By Ehi Braimah
When youclock 60 years just like Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo, actor, artconnoisseur, culture activist, journalist and man-of-the-people, it calls for celebration and thanksgiving.It’s Jahman’s Diamond Jubilee and you know what, 60 years looks so good on him and he is wearing it graciously – like his trademark“adire” outfits, reminding one of his stage production costumes.
Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc, claiming over 6 million lives globally since 2020. Clocking 60 years is therefore a rare gift and every day that we live is a bonus. Nigeria’s current life expectancy is 55.75 years, up from 53 years in 2020, according to World Bank sources.
Under the mentorship of late Prof Dapo Adelugba (1939 – 2014), theatre critic and playwright at the University of Ibadan where he was director of the university’s theatre troupe, Jahman was encouraged to write reviews of plays and films regularly which clearly influenced his career as a journalist.
Jahman always knew what he wanted to be right from his undergraduate days at the University of Ibadan: an advocate for the art and culture community and defender of the public interest. It was his own way of expressing himself and achieving a higher purpose in life.
The intersection of art and society fascinates Jahman during panel discussions. It is why he uses his prodigious intellect to explore diverse art and culture themes for robust enagements. For example, music and visual arts have enabled a thriving cultural diplomacy across borders for the creative industry with bountiful harvests.
But on the flip side of the same coin, Jahman wants practitioners in the art and culture sector to be the voicesof oppressed people, fighting for their rights and insisting on a better society where government is held accountable. Is Jahman a rebel with a cause?
Through writing, television appearances, seminars, conferences and festivals, our “birthday boy” continues to communicate the values of a decent society in the midst of contrived chaos around us.
Going into the general election season, Jahman is clearly not impressed with our political leaders and their shenanigans. He believes strongly that nothing will change because politicians are selfish people who have only one goal in mind: primitive accumulation of wealth.
In speaking truth to power, Jahman is always fearless in much the same way as his mentor, Prof Wole Soyinka. Jahman has shared an enduring relationship with the Nobel Laureate over many seasons. Like Prof Soyinka, he cannot stand people who are not true to their convictions.
Jahman also expresses himself fully in directing, dramatic theories and literary criticisms. Having bagged a degree in Theatre Arts, this should not come as a surprise. He has performed in several plays and acted in Tade Ogidan’s film, Hostages.
He could easily have continued on that path as an actor but he opted to be a journalist after his encounter with another mentor, Ben Tomoloju, who had moved from The Punch to The Guardian and established the only Art Desk of any newspaper in Nigeria at the time.
That was how our “birthday boy” joined The Guardian as a news reporter, rising through the ranks to become Art Editor, Deputy Editor and Editor of The Guardian on Sunday at Rutam House. Jahman spent close to 29 years at The Guardianbefore retiring in January 2013 when he was 50 years old. His birthday is January 16.
Since then, Jahman has been promoting and directing art and culture events with a busy schedule. If he is not directing a shoot or screening a film, you can be sure he is at a panel discussion or anchoring a programme.
Whether it is the Culture Advocates Caucus where he has been programme director since 2009 or the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) which he chairs or the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) which he founded in 1999, Jahman is permanently in work mode. He also finds time to teach young European students media arts and culture.
His combined roles in culture advocacy groups cut across literature, film, theatre, visual arts and music, and he uses every opportunity to promote cultural diversity. Over the years, Jahman drew artistic inspiration from a distinguished list of academics, scholars and theatre practitioners who are fond of him. They includeProf Femi Osofisan, Prof Toyin Falola, Prof Duro Oni, Prof Tunde Babawale, Benson Idonije, Odia Ofeimun, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett and Newton Jibunoh,
Jahman’s role as a mentor is widely acknowledged and his mentees are forever grateful to him. “Jahman Anikulapo is a great man who sees greatness in people, and then goes out of his way to ensure that his mentees achieve their goals,” says Armsfree Ajanaku, Programmes and Communications Manager, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education and journalist who also worked at The Guardian with Jahman.
