. (Q. 2:236-237).
Admonition to parents and guardians
In this world of deceit and lies, where no one can absolutely be trusted, parents and guardians, and indeed bachelorettes live in serious dilemma as to which to follow between consummation before walīmah and after it. This fear is necessary to avoid being scammed by irresponsible brothers who ‘taste and dump’ sisters just a few months after marriage. Indeed we have heard about marriages that only lasted 4-7 months before Talāq. This is why most parents insist on waleemah before consummation.
However, I think that the only solution to this dilemma a return to the Sharī’ah, and not by trying to outsmart it. We have also witnessed wedding ceremonies of the rich and influential where millions of naira were spent on the reception, and which did not last but for a few months/years. And because the Sharī’ah implores us to be simple does not mean that we should be stupid.
The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “If there comes to you one with whose character and religious commitment you are pleased, then give (your daughter or female relative under your care) to him in marriage…”. The onus is thus on the parents/guardians to make due diligence (note: not “checking it” with soothsayers) on their prospective son-in-law before consenting to the marriage. They should ask everyone that knows something about him; his siblings, friends, neighbors, colleagues, anyone. The family should designate a responsible and wise person to carryout a secret investigation about him. It may take months, but it surely guarantees that their daughter is not going into the wrong hands.
A sister told me last month that she’s afraid of leaving her two year old marriage because she acted against her father’s advice not to marry the brother (I don’t really know the reason for his objection as she never told me). Now, she’s tired of the marriage but fear what her father will say. Another said that after the ‘aqd, she realized that the guy only acted saint, that he lied his way into her heart. Now, she wants out, what should she do?
In conclusion, let’s all be sincere in all that we do, and stop embarrassing Islām. Do not delay your walīmah unnecessarily lest Shaytān causes dissent between you during the waiting period. Try ro make your walīmah simple, and affordable. Remember, wedding is just an event, marriage is the reality.
Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi is a lecturer in Department of Islamic Studies, Al-Hikmah University Ilorin
Reflections on Sūratu Yūsuf: Lessons For Everyday Life (2)
Beware of People’s Fake Emotions
Emotions can be tricky and deceitful. Don’t fall for it by being hasty in judging people rightly or wrongly. In verses 11-14, Prophet Ya’qūb’s children played a fast one on his emotions by faking affection for their brother, Yūsuf عليه السلام. They promised to protect him while concealing their evil intentions behind their smiling faces and fake promises. People are not to be trusted based on their cosmetic facial expressions.
Before accepting information from anyone or trusting them, one must apply extreme caution and circumspection. This is why Allāh subhānahu wa ta’ālā says in the Qur’ān:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” (49:6)
Apart from faking emotions to persuade their father to release Yūsuf to them, they equally came back home shedding crocodile tears as though they had done nothing wrong! Allāh says:
وَجَاءُوا أَبَاهُمْ عِشَاءً يَبْكُونَ
“At nightfall they came to their father weeping” (12:16)
Knowing so well that their father will never believe them (he actually sensed their plot even before he released Yūsuf to them), they stained Yūsuf’s shirt with blood of lamb (but they forgot to tear the cloth to indicate a wild attack. So Ya’qūb knew that they were lying).
وَجَآءُوۡ عَلٰى قَمِيـۡصِهٖ بِدَمٍ كَذِبٍؕ قَالَ بَلۡ سَوَّلَتۡ لَـكُمۡ اَنۡفُسُكُمۡ اَمۡرًاؕ فَصَبۡرٌ جَمِيۡلٌؕ وَاللّٰهُ الۡمُسۡتَعَانُ عَلٰى مَا تَصِفُوۡنَ
“And they brought Yūsufs shirt, stained with false blood. Seeing this their father exclaimed: “Nay (this is not true); rather your evil souls have made it easy for you to commit a heinous act. So I will bear this patiently, and in good grace. It is Allāh’s help alone that I seek against your fabrication.” (12:18)
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It is reported that one day, a woman came to the court of Shuraih al-Qādī to report a case and was crying profusely. Shuraih was unmoved. It was said to him, don’t you see her crying? He replied, “the brothers of Yūsuf came weeping even though they were liars.”
