If everyone is killing their mothers, must you kill yours too? I will answer this question by drawing strength from a folklore, I believe, most readers are familiar with. The late iconoclast and creator of Afrobeat genre of music, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, popularised the story in his 1973 album, “Afrodisiac”, where he sang the track: “Alu Jon Jonkijan”. The season of famine is never the best of times for humanity. So it was with the animal kingdom. In the tale, the famine was so severe that all animals started to kill their mothers for food. But the Dog had a better idea. He knew the pains his mother went through during labour and before she nurtured him to maturity. He could not bear to slaughter his own mother, no matter the severity of the hunger in the land. So, he arranged for his mother to be transported to the heavenly realms. That is what reasonable and responsible children do. No matter the hunger in the land, mothers, and by extension, the elderly, are supposed to be revered and protected from the pangs of hunger and evil. Our cultures, customs, norms and traditions do not allow us to be spiteful of the elderly. In my Ekiti section of Yoruba land, we were told in our cradle that “Hain le’ bibu agba” – mere grumbling is an insult to the elderly. The simple implication here is that no matter what an elder does, no young person is allowed to scold him. I tell you yet another short story and we go to the main course for today.
An elder was once caught with a stolen chicken. The youth arrested him and were about to make a mess of his life, when they ran into a court populated by elders. Being the irrepressible lot that they are, the young folks approached the elders and asked them to punish the elderly fellow for the infraction of stealing. The die was cast. The accused moved forward. He opened the bag containing the chicken and asked his fellow elders thus: “My elders, I ask you to use the eyes of the elders to look into this bag and tell these youths, if there is any chicken inside”. One after the other, the elders took turns to look into the bag and came with a negative verdict of “no chicken inside”. Case closed! The sparky youths were upbraided for treating an elder with ignominy. They dispersed, confused. They were sure of what they found in the bag of the accused elder. But the council of elders had ruled that no such thing was inside the bag. It was after the youths had left that the council dealt with the light-fingered elder. Yea; that is our culture. No youth, I repeat for emphasis sake, is allowed to reprimand an elderly fellow. Elders are also not upbraided openly. We are people of culture. We don’t kill our mothers (fathers inclusive) because others are killing theirs’. Without any intention to sound sanctimonious, the Yoruba philosophy of Omoluabi forbids an upbraid of the elderly by the younger generation. It is an “eewo”- abomination. Abomination, we all also know, is eaten in piecemeal like needles. The repercussions come when the needles are enough to make a hoe.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural cum political group, Afenifere, was born on April 10, 1928. That was some 94 years ago. That qualifies him to be not only an elder, but a living ancestor. His age, his pedigree, his stature and everything about him, qualify him to be revered and respected in all ramifications. In his 94 years sojourn on earth, Chief Adebanjo has seen it all. Nobody can dispute that except those in his age bracket. In the last couple of days, however, the “Emilokan” movement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress’ candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has been waging a psychological war of attrition against the nonagenarian. It has been the most unfortunate attack against the elders of the land by those who want to govern us. The attack came in the form of a press statement titled “Our Reaction to Baba Ayo Adebanjo and his new Ohanifere Venture”, authored by Bayo Onanuga, Director, Media and Publicity APC Presidential Campaign Council. The statement, as the title indicates, is a reaction to Chief Adebanjo’s position that Afenifere would support the presidential ambition of Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP. Between Chief Adebanjo’s 1928 date of birth and Onanuga’s 1957 year of birth is a clear cut 29 years. In the piece, Onanuga practically called the old man an usurper! I leave you, readers to go and do a semantic and stylistic interpretation of Onanuga’s statement. In the same statement, Onanuga said “We are very much aware that Baba Reuben Fasoranti, the real leader of Afenifere…” The simple implicature of this statement is that Chief Adebanjo is a “fake” leader of Afenifere. Don’t tell me that I am the one imputing that! It is a simple exercise in grammar- words and opposite. If you have the “real” leader, it goes to say that there must be a “fake” one. And Onanuga was specific about who the “real” leader is. I will not be paying much attention to Mr. Onanuga here. I will tell you why. We are in the season of famine. Every animal must kill its mother for supper. Only the responsible children will take the course the dog took. One can easily understand that there will always be people, whose job will be to lick and swallow the vomit of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Majority of the attack dogs in the Emilokan movement are in that category. To protect what they are ‘eating” now, or what they envisage to eat, anything goes in the defence of Tinubu and his political game of crass entitlement. This pathetic lot of louts will not bat an eyelid before they slaughter their mothers for dinner.
