Sunday, February 2, 2020 8:10 am
The Nigerian parliament regained its balls last week. Before now, it was coasting home to victory as the most supine legislature in Nigeria’s recent history, especially with its leader’s effeminate claim that parliament would rubber-stamp every leaflet with presidency’s imprimatur, including any trash-receptacle from President Muhammadu Buhari’s lavatory. Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, it was, who burst Senate’s empty balls sack and stuffed it with some guts and grits, thereby resituating the parliament’s typecast as an assemblage of sissies and yes-men.
While parliament was discussing worsening state of insecurity, Abaribe stood up and declared: “Nigerians will go to the government and ask (it) to resign because they did not elect the Chief of Staff, the Police IG, service chiefs and others. Nigerians voted a government in power. We are going with stones to stone them now because they have failed,” he said matter-of-factly. Presidency’s lickspittle, Garba Shehu, stung by this unusual sting from a hitherto conquered territory, rushed inside the sewage and grabbed a handful to splash on Abaribe. He emerged with a troll on the information highway, propelling the debate whether it was not acute indecency for the presidency to deploy the usage of an indecent word as “fool” on a federal legislator. Apparently propelled by a valiant Enyimba spirit, the legislator proudly told Garba and his minder that an Igbo man bows before no cow but his chi.
Since then, the conversation in Nigeria had trended along this pathway: Should Buhari resign as President of Nigeria? Should he be made to resign or forced to resign his office, especially taking into consideration his apparent inability to secure the country he swore to protect? Second, has the Buhari inactivity or incapability, become so irredeemable that resignation is the only redemptive decision he could take in this circumstance? Was Abaribe propelled to make the pronouncement he made on account of politics or was he speaking the mind of an average Nigerian and his frustration with this government?
Evidence weighing against Buhari’s continued retention of his office is very huge. Since he emerged from the debilitating ailment that unceremoniously took him to the United Kingdom on treatment a few years to his presidency, Buhari had remained a total opposite of what he was perceived to be. His alertness, composure, mental grip and general state of health have become suspect since his return to office. He appears even gaunter than he used to be. This prompted the very demeaning, even if illogical, narrative of the probability that the current man in the Aso Rock Villa was a clone of the Buhari who left for that UK infirmary.
On countless occasions, Buhari had disgraced Nigeria in and out of the country, on account of his manifest bereftness of the ordinary mental acuity needed in international discourses. His responses to conversations from his colleague world leaders and riposte to questions at global meets all point to a vacant mentality that is likely propelled by a health challenge. This ostensibly prompts his aides to package him away from national and global stare whenever they can, through some ingenuous but demeaning redefining of globally acknowledged process of world leaders’ interfaces with the world.
You would recall that in October, 2016, on a visit to Germany, while he stood beside the world’s most powerful woman, Chancellor Angela Merkel,Buhari was asked to react to his wife, Aisha’s consistent harangue of his government. He had replied: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and zi oza room.” If you watched the telecast of that event, fix your gaze at Merkel: She seemed to glare at this inappropriateness from a fellow world leader. How could any perceptive leader denigrate womanhood in the presence of the most powerful woman? To me, it was not just inappropriate; it was a disconnect somewhere. Buhari’s aides and any Nigerian at that forum would plead with the ground to swallow them.
On September 23, 2019, Buhari had joined other world leaders at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Climate Action Summit which held in New York. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and other senior UN officials were there. At the panel discussion, the moderator had asked: “President Buhari, Nigeria has a very young population; perhaps you might highlight what a pathway for a resilient future looks like?” It was a question that required a prompt, off-the-cuff and suave answer. Rather, Buhari asked for the speech he had earlier read and lapsed into an incoherent reply which immediately sparked furore on the social media. Not only did our president read his answer from a prepared speech, with boring, unnecessary and inappropriate details of Nigeria’s entire policy surrounding climate change, he was the greatest calamity to that climate panel. Nigerians at that forum covered their faces in shame.
You will also remember the infelicity of Buhari’s response to a moderator at his inaugural visit to the United States where, in response to a question of how inclusive his administration would be, after shamefully showing either inability to penetrate the meaning of the word “inclusiveness” or a hearing defect, he made that un-statesmanlike comment on South East voters. Not long after, at a visit to the American president, Donald Trump’s estimation of him sieved out to the world. Trump had reportedly showed his frustration at conversation with Buhari and said that the effigy he met was just lifeless.
The above were the infelicities that Buhari subjected Nigeria to. I am sure there are several others that the world cannot access, shrouded from view by his highly embarrassed workforce. The question is, should we continue to manage our president, even as he disgraces us round the globe?