Thus, one must always seek the truth before judging matters, just as one shouldn’t be too quick to believe or trust just anyone based on appearance or eloquence in speech. The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
رَسُول اللَّه ﷺ قَالَ: إِنَّمَا أَنَا بشَرٌ، وَإِنَّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ إِلَيَّ، وَلَعَلَّ بَعْضَكُمْ أَنْ يَكُونَ أَلْحَنَ بحُجَّتِهِ مِنْ بَعْضٍ؛ فأَقْضِي لَهُ بِنحْوِ مَا أَسْمَعُ، فَمَنْ قَضَيْتُ لَهُ بحَقِّ أَخِيهِ فَإِنَّمَا أَقْطَعُ لَهُ قِطْعَةً مِنَ النَّارِ مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيهِ.
“I am a human being, and yu bring to me, for (judgment) your disputes, some of you perhaps being more eloquent in their plea than others, so I give judgment on their behalf according to what I hear from them. (Bear in mind, in my judgment) if I slice off anything for him from the right of his brother, he should not accept that, for I sliced off for him a portion from the Hell.”
When Prophet Dāwūd was approached by two litigants, he was moved by the accusations by the complainant that he totally forgot to take the plea of the defendant before hitting the gavel.
It is this important that one looks beyond facial appearances and cosmetic emotions when dealing with people, lest one fall into their traps and evil machinations. Even when choosing partner for marriage, it is important to be thorough and meticulous lest one mistakes the devil for a saint!
“It is not the eyes that matters; but what is behind the eyes.”
Patience is Beautiful
There’s a popular adage in my mother tongue that says, “hankuri man ama wun zo yin jin” (patient is though sweet, but difficult to do). In verses 18 and 83, prophet Ya’qūb عليه السلام displayed the rarest of all virtues. His calmness and composure in the face of provocation by his children is legendary. When they came back with Yūsuf’s blood stained shirt, claiming that a wolf had devoured him while they were away hunting, he knew that they were lying. How can a wolf devour him without a scratch on his cloth? Not even their crocodile tears could deceive Ya’qūb into buying their conspiracies. His response simply was:
قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ وَاللَّهُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ
“No! Your souls must have tempted you to do something evil. So I can only endure with beautiful patience. It is Allāh’s help that I seek to bear your claims.”
However, despite his founded suspicion, and knowing the evil that his sons are capable of doing which was why he was so reluctant to release Yūsuf to them in the first place, Ya’qūb restrained himself from cursing them. It was a difficult thing to do, considering his extreme love for Yūsuf. But not even this shattering heartbreak could make him lose his temper and curse his own children. Rather, be resorted to seeking Allāh’s help to rectify his affairs and theirs, too.
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In verse 83, when they brought him the news of Bunyamin’s (Yūsuf’s kid brother from the same mother who Ya’qūb equally loves more than their siblings) detention in Egypt over the charge of theft of the king’s weighing cup, Ya’qūb equally maintained his calmness and decorum. It was the second time his most beloved sons would go missing in mysterious circumstances. Yet, the only thing the heartbroken father could say was:
قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ عَسَى اللَّهُ أَن يَأْتِيَنِي بِهِمْ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
He cried, “No! Your souls must have tempted you to do something evil. So I’m left with nothing but beautiful patience. I trust Allāh will return them all to me. Surely, He Allāh, is the All-knowing, All-Wise.”
