Monday, May 21, 2018 1:23 pm
By Lasisi Olagunju
In Nupeland, it is said that the Chameleon does not fall. It is too careful to suffer the fate of those who stumble. Indeed, the Yoruba ask Chameleon why it is treading so carefully; it replies that it does so to avoid the ground caving in. We live in a delicate world full of principalities. They are in politics; they are in business; they are in the religions; they are everywhere. That explains why cockroaches are food only for he who is immunised against nausea. Eating cockroaches without having the antidote triggers vomiting. That is a Yoruba proverb for small men who fight giants. The social media lacks respect. There is no one it cannot mock. It has not stopped celebrating the ‘doctored’ ‘transmitted transmission’ speech of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, of last Monday in Kano. Idris was shown and heard repeating unintelligible words and lines and sweating like a broken record. His friends claimed the video clip wasn’t real. They swore it must be a clone. Whatever it was, the social media refused to listen. Its own was to celebrate tragedies and misfortunes. And it can be very weird in thinking. If you are not big, don’t breathe heavily, the social media warned. It claimed the powerful man lost his balance because he fought Bukola, son of Saraki Oloye of Ilorin, city of Alfa. It gloats and reminds us that in Ilorin, even the king follows the Alfa…
Ilorin people have a reputation for wisdom and smartness – and even slyness. And they can boast about everything. They even claim that they are next door neighbours of God. A June 13, 2015 post on Facebook by ‘Ilorin Emirate People’ makes it poignant: “Ilorin is not a town you can despise, chide, rebuke or joke with. We are more than just a town. If we are pleased with someone or an event, it means Allah is pleased with that person or event. If we are angry, it means Allah is angry. The reason is not far-fetched: for every abode in Ilorin, there are saints, great scholars and friends of Allah.” Ilorin can brag! But was it not boastful boxing legend, Mohammed Ali, who quipped that “it is no bragging if you can back it up”? And, indeed, no elephant killer enters the town quietly. Ilorin acts like Ann Landers’ man “who catches a big fish” and won’t “go home through an alley.”
Politics is about strongmen (and women) powered by myths. Strongmen may be rare to come by these days, but they exist. Modern Ibadan has had them. And they all had peculiar aliases. In the first republic, there was Adelabu Adegoke ‘Penkelemesi.’ Once he was accused of financial misdeeds and Ibadan rolled out the drums for him:
Adegoke omo Adelabu
Continue eating our money
Igunnu owns Tapa
Tapa owns Igunnu
Continue eating our money.
The people celebrated the alleged heist with a blank cheque for their hero. Strongmen are like lovers, they rarely have diseases. The second republic birthed Busari Adelakun alias ‘Eruobodo.’ There was Lamidi Adedibu a.k.a. ‘Alaafin Molete’ in the third and fourth republics. A popular bard sang Adedibu’s fearful praise song and he danced to it: Son of a witch who buys and demands extra from the seller! The one who takes over other’s battle and fights fiercer than the owner. He was half of Ibadan whom the ignorant mistook for a single person. Adedibu lived large enough to dare anyone give him amala in small bowls. Busari Adelakun’s own cognomen, Eruobodo, approximated his reputation for raw courage and fearsomeness. River is never afraid, it is the diver that should fear – that is what Eruobodo means. And Adelakun lived and enforced that reputation. Myths about Eruobodo filled the air as he reigned in Ibadan as the lord of second republic politics. He was removed from an office and no one dared plunge into the seat he vacated. The scorpion’s garment is not for anyone’s father to inherit, he reportedly boasted. A rival was wounded in a street war and Eruobodo wondered how the man’s flesh yielded so easily to an ordinary matchete!
Ibadan has had no monopoly of strongmen with coats of myths. Ilorin too had Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He was Saraki Oloye Baba Bukola. Until he died, he was the only Oloye in Ilorin; all other chiefs were mere title holders. He was mythical in riches and powers over men and their affairs. He built his fortress with a combination of carrots of largesse and promises; with canes of threats and punishments. His rain did not discriminate; it blessed the poor and the rich of Kwara. The street said Saraki’s pocket was so deep money was forever there. The more he spent, the more money appeared in that pocket! His followership was a cult of abject beneficiaries. Like a king, his enemies were the enemies of Ilorin. He was so powerful that travellers who fought him had burst tyres. And his enemies, one by one, left the world for him – until he joined them a few years ago.
