LONG before the ‘civilisation’ of DNA, Africans had their own ways of determining the paternity of any child.
Among the Yoruba people of South-West Nigeria, proverbs and strains are employed to confirm or deny paternity.
When, for instance, the Yoruba people tell you: “Abijo laa mo iran” – striking resemblance links genealogy – they are simply telling you that a mere look at a child tells you who his father is. And when they talk about looks, the Yoruba are not talking about the physical appearance alone.
The concept of “abijo” is an all-encompassing phenomenon. It entails the entire being of the personage in discourse. By mere exhibition of a character trait, a child’s paternity can easily be determined.
Beyond “abijo”, the people also tell of the family lineage of a person through songs. In the folksong: “omo o le jo baba ka ma binu omo” – you don’t begrudge a child who resembles the father – the Yoruba concept of “abijo” is taken farther into the character make up of a child. And
fatherhood or paternity among the people of South-West Nigeria is not limited to the immediate biological father. A child’s DNA, the people believe, can extend far back into the last three or more generations before the child was
born. This accounts for the Yoruba’s penchant for giving some of their newborn babies names like Babawande – my father has sought me out, Yetunde – my mother has come back, Omotunde – a previous child has come back, etc.
The easy way paternity is traced is also responsible for the admonition: “ranti omo eni ti iwo nse” – remember whose child you are.
You wonder what purpose this socio-anthropological survey serves? The answer is closer home to us. The last one week has been very interesting, entertaining and sadly disturbing for an average Nigerian South-Westerner, especially those who are genuinely bothered about the political happenings in the ruling APC, in the zone. Since last Monday’s declaration by the incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to contest the APC presidential primaries alongside his erstwhile political godfather, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the political ocean of the South-West, to a greater extent, and that of the APC in general, has been greatly troubled.
While I have only been privileged to read about the tension, hatred and acrimony that characterised the immediate post-independent South-West politics, I have been able to compare the last one week with the politics of the Yoruba 1983 and I am gravely worried that the vultures are hovering in the sky.
Until last Monday’s “I don’t have a son grown up enough to declare” statement by Tinubu, I would have taken a bet that the political paternity of Osinbajo is traceable to the Asiwaju political dynasty. But I have since learnt, again, that in politics, strange things do happen. It is equally worthy of note that just as biological fathers can interrogate the paternity of children, political godfathers are not in any way immune from such inanities. That is sad enough. I saw the pains, the agony, the frustration and the disappointment in Tinubu, when he made the above statement after meeting with the APC governors over his life-long presidential ambition. I can also perfectly understand why the political leader had to make such a statement. Like I argued with a friend, it is not about self-denial. Tinubu, if I believe all the political sagacity attributed to him, knew long ago that Osinbajo’s declaration would happen. So, he did not utter that statement because he was not aware that the Vice President made an early morning declaration that Monday. I want to believe that he, Tinubu, given the all-
knowing attributes his loyalists claim he has, must have gotten an advance copy of Osinbajo’s declaration. That is why he came across as an agonised, frustrated and heavily disappointed man, when he uttered those words. When an old man sweats while he is talking, our elders say such a man is actually crying.
The arguments have raged among the loyalists of the two gladiators on who betrayed who in this ongoing noise about their masters’ ambitions. I have refused the temptation to join in the fray and I am not going to do that here, either. Like I penned last week on this page, both Tinubu and Osinbajo are eminently qualified to seek to be president come 2023.
It will be the duty of the APC delegates to determine who among the duo deserves the ticket eventually. And when that is done, the generality of Nigerians will now determine who among all the candidates deserves to be president. That will be done only and only if there is a 2023! Call it pessimism or evil talk; I cannot see 2023 happening with what is going on in the country today. My mind tells me that all the problems confronting us today, especially, insecurity, are deliberate and the target is 2023.
With Tinubu’s claim that he has no son grown up enough to aspire to be president, I think the controversy of who brought up who and who betrayed or did not betray who should stop. The man who should know when he had that political libidinous discharge that produced Osinbajo has publicly denied having such a political conjugal. benevolence. So, why the noise? Why are the loyalists of the two camps behaving like the overzealous member of a search party who was engaged to look for the proverbial missing Osho’s mother but ended up bringing another woman to Osho, insisting that is his mother! It is disheartening that though the calendar today reads April 19 and the APC primaries are scheduled for May, we are already experiencing this level of hatred, bitterness and tendencies to shed blood in a needless fight among two individuals who don’t even give a hoot about us.
