By Wale Aribisala
Although the Ekiti governorship election of June 21 was celebrated nationally and internationally, the All Progressives Congress (APC) acted true to type in its refusal to accept defeat. While the US government hailed the election as a landmark, Mr Babatunde Fashola of Lagos called the intelligence of the Ekiti people to question, saying the PDP induced the people with money.
Beyond media propaganda, Fashola is just another unskilled actor in the political arena, bereft of the enduring philosophy for which true progressives (the Bola Iges, the Jakandes) are known. It was however the leader of the imaginary State of Osun, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, that acted the lead role in the APC’s comedy of errors. Speaking in Ikirun, penultimate Tuesday, the new political analyst claimed that the poll, in which the APC candidate and governor of the state, Kayode Fayemi, lost scandalously even in his own local government area, was rigged. Aregbesola’s lullaby: “We have not seen the mystery of what they did in Ekiti. They rigged the poll there. But we are looking at them. What they did in Ekiti is not possible in Osun and we are going to resist it at all costs.”
There goes the binary dichotomy (we versus they; saint versus sinner, light versus darkness) for which the APC has acquired an indelible notoriety in Nigerian politics. The governor then inadvertently predicted his own fall: “They are day dreaming. Osun is like a wood or tree swarmed by ants, you cannot hold it.” Any tree which dares the ants and other miniature creatures will decay slowly but steadily. But perhaps Aregbesola, who wrote WAEC as his academic qualification, as published in the papers even though he claims to be an engineer, is not conversant with biology.
But Aregbesola’s tantrums need not detain us here. Our main point his call for rebellion in Osun, a move informed by a lack of historical education. He said: “Any security agent, be it policeman or soldier, that flouts the laws, we would show them that we are true sons of the Yoruba ethnic group. I said it in Iwo and I’m repeating it here. Ekiti has gone. The state has chosen its path. Let us forget about it. It is democracy. Any security agent, who does not flout the law, would be our friend. Any other one that goes contrary to the law, we would deal with him.” He told his “State Boys” not to be rattled by any threat from the security agencies, stressing: “They are afraid of you. They threatened to lock down Osun. Be ready, nothing will happen. Remain unshaken.”
In Aregbesola’s reductionist world, there are no true sons of Odua among the security agencies. Indeed, he may not know about the Maji Maji uprising, a violent resistance to colonial rule in the German colony of East Africa, following a German policy designed to force African peoples to grow cotton for export, lasting from 1905 to 1907. The policy bred social discontent and the people were justly angry. A rogue named Kinjikitile Ngwale, who claimed to be possessed by a snake spirit, however saw a golden opportunity in the people’s calamity. He gave his followers war medicine which he claimed would turn German bullets into water. Kinjeketile’s “war medicine” was in fact water (maji in Swahili) mixed with castor oil and millet seeds. And so, armed with spears and other lowly weapons, and believing in their war medicine, Kinjeketile’s followers challenged German troops, who were armed with machine guns. As the machine guns mowed them down, the freedom fighters realized their error, but it was too late. Those who were lucky retreated, throwing away their bottles of war medicine and crying, “The maji is a lie!”. Said a historian: “The Maji-Maji rebellion left 15 Europeans and 389 native soldiers and tens or even hundreds of thousands of insurgents and innocent bystanders dead. It also broke the spirit of the people to resist and the colony remained calm, thanks also to a change of governors which brought a more enlightened regime, until the outbreak of World War I. Lions in the area developed a taste for human flesh in the wake of the slaughter and the Songea region is still plagued by man-eaters.”
Indeed, if the Ngoni/Maji Maji soldiers who had a just cause to fight, nevertheless lost the battle owing to false weapons, with which weapons is Aregbesola, who has no just battle to fight, planning to deal with the security agencies? How on earth can a man who turned graduates to labourers cutting grass with machetes under the hot sun on a salary of N10,000 per month in the 21st century be seeking second term? What kind of egregious insult is this? To compound matters, he seeks to re-install himself in Government House with a ragtag army of State Boys!
Although the security agencies that Aregbesola is preparing his State Boys to confront are not an army of occupation, only morons would dare them on election day as they strive to keep the peace and give the nation another landmark election that would drive the nation’s democracy to greater heights. If Aregbesola is prepared to confront erring security agencies (erring, because they would not allow election rigging), he should rouse members of his own family, not other people’s children, to the battle. Had Aregbesola run a purposeful government, he would not now be chasing shadows, heating up the polity and stoking the fires of a foolish war, just because he has correctly foreseen his impending defeat in August. The Osun people, battered by his misrule, are prepared to rout him from Government House. They will speak with their votes, defy Aregbesola’s State Boys, and then the drums of true leadership devoid of vile propaganda will begin to sound in Osun. Truly, the Osun people are people of honour (iyi), and they will prove it in a few day’s time. As for the State Boys whom the governor has asked to deal with the security agencies, they should keep a date with the Yoruba Apala exponent, Haruna Isola: “Aro to loju, to nimu, to n dite m’ara adugbo wipe k’ogun o de, aanu won se mi.”
Isola pitied the cripples crying for war. And so do enlightened Nigerians.
*Aribisala is based in Ilesha, Osun State.