Monday, May 27, 2019 4:54 pm
By Lasisi Olagunju
Among the Yoruba, it does not matter which religion you practise before you shout ‘Amen!’ to certain cultural prayers. One key one is: May my inner head not destroy my outer head. This prayer draws instant amen even from staunch Muslims and Christians. The one saying the prayer and the one claiming it are well immersed in the metaphysics of the head, the Creator and His creation. A man’s inner head (ori inu) is the driver of his life’s vehicle; the locus of the totality of his existence. When a man’s ways are beautiful in the eyes of the world, it is because his inner head is complete and good. When a man finds his way easily and early in life, he is said to have discovered his inner head, his ori inu. When base instincts and warped considerations are allowed to derail a man, he has his inner head to blame. Whether a pilot would fly his plane home safely or plunge it into the lagoon of life depends on how healthy his inner head is. The one who starts out great with a lot of promise but suddenly veers off the highways of life is said to have lost the battle to his life-source, his ori inu.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is in all ways like its elder brother, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Both were gifted with good outer and inner heads at creation. However, like the PDP, the APC’s life of debauchery and its arrogant insouciance have progressively destroyed its inner and outer heads. Last week was a particularly bad one for that party. It lost, in a single day, a governorship seat, three senatorial, seven House of Representatives and 24 State House of Assembly seats. And the fatal injury was self-inflicted. What is difficult in obeying laws made by yourself for yourself? The PDP did same in its days and lost its head.
That the ruling party’s decking caved in in Zamfara on Friday was just a physical manifestation of a very severe spiritual judgement. We saw it with the PDP at the height of its glory. It took everyone, including its soul and its members, for granted. It was so confident of eternity that it, several times, challenged its chi to a contest of immortality. Its lion saw nothing wrong in picking its own cubs one by one for supper. Today, it is struggling to release itself from the curse of its indiscretions. The APC is worse and its end is almost likely to be graver and more horrendous because it carries itself about as the unquestionable God who can do no wrong and who must get away with anything no matter what that thing is. But God does not share His attributes and glory with any mortal. That is why He is called the Almighty. And that was why a party that thought it had conquered everyone got buried in the rubble of its bad democratic conduct in Zamfara. It suffered same in Rivers and is in pains almost everywhere, limping north to south. There may be more convulsions for it in diverse places in the weeks to come.
The head holds the levers of destiny. Bad heads breed deleterious effects for the body in contagious proportions. The present disenclaved disasters in our nation wouldn’t have been this borderless if the guardian had valued the goodwill of the beginning and had been of good behaviour. But the unusual government loves driving against the traffic. It did again last week. Imagine a stuttering boat ramming into the turbulence of a tumultuous confluence. When you behold Olusegun Obasanjo and Wole Soyinka doing a duet on a subject, know that the world is truly coming to an end. Obasanjo attacked Boko Haram and killer herdsmen and their campaigns of death. Soyinka, his enemy, backed him with words of urgency and warning. But it was our federal government that rolled out the verbal tanks to fight the counter war of the killers. The government thoroughly abused the messenger and his message and left all good people to wonder what (not who) really is in charge of our affairs.
This government appears carrying the germ of its own sorry end. Last weekend, Obasanjo alleged that the agenda of killer herdsmen was to ‘Fulanise’ the land, and, by Wednesday, the government ventilated that charge with the arrogance of an omnipotent who can’t be held to account. It was all over town that our federal government was setting up a Fulani radio for Fulani herdsmen so that they could be at peace with the nation’s law and commerce. The government confirmed doing it and wondered why all the noise about what it did. Even the government’s most conscienceless defenders were stung speechless. When the whole village say you are a suspected thief, you don’t go about fiddling with lambs that aren’t yours. When your label reads ‘owner of abnormal intestines’, the sensible thing to do is for you to pack well your entrails.
