(Published in the Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday, July 6, 2021)
NEWSDAILYNIGERIA– Group game hunting is the pastime of hunters. Each game expedition has a lead hunter called Olori Ode who is the chief marksman. The group relies on him for protection since he is the custodian of the group’s cognomen known as ijala chants. Hunters’ chants are not mere panegyrics. They are esoteric, puissant and at times, dangerous. Many feeble hunters have gone to the great beyond courtesy of the evocative content of ijala. I witnessed two occasions when ijala turned super magic. The songs are playing in my head right now and I have the vivid pictures of those mysteries before me as I write. But I won’t tell the tales here today lest I am excommunicated and barred from taking the next Holy Communion. As long as the head hunter is alive, hale and hearty, the expedition continues. The moment he suffers a misfortune, the hunting exercise terminates, abruptly.
One of such calamities the head hunter can suffer is to come under the attack of a lion, the king of the jungle itself. Once the head hunter dies at the hands of a lion, the group disperses. The old saying among the Yoruba: “kiniun pa olori ode, igbe tu” (the lion kills the head hunter, the game expedition disperses), captures the calamity of the hunting group. This is exactly what the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has achieved in the last one week. Buhari and his military, playing the role of the killer lion, have succeeded in killing two head hunters. That is a great feat that requires accolades. The lion of Buhari has killed the IPOB head hunter Nnamdi Kanu. He was head-hunted and killed last Tuesday as announced by Abubakar Malami, Buhari’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. Kanu is at present cooling his feet in Buhari’s gulag; probably an underground dungeon, somewhere known to Buhari and his cell key keepers only. Basking in the euphoria of that success, the lion of Aso Rock moved to Ibadan to subdue another head hunter. In an operation that lasted for over three hours, Buhari’s DSS almost had the head of Sunday Igboho on the platter.
Reminiscent of a renowned diviner who dies and his divination instruments become mere toys, Buhari’s lion killers gleefully displayed the supposed arms, ammunition and amulets reportedly owned by Igboho for the entire world to see. Hear how Peter Afunanya, DSS Public Relations Officer, described Igboho’s ‘fall’: “Sunday ADEYEMO a.k.a Sunday IGBOHO is now on the run. IGBOHO may run as far as he can. He may hide as long as he wants. He might have attacked security operatives as his strength carried him. But this will be the end of his shenanigans. Soon, he will not have a hiding place. His strength will sure fail him. And the law will catch up with him. The law may be slow. But it will be steady”. Another of Buhari’s head hunter killer, Lai Mohammed, went banal while celebrating Kanu’s “interception”. The information minister paid due attention to Kanu’s sartorial elegance. That is how low this government has sunken. The entire North has been celebrating the “successes” of the “fall” of Kanu and Igboho. I wish I could join in the celebrations. But my experience in traditional group game hunting will not allow me. I explain why.
The end of the head hunter at the hands of a rampaging lion is never the end of hunting expeditions. That an olori ode dies does not mean there will never be hunting expeditions again. There is always a regrouping and a new head hunter usually emerges. After the ‘isipade’- the rite of passage for the departed head hunter – a new olori ode is appointed to pave way for more hunting expeditions. That is why the Yoruba say “iku olori ode o ni ki ode ma de igbe” (the death of the head hunter does not mean other hunters will not go hunting again). Guess what, when the new group sets out, their first target is the lion which killed their former head. An injured hunter is not different from an injured elephant. Both seek vengeance or retaliation, no matter how long it takes. I don’t know if President Buhari and his government are aware of this idiosyncratic tendency of hunters. But being a retired General, who once fought a civil war and crushed religious insurgency, President Buhari is aware that the “victories” recorded then have never brought an end to arm struggles in Nigeria.
The sustained strikes by Boko Haram which is a deadlier younger cousin of the Maitasine sect in Buhari’s North-West region and its North-East neighbour are pointers to this truism. Capturing Kanu and taking hold of Igboho are not feats to celebrate. A wise killer lion knows that the followers of the late olori ode will come back to hunt it down. Even if Kanu dies today, IPOB and the other renegade groups he leads will not die. Ikemba Emeka Ojukwu is no more but the Biafra ideal he planted over 50 years ago is still luxuriant. The only thing that can kill IPOB and the Yoruba self-determination crusade is justice, equity, fairness and a just leadership in a nation where true federalism is allowed. Unfortunately, all the listed appurtenances of good governance are lacking in this Buhari government. This is why if Kanu is jailed one thousand and one times and Igboho’s house is raided one million and one times, as long as Buhari carries on like the president of only his Fulani stock, agitations for independent nations from the current geographical space labelled Nigeria will continue.
