(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
2023: It’s Tinubu or Atiku, not Obi, by Tunde Odesola
Broken in every bone, life hangs by the thread for 62-year-old comatose patient, Nigeria, inside the intensive care unit of the decrepit Ass-o-Rock hospital, Abuja, where it nurses diseased kidneys, liver cirrhosis and an enlarged heart while the Chief Physician, Dr. M. Buhari, stands by with a shroud, clutching a book entitled: “From national hero to regional zero.”
This doctor is as useful to the patient as glaucoma is useful to sight. As a novice, I lay no claim to science but I love the art and science of science.
I’m fascinated by pharmacy, a branch of clinical health science that links medical science with chemistry in the discovery, production, disposal, use and control of medications and drugs.
“Na madness we dey use cure madness” is a pidginised proverb that means: “Wèrè la fi n wo wèrè,” in Yoruba translation. Nigeria is gasping. It urgently needs a miracle drug. But drug production is a deep and technical endeavour. Sometimes, it entails a fire-for-fire approach, that is, a particular virus could be remodified and synthesised to make drugs for the treatment or cure of a particular viral disease as it is the case with HIV, for instance.
However, in the case of some viral diseases such as COVID, for example, a non-viral drug, vaccine, is used for treatment. COVID vaccine, in this case, is a novel drug synthesised from either natural or artificial components to fight the viral infection. I’ll call this a fire-for-water approach.
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Conversely, for the fast-approaching 2023 presidential election, the dying patient, Nigeria, is faced with either taking the fire-for-fire approach or the fire-for-water approach.
If Nigeria takes the fire-for-fire approach, it means she is settling for a candidate that had been part and parcel of the old political order; a politician who had been elected on the platform of one of the existing dubious political parties as vice president, governor, senator or minister.
But to take the fire-for-water approach means Nigeria breaking away from the politicians of old to elect a new-breed politician who has never tasted political power. An example of this type of politician is Mr Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress.
Bola Tinubu (All Progressives Congress)
The former Lagos governor is faced with a dual-action Buharian pill that can both kill and save his ambition. The atrocious performance of Buhari in two terms of office is a sword of Damocles hanging over Tinubu’s head, and for which he has been justifiably criticised in the South, but, on the other hand, President Muhammadu Buhari still wields a great influence in the large North which votes on the command of its leaders, ethnicity and religion.
If the APC northern governors and Buhari fully support Tinubu in the election, the Iragbiji-Lagos political strategist, with a baggage of birth, education and corruption controversies, will be Nigeria’s next president because majority of northern votes and South-West votes are what he needs to earn a four-year tenancy in Aso Rock. Tinubu’ll win all South-West states.
Tinubu cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand because doing so may come at a peril. An old warhorse, whose health is suspect, Tinubu understands how to exploit the master-servant nature of Nigerian politics to the hilt, offering the carrot where necessary, and whacking down the stick on the heads of threatening rivals and proteges disturbing the peace of Bourdillon.
Having been senator in the aborted political experiment of the Third Republic, Tinubu is the most experienced, sophisticated and shrewdest of the three leading candidates, whose political tentacles cover the length and breadth of the country.
With his war chest of dollars, federal might and the uncanny ability to deploy science and fiction to win elections, Tinubu is one of the two major forces most likely to win the election.
Tinubu is a fire-for-fire drug. Will he prove a remodified virus to be injected into the sick patient, Nigeria, for a cure? Or, is Nigeria now so cancerous that an attempt to destroy the cancer cells by a Tinubu pill will lead to death?
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Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party)
Atiku stands a good chance to emerge Nigeria’s president next year if the Hausa-Fulani political hegemony decides that power should remain in the North and condemn Tinubu to gaze at the bye-bye evening sun, singing ‘Mai kolo kolo, to your tent, oh Tinubu!’
Former Vice President Atiku’s admission of the corrupt and woeful performance of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the area of power supply shows candour. It also shows contempt because he never apologised to Nigerians over the issue.
His controversial role in the privatisation of Nigeria’s companies and the hazy Halliburton scandal are sore points in a mixed-bag political career.
Because the North doesn’t subject its leaders to public scrutiny as much as the South does, coupled with the fact that ethnicity is a big factor in Northern politics, Atiku’s foothold in the climb to Aso Rock is strong.
However, the internal crisis wracking the PDP may whittle down Atiku’s chances to the ultimate advantage of Tinubu, who would be glad if the planned move of Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to Labour Party materialises because it would mean Labour Party would share votes with the PDP in the South-East and South-South.