“He is an energetic mentor,” Armsfree adds. Jahman gave Armsfree the opportunity to cut his teeth in journalism as an undergraduate. Award-winning investigative reporter, Fisayo Soyombo, tells the same story, praising Jahman for his excellent mentorship.
Andrew Okungbowa who also worked at The Guardian says Jahman is highly regarded because of his immense contribution to art and culture journalism. “He is well connected, yet he is humble and shy from claiming the podium,” Okungbowa, Culture and Tourism Editor of the New Telegraph,says in admiration of the birthday celebrant.
In Jahman’s art and culture corner, you will also find contemporaries such as Toyin Akinosho, his long-time friend who is a geologist, journalist and publisher of Africa Oil & Gas Report; Femi Odugbemi, writer, film maker and television producer; Dr Shaibu Husseini, journalist, culture administrator and film curator.
We also have Dr Yinka Oyegbile, journalist, academic and author; Dr Wale Okediran, medical doctor, author and secretary general, Pan African Writers Association (PAWA); Awam Amkpa, Global Professor of Arts, Fisch School, New York University, New York, and Dean of Arts and Humanities at NYU, Abu Dhabi; Olu Ajayi, visual artist, Toni Kan, author, journalist and PR consultant and so on.
I have known Jahman for close to three decades and we relate as brothers. He is reliable and dependable.When I wanted to float Naija Times, our online newspaperin 2020, I contacted Jahman and dragged him out of his self-imposed “retirement” from journalism. Once Jahman agrees to work on a project, his commitment is total. I can attest to his humility, hard work and resourcefulness.
Although lashing out at sloppy reporters is a way of life for Jahman, he also cares for their well-being because he believes in the humanity that spreads success and happiness.
Jahman was the one who took on the responsibility of recruiting the team and creating the different sections of Naija Times in line with the strategic positioning of the newspaper: Journalism in the service of society.
When I contacted Prof Darren Kew, an American andDirector of the Centre of Peace, Democracy and Development of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA, to reflect on his relationship with Jahman, he told me Jahman is the elder brother he always wanted to have.
“Jahman is larger than life,” says Prof Darren, a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Naija Times, in a glowing tribute.
“He is like one of the archetypical characters he plays on stage except that he is real: full of energy and enthusiasm, charismatic, and a powerful intellect that is only surpassed by the his love for people around him,“ he continues.
“Like a director, he works behind the scenes, helping people left and right, opening doors when they need them, applauding when they do well, and taking them out for pounded yam, palm wine and good music when their spirits are down.
“He holds great influence, but you will never know it if you see him, since he won’t talk about his efforts unless you ask him, and he will always downplay his own role. He is always in his car working, so you are lucky to catch him when you do.
“But when you do meet him, he will smile and make you feel like an Oba (King), make you laugh and share good ideas to help you solve your problems. He will call you brother and even tell this ‘oyinbo’that he is ‘Omowale’, and remind you that all of our efforts to do some good in this world are not in vain.
“I can never repay his many kindnesses and friendship, but if someone will teach me the talking drum, I will sing his praises.”
Family and friends continuously sing Jahman’s praises because he is a great mind and good man.For all his outstanding service in the arts and culture community, Jahman deserves national recognition. But I know he is not craving for one neither is he looking forward to such honour because he will reject it. On the occasion of his 60th birthday, it gives me great pleasure to nickname him as “Nigeria’s culture ambassador”.
Jahman’s son, Oluwaseunrere who was also born in January, told me his father treats everyone around him with respect, care and love. “My dad is a great man and he cares for his family in a special way,” Seun says. “He does not give up easily on any assignment, no matter how challenging.”
Seun is a graduate of computer science but he wants to become a cyber-security expert. His sister, Toluwalase, is based in Germany and they are excited to see their father move up to the sixth floor of his life.
Congratulations Jahman on your Diamond Jubilee. May your days be long!
Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng)
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Can 22 APC Governors Stop The Cabal?
By Ehi Braimah
As we count down to the presidential election scheduled for February 25, it will no longer serve any purpose for anyone to doubt whether President MuhammaduBuhari is standing with the All Progressives Congress (APC) standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The matter was settled in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, last Saturday when President Buhari declared emphatically that AsiwajuTinubu is a “tested and trusted political ally of over 20 years.”
