The Araba of Osogbo, Ifayemi Elebuibon, has spent a better part of this year in the United States and Argentina where he was being moved from one city to another, delivering a lecture on Ifa divination and Yoruba traditional belief system. On his return, he spoke with TUNDE BUSARI on insecurity raging in the country, especially the escapades of kidnappers in Yorubaland and offered solutions to the problem. Excerpts:
Kidnapping is a new crime being witnessed in Yorubaland. What do you think is responsible for this trend?
Let us first get it right from the beginning. We may say the rate of occurrence in the past and now is different. Kidnapping is not new. It is an age-old crime but which did occur occasionally from towns to towns, communities to communities and villages to villages. But the sophistication with which it is carried out today, especially with the amount of money the kidnappers ask from families and friends of their victims leaves much to be desired. And I want to believe that this very ridiculous amount of money has made kidnapping a lucrative business to the youths. They know relations of their victims would not want to lose them, and they capitalize on this to perpetrate the crime. But they should, from today, know that everyday will not be harvest day for them. One day, they will meet their waterloo and reap the fruit of pains and hardship they have inflicted on innocent victims. It is so painful that after collecting the ransom, they sometimes still kill the unfortunate victims.
What do you think is responsible for crime explosion, especially youths’ embrace of kidnapping?
Civilisation, which makes people to abandon their cultural heritage, is one of the reasons for the crime rate. The youths don’t respect the elderly ones. They are ruled by strange spirit which encourages them to always challenge the established traditional institution. The worst is their uncontrolled urge to get rich at all cost. This is direct cause of crime. Yoruba culture preaches hard work as solution to poverty. But these youths don’t care about hard work. All they want and struggle for, on daily basis, is money. They look for all sorts of ways to make money. And the society does not help the matter. People no longer bother about where money comes from. All they care for is that money and what they can do with it. Everybody wants to ride jeep but everybody does not want to work to buy jeep. We have to return to old value; we have to return to the way of our fathers who would not entertain an emergency wealth. You needed to explain how you raise money to build that house before they agree to enter the house.
As a traditionalist, isn’t there traditional ways of confronting kidnappings in Yorubaland?
Before I go into that, I want to firstly tell government to engage the unemployed youths productively. Government should create jobs for them to be engaged. I mean unemployment creates rooms for the youths to think of criminal ways of survival. This is very important among other solution we may think of on this problem. As I said earlier that we should return to our past to know how to live this present life, we have to understand that not all the past ways of life are archaic. It is true that the world is moving forward at a fast rate, and we are happy for that development. But we should not throw everything about the past away because of the present development. For instance, each Yoruba town has a certain spot where rite was performed to prevent invasion of the town by external forces. How many towns still perform the rite today? How many towns still retain that spiritual spot? Our forefathers did not joke with security issue because they knew security is the vehicle which drives development to towns and communities. Let me give you an example of an incident which occurred in Osogbo here about 60 years ago. There was one called Alu who was killing the innocent people indiscriminately. It was a difficult time even for the Police. He was evasive and difficult to arrest. But what happened in the end? Hunters were consulted after fruitless efforts of the police. They went after him, found him and asked him to follow them. He complied, and that was the end of his terrorism in the town.
Let us make it clear to the public. Were the hunters armed or what did they use to arrest him?
It is unfortunate that we don’t appreciate what we have. The hunters went to him with traditional weapons which are not visible. They did not engage him in any physical combat. They did not fire a bullet. They walked up to him, spoke to him, and that was the end of it.
Don’t you think that technology has rendered such weapons obsolete?
I cannot think that way. I can only educate people like you that our traditional method is still potent. I think I should not waste too much time on this because of the fact that we should not reveal everything about ourselves on pages of newspapers. But I want you to mark my word and quote me any time that I told you that we are blessed with enough materials to prevent insecurity in the land. Let us go back to where we are coming from.
Few weeks to Osun Festival, you returned to Osogbo from Argentina, how was your trip?
Let me say it was another successful trip. Don’t forget that I was in the US months earlier. I only returned home to have a short break. The Argentina trip was special in the sense that Nigeria Embassy surprised me. I was given a treatment which I did not expect.
How do you mean by not expecting the treatment?
I was surprised because of my past experience. You should know that Nigerians have different ways of doing their things all to show the world and expose what I should call our limitations. But this time, our officials accorded me a treatment which impressed my hosts. They even said that they would have come and receive me at the airport if they had been notified of my travel schedule. I think, we are gradually getting it right on how to treat those of us who are projecting our culture in other countries.
What can you say was the highpoint of your journey?
Something that really surprised me was the hot demand for my book,Healing Power of Sacrificeby everybody. I could not believe what happened or how it happened. In fact, it was sellout, such that I needed to call Nigeria for more, which were shipped to Argentina. It was an experience, which caught me unawares. That showed the reading culture in those people, unlike our people here who don’t bother about reading books. Over there, you see everybody reading book in transit. You scarcely see that here. Publishers are not encouraged here to accept books from authors. As an author, you must be ready to fund your book to publish. If you are not ready to spend your money, publishing houses would not want to take risk because they are into business. Also researches are not being carried out. Researchers too cannot access grant to do scholarly works again. It is unfortunate. But I still believe that good books have big market to sell.
The 2019 Isese Day was also observed in Osun State. Didn’t you think the change of government would affect it?
I did not think so because the change of government is not change of ruling political party. I think the government only continued what its predecessor was doing as regard Isese Day. It is good, and we appreciate this gesture. It is more interesting coming one week after Ileya Festival of the Muslims. A government which gives equal recognition to all religions means well for the people.