We all know that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has a huge appetite for victims. It is also a very audacious hunter of real and perceived enemies. But wise hunters don’t shoot at every game for the sake of their own safety. Some animals are pets of spirits – you shoot them and hear wailings in your homestead.
Today’s arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal without following due process reminds me of how a certain hunter ended up with life-long deformity. We call him Tuuku – that is the Yoruba name for warthog, a ferocious, wild pig with four tusks and large shovel-shaped head. Its ugliness is a metaphor, really, for what it is capable of doing to whoever crosses its path. But how did Tuuku then become the name for a human being? The story is that this man followed a guild of hunters on a hunting trip and got maimed for life. He was aware of the rule that governed sharing of meat from expeditions. The one that kills the animal takes the pricey head and a meaty hind leg. This hunter was determined to come home rich, with the princely prize in his pouch. He had no gun but made sure his machete was the sharpest of the lot. With others, he stormed the thicket, loud and active, shouting and shooing the beasts towards his colleagues with guns.
Then he saw this hefty creature – a warthog- within his machete’s reach. His mind raced back home to his wife and the promise of a festival of meat. The massive head and the large hind leg of this game would be a mouthful at his feast. He went for the big beast but the tough, thick skin of the wild pig bounced off his flashing machete. Then hell descended as the beast pounced on him, goring him with savage blows. The hunter literally became the hunted amid shouts of ‘eran mu mi o’ – meaning – an animal has seized me! A colleague’s retort was: “ka a mu o; eran ti won nfi ada a pa loo pe ni? (Why will it not seize you? Did you think it is an animal you kill with machete?)”
The counter-attacker meant business and was determined to fatally take out the hunter but for the timely arrival of another colleague who separated them with a volley of gunshots.
The wild animal was killed but our man did not get the prize that almost killed him. He, in fact, was too badly gored to think of who eventually got the prize he desperately sought. Our man is still alive, old and forever deformed. That is what greed and unwisdom fetched the one who thought he was well armed and powerful.
Not all animals are meat. Not all beasts can be killed with ordinary weapons. The man was lucky; some others would not have survived the attack. He could have lost his life to the beast or even to the friendly fire that saved him.
Whatever you see in that hunting expedition can be transported to our wild world of politics. The CJN is not an every politician’s victim. Let us see how the APC Federal Government discharges itself from the dock it puts itself today in this CJN case. Politicians hunt; they kill and also, tragically, they get killed.
Still on APC and its other hunting activities. Political parties in Nigeria are no more than hunting parties – guilds of predators. I am very familiar with the pristine nuances of Yoruba hunting experience and so I know that a hunting party consists of master hunters and bush-shakers and dogs. The leaders are the gun bearers – they are also the ones destined to enjoy the bulk of the meat from hunting expeditions. Bush shakers are mere helpers, trackers whose business is to make enough noise to get out the game for the gunner to kill. Hunting has structures and rules. It has its politics and economics and social relations. While in the forest foraging for games, fools make the noise and shake the bush for gun bearers to take the prize. Late Yoruba ace musician, Ayinla Omowura puts the relationship more elegantly when he sings: “E f’awon were si’le kan ru’gbo siwa/ K’awa p’eran t’oba yo’ju (Let the fools shake the bush for us to kill the animals that come out).”
I remembered Omowura’s song when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the Asiwaju of Lagos, Senator Bola Tinubu, as his burden bearer in the campaigns for a second term. It is not everyday you have strongmen as game trackers.
Sometimes those who shout and shake the bush are appreciated; sometimes they are cheated, they go home almost empty-handed. You remember Chief Tom Ikimi and his unforgettable all-night counting of ‘Obasanjo,’ ‘Obasanjo’ votes at the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential primary of 2003? What came out of it for him at the end of the day? His role was that of a vote tracker who sweats and suffers but rarely makes it beyond the door of victory. What vote trackers get as kingmakers is the sting for wanting to share the throne with the king. They get locked out of power and all they can do is whine. Sometimes they step on thorns, some other times wild beasts gore them. Gun bearers who cheat them don’t sweat; they don’t suffer. They stand, or sit, or lurk, or stalk, waiting to clinch the trophy. And they get the trophy and the crown and mock those who laboured to get the work done.
Major political parties in Nigeria, especially the PDP and its twin brother, the APC, have millions of bush shakers. These persons make things happen for the masters who romp in undisturbed luxury while the forest rumbles. They are out and are everywhere you go now marketing their difficult products. Game chasers and bush shakers who are the real labourers in the political Games Reserve have grades. There are the rabble who are too diffident to care about what happens to the dividends of their hunt. Their own is to work hard, do as they are told and move on to the next assignment. They rarely ask questions and when they do, they are too scared of being sacked to insist on an answer. In the APC, they see white in every dark spot on their idol’s and party’s garments. Some big men also serve power in this capacity simply for its own sake.
The APC is a recent good example. Its presidential candidate picked some strong-muscled big persons who would sweat through the 2019 election campaigns on his behalf. These proxies did that once. They did it four years ago and got the dog treatment after the hunt. In 2015, Buhari’s dogs worked very hard for his victory with unbelievably great results but the owner soon beat the dogs off the meat. The shares of the dogs are the meatless bones you see them with today. The excuse was that the president chose those he could trust to run the government with him.
Now, those he could not trust with power all through the past four years are now worthy of trust in the campaigns for a renewal of power. And the dogs must not complain. They must go for the next expedition and repeat the feat of 2015. Sometimes it pays to learn from the tough guy bush shaker who brooks no nonsense from the gun bearer. He demands his fair share and proceeds to snatch what he feels should be his from the hunting party. The nPDP part of the APC did exactly that in 2015 with the Senate presidency and the Speaker of the House. If you are meek and too quiet in politics, life’s ailment will silently follow you all the days of your life.
The February 16 presidential election is a month away. Another hunting season is here and the parties are out. There will be casualties who will limp out of the forest and still go home empty handed. There will be winners of golden boots whose efforts in the hunt is zero.
If I were Bola Tinubu and his tribe of party campaigners, I wouldn’t go into this 2019 forest without a fidelity bond. The same goes for the allied forces massing behind PDP’s Atiku Abubakar. The electorate are the perennial losers in the enterprise. They have absolutely no share although they are the bullets that always fell the electoral elephant. This time, the wise among them will ‘shine their eyes’ and take firm commitments to immediate delivery of good governance. An IOU cashable in 2023 is an obvious scam – tomorrow belongs to God, not to any mortal. Wise hunters share their game right before the hunt, especially if the senior party has a history of greed – and betrayal.