While some may call all these disgraceful acts gaffes, many have said that they are natural emanations from a general state of ill-health of the President. Granted that it is a normal human trait to take ill and Buhari is not immune from it as a human being, what is calamitous about these frequent mental absences at moments Nigeria’s presence is demanded, is that, there is the high likelihood that Nigeria is being administered by surrogates and the President is too mentally absent to comprehend the huge demands of state. Except at window-dressing Federal Executive Council meetings, it is said that ministers have far between one-on-one with the president and when they do, terse and indecipherable resolutions come out of such encounters. This bred the trending narrative that, between the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and his Uncle, Mamman Daura, hangs the administration and destiny of Nigeria.
Granted that, all over the world, once insurgency takes firm roots on a soil, it can only be curtailed and not extirpated, the stridency of bombings and killings of Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandits and Fulani herders in the hands of a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army smacks of an abnormality. In virtually all parts of Nigeria, insecurity and violence are the refrains. Last week, however, Buhari expressed surprise at the meteoric rise of the killings. Was the president absent while they killed us all these years, or did he go aside like Baal, the god of the Sidonians?
Sidonians, permit my digression, were inhabitants of ancient Sidon which is a seaport on the Mediterranean Sea in modern Lebanon. Christendom recalls their encounter with Elijah, the prophet, at Mount Carmel. So, Buhari said he was baffled by the resurgence of the terrorist group, Boko Haram? Shawled by a very thick propaganda of conquest or the decline of its ravage, insurgency has acquired a life of its own in the Northeast and like a soldier visiting Mammy Market, Boko Haram goes on a troubadour to drink the blood of our compatriots by attacking Nigerian civilians and defenceless military establishments unabatedly. Indeed, many so-called Nigerian towns are said to be in the hands of these bloodthirsty insurgents. ‘‘I was taken aback by what is happening in the north-west and other parts of the country. During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising,” Buhari however said. Yet, one of his anvils said recently that Nigerians should be happy with the violence and insurgency situation at the moment; violence had taken its final breath, he said.
Except for staggered information of casualties, no one can say with precision how many of our soldiers have been killed in the war against violence and insurgency since Buhari took over the reins of power. Victims’ families lick their wounds privately and military cemeteries receive their lifelong tenants daily. Internally Displaced Persons camps are bursting at their seams, yet the Buhari government is busy granting pardon to insurgents who simulate sobriety. Now when Trump slams Nigeria a visa ban for our inability to pass security test, there is a national hoopla. Couldn’t we all have shouted down a government which, by its acts, shows a consaguinary affinity with insurgents who shed our blood daily?
Every drug, they say, has its expiry but Buhari’s doesn’t. This informs Nigeria having a senescent and perhaps the oldest Ambassador in the world in the person of Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor, a retired justice from Nigeria’s Court of Appeal, who Buhari appointed to the office of Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States on November 13, 2017. Nsofor was born March 17, 1935, in Oguta, Imo State. Same awkward belief in senescence could be held as reason why Buhari has obstinately stuck to retaining his service chiefs in office. While retirement age is 60, service age is pegged at 35, depending on which meets the appointee first. None of Buhari’s service chiefs is not above the threshold. Indeed, one of them is 41 years old in service. While antiquity may fascinate the president, in the military, it brooks rebellion as the continuance of officers due for retirement blocks the fates of others behind them. It also freezes innovations and ingenuity, restricting same to the hands of the fossilized crop at the top. No wonder ingenuity is lost in the fight against insurgency and the spate of violence is on the upswing.
On the economic front, Nigeria is apparently backpedalling at a rate faster than Sisyphus’. A few days ago, Nigeria joined the list of odious countries who Trump slammed visa ban. Transparency International also awarded Nigeria a medal of ignominy, in spite of the billions of Naira thrown at the dross fight against corruption. If you interface with government at any level in Nigeria, you do not need TI to tell you your country is where Mammon had just built its imperial palace and Buhari supplied the granites that beautified the castle. At home, the social situation is getting worse. Frustrated by Buhari’s gross misrule and absence of a government figure in office, people are taking laws into their hands. People feel governance and government more in their absenteeism than for any functional representation.