But the government has refused to see any wrong in this misdeed. It suffers astoundingly suicidal haughtiness. Or maybe we should excuse it by saying it is simply under a spell. In that case, it won’t ultimately be guilty of its own misfortune. You know when the ‘world’ is determined to ruin a head full of promise, they inject it with the spirit of misdeeds. The Yoruba call it sisesise or eedi or efun – the severity of the badness determines the appropriateness of term. Other cultures should have their own versions of these afflictions.
This government’s hubris will be its doom; its self-important cartons of bigoted, ethnic superiority smell nemesis. The Nazis had it in their master-race (Herrenrasse), master people (Herrenvolk) and master human (Herrenmenschen) actions and rhetorics, but in the end what came out of that adventure? Maybe it is even useless using history to warn the present. My father warned me long ago that if your relation knocks his head against a hard object and you are not careful the way you sympathise with him, he will turn his anger at you. But where is the wisdom in cuddling deliberate acts of self-destruction? Ilorin bard, Odolaye Aremu, waxed that the wise knows the wise; it is only fools who don’t know fools. He pressed harder that when you tell the unwise that he is foolish, you will certainly harvest a bloody brawl. This government rolls in misdeeds; it moves from one undoing to the other and then fights the whole world for not dancing to its beats of misbehavour. It doesn’t like at all being told that its dog is long lost in its chosen forest of unwisdom.
Sometimes, governments forget they are the government. They misbehave and thin the line between themselves and the side that fights against peace. Such contradictions routinely tell us that in this age of disorder, nothing is trustworthy. Is it not strange and jaw-dropping that when Obasanjo shot at killer herdsmen and Boko Haram, it was the APC federal government that yelled in pains and fought back? What insinuation did the ruling party expect people of reason to draw from that? Some people have already called our government the mouthpiece of Nigeria’s nightmares. It is painful that we are here. Bad ideas develop first in the head before they proceed into action.
When a man is determined to ruin himself, there is very little anyone can do to help him. If it is his destiny to unravel quickly, his suicidal steps will be quickened with assistance from unusual hands. Some politicians quickly saw the intervention from Obasanjo as an excuse to fly sorties to his compound. Sule Lamido led the pack. He was characteristically rash with his dart at the former president. He said his old mentor had become a bigot because he did not call the spade of homegrown terror by another name. We have seen several others from the North on that queue. They can talk down on Obasanjo but won’t join in telling this government to behave well and be for all Nigerians. Is it not shocking that they can’t see that the cracks in the national wall are being widened by the actions of the government they support? Or could it be that they just feel other people have no choice and must align with their insulting position and power? Maybe they love cracked walls and their angry yawns. Maybe they don’t know that crocodiles and black mambas will soon say enough and then follow lizards into those yawning gaps.
Obasanjo has no enduring lover in southern Nigeria because of his ‘unwise’ attachment to Nigeria as it is –warts and all. For decades, he has been the North’s sole true ally from the South on the Nigerian question. That the same Obasanjo has been forced to question the legitimacy of the Nigerian federation should tell us that a cataclysmic shift has occurred in the nation’s crust. The former president uttered more than ‘Fulanisation’ in that epic speech. He likened Nigeria to “a building” with a “faulty foundation” which is doomed to become “wobbly with the tiniest turbulence.” He called for a “global meeting” to reexamine Nigeria’s “identity.” It was the first time Obasanjo had ‘woken up’ to the reality of the artificiality of our nationhood. As if he knew that the APC government would soon take its Fulani-centric actions to the next level with a dedicated radio for killer herdsmen, Obasanjo warned that appeasement never disarms the devil – the more you give, the more it craves. He said: “If Miyetti Allah is truly encouraging herdsmen violence and killings and truly they have to be appeased or placated with 100 billion naira and they are equated to Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, etc, then we have to appease those other organisations similarly or be ready to allow them to unleash havoc of their own. We need politics of a united Nigeria for all Nigerians – not one for Yoruba, one for Ibo, one for Hausa-Fulani, one for Ijaw, one for Nupe, one for Tiv, one for Kanuri and one for Isoko.”
Those last words of Obasanjo were meant for the howling winds of untainted patriotism. No one will listen to him.