By Michael Egbejumi-David
Once in a while, we all feel the need to go into our inner self. This act of introspection can sometimes lead to quite cathartic moments when we simply unburden our soul. However, some cathartic moments are not planned; they just happen. And so it proved recently with the esteemed Oba of Lagos, His Royal Highness (HRH), Oba Rilwan Akiolu. A few days ago in Ijebu Ode, he, while introducing the newly minted Emir of Kano to the Awujale of Ijebuland, promised to expose corrupt monarchs in Yorubaland. However, Oba Akiolu is going to wait until after the 2015 general elections to do this. Some might think this odd and that the Oba was needlessly lowering the boom on some of his fellow Obas. Not necessarily.
You see, back in the mid-late 1990s, Kabiyesi used to be a Commissioner of Police in this Nigeria. That was when late General Sani Abacha called the shots. Back then, nothing moved in Nigeria without the say-so of the goggled one. Anyway, since it was decided by consensus that Nigeria would not survive without Abacha, a project was promptly put in place to avert that potential disaster.
Before you know it, all kinds of youths began earnestly asking for Abacha to please, please, continue to rule us – even if he had to wear very short agbadas. Some of our musicians supplied the background vocals in person. The five registered political parties then all went ahead and adopted the same General Abacha as their Presidential candidate. And if you were a military officer or a top politician and you were caught not wearing an Abacha badge, then you only had yourself to blame.
Naturally, our royal fathers could not be left out of this highly patriotic project. The project managers had to find a way to reach out to them to lock-down their support and therefore ensure the support of their subjects. This was very necessary; what with that pesky little matter of MKO Abiola’s mandate hanging uncomfortably in the air. Swiftly, bags of money were made available for disbursement to the Obas. But somebody has to carry those bags of money to the various palaces. The person tasked with this important job in the Southwest zone was none other than Police commissioner Rilwan Akiolu.
As was expected, the Police Commissioner carried out his assignment with utmost dispatch. In handling this most delicate task, Police Commissioner Akiolu used his discretion well. He knew which Obas to settle and which ones not to settle. Some Obas you don’t even think of approaching with any bribe money. The Awujale was one. Oba Akiolu stated elaborately that the Awujale was not given his allotted share of the bribe money because he knew that it would be rejected out of hand. However, quite a few of the other monarchs were loyal and they happily collected their bags of money. I mean, who wants to be Abacha’s enemy, right?
Seventeen years or so later, Oba Akiolu has apparent had an epiphany and a cathartic moment, and now he wants to name and shame other royal fathers.
HRH wants to name the compromised monarchs because…well…, let’s hear it from Kabiyesi himself:
“There are some monarchs that I personally took their own share to and they collected it from me. I have their names and when the time comes, I will expose them. I am not afraid of anybody. They are corrupt and those are some of the bad eggs in the traditional institution. These are the people, you (the Emir of Kano) should be very careful of associating with.”
And there you have it. All of this might even lead to a stratification of sorts of royal fathers in the Southwest – not necessarily a bad thing.
It would appear Oba Akiolu has been less than delighted for a while that he has to share the same platform with some very naughty monarchs. This is understandable, and, frankly, so should he be.
I know that one or two of you out there might think that Kabiyesi has a case to answer too. After all, he ferried the bribe monies to the various hitherto innocent monarchs; and, as a self-respecting Police Commissioner, possibly took a little something-something for petrol. Perish that thought immediately. First of all, you heard me say ‘Ka-bi-e-si,’ didn’t you? Besides, Kabiyesi was only a public servant then. He was a public servant that could not possibly disobey orders from the top.
Therefore, abeg, there shouldn’t be any issues as to whether Oba Akiolu inadvertently implicated himself in this whole sordid saga, or that as he was pointing to others, some of his own fingers were pointing back at him. No. Only rascally people think that way. HRH was merely doing his job.
The only thing I don’t quite get is why Oba Akiolu promised to unmask the corrupt monarchs only after the 2015 elections. Again, some mischievous people might assume that this could be another strategy to arm-twist the already compromised Obas into falling in line one more time and do the ‘right thing’ at election time. But I’m sure these rascally people would be incorrect in their wrong-headed assumption. And please do not ask where the money that was originally meant for the Awujale eventually went. It went back into the original pot; where else would it go?
Michael Egbejumi-David via firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: demdemdem1