Then came his son, Bukola; the only one who shared the limelight with Oloye; the lone leopard who wrestled his father’s lion in 2011 and collected the trophy. He roared last week Monday. He said there were plans by the police inspector-general to give him the Melaye treatment. He claimed that some roughnecks in custody would be used by the police boss to implicate him. Saraki then declared war without declaring war because he is Ilorin whose ancestor met the enemy and strolled off the battlefield. His valiant horse turned back later to smite the sleeping and snoring foe.
On Wednesday, the social media released what it claimed was our IGP struggling with a speech. I watched that video clip. And I asked what happened? I have met this police boss, at least once. He could talk and talk and talk; he had no problem reading and speaking. So, what happened in Kano? The police, in a tweet, said the video clip was doctored; insolent social media demanded for the undoctored clip. Every clone has an original. Where is the original? The police went dumb. What is the truth? Apart from the video cameraman who recorded that event, was there no other journalist at the event? Kano reporters were there but they have been tongue-tied since the video-storm. They won’t talk. They won’t even write. But they were there. So what happened? The mainstream media went dumb; the police looked away; but the social media has answers for everything under the sun. And it supplied the answer: Ilorin has powerful mallams to whom Bukola is a son. Bukky’s wars are the wars of the Alfas. And so what does that mean? Is IGP Idris not a Nupeman? We call the Nupe Tapa in Yorubaland. You don’t think if that spiritual angle was true, Idris too won’t rush back home and report to his mothers? Or is Tapa no longer the dreaded masquerade who is begged to stop flogging the strong-headed? (Omo eleegun ma na nmo/ Mo seb’o ti na mi leekan ni?) Those ones don’t wait for the eerie night to operate. They do their thing right in daytime! Isn’t it said that a child’s mother always has very strong girds? If Bukola has fathers in Ilorin, who says Idris has no mothers too in Nupeland? Read history: The palm trees of Ilorin will ever tell the stories of Nupe wars. But then, that spirit talk about the Kano ‘transmission’ speech belongs to the idle space of the social media. You can’t run the engine of a modern state with the fuel of superstition.
We are a society ruled by the supernatural; if you like, call it superstition. Nothing happens naturally here. Even if what you suffer is purely medical, it is still the enemy at work. Everything is remote-controlled by some spirits floating in the air. When the spirits like your ways, they make your speech smooth and sweet; when they are angry with you, they inflict you with the spirit of stammering. They turn you to a broken record; if you want to shout Sokoto, what comes out would be So -So-So….! Nothing is natural to the black man, and that explains his backwardness.
Why this Saraki/IGP distraction in these dire times? The Nigeria Police should leave politics for politicians; it should be busy with herdsmen who kill; with kidnappers and wanton bank robbers. But the police appear to have discovered soft targets among governors and senators. They now pick them one after the other. They say there is an agency link between common criminals and big men who play opposition politics. The police could be right; warlords have war minions. But these big men, why are they only those who disagree with power? And the operational patterns are similar as if the police is doing ‘cut and paste’. I know the police are servants of power; they run errands. They are a horse that must go to war. And what happens to the horse who fights all wars? Saraki’s Senate is guilty too. It leaves leprosy and instead treats eczema. It enjoys fighting small and big wars: EFCC, Customs, Police, etc etc. Not all wars are worth fighting. Some fight all wars even when the objectives are not worth the troubles of war. The one who lives war leaves the necessary for the unnecessary. Across the country, the police’s core mandate suffers; the Senate’s duties suffer too; demand attention.
The head that disturbs the wasp suffers the venom of its sting. The social media is very superstitious — and lousy. It talks too much. It insists that Kano happened because Ilorin is closer to aljanah than Nupeland. Ilorin has Alfas, some of them see the Sun only once a year! Myths! We are a society ruled by the supernatural; if you like, call it superstition. Nothing happens naturally here. Even if what you suffer is purely medical, it is still the enemy at work. Everything is remote-controlled by some spirits floating in the air. When the spirits like your ways, they make your speech smooth and sweet; when they are angry with you, they inflict you with the spirit of stammering. They turn you to a broken record; if you want to shout Sokoto, what comes out would be So -So-So….! Nothing is natural to the black man, and that explains his backwardness. He would insist that anyone who has no medicine for nausea should run away from a meal of cockroaches. If you listen to Fuji music, you would remember that warning from Abass Obesere: Don’t eat cockroaches if you are not strong; if you do, you will vomit – and soil your dress.
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