Story By Suyi Ayodele
There are two insects in Yoruba cosmology that are similar. But they are very distinct. One is oyin (bee). The other is agbon (wasp). Both equally sting in their unique ways. Oyin, for instance, is less aggressive and stings only when it is threatened. On the other hand, agbon is very aggressive, territorial, domineering and controls its space. While oyin and agbon live in almost similar nests (with oyin’s own a bit concealed), agbon openly displays its abode, daring anyone to come near it. Now, when these two insects set out to fight, oyin stings and leaves marks of the attack on its victims. That is not the way of agbon. Agbon deposits its poison in its nest and when it wants to use it, it goes back to the nest, uses its buttock to collect the poison and deposits the toxic material into the bloodstream of its victims. Victims of agbon stings live in pain for days! Again, Yoruba describes such a fighting strategy in a proverb: “Ile ni Agbon ma nko idi si ko to ta – the wasp goes back to its nest before it stings. The’ home’ (nest), to the wasp, is its ultimate strength.
The Yoruba worldview is mythical. Nothing happens to that race by happenstance. Generally, Africans are esoteric; but the Yoruba people are in a class of their own. An average Yoruba person places a premium on their home. Ile ni abo simi oko – everyman retires home after the day’s work on the farm. Home (Ile) is literal and metaphoric in this sense. Whenever a man draws strength from his cultural background, the Yoruba people say “o pada sile” (he has gone back home). More often than not, when a man has troubles navigating the turbulence of this world, he goes back home. There is a saying that captures that: “ode ma nle ómó pada sile” – the outside chases a child back home. When it is tough outside, the Yoruba encourage the child to go back home. Why do they give such counsel?
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling APC, went back home last week. If I were him, I would have started my last Wednesday presidential campaign in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, with a proper Ijuba (reverence) for my forebears. I would have chanted: Baba mi Oloyeloogun okun o (Greetings to my fathers who double as wizards and sorcerers). I would have called them their names as: Osoogun sule, soogun saja (He who keeps his sorcery at home and in the ceiling). I would have told the crowd why my forefathers behaved that way – k’Oso ule ba mu tule, ko mu toke aja a gbe omo re (so that if the wizards within take hold of the charms in the house, you use the ones in the ceiling to avenge your child). I would have told my forebears why I embarked on the Ijuba by reporting my traducers to them thus: Oso ule tii hi kesiri omo re (the wizards at home are already troubling your child); Aje ule tii hi kesiri omo re (the witches at home are already pummeling your child).
I would follow that with an Ofo (Invocation) that those sages taught me; to wit: Hin wi ki mi ba ti ri han (You said when I see them – wizards and witches). Ki mi wi a si han (I should tell them). Apa beri ni ti oka (When you kill the cobra, you cut off the head). Apa laya ni t’ere (When you kill a python, you slit the bowel). A little Ogede (Incantation), declaring the impossibility of their gang up against me would follow. I would have told my political enemies, within and without, that: Ha mu agada muni duro de Erin (Nobody holds the short sword to await an Elephant). If you like, take that to mean the hoarded petrol. Han mu kumo sona hi de Efon (Nobody holds the cudgel to confront a buffalo- the redesigned Naira). Han mu obe usijele dani de Ekun (Nobody holds the blunt common knife to fight the leopard – BVAS and other reforms in the electoral process). Having done those ones, I would then call my sidekick and minstrel, K1 De Ultimate, Wasiu Ayinde Barrister, to go esoteric by chanting Ayajo (Evocation) on those who have elected to truncate my presidential ambition. The last act would have been for K1 to sing Orin Ote (Rebellion songs laced with proverbs). Whenever there is a discord, every song becomes a proverb (Ija de; orin di owe), our elders say.
Then, finally, I would address the people; my people, in their own language, irrespective of the presence of those who don’t speak the Yoruba language. A masquerade is addressed by the language he understands. I will tell my people my pains and let them know that I belong to them the way the rag belongs to the dunghill (t’eni ni t’eni, t’akisa ni t’aatan). The matter at hand requires the support of my people. Tinubu did virtually everything I said here except the Ijuba, Ofo, and Ogede. And truth be told, Tinubu’s travails in the hands of his ‘friends’ have gotten to a level that the cosmic must be invited. I appreciate that in his Wednesday outing. He could not have been otherwise. For the first time, and by my reckoning, Tinubu acted like a proper Yoruba man. His goat has been pushed to the wall, Tinubu must turn back and bite.
Ahmed Tinubu did exactly what a wasp does that Wednesday. The APC presidential candidate in the February 25 election is a man that this era will not forget in a hurry. I am beginning to pay more than passing attention to his political trajectory, especially as his «life-long presidential ambition» is concerned. Between June 2022 and Wednesday last week, Tinubu has brought to the fore the relevance of home in the Yoruba configuration, more than anything else. “Ile ni Ile nje” – home will always be home – is the message that I am getting from the former governor of Lagos State. At the heat of the APC presidential primaries last year, I had a discussion with a very elderly friend. The old man expressed the wish that Tinubu would drop his presidential ambition for a younger Yoruba man (he mentioned three names). He asked for my opinion on that wish. My answer was simple. You don’t advise a man not to aspire to take his ancestral chieftaincy title.