Indeed, Ya’qūb was right. The brothers maliciously gave the Chief Minister (Yūsuf) a fabricated proof that nailed Bunyamin when they said:
قَالُوا إِنْ يَسْرِقْ فَقَدْ سَرَقَ أَخٌ لَهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ ۚ
(To exonerate themselves) Yūsuf’s brothers said, “If he has stolen, so did his (full) brother (Yūsuf) before.” (verse 77)
Parents especially have a great lesson to learn here. At all times, they must restrain themselves and refrain from uttering bad statements and laying curses on their children. Because of Ya’qūb’s patience, Allāh not only rectified his once upon a time wicked children, but He equally bestowed prophethood on their children and grandchildren, referred in the Qur’ān as the الأسباط.
Note: Contrary to popular opinion among some of the local scholars here, the majority of the mufassirūn are of the view that apart from Yūsuf, no other son of Ya’qūb was a prophet. Shaykhu’l-Islām bn Taimiyah rahimahuLlāh said:
الذي يدل عليه القرآن واللغة والاعتبار أن إخوة يوسف ليسوا بأنبياء، وليس في القرآن، وليس عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم -، بل ولا عن أصحابه خبر بأن الله – تعالى -نبأهم، وإنما احتج من قال أنهم نبئوا بقوله في آيتي البقرة والنساء \”والأسباط\”، وفسر الأسباط بأنهم أولاد يعقوب، والصواب أنه ليس المراد بهم أولاده لصلبه بل ذُرِّيَّتُه، كما يقال فيهم أيضاً \”بنو إسرائيل\”، وكان في ذريته الأنبياء، فالأسباط من بني إسرائيل كالقبائل من بني إسماعيل.
“What is established by the Qur’ān, Arabic language and sound logic is that Yūsuf’s brothers were not prophets. There’s no indication in the Qur’ān, or in prophetic traditions or statements of the Sahābah that Allāh sent revelations to them. Those who make this claim interpreted the word والأسباط which is found in Sūrah Baqarah and Nisā’ to mean “and the children of Ya’qūb”. The correct view is that what is meant by this word are his progenies and not his blood children…”
Allāh commands parents to exercise patience with their children. In Q.64:14, He says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ ۚ وَإِنْ تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
“O believers! Surely among your wives and your children there are some who are your enemies: so beware of them. But if you pardon, overlook and forgive their faults, then know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
Then, in the next verse, He offered some words of consolation and caution, saying:
إِنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ ۚ وَاللَّهُ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“Your wealth and your children are but a trial. It is Allāh with Whom is the greatest reward.”
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Prophet Ibrāhīm’s father, despite being an idolator and enemy of Allāh is another great example in this regard. In spite of his hatred for his son’s obstinacy and opposition to his idolatrous ways, he never cursed him. In fact, when his frustrations with Ibrāhīm reached the crescendo, the only thing he said was:
قَالَ أَرَاغِبٌ أَنتَ عَنْ آلِهَتِي يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ ۖ لَئِن لَّمْ تَنتَهِ لَأَرْجُمَنَّكَ ۖ وَاهْجُرْنِي مَلِيًّا
“He (the father) said: “Do you reject my gods, O Ibrahim (Abraham)? If you stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you.” (19:46)
Being impatient with one’s children has disastrous consequences. From being deprived of prosperity and success in this world, it may land the children in Allāh’s wrath and punishment in the hereafter. The Messenger of Allāh said:
رضا الله في رضا الوالدين وسخط الله في سخط الوالدين
“Allāh’s is pleased (with one) when his parents are pleased (with him), and He is angry (with one) when his parents are angry (with him).”
As parents, we must continue to pray to Allah to rectify our children. There’s nothing beyond rectification for Allāh. A righteous parent’s prayer for his wayward children will be accepted by Allāh. We must refrain from haboring hatred and evil for our children no matter how of bad character they may be. This is because, as the Yoruba adage goes, “one’s child cannot be so bad as to make one throw him out for lion to devour.”