My major issue concerning the statement is Tinubu himself. His silence since Onanuga issued that statement gives only one explanation: Tinubu endorses everything that his media aide said. That is very bad! At 70 years- so he claims – Tinubu should not be seen endorsing outright insults on an elder in the ilk of Chief Adebanjo. Politics or no politics, there is no justification for such. Even if Chief Adebanjo shouted from the rooftop that Afenifere would support Peter Obi, questioning his leadership of the group, Afenifere, and inferring that he is not the leader should not come from Tinubu. I love the way most media houses, traditional and social, headlined the story: “Baba has turned Afenifere into his personal estate’ – Tinubu knocks Ayo Adebanjo over his endorsement of Peter Obi”. The headline is apt! Onanuga, in the real sense of it, is a mere local flute. The tune that comes out is that of Tinubu. The axiom, “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, is most appropriate here. This is why it is understandable that Tinubu has not come out to say anything contrary to that statement. His silence speaks louder than the noise from Oyingbo Market. But how true are the claims in that statement?
For instance, can Tinubu in his right conscience affirm that “Papa Ayo Adebanjo does not speak for Afenifere”? If by 2022, Baba Adebanjo “does not speak for Afenifere”, may we ask Tinubu, who the same Chief Adebanjo spoke for, when in 1999, the old man endorsed Tinubu’s Alliance for Democracy, AD’s, nomination form that got him (Tinubu) the governorship of Lagos State? Is it now that Chief Adebanjo cannot speak for Afenifere, the same thing he did some 23 years ago when it favoured Tinubu? Or is the present case akin to the “ija lode, orin d’owe” axiom – when there is a dispute, every song becomes a proverb -saying of the elders? If Tinubu said “We know for a fact that Baba has turned Afenifere into his personal estate as Acting Leader… It is our well-considered position that Pa Adebanjo cannot appropriate Afenifere. Baba is just an individual who is free to support any politician of his choice. As an individual, he cannot equate himself with the socio-cultural and socio-political organisation”, we wish to ask him what Chief Adebanjo did in 1999, when he endorsed Tinubu, who came third in AD’s primary against the late Funso Williams and Mrs. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, who came first and second respectively in the governorship primaries just to compensate Tinubu for whatever roles he played during the NADECO struggles to actualise the mandate freely given to Late MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993. The issue of appropriating Afenifere did not arise then because Tinubu was the sole beneficiary. How would Tinubu have become the governor of Lagos State without Chief Adebanjo’s support not only as an Afenifere leader, but the National Chairman of the AD? It is now an irony of life that after Chief Adebanjo assisted in sharpening Tinubu’s teeth, he has turned around to use the same set of teeth to bite the very magnanimous squirrel which cracked his (Tinubu’s) political palm kernel for him.
And if we may take a step further by addressing the issue of “We are also certain that there was nowhere Afenifere, as we know it, met and took a decision to adopt Peter Obi as a candidate for 2023 presidential election”, as claimed by Tinubu, one can fault Tinubu a hundred and one times on this. Truth is that Chief Adebanjo, before he assumed the leadership of Afenifere, had in private and public discourses, clamoured for justice, fairness and equity. While the nonagenarian has never hidden his support for the presidency to come to the southern part of the country come 2023, he has, equally, at different fora, stated that equity and fairness dictate that the South-East should be allowed to produce the next president. So what offence has the old man committed by keeping fidelity with his conviction that the South-East should not be made to hold the short end of the stick at all times? “Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, backs South-East presidency”, is a report published by several media houses on March 4, 2022. Specifically, The Punch newspapers ran the story, quoting Chief Adebanjo as he appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, March 3, 2022. During that Channels Television appearance, Baba Adebanjo argued: “How can you say rotation is between the North and South, and when it comes to the South, it would be South-West and South-South every time? Is the South-East not part of the South? What is the moral we are talking about? “Is it not the South-West that served under Obasanjo for eight years, Osinbajo for another eight years as Vice President? South-South has served its own. Is the South-East not part of the South? That is the question we should answer”. If Peter Obi is the only notable South-East presidential candidate in the race today, will it not be proper for Chief Adebanjo to endorse him? As much as we all know that fidelity is not a strong point of the Emilokan movement, that should not deny others, whose entire life has been about the truth, the truth and nothing but the truth. When Baba Adebanjo canvassed the South-East presidency as quoted above, was he speaking as Pa Ayo Adebanjo or as Pa Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere? Why did Tinubu not counter that then? If Baba Adebanjo had endorsed Tinubu as the next president, he would have been hailed as “a true democrat and leader of Afenifere”. How does it jell with Tinubu to refer to Chief Adebanjo as “just an individual” and he went ahead to say: “We respect the age of Baba Adebanjo”. A man you called “just an individual” is the same one whose age you claim to respect? Who needs that kind of respect! What name do you call people who don’t have respect for their fathers?