TUESDAY FLAT OUT
North’s Recce And Lesson From A Madman
By Suyi Ayodele
(Published in the Nigeria Tribune on Tuesday, September 7, 2021)
At the beginning of dawn, in the village, I sat at the feet of elders to listen to stories about life and living. One of such stories came knocking in my head, as I sat down to pen this piece. It is about a madman of Ootunja. That is a name of one of the most traditional towns in Ekiti State, specifically in Ikole Local Government Area. The madman is from a royal family. The palace is worried about his mental state and the disgrace such brings to royalty.
So, efforts are made to cure him of his madness. The palace succeeds in getting a medicine man, acknowledged as the most potent in the profession. On arrival at the palace, the entire clan begins to beg him to make his medicine potent enough to cure the prince of his madness. In a corner seated the madman looking at them all. The medicine man assures the palace of his ability to make the prince regain his sanity. He begins by adding extra ingredients to the medicine pot.
Then the madman speaks for the first time. He says: “Can you see how foolish all of you are”? The people are shocked. They asked “We are foolish, how”? He answered: “It is only foolishness that makes the family of a madman to beg the medicine man to make his portion potent without begging the madman himself. Now, if the portion is potent and I refuse to drink it, how will it work”?
This is the fable that came to my mind when I read the banner headline, published by a sister title, Sunday Tribune, on August 29, 2021. The message reads: “Buhari’s Men Move To Pacify South-West”. The kickers that followed: “Meet Yoruba leaders on way forward”; “President’s narrow-mindedness killing country, Yoruba leaders tell emissaries,” are also very interesting. The introductory paragraph reads: “Worried by the growing disaffection towards the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari from the South West zone, some northern leaders have begun what has been interpreted as a deft move to placate the Yoruba people through notable leaders in the zone.”
The news item listed the leaders that came from the north as men. “who are known in power corridors as Buhari’s men.” Their visits, Sunday Tribune further reported, “has the blessing of President Buhari”. The uninvited visitors “are Governors Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, who is also the national caretaker chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi states”. All Fulani governors. They chose their-would be guests perfectly. Leaders of the Yoruba Race, who, we all cannot deny are honest and leaders in all its definitions.
The newspapers aptly described them as “Yoruba leaders and men of influence including the Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, his predecessor, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Olu Falae, former Oyo State governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, former leader of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Chief Ayo Opadokun, secretary general of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr Kunle Olajide, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, Alhaji Dawud Akinola and others.” The mission of the Fulani governors of Yobe, Jigawa and Kebbi States is simple: “the northern governors discussed the state of the nation with the leaders and tried to solicit their support for the Buhari administration,” Sunday Tribune reported.
Don’t bother about which Buhari administration they came to solicit support for. The visitors are not mere men. They are the shakers and movers of things in Aso Rock. One of the “Buhari’s men.” Buni, is holding two most powerful positions in the power equation in Nigeria, today. He is a governor of a state, with full complement of executive powers. And at the same time, he is the National Chairman of the ruling APC. The qualifier, “caretaker,” is very immaterial. The Yobe State governor is a kingmaker in all ramifications. Choosing him as part of the team to seek South West support for the Buhari administration is strategic. In case we have forgotten, Buhari is a retired General. Not just a General, he fought in the Nigerian 30-month civil war. In wars, Generals and Commanders know the import of Reconnaissance; recce, for short.
No military warlord goes into any battle without observing or spying on his enemy’s backyard. The result of any recce exercise is what commanders use to plan the next move. As it is in conventional war, so it is in political war. 2023 is the year of political war in Nigeria. Only a foolish politician will wait for 2023 before he begins a political recce of the opponent’s enclave. Make no mistake about it. Buni and his team did not come to meet the Yoruba leaders because they are “WORRIED by the growing disaffection towards the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari from the South West zone”. No! Na today! Pardon my Waffi street lingo. Is it the South West alone that is “dissatisfied” with the Buhari administration? Is Buhari himself not dissatisfied with himself? He just fired two ministers last week because of dissatisfaction. Ok, you may not agree with my choice of word, “fired”; you can replace that with “juggle”. Nigeria is a chess board in the hands of Buhari and his Fulani political players. The rest of the country is puns. And I must give it to “Buhari’s men”. They are not sleeping. The Southerners are the ones sleeping, snoring and dreaming at the same time.
