Nigeria in the Angbos of Benue

LET me start with this Ilorin folk song, which everyone who believes in what Governor Samuel Ortom did with the Benue couple, would love to sing to the serially violated lady, Ifeanyinwa.

Joko kale ko jeun omo            Sit down and eat the fruit of your labour

Joko kale ko jeun omo            Sit down and eat the fruit of your labour

Ko wo ‘gba to tin babo na      Consider how far you have suffered (a

Tan ba ko e mase gb’eko         If they counsel you otherwise, don’t listen

Ko masibi ti egbin o si                      There is no place where there is no insults

Joko kale ko jeun omo            Sit down and eat the fruit of your labour

I have heard this song a couple of times. I have seen many women comply with the wisdom therein and live happily thereafter. I have equally seen a lot of women who regretted ever listening to the subtle blackmail contained therein. They wished they had acted contrarily.

I watched over and over again, the emotion laden video of the battered housewife, Mrs. (Dr) Ifeanyinwa Angbo, the wife of our dear Hogan Bassey of the 21st century, Mr. Pius Angbo, a journalist with the Channels TV and a native of the savannah state of Benue. In the two minutes and 12 seconds video, the pretty Mrs. Angbo, narrated what has been her ordeals in her six years of conjugal bliss.

The video, as released to the social media space on the holy Sabbath Day of our Lord, Sunday, December 6, 2020, summarised how marital life has been nasty, brutish and short for our beautiful Medico. Her unsolicited advice to a ‘randy’ and or a ‘Casanova’ of a hubby, earned her the beating of her life.

She introduced herself as Ifeanyinwa, a medical  doctor, who has been married to Pius Angbo of Channels Television for six years. “And for six years I’ve known no peace in this marriage. It’s been from one woman to another”, she said. She had a baby through  caesarean section some three weeks before the brutalisation. “Just because I told him to spend wisely and not spend on women recklessly considering that we have four children and these children need to be trained, that is why I got this beating”. The husband she claimed, tried to strangle her and “sat on my incision. …When I was pregnant with this child and the pregnancy was three months, it was the same thing. He sit on my stomach”. Her mistake; “I thought I got married to a fellow human being. …See my face. It is well with my soul”.

Trust Nigerians, Pius, has since been described in so many ugly ways, that even in my own anger, indignation and boiling rage, I am more than satisfied. I would not want to add to the litany of woes, curses and expletives vomited on the pugilist, Pius. I believe he got more than enough.

The video went viral and Pius’s employer, Channels TV, promised to institute an “investigative panel”. But before that could happen, Samuel Ortom, the Executive Governor of Benue State, the home state of Pius, conveyed a Sanhedrin Council meeting of members of his cabinet and resolved the matter! Phew! What a dexterous study in arbitration and reconciliation. The warring Tiv and Junkun, the rancorous herdsmen and Benue farmers, the Agatu and the Idoma fighting endlessly in Ortom’s backyard, must have been very recalcitrant.

Coming out of the ‘peace parley’, Governor Ortom said: “We have resolved all issues. This family is barely six years with four kids. …We felt for a young couple of six years, they must be encouraged instead of trying to separate them. Some of us are not also innocent… “I’m over 40 years of marriage life so I have the capacity…”

I am genuinely worried about the “reconciliation”. My spirit tells me that everything that took place in Makurdi Government House on Monday, December 7, was and is nothing, but cosmetics. When Governor Ortom said, “we have resolved all issues”, I am tempted to ask: which of the issues? That Pius spend less of his money on women? That when next his wife complains, he will take a walk and not beat her up? May I also ask His Excellency if the “all issues” include: That Dr. Mrs. Angbo will look the other way, whenever Pius goes back to his ‘many women’?  That she will be satisfied with whatever remains, after her husband must have finished “spending on women recklessly”? That she will learn not to give advice when her service is not required? Or that she will forever keep quiet, while her husband goes about sowing wild oats all over? She must also kill her feeling of jealousy no matter how innate such is, so that they are not “separated” because of the “four kids”?

“I have apologised to her on my knees… It was not a deliberate act (for real; after six years?) and I’ve committed to also work on our home to avoid re-occurrence of any domestic issue,” are incomprehensive verbiages.

Thankfully enough, the peacemaking governor admitted that some of his Sanhedrin Court members “are not also innocent”. They are everything Pius in terms of all the ‘sins”, the journalist was accused of by his wife.

