2019 and the Abuja Python Dance

The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

It was not enough for the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Aisha Alhassan, to say that she has pitched her political tent with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election race that has, for all practical purposes, been declared open; she also had to rub it in that even if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to seek re-election, he would not get her vote. I cannot see a better vote of no confidence in a leader than that passed by the still-serving minister. But at least she has the courage of her conviction, given what many of her colleagues and other All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders say behind closed doors.

However, the real issue is not who ‘Mama Taraba’, as she is called by her supporters, prefers between Buhari (who has not indicated that he would seek re-election) and Atiku (who has never hidden his desire to occupy the number one office in the land). The real issue is that Alhassan has confirmed that the whole essence of political power struggle in Nigeria is not about the people. She would leave Buhari for Atiku not necessarily because she believes the latter has a better agenda for the country but rather because he is her “godfather.” So, in effect, it is personal. With most Nigerian politicians and public officials, it is always personal!

That then explains why the leadership recruitment process is never about ideas or ideals. We elect people, at practically all levels, because they speak the same language with us or share with us the same religious beliefs and such other considerations that have nothing to do with their vision to make our society better. Even now, those supporting Buhari’s yet-to-be-declared re-election bid are not telling us why he deserves a second term although I have read some comments about his legendary 12 million votes; which then means that the cold calculation of some politicians within the ruling APC is for Buhari to run so he could deliver to them those votes. Meanwhile, you need only to be on Twitter to recognize the challenge Atiku will face when the real game begins.

Like Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said on Monday, it is still too early to begin a debate about the next president considering the enormous challenge at hand. From medical doctors to university lecturers to other workers, it would seem as if the only vocabulary in town is strike. And the response to this problem from the authorities is at best tepid. But one thing is now very clear: The 2019 presidential election will not be fought on the basis of dubious claims by some aspirants that they wore no shoes when they were young or that they had no money to buy presidential nomination forms! Nigerians are now wiser and for good reasons too.

Whether on the economic or political front, the prognosis does not look good. Yet, while most of the current agitations can still be located in the desperation to control the ever-dwindling oil resources, the rest of the world is thinking and plotting for a future away from hydrocarbon which only goes to confirm a common refrain by my friend, Louis Odion, about the folly of those who enjoy presiding over the seating arrangements in a sinking Titanic. Nigerian politicians take a cake in that regard even when there is also a method to their madness: Most of them have appropriated to themselves more than enough “lifeboats” to take care of their spouses, children, concubines and those that will minister to their indulgences, just in case…

We will deal with the politics of 2019 when the time comes. But there are pressing issues that cannot wait. On Tuesday, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu imposed a three-day curfew in Abia State to de-escalate tension, following confrontation between soldiers and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) renegades. It was a wise and commendable move by the governor because the problem had been building up since the Nigerian Army declared Operation Python Dance II within the South-East geo-political region, apparently in response to the antics of Nnamdi Kanu. But I see no enduring solution in this approach that could trigger needless violence on a national scale.

Yesterday, following a post by a Diaspora Nigerian, Dr. Baba Adam, urging Governor Ikpeazu to call Kanu to order, he got a response that I want to reproduce (with minor editing) here because of its resonance: “There is a young Nigerian lady that I work with on one of my projects. She is from Imo State and married to a man from Kaduna State. She said to me, ‘please do not include me on any of our project field visit to Kaduna, Kano and in fact anywhere in the North from October 1’. As far as she is concerned, the ‘quit notice’ issued by a faceless group from the North is a big threat and the federal government has done very little to allay her fears.”

The writer said he felt compelled to share the story because his reading of the situation in the South-east is that while majority may not be in support of Kanu, they also don’t feel protected enough by the federal government. “Deploying military troops in Abia State will therefore not solve the problem. The government started on a sure footing by asking the Vice president to go round and consult within the region. The report and recommendations from such consultation, if implemented, will be more useful. Meanwhile, as long as the high rate of inequality, poverty and unemployment continues in the country and young Nigerians feel that the government, in the states and the centre, is not responding to the challenges, men like Nnamdi Kanu will continue to attract a following” the writer concluded.

