The fire in Buhari’s Osanyin shrine

OSANYIN in Yoruba mythology is the deity which helps in quenching fire. Whenever there is a fire outbreak in the Yoruba traditional setting, you call on Osanyin to quench the fire. Though, the primary assignment of the deity is to help in solving health problems, now when the fire starts in Osanyin shrine, who do you call upon to extinguish the inferno? Our elders say that it is very difficult to quench an inferno which starts in Osanyin shrine. The last Friday night abduction of some school children of Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State, is nothing but an inferno in an Osanyin shrine. Now that fire has started from Buhari’s house of Osanyin, who shall we beg to help us? Quenching the fire is a task impossible because the god of fire itself is already badly scalded.

As the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) is our practical Osanyin. As the number one security officer of Nigeria, the Daura-born General is the first person we all look up to. He is expected to play the role of the chief combustion officer, whenever any part of the country is on fire. His response(s) to our Macedonian call for help will go a long way in reassuring us that we have a glitter of hope, somewhere. But alas, the man we all look up to is himself in dire need of help. Our Osayin does not need ordinary help, but help in every material particular. Our case is becoming completely hopeless because our deity in charge of fire is himself getting burnt.

Buhari announced on Friday that he would be retiring to Katsina for a one-week holiday. Don’t let us interrogate the propriety of the ‘holiday’ (that is if you wonder, as I do and ask: ‘holiday from which work?). His going to Daura, in Katsina State means that every security apparatus of the state would be on ground to secure the number one citizen of the nation. The Katsina State Government, playing host to the C-in-C, would have doubled its own security arrangements and strategies to ensure that nothing goes amiss. The president cannot be embarrassed, security-wise, in his home state. Katsina, to the best of my ignorance (apology to Professor Tony Afejuku of the University of Benin), is supposed to be the most secure state, especially with the president on ground there. Don’t ask me why? From the Chief of General Staff, CGS, to the head of the Department of State Services, DSS, to the Inspector General of Police, IGP and the Commandant of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, everyone would have been falling over another, to at least impress the president that they are on top of their games. Now, when death kills Babalawo cheaply like the uninitiated, let the uncooked novice run. Nigeria is in trouble. If you don’t think so, you also need help.

Then from nowhere, some dare-devil gun-wielding individuals strolled, unhindered, to the Government Science School, Kankara. They abducted hundreds of school children and strolled out again. The initial report said about 600 students were taken captive. The BBC reported 400 some hours later and some 72 hours after the incident, Governor Aminu Massari of Kaduna State, gave a figure of 333 students “unaccounted for”. “Unaccounted for”, if you may want to know, is a euphemism for “stolen”! Yes, in the very backyard of our Osanyin, armed bandits set fire to Buhari’s shrine and stole the deity’s children.

When the news broke late Friday night, my initial reaction was: “What audacity”. But I quickly cautioned myself, knowing that we are in a country, called Nigeria, where anything goes. Anything is possible in the country. As it is being run now, anything can happen, including bold bandits carrying their war of attrition to the very doorstep of the C-in-C. if you ask me why, I will respond, why not?

The bandits invaded Katsina State at a time General Buhari was holidaying there because the boys probably knew that our dear General would be picking his teeth after a full bowl of tuwo sinkafa. He would do nothing, not even a visit to Kankara. They attacked the school for hours, because they are familiar with the fact that IGP would disobey the C-in-C if called to move to the scene. The IGP did it in Benue and Buhari said that he did not know that the IGP did not move to Makurdi as he ordered. The C-In-C said that smiling at our stupidity in believing that the IGP would just obey his orders like that.  Nobody was punished for that. The Benue people buried their dead and the IGP retained his job. That is one-one goalless draw, in street lingo

The bandits moved into Buhari’s Osayin shrine and set it on fire because they realised that there is no single General on the staff list of the Chief of General Staff. They knew and still do, that the head of the Service Chiefs is as tired as the Chiefs he leads; no new ideas, no nothing to offer again, after they are all long overdue for retirement. The bad boys set the Osayin shrine on fire because they knew that the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, is as flat footed as a duck.  He has been fighting Boko Haram for more than five years without any tangible result to show. The abductors of those little school children did what they did because they knew that the nation’s  Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, is as hydrophobic as any child that has not seen an ocean before. The abductors knew and still know that the CNS cannot sail successfully. If you are in doubt, ask the CNS to show his score card since he was appointed five years ago. Those bandits became audacious because they realised that our Chief of Air Staff, CAS, has no wing to fly. They moved into Katsina because they are aware that the only time the DSS personnel are useful is when they are sent to harass judges at night and to disrupt proceedings in the National Assembly and prevent legislators from gaining access to their chambers. Fortunately for Buhari, he does not have to send the DSS to the National Assembly again. Lawal and Gbajamiabila have handed over their maces to Aso Rock for keeps! Or if you are in doubt, tell me what is happening in the rubberstamp Senate and House of Representatives to show that they are not mere appendages of the Presidency.