This overwhelming endorsement could not have come at a better time amid political undercurrents that tended to suggest APC was a divided party or that there was a cold war between President Buhari and AsiwajuTinubu.
“Tinubu will be a good successor,” Buhari added so that his message can sink in during the campaign rally to mobilisethe teeming supporters of his party.Whereas we desire a free, fair and credible election, people tend to forget that the President’s party is APC, and charity must begin at home.
The Lafia outing was significant for several reasons. Not too long ago, AsiwajuTinubualleged that there are fifth columnists in Abuja working against the interest of APC so that the party will lose the presidential election – and possibly other elections in a bandwagon effect.
Being the presidential candidate of APC, Asiwajuremaineddefiant and fired on all cylinders as he went to say at different campaign rallies that the fifth columnists want to scuttle the general election and install an interim government.
In his view, the shortage of petrol and unavailability of new naira notes which have caused untold hardship for Nigerians formed part of a deliberate plot by the Abuja cabal to cause anarchy and destabilise the country.
The plot, AsiwajuTinubu noted, will fail woefully. He also said confidently that the presidential election will hold as scheduled and he would be declared the winner.
There were otherthought-provoking comments by AsiwajuTinubu which were mostly interpreted asdirect attacks on the Buhari administration. But if the same Buhari is saying AsiwajuTinubu will be the next President after him, you can just grab your popcorn, relax and calm your nerves.
Why did I say you should relax? In simple language, APC leaders are saying they are united and their goal is to win the general election – no more discordant voices will be allowed from any quarter.
Don’t forget that the party has the power of incumbency and it could become a crucial factor. President Buhari continued his campaign for AsiwajuTinubu inKatsina – that’s the home state of Mr President.
Shortly after Asiwaju spoke about the machinations of fifth columnists in the corridors of power, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, re-echoed similar concerns on Channels TV, Arise News, TVC and BBC.
Nasir el-Rufaimay not be the spokesperson of APC or the presidential campaign council (PCC), but he displayed excellent PR and engagement skills during his media tour. He spoke with so much candour, passion, confidence and clarity of purpose during the interviews.
He explained that some “elements” in Aso Villa are determined to frustrate the electoral process and truncate our democracy simply because their preferred candidate did not win the APC presidential primary in June last year
The idea of an interim government is a dangerous proposition which will be unhelpful to anyone. Do they want another “June 12” crisis on our hands?
The Kaduna state governor said the aim of the cabal who throw their weight around in Aso Villa is to disrupt the general election by making the country ungovernable. El-Rufai said members of the cabal who are Northerners like him will not succeed with their plan.
He described them as “parasites”, “cowards” and “opportunists” who are not members of APC but wield a lot of power and influence in Aso Villa because of their close association with President Buhari. In the past, First Lady Aisha Buharimade a similar allegation, saying that some people who did not work for the success of the party have become the major beneficiaries and pipers dictating the tunes in Aso Villa.
The strategy of the cabal, El Rufai alleged, has always been to deceive President Buhari with proposals or advise him to turn down approved government policies. El-Rufai cited the example of State Police which the cabal opposed after President Buhari agreed with him that it was a good idea.
Unfortunately, the APC Restructuring Committee which El-Rufaiheaded made several recommendations which were resisted by the Abuja cabal and the Eight Senate under the leadership ofBukolaSaraki – an APC member at the time but now a PDP stalwart.
If you want political and economic power, you just have to fight for it. Clearly, what is at play is the fight for the soul of Nigeria between progressive and reactionary forces.
Nasir el-Rufai has challenged the cabalto come out of their hiding for an open combat. He said that at the right time, he will name and shame the “elements” in Aso Villa who are holding Nigeria to ransome.
The Kaduna state governor, from his comments, will not be fighting the cabal alone; he has the full backing of all the other 21 APC governors and key stakeholders of the party who have only one mission: overthrow the cabal. But can they? How will they do it?
