Shame and the Nigerian political class

One of the childhood memories I cherish till date is tales by moonlight. Nothing compares to the conviviality engendered while sitting under the illuminating brilliance  of the moon and having the elderly entertain you with tales and their didactic connotations. We had alo apamo-riddles with instant answers, and alo apagbe-tales which required audience participation in terms of propositions and responses. Most folktales revolve round the a-heroic and mischievous character, tortoise- alabahun. As I sat to write this piece, the moonlight tale that readily came to my mind is that of the tortoise and its shameless wife, Yannibo. All the male animals gather to talk about the bad behaviours of their wives. King lion says its wife is the worst woman ever. Why, the others ask? He responds by saying its wife lies endlessly. Tiger says its wife, tigress, is worse than the lion’s wife because tigress fights without ceasing.

The monkey says its own wife is light fingered; it steals anything and everything; even worthless items. Every animal talks about its wife and the tortoise keeps telling them that they all have good wives compared to his.’ Then the animals turned to the tortoise and asked what exactly is the bad behaviour of its wife that makes it think that it has the worst woman. Tortoise responds by asking others what their wives do whenever they are cautioned about their bad behaviours. They respond saying, their wives take correction. Tortoise asks the animals to thank their stars. Its own wife, Yannibo, he says, has no sense of shame and as such, she moves from one bad behaviour to the other without any sense of remorse. Yannibo, tortoise adds, will steal, lie, fight, gossip, commit adultery and still keep a straight face as if  nothing has happened. It has no sense of decency. It carries on, putting the last disgraceful act behind it while itching for another. Nothing moves it; nothing embarrasses it and nothing shames Yannibo. The shameless she-tortoise  has a twin sister or brother in the modern day average Nigerian politician, who is as shameless as Yannibo; and has no conscience that anyone can appeal to. Check them out, you will find them giving the most stupid explanations or excuses to justify their shameless behaviours. If a Nigerian politician says one thing in the morning, he changes it by noon and at sunset; he is on a different level. They steal, they lie, they fight and commit all manners of imaginable felony.

I begin with the ambulant  “bridge builder” of Ile-Ife, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, aka, FFK and his recent voyage of political discovery to the camp of his sworn enemies, the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, last week. Recall that the self-styled ‘short fuse’ man began the peripatetic exercise with his ‘temporary’ party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, late last year before finally anchoring the yacht at the harbour of APC. What picture did you get when FFK surfaced in the media space in photo ops with the adolescent Governor Yaya Bello of Kogi State? Which bridge did FFK say he was building by those visits to Bello and the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman, Malam Mai Mala Buni? Same APC that is the real ‘customer’ of FFK in terms of spiteful abuses? Hear his justification for the visits: “It amazes me that some people should feel that it is wrong for me to sit with other leaders in the country to discuss issues which touch and concern the national cohesion, future and stability of our country”. At what point did FFK realise that he could sit down with “other leaders” instead of his almost daily abuses? So, Bello is a leader to FFK? Wonders shall never end! But trust Bello and his logorrhoea, he knew why FFK visited. “Our Brother Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has joined our party in good faith. He is joining our party to add his own positive energy and make a contribution to ensure that APC is a party to beat”, he announced to the eternal shock of FFK. The tortoise once embarked on a journey to a city of disgrace and when asked when it would return, it responded, “when I am disgraced”. It took the disgrace from Salihu Moh. Lukman, DG, Progressive Governors Forum, for FFK to return  to his old party. Lukman had to declare FFK as lacking in “value”; his possibility of joining APC as “deranged” and went further by saying it amounted to “rewarding scandalous behaviour” for APC leaders to associate themselves with FFK as “the elementary rule of decency would require some good distance between our leaders and such a person”. Except for family ties, Lukman added, FFK should be treated as a leper even in his Ile-Ife home ward! Rather, the DG, PGF would prefer the outlaw, Abubakar Shekau, to FFK! Insult upon injury!