As sad and as horrible as the abduction of those wonderful school children is, I see a more horrible message coming from the bandits who kidnapped the schoolboys. The message from them is clear and portentous. The bandits, by that singular action, sent a message that if we continue like this, the only place that will probably be safe for General Buhari, will be the seemingly impenetrable and impregnable Aso Rock Villa. What they said and are saying by that abduction in Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State, at a time the nation’s Chief Security Officer was around, is that Mr. President is also an endangered species himself. They are saying that if an average Nigerian is no longer safe in his or her home; if an average Nigerian can no longer walk freely on the streets and if insecurity is the lot of the common Nigerians, a time is coming when the president will have to look over his shoulders as he goes to dining to have furadenunu. The sign is that a time will come, when it will not be safe for Mr. President to sit in the comfort of his house and pick his teeth, while the country burns.

Those bandits at Government Science School, Kankara, and other bandits operating all over the country with absolute impunity are like Ogun the god of iron. The hunters, while worshiping Ogun, chant his praises.  In Ogun’s panegyrics the hunters warn us not to be ignorant of the ability of the deity to take all that we have. They warn thus: “the ignorant fellows say if Ogun takes over the house and takes over the stream, they (ignorant) will take over the farm. But they have forgotten that the deity which has the capacity to take over the house and the stream, can as well take over the farm”. These boys will one day do the unthinkable in this country, unless we act and act fast. There is a raging inferno in our Osayin shrine. We need to think outside the box to curtail it. Another problem now is: who is doing the thinking for us?

The attack on the Katsina Government Science School, Kankara, is also a warning to other states which feel that they are safe from mass school children abduction. They should take caution from the words of the sages that any wind which troubles an ogi (corn starch) seller, will leave elubo (yam powder) seller with an empty tray. They should know that bandits just stormed the home state of the president. They should know that the president is also a retired General. The other states should know that the General once chased bandits from Kano to Niger Republic. They should not be ignorant  of the fact that the C-in-C was in town when the bandits struck. We should tell them that the bandits operated for hours without the C-In-C knowing about it. The bandits, we should inform them, went away with  hundreds of school children. Having told them all these, we will do them a huge favour to let them know that when their turns shall come, they shall be like grasshoppers before the bandits. The way nobody informed the president that the bandits were setting his Osayin shrine on fire, is the way nobody will inform Aso Rock that the seemingly safe states are on fire. Ask Sanwo-Olu how many times he called Abuja when he was in distress and he got no response. Pray the bad boys don’t storm Abia State at a time the governor is doing owanbe in his sitting room, with Naira rain falling on him like a spoiled Yahoo Yahoo boy. Pray they do not come to Ekiti when the Mother of the State is entertaining His Excellency with those dexterous Jerusalema dance challenge steps. The Cotton tree (Araba) should better be ready because the flood is already sweeping off the Oak (Arere).

In our anguish and pain, we prayed and hoped that the nation will rise to the occasion this time and prevent another Chibok calamity. But Aso Rock had a different method. The most insensitive statement came from the ever garrulous Garba Sheu. He said that the military had located the hideouts of the bandits, who abducted the school boys. Which Presidency gives out such sensitive security information? By the way is Garba the spokesman for the military? What sort of meddlesome interloper is that character for crying out loud. So after he has ‘divulged’ such sensitive information, the bandits will still remain in that same “located hideouts”? Osama Bin Laden was dead before the world got to know.

Trump, the Twitter Master himself, rescued the American, Philip Walton, held hostage in a state in Northern Nigeria before the world knew about the operation. What we read was that six of the seven Walton’s abductors were dead before they knew what hit them. And Garba Sheu was alive and read about the operations then! Then wait for it: On Monday morning, Garba again defecated on our collective sensibility. In an interview with the BBC, Garba said Only 10 school children were missing. He must defend the insentient state of his master at all cost. In such a state, 10 stolen children is nothing to worry about. After all, there are not 10 cows stolen. Probably, in the morbid reasoning of Garba, his “10” stolen children could have as well passed for 10 little monkeys. Warped minds, all over the Villa. Again, that itself is a pointer to the quality of leadership we have. What a time we live in.



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