O Nami!

I stopped following Tere’s ministry about 37 years ago that I saw him driving a commercial bus and would therefore not be able to say precisely the progression. But I am certain he would have become an Oluomo at some point.

He was my mate in primary school in Ondo and was notorious for being a bully. Every argument with him ended in fisticuffs. He beat nearly everybody in our class. I was spared of his aggression because he was not particularly bright and had to giraffe my scripts during examinations as he had the opportunity of sitting around me.

I always wondered why his parents contemplated bringing him to school as his career path from childhood had nothing to do with education. He was one of the young chaps who would carry a pot on his head following Bai Jagudu the snake man during the annual Ogun festival in the town as they sang “Baba elejo ma de o, ori ejo ninu, iru ejo lode” (The snake man is here, the head of snake in his pocket and the body outside).

He was behind Jagudu in Odojomu area of the town in 1976 when he enacted a shock. With dangerous snakes like cobra and rattlesnake on his neck, a drunk young man riding on a bike ran into him. Instead of apologising, he started abusing the weird man. Jagudu placed a curse on him to the effect that if he crossed the next electric pole, the world should stop calling him his name. The guy did not make it beyond the pole.

But God has a big sense of humour. He chose a girl to humiliate Tere in school one beautiful afternoon. He had become aggressive against one stocky girl called Aina and within seconds she landed Tere on his back. He got up and dashed towards her and she put him to the ground again. It happened the third time before the bully surrendered. Aina was carried shoulder high by other students.

I didn’t join them as I mischievously went to meet Tere under the mango tree where he sat to sympathise with him. He was not aware of my presence with his index finger locked in between his teeth lamenting “O nami” (She beat me).

Like Tere, our folks who promoted the All Progressives Congress (APC) idea and thought they were stakeholders in the project must be under their mango tree now biting their fingers. And in some funny sense, one of the symbols of their humiliation in this season is Nami (beat me in Yoruba) who was appointed to replace Fowler a few days ago at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The people who are running Nigeria now may not know how to use power to set society aright, but they are deft in its use to humiliate opponents who mistake themselves as associates.

Fowler had five years to teach them how to use all the tricks in the tax book to squeeze and terrorise those who are doing business, mostly from his half of the country and was thinking they would renew his tenure. He was taken through the shame of writing a letter pleading for re-appointment the morning of the day they fired him by some cabal members he lobbied. His humiliating memo wax leaked to the public. He was hooted out in Hausa the following day at FIRS office with one guy in babariga symbolically yanking off his photograph off the wall.

No replacement could be found for him in the South but from Kaduna in a Tax Consultant the Presidency says has been consulting for unnamed reputable organisations.

In less than 24 hours after, Dr Muiz Banire was unceremoniously removed as Chairman of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) by another Adamu. There has been this cheeky explanation of his removal being on the basis of the amendment to the AMCON Act which requires a Deputy Governor of CBN to head the body. So, it is only the North that has a CBN Deputy Governor?

With the two latest weeds, everything that has to do with revenue in Nigeria today is now in the firm grip of the North: Ministry of Finance, NNPC, NPA, FIRS, AMCON et al.

It has followed the patterns in our Security Architecture that has seen the North holding 15 out of 17 service chiefs and for the time in our history having all the three arms of government from core North.

This cannot be what Governor Aminu Tambuwal called an inclusive country we need at Tribune Awards in Lagos on Tuesday.

When all this started, Southern footsoldiers were the errand boys and girls of the so-called CHANGE. They were pounding the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, with those of us with deep understanding of this game shaking our heads vigorously looking at them like those who struggle for visa lottery to sell themselves into slavery unlike their fathers who were captured.

Anywhere you saw Major-General Muhammadu then wearing Yoruba, Igbo and South-South caps, he was surrounded by Southern tools and he cutting the image of a political orphan from the North.

It  was the day that he went to collect his certificate of return from INEC that the “jonmons” trooped out like ants and surrounded him. I searched and searched for the the errand guys of the South and I could not find them. It soon dawned on them they had to become almajiris around northern power circles in Abuja to get appointments. It was as if they were begging for shares when they didn’t partake in the hunt.

