Ko si ìdárí jì f’àwon tó bá dalè
Ko si ìdárí jì f’àwon tó bá dalè
Ko si ìdárí ajì f’àwon tó bá dalè
Àyà fi tó bá lè lo
I first stumbled on the above lyrics not quiet long, shortly after the results of the APC gubernatorial primary started trickling in. An old classmate, who initially posted it on his Facebook wall, had to contend with a fellow, who declared, with the authority of a Bishop, that: “Aregbe did not betray anybody”. Trust my classmate; he fired back, almost immediately: “but he (singer) did not mention Aregbe”. I laughed. In my place, there is a saying that only the one who is afraid of a fight will not recognise which proverb is directed at him.
And in another form, when obviously implied jabs are thrown and one pretends not to know which direction the stones are flying, the elders of my place will say “a nki, a nsa, iwo ni o mo baba eni to ku”-we are chanting the praise names, we are recalling his ancestry, yet, you claim not to know whose father is dead. We love proverbs in my place. And you cannot blame us. A primary election just ended very badly for the Aregbe camp. By the way, Aregbe means Ogbeni Raufu Aregbesola, the immediate past governor of Osun State, or State of Osun (in case you are at home with his creative aberration) and the current Minister of Internal Affairs. Minutes after the reality of a colossal loss hit the Ilesa-born politician, someone was claiming that “but he did not mention Tinubu”. When you see a woman with a big goiter, you don’t start to describe a dangling object (a ki ri oni gege lorun ka tu ma soro ohun to nji gbongan gbongan).
Back to the lyrics above, the message there is very clear. The lyricist says there is no forgiveness for the betrayer. He must go for it. Virtually all Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT’s men circulated the video of the song and many others, which are as derisive as the one above. If my neighbours had not been too familiar with me, the kind of laughter I had over the weekend would have made them to be worried about my state of mental health. If derision kills, Aregbe, being a Muslim, would have been buried by now. His Alimosho neighbours in Lagos on Sunday went the extra mile. They made a mock coffin, printed mourning garments (T-shirts, with an embossed photograph of the minister) and danced round the neighbourhood, “weeping”. All this happened because Aregbe and his men lost out in a party primary that was supposed to be a family affair.
But it is understandable. The last Saturday loss by Aregbe at the Osun APC primary was and is not just an ordinary loss. It is a very significant one in all ramifications of life (political, social and possibly, economical, etc). It was a huge loss for him and a confirmation of the supremacy of the Godfather, the one who answers the sobriquet ‘Lion of Bourdillon’, BAT. A quick one here: I am not a fan of BAT and I will never be. This is no hatred. I just “don’t feel” the man: simple! But my feelings about him notwithstanding, I cannot wish away the fact that he has, to a great extent, done well for himself, in building his own political empire. I, therefore, concede to him and his loyalists that any ex-benefactor of the BAT political largesse who turns around to throw dross (idaro) at the Bourdillon glass house deserves an avalanche of pebbles, and possibly stones, in exchange. That is exactly what the Osun State APC and BAT field boys did on Saturday: drowning Aregbe in an avalanche of killer pebbles.
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My drift here is not to lionise BAT or add to the injury suffered by Aregbe, which, in my own estimation, if not promptly treated, can develop into a political gangrene. When Aregbe met with his supporters at Ijebu-Jesa on Thursday, some 76 hours to the primary, and he said all he said about BAT, I thought that he had all it takes to replicate the Ogedengbe Agbogungboro feats of yore. But, once in a while, some people don’t know how light they are until the storm of the world sweeps them away. As much as I laughed at the songs that surfaced shortly after the primary, I also took time to reflect on the implications for the Yoruba politics. A lot of riotous questions engaged my mind and I was greatly troubled and saddened at the same time.