A child who turns out bad as a result of his parent’s curse is not only useless to himself but to his parents as well. In the end, no one will hand over his righteous and prosperous child to you. You will have to live with the sorrow and woe. And even if you have two dozens of children and one turns out bad, you still will not be able to live with the disappointment and frustration. Allāh says,
وَجَعَلْنَا بَعْضَكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ فِتْنَةً أَتَصْبِرُونَ ۗ وَكَانَ رَبُّكَ بَصِيرًا
“And We have made some of you a trial for others. Will you then not be patient? And your Lord is All-Seeing.” (25:20)
To be continued…
Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi is a lecturer in Department of Islamic Studies, Al-Hikmah University Ilorin
Reflections on Sūratu Yūsuf: Lessons For Everyday Life (I)
1. Dreams have implications and consequences
Categories of Dreams
What To Do With Dreams/Nightmares
Parents Must Not Prefer A Child to the Other
Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi is a lecturer in Department of Islamic Studies, Al-Hikmah University Ilorin
The abduction of Pa Reuben Fasoranti (OPINION)
By Festus Adedayo
In 1996, his car riddled with bullet holes inflicted by General Sani Abacha’s goons aimed at assassinating him, Yoruba Afenifere Leader, Senator Abraham Adesanya, had made a bullseye statement. That statement appeared to explain the raging furore among the leadership of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group today.
Adesanya’s father had 20 children. He was the only one initiated into the awo secret cult by the older Adesanya. As such, Senator Adesanya was known to be highly fortified with the powers of his ancestors. It was a time when the demonic Nigerian state under Abacha sought to wipe out any dissent to its infernal rule.
The then Lagos police commissioner had inspected the spatter of bullet holes on Adesanya’s car and concluded that no human being could have survived that assassination attempt. Alarmed and apprehensive of further associating with Adesanya, his driver, who survived the assassination attempt with him, had immediately eloped, sacked himself from Adesanya’s employ, fearful for his life. When told of his driver’s abscondment, Adesanya was said to have retorted in Yoruba that Omode lo’n se e. O ye ko mo wipe bi agbe o ba fo, omi inu re ko le danu – he is being childish; otherwise, he would have realized that if the gourd does not break, the water inside it cannot be spilled.
Last week, the gourd of Yoruba leadership broke – or was broken – and the water has since spilled like a burst cistern. The forceful break of the gourd however has a consistent tragic trajectory. The destruction of the gourd has a consistency in the recent hitorico-political tale of the Yoruba. The gourd was forcefully broken by the same evil dramattis personae, political merchants and vultures, who have consistently sought an option reminiscent of biblical Samson’s – to crumble a house that has proved impenetrable to their attempt to make it a house of Mephistopheles.
Since the founding in London in 1945 of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, the progenitor of Afenifere, by Yoruba leaders – Adeyemo Alakija, president; Yekini Ojikutu, vice president; Obafemi Awolowo, General Secretary and others like Akinola Maja, Oni Akerele, Akintola Willliams, Saburi Biobaku, Abiodun Akerele, D.O.A. Oguntoye, Ayo Rosiji and others – five persons have made futile attempts to destroy this Yoruba foremost leadership organization and its Afenifere mutation.
The first anvil of its destruction was Nnamdi Azikiwe. Though his attack on the leaders of the Egbe preceded its founding, the tribal tension in the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) was Zik’s – as he was fondly known – opportunity to sound a death knell on Egbe Omo Oduduwa, the first major attempt at unity by the Yoruba. The Egbe had huge prospects to unite these people who had, for centuries, splintered in discord like the seeds in a walnut pod.
In the February 1941 split in the NYM over the contest for the Legislative Council seat between Samuel Akisanya (who later became the Odemo of Isara) and Ernest Ikoli, erstwhile Daily Service editor, Zik and his West African Pilot newspaper pitched their tents with Akisanya. Yoruba leaders queued behind and voted for Ikoli. This generated further tension between 1946 and 1948 in the NYM, eventually and effectively leading to the death of this anti-colonial government movement.