And nothing points to that more poignantly than the victory dance of Buhari goons over the Kanu and Igboho travails. If you are not, I am worried about this sudden testicular fortitude and bravery of the Buhari security architecture. How would anyone have believed that the Nigerian nation has a security intelligence to “intercept” Kanu from wherever, when killer herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers remain evasive in Nigeria? Why has the “security intelligence” that brought Kanu back from exile not been deployed to locate where innocent schoolchildren, kidnapped in their hundreds in various schools up North are kept and “intercept” them? Why has it been perennially impossible for the suddenly all-powerful ‘Sunday-Igboho-conquering’ DSS to locate, engage and capture the killer herdsmen who daily rape our wives and daughters, pillage our farms and kill our fathers, brothers and friends on their farms? Why is it that the DSS only got “intelligence that he (Igboho) had stockpiled arms in his Soka house”, but such “intelligence” is on exile when it comes to the armed bandits who parade artillery weapons and their AK-47-wielding Fulani herdsmen cousins who populate forests around the southern states from where they regularly lay siege to major highways to kidnap motorists for ransoms? The simple answer lies in the ethnic pandering of our Commander-in-Chief, who like the axiomatic mother dog, knows how to protect its own puppies, but is quick to make a delicacy out of the litters of grasscutters.
Think about how life would have been more abundant for us all if Buhari had deployed this same energy to confronting his Fulani brothers, who, in his own words, are foreigners from neighbouring countries, but who daily execute bona fide Nigerians with crass impunity. Go to Benue and ask for the statistics of people who have been felled by Fulani herdsmen while Buhari picks his teeth in Aso Rock. How many times have we seen Miyetti Allah leadership admitting responsibility for killings in Nigeria while the State did nothing? Have we not seen our military men escorting the negotiator-in-chief, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, to the forests to pay homage and ransoms to bandits and then pose with their cache of deadly weapons and nothing happened? Just last week, an agency of the United Nations declared that more than 350,000 Nigerians had died in the North-East as a result of insurgency. Why have our security agencies and their newly recalibrated “intelligence” not been able to ‘intercept’ those killers? Is it that the DSS only becomes ‘intelligent’ when a Kanu and an Igboho are involved? These are the questions and many more that Buhari and his handlers must answer before they roll out the drums to celebrate the ‘fall’ of Kanu and Igboho. Pray, does Dr. Afunanya think we are fools to believe that his men actually “recovered” those arms from Igboho’s house? Who witnessed the recovery? Who took the inventory? Who displayed the stuff? Why has the DSS become judge and jury in a matter that it has interest in in a way that nullifies the legal dictum nemo judex in causa sua- meaning, “no-one is judge in his own cause”? An agency that is structured to be the brain box of the nation’s intelligence network should have displayed more intelligence in the matter in focus! Again, whoever supplied the ‘ibantes’ – amulets – Afunanya displayed doesn’t know what real ones look like. Bad scripts will always produce bad theatre. Shame!
My personal pain in all the government shenanigans is the heroes the Buhari administration is making out of Kanu and Igboho. I am pained because this government is making people to begin to adopt the philosophy of “omo eni kii buru ka lee fun ekun paje”(no matter how wayward one’s child is, you don’t ask the tiger to devour him). I feel perpetually pained that in a sophisticated Yoruba South-West, a figure like Igboho should be the one to lead any agitation. The same Yoruba that produced the avatar, Obafemi Awolowo, Baba Michael Adekunle Ajasin and the wordsmith and Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, is now being led by an Igboho? But, again, I ask: why won’t that happen when you have a president who, whether awake or in dreamland, thinks, recognises and romanticises everything Fulani and nothing more? Has the Buhari hallelujah orchestra asked for once why there was neither Kanu nor Igboho during the presidency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Musa Yar’Adua though those ones too were pure Fulani? So what is the missing ingredient in the poor broth that the Buhari government has cooked? Character! Simple and plain.
The bitter truth is that the Buhari presidency lacks the character of true leadership. A leadership that is nationalistic in orientation, fair in judgment, equitable in patronage and above all, cosmopolitan in reasoning will not have the output that Nigerians daily witness. Unless the retired General changes his perception of the other nationalities as mere dots in a circle and begins to see other tribes as equal partners with his Fulani stock in the Nigeria project, other Kanus and Igbohos will manifest presently! Unless Buhari accepts the fact that there are other people outside his Fulani tribe, he will be bringing out the Kanu and Igboho in all of us. For those who will rather gloat over the “interception” of Kanu and the “engagement” of Igboho, let them know that it is premature to celebrate yet. A security intelligence and architecture which allows murderous herdsmen to walk loose on our streets, which allows bandits to come to government houses to collect ransoms and retire to the forests, but which goes to a foreign land to “intercept” Kanu and storms the otherwise tranquil Soka community at ungodly hours because of an Igboho is a pathetically skewed security that cannot stand to the dictates of acceptable security ideals in sane democracies. There is nothing to celebrate in a lost “success”. Interesting times lie ahead and the head hunter killer-lion should know that many hunting expeditions are under way.