That Buhari defeated Atiku in the North in 2019 reflected the former’s large following. Without Buhari being on the 2023 ballot, however, the North may decide to allow ethnicity dictate its choice for president, and swing their votes for Atiku – given the backing of General Ibrahim Babangida, General Theophilus Danjuma and General Aliyu Gusau, who are PDP power brokers from the North.
Also, the way Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, withdrew from the presidential primary and queued behind Atiku showed that he acted in the interest of some powerful northern forces, shocking the Wike camp, and wrecking their permutation to pave the way for an Atiku victory.
Wike is politically hurt, and he’s fuming with vegeance against certain interests, mostly retired generals within the PDP, who decided to cut him to size by scuttling moves to make him VP candidate after he lost to Atiku because his group was seen as trying to check the influence of the generals, which saw former Governor of Osun, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, lose the bid to become PDP chairman.
The crisis, if not resolved, will hurt the PDP.
Peter Obi (Labour Party)
If any tribe should feel entitled and stake their claim to the Presidency, chanting, “Emi lokan,” it’s the Igbo that should – in a federation that has grown suspicious of them since the January 1966 coup and the July 1966 retaliatory counter-coup, yet the Nigerian political knee has been hard on the Igbo neck, making breathing difficult.
It’s in this light that the psychology of Obi’s quest for the presidency is mainly backed by the Igbo vociferously.
In Nigeria’s political demography, however, the South-East region possesses the least voter population among the three main regions whose indigenes are contesting.
Inarguably, the Igbo, being itinerant, have presence in all states of the federation, but there’s no state where they outnumber the natives.
Inasmuch as I’ve repeatedly canvassed for the Igbo to ascend the presidency of this country for fairness sake, it, sadly, won’t happen in 2023.
That politics is an organised, structured and money-gulping game is the reason why no ‘structureless’ independent candidate has ever won the US presidency since the advent of party politics. Nigeria is no different.
Though Obi has a smaller bag of controversies, to win the presidency in a nation with 176,846 polling units spread across 774 local government councils nationwide, Obi needs to win majority votes and 25% of votes in at least 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states, mobilising party agents.
The Obi movement hasn’t the clout for this yet – evident in the poor performance of his party in the Osun governorship election, despite his involvement. Obi would be ready in 2027 if he builds political bridges and provides credible alternatives to the victor of this impending election charade.
Email: email@example.com; Facebook: @tunde odesola; Twitter: @tunde_odesola.
Opinion – Buhari: Yoruba can go to blazes by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 26, 2022)
Until science unmasked the myth of the jungle and brought the secrets of wildlife home to man via the television, little did the world know the lion wasn’t the king of animals. Yep, the world never fully realised that the lion, when alone, was a potential danger, whose presumed invincibility is magnified by the strength in collective hunting, otherwise known as collective looting in Nigeria’s political circles: Kill and chop.
Partly owing to man’s predilection for royalty and the lack of adequate understanding of the jungle, humans ascribe kingship to the lion because of its crown-like mane, overlooking the biggest, fiercest and most powerful of the cats, the tiger; as well as the biggest of the beasts, the elephant, both of whom can kill the lion – one-on-one.
It’s a lesson in survival tactics when a full-grown lion tactically strays away from the path of the hippopotamus or swishes its tail in respect when a rhinoceros scuttles past.
One-on-one, the lion would be dead meat to the grizzly bear, neither can it single-handedly kill the giraffe, who can kick with the four legs, and would only stand a 50-50 chance in a duel with a silverback gorilla.
When I watched a video, in which a threatening pride of lions was afraid to go near a battle-ready porcupine, I remembered the Yoruba proverb, “kí kéré labẹ́rẹ́ kéré, kìí se mímì fádìyẹ,” and understood the taboo which the needle in the haystack has become for the chicken.
Brimming with muscular pounds of strength, the bull’s physicality is etched in stone. Mentally, however, its head is a vacuous cavity lacking the brain needed to survive jungle predators. The meat of the bull cannot be food for a lone lion except lions hunt in packs to beat starvation.
Predictably, there would be an imbalance in the food chain if bulls were wise enough to collectively repel lions. But bulls won’t attack lions because it’s in their DNA to be docile, to be big-for-nothing and stupid, except for occasional acts of resistance when the hunted turns around to gore the hunter.