From FFK, we move to yet another Yannibo politician. A very irredeemable character in the cast of the personae we are treating.  He is no other person than the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who in the last five years, has replicated the apocalyptic Ministry of Misinformation in the eternal novel, “Nineteen Eight Four”, by George Orwell. Mohammed, last Thursday, cut a pitiable picture as he laboured to justify why the Saturday, February 13 “Occupy Lekki” protest would not be allowed. One of the reasons he adduced was that the venue of the protest, the Lekki toll gate “is not a designated place for protests”. That idea of a “designated place for protest” is neoteric and exists only in the imagination of Lai Mohammed and his Aso Rock masters. But that was not the only disgusting thing he said at that press conference. In his intelligence archives, he disclosed that “based on the intelligence at the disposal of the Federal Government, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, with a view to destabilizing the country”. Age does not matter when it comes to doing the dirty job. Sad! A not too ‘nice’ friend once told me that why he dreads Lai Mohammed is that “if you put 100 microphones into Lai Mohammed’s mouth, he will say 100 different lies into each microphone and he will not blink”. My friend could be right, after all. Hear these two contrasting statements from the same man, minutes apart: “There’s no concrete proof at the panel that anybody was killed at the toll gate”, that was about the October 20, 2020 shooting of armless protesters. The next second, he added:”A situation in which six soldiers and 37 policemen were murdered in cold blood by hoodlums will not repeat itself”. Same event, different opinions; all by the same man! Flag-bearing protesters “killed six soldiers and 37 policemen”, while the gun shooting soldiers killed no one! Vintage Lai Mohammed, phew!

We come to the last of the trio, the Fulani expansionist and pro-AK-47 wielding governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed. The most unfortunate aspect of Mohammed’s case is the venue and the occasion he chose to emit his verbiage, the 2021 Press Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bauchi State Council. Delivering a keynote address on the theme, “The Role of the Media in Promoting Peace in Nigeria”, the governor decided to play the ethnic game of the hegemony of the Fulani stock.  On the herders-farmers clashes that is as old as creation, Mohammed condemned the steps taken by the governors in the South and Middle Belt to protect their citizens from the mass murder and rape by the felonious herdsmen. Governor Mohammed was totally blind and completely deaf in his submissions to see the pool of blood his brother Fulani herdsmen leave behind wherever they go, or hear the cries and agonies of husbands and parents whose wives and daughters are raped by the herdsmen  with impunity. He alluded to the fact that Bauchi had accommodated Yoruba, Tiv, Igbo and other tribes for decades and forgot to note that down South, there are Sarkins Fulani who speak and understand Yoruba or Igbo languages, the way the Kano camel understands Hausa. He deliberately misrepresented the fact by claiming that Bauchi had not asked the southerners living  in the state to go as if those Southerners have made life unbearable for their hosts like his brother Fulani herdsmen keep doing down South! Besides this, who in the South is on record as having asked law-abiding and peaceful people to vacate the land? Has anybody down South asked Northerners to leave? The answer is a capital NO! Then he dropped his main message: “And now, the Fulani man is practicing the tradition of trans-human, pastoralism, he has been exposed to the dangers of the forests, the animals, and now, the cattle rustlers, who carry guns, kill him and take away his commonwealth, his cows, he had no option than to carry Ak-47 and defend himself because the society and the government are not protecting him. It is not his fault, it is the fault of the government and the people…. You should be very sensitive”. See who is teaching us lessons in sensitivity! How sensitive is he and his ilk to the sanguinary dispositions of their brother Fulani herdsmen operating down South? The Fulani herdsmen are exposed to dangers and so have the right to own AK-47 assault rifles, but the Oke Ogun farmers, whose farmlands are constantly pillaged by the herds of the Fulani cannot own catapults! The mistake we can make down South and in every other place where the over -pampered Fulani herdsmen are operating with impunity is to think that Bala Mohammed was speaking for himself at that NUJ event. The choice of that occasion itself was strategic. It was well calculated so that Mohammed’s lamentation would attract wider publicity. We cannot underrate the significance of the Correspondents’ Chapel in NUJ.

Mohammed, no doubt, spoke for all the Fulani expansionists at that event. Nigerians should pay attention to his submissions. They are consequential, very grave; absolutely ominous. Yes, the Fulani man has the right to defend himself because the state has failed in that direction. Same applies to the Yoruba, Tivand Idoma farmers and the Igbo trader, and every other vulnerable Nigerian, who is at the mercy of the government-protected herdsmen. If a Fulani herdsman can own an AK-47, nothing should stop a Yoruba man from owning a RPG for his protection and the preservation of his own heritage. If a Fulani herdsman can roam the streets with his assault rifle while the government and its  security apparatuses look away,  the Igbo man  should be allowed to carry a hand grenade in his pocket for his protection and that of his family! The  man putting the stamp of legitimacy on  the lawlessness of his Fulani brothers was once a senator, a minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT and now a governor of a state. Shameless as such justification is, it serves the purpose for which it was intended. It is left for others to devise means of protecting themselves and ridding their lands of daredevil, blood-sucking demons who neither fear God nor respect the sanctity of human life. Enough is certainly enough!

 

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