THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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The ‘Battle of Kruga’ is an interesting wild life footage screened by the National Geographic Channel. It is an epic battle in the wild by three groups of animals (a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo and a pond of crocodiles), each in claim of a little baby buffalo. The pride of lions after sending the herd of buffalo scampering, has settled for one of its stray, weak cubs, which, failing to make it past the edge of the pond of the crocodiles, slips in and is soon to be equidistantly grabbed –from the outside, by the fangs of anxious lions battling to save their hard-fought meal; and on the inside, by the jaws of crocodiles hoping to gain a ‘free meal’. But the ‘distress’ mooing calls of the poor baby buffalo soon elicits the right kindred response, as the herd buffalo in unison returns to take on the two top predators, and thus save their loved one. And although this may not necessarily be on ‘all fours’ –as lawyers would say when they compare the elements of two similar situations- the recent electoral battle for the political soul of the State of Osun, reminds one of the ‘Battle of Kruga’, with all its chilling, adrenalin-fueled effects.
In a previous piece titled ‘Four Days to Armageddon’ –written 96 hours to the 2015 presidential election- I had said, in the euphoria of a presumptive PDP victory, that Buhari could well be the proverbial ‘dan hakin da ka raina’, which the Hausas warn ‘shi zai tsone maka ido’. Meaning that, ‘the prickly little reed underestimated, may soon be the troubling speck in the eye of the underestimate’. PDP’s unheeding incumbency had soon suffered a blinded eye from the inadvertence of its hawky ones who had already foretold a sixty-five year unbroken hegemony. But we saw that, that prophesy of a threescore and five, by the time it had prematurely ended after only sixteen year, was still four solid years short of one score! Proof that the gods of politics truly do not brook the arrogant divination of meddlesome interlopers! And it came to pass, that Buhari was ‘the prickly little reed disdained, which soon became the troubling speck in the eye of the disdainer. And I said the Yorubas have an adage allegorizing a similar situation. But theirs is in the form of a riddle requiring an answer: ‘Igi gangaran ma gunmi loju’, meaning: ‘thou crookedly-hanging object, hurt not my eye!’ And the one who solves the riddle replies: ‘okere latinwo’, -meaning it behooves those who are circumspect to stay out of harm’s way. And either for want of dialectical depth or for brevity’s sake, the city Yorubas are the butt of philological humor, because they answer the riddle in an urbane form of anglicized Yoruba: ‘wa dodge-ye’ (just dodge it).
But who would’ve thought, in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Osun State, that PDP’s Adeleke, the loafing dancer, could be ‘the prickly little reed’ in the Hausa adage which the APC would so terribly underestimate -almost to its own eternal peril? Or who would’ve thought that the lollygagger-senator with ‘sawdust’ where men should have brains, could be that ‘crookedly-hanging object’ -Igi gangaran- in the Yoruba riddle which the APC would make a terribly poor job of ‘dodging’? And to imagine that Adeleke did not promise anything but heat, sweat and floor-banging body moves. His message to the people of Osun being: ‘you school and go to the polls, I dance and go to the Government house!’. Or maybe he would say: ‘you deal with the ‘one-plus-one equals two, and all the subject-object-verb-complement, and I will put them all in the rhythm of my feet to provide good governce!
The irony about the Osun election is not that a virtual illiterate, was set up for such an elite political office, but that a ‘penitent’ political party, the PDP, which sings a fetish of wanting only ‘educated’ politicians in elective and appointive offices, had no qualms propping up for contest, a man who could not even pass the only paper he had registered for at O-Levels. Nor is the irony about the Osun election merely that an ‘awaiting-trial’ was about to be Governor, but that his party, which had insisted that an excellent Finance Minister should leave office for the inadvertence of falling prey to touts, still had no scruples fielding an exams cheat. The PDP has blatantly refused to hold the candle to others, even as it vehemently resists having others hold a candle to it. Even in its feigned contrition, the PDP still loves and thrives only on the notorious. A muckraking-braggart, Fayose, a blood-baying cultist Wike, a street-brawling clown Dino Melaye and a saber-rattling ethno-religious bigot Fani Kayode are still the proud epaulets of ‘honor’ that adorn the shoulders of this unrepentant Party, the PDP. And just recently in Osun, we saw them put forth the Party’s latest outgrowth of notoriety: a groovy, do-nothing-but-dance panjandrum of the legislative office whose only ‘credential’ is that he ‘has no credential’.
Adeleke did not say that he was going to ‘talk’ his way to the government house! At least he was honest enough not to promise what evidently he could not deliver. Just the way his party’s presidential aspirants have been careful not to promise anything other than the ability to defeat Buhari. Rather he said he would ‘dance’ his way to the government house. And guess what? He almost did! Or, as his gambling sponsors still believe, he, in fact did. And the irony of it was that it was the loafing, do-nothing-but-dance ‘nonentity’ that left all the other contending ‘entities’ at the debating hall and almost made it to office. While the serious ones were busy trying to ‘out-talk’ each other to the government house, the unserious one was perhaps somewhere brushing his dancing stilettos and rehearsing for the inaugural. The PDP has virtually taught the APC yet another lesson: that ‘talk’ is truly cheap like base metal, but that ‘dance’ can almost be verily precious like diamond. And it thus raises the question: ‘to what avail is a pre-election debate when those who should require it to make informed choices will ignore those who have painstakingly prepared and debated, to vote the one who only danced?
And now Fela’s lyric is coming crookedly into the detail. The PDP is now the proverbial ‘Teacher-Teach-Me-Nonsense’. Now the PDP is teaching APC how it must fish in fiendish, slimy and putrescent waters or it must wither and die. APC cannot afford any longer to shun the only putrid table available in the devil’s only game: After Osun a terrible lesson is learnt; that no party survives which sups with the PDP using ‘long spoon’. The APC is learning, albeit the hard way, that when you dine with this very devil, you must use bare hands! You grub and you grab! Do-me-I-do-you! Tit-for-tat’! A Roland for an Oliver. You must Move to kill, or you wait to be killed. You rig in, to avoid being rigged out! This is the lesson that PDP is teaching its opponents. That you cannot beat them unless you learn not only to play their dirty game, but you must be able to beat the at their game! Osun is an ill-foreboding metaphor for our democracy, but what can we do? Let the end justify the means!