Ifayemi Elebuibon is a foremost Ifa priest who has exported African traditional religion to international fora. He tells OLUWABUNMI AJAYI of his recent engagements and more especially what the Ifa oracle predicted on the state of the nation and what to do to avert ‘destruction’.
You have been silent for some time now, we would like to know what you have been doing lately?
I returned to Nigeria from the United States in November 2015, after which I travelled to Brazil. After returning from Brazil, I went back to the US in April from where I just came back two weeks ago. Now I am fully into my annual commitment to spiritual lectures and talks. I was in New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Florida, Oakland and San Francisco. Now, I am back.
You are the president of International Congress of Orisa Tradition and Culture in Nigeria, what intervention is the body doing on behalf of the country, considering the tough economic situation?
Last month, all the African traditional religion worshippers were at Oke Itase during the annual new year festival as every month of June is a new year in Yoruba land. Although, I was in the US then, all the traditional worshippers were at Ile-Ife, saying prayers, offering sacrifices to all our ancestors and divinities for the progress and unity of our nation. This, I believe, is exactly what can change our present situation, we need intervention of the gods.
Do you think things are this hard because of our past misdeeds?
A lot of people are suffering and the suffering is not as a result of the trespasses or sins of our ancestors; it is caused by the recklessness of the past administrators who misdirected and misguided us and have put us in this difficult situation.
It’s more than one year since the Buhari administration came into office, what can you say about his performance so far?
Well, I would say he is doing his best to put things in shape. As a human being, we are not expecting a leader who came into office just one year ago to put everything in order, he can’t fix issues that have been destroyed for over 10 to 15 years, it’s not easy. I would advise all and sundry to be patient with the Buhari administration because he is just starting.
Just before he was sworn in last year, you predicted that on assumption of office, he (Buhari) would be vindictive, would you say this prediction is already coming to pass and what are the implications?
It wasn’t me that predicted that, it was a revelation from Ifa and Ifa is always right. That is why our ancestors respect and regard Ifa as the most accurate among all the gods we have in Yoruba land. All we just have to do is to pray against the side effect of the revelation so that the impact of Buhari’s actions will not destroy the atmosphere. It will be more terrible if he continues with this act.
What can you say about the incessant invasion of the South West by herdsmen and militants from the Niger Delta?
Well, militancy from the Niger Delta is an endless problem, it has been in existence for a long time and wherever we have oil, it is always as volatile as that. Any nation without oil is usually calm because the people there will lack all the greed associated with oil. The only solution that the government can render is just to make sure they give the people their due share of the oil windfall. As far as the case of the herdsmen is concerned, it is a different ball game entirely. My advice about this is that all of us should be vigilant, citizens in the South West must not sleep, we must be at alert and not just rely on our country’s security apparatus alone, we should as well make use of our traditional protection as used by our ancestors in the olden days, otherwise this would continue.
Do you think the Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has the wherewithal to stop the menace of these attackers coming to South West states?
Is the OPC not aware of what is going on? What have they been doing? Does someone have to tell them what is going on? My advice to all Nigerians is to be patient; our economy is going to improve. We need to endure and bear with the new administration so that they will put us through.
Any advice for Buhari and the governors?
My advice for the president is to take everything easy and fulfill all he promised during his campaigns, he should not let the poor people of the country down in terms of education, agriculture, welfare, roads and transport. He should also ensure transparency. All the money recovered as loot should be handled transparently and used judiciously. He should try and make a difference and I am sure the governors will all emulate him.
If the court eventually allows students to wear uniforms reflecting their religion, will you encourage traditional religion adherents to dress their wards in appropriate attire to schools?
If that is going to be the case, then the traditional worshippers can as well wear their traditional attire to school. I don’t know why the government wants to get single uniform for all the schools and yet give room for people to politicise it. However, if the court insists on the recent pronouncement, then each religion has the right to ask students to dress in such a way that they can be identified and recognised as belonging to a particular faith.
It is said that religious leaders, especially the traditionalists, give politicians mystical power to escape the wrath of the people, is this true? Is this right?
It‘s not true, if you do evil you cannot escape the repercussion. The reward for evil is evil, unless they are being deceived by those who decide to extort money from them. As for me, I will never deceive people (…bursts into song, Babalowo ko le se k’elese ma jiya, meaning no priest can appease the gods on behalf of the wicked). You will certainly reap what you sow.
Any parting words for Nigerians?
I will encourage everyone to pray to Olodumare to help us out of this tough situation but we must remember that Olodumare will not come down Himself to help us, it is those on earth people that will work towards getting divine help. Therefore, my appeal goes to our policy makers, the government, politicians and civil servants to take the right step that will favour everyone.