The three wise men from the north, who came calling with a connubial proposal, know that no wise man ties a dried palm-tree frond in the hot sun. That is a business meant for the early morning dew. The rest of the country has something to learn from the Fulani political calibration. An average Fulani politician is a political cruciverbalist. He throws complex political jigsaws at his opponent; complex, such that they take time for the slumbering political opponent to unravel. And while the opponent is at it, the Fulani power monger has moved to the next stage. His opponent is always left in the lurch to lick his gangrenous sores. If the South West leaders or anybody for that matter is in doubt of this, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a living reference point. We may need to ask what has become of his political investments of 2015. You don’t invest in a Fulani politician, especially the one in the mould of Buhari and his hegemonic tendencies, and expect to redeem your political IOUs.
This is why, no matter how altruistic the proposal of the Fulani musketeers who visited the South West leaders, may sound or look, one must be extremely circumspect. It will be utter foolishness if a serial rapist rapes a woman twice in a cocoyam barn. He can only do it once, calling the barn a mansion. Once he is leading the woman in the same direction for the second time, common sense dictates that the woman retracts her steps. The Buni team came to do only one single thing: to lead the Yoruba Race to the same cocoyam barn for another session of rape.
That is why they chose the period of the absence of Tinubu to make the adroit move. The political configuration and DNA of a Fulani man does not share power, not even with his siblings. They are not configured for such an indulgence. You believe their moves as genuine, you pay eternally for it. That is why the response by the Yoruba leaders that Buhari’s narrow-mindedness is killing the country is very apt. I may just edit that by saying, the Daura retired General has turned Nigeria, a hitherto xanadu of Africa to a killer slot, where mistrust, suspicion and emotional annihilation is the order of the day.
Now, “Buhari’s men”, like the family members of the proverbial madman, are asking the South West to support the Buhari administration, because they are worried “by the growing disaffection towards the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari from the South West zone.” The questions we need to ask are: before begging the South West leaders to make their medicine (end the agitation for self determination and allow the north to choose who will be the next president) potent, what have they told the man who is to drink the medicine of “affection”? Are they not aware that Buhari, in the last six years, has carried on as if only his Fulani clan matters in Nigeria? How do you ask your neighbours to be peaceful when your own children are buying gunpowder for war? Is the madman not right by saying that it is foolish to beg the medicine man without appealing to the madman, the patient, who is to take the potent medicine?
This is why I personally, find Chief Ladoja’s response to the Fulani appeal very apt. The Ibadan chief was reported to have condemned, in strong terms, the configuration of Nigeria by the Buhari administration, the impunity of the north’s herders sons and the high level of insecurity in the country “as well as the appointment of largely incompetent people in strategic offices because they are northerners.”
Ladoja was said to have “chastised the Federal Government for obvious abuse of power in clamping down on the likes of Sunday Igboho”. The former Oyo State governor was reported to have interrogated the difference between the ultimatum issued by the Emir of Mubi to Bororo Fulani to vacate his emirate and what Igboho told the murderous Fulani in Ibarapa area of Oyo State. The Third-in-rank to Olubadan was quoted to have told his visitors that the “North is already preparing for break-up with the manner the Buhari government has been borrowing money in the name of Nigeria only to deploy the largest chunk to build infrastructure in the North and going as far as Niger Republic.”
Rather than “pacifying” South West or any other region to swallow the bitter pills Buhari is ramming down their throats, Buni and his gang should learn a lesson from the wisdom of the madman. The “affection” of any region to the Buhari administration will be useless without a concomitant response of affection for other tribes by the president. Even a mad man has moments of sanity.