Is Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, working with the cabal as it is being speculated? Who is behind the unending fuel scarcity?
El-Rufaisaid during his interviewsthat leaders of the party are working together to achieve victory at the polls in spite of the cabal at the Villa. From all indications, Aisha Buhariis likely to join this fight by the gladiators, offering her services free of charge to the governors to wrestle down the cabal.
El-Rufaialso said all the 22 APC governors out of 36 states are on the same page, dismissing claims by the opposition that some APC governors are silently working for AlhajiAtikuAbubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He noted that APC governors own the structure of their party in their respective states which is a huge advantage. He added that not one APC governor is working for the opposition. PDP has 13 states while All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has one state.
What exactly is the cabal’s next move now that their preferred candidate, according to Nasir el Rufai, did not get the APC presidential ticket? Could it be that they want AlhajiAtikuAbubakar, another Hausa Fulani, to succeed Buhari?
If truly the cabal wants power to remain in the North, it will be against the laws of natural justice, equity and fair play. Governor NyesomWike of Rivers state and his G-5 colleagues (all of them are members of PDP) have been campaigning vehemently since last year against this idea and refused to support Atiku’s presidential bid.
To emerge victorious in the presidential race, the candidate must poll at least 25 percent of the total votes cast in at least 24 states, in addition to polling the highest number of votes. Now, if all the 22 APC governors are able to deliver their states, it means APC would only need to win two additional states to meet the constitutional requirement for AsiwajuTinubu to be declared winner of the election.
That is assuming he polled the highest number of votes cast.
The task before the APC governors therefore would be to look beyond 24 states in order to overcome the cabal. Their permutation for electoral success is hinged on APC’s“winning survey” Nasir el-Rufai cited during his interviews which he said gives Asiwaju the advantage over other candidates.
However, El-Rufai did not give details of the survey. In terms of national spread, demographics, current challenges, expectations and voting population, what did the survey reveal? We may never know.
Meanwhile, let it be clear to everyone that the race to Aso Villa will be tight because the stakes are high. Nasir el-Rufaiadmitted that it will be a close race between APC and PDP, adding that AsiwajuTinubu will win the presidential election becauseAPC governors will deploy their wide network and goodwill.
Although there are 18 presidential candidates,the focus has always been on APC, PDP, Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria People’s party (NNPP) because they are the main contenders for different reasons. For example, in all the ongoing conversations, they always record the dominant share of voice in the media. It is one of the secrets of successful brand building.
Although APC and PDP are the leading parties in view of their historical antecedents, it will be foolhardy to wish away the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, as well as his “Obidients”.
The former Anambra state governor might be the reason for a run-off in the presidential race.
Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng)
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Nasir El-Rufai’s Exemplary Courage
By Ehi Braimah
On Channels television last Wednesday during the station’s Daily Sunrise morning show, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, confirmed the suspicion of many people when he disclosed that there are fifth columnists within Aso Villa that are working against the interest of their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the upcoming presidential election.
As el-Rufai explained without naming names, power brokers in the Villa and their collaborators want APC to lose the presidential election holding on February 25 because their preferred candidate did not win the primary conducted in June last year.Well, as you can see, the chickens are gradually coming home to roost.
Who was the cabal’s preferred presidential aspirant that lost out to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC flag bearer? Again, el-Rufai did not mention any name but it should not be a difficult test to pass.
Recall that the APC presidential primary was postponed three times before it finally held in Abuja. It was a high-stake affair which threatened the survival of the ruling party. In the absence of internal democracy, APC struggled to pull out the chestnut from the fire.
Besides Asiwaju Tinubu and the aspirants that stepped down, the other front runners in the presidential primary were vice president Yemi Osinbajo, senate president Ahmad Lawan and former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Lest I forget, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also threw his hat into the ring under controversial circumstances without first resigning his position.
Now, you can pick and choose who you think the cabal wanted. By the way, the APC governors from the northern region must be commended for their decision and commitment forpower to shift to the South in the spirit of fairness and equity.