When on June 3, 2022, Tinubu uttered that statement which was pregnant with an entitlement mentality to wit: «E gbé kinni yi wa, èmi lókán» (bring the thing, it is my turn), I called my elderly friend to remind him of our discussion. Tinubu chose Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State to utter the quoted words. It was at a time when the threat to his ambition was at its highest decibel. He was strident in doing that. He ensured that Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of Kano State was present. Tinubu spoke in Yoruba language in June 2022. Ganduje, a Fulani, could only look on. That is called “figure it out”. And Aso Rock got the message. The APC presidential primaries’ field was left ‘plain’ thereafter. Tinubu won the crown. But will he ascend the throne?
Now the real election is around the corner. But Tinubu has been running around like the candidate of the opposition party. He gets little or no support from his ‘friends’ he helped to power. Just as Tinubu said in June 2022, but for him, President Muhammadu Buhari would not have been president. The Lagos big man assembled the most vicious arsenal against the then president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. From outright lies to propaganda, intimidation to blackmail, Tinubu and his gang railroaded Jonathan out of Aso Rock Villa to his Otuoke waterside country home. The Izon man went philosophical. “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”, he sang. Even when the card reader would not recognise his thumb during the voting, Jonathan did nothing.
Jonathan eventually voted and ‘lost’ the election eventually, too. One of the greatest weapons the Tinubu Mafia used to undermine the Jonathan administration was artificial petrol scarcity. The agonies Nigerians went through to buy the commodity pre-2015 elections were such that anybody else could have defeated the then ruling PDP. Little wonder that Tinubu became agitated when he started seeing queues at filling stations across the country, weeks to his own election. A man who kills by the sword does not like anyone to take a sheath near his neck. It is therefore not out of place for Tinubu to have labelled those behind the current fuel shortage as enemies of his ambition. Tinubu knows them to be the thieves within.
But the fuel issue is not the only worry of the lord of Lagos. Like any normal human being, Tinubu could not understand why the government of Buhari would choose an election year to change the colour of the highest denominations of the nation’s currency. The man was upset such that he described the naira redesigning as mere painting. He said he was coming with a revolution. Baba Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State, tried to caution him. Tinubu asked the crowd to tell the elderly ones around him on the podium to allow him to speak his mind. And in speaking his mind, Tinubu told his ‘enemies’ that even if they changed the “ink” on the naira, or, if they liked, they could spend and become bankrupt, he would win the election.
The use of “ink” is deliberate. Nothing fundamental was changed in the so-called redesigned naira note. The scarcity of fuel is a problem of the APC government which it foisted on the entire nation. The redesigning of the currency is the policy of his ruling party. The inability of the citizens to swap their old currency notes with the new ones is a hungry monkey that only the Buhari-APC led government can find enough bananas to feed. One can therefore understand why Tinubu’s megaphone, The Nation newspaper, the following day came with the interpretative headline: “Tinubu: fifth-columnists behind petrol scarcity, naira redesign row”.
Tinubu knows that he has vicious enemies within the APC. How do you reconcile the fact that of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Tinubu’s president and leader of his party, Buhari, would only feature in only 10 states! That is outlandish! Of the 10 states, Buhari was scheduled to be in Ilorin, Kwara State but he chose to go for a ‘peace Award’ in Mauritania. He was billed to be in Abeokuta last Wednesday, but Buhari left Lagos for Dakar, Senegal. Buhari accompanied Tinubu to Bauchi on January 23, but he said nothing. Why? They said the sound system went bad. Phew! Sunday, January 29 was for Sokoto, but that did not hold, probably a change in the timetable. Yesterday, Monday 30, was the turn of Akwa Ibom State. Buhari was nowhere near the venue of the rally to canvass votes for his candidate. Ask again, how many states has the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, gone to with his presidential candidate? Is this how to reward a man, who came to you and said, “weep no more, we will support you and you will win” and made you win the presidency after three unsuccessful attempts? The coming weeks and days are going to be very interesting.
Tinubu, like a sniffer dog, can sniff conspiracy miles away. The Yoruba elders who warned the man called Jagaban, not to venture into the unholy political matrimony with the feudal lords can only wait and see what happens next. Tinubu will need more than ayajo nla if he wants to win the coming election. He must report his enemies to his mothers before they kill his ambition. He needs his mothers, who eat the heart from the liver; and the head from the arm. If his enemies are not relenting, Tinubu may need to go to Oduduwa shrine in Ile-|ife, and the Sango shrine at Koso, Oyo for a rain of fire (ojo ina) to fall on them. Those against him are not mere men. He knows and that is why he has taken the initiative by going back ‘home’, like the wasp, to ask for ayajo nla. But he needs more than that. Tinubu should ask his people at home to give him what they call “apeta (call and die), B’ojowo (die as the sun sets) and Olugbohun (approve as I decree). Please don’t ask me for details of those invocations. I cannot be of help today, Tuesday being the day for Digging Deep (Bible Study) in my church.
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