Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
Suyi Ayodele, a columnist for the Nigerian Tribune, is a contributor to USAfricaonline.com
“From tomorrow, don’t pity me. I applied for the job, I campaigned for it, and I got the job, no excuses, I must deliver….”
Those are the words of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was sworn in on May 29, 2023, as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. He spoke at the Presidential Inauguration Banquet and Gala Night held at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja on Sunday, May 28, 2023. Even as I sat down to write this, the ceremony was going on in Abuja, and I could hear the ecstasy of the supporters of the new president as they milled round their television screens to savour the joy of “a dream come true” as Tinubu stepped forward to take the oath of office.
I congratulate them; the ‘Emilokan’ loyalists, and more importantly, the man of the moment himself, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
I was locked out of my Facebook account for almost a year now because my device crashed. While trying to retrieve the old Facebook account, I decided to make use of an alternate page. I could not imagine the type of messages I read on the pages of many of my friends, who salute themselves as “Tinubu’s loyalists”. It was on account of those messages and posts, that I decided to begin today with the words of the man, who, for over two decades, put all things in place to ensure that he got to where he got to yesterday.
There is no doubt that President Tinubu knows the task before him as the president of Nigeria. If not for anything, his speech, as quoted above, shows that he has an idea of what is ahead of him. One is also tempted to believe that Tinubu must have been briefed about the happenings in the Buhari presidency, especially after the February 25 presidential election. The man, if he is as ‘enigmatic’ as he is being projected, must have known that Buhari, has, in the last few weeks, been acting like the saying of “Bi Oyinbo ba ma loo, nse lo ma nsu si aga (when the colonial master wants to leave a house, he defecates on the chair). Tinubu has asked that beginning from Monday, May 29, 2023, nobody should pity him because he applied for the job, struggled for it and he got it. My people say “ohun ti omo ba je lo nyo omo” (whatever a child eats is what fills him).
There is a proverbial song and dance in my home place known as “ujo jigirinjingin.” The simple interpretation is a song and dance of mockery. An old acquaintance tried the dance with me on Saturday. I ignored him initially because I did not see any reason for what he was saying. So, when I stumbled on the quoted words above, I sent a message to him and asked for his interpretation of what his god, Tinubu, meant. As is normal with him, the old pally asked me to figure it out. Here is how I figured it out; for I know he would get to read this piece. Tinubu’s message at the dinner was and is directed at his aides, followers, hangers-on, and those who would want to make excuses for him the way they did for the perilous Muhammadu Buhari for good eight years. While Tinubu might not necessarily be saying that he would fail on the job, one cannot rule out that having been briefed about the emptiness of the shell, Buhari turned Nigeria into in the last eight years, the man knew that he has some herculean tasks ahead of him. We would come to that and how well he would be able to navigate the deliberate obstacles his predecessor placed on his path. The day has not even broken yet for Tinubu and his presidency. But it is gratifying to note that he has sent a bold statement to his Abobakus and the keep-dancing-we-are-watching-your-back (ma jo lo a now ehin re) clappers that he knows the enormity of the task he has gotten himself into.
Of all the messages I read on the Facebook accounts, one particular individual stands out. The guy was and is still consistent in his clamour for Tinubu to clampdown on those he (the Facebook user) believes are the president’s enemy. I laughed. There are characters in this world. If the wild boar had been like a pig, it would have ruined the community (Imado iba se bi elede, a ba ilu je); if the slave were to be king, nobody would remain (eru iba joba, ki ba ma ku enikokan). Another friend, who noticed that I was back on Facebook, called to draw my attention to the said posts and wondered how a supposedly enlightened individual would, because of politics, throw overboard every decent principle. I responded to the caller by saying that I would love it so much if Tinubu would go after his ‘enemies’. The caller asked why. I responded to him with this short story.
At the beginning of creation, the ant was not as small as it is today. It was an appreciable big insect and loved by many. But it had a character flaw; it avenged any wrong done to it or perceived to have been done to it. Each time the ant took its fight to its enemies, it got reduced in size. The ant became worried, and it decided to consult the Oracle. The Oracle responded by saying “Eru esan ma nwo ni lorun ni” (The load of vengeance breaks one’s neck). The advice to the ant was to learn how to let go. A day after the advice was given, a nursing mother spread her mat outside and laid her baby on it, not knowing that there was an ant under the mat. “What an insult”, thundered the ant. In fury, it crawled out of the mat and went straight for the sleeping baby and gave him a venomous sting. The shirling cry of the baby startled the mother out of her sleep. She carried the baby and looked for what afflicted him. When the mother spotted the ant, she went for the kill and sent the insect to the great beyond. That marked the beginning of the animosity between humans and the ants. Till date, once an ant is spotted, humans go after it.