Our leaders need courage and the political will to do the right things – right from the municipal councils to the subnational government and Abuja.The courage is lacking because our political elites, too often, pander to other unproductive sentiments: ethnicity, region and religion.
Make no mistake about it, politicians work round the clock to align their interests. When there are disagreements, they throw their weight and money around, hold parallel primaries and end up in court rooms.Lawyers become richer with fat pay cheques and smile to the banks.
Nasir el-Rufai headed BPP (Bureau of Public Enterprises) and was subsequently appointed as Minister of the federal capital territory (FCT) by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He distinguished himself as a first class public servant.
The Kaduna state governor gave a blow-by-blow account of his stewardship in his book, ‘Accidental Public Servant’. I enjoyed reading the book. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy.
Nasir el-Rufai is a graduate of Quantity Surveying and he bagged a first class honours degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State, amongst several other distinctions and awards.
People like him always excel at what they do, no matter the circumstances or where they find themselves. They serve as role models and excellent examples for others to follow. In today’s Nigeria, we need leaders like el-Rufai who are forthright, bold and fearless.
From his vantage position, the Kaduna state governor who never shies away from his convictions knows what is going on in the corridors of power. He alsofully understands how the power calculus has been influencing appointments and shaping policies that affect every Nigerian under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
We cannot continue to pretend that there are no fifth columnists in Abuja; they exist and possess enormous powers. What they have been doing is to exploit President Buhari’s taciturn nature to their advantage.
Nasir el-Rufai explained how members of the cabal change the course of events by citing some examples. He said a decision was reached by the government to remove petrol subsidy, a matter he also personally discussed with Buhari because speaking truth to power has become his second nature.
According to el-Rufai, he told President Buhari in 2021 that it did not make sense to have a capital budget of N200 billion for federal roads and spend N2 trillion on petrol subsidy. That is what leaders do; they act with courage because they are the conscience of society.
After his meeting, the President was convinced that the subsidy which had become an albatross must be removed but the decision was reversed– even after everyone in government agreed it was the right thing to do. The petrol subsidy has remained ever since. It explains why in the 2023 budget of N21.8 trillion, there’s a provision of over N4 trillion for petrol subsidy – a complete wasteof money that should be avoided.
In the same budget, the re-current expenditure is N8.32 trillion, out of which 75% is for personnel costs only. It simply means our cost of governanceis huge and it keeps going up amid dwindling revenue.
N5.97 trillion was earmarked for capital expenditure while N6.55 trillion (a whopping 30% of the national budget) was provided for debt servicing to assuage our appetite for borrowing. Ideally, capital expenditure ought to be more than re-currentexpenditure to stimulate the economy but it is what it is.
It is now obvious that the powers behind the throne are the ones pulling the strings and changing the decisions made by government for their selfish interests. There are usually no consequenceswhen approved government policies are not implemented as el-Rufai pointed out because some people are above the law in Nigeria.
We would be kidding ourselves if we think that Nigeria can make any meaningful progress with apowerful cabal in charge and calling the shots. What is their sense of higher purpose? Do they even care about the greater good?
There has always been a scramble for Nigeria’s wealth and positions by those who have access to privileges but only a few people benefit from such arrangement. If you are not favoured by the cabal, it might be difficult for your nomination to serve in government to scale through.
Even if your name is already on an approved list for a high profile government position, it can still be removed and replaced with their favourite; it does not matter whether such persons have the competence and capacity or presence of mind to do the job.
Another example el-Rufai cited was the redesign of the currency which has created untold hardships for Nigerians. Although he did not fault the policy, el-Rufai believes the timing was wrong.
To make matters worse, you cannot find the new notes, whether at the banks or ATMs.Nigerians are angry and frustrated because they are between the rock and a hard place. Nasir el-Rufai argued that state governors should have been involved ab initio to jointly own the process with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Kaduna state governor gave interesting data on the few banks available in local councils covering large swathes of land in the northern region. Farmers are therefore required to travel long distances – with the high risk of losing their money – to the nearest banks to lodge their cash in exchange for the new notes that are not available.
