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Wike, South and the sword in Ayu’s hand

Ògún, the god of iron, approached Òrúnmìlà (Father of Divination) to be initiated into the cult of Ifá. Ògún came empty-handed and Òrúnmìlà noted that if Ògún was too poor to be able to raise the cost of his initiation, he should not be too miserable to afford the materials for the sacrificial offering that will precede his initiation. Yet Ògún had nothing to offer. When he realized that he would not be initiated into the inner council of Ifá, Ògún offered Òrúnmìlà the only thing he had; his sword. There was an offer and an acceptance and Ògún was initiated.

Shortly after, the madness of handing over his only priceless possession and the one thing that made people fear him, the sword, to Òrúnmìlà appeared to Ògún. As he walked out of the initiation hall without his sharp, gleaming sword, people noticed that Ògún had become vulnerable and they began to mock him. He became the asshole of the village. The village boys made him dance to silly songs. He engaged in a few wrestling matches and he was defeated as many times as he tried. Wrestling has never been one of Ògún’s strong suits. The god of iron is renowned for his fiery temper and the dexterity of his sword, which momentarily turns red the second he is provoked. The story does not end there. But I won’t go into the details of how Ògún regained his reputation because that is not relevant here today. However, the lesson Ògún learned after this incident is that no matter what the situation, one should not hand over one’s priceless possession to the other person for any reason.

Things happen to political gladiators in the south that shouldn’t have happened to them had they consulted their soothsayers before handing over their only sword to the north in the 2015 general election. Events confront them in such a way that one is forced to question the much-vaunted sophistication of southern Nigeria politics. The north, whether it hates the region or loves it, holds the hilt of the sword as the 2023 general election approaches. Either in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), with the mentality of right from the ill-mannered assembly “Emi lokan”, to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its self-destructive tendencies; until the neoteric Labor Party (LP) and its motley crowd of “obidients”, the south remains, when it comes to the 2023 presidential race, a sharply divided house over the rock-solid position of the north, when to push comes to shake. It’s bad enough.

I have been paying attention to the events of the PDP as it makes its way through the political firmament. I have no sympathy for the party. More importantly, I wish that the current “flagellation” of the southern elements in the northern leadership-dominated PDP will reach such a level that their northern masters will ask them to line up like naughty elementary school students and beat their meaning in their brain (assuming they have any). That is why I had a good laugh when last week the national chairman of the party, Dr Ayu, described Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his gang of rebel southern elements as children. And honestly, the kids they are; all! I ask, why are Wike and his band of cheeky “kids” crying? Who got his akara back? When did it occur to them that Ayu retaining his presidency of the PDP, with ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential candidate, amounted to the marginalization of the south? How funny these “kids” can be! What were they thinking when the PDP abandoned its age-old principle of rotation and declared that any region could produce the president? What happened to Asaba’s Southern Nigeria Governors Forum statement of July 5, 2021 that “Nigeria’s next president should emerge from the south”? When the PDP made the decision to open its presidential ticket, why didn’t the Wikes of this world protest and boycott the PDP’s presidential primaries? Why did he lead his now crying gang of ‘kids’ to contest the primaries and even positively consider the idea of ​​becoming a running mate before his fellow ‘kid’, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, not be chosen? What is the political savvy of the decision of Okowa, who hosted the first meeting of the Southern Nigeria Governors Forum, where they vowed to produce the next president but have now agreed to play second fiddle to Atiku? Who behaves like this if not a child?

Whenever I meet the “children” of the south who talk about the imbalance of the DPP’s structure in favor of the north and the Fulani hegemonic propensity of the APC-led federal government, my mind races to the 1819 fable of the American author, Washington Irving. Irving wrote a short story called: “Rip Van Winkle”. The apologue is about a peasant, Rip Van Winkle, who travels to a mountainous forest, where he encounters a colony of fictional dwarf characters playing a game of ninepins and drinking at the same time. Partying that he is, Rip accepts a cup of dry gin offered to him and he falls asleep instantly. He’s been sleeping for 20 years and when he wakes up he’s grown a beard, aged, but still the same as he was before he took the sleep drink. Ask: Will nature wait for a man to lie down for two decades? This is what the ‘children’ of the southern PDP, who were part of Asaba’s July 5, 2021 declaration, did when they went to the party’s presidential primaries and agreed to be part of the shenanigans that the PDP served them. When the Wikes of this world left Asaba and returned to the PDP, like Rip, who flees to the forest to avoid his temperamental and surly wife, but forgets his mission at the sight of alcohol, they forgot what pushed them to Abuja, and accepted the liquor (open-ended presidency) served to them. They got drunk, fell asleep, woke up and contested the primaries. Abandoned by their so-called allies from the north and ransacked by Atiku, here they are again mercilessly whipped by their “big daddy”, Ayu. Naughty children, who forget their parents’ errands, deserve paternal reprimand.

