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The next hundred days: Yorubanness in leadership

By Bisi Lawrence

To several people, little has been achieved in the past one hundred days by the government of the All Progressives Congress which has been in government under the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. Many other people, on the contrary, believe otherwise. However, the time frame of that judgment seems to be removed from the consideration of an appreciable number of those who feel disposed or impelled to judge, and that reduces the element of rationality drastically.

President Muhammadu Buhari attending to some files in his office as he resumed duties at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida
File: President Muhammadu Buhari attending to some files in his office as he resumed duties at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

The government was elected into a term of four years in office, a fact that seems easy to forget, and which has no significance even as a fraction of the extent of the official tenure.

All the same, an exceptional incident occurring, for good or ill during the time in question, would definitely have cast its influence on the future, and be worthy of note. That does not seem to have happened.

In that regard, one has in mind the complete rout of an evil like the Boko Haram menace, or at least the recovery of those hapless young girls abducted from Chibok, an event that would have gladdened our hearts and dramatically assured us that progress is being made through a conscious effort. But that did not happen. Rather, we have received some disturbing news of air crashes at unusually close intervals.

That may not be directly connected with governance but they have occurred during this period of one hundred days in which we have only one direction to look at the slightest noise for even the slimmest assurance of our security. The incidence of serious crimes does not seem to have abated either.

The free attack on policemen in the Ikorodu area of Lagos is disheartening occurring, as it did, in a section of the country which is highly sophisticated, with robbers having the guts to stand up against law men and opening fire on them. One cannot but also mention, among others, the frightful abduction of our own London correspondent, Donu Kobara, who was kidnapped in Port Harcourt ‘while visiting her ailing mother.

Such distressing occurrences naturally make one wonder from where, and when the change we all hoped for is coming. So the loot excised from the treasury has been traced and will be recovered; so the NNPC is being dismantled; and so what? If the streets are not safe and our homes are in danger, what price the most buoyant economy on the Continent?

Yet the Federal Government is astir. There seems to be such a clamour about evaluating the achievements of the First One Hundred Days in Office that the government seems to have been caught on the defensive. There is a number of causes for this. The first is that the government would appear not to appreciate how important this evaluation of its stewardship is to several people, even among those who are in support of its efforts.

It is important to them because of the “messianic complex”, as someone describes it, attached to the Buhari personality. For those who are in support of him, it would be a demonstration of the excellence they had prided themselves of in him; to those who are prepared to down rate him on any occasion, it would be a vindication of their tendency to vilify him.

But the President has himself never subscribed to the exercise which he sees as little more than a hollow gimmick of no more value than a mere distraction. He associates it with fraud. He made that view clear in the response he gave to a question that impinged on the subject at Clapham House on his visit to Britain early in his administration.

However, those who probably hope to fault his few days in office would not be deterred. A document, or two, has been exhumed to prove that he had been committed to some promises he made about how he would perform within the period.

Of course, it cannot all be dismissed as a mere ploy of commotion devised by the “opposition”. It might play out as an example of the attitude which the Buhari administration has adopted to the issue of public relations, emanating from the spiky hubris that seems to dominate his reaction to the feelings of the populace.

On such a trip, the APC government seems would be travelling on a precipitous terrain. This aroused the kerfuffle that is yet to subside over the appointments recently made. The cabinet was yet to be announced, causing widespread discontent among the people, and what did the President do? He put out the names of appointees to some sensitive positions, who are mostly from the same section of the country.

That action clearly stumbled over the provisions of the Constitution that speak about a mandatory spread over the federation in the consideration for such appointments, as much as it trampled over the sentiments of many people in the nation. Apologists, and you may count me among them, have put forward the fragile excuse that further appointments would include people from other parts of the country, so what is the hurry about those particular appointments now?

If the administration has waited this long, surely it could have waited a bit longer? But what is particularly upsetting is that the officialdom as at present constituted in Aso Rock cannot deny appreciating that those appointments would not go down with the people. It would therefore not be uncharitable to conclude that the people now in power simply cannot be concerned by the feelings of those whose votes put them there.

It is clearly disappointing that such a disconcerting attitude could be displayed so openly within just one hundred days in office. It has set up the list of the cabinet members for close scrutiny when it is released. And then we shall see what takes place in another hundred days.

Echoes: Okay sir. But from all the appointments so far made, you can read his minset. Southerners will now be appointed Minister of Information, Arts and Tourism, Culture and Science and Technology,..HORRIBLE NEPOTISM08033776695

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federation of Nigeria, is indeed a Yoruba man who is very proud of what he describes as his Yorubanness. By that he would mean the fact of his being a Yoruba man. He is not re-writing history of his people, as some other worthy Yoruba man has alleged. He is merely telling the truth about the fact that the Yoruba never had a leader who was at the head of all the people together, and at the same time. History is, in fact, on his side.

This is because we never grouped ourselves together as one clan or tribe. We were of various origins and faiths, though we subscribed to the same forms of worship as independent groups as occasions as rose. The veneration of Ifa, or Ogun as deities was widespread as established through the inter-relationship which developed among the various groups as they travelled and re-settled away from their places of birth. This was caused by the internecine wars in which they indulged until the white man came to establish a distinct stability among them.

Warfare was indeed a major cause of migration. Another was trade with which the Ijebu were pre-occupied, and by which they established wholesome communities away from their own territories which were merged with the groups where they settled. And so we have Ijebu-Jesha and Ijebu-Ife. But we also have Ijebu-Remo which was founded by Iremo migrants from Ile-Ife.

The leadership which sprang among the different groupings derived from the conduct of the internecine warfare or the seniority of the priests. Thus the first Alafin was a warlord, while the throne of the Ooni emerged initially from the Ifa priesthood. Neither has conceded superiority to the other through history. It was the white man who came to recognize what he called a “paramount” ruler of an area or the other.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo was accorded the title of the “Ashiwaju”—the Leader of the Yoruba people, and he deserved it. But events have proved that it was not a position institutionalized within the lore of the people. It was personal to him alone, though anyone can give himself any title he wants

Time out.


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