Final onslaught by Tinubu’s egungun?


Okey Ikechukwu

Tinubu pays, most people will tell you. I do not know whether, and to what extent, this is true; but it is a popularly held view. “We shall walk out of this electoral engagement with something substantial”, has been attributed to some of his supporters. In sum, it would seem that there is a larger population of carpet baggers and hunting dogs around the man, than convinced disciples.

An Igbo prover says that a man who has a house full of “friends” whose loyalty rests on the largeness of his purse and the venison on his dining table has no friends at all. Such a man will find out, sooner or later, that he is alone on the day of sacrifice when people are asked to make all manner of personal denials for him. No one will stake his life for him, because all his friends would like to live and enjoy their plunder.

A look at most of the campaign video clips of Asiwaju raises a fundamental question of propriety, patriotism, and dignity in adulthood for most of his backers. “How and why would anyone bring out this man, have the courage to stand behind him as a supporter in public, and then boldly assert that this is the best that the ruling APC can find for Nigeria, after eight years of unmitigated leadership incompetence? From the party’s performance on all fronts, it ought to simply apologize to Nigerians, withdraw from the elections and announce that it would go on a 24 months retreat; to learn about leadership.

But not only is the party contesting, it is fielding probably the worst in its park of elders. Possibly in response to overwhelming inducement, those who matter in the party lost the capacity for good judgment. Fielding a visibly competent person may have at least been an attempt to hoodwink inattentive observers into locating the APC’s existing proof of failure on an individual. But the party did not think in that direction, at all.

Which is, perhaps, why a video clip that is making the rounds has become the subject of more than passing attention. The clip in question is unusually clear. The image, and facial expressions, of President Buhari as he spoke was also clearer than usual. The man was, somewhat unlike him in his less coherent moments, quite articulate and forthright; as he declared that he would ensure free, fair and transparent elections. He said that that is the legacy he would like to leave, as he leaves for Daura, Katsina State in a few months’ time.

Add the foregoing to the growing suspicion, and perhaps realization, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is being touted to have “tied its hands”, such that it cannot influence election outcomes because of the BVAS it procured, and is determined to use. Add, also, the general impression that there is a direct linkage between the drama surrounding the new Naira notes and the elections. This would lead us to the conclusion that individuals and groups planning, and hoping, to deploy unvarnished cash to influence the elections may find themselves upstaged. What then will Asiwaju Boal Tinubu, whom many believe is planning to “pay all payables” in order to emerge president.

The man’s political machinery seems to be densely supported by individuals and groups who are largely driven by the “cash value’” of their loyalty to their pockets and their inverted patriotism as Nigerians. And that brings us back to the personal, aspirational and existential crisis facing a Bola Tinubu in Nigeria today.

He was the architect of the convoluted processes that birthed the ruling party and the Buhari Presidency. So, he brought out the masquerade that has been dealing with him for eight years now. Do you recall “the article “Tinubu and His Egungun”, Which appeared on this page on August 30, 2016? Perhaps not.

Part of the article in question said: “Most of those who birthed the current Presidency are now confounded. The once most enthusiastic among them are quivering in the limited space allowed him by the very talisman they procured and celebrated. Their circumstance is proof that a politician may get into trouble more because of his own errors of judgment than from the evil machinations of his enemies and competitors. The lessons of the hour for the Lion of Bourdilon, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the APC`s hastily contrived coalition, are legion. These loyalists are all standing in public with bruises inflicted on them by their own, or their family`s Egungun or masquerade”.

The article went further, thus: “The very Opambata, or cane, with which they are being flogged was crafted by them. And this avoidable misfortune is all traceable to their inebriated and hasty grab at power, without close attention to some essential ingredients of political discretion. Look around you and you will see the truth of the saying that politicians can be likened to the spotted hyena, of which it is said: “Of all mammals, they are the most self-centred and most inconsiderate. They are also the most brutal to their kind”.