Why, for instance, is it that anytime a Yoruba man is being prepared for the slaughter slab, a willing hand is always available within the Yoruba camp? Anybody who has followed the political trajectory of Aregbe and BAT and is not disturbed at the sudden turn of events between the duo is also capable of selling Jesus Christ and attending dinner with the Master, same day. I had an experience that shut me out of partisan politics and it bordered on betrayal. My elder brother contested and lost the councillorship election to our older distant cousin. Losing the election was not the issue, but the manner by which we lost. The man who made the difference that led to our marginal defeat was in our family house till 11.48 pm on the eve of the election. We killed my brother’s biggest cockerel to entertain him and the following morning, he was the one who mobilised against us and we lost the election, only in his voting centre. It was the period of Option A4 and we could identify those he mobilised against us. That singular act of betrayal put paid to any interest I may have nursed for a future engagement in partisan politics.
The signs that Aregbe would fight BAT became noticeable the other year, when he sat down at his own birthday bash and allowed Governor Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna State to make some uncomplimentary remarks about BAT. From then on, it had been one attack or the other, the climax of it all being the last Thursday Ijebu-Ijesa tirade. Taking a second look at the Aregbe and BAT issue, I almost agree with the Facebook guy who commented on my classmate’s post and posited that “Aregbe did not betray anybody”. He could be right if we agree with the wise saying that a child only knows when he takes the oath and not when he betrays the essence of the oath (ojo ti omode ba mu’le lo nmo, kii mo ojo to ba dale). That is wisdom.
From BAT himself, who, after becoming the governor of Lagos State in 1999, in a primary, where he came third, but was handed the Alliance for Democracy (AD) ticket by Afenifere and the first thing he did was the annihilation of the Afenifere group, betrayals dot the Yoruba landscape like a maize plantation. Today, Afenifere is struggling to be relevant again, while the BAT camp keeps tightening the rope around the group’s neck. Little wonder that majority of those who rose to reckoning as a result of their association with BAT are nowhere to be found defending him at this moment. If for nothing else, BAT should be worried. It is not about grandstanding and assuring that a youth could be president after he might have taken his turn. The issue goes deeper, I believe. “Esan kii gbe” – retribution comes.
The hallmark of a general is not in the number of battles he wins, but in how many of his soldiers stand by him while winning the battles. It is not even an achievement to boast that a General defeated his lieutenant on the battlefield. Yeah, infractions from subordinates must be sanctioned, but amplifying such to the level of uncommon victory tells much about the leader. BAT, I think, should be concerned about how a fellow like Aregbe would openly challenge him. We can call Aregbe all the names in the book. We can throw all expletives at him and call him an “odale” (betrayer). He deserves even more. But we should ask how many silent Aregbes are in the BAT camp, watching and silently working against the family interest. I take a huge bet: there is a huge mischief of rats which bite and blow air currently hibernating in BAT camp. Aregbe might have been bold enough to come out openly, or might have been unwise to have taken an open challenge, what about the dangerously silent others who are still following BAT around? Do we also wish away those who were in Aregbe’s ship but chickened out at the last minute and are all over the place pretending to be BAT fans? Can they be trusted? And if I may ask, is it over for the APC crisis in Osun State? Have we forgotten what the rat says that if it cannot eat the millet, it can waste it?
And for the South-West, I ask, is this how to go to a presidential race? This divided home? We want to go and wrest power from those who believe that the presidency is their birthright and we cannot even get ten men of worth to stand together? Can the talks from Femi Gbajabiamila, the House of Representatives Speaker, and Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State do the magic? If today, like we say, we release the dog and let loose the red monkey, can a Gbajabiamila win Surulere on his own structure, if he has any? Should our elders not be worried about the silence from Ekiti, the ‘I-don’t-care’ attitude from Ondo; the ‘it is not my business’ from Ogun and the ‘keep on dancing’ disposition from Oyo? If a BAT is angling to be president in 2023 and by now, a Raji Fashola and his “may our loyalty not be tested” philosophy is not in the boat, what does that tell us? How about the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo? Are we comfortable with his “ko se, ko je ni wu o se” mien (ambivalent disposition)? If the wind comes from the North, the breeze blows from the South-East and the Niger Delta throws its polluted water from the creeks at the sailing ship, do we have enough paddles to stabilise the drifting Yoruba political canoe?
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