Azikiwe didn’t hide his disdain for the Egbe and its leaders. Indeed, Egbe Omo Oduduwa had not been formally inaugurated by the time Azikiwe’s NCNC, in December 1947, sponsored protest demonstrations against it, using the editor of the Pilot, F. O. Coker, as the peg of the protest. Zik and his party, the NCNC, went on to form the Yoruba Federal Union (YFU) as a counterpoise to and as such, weaken the Egbe. This was at a time of growing solidarity among the Yoruba. Zik and his crew launched the YFU on June 12, 1948, at Glover Hall, Lagos but were so tactless as to make the speakers at the inauguration be Azikiwe himself, Mbonu Ojike, a known Zik apostle and columnist in the Pilot, as well as Oged Macaulay, a known Zik ally. The YFU however suffered the fate of all politically concocted contrivances – it faded out.
Zik would however not relent. Deploying a weekly newspaper called Ijebu Weekly Echo to achieve their aim, Zik and his group pilloried the Egbe headed by Sir Adeyemo Alakija. Bitter, crude and vulgar personal insults were splashed on them by Igbo, mainly residents of Lagos, using such words as “bane of our age,” “a nihilist, totalitarian, fascist organization,” as well as “dirty exhibition of egocentric stupidity, ethnocentric arrogance and capitalized idiocy” on the Egbe Omo Oduduwa. This was followed by an incendiary editorial comment in the Pilot of September 8, 1948, which said, “Henceforth, the cry must be one of the battle against Egbe Omo Oduduwa, its leaders at home and abroad, uphill and down dale, in the streets of Nigeria and in the residences of its advocates… There is no going back until the Fascist Organization of Sir Adeyemo has been dismembered.” Osita Agwuna, a leading Zikist, after his conviction for sedition, had written an open letter he entitled “To all the people of Nigeria and all Zikists” where he advocated attacks on the Egbe.
The second attack on the Egbe was led by the mercurial Adegoke Adelabu, an acolyte of Zik. Though his disdain for both Awolowo and the highly perceived Ijebu people-dominated Egbe was historical, the incendiary age-long intra-ethnic fissure and struggle for power between the Ijebu and the Ibadan was the peg. By the 19th century, Ibadan had become a very potent military force but its prowess was crippled by the embargo placed on the importation of guns and powder on their routes by the twin nations of Ijebu and Egba. Peeved, Ibadan, in the rainy seasons of 1877, matched out its military arsenal against the Ijebu and Egba, with the aim of forcing open their roads to the coast and conquer, as well as absorb, their territories into Ibadan. Unfortunately, this expedition failed and the Egba and Ijebu thereafter aligned with all enemies of Ibadan like the Ilorin, reflected in the treaty of 1886 signed to recognize the independence of the Ekitiparapo. Even after this, their mutual hostility continued. The Ijebu distrusted and feared the Ibadan. These pre-colonial polities and realities gestated into and found their way to the founding of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa.
Ibadan elites, preening themselves as warriors who would not play second fiddle to the Ijebu, rallied around to thwart the emergence of Awolowo as the modern-day dominant power. They created a counterpoise to the Egbe which they called Egbe Omo Ibile, Society for Native Sons, and appointed as leader, Adegoke Adelabu, The Ibadan Egbe later coalesced into the Ibadan Peoples Party (IPP) or the Mabolaje. The sub-ethnic threat from the IPP to Awolowo’s Egbe was so intense that, apart from the cross-carpeting of five IPP House of Assembly members to the side of the Action Group which ensured that Awolowo’s AG formed the cabinet in 1951, the IPP subsequently won the 1954, 1956 and 1959 elections. A death knell on the Ibadan advocacy however came in the commission of enquiry into the affairs of the Ibadan District Council which indicted Adelabu of financial malfeasance and eventually his death via car crash in 1958. This led to an intra-national uprising in Ibadan, with Mabolaje splintering into the Mojid Agbaje and Adisa Adeoye factions. Both groups however failed to muster enough opposition to the AG and Egbe Omo Oduduwa which eventually swallowed them.