The aspect of the governor’s statement I am really not comfortable with, is the “I’m over 40 years of marriage life so I have the capacity”. With due respect, Your Excellency, if it is true that Pius has been battering his wife in the last six years, there must have been one or two members of his family, who are 50 or above years of marriage life, that had intervened in the matter in the past to no avail. I dare say, Sir, that Pius did not ‘listen’ to you or take your counsel because you are “over 40 years of marriage life”.  If he did listen, it was and it is purely honourific. Respect for His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State. Simple! If the fundamentals of the battering are not addressed and sanctioned, Pius will still beat and beat Ifeanyinwa all over again and “sit on her stomach” even when she gets pregnant again. Sure, they will still have more; I suspect they “settle” their quarrels with ‘due benevolence’.

I saw the photos of the “embrace” after they “have resolved all issues”, and I tell you this without blinking: the photos failed, and woefully too, the test of elementary semiotics! Nothing convincing there. The “embrace” was too missionary. The actors were just obeying His Excellency’s command: “Now, embrace each other”. Check it out, Sir: you were the only one smiling in the photo! So much for the “reconciliation”; let us return to Ifeanyinwa’s transcription.

Reading the transcription of the video and I could not find where our Medico wife accused her husband of negligence. The statement: “Just because I told him to spend wisely and not spend on women recklessly considering that we have four children and these children need to be trained, that is why I got this beating”, does not portray Pius as a man who brings nothing home after “spending recklessly on women”. Ifeanyinwa did not say her children are lacking in anything because Pius “spends on women recklessly”. Her major concern is the fear that Pius might not have enough to keep aside to take care of “these children”, who, “need to be trained”. Mere fear that is not founded on any accusation of abdication of responsibility.

I subjected the above statements to semantic analysis, using the theory of Truth Condition from H.P. Grice, to M.A.K. Halliday; S.I. Hayakawa to our dear Olalekan Oyeleye’. The binary opposition is more on the positive side. You don’t just assume. Pius may be a ‘Casanova’, yes; but he may also be a man with deep pocket. How does Ifeanyinwa determine that Pius is not saving for “these children”, who, “need to be trained”?  Is she sure that Pius is not “wise” in his spending?

The last sentence of her video: “It is well with my soul”, is ominous. It evokes in me something frightening and deadly; a DIRGE, if I must flatten it out! She knows what she has been through these last six years. “And for six years I’ve known no peace in this marriage”, she said! That is loaded enough. It is true, Governor Ortom, that Pius and Ifeanyinwa “must be encouraged instead of trying to separate them”. My denominational creed says: “marriage with no room for divorce”. Good enough. But I know there is wisdom in the saying: “if it faces you, shoot; if it turns its back at you, shoot; but when you are alone, reconsider your thoughts”.

Asking a couple to stay together in an abusive union is a metaphor for Nigeria. That is what has been keeping us together as one nation in spite of the daily abuses we suffer. There has always been an Ortom forcing Nigerians back to the husband’s bed after every rape. Nigerians have been raped serially, abused on countless occasions and dehumanised endlessly, because the Ortoms in our midst always “resolve all issues” for us. We do nothing about the serial rapists ruling us because we “must be encouraged instead of trying to separate…”. Anytime we try to extricate ourselves from the abuses of those we helped into power, the Ortoms of this world sing Joko kale ko jeun omo song for us. We die daily in our misery because our Ortom doesn’t see those who are sitting on our stomach and the inherent death. He sees only the children, whom we must stay together to raise. Our Ortom has forgotten that the children suffer more when we die. This has been our lot in Nigeria. We die daily because “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”.

Udeme Otike-Odibi, killed her husband, Sym on May 2, 2018 because an Ortom encouraged them to stay together.  She severed the husband’s penis and put same on the right hand of the man saying: “If your penis is the one that is giving you license to have the feeling of another person, it’s better we cut it off”. Olamide Omajuwa Alli, 25-year old mother of two, was lured from her Ikeja base, to the Ilasan Lekki, where Chris Ndukwe, 39 years old, knifed her to death. Like Mike Hebden’s “Death set to music”, dukwe put his music on the highest volume, while he skinned Omajuwa alive. He later poisoned himself by drinking two bottles of insecticide. We should ask the Ortom, who sang the Joko kale ko jeun omo song for Omajuwa what has become of the two innocent boys, aged seven and three, when their mother was murdered on June 21, 2020. “Separation” could have saved them. But the Ortoms of our time “encouraged” them to be together for the sake of the “two kids”. They are both dead and buried.

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