Day Awo wept at Oyo House of Chiefs. By Festus Adedayo
When we all heard the news during the week that the pan-Yoruba organization, Afenifere had declared its intention to support the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, some of us peeped into our calendar to be sure the calendar was not up to some lunar mischief. A faction of the organization, led by Senator Ayo Fasanmi, in a communique issued after its long hours of closed door deliberations at the House of Chiefs, Oyo State Secretariat, Ibadan, had immediately rebutted our doubt.
The Publicity Secretary of this group, Biodun Fasae, who spoke on behalf of Senator Fasanmi, had reportedly said: “Yoruba is not divided; even during the time of Baba Awolowo, there were dissent voices, so we are not embarrassed…Let me again say that the owner of the mandate of the Yoruba people is APC. The six governors of Yorubaland are APC… so we have six speakers of Houses of Assembly. Those who claim to be in the other group of Afenifere, none of them have ever contested an election. The fact is there for all to see. So, they don’t have any mandate… We are supporting President Buhari and Prof. Osinbajo come February 16 presidential election. We are happy with the issue of economy of this nation, though it is collective efforts, but President Buhari is doing his best to fix all things well for the masses.” To imagine that the hallowed ground where this literally treasonable statement against the Yoruba people was made was that same ground where Awolowo and the great parliamentarians of the First Republic sat on issues that moulded Yoruba and Yorubaland into a land of envy by the black race!
If the dead weep in heaven, the most recent ancestor of the Yoruba people, Obafemi Awolowo, must have wept profusely as these pass-offs of his in ethnic leadership, masquerading as his alter-ego, emerged from their apparently engineered assembly. And the reasons are obvious.
From the press statement by Fasae, it is obvious that his faction’s proverbial fly waltzing to an unheard musical rhythm on the top of the river had a drummer shrouded from view. The rump’s statement even betrays this much. From its adulations of governors of the South West and President Buhari, it is obvious that this group of Afenifere is composed of lickspittles of the APC whose Christmas booties are assured by that audacious statement. What economy or, put succinctly, what aspect of the Buhari economy is its own Afenifere pleased with? Is it the selfsame economy which the Brookings Institution recently said has now taken over as one domiciled in a nation with the highest number of extremely poor people?
Said the Brookings Institution report: “According to our projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extremely poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot. At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.” Is this the same Nigeria that this Afenifebi (seekers of evil) is talking about? This is not to talk of another report on the Nigerian economy under Buhari which said that 86.9 million Nigerians are now living in extreme poverty, a figure of nearly 50% of the country’s estimated 180 million population.
Can this rump of Afenifere tell us the outcome of its poll survey, if ever it did? Does it indicate that their view represents that of the average Yoruba man on the streets? Awolowo – God bless his soul – was known to be a man who spoke truth to power via verifiable figures. Long before the austerity of the Shehu Shagari era, Awolowo foretold the economic crisis via tabulated figures of how Shagari was leading Nigeria to Golgotha. How come these self-anointed children of Awolowo chose to deceive the people with voodoo economic indicators?
Those who claim to be in the other group of Afenifere, none of them have ever contested an election. Apart from its obvious meaninglessness, these italicised words which this Afenifere rump was reported to have uttered, even shows that it is consumed by an ancient hubris that it is yet to purge itself of. What has contesting and winning an election got to do with this obvious charge of ethnic Judas that they are playing?
Please, get me right – I am not saying that the other group, whose trenchant voice against Buhari that we were hitherto used to, is any better or isn’t consumed by an equal ounce of esophagus pursuit. What I am saying is that these are Yoruba elders dancing naked in the market place for the sake of their stomachs. Neither Buhari nor Abubakar Atiku means well for the Yoruba people. I cannot see anything in their demeanor or policies enunciated hitherto which pointed at their love for the people of Western Nigeria. They may mean well for the throats of the shameless Afenifebis whose scamper for the national purse or loaded vaults of Atiku Abubakar to collect their shares of the proverbial national cake, has put Yoruba people in disgrace. Fortunately for the Yoruba, none of these discredited voices can win a polling booth in favour of their principals in the 2019 elections. They cannot even convince their siblings to vote in a particular direction. Let them however enjoy their booties while the crisp notes last.
Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.