Between ‘Political Yabis’and Statement of Facts

Adams Oshiomhole

I have read with great amusement, the misconception that political “yabis”, a euphemism for thrash talking your opponent obviously for the sole aim of de-marketing the opponents can be taken outside the context of such campaigns. Obviously, such statements made during political rallies are not real indictments but are called political yabis and of course, nobody goes to court to enforce or deny them. But outside political rallies, such statements could be taken seriously. The purpose of this write up is to distinguish political yabis from statements of facts. Political yabis are mere pronouncements at political rallies as against real life stories of facts. As long as they are not proved legal pronouncements, they cannot be used meaningfully against candidates on campaigns. In any political contests, aspirants find what to say to demarket their opponents. This is where the theory of political yabis stands vis-a-vis where indictments stand. This means that Oshiomhole’s pronouncements against the then political opponent POI in 2016 were mere yabis that are normal at rallies. These statements were never made outside political rallies neither were they proved by any facts.

Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo Kuti of blessed memory was known for his acerbic use of “Yabis” to lampoon clergymen, soldiers, politicians and ordinary citizens alike. In fact, he begins one of his songs with “make l yab them…to which his backup choristers replied “yab them…. It was all fun intended to lay the background to the essential message of the song.
I remember quite well that during the NPN/UPN era between 1979 and 1982, the NPN slogan at rallies was “NPN Super power.” But in a bid to counter and thrash this slogan, the UPN came out with their own version as “NPN Soup don sour.”

Even outside our shores, the US presidential race of 2016 between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump was no different as Political Yabis was the order of the day. Donald Trump was fond of referring to Hilary Clinton as “Crooked Hilary”, while Hilary called Trump and his supporters “Deplorables.” After the campaigns, l don’t think anybody has continued to hang the tag of “crooked” around Hilary’s neck because it was understood to be mere political Yabis.

Recently, l listened to a video clip where Ganduje was boasting that they will put Nyesom Wike in an isolation centre from which he will not emerge until the elections are over. He also went further to say that PDP accepted Obaseki into their fold because they want to be in charge of Edo state treasury. In other words, they want to gain access to the treasury with a view to pillaging it. Why do you think these statements are being made at this material time? Obviously, for the sole aim of de-marketing opponents. After the elections are won and lost, who is going to hold all these Yabis sacrosanct? Nobody!

That brings me back to the main point of this write-up. Videos of the 2016 Edo guber election campaigns where Oshiomole was just engaging in Political Yabis by referring to Ize-Iyamu as a thief and a cultist in order to demarket him for his own candidate then are being taken outside the context of that campaign period. When has such thrash talks constituted hard evidence to label Ize-Iyamu a thief or cultist? Is Oshiomole now a court or the police that pronounced Ize-Iyamu guilty? Certainly Not!!! All were mere political Yabis. The fact is that many people just get carried away by their emotions and allow it to becloud their reasoning. It is wrong to condemn a man based strictly on statements made in the heat of campaign rallies by his erstwhile opponent in that same race all in the name of political Yabis.

In Nigeria, politicians, instead of campaigning on real issues, rely on insults or political yabis to run down their opponents. In the 2020 Edo State elections, Edo people are looking at the real issues such as the candidate who will have the interest of the people in his heart, who the people can trust and who will not betray the people that helped them to get into office. Edo people are now far above and will jettison political yabis and look closely into the manifestos and the antecedents of the candidates.”
––Hajara Usman is a Political Commentator.