Erstwhile editor of the Daily Service, a lawyer and polemicist who took up the newspaper’s editorship from Sese Ikoli, Chief S. L. Akintola, was the third architect of the plot to destroy Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Akintola had come into journalistic prominence by launching one of the most visceral attacks on Azikiwe’s claim of an attempted assassination on him. As editor of the Service, Akintola cut the ground from under the feet of Zik when he published the whole pamphlet alleging Zik’s assassination in one issue of the newspaper with the title, Assassination de luxe, price one penny. In the thick of the AG rump’s attempt to remove him as Premier, Akintola also formed a counterpoise to the Egbe Omo Oduduwa which he called Egbe Omo Olofin, Olofin being one of the cognomens of Oduduwa.
Named at first Egbe Omo Yoruba and later on, Egbe Omo Olofin, the major undisguised aim of the group was to finally destroy Awolowo who was by then serving a ten-year jail term in Calabar prisons. This Egbe was conceived by political arch-enemies of Awolowo and new converts who believed that his jailing had put a wedge on his relevance. Some of the coupists were the former Administrator of the Western Region in the Emergency year, Dr. M. A. Majekodunmi, who was personal physician to the Prime Minister; Chief H. O. Davies; some high court judges and traditional rulers. Some leaders of the Awolowo’s Egbe were also seen in the new Egbe, Members of the new Egbe then issued a press release where they castigated Awolowo after their maiden meeting held on January 3, 1964.
The fourth threat to the pan-Yoruba socio-political group came from a man known as the Arole AwolowoIo, Awolowo’s heir, Chief Bola Ige. His loss in the Wednesday, January 27, 1999, electoral college of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) held at the D’Rovans hotel in Ibadan threw up the messy tussle in the fold of the political children of Awolowo. At the end of the exercise, Ige got nine votes as against 14 for Chief Olu Falae. Since that election, Afenifere and the post-Awo leadership of Yorubaland have never been the same again. Though he disguised his roiling anger at the Ijebu Four – Olaniwun Ajayi, Ayo Adebanjo, Abraham Adesanya, and Pa Onasanya – with the claim that he was “gaudily joyful” at Falae’s emergence, Ige’s actions and utterances thereafter showed that he was poised for a fight with the mafia. One of the things he did was to get his long-time friend and fellow Ijesa Yoruba, Justice Adewale Thompson, to form the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) to rival and indeed factionalize Afenifere. Alajobi, a group headed by Bishop Emmanuel Gbonigi’s intervention couldn’t stop the derailment. After Ige’s assassination, the crisis metastasized, so much that Afenifere was broken into two factions, one headed by Fasoranti who had been handed the leadership of the group after Adesanya fell ill and Ayo Fasanmi, Ige’s friend. By the time of his assassination in 2001, Ige left a Yoruba land that was roiling in leadership crises.
The fifth threat to the Afenifere and the quest of the Yoruba is Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Using his singular win in the 2003 governorship election and the loss of his AD colleagues in the west as the propelling force, Tinubu immediately began what ostensibly was the reunification of Yoruba politics under his roof. It was however a veneer for his presidential and prebendal ambition. Deploying a huge war chest of resources of his Lagos State, he funded virtually all political activities in the region, literally heaving all his ex-AD governor colleagues, except Adebayo Adefarati, inside his pocket. By then, it had become clear to him that the Afenifere mafia who collectively ensured his emergence against Funsho Williams in 1999 would fight him to a standstill, having fallen out with him.