I completely agree with the writer on two scores. One, I have always argued that equity in the distribution of opportunities and being treated as equal partners in a plural society are very important and that is where the current feeling of angst in the South-east can be located. That is also what characters like Kanu feed on to spread hate speech and other divisive rhetoric that has empowered him with the mob. A deployment of force can therefore only be counter-productive.

The second score has to do with the fact that indeed, the dire economic situation provides a recruiting ground for all manner of hoodlums who could easily be given a “cause”. Interestingly, in October 2015 when he was first arrested upon return to the country, former President Olusegun Obasanjo warned the federal government not to play into Kanu’s hands. “This is a fake agitation. These are boys who want to get money out of people in the name of Biafra. These are people you should ignore” Obasanjo said at the time but his advice was not heeded. Now that Kanu has by default become a big factor in the Nigerian political space, whether we like it not, he has to be handled with care.

While advocacy of violence can be ascribed to Kanu on account of his self-deceiving ‘Biafra Marine’, ‘Biafra Navy Seal’, ‘Biafra Secret Service’ etc., the state cannot respond with brutality in the management of the crisis without getting hurt. Already, there are many disturbing videos in circulation. While some feature the application of jungle justice by the military, there are also others in which IPOB sympathizers target those they consider their enemies. I hope the political authorities are alert in these dangerous times that we are in. On top of what ails us as a nation, we do not need any inter-ethnic violence.

This is therefore a time that calls for leadership, including in the South-east where otherwise respected persons are genuflecting before Kanu. Meanwhile, whatever may be the feeling of discontent in the South-east, it is something that President Buhari can easily respond to by holding sincere dialogue with critical stakeholders within the region while applying equity in the distribution of opportunities. The police and other security agencies can then deal with the law and order component of the nuisance which Kanu’s IPOB represents. Deploying military troops should be the last resort, after all other efforts at restoring order by the civil authorities must have failed.

In more ways than one, the choice of “Python Dance” as a response to the political problem in the South-east is wrong-headed. For those who may not understand the symbolism, “python dance” is a dangerous sport not only because many have been bitten by their own pythons but also because some of these reptiles have actually flown from their charmers into the audience with catastrophic consequences. That is why there are several rules to python dancing, with the most important one being that the environment must be warm. Since python, like all snakes, are cold blooded, their body temperature also changes with the surrounding environment.

With leaders and critical institutions in Nigeria now being described in animal terms (lions, hyenas, alligators, jackals, pythons, cockroaches etc.) the pertinent question is, given the 5 per cent versus 97 per cent Abuja theorem of power and privileges that Kanu has exploited in pursuit of his own agenda, is the environment in the South-east today conducive for a military “python dance”?

I doubt!

Thoughts on Lanrewaju Adepoju

That Alhaji Lanrewaju Adepoju is a genius in his craft is beyond dispute. You need only to listen to the lyrics of his Ewi (Yoruba poetry) to understand that. Incidentally, being a man I had always admired but never met, I promised to go to Ibadan to seek him out last Christmas. As it would happen, that plan did not work out but I got his number and I called him before I left Ilorin with a pledge that I would visit him one day. One can then imagine my shock when last weekend, I got a WhatAspp video clip, from several sources, of Adepoju practically soliciting for N7 million to enable him go to India for eye surgery.

For me, Adepoju is one of the greatest Yoruba icons of our time, given the way he has promoted the politics and culture of our people through his writings and poetry. It is all the more remarkable that we are talking about a man who never attended any school. Yet, this same man wrote books, including what would qualify as a bestseller, “Ladepo Omo Adanwo” aside his many Ewi albums. He was also in the past one of the biggest television and radio personalities in Western Nigeria because of his versatility in Yoruba language.

In a recent interview, Adepoju said: “My cousins used to come and spend their holidays in our village, and usually while they were talking, they would suddenly switch to English language, and it pained me a lot that I did not understand the language. So I started saving money realised from firewood sales. One of my cousins, Muyideen Oyedele (now deceased) started teaching me; he was my junior, so you can imagine how old I was when I started learning. I had already passed school age when I started learning Yoruba alphabets and it took me one week or two to finish the entire contents and then I started learning to read and write effectively in Yoruba Language. It was when I moved to Ibadan that I started learning English. I have never experienced any classroom education in my life.”

