By Abiodun Komolafe
On May 29, 2023, Bola Tinubu assumed office as Nigeria’s president, 16th leader. Nigerians wish him success in the onerous tasks ahead.
All the same, it is important to note that President Tinubu’s Nigeria is home to an array of folks: the diligent and the intelligent, the determined and the focused, plus the great boasters and the little doers; and they cut across her socio-political geography. Tinubu’s country harbours the progressives and the conservatives, the strong and the weak, the praise-singers and the faultfinders, the slippery and the flippant, the perpetual pessimists and the embittered opposition. Above all, it is currently a grim reminder of hangover politicking, collateral wheeling-dealing and deliberate promotion of comical sincerity; and they are in abundant supply.
On March 5, 1986, Mamman Vatsa, a Major General, and member of the Ibrahim Babangida-led military government, was executed for planning a coup. Until his death, Domkat Bali, former Minister of Defence and Chief of Defence Staff, maintained that there’s no way of knowing whether or not Vatsa actually committed the crime for which he was executed by his childhood friend. But again, this is Nigeria!
Let’s quickly wake General Sani Abacha up from his eternal sleep; he must have something great to share with Nigerians. Remember Daniel Kanu and the ‘Two-million-man March’. Though Abacha won many battles with bullets and allied munitions, the ‘Maximum General’ couldn’t but succumb to the superior power of the beautifully bitter songs of ‘we’ll make the elephant king’.
Inside Tinubu’s Nigeria, the Yoruba Agenda and the difficulty of coming up with one has been an obvious phenomenon. For example, there was widespread jubilation in Yorubaland when Oba Okunade Sijuwade became the 50th Ooni of Ife in 1980. To them, the hope was that, as a man of steel and means, Ile-Ife would be transformed into paradise within months of his ascension to the throne. With his international connections and business interests spanning the global landscape, Nigerians had no doubt in their minds that Oba Sijuwade would, within a short time, turn the ancient city into mini Lagos and that, in no distant time, Ile-Ife would overtake Lagos.
Matter-of-frankly, Nigerians held the belief that, with Ooni Sijuwade on the throne, negotiating a coordinate that would bring out a dual carriageway from Iga Iduganran Street to Enuwa Square would be the least of Ife’s worries; and that there would be total industrialization of the cradle of Yoruba culture such that ‘Segilola’ would have been a project long done. But, unfortunately, none of those expectations came to reality. Instead, His Imperial Majesty was always in Abuja, either dining with the ‘evil genius’ or clinking glasses with the ‘Goggled One’. Needless to repeat that it was during Sijuwade’s reign that the Ife/Modakeke crisis raged for years; and it was as if the gods were angry!
Tunji Adebiyi was personal assistant to the late Abraham Adesanya, a foremost pro-democracy icon and leader of Afenifere, a Yoruba sociocultural organization. With the birth of the 4th Republic in 1999, Afenifere played prominent roles, especially with regard to who became governors in the Southwest. Fortunately, the progressive bent had its way as all its elected governors were from the Afenifere House of Politics. Still, nobody remembered this diligent and loyal aide until Tinubu pulled him out, during his 2nd coming as governor of Lagos State. The rest is history! When Adebiyi died in December 2014, altar calls were reportedly made for donations so that his immediate family could have a roof over their heads. Such is the plight of most Nigerians: they get so little in return for their industry.
Once upon a time in Nigeria’s rich history, Adams Oshiomhole was on this side of the rung. But how time flies? The former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is now part of the Federal Government Delegation to the ‘subsidy-is-gone’ talks. But what has really changed? Is ‘Oshio Baba’ doing it for the love of dear fatherland, or is it because the former Edo State governor has moved from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s? Well, only God knows!
In Nigeria, politics and elections are contests: somehow fierce, sometimes deadly. Here, an educated group of people remain the most difficult set to govern. Days to go, former President Muhammadu Buhari confessed that he couldn’t wait much longer to be united with his cattle because governing herds of cattle is much easier than governing Nigerians. The question, therefore, is: when did Nigeria become so didactically disadvantaged as to have lifted up Egypt to the place of attractiveness to Nigerians?
Remember Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy President of the 6th, 7th and 8th senate. Ekweremadu failed to understand the intricate details of the culture of the British man and he learned the bitter lesson in the United Kingdom. Those things the lawmaker had attached values and importance to in Nigeria had no effect in Britain. Take, for instance, the Distinguished Senator went to the UK, thinking that he’d command some undue respect and that Nigerians would start shivering. But there was a clash of cultures and the British law sent him to prison.
Inside Tinubu’s Nigeria is Kamal Usman, a physically challenged JSS 3 student of STDSS, Kagara in Niger State who writes with his mouth. Usman needs help so that he can live out his dream.
As children, we were not trained to disobey the authority of the government. However, #EndSARS has brought with it the era of changing times and things. A crop of new children is growing up. Having realized that nobody is conscious of their existence, these children have come to register their presence. Interestingly too, they have realized that, if the ugly trend is not arrested, it will go on ad infinitum, because one ‘cannot be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’. While the music lasts, the people will keep dancing, kowtowing as if all is well, whereas nothing is nice.
Lame-footed excuses! Limited understanding of institutional values! There is a trend in human behaviour that evolved almost with the creation of man. It is called blame-game! When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, the simple response to God’s query was that it was He who gave it to Eve who, in turn, gave it to him (Adam) to eat; and he ate it! For Adam therefore, taking responsibility was out of the question. Likewise in Nigeria, if a man can no longer perform his conjugal obligations, it is Asiwaju’s fault. If it refuses to rain, some political gladiators will blame it on the president. If farmers’ harvests are poor due to bad agricultural policies and inclement weather, ‘na Jagaban cause am!’
From the look of things, is Nigeria a functional society? If she is, would some state governors have been into too many errors – as shown in the irreverent dabble into the traditional institutions and power relations? As the chief executives of their respective states, isn’t it better to face the many known troubles than to add traditional institution’s matters to their plates? Anyway, that’s a worthy advice which those who are collecting ‘chicken money’ from the governors won’t want to offer; and it’s for obvious reasons.
Taken together, the president has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve as the healing balm. Nigerians can only hope in the outcome of his experiments. For Nigerians, changing their beliefs won’t be out of place, as no president is capable of doing for them what they’re supposed to do for themselves.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org)