With a few weeks to the general election, CBN’s “Buharinomics” was poorly timed and it has backfired badly. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor and his colleagues, are in damage control mode to restore normalcy.
CBN says new notes have been allocated and distributed to all the banks but the banks are not disbursing the new notes because they claim they do not have the new currency. So who is hoarding the money?
If we are to believe the CBN story, then all the banks must come clean and tell us exactly what is going on because the cash shortage crisis is already boiling over. It will be unhelpful for the mob to take over.
We are experiencing shortage of new notes at the same time that there is nationwide petrol scarcity alongside blackouts everywhere. If this is not a grand conspiracy to inflict pain on Nigerians and sabotage the general election, then I don’t know what else to call it.
Nasir el-Rufai has spoken his mind, however provocative he might be. Others should also speak up and let their voices be heard as long as they advocate for a better Nigeria.
Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng)
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Nigeria At Point Zero
By Festus Adedayo
I am peering at the viral video of the naked young man inside the banking hall as I write this. His manhood dangles like the pendulum of the Grandfather Clock of colonial Nigeria. He is totally naked, even as he shouts that he needs to withdraw cash from the bank. I am aghast and disillusioned at the same time. I do not know what to think. My mouth is wide open, saliva gliding majestically as it drooled off my lower lip. Before now, I saw a similar video. It was that of a semi-naked young lady. She too had peeled off her wraps in protest of the crisis of cash that engulfed Nigeria last week. She was a centimetre off revealing her total nudity. She was a pathetic sight too as she constantly mouthed her frustration. Her kids could not go to school due to the crisis, she lamented in Yoruba, asking to be given her money or get her account closed. What could have driven humanity to this Albert Camus’ absurdity?
As I look at the naked young man, I am transfixed and transposed in time. I am right now inside Akachi Ezeigbo’s Literature class at the University of Lagos. It is 1991 or so. The text that Dr., now Professor Ezeigbo asked us to read is the 1975-published ‘Woman At Point Zero’, authored by Egyptian psychiatrist, Nawal El Saadawi. It is a true-life story picked from Saadawi’s fieldwork research. Sacked from her position in 1972 as director of health education and editor-in-chief of Health magazine after a sexually suggestive piece she did with the title, ‘Women and Sex’, Saadawi resorted to researching neurosis in Egyptian women. This necessitated her visiting the Qanatir Prison and interviewing 21 inmates. This served as the building blocks of case studies for her 1976 publication, ‘Women and Neurosis in Egypt’.
However, one of those cases stood out. It was that of Firdaus. Firdaus lived her childhood in a poor Egyptian farming community, with a father who abused her mother repeatedly. With a clitoridectomy performed on her in her youth by her parents, she finds out that sex was no longer enjoyable. Upon the parents’ death, life becomes a monstrous burden to Firdaus. She becomes a chattel thrown from one man to the other, used, abused and beaten by men she encounters. Crushed mentally and disillusioned, Firdaus then resorts to prostitution, from where she makes a lot of money. Then she meets this pimp called Marzouk who has on his palmtop a tab into many political bigwigs in Egypt. She collects rent from each man she brings to Firdaus. At some point, however, Marzouk starts to threaten her with police action if she does not give him a chunk more in percentage from the pawning of her flesh. Then Firdaus decides she has had enough of prostitution, resolute about quitting it for another job. Marzouk however blocks her. This day, he pulls a knife. Firdaus cleverly retrieves it from him. She stabs him to death. She is arrested and sentenced to death by hanging.
One day in 1974, after repeated trials, she agrees to meet the psychiatrist in the Qanatir Prison. She had heard of her infamous renown from the prison doctor who talked about an awaiting-death murderess who totally delinked herself from everybody in prison. She tells the psychiatrist to close the window, sit down and listen to her life story as, according to her, she will be executed that evening. Then she begins to narrate the story. As she finishes the tale, hangmen enter the cell and match her to the gallows. Firdaus believes she was sentenced to death due to the threat her existence posed to men: “My life means their death. My death means their life. They want to live,” was her last word to Nawal.