No doubt, Adepoju has paid his dues, including being detained under the military on account of his poetry. And it is shameful that our system has practically collapsed such that people who have made significant contributions to our society need to be solicited for in times of emergency or even basic needs. In other climes, a man like Adepoju would not only be very wealthy on account of his professional career (and the albums produced) which would have been well-remunerated, he would also be collecting, on a regular basis, hefty sums of money in royalties from his works. Unfortunately, having instituted a culture in which “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop”, the reward for creativity goes only to the almighty pirates.

While we must deal with piracy and associated crimes another day, the immediate concern is that it would be a shame on the Yoruba people if a man like Adepoju becomes a destitute who cannot meet his immediate needs, including the need to travel to take care of his health.

Ordinarily, even when I support worthy causes, including those concerning health, I normally do that through back channels as I refrain from using this column for monetary solicitation. Because I get many requests, the only way to avoid being accused of promoting one cause rather than another is to stay out completely. But for Adepoju, I will make this exception. The account details put on the WhatsApp message (which I have confirmed to be genuine) is: Lanrads Record (1011948680) and the bank is Zenith. He can also be reached on his mobile number: 08140707506. While I will make my own token contribution into the account this morning, I hope other public spirited individuals can join in helping to send Adepoju to India for his eye surgery.

A Time to Speak
Tomorrow, I leave for Dunhuang, in Gansu Province of Western China, to participate in an international conference put together by ‘People’s Daily’, the biggest media group in the country and an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. The conference is expected to discuss the “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”, a development strategy that more or less underlines the subtle but increasing power projection of China across the globe. Invited as one of the keynote speakers for the opening ceremony next Tuesday, I am to speak on the impacts that BRI “will bring to regional and global peace and development” while also sharing my thoughts “on the transformation of media industry brought by the emergence of new media and new technologies; from how the news is produced, how it is delivered to how it is consumed.”

When I return next Saturday, I will be giving a lecture three days later (on Tuesday, 26th September) at Baze University in Abuja. I will be speaking to the students on “Leadership and responsibility in the age of social media”. And six days later, on Monday 2nd October, I will be in Lagos for the 2017 edition of “Platform Nigeria” to speak on the topic, “A Nation on the Edge: Which Way Nigeria?”

However, of the three public engagements within a period of 14 days, I am particularly looking forward to this year’s edition of Platform which will mark my 6th time of speaking at the forum. The ever gracious host and Senior Pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Pastor Poju Oyemade told me on Monday that this year’s edition is specially put together to address not only the current upheavals in our country but also to look at the endless possibilities for peace and prosperity. “Nigeria has witnessed military rule, insecurity, economic downturns, religious and ethnic unrests that have threatened its political unity but these have come as separate events in national history” said Pastor Poju who added: “We are now witnessing, perhaps for the first time in our 18-year democracy, a combination of these events which collectively threaten our national unity. The theme of this Platform comes from a firm belief that notwithstanding these threats, we are a resilient people with capacity to overcome our challenges.”

With the theme “Putting together the jigsaw pieces that form Nigeria”, the other speakers for this year include Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Mr Segun Odegbami, Prof Egbosa Osaghae and Mr Okey Enelamah. The venue remains ‘The Covenant Place’, Iganmu. As usual, it will be Live on Channels television. But for those who will like to personally attend, it is by online registration at www.theplatformnigeria.org/register.

  • shola

    Thanks a lot Egbon Sege for this write up. Mama Taraba’s action and boldness should be appreciated and not vilified as it is been done currently by the Buhari’s sycophants.
    Lanrewaju Adepoju’s case even though i have pity for him and wished him speedy recovery, is a case of ‘what a man sow he will reap”. This same man in one of his records in early 90s was ridiculing and insulting the renown Evangelist late Obadare that he Obadare has no eyes yet claimed to restored eyes to the blinds during many of his crusades???
    He forgot that we are mortals completely dependent on God who have all powers to make us what He wanted.which we have control over. There is a saying in Yoruba that ”Ba’ye ban y’¬eni kama ranti”

  • moribund9ja

    Compound fool.
    Keep denigrating Kanu because you are defending an irreparable state called Nigeria. You are writing for years about fixing the Zoo but what has changed?
    Your ” mumu never do”.

