Heresy in the House of Oduduwa – By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me take you on
historical excursions today. At this unfortunate time that History is
not a compulsory subject in our school curriculum, it is pertinent to
educate ourselves properly about our dear beloved nation. For those who
may not know, Ile-Ife is the ancestral home of all Yoruba people.
Please, ignore attempts by all manner of historians attempting to
rewrite history. Ile-Ife occupies an eminent space on the world map
today, and as far back as I can remember.

I’m proud to have been born and raised
in that ancient town. I was born in 1960, just before Nigeria attained
Independence, in a neighbourhood called Obalufon, a stone-throw from
Sabo, where the Hausa community lived, and still lives today. My father
had migrated, according to oral history, from Ihievbe, now comfortably
situated in Owan East Local Government of Edo State. He met and married
my affectionate mother and I’m the only product of their conjugation.
Ile-Ife welcome hundreds of immigrants
from different parts of Nigeria and beyond and we were fully integrated.
We lived in peace, and as one. Ile-Ife produced four Deles in
journalism and three of the four – Dele Giwa, Dele Agekameh and Dele
Momodu – had their origin in present day Edo State. The fourth, Dele
Olojede, is from Modakeke, and lived close to Ojoyin and Akaraba roads
in Ile-Ife. No one could tell the difference. We can easily be called
bonafide sons of Ile-Ife and you won’t be wrong.
I spent 26 out of my first 28 years
fully in Ile-Ife, the other two years was used serving the former Deputy
Governor of Ondo State, Chief Akin Omoboriowo, of blessed memory. I
also served The Ooni of Ife Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II. I had
studied Yoruba for my Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated in 1982 and
returned in 1986 to enrol for a Masters in Literature-in-English and
finished that in 1988. I’m therefore humbly qualified to regard myself
an authority on Ile-Ife. I can vouch for Ife people as very friendly and
welcoming people despite the internecine wars that ravaged the town and
halted the peace we all enjoyed growing.
In my close to 57 years on earth, I have
come to see Ile-Ife as a modicum tolerance and accommodation. Ile-Ife
plays host to one of Africa’s greatest university. I’m mightily honoured
to be an alumnus of University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University.
Most of our lecturers and non-indigenes usually build their homes in the
town upon retirement because of the comfort and serenity provided by
Ile-Ife.
I’m very familiar with the Sabo area of
Ile-Ife. My father had worked with the Public Works Department, not far
from Sabo. He also owned a small hotel and restaurant in Sabo and
catered to the Hausa Community. My mum was also a food-seller by Ilare
Prinson, and we lived in Ogboku road, by Akui Road, all very close to
Sabo. I never heard of skirmishes between the Hausa and the Ife, or
anyone for that matter. You can therefore imagine my shock and
devastation when I read of the wanton killings in Ile-Ife. I was somehow
relieved when I heard that the terrible situation had been brought
under control. Kudos to the security forces for the big task of
separating the warring communities.
I have read different and conflicting
accounts of what led to the war. In every conflict, there must be two or
more parties involved.
In this particular case, all accounts I
read pointed to a case of provocation and retaliation. I cannot
confidently determine or say if the reaction was commensurate to the
action, as propounded by Isaac Newton in his Law of Motion, but
something definitely triggered the conflagration and dastardly massacre.
I can still manage the news up to that point. But something else
happened that rendered me speechless.
Those who should maintain the peace,
protect the people and punish the homicidal lunatics who beheaded and
murdered recklessly came in and took sides in the matter by arresting
one party while studiously ignoring the order. “Which kind injustice be
this?” in Fela’s voice. How can the prosecutor also be the Judge even
before the case begin in the court room? I fail to see the logic in the
mass arrests of Ife people and abducting them from the State of Osun to
the seat of Federal Government in Abuja. Is it that the suspects just
woke up and started shooting sporadically at anyone in sight, especially
community? How come not even one person was picked up from the other
obvious party in the imbroglio? I sincerely reject the excuses offered
by the Inspector General of Police while trying spiritedly to justify
the perfidiously odious decision to villainize only one party to the
conundrum.
The bias of certain powerful forces is
already palpable but extremely shambolic. I wonder if there are agent
provocateurs and fifth columnists who are deliberately setting up our
President Muhammadu Buhari for monumental failure. Nigeria has known no
peace since we succeeded in sacking the profligate government of PDP. It
is embarrassing that some government operatives cannot see what damage
they are doing to our President who suffered so much personal attack
because of the perception that he is an ethnic jingoist and religious
bigot. There is a saying by the Yoruba that a man accused of being a
thief should never romance someone else’s goat. Our President needs to
rescue our people and disabuse the minds of Nigerians about his branding
as a President who does not think other Nigerians are important except
his own. Some of us labored hard to convince our people that General
Muhammadu Buhari is a true Nigerian patriot who would come to defend
every Nigerian, especially the poor. I still believe in him and wish to
assume that some people are using his name to commit and perpetrate all
kinds of malfeasance while he is ensconced within the gilded cage of Aso
Rock.
The tension in Nigeria at the moment can
be cut with a razor blade. Nothing is more dangerous than playing
ethnic games in the midst of economic tragedy. Nigerians voted for
change to enjoy the highfalutin promises we made them. We promised to
deliver them from prodigal sons and daughters; liberate them from
terrorists and general insecurity; rescue them from hunger and disease;
eliminate ethnic and religious crises; provide jobs, social security and
succor for our agonizing youths and many such goodies.
We did not promise to abdicate
leadership responsibilities for irrational pursuit of personal vendetta
and wars of attrition. We did not tell Nigerians that they would have to
survive and live more by faith and promises than by concrete plans and
effective and efficacious governance. We did not envisage the nightmare
staring us in the face today so horribly. My appeal is to the President.
Politics is give and take. Politics is about practicality. A good
lesson came from America just last night. Democracy is a game of
numbers. Being obdurate and obstinate have no place in democracy. Anyone
telling the President that he can fight all battles and win all wars is
a big liar. We saw what happened in his absence when a different
approach was tried and tested, Nigerians were happy, joyful and hopeful
and they cooperated beautifully with the APC government despite their
prior anxiety and palpitation.
President Buhari should stick to a
winning formula. He should encourage and empower his deputy, Vice
President Yemi Osinbajo, to carry on with good news of the kingdom.
There is so much to gain by this government collectively. I do not want
to believe that President Buhari would want to blow this chance of a
lifetime. I seriously doubt he would want to be remembered as a champion
of myopia above being a national hero and global statesman. I pray our
President would direct all his disciples to begin to act like
nationalists and less of people determined to set fire to Nigeria and
dismember whatever is left of the carcass.

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