Until the political elites of the South stay true to their avowed commitment, they will have an Ayu hanging somewhere to insult them. I don’t blame Ayu; although I also don’t approve of his scurrilous comment, which I think makes him more mean-spirited than the statesmanship that hangs over his pedigrees as a college professor, former senator, and national president of a political party. But Dr. Ayu is a politician, and politicians, I have been told many times, have their particular ways of doing things. The north, at any turn in our political trajectory, seems to be teaching us political lessons.

In the PDP today, a northerner is the national president. The PDP board, BoT, chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, is also a northerner. The presidential candidate, Atiku, is also from the north. This is how the party looks “national” at the moment. The party’s former South West National Vice-Chairman, an ‘old child’ from the south, retired Commodore Olabode George, speaking near Wike in River State last week, described the situation as “antithesis and against the norm and culture of PDP”. I laughed! He lamented, “Members of the southern party already feel alienated. PDP is not a private company. the presidential campaign at the end of this month the national president is due to travel south so says Governor Wike and as a life member of our party’s board of directors I support that position at 100%.” ​​Bode George is 76. Wike is 54 and Ayu is 69. Yet Ayu said that all those asking him to step down as national chairman of the PDP were children in 1998, when the party was trained. As a philosopher, Ayu knows the age difference between him and George. But he used the term “child s” metaphorically. And I tend to agree with him. George and Wike knew that the posts of BoT and national chairman of the PDP were occupied by northerners before accepting that the party could choose its presidential candidate from anywhere and participate in the primaries which produced Atiku . Why doesn’t Ayu call them children who cry after the milk is spilled.

The Northern region knows what it wants politically. And the leaders there have a way of testing the waters. Whenever they want to send a message to the south, they either go to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Hausa service, to relay the message, or hold an event at Arewa House, Kaduna, where one of their leaders will be prepared to give the keynote address. Ayu spoke to the BBC and he was followed by Professor Ango Abdullahi at Arewa House. Ango, President of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), speaking at a book launch in Kaduna, sent a resounding message that the north would be more critical of who to support for the 2023 elections. knew which ones the region would not support; a candidate who seeks to benefit from strategies exploiting the ethnic and religious diversity of the geopolitical area. “We will not support a candidate who fails to convince us that he will radically improve the quality of governance and the integrity of leaders. Second, northerners will not be intimidated into making choices that do not improve the chances of real change in their current situation. We will participate in all political and electoral activities on an equal footing, and regarding other Nigerians who respect us…Votes from the North will also have a major impact in the 2023 elections, but they will be cast by now wiser people and more insightful,” he said matter-of-factly. He was unequivocal. You gotta love him for that. This is how leaders speak, who truly love their people. It doesn’t matter who inflicted the “governance scars” that agriculture professor and former Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) vice-chancellor Zaria alluded to. This, he noted, would not be allowed to be repeated as the “Northern votes will have a major (if you will, critical) impact” next year.

Excellent speech from a great leader of his people. Now I ask: who is this southerner, who speaks for the region as Ango Abdulahi does for the north? When the NEF President spoke, he made no distinction between ‘Core North’, ‘Middle Belt’ or ‘Hausa North’. And that’s the beauty of the North when it comes to politics. No discrimination, no segregation; a monolithic north. See the results of the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections. Go down to the south. Check how rude and brash batch “Emi lo kan” is once you disagree with them. Take a look at the southern assortment “Atikulé” and their uncoordinated movement, whenever they want to throw their “rescuer”. So veer off to the “Obidient” mob mix and experience raw insults for daring to share a view contrary to their “revolution.” When will the south be able to say: “votes from the south will also have a major impact on the 2023 elections”? Pray, when will southern politicians lose their baby teeth and shed their childish attitudes to issues of common concern? When will they grow?