NON-speakers of Yoruba language should pardon me for this week’s headline. It simply means remember the son of whom you are but it is sweeter in my native tongue. The ‘Chief Commander’, Ebenezer Obey has one of his evergreens in that line in which he admonishes proper-borns not to ever forget their roots no matter the peak they get to in life.
It’s about reminding about the ladder of life and the first step on it. A smooth climb can take you to a peak where you view the firmament all around you to the point that you begin to forget your roots as you are in another terrain. But the law of life is that you can’t hang up their for life. So before Isaac Newton spoke of whatever goes up must come down, our fathers from the depth of their wisdom have put the whole thing together when they said “laala to roke ile lo nbo” (the object doing all the wonders in the sky is rebounding on earth). That was the wisdom the English man learnt and said that you should be careful how you deal with people you see on your way up as you may encounter them on your way down. Often in life, coming down is more reflective and sobering going up.
May the soul of Uncle Bola Ige rest in peace. I will never forget his admonition on a prominent NPN chieftain from Ibadan in 1982 on the then TSOS now called BCOS. He picked on all the good strengths of the brilliant politician but concluded sadly “won se oselu titi, won de gagbe ibi ti a ti biwon” (He played politics to the point of forgetting his roots).
Unfortunately, that has always been the lot of many Yoruba who find themselves playing at the centre. They always behave as if distancing themselves from their roots is a sure way of convincing the colonial masters that they are “loyal” and “detribalised”. Yet the people they are playing with make no such pretensions about their affinity with their own local people, culture and interests.
A friend of mine asked a question I have not been to answer. And I want any reader who has an idea to help me out. He said he has seen President Buhari moved the Presidency on occasions to his home town, the last time was when he gave Nigerians two days Sallah holidays and he spent nine days in Daura which became a tourist destination for all favor seekers. He then asked if VP Yemi Osinbajo has ever spent one night in Ikenne in four and a half years.
Which brings me to another gentleman from nearby Odogbolu who was CGS to the late dictator Sani Abacha. Diya was so ensconced in the allure of power and glory with Abacha that he was calling principled men in Yorubaland resisting Abacha under NADECO “agbako” (condensed Trouble). In the same manner somebody I don’t want to mention calls some of us insisting on our values “rascals” today.
I still recall what happened in Gbagada in Lagos about two weeks before Major Al-Mustapha put Gen. Diya on his knees. The CGS was passing by and his convoy was like that of an ECOMOG Commander on a road show in Monrovia in the days of war. Everyone ran heller shelter and one pregnant woman ran into the culvert with her car and fainted. We rushed her to hospital. I recall the late Commodore Francis Ademoroti asking me that day “Can Diya go to Kaduna to do this? “In two weeks after Diya had kissed the dust.
A few months earlier he had shocked the Yoruba establishment in Owo at the burial of Pa Adekunle Ajasin the leader of NADECO. When Diya arrived at the Church, there were more solders than the people who had come for the farewell service for Ajasin. A lot of Ajasin’s colleagues were not even allowed into the service. I was looking at the gun of a soldier standing by my side inside the church that I could not pick half of what the preacher said.
But when Diya’s master bared their fangs against him it was “agbako” people that could speak for him. All his hangers-on kept mute. He is alive today because Abacha dozed off eternally the night before he was to be executed!
From Odogbolu back to Ikenne. A Professor came from the hometown of Baba Layinka to be Vice President of Nigeria in 2015. He is indeed married to the granddaughter of the sage. How much proud he is of that I am still deciphering as I have never seen him once at the patronal service for Awolowo over the years.
Indeed as Vice President it became a pastime for him to repudiate Awo at every turn until it became necessary for some us to put up the lamp to look at his face.
As Attorney General in Lagos under Tinubu he fought many restructuring battles up to the Supreme Court but started to diss the subject of federalism to please his bosses.
When Fulani kidnappers make our land so unsafe, he went to America to say it was all a hoax and we were making things up.
There are stories of Yoruba sons and daughters who needed a word here and there from our most senior representative in government but got adversarial treatment. We will talk about them in the future.
All those home goals have not counted in the days of dagger I warned about in “Arewa Songs of Conquest” as we now see serial assaults on the office of the Vice President.
It is time to say “so tan?” but it is not in our character or DNA. We fought for Shugaba, we were at the forefront of breaking the back of the cabal when they stood against Goodluck Jonathan. We will always side constitutionalism and condemn injustice in all issues all the time.
