When reigning as Abobaku of the Kingdom and Empire and Dominion of Ile-Ife (within the modern Federal Republic of Nigeria), Trouble had to go there to help locate the fugitive Big Liver. When High Chief Abobaku Kokumo tore into shreds the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between him and the Kingdom of Ile-Ife on behalf of the Yoruba Empire, we knew finally that we live in a society sick to its core. The Memorandum of Understanding made it clear that Chief Kokumo, the Abobaku of Yoruba Empire would live, wine and dine and even luxuriