Monday, July 8, 2019 5:43 am
By Ifedayo Babalola
Psychologists suggest that our fascination with hybrid creatures stem from the fact that inside of us, our politics, our governments, and our institutions exist simultaneous potentials for savagery as well as tenderness. This split personality theory inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – a fictional work about a well respected doctor who sometimes manifested as his own evil alter ego.
It is no wonder, therefore, that legends exist in all parts of the world about hybrid creatures. As children, their stories filled you with such dread that you feared to be alone in the dark. And even beyond childhood, the possible existence of half-human half-animal beings continue to fascinate mankind.
Greco-Roman mythologies gave us many of them. Egyptian and Indian mythologies too.
Coming closer home, the late D. O. Fagunwa, in his classic, Igbo Olodumare, brought Ojola Ibinu (Python of Rage) to our consciousness. The man-eating snake was as deadly as they come – a character made even more deadly because at the end of its huge elongated body was a human face. Ojola Ibinu talked like man, and with its body out of view, you’d have no hesitation in accepting from it a dinner invitation oblivious to the fact that you are on the menu.
Like mythical creatures, like hybrid governments. Perhaps, more than anything else, the mishandling of Nigeria’s malignant herdsmen crisis exemplifies the duplicitous nature of the present administration.
Much has been written and said about RUGA in the past weeks.As such, I do not intend a rehash of the evil schemes of its sponsors. My objective rather, is to warn that its suspension should only be cautiously celebrated at best. Make no mistake about it. RUGA (Rural Grazing Area) is still alive and in social media parlance, loading. What the government has done is to slap on it a human face in the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP).
As has been announced, NLTP has two basic components:
One is the humanitarian aspect comprising compensation and resettlement of persons affected by the herdsmen crisis. This is the human face that has been slapped on RUGA as bait, and it is the aspect that RUGA proponents were willing to circumvent had they succeeded in dry running their abridged version down our throats.
The other component is ranching. It is quite obvious that the present NLTP ranching initiative has Fulani pastoralists as its focus. To be fair, and that it may not be seen merely as RUGA with a make-up, it needs to be clearly stated and promoted with equal fervour that the government also plans to support states and private investors that are interested in setting up non-Fulani-populated ranches. What is good for the goose, they say, is good for the gander.
Shall we then be very terrified of this government? Should we, really be wary of a government in which, like Igbo Olodumare, the snail is bigger than the tortoise – a government where special assistants and acting permanent secretaries unilaterally take such far-reaching actions ‘without the knowledge’ of the highest two elected representatives of the people? Should we at least wonder why, if Mr. President and his VP are sincere, no erring government functionary has been sanctioned over the RUGA contraption?
I could go on and on about what boggles the mind over this contrived, stalemated crisis. But that will not be necessary because for the most discerning, it is becoming increasingly impossible to deny that the summation of all that may lead Nigeria, and more importantly the south, down the dark tunnel is the role of the nation’s Vice President. And what an irony that is! For he is articulate and highly cerebral. Add to that the deep bow he takes each time he is introduced to high tables, Professor Osinbajo has indeed endeared himself to many across board.
There is no doubt that he has served the country well. The problem though is that he is serving his principal and the cabal he represents too well. His revisionist statements on restructuring and his recent trip to Washington DC where he made light of the menace of killer herdsmen exemplify his penchant for deploying his human and political capital in furtherance of the cabal’s selfish purposes.
This government’s charming face in person of our amiable VP has again been effectively utilized to douse the RUGA fire. With such pedigree however, it will be foolhardy for anti-RUGA campaigners to entirely lower their guards simply because our likable son is in charge of NLTP.
Already, some are drawing Afonja parallels; but I will refrain from going that far just yet. My reason for holding judgement is that as a politician, he might simply be tagging along, hoping that to serve the cabal well is to have a chance for the ultimate prize in 2023. Another possibility is that, knowing the serpentine and wily nature of the power center, he has by now been so inexplicably sucked in that no other choice exists than play ball. Yet, there is a third scenario. Maybe the pastor is just being himself, as access to absolute power has the capacity to unravel the lies concealed beneath the most sanctified of veils.
I will conclude this by tapping up the wisdom of medieval artists. In ‘The Fall of Man’ paintings of that era, the devil is depicted as a snake with a human head. It was that duplicitous appearance and the sugar-coated promise of emancipation that gave it leverage over Eve. Suffice it so say that Satan’s overall philosophy of engagement remains the same till this day: Evil is more potent whenever it wears a human face.
–Ifedayo Babalola, satirist and commentator sends this piece from New York City.