With all he had, Tinubu battled this Yoruba leadership hegemony, infiltrating their ranks and creating a counterpoise, the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG). At Fasanmi’s death, his group appointed Senator Biyi Durojaiye as Afenifere leader to further delegitimize Fasoranti’s leadership. When Durojaye also died, the Tinubu group appointed another Afenifere leader. With the support of his governor colleague, Bisi Akande, who had become his bag carrier, Tinubu dismantled the AD which was the most impregnable political base of the Afenifere socio-political group, formed the Action Congress, later with Atiku, and which, in 2013/2014, went into alliance with the ultra-conservative north to form today’s All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the build-up to the 2023 presidential election, there has been a frenetic scavenging by candidates for ethnic legitimacy as affirmation of their bids. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Abubakar, began the forage when he asked his kin at an Arewa event in Kaduna to vote for him. Being a northerner, he told them, he was the most suited to know where the shoe pinched the region. Southeast is already agog with Peter Obi. His presidential bid is almost an obsession for a region which sees in his presidency the first opportunity for a “highly vilified” Igbo stock to come back to the mainstream.
Until the Akure fiasco, Tinubu wore the Olusegun Obasanjo visor of 1999. In that year’s presidential election, a high chunk of Yoruba leadership openly disclaimed Obasanjo who was seen as a Yoruba enemy. This antagonism led to Obasanjo’s election by “outsiders”. Frustrated by the prospect of a repeat of the route Obasanjo trod, Tinubu’s desperation to procure Yoruba leadership legitimacy, no matter how crooked or brimming with fraud, becomes understandable.
His recent visit to the Akure home of Pa Reuben Fasoranti has been generating a lot of seismic comments. Like Michael Adekunle Ajasin and Abraham Adesanya before him, Fasoranti had ceded his headship of Afenifere to Adebanjo almost two years ago when it became clear that age would impede his leadership. This same Fasoranti was fought to a standstill by the Tinubu group whose goal was to make his leadership inconsequential. Most of the pilgrims with Tinubu to Akure were conscripts of the coup that unsuccessfully delegitimized Fasoranti and serially appointed renegade leadership for Afenifere.
Tinubu, acting as if coerced to go pay this same man a condolence visit after his daughter was brutally killed by Fulani herdsmen, literally urinated on the balcony of the Yoruba leader. In an attempt to deflect arrows shot at Muhammadu Buhari’s marauding, bloodthirsty kin, Tinubu had asked “where are the cows?” He similarly exhibited such conceit to highly respected Chief Olu Falae during the invasion of his farm by Fulani herdsmen.
The Akure pilgrimage was an abduction of 96-year-old Fasoranti by elements who spent over a decade undermining his Yoruba leadership. They took advantage of Baba’s advanced age and the suspicious company of turncoats who enveloped him to get Tinubu to reap where he did not sow. The coup reeked of corruption, abduction, and coldblooded execution of a most clinically infernal hijack of ‘power’ in Yoruba history. It was originally convoked by a group of hungry lay-about who went by the name Conscience of Yoruba Nation, a name reminiscent of a Babangida era ragtag military apologia crusade which was masterminded by a man who claimed to be driven by conscience but whose spineless interventions brimmed of a ‘conscienceless conscience’ even as he sought to grease his esophagus from crumbs that fell off Babangida’s table. In Akure, that Conscience of Yoruba Nation gathering was then criminally labeled with the mis-biology of an Afenifere endorsement of Tinubu.
The fraudulence of the whole enterprise was to be revealed when the coupists issued a communiqué, not under the conscienceless banner with which they invited conferees to Akure but Afenifere. Respected Prof Akin Onigbinde said that not only was the assemblage “essentially a gathering of chieftains of APC in the South West,” many of them couldn’t claim linkage to Afenifere nor did they attend its meetings in the last ten years. They were just interested in the spoils of dollars allegedly left after the disastrous show. They then added a disgraceful icing on the cake of the infamy when they concocted a Fasoranti claim that he had taken over the headship of Afenifere which he vacated almost two years earlier. This lie thrived for a few hours, landed with a thud thereafter and scattered into smithereens.
Instead of going through the futile attempt to abduct Afenifere and its leadership, I wonder why the group behind this penkele mesi – the offerees and offerors of legitimacy – did not deploy ARG for the legitimacy-hunting game; or simply create a brand new organization. That would have been neater in this last-minute tan’na w’ebi – grope in the dark for kin – that they are engrossed with.
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