While the Tinubu and Osinbajo camps are at each others’ throats, nobody among them is giving a consideration for the other candidates. Where is the political sophistication of the South-West here? How are the loyalists so sure that their candidates will be in the primaries? Why is it difficult to learn from the past? Was Peter Odili not the candidate to beat in the buildup to the PDP presidential primaries in 2007?
What happened to him? What about the suave Donald Duke, the then governor of Cross Rivers State?
Who ever thought the almighty Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would spring the surprise of a Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan ticket on the nation? Is another General, Muhammadu Buhari, not in power? How did President
Buhari resolve the APC national chairmanship logjam?
Who among these cantankerous supporters had an idea that the non- talking Buhari had the agenda of a consensus chairmanship for the APC? And he did that from far away London! Besides all the above, has anyone considered what the Grim Reaper may have in stock for any of these contenders? That sounds fatalistic? Yeah. Abubakar Audu was some minutes to becoming a second term governor of Kogi State when the Owner of his life, God Almighty, called him home. Have we easily forgotten that even Audu’s running mate, Abiodun Faleke, only saw their victory but did not taste it? Is that not a possibility in this present tango? About two months ago, Buhari hinted that he did not want to disclose his successor for safety reasons. Is that not enough signal for the fighting supporters? What will these guys on the battle field do if Buhari decides to nudge a Raji Fashola or an Olorunnibe Mamora to go for that slot? Generals are like the trickster deity, Esu. You sup with Esu with a very long spoon otherwise, he will hold your hand. Who knows what Buhari, who answers Esu’s panegyric of “adake ja” – he who fights silently – has up his sleeves?
And back to the issue, what happens if Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Senator Ibikunle Amosun from Ogun State eventually declare to run as being speculated? How many camps are we going to have in the South-West? The
last time I checked, APC only zoned its presidential slot to the South. Why is the South-West of the South now the theatre of war forgetting there is also the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, whose ministry lost a train to terrorists and with many of his passengers still in captivity and some already buried, declared to run a week after the incident. In the entire South-South where he comes from, APC is as calm as a dove.
Save for the last few hours’ rumour that Godswill Akpabio is going to run too, nothing has been heard from that region.
Then I ask those saying Tinubu made 2015 to happen for Buhari: did Amaechi play any significant role in 2015? Can’t Buhari sit down to weigh every man’s contributions to his 2015 ambition and decide to reward each person according to his worth? What if he queues behind Amaechi? Will there be mass suicide?
In all these, where are the elders of the land? What happens to our philosophy of a child strapped on the mother’s back who should not be allowed to suffer neck sprain? Can’t we see that the South-West baby is about having a spinal cord injury on its mother’s back? The Yoruba Council of Elders issued a late statement that it might intervene to avert the looming danger. And I ask: when? Is it enough for YCE to say
“It is very frightening the way things are going and nobody anticipated that. The handwriting we are seeing on the wall is not anything to be proud of and we, the elders, might have to intervene. The elders will have to come in to address the issue. We don’t want another situation where the South-West will be set ablaze because of personal political ambition of anybody”. When is the group going to do that?
And for Tinubu and Osinbajo, and whoever may come after them, I will like to close with this. If indeed they believe that the South-West contributed to making the Buhari presidency a reality and as such, the region deserves to occupy the seat in 2023, let them put their house in order. History waits to record their intervention in this matter. If the zone loses out due to the duo’s bickering, posterity will tell the story to their descendants; up to the sixth generation. They have the opportunity now to talk to their Aro and appease their Odofin. In Yoruba land, a man is remembered, after death, in three ways. The first one is in thirteen places. It is said “ose gududu meje ati yaya mefa”- he tried his best in seven and six ways. The second way is 50 in number, thus: “aku itun ku e lona ogun, aku itun ku e lona ogbon” – may he die twenty times over, may he die thirty times over. The last is ad infinitum “a ku lo titi ti e laye” – may he die ad infinitum. The choice is theirs.