What links Firdaus, the two Nigerians in the said viral video and millions of us in Nigeria last week is total frustration at the decadent status quo. That week would share nomenclature with what Americans, in their informal lingo, call one helluva week. While Saadawi is praised for the famous book’s ability to expose the subjugation of women in Middle Eastern societies, the author praises Firdaus who she describes as a martyr because “few people are ready to face death for a principle”. So those who threw themselves into nakedness last week due to the frustration of petrol shortages, cash scarcity and the spiralling cost of living in Nigeria, in what ways do they share Firdaus’ frustration, despondency and mental torture? Was their nakedness martyrdom too? Wasn’t it? Or were they simply mad? Did they enter depression? Was Firdaus not depressed too at the point she stabbed Marzouk? How many Nigerians have started exhibiting traces of mental disconnect on account of the misrule of Muhammadu Buhari? Have we been driven to the brink of insanity too by this government?
Muhammadu Buhari, Godwin Emefiele and the gangs terrorising Nigeria are the Marzouks in Saadawi’s ‘Woman At Point Zero’. As the men drove Firdaus to the point of despondency and depression, so do these ones to us. At that point, murder became a weapon in the hands of Firdaus to let out her pent-up angst. Many more Nigerians are manifesting their own depression in different ways known or unknown to them. As Firdaus said, Nigerians’ lives mean their death and our death means their lives because they want to live by all means. Only God knows how many Nigerians have died or sunk into the abyss of insanity on account of Emefiele’s vengeful policy and Buhari’s conspiratorial abetment of it. Otherwise, changing a country’s currency is not rocket science. Nor is fuel supply such a Byzantine knot that should ground a country to its feet as this.
Tinubu himself, on Friday in Ekiti state, reified this theory that the twin of fuel scarcity and acute shortage of the naira notes were weaponised to willingly breed chaos in Nigeria. Since the campaign began, Tinubu has been accused of going the way of parasites and like them, deploying his proboscis to feed on the pain of the people. You would think he had always been on the side of the suffering poor. In Ekiti, he said: “They locked up money…They’re doing it to get you angry so that you can become violent, and they will postpone the election to bring interim government”. Who are the “they” who will postpone the election? The PDP, Atiku Abubakar or Peter Obi?
It is either that Buhari and his Emefiele sidekick are antediluvian in their policy fashioning or were deliberate in their projection of a chaotic aftermath as Tinubu alleged. Either or both must be the reason why Nigerians would be dragged down to their feet, to point zero, by two key survival indices of our national life as this. Since the redesigning of the Naira, Emefiele has been shuttling from self-reversal to making outright laughable policy contradictions on the Naira. The latest is that banks will now dispense N20,000 notes across their counters. Was it myopia or a deliberate attempt at dystopia that bred earlier statements on banks-citizens’ transactions on the naira notes?
In the midst of these, Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, appeared on national television, apparently as the bearer of a sword aimed at the Aso Rock Villa. El-Rufai is always the messenger and bearer of acidic arrows and conflagration parcelled as messages whenever the system wants to shoot its shots. In an interview with Tinubu-owned TVC last Thursday, the Kaduna governor pursued further the allegation that the CBN currency swap was an incendiary plot to incite voters against the APC. This, he also said, was masterminded by the Aso Rock cabal.
Having gone to this extent of belling the cat, El-Rufai’s bravery or bravado then stopped. He struggled frenetically to exonerate Buhari from the “evil plan”. He thinks that the cabal was exploiting Buhari’s goodness and desire to have things done the right way. Whether this was a pun or euphemism, what El-Rufai manifested in that interview was the image of a Smart Alec who was trying to be clever by half. It is either he was saying Buhari lacks grits, a mind of his own, is a simpleton or is indecisive with the power he holds. Otherwise, why would a president be as effeminate or lacking decisional power as to allow some people to take decisions for him? Did the cabal also instruct Buhari not to attend Tinubu’s campaign rallies?