So, should Buhari resign? No. Why? First, let us realize that Buhari resigned from governance the very first day he assumed office. No one can claim to feel him or any bravura of his government. I think, no matter how worse things turn as a result of his absent presence, Buhari should continue to inflict the cudgel of his vacancy on Nigeria, as a signpost of the fatal decision we all took in 2015 and our vomit we swallowed in 2019. If he leaves office now, we may be forced to think that there is a redemptive spirit which comes to a polity at some painful intersection as ours now. In any case, resignation from office is alien to the Nigerian geography. As we go to the polls in 2023, we would be mindful of avoiding a resurgence of the biblical Rehoboam spirit in electing a person who bears any paterfamilias of the current president. You will recall young men’s counsel to Rehoboam as the direction his government should take: “Although my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. Although my father scourged you with whips, I will scourge you with scorpions.” I think Buhari’s scorpions should continue to sting us.
Ayinla Omowura born anew
In the last one year or so, this writer had been researching into the life and times of Egba-born Yoruba Apala music maestro, Waidi Ayinla Yusuf, also known as Omowura, the son of Yesufu Gbogbolowo, a.k.a Anigilaje and Wuramotu; the grandson of Morenike Asabi. The research took me and my crew, Waheed Ganiyu and Idris Oderinde to the nooks and crannies of Abeokuta, Lagos and some other cities and towns in Yorubaland. We were looking for every tissue of information about this bohemian musician. Our major barrier was digging into the life of a man who died about 40 years ago, with the manifest gaps in such exercise. We dug out pleasant and unpleasant stories about the tragic life of this enfant terrible musician, speaking with two of his surviving wives, his driver, children, friends (like eighty-something years old Akingbulugbe Okunola, retired Assistant Commissioner of Police who was working in Abeokuta during this time, who told us about his friendship with Omowura, the Apala lord’s marriage to a police officer who later gave birth to a child for him), his foes and so many other people.
We also delved into Omowura’s constant scuffle with Ajape Ojubanire who he constantly jabbed as atohunrinwa – migrant; Egun-born but Mushin-based Fatayi Ayilara who he sang denouncing thus: “oga ere, ta lo gb’ero pe ki o bo’ra, ko mo’yi to kan mo ni’le odu, aro won re’so ko tun dudu mo – band leader, who advised you to bleach your skin?; Fatayi Olowonyo of the E le’wure wo’le fame and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, among others. Ayinla’s children were wonderful and threw his Ile-Loja, Itoko home open to us, showing us his bed, mattress, chairs, radiogram, television set that they still kept intact.
We spoke with two of his surviving band members, Sikiru Oyewole and Alhaji Adewole Alao, his lead drummer; Seriki Amodemaja’s son; Ayinla Agbejapa Oba’s children; Bolodeoku’s children; Fatayi Bayewumi’s son, Ayinla’s fellow Apala musician, Y.K. Ajao of Abeokuta and so many others. We dug into what transpired on that day, May 6, 1980 at Agoka, in the beer parlour of Risikatu Adekola; how Omowura, upon being stabbed, vomited and how Bayewumi’s lawyer, Chief Sotayo, claimed that this was indicative of the fact that he probably died from high blood pressure attack. Mrs. Olopade, State Prosecution Counsel, rebutted this claim with evidence from Dr. Akin Majekodunmi, who conducted the autopsy on Ayinla, that the “comminuted depressed fracture about 2 inches x 11/4 ins. in the left temporal region which was associated with a large intercranial haemorrage and contusion of the brain” which Ayinla suffered after being hit with a beer mug on the head could not be as a result of a fall. Justice Kolawole eventually sentenced Bayewumi to death by hanging on September 30, 1980.
We encountered Omowura’s prophecy a few months before his death to Bayewumi, saying, in Egba dialect, “Emi re Jeshu, iwo re Judashi, Bayewumi, iwo re ma pa mi! – I am Jesus, you’re Judas; Bayewumi, you will cause my death!” The book, a 7-chapter work, of about 130,000 words, has been concluded and it details Ayinla’s youthful years, his music, rise, death, family and what obtained after his death.
A few days ago, celebrated cinematographer, Tunde Kelani and our crew met in his Abeokuta Olomoore Estate home, in continuation of the Omowura project. He was in Ibadan where he interviewed us for more than one hour on Ayinla Omowura.
One very helpful link in this study was a man called Sikiru Oyewole. He still continues with the Omowura band and has released two albums, one entitled, Sisi Ile Iwe (Vol 1) and another that he released recently, entitled Apala d’otun. When you hear Oyewole sing, he is surely a reincarnation of Ayinla Omowura. As we prepare to storm the world with this book project in May this year, in celebration of the evergreen musical gnome (Anjonu elere) called Ayinla, let us reconnect with Omowura by listening to Oyewole, with Adewole Oniluola masterfully drumming, even as Ayinla pada d’omo tuntun (Ayinla reincarnates as a newborn).
-Dr. Wale Adedayo, journalist, writer and lawyer, writes from Ibadan