There are those who have said that what is the incentives for our children to remember their roots when we will always stand for those who despise us in their days of affliction? It is a tough one really. There are various wisdoms of our fathers I have been reflecting on, on this.
There is one that says “Gba fun Muri nile, ni gba fun Gbada loko. Ara oko tofe je buredi a fi su ranse sile” (Give to Muri at home is take for Gbada on the farm. The man on the farm who wants bread must have sent yam to town).
There is another one that says “Abuke to ni olorun o foju re wo ohun, se o o ko eyin re si olorun?” (The hunchback who is frowning that God is not looking at him with a good face has forgotten the type of back he is turning at God).
But there is binary in everything Yoruba. They say on the other hand that “Omo eni o se idi bebere ka fi Ileke si idi omo elomiran” (The crookedness of the waist of one’s child should not make one to wear beads on another’s child). That is complemented by “a leleyoro jina ka to ba adie wi” (We must have chased the hawk to a reasonable distance before chastising the chicken).
That was always the tug between my Comrade Professor Omotoye Olorode, a Microbiologist versed in Yoruba in Ife and my Vice Chancellor Professor Wande Abimbola, an authority in Yoruba. Whenever Professor Abimbola used a proverb to support establishment at Council meetings, Professor Olorode would find a counter one to further anti-establishment. They both lived in the same University community.
We will always find a way out of this type of situation of farthing in one’s and poring honey in it simultaneously but our sons and daughters do not always have to come to this sorry pass if they don’t allow politics to make them forget their roots in the order of Oloye Obafemi Awolowo, a great Ikenne man, a Yoruba patriot and Nigerian nationalist.
Re: Atiku Abubakar: Constant as the Northern starb
The encomium your showered on the Turaki Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was not misplaced. As a matter of fact, if any politician could be said to have impacted the nation’s political space the most, the person is Atiku Abubakar. The iconic IBB described the late Avatar, Obafemi Awolowo as the main issue in Nigeria politics. In actual fact, Atiku Abubakar has moved one step forward. He can be described as the determinant factor in Nigeria politics. At least, he has constantly played the role in the last three decades. In your write-up you have emphasised his role in June 12, which not need being repeated here. In the build up to the 1999 general elections which ushered in this present political dispensation, his role which catapulted him from a Governor elect to a Vice President elect was historic. In ‘2002-2003’ but for his magnanimity, President Olusegun Obasanjo might have failed in his bid for a second terminal in office. Ironically, he paid dearly for his attempt to outsmart the best military General in Africa in political chess game with his political ambition. Abubakar was the determinant of the two terms tenure of the president being maintained in Nigeria today. But for Atiku who rallied pro democracy elements together defend the sanctity of the Nigeria construction, his boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would upturn the applecart. His roles in 2007 to 2011 are well known and need not being repeated here. However, but for his support for the incumbent president, hope of Buhari becoming the President would have been dashed. Although, as is common with military Generals, Abubakar ended up an hounded benefactor.
My point is that Abubakar Atiku is a Nigerian star and indeed a black star. His political credentials should not be a surprise to anyone because Yoruba adage says a club of a tiger must take after its mother. In terms of switfness, tenacity of purpose, large heartedness, bridge building ability, generosity and political dexterity, he took after his mentor and benefactor, Gen Sheu Musa Yar’ Adua of blessed memory. The last presidential election, in spite of the criminal betrayal of their party by some PDP stalwarts revealed Atiku Abubakar’s popularity in Nigeria. It is an irony that the change he helped ushered in has turned out to hurt him. His dove naively found itself in the company of hyenas. His loss at the Election Tribunal is not unexpected, it is not in Nigeria’s character for a petitioner in a presidential election to get justice. Judiciary should not be expected to be the hope of common man in a state of nature. Democrats like Odumakin and like minds will do the nation good if they persisted in their pursuit of the good of this nation as Atiku has been doing. If Buhari after four attempts and at 72 could still become the President, nothing stops Abubakar from attaining the same prize. Restructuring is a must if Nigeria is to attain her destiny. Unfortunately, few Patriotic and visionary Nigerians noticed this fact. Non recourse to it by successive government is like postponing the evil day. Those who are benefitting from the lopsided political and economic space will not like to forgo the perks until political upheaval forced it down their throats.