If Tinubu believes he has ‘enemies’, he should go after them. Where is the wisdom in advising a child not to contract leprosy when we all know that after the affliction, the next abode for a leper is the bush? The only thing I would advise in case Tinubu decides to go after his ‘enemies’ is that he should not behave like the witch who kills without any bloodstain in her mouth. The president should identify his ‘enemies’ in the open and fight them in the open. Nobody should fight a proxy battle on behalf of the new lord of the land. The idea of “e je ka ba wa ise” (let us look for a work for him), a euphemism for roping individuals, would be counterproductive. Gbangba ni asa nta (The hawk snatches in the open) should be the signature tune of the “baba-will-deal-with-them” orchestra. Not every ‘enemy’ is a prophet. So, not everyone will be accused of “defiling church members” and arraigned accordingly! Incidentally, Tinubu appears to have a better idea of how he would run his administration. In his inaugural address yesterday, he said, among other things, that “Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own.” I sent this portion of the speech to my friend with the hope that its import would sink.
Tinubu is the president, irrespective of how we all feel about it. However, the pains of the last eight years are well distributed across the country, and they spare no demography. It is Tinubu’s choice to decide if he would look for the biblical Balm of Gilead to soothe the afflictions that the Buhari presidency constituted or chase after inanities. Where Tinubu spoke and asked that nobody should pity him was the same place Buhari spoke and compared Nigerians to his sheep and cows in Daura, which he said are more amenable to control than Nigerians. This is why nobody should wonder why Buhari left behind a ruined estate for his predecessor to take over. Like a rapist who has no feeling for his victims, the only way Buhari could think about Nigerians is to compare them with his sheep and cows! But that is not a problem. Posterity has a way of compensating individuals for their actions and inactions. After pillaging our land till the last hour of his inglorious reign, the wife of the one who serially raped us and our sensibilities, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, asked that we should pay her pension for being the wife of the president. Mrs. Buhari, while speaking at a book launch in Abuja on Friday said beyond the pension, former first ladies should also be given vehicles, sponsored medical treatments and some other perks. She justified the largesse by saying: “I married my husband as wife of a former president, I am going in a few days as wife of a former president a second time”, adding: “when the pressure comes, nobody wants to know whether you are out of the Villa or not.” We all can see how the husband and wife reasoned while their eight-year stay in the Villa lasted. As far as they were concerned, they were doing Nigerians a huge favour!
The desire of any patriotic citizen is to see that the nation is better off to the delight of the citizenry. How anyone would defend the eight years of Buhari is another topic in human reasoning. The Nigerian Tribune posted a vox pop article titled; “What we will remember Buhari for, Nigerians speak”, on its Facebook page on Friday. Of the close to 4,000 respondents to the post as at the time of penning this piece, well over 90 percent had one terrible thing or the other to say about the man who preferred his sheep and cows to the people he was elected to lead. Even in his lifetime, history is already negative about Buhari. The same history awaits Tinubu and his new presidency. The earlier the new president realises it the better for all of us. I have no problem with those who want to deify any leader. The leaders themselves are not deceived by such hypocrisy. Thomas Erikson is the author of the international bestseller: “Surrounded by idiots”. In the book, the author identified four types of human behaviour and gave them colour red, yellow, green, and blue. In interaction and perception, Erikson said one could be red (those who don’t conceal their true identities and opinions), yellow (the optimists); green (those who are careful not to offend others) and blue (those who never finish anything because they have many things in their hands). A leader succeeds by the quantity of the colour he surrounds himself with. The author’s admonition in the book is that no enterprise should have a preponderance of the same colour if the business must thrive. There is a timeless principle of life I learn in my cradle. The man who says let us make the world a better place will not live in it alone. Likewise, the one who serves bitter leaves as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will also have his full portion. We all have individual convictions about how Nigeria should be run. Our overall interest, I think, should be that Nigeria should return to the drawings of its founding fathers. Tinubu is already in the saddle. Nigerians are anxious to put the plagues of the last eight years of Buhari behind them. The steps Tinubu takes or fails to take in days ahead will decide if indeed we have any hope of getting out of the present wood of despair. One can only hope that he would not one day in his presidency throw a pity party and expect Nigerians to dance to the rueful tunes therefrom. I bet, that will be in short supply!