    KANU has over 15 million verifiable IPOB followership worldwide and millions of other Biafran supporters, non IPOB members.

    Mention one person in the whole world today who is commanding such followership with just moral authority or even political authority?

    You have not hidden your shameless disdain for Biafran agitation in your foolish writings but it will dawn on your face.

    Biafra must be .. Believe it or not.
    It will bang on your shameless face!

  • KWOY

    Regardless of what liars say, Igbos are not the agressors & have never been. We were not created with the Yoruba/Hausa/Fulani or anybody in mind. We want a REFERENDUM on Biafra!

  • Iggy

    Please , how does one become a columnist for Thisday Newspaper?

    There are so many intelligent and knowledgeable people on this forum ( including yours sincerely! LOL) that would do better than most of the current ones which have been in circulation for ever. We also want to actively participating in shaping opinion and behavior rather than critics .

    Most importantly , what is the practical way out of this logjam?

  • Paul

    Hate speech my foot!!!…where was Adeniyi when for decades Igbo’s are killed and their business destroyed in the North with any slightest provocation and nobody ever have been punished? The killing of Igbos and the attendant silence is the was form of “Hate speech” that is tell a people that their live doesn’t matter. Igbos have endured that for the past 50 years. To hell with Nigeria

  • henry price

    comrades if what is acknowledged in this article was true about colleagues of Ms. Al Hassan it would be appropriate for their position at this time on this matter to be kept behind close doors or for them to resign as members to President Buhari administration before making their positions known. If they were not to comply to like methods they should be fired thus, Ms. Al Hassan actions require that she either be fired or resign. Her actions have help reinforced most troubling reputation Nigerian women of government possess as being unreliable or/plus corrupt as judged by international community. Longer this “mess” drag on more damage it do to reputation of Buhari administration thus, there should be many many Buhari administration officials behind close doors advising President Buhari that for best interest of government plus people of Nigeria to fire Ms. Al Hassan. Ms. Al Hassan intentionally created this incident to “upstage” Atiku presidential bid. There is no good to come to anyone by keeping her a member of Buhari administration except Atiku plus his American relatives who desire to control Nigerian government in hope it will lead to them controlling Liberia. Very much sincere, Henry Price Jr. aka Obediah Buntu IL-Khan aka Kankan aka Gue.

  • KWOY

    LIAR! Oil is losing its value yet you cannot but irresistibly clutch to it!…. Meanwhile, the massacre by the soldiers in the SE by Buhari forces happened at the time thousdands marched in the streets of spain to call for referendum for Catalonia without arrests & murders!

  • The Rt. or Lft. Hon NinjaK

    Funny that people like Segun still tend to believe that Buhari has some kind of solution in dialoguing with aggrieved people of Nigeria. Truth is, this is simply the way Buhari wants his govt to run. Many keep making errors by saying it is one Mamman Daura or Isa Funtua somewhere that is keeping Buhari’s remote but na lie. The real Buhari is a full-fledged pretender and a relic of the old Kaduna mafia – period!

  • ychukwuka

    You can paint IPOB red, black or blue, all talks as hate speeches, you can claim there is now a well equipped navy, army and airforce courtesy of IPOB; what have you said about 97, 5%, monkey and baboons soaked in blood, about appointments in NNPC, security,…. as it affects SE. They are all ‘love’ speeches. What do you write or say about lies you were dishing to us about Yar’adua in your hay days as govt. media representative before Dora intervened? hate speech too? The days of brown envelope journalists telling us their ‘truth’ are over. We seek the truth ourselves.Truth is life, falsehood masked as truth is evil and death even with a loaded parcel! the choice is ours to make.

    • Smt Jal

      IPOBs are there already!!! Don’t retreat and please don’t surrender!!!!!!!!! My problem is you are some where in the north enjoying yourself while your brothers are there suffering the consequences.

  • Lawrenece Ifo

    When will people like Adeniyi stop to slyly,try to deceive the people and push their own agenda as if to say that they are taking others for a ride?

