This ‘non-negotiable unity’

MAY God bless the soul of the late Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, a very deep and learned man. Hardly I ever sat with him without something to take away. When he had just 48 hours more to live; he phoned me that he wanted to see me. I was in Ibadan that day and the urge was to look for some days to see him but some strong forces said I should see him that day. I told him to expect me later that day.

I went to his Isara country home and we spent quality time together and it was an unforgettable evening. Before I left him, we had to speak with Chief C.O. Adebayo, the former Governor of Kwara State. As Baba rounded off discussion with him he said “CO, o dabo o, farewell.” It was eternal farewell as news came 40 hours later than he had joined the saints triumphant.

Some years earlier we were on a thorny issue when Sir Olaniwun told me this one about rats and cat. The cat just lost his mother and extended a golden invitation to the rats to come and participate in the funerals. The rats knew that an encounter with the rat is a rendezvous that some of them would not live to “tell the story that touch.” But since they are united staying in the forest together, it would be a bad manner not to honour the invitation.

They went to see a Wise One who advised them on what to do. On the day of the ceremony, the rats were the first to arrive with drums singing (ogbogbon, eteete la o fi sinku Iya ologbo) it is with wisdom and tact that we will bury the cat’s mother. The song was sonorous and the cat had to come out to see the singers but before he could near them they all had a rapid dialogue with their feet (apology to Kongi).

Even in human affairs, when different groups with somewhat antagonistic features have to share the same forest, the attitude of a group can be eternally hurtful to another and this is why authors of Federalism came up with bright ideas of multi-ethnic societies living together without doing much damage to themselves and fulfilling their aspirations in their spaces while running common things together through pooled donated powers.

But the desire to cheat on others had made some humans to think that the best way to take advantage of others is to run the affairs of a plural society in a single arrangement of unitarian values. Such humans use different guiles to manage their disingenuous schemes and lull the unwary to sleep while sucking them dry. The Nigerian slave drivers have crafted all kinds of empty words of deception to keep their fellow citizens they ride as horses in slumber. When you hear “Nigeria is indivisible and indissoluble”, you should know those who are talking.

Every nation that has survived and will continue to do is a daily dialogue holding constant referendum on its articles of unity but the highly unsettled Nigeria is where slave drivers sing “Nigeria unity is settled and non-negotiable”. That sour deception came from the Villa again few days ago.

The uninitiated who may not know that what this means is that “we have conquered this space and we have nothing to negotiate with you than just living under our terms”. The uninitiated would have seen its demonstration on a 2:00pm Arik flight from Abuja to Lagos on Wednesday. As the plane was about to land, the hostess announced that because of COVID-19, passengers would have to disembark in rows. But as the plane touched down, a young man got up and violated the rule which attracted serious caution from other passengers and he returned to his seat.

As the young man sat, another man in ‘Babariga’ with cap some inches longer than Shagari’s jumped the rule and it was the same reaction by fellow passengers. He stood for a second and surveyed the whole plane with one hard aristocratic look and moved on as if all of them meant nothing to him.

A gentleman who sat next to me asked “How long are we going to live with this”?

I told him it is what we have been living with and which has brought us to where we are and may take us to where we may not be happy to be. It’s all about impunity and “we will do what we like in spite of whatever rules”.

So when you are told the unity is settled, it is all about the unity of the horse and the rider. When they say it is “non-negotiable”, they are adding that you can’t negotiate the terms of your existence under this with them. And those who cross that line will bite the bullet like #ENDSARS protesters. And when CNN brings out details of brutal killings and Lagos advertising that the public should come and claim unidentified corpses dumped in its mortuary between October 19 and 27, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Kaduna delegate, who has children but has no feelings for parents whose children were killed would threaten sanctions against the CNN and still be mouthing “massacres without dead bodies” like the fascist spokesman.

 

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