The truth which many do not know is that Buhari is only decisive when it comes to matters that have to do with himself alone. I doubt if he does with even his children. Certainly not with his “wife”. Just as he did in Ogun in 2019, Buhari has also told Nigerians to vote for whoever they wanted. In 2019, however, he was emphatic that voters should vote for him to return to his Aso Rock pot of soup. Yes, voters must be told to choose whoever they wanted but that must not come from the mouth of a man who climbed to his position riding the crest of a political party. It is an anathema in party politics.
And then in Ekiti, Tinubu switched from parasitism to weaponising ethnicity. He conspiratorially worked on Yoruba people’s psyche for his selfish gain. It is similar to what, in argumentative pitfalls, is called argumentum ad misericordiam – appeal to pity. Knowing that, like every other ethnic group, Yoruba desire to have their own speaking their language inside Aso Rock, in Ekiti state, Tinubu played on that craving selfishly. He chose to appeal to the people’s emotions by touching that sensitive emotive chord of the people. Speaking in Yoruba and beginning his statement with that three-fold repetitive strategy of discourse which ancient Yoruba elders employed to ram home their thoughts, he had been quoted to have told the crowd: “Eyin Omo Yoruba! Eyin Omo Yoruba!! Eyin Omo Yoruba!! (Yoruba people!) Whose turn is it? Relax. If you hear rumblings; if someone is not pursuing something, then something is pursuing someone. This coming election is your election. Is that not so? It is the election you will use to liberate yourselves… They lie. We are not servants”.
Now, there are many strands of issues woven into that charge to Yoruba. The first question to ask is, how Yoruba is Tinubu himself? Or, put differently, how Yoruba-empathetic has he been, especially since he helped bring the Buhari affliction on Nigeria in general and his people in particular? First is that he sits on a Lagos state that has shown repeated disdain for the Oodua conglomerate, one of the bequeathals of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His Lagos state – spearheaded by him – has disconnected itself repeatedly from any collective aspiration of Yorubaland. Aside Oodua, the Amotekun security outfit is another such example. When Akin Ambode attempted to change that narrative by pulling Lagos to Oodua and attending Oodua’s meeting in Ibadan, a source told me Tinubu hectored the governor out of it, shouting “gedegbe l’Eko duro!” – Lagos stands alone.
Again, when Yorubaland was going through hell at the hands of Fulani herders, the children of Awolowo never heard a word of empathy or show of sympathy for their tragedy from Tinubu. When Akesan market in Oyo got burnt, I am aware that he didn’t even send a word of empathy. A few weeks after, when a similar calamity befell a town in the north, Tinubu was there with his trolley of empathy and a N50 million donation. Again, a few years ago, Tinubu was in the Akure home of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, ostensibly to commiserate with him over the death of his daughter. To douse the narrative of her being killed by Fulani herders, Tinubu asked “where are the cows?” But on Friday, a few kilometres away from where he asked where the cows were and where the daughter of the Yoruba patriarch was killed, Tinubu wanted the same Yoruba people to help go to war with him if he was not made president. We should remind him that the children of those friends of his who have now become his enemies because they don’t want him to succeed them, were the ones killing our own children and parents and mauling them to their deaths without a word from him.
The scenario of Tinubu and Yorubaland is akin to that of the selfish Oluode (Chief Hunter) who, aware of famine in the village, with the existential challenges it poses to the people, goes hunting games and devours them alone like a cat does, without sharing even the animal’s hoof with his neighbours. Yoruba explain this as: “Ile njo, ole nja, aa ri Oluode; o np’eran, o n da je bi ologbo”. The cat mirrors similar selfishness. A Yoruba aphorism which explains this selfishness of the cat says, “apa’dele ni o je ka mo p’ologbo ns’ode“. The cat pretends that it doesn’t kill whereas it does but devours it on the rafters.
So, Yoruba should let Tinubu fight his political enemies alone and not allow him to use them as pawns and fodders of the war. When the going was good between them and we wailed and sorrowed, he pleasurably enjoyed the grisly groove. Any Yoruba who believes in Tinubu should feel free to vote for him on whatever index that sways them to him. It should never be on account of Tinubu being a crusader for the Yoruba or his innate Yorubaness. I cannot see any of such in him.
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