We, Nigerians, are bulls. The retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led government is a pride of lions – cowardly bullies devouring ancestral patrimony and trampling on the rights of the timid masses incapable of thinking because that’s the way the governing lions want them to be in the jungle called Nigeria.
If the lineage of lions had not messed up the minds of Nigerians, the masses would have realised the power in their numbers and risen to liberate themselves from insecurity, totally collapsed infrastructure, poverty and starvation. Nobody, except uniformed servants like the members of the Lagos transport union and destined slaves, would be associating with the All Progressives Congress today.
In the nonsensicality of his wisdom, the king of Nigeria’s namby-pamby pride of lions, Buhari, approved for state-owned security corps in Katsina and Borno to bear AK-47 guns but he denied the request of Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, for the Western Nigerian Security Network Agency aka Amotekun security corps to bear arms.
Although I’m not at all sold on the candidacy of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and that of the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, for both are cut from the worse-for-wear Peoples Democratic Party cloth, the hypocritical actions of Buhari since 2015 are nails long enough to seal the coffin of the APC.
Akeredolu, miffed by the nepotism of the Emir, Northern caliphate, Sheikh Muhammadu ibn Buhari, accused the ex-soldier who was booted out of the Army in August 1985, of deliberately exposing Yoruba lives to marauders and destroying the region’s agricultural sector.
Akeredolu, who is the Chairman, South-West Governors’ Forum, said, “Denying Amotekun the urgently needed rights to legitimately bear arms is a repudiation of the basis of true federalism, which we have been clamouring for. That Katsina was able to arm its state security force with AK-47 means we are pursuing a one-country, two-system solution to the national question.
“If the Katsina situation confers advantages on some, in the face of commonly faced existential threats, it means that our unitary policing system, which has failed, is a deliberate method of subjugation which must be challenged.”
Chairman, Afenifere Renewal Group, and former Secretary General, National Democratic Coalition, Honourable Wale Oshun, also accused Nigeria of double standards in approving arms for Borno State JTF and Katsina State security unit while denying Yoruba states of the same gesture.
In a telephone chat with me on Sunday, Oshun particularly bemoaned the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the South-West, warning that the instability in the system portended grave danger for the entire country.
He asked in the video, “Why should Borno JTF and Katsina State Security Unit have arms approved for them by the unitary government yet Amotekun, in the face of flagrant incursion into Yoruba land by unidentified ethnic terrorists of both local and foreign origins, cannot carry arms, why?
“Afenifere Renewal Group contends that it is this kind of impunity by the unitary government of Nigeria and the subversion of federation principles that brought us to this low levels of flagrant insecurity, collapse of our educational system and the massively impoverished populace in our country.”
Oshun, who commended Akeredolu, said irrespective of the 2023 elections and the pretence that democracy was on course, Nigeria would only survive as a country only when the required constitutional restructuring was carried out.
“No section of the country can hold it (Nigeria) together on the sheer force of arms on a permanent basis. It will only remain together if we, all Nigerians, agree to let it remain together,” he said.
Like a people with bull brains, Nigerians rankadedelise our tormentors, who shut university gates against our children, we live in abject darkness, daily waste five hours of our lives on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and nod to ghastly Emi Lokan rhythm by the minstrel of Bourdillon.
I’ll reiterate for the umpteenth time that none among the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, Atiku and Obi is seeking office to genuinely develop Nigeria; all are seeking office for the power, perks and paraphernalia therein.
I say this because each of the presidential candidates knows that no development can emanate from the continued use of the pro-North 1999 Constitution, which supports the current madness ailing our dear country. But none of them has said the obvious nor explained how to bring about the desired constitutional amendment alias restructuring.
Going by political history and emerging indications from the camps of the APC, PDP and LP, the reading of the political barometer of the APC in the South-West shows a propensity for vote buying, ballot snatching and violence, exactly the same indications on the PDP Northern barometer which has child-voting to boot while the LP barometer on the South-East axis shows divisive comments, ethnicism and cyber bullying.
Conducting the 2023 elections without restructuring, and expecting a change in the fortunes of the country is like fetching water with a basket or heading up North from Abuja and expecting to land in Calabar.
No matter the amount of prayers and well wishes, nothing good will come out of Nigeria except we, Nigerians, lay the foundation for greatness by addressing the inherent injustices in the system.
God has never come down to help any people develop their country. As we lay our bed, we will lie on it.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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