    He conceded that their is inequality in the every aspect in the zoo but turned around to label the person who is responding and calling for equity,using the instrumentality of the self-determination a pedler of hate speech??

    With due respect,I don’t think that Segun and many others fully apprehended what constitutes a HATE speech and the objective yardstick of determining that?

    It seems as if they just rushed to take solace in such empty ambiguity when they finally realised that the noise about seccession and treason cannot pass any serious inquiry.

    Hate speech is not defined according to the subjective whims of individuals as it will lead to chaos.No wonder the zoo is the epitome of chaos…Lol.

    Besides, it is high time we blacks should start thinking and reasonably,learn how to respect the right of others to determine their own life.

    It may be save for me to conclude that people like Segun are still wallowing in the mindset of the post-genocide oil boom era.By trying to dismiss anybody who is not occupying one position as nobody who can just be intimidated or given some part of the bribery which they used to sustain the zoo in the face of institution-enhanced lack of collective consciousness.

    If not,he could have appreciated the fact that self-determination is not economic-determinative,and Kanu is not taking advantage of anybody when those youths saw during their formative stages that they can never be vertically mobile or be fulfilled in this contraption and therefore, find a succor in the instrument of self-determination.

    So on that basis,no amount of propaganda by the satellite loyalist of the oppressive system or primitive appeal to the fallacy of hegemonic consciousness such as ‘God this or that’ and fear will ever stop this agitation!

    At least,if not for anything,the attrocities of this extant genocide state is not more hiding from the preview of the international community and a lot have exposed the brutish nature of black on black violent and conspiracy of the so called educated numbers,who are fond of latching unto any action by the occidentals when they are found wanting in any inter racial issues just to massage their ego and ptetend yo be civilised.

    In addition,the legal and moral question which Kanu have indirectly posed to the community of humanity and which they are positively responding to,putting the oppressive state in a state of dilema is whether the right to self-determination is colour blind?
    This is just like the post world two period,when the wind of decolonisation started to blow and the initial resistant of some colonial masters that followed, which did not stop the attainment of independent.
    We are in the era of self-determination and the wind is blowing every where and nobody/group ,talkless of an overt contraption which lack democratic validity can stop that

  • Agbo James

    After reading this piece by our humble Segun Adeniyi, am more confused about his position or should I say he is afraid of the Federal Government? Mr. Segun, when something is wrong say it is wrong and condemn it. Condemn it by laying everything bare not speaking with one side of the mouth.

    • bigdaddy

      I think he was very clear about the upheaval in the SE. His advice in a nutshell is that the military approach is wrong and counterproductive and the government should try civil engagement. What is happening now should be a last resort.

  • Daniel

    This piece is insipid regurgitation without new insights.

    Many Nigerian journalists are charlatans and lilly-livered .

    They cannot chart a course for our development.

    Always sitting on the fence or speaking in parables and innuendos. They shiver at power and would rather wish to have their cakes baked by same.

    This essay is junk!

  • Toby

    Mama Taraba’s “goodfather” excuse is but a civilized excuse of dissing the leadership incompetence of Buhari.

    Fire her, make her more popular in Taraba. Accuse her of “kwaruption” and send EFFC after her, she fights back hard and becomes more popular in Taraba.

    I’m loving this. APC is the best thing that happened to Nigeria after Coca-Cola.

    “Nigerians are now wiser and for good reasons too”….sure these wise ones are not part of the legendary 12 million voters.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      I’m loving this. APC is the best thing that happened to Nigeria after Coca-Cola.

      Toby, you clearly have not eaten boiled plantain and owo soup

      • Toby

        Bros, I have not o!

        • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

          In fact, it will liberate you spiritually and cause you to speak in tongues

          • gohen

            I feel you . Hahahahahaha

          • Fowad

            Why are you laughing?

          • gohen

            Hope my laugh does not qualify as hate speech ? !

      • taiwo

        I have tasted boiled Plantain & owó soup but not together though. Will try them together one of these days.

        Charcoal-grilled Plantain, fish and fried stew I eat a lot when am in PH. Almost always the highlight of stays there. Love it! Never find it in Lagos but someone told me it’s sold somewhere Ajegunle.