Written by Sam Omatseye
The President seems to have turned the Southwest into a sort of theatre. Playwrights of comedy cannot outplay him. Soyinka, Clark, Osofisan, Rotimi would bow to the creative sparkle of Goodluck Jonathan. For piety, we saw his role as evangelist. In one church, he prayed. In another he gave an “almost” sermon. Never mind he lied that he was invited. In one of the churches, the head said he invited himself. For vanity, he danced shoki with scantily clad girls, showing himself a hip leader in good standing with social gravity. He has a special talent for latest dance moves, like the azontowiggle that made his legs too heavy to chase after the militants who ferreted away the Chibok girls.
For officialdom, he commissioned a power project and asked a PDP candidate, Jimi Agbaje, to cut the tape. So serious was the affair that it fell short of its mission: to boost power wattage. For politics sake, he shunned decency and chose a candidate instead of the governor to do it. After all, the seriousness was matched by Agbaje’s recent comment asking Nigerians to identify who was more handsome between Buhari and his master Jonathan. That is the quality of his bold quest for Lagos? Farce as governance.
President Jonathan’s drama moved to the level of burlesque, which refers to a self-inflicted illusion of making yourself bigger than you are. So he moved around the traditional rulers. He begged and blessed them simultaneously. He begged for support and blessed them with dollars. In any emphatic way, he has not denied, neither have the obas. The accusation came from none other than the governor of example, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN. A president bribing obas with dollars when the Naira is cascading ignominiously to about 230 to a dollar!
The President has not read much of Yoruba history, and if he had, he should have realised that Yoruba monarchs are only a tad more influential than the Igbo warrant rulers of today. By the way, the Igbo political elite and the so-called kings are like the warrant chiefs of the colonial era. Their powers over the people are minimal.
The Yoruba wars of the 19th century clipped the imperial grandeur of the Yoruba kings and princes. From having only monarchy they developed virtually every system in the modern era. The Ekiti had a confederacy, the Egba, a federalism, the Ibadan a republicanism and the Ijaye a military autocracy. All of that doused the power of the king before the British set in.
He made the matter worse last weekend when he humbled himself for prayers with some obas. Was he, the evangelist of a lifetime ago, saying a Christian amen to those prayers, most of which must have drooled with incantation? Or did they dilute it with English? What happened to all his bowing before the pastors and mounting the pulpit as the anointed one?
But that was not all the drama. He played the divider, too. He was quoted as saying that the non-Yoruba in Lagos were not receiving PVCs, implying discrimination. That tells you what? That Jonathan’s heart is not with the Yoruba. He is trying to give back to the Yoruba what some politicians of the Western Region did to their foes in the wetie tumult. They chanted, o rowo mi, o rokan mi, demo ni mowa (You see my hand, but you cannot see my heart. I am only pretending.) Jonathan is posing for votes. If he loved the Yoruba so much, why is he playing the non-indigenes against the Yoruba in their own region while splashing dollars and receiving their prayers?
But his real acolytes are the pariahs of the Yoruba nation. That is his drama by proxy. His men are the buffoon governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, the whitlow of the West, the mimic Mimiko, and a raft of renegades like Agbaje, Olaniwun Ajayi, Olu Falae, Ebenezer Babatope, Adesiyan, et al. The new agenda: that they want Jonathan back in the saddle in order to implement the points of the national conference. What self-delusion!
As Femi Falana has aptly explained, the national conference did not give the Yoruba what they craved. How could it when some Yoruba conferees were either naïve or tendentious enough – or both – to believe that the confab would amount to much. The Yoruba wanted regional autonomy, parliamentary system, state police, special status for Lagos, et al. the confab gave none of these. The conference ended before the political campaigns started. The President promised he would implement the recommendations through the National Assembly. He lied.
Once the affair was over, he set up a committee – like his many other impotent ones – that has receded into silence with no evidence of work. Now that he needs the Yoruba vote, he has rallied the traitors of the region to concoct a tissue of lies about Jonathan’s newfound love for the Yoruba. Granted he has the powers to implement the confab report, that report does not contain what the Southwest has hankered after for decades. So what was their post-confab summit about then? About a non-existent desire! They want to con their fellow tribesmen with a poison carrot.
If he loved the Yoruba why is he waiting six years after he mounted the saddle to show it? Why is he playing the ethnic card against them in their own backyard? Now he just nominated for minister Obanikoro who was implicated in rigging and blackmail scandal.
Jonathan should read the Yoruba history. If he does, he would realise some facts. One, the Yoruba at heart are the only ideological race in Nigeria. Two, they always did not see themselves as a people, except in language and some shared sensibility. The Ekiti was Ekiti and the Ijebu was Ijebu. Everyone was under individual ethnic tent. Hence they had the paradox of an empire where one group, the Oyo, lorded it over others. That order collapsed with the Yoruba wars, with fissures that gave birth to a new set of elites, and systems and even cities. At the cessation of hostilities, a war-weary people became Yoruba, but they searched for a common political identity. Meanwhile they excelled at the level of culture, especially education, on the African continent. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the greatest Yoruba man since Oduduwa, emerged after the reign of Herbert Macaulay. With him was born the ideological Yoruba, away from loyalties to ethnic ramparts.
Awo formed the Egbe Omo Oduduwa that foreshadowed the Action Group (AG). That was the birth of modern Yoruba political identity. According to historian Sklar and other chroniclers of the time, the majority of AG members adopted Awolowo’s idea of Fabian socialism. There were a few dissenters and stragglers, but they either cohabited with the NCNC or became opportunists within the party. The dangerous ones were not the Adelabus who pitched their tents elsewhere, but men like Akintola. They acted as though they loved, and grew like stalwarts until they unveiled their true hides.
But Awo’s prestige and stature grew over the years, and he became the reference point of progress not only in the West but all over the country. In our history, no Nigerian equals that Ikenne son in accomplishment, even in nobility. Everyone wants to be like Awo. So they want to associate with the platforms he might have endorsed.
The Afenifere group today with shysters is one of them. We have other groups like the SDP, the Accord Party and even the UPN. They act like Awo insiders. Oscar Wilde said the coward shows betrayal with kisses, only the brave with the sword. These men are kissing Awo with slobber full of poison. Awo stood for free enterprise, integrated rural development, a sturdy education system that is free and infrastructure development.
These men that hang around Jonathan cannot show proof that Jonathan espouses these ideals in the Southwest after six years. As Premier of the West, it did not take six years before Awo established his genius in the region, a thing that made a British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, to say if Awo were a British Prime Minister, he would have been one of the best.
The best of the Yoruba breed inhabited his soul: the warrior’s heart of Kurunmi, the republican vision of Oluyole, the cooperative elan of Ogedengbe. The raft of renegades of today’s Southwest only has Judas’ mousy eyes.
They are mercantilist opportunists and desperate carpetbaggers who want to play Esau with the pride and patrimony of their people. They are Jonathan’s people. They are the Jonahs on the Yoruba ship of state. So they should be thrown overboard on Election Day.
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