In my piece titled “Arewa’s songs of conquest” published in May, 2015, I observed as follows: “Adventurers who uncritically assumed a day would come when Arewa would embrace power sharing are now doing what Yoruba call “aramora, iso kijipa”, like you are being whipped, but you can’t afford to drop any tear. The children of Oduduwa who gave an identity and the formula to engage all nationalities with pride are now hovering like almajiris in Abuja because they sacrifice their core values to play at their traducers’ area of strength. The gloom on their faces is worse than those who lost elections. They are now busy tearing themselves into pieces jostling for who will be the senior in the slavery they have just sold themselves into. Like Fela Anikulapo Kuti around this time in 1984, “I just dey look and dey laugh”.

A group with deep political understanding would have seen the signal and quickly become more strategic. But then you don’t start learning the art of climbing a palm tree on top of it. They continued to play the script written by their users.

What I hinted them from the beginning was spelt out in May 2019 by President Buhari, after he secured his second term and could afford to be “reckless”. He declared at some function held by the Progressives Governors Forum that in establishing the APC in 2014, politicians of like minds (they are in charge today) sought to woo the South-West  first because the zone was more united at the time.

According to him, the South-East and the South-South were already facing problems, a reason the founders of the APC found support in the unity.

He said,  “It was easier to woo the South-West because it was more united.”

Note the colonial diction “woo”. This was the language of wedlock used by Lord Lugard after the 1914 amalgamation when he said “I have found a Northern suitor for the Southern Lady of means.”

From the moment APC secured power in 2015, its core North component was done with party division. They quickly moved on to regional play by defining everything from that standpoint .When they wanted RUGA, some core North APC and PDP Governors spoke for it. They are united in their opposition to restructuring.

It is their instruments in the South who still carry party cards about. They are the ones speaking “our party” even with no sense of belonging given.There is no mental magnitude to read the Nigerian game as they use Ludo skills to play with Chess masters.

Quo vadis? The mentality that takes a people into slavery hardly takes them out of it. Orji Kalu was about collecting his prison uniform before he exclaimed “2023 here we come.”The frontmen in the slave camp now may not easily realise that a fresh thinking is required in this type of situation. Instead of rallying across party lines and zones they will continue to play party or factions until they are all crushed one after the other in their little corners.

If they cannot rise beyond their fall, new layers will have to rise with a clear understanding of how to check the conquest and domination that is daily unfolding and allow the eternally conquered to be groaning “o Nami”.
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Awo saw our today

ON Friday, February 28, 1986, Samuel Cookey, a professor of political science, who the then military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, asked to lead a bureau to search for a new social order for Nigeria wrote a letter requesting the sage, Pa Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo, to avail the Nigerian state the benefit of his wisdom.

In declining the request Awo prophesied into the future of Nigeria:

“Dear Sir,

“I received your letter of February 28, 1986, and sincerely thank you for doing me the honour of inviting me to contribute to the National Political Debate.

“The purpose of the debate is to clarify our thoughts in our search for a new social order.

“It is therefore meet and proper that all those who have something to contribute should do so.

“I do fervently and will continue fervently to pray that I may be proved wrong.

“For something within me tells me, loud and clear, that we have embarked on a fruitless search.

“At the end of the day, WHEN WE IMAGINE THAT THE NEW ORDER IS HERE WE WILL BE TERRIBLY DISAPPOINTED (emphasis mine).

“In other words, at the threshold of our New Social Order, we would see for ourselves that, as long as Nigerians remain what they are, nothing clean, principled, ethical, and idealistic can work with them.

“And Nigerians will remain what they are, unless the evils which now dominate their hearts, at all levels and in all sectors of our political, business and governmental activities are exorcised.

“But I venture to assert that they will not be exorcised, and indeed they will be firmly entrenched, unless God Himself imbues a vast majority of us with a revolutionary change of attitude to life and politics or, unless the dialetic processes which have been at work for some twenty years now, perforce, make us perceive the abominable filth that abounds in our society, to the end that an inexorable abhorrence of it will be quickened in our hearts and impel us to make drastic changes for the better.

“There is, of course, an alternative option open to us.

“To succumb to permanent social instability and chaos.

“In the premises, I beg to decline your invitation.

“I am yours truly, Obafemi Awolowo”

Thirty-three years after Papa’s prophecy and five years into our season of CHANGE, can’t we see what has become of Nigeria?

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