Not to run the risk of seeming well versed in the Yoruba pantheon, especially with a name like Okey Okechukwu, the article went on: “As explained to me by some Yoruba friends who are versed in some aspects of the Yoruba cultural traditions, an Egun (singular for Egungun) is always someone`s Egun. But `Egungun` in its more specific, common-sense usage, refers to masquerades connected with the ancestors as a collective force for communal unity, moral probity and economic betterment. (This makes the president our National Egungun). But even when the word is used in the broadest sense, wherein “Egungun” refers to all types of masquerades, or masked and costumed figures, (like Speaker, Chief Whip, Majority Leader, Committee Chair, Senate President, etc.), it is still dressed and `brought out` by its `owners”.

Do you see what I mean? Again, for the masquerade to come out, “An act of invocation (known as “Alapi”) must be performed by the Chief priest, ushering the Egungun, before the worshippers dance, drum and are possessed by the ancestral Egungun, or spirit. It was Tinubu who performed this ceremony, as Chief Priest of the APC. But contrary to the norm in the Egungun cult and Festival, wherein the Chief Priest and family members are not `flogged out of the way` by the Egungun, Chief Bola Tinubu and his co-travellers were soon in the line of fire. The spirit they summoned turned out not to be the one they intended, or expected”.

Consider this, for instance, as observed in the article: “Tinubu, as Chief Priest, had barely finished the “political Alapi rituals” before the Egugun came for his throat, intent on summarily asphyxiating him. He barely extricated himself and is still clearing his throat, after that unfriendly grip. Smaller masquerades, like Saraki, are still scampering for cover. The masqueraders have thus become victims of the distemper of the very masquerade they dressed up and brought to the village square. Their political calculations before the elections, including their fallback positions and their third level machinations, collapsed. The masquerade had shredded its leash”.

What has been clear since the commencement of the Buhari government is that: “No talisman can also prevent a man from carrying out harmful designs that his enemies would have loved, but which he personally inflicts on himself; out of folly, or in a temporary attack of un-wisdom. Your security man cannot prevent you from quietly killing yourself in your bedroom, behind doors you locked with your own hands. Thus, the talismanic code of service avoids presumptive interference with the free volition of its owner in matters of self-destruction; lest it be accused of exogamous talismanic insurrection”.

Seeking continuous validation in metaphors and proverbs, the article under reference here went on: “An Igbo proverb says that the person who goes to a heap of birds and brings home a vulture will be scandalized by the fact that his greed made him focus on the presumed quantity of meat, instead of the species of bird he was carrying home as booty. That is the issue for many of APC`s erstwhile promoters and supporters today. President Buhari, in all his phlegmatic, somnambulistic and incompetent wobble, shall be an essential instrument for a national winnowing and cleansing that is long overdue. Not because he designed it, or because it is a planned engagement, but because his bungling will make a conflagration inevitable”.

Look at Tinubu today. “Even the rainmakers shall fall victim to the elements; because they did not know the full implications of the incantations they were mumbling. They cannot even take full flight! They locked the gates before the incantations began. They arranged a funeral, while dressed for a banquette, such that. Baffled, besmirched, excoriated and roundly diminished by their masquerade`s aberrant and atavistic totality, they crouch; hobbled, as they huddle””.

And, finally, “Aquiver in little corners, they are now muttering “Olori buruku, ma ba temi je o! Enough said, as the dénouement of this drama is unfolding precipitously.

Kudos to Segun Adeniyi, Dave Umahi

An unlikely pair, right? I agree. One is my friend, the other is not. But both gentlemen did something commendable in two unrelated fields recently.

The back page of Thisday newspaper of January 12, under the caption, “How Far Can Peter Obi Go”, was a demonstration of courage, genuine patriotism, goodwill towards a friend and a deep sense of responsibility to tell the truth. He drew attention to possible potholes hon the road his friend was travelling. Let those who want lessons on objective commentary go take a read.

Umahi, on his part wiped the subsisting shame of Igbo cultural bigwigs, intelligentsia and political elite when, the other week, he and his people wore the correct “Isi Agu (Leopard head) outfit to a rally. Igbo leadership, including Ohaneze chieftains, received Buhari in Owerri dressed in the wrong outfit of “Isi Odum” (Lion Head), which over 90% of the Igbo population actually assume is Isi Agu. Enough said about Isi Agu – a scandal at Igbo cultural events today.


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