LAST Thursday, when the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) reportedly slumped at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the story of the late enfant terrible of Oyo State politics, Busari-Adelakun, sidled into my memory. Media reports said that Bawa slumped at an occasion commemorating the National Identity Day. Same last week, Nigeria was back to her English class session.
Occasionally, some fortuitous occurrences force this country, a product of Mrs. Flora Shaw’s taxonomic ingenuity, to go learn some basic language meanings. This time, Nigeria had to contend with the difference or differences between “slump” and “somersault.”
While on the podium speaking on the importance of digital identification, Bawa was said to have manifested physical signs of delirium. From the video of the event in circulation, the EFCC chair momentarily contorted his face like one struck by an unseen lightning. It was not clear whether this was due to exhaustion or an emotional trauma.I just recently re-read Peter Morton-Williams’ anthropological study of the Ogboni, the dreaded ancient Yoruba secret cult, entitled The Yoruba Ogboni cult in Oyo.
Apart from its outline of the potency of blood in sacrifices and oath, written way back in 1960, Morton-Williams’ is a study in what probably drives interests in secret societies and why the elite take unqualified voyage into it, in spite of rapacious embrace of Christianity and Islam. As is the nature of Africans who never believed disasters, calamities, sicknesses or diseases have singularly physical, biological connotations without corresponding metaphysical underlining, many of the commentators didn’t believe that the EFCC boss slumped because he merely “felt unwell.” Adelakun was a firebrand politician of the Second Republic, a politician who fellow politicians could ignore only at their peril.
First, he enfolded traditional African Yoruba culture and symbols of rituals into modern practice of politics. He demonstrated this in his politics and never hid the fact that he was in touch with rituals. While leaving the two ministries he was commissioner, Adelakun became a mythical figure due basically to how he flaunted his grips of esotericism and the deep metaphysics of traditional Africa.
He was reported to have famously sworn that since any cloth worn by Ipin leaf could never be worn by any human being again on earth, no one could step into the office he was leaving. Ipin is a leaf that farmers dread in the forest like a plague. Bodily contact with it was akin to being bitten by a scorpion. True to his boast, Adelakun’s immediate successor in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy, Lasisi Olatunbosun, died shortly after being sworn in. The trope that gained traction was even that Olatunbosun’s buttocks got irretrievably glued to the seat Adelakun used in office. Again, his successor as commissioner in the Ministry of Health also died, allegedly of stroke.
In Yorubaland, until of recent, stroke was held to be a metaphysical attack that was always the handiwork of traducers. Aside the slump of the EFCC Bawa, not a few things have been slumping and doing acrobatics in Nigeria recently; acrobatics like the famous Atilogwu dancers’. Like the Nigerian Naira, for example. Right now, the Naira has snatched the most notorious of national infamies available. The way Almighty Naira kisses the canvass, rather than a cry, it provokes laughter and enchantment one gets while watching Atilogwu. Some hilarious economic analysts claim that the Naira’s somersault is like a kiss of death.
The Naira is engaged in one of the most flip-flop numeric dances of a national currency ever in the history of a nation. One minute, the Naira is standing ramrod on its feet (though you would be right to say Naira lost its ramrod posture since the early 2000s or so, and has shamelessly lay prostrate, especially since the coming of this government). The next minute, that ramrod posture vanishes, in a meteoric rise that makes you remember Hubert Ogunde’s famous song, Iye le o ma wo. Ogunde, in that track, sang that the person who fixes his gait on a bird will in the next minute see feathers at the bird’s talon. Never the bird again – iye le o ma wo lehin eye o, e o l’eyeri… Ogunde was probably trying to localize Greek philosopher, Heraclitus’ famous dictum. Because no two situations are exactly same, Heraclitus then surmised that you cannot step into same river twice, simply because life is woven round a tapestry called change. It is so bad that if Godwin Emefiele; sorry, the Nigerian Naira, greets you “good morning,” you have to look through the window to confirm. Naira’s duplicity could be benumbing.
When you think you see an outwardly shining currency, bearing the totems of a people bound in freedom, peace and unity, all you see are feathers… a currency as light as feather or is at best a mirage, holding the values of what my people describe as a mere idandan. Pardon my scant sense of hierarchical positioning. Long before the Naira, the Muhammadu Buhari government’s sense of taxonomy was the first to do acrobatics. With blood flowing from victims of notorious Fulani herders on the streets of the Southwest, Southeast, Northwest and some parts of the South-South, a furious Buhari couldn’t stand the bloodshed. What! He shouted.
Then rockets of fire began to sound some-where across the River Niger bridge. There was also some burning, some maiming and hoopla gone haywire. Then Buhari sat by the panes of his imperial castle in Aso Rock and decreed a label. Those who downed military fighter jets in the Northwest, who kill in their hundreds, who rape multiple of our children, are just bandits, Buhari proclaimed. Those “dots in a circle” children are terrorists, sons of Osama Bin Laden, so said the imperial taxonomist. QED. Bothered by the success that advocates of separatism are recording, especially in getting the United Nations to listen to their plea that they are consistently being bayoneted by the Fulani-led government of Nigeria, Buhari somersaulted into what is called the fallacy of generalization.
That same week had barely ended when Femi Fani-Kayode, former Aviation Minister, literally swallowed his own vomit by joining the All Progressives Congress, (APC) a political party he had always viscerally attacked. Responding to the posting of this dispiriting news on Facebook last week by presidential media adviser, Femi Adesina, I could only borrow late Professor Pius Adesanmi’s quip on another slump by a top-rate media icon when he merely wrote “And Jesus wept” to qualify the calamitous somersault into the slum. Slumping and somersaulting into the slum are regular features in Nigeria. Whether the slump is that of taxonomy for selfish purpose by Buhari or it is a moral somersault like that of Fani-Kayode or it is even a literal slump like Bawa, or the calamitous somersault of the Naira into the abyss, values are compromised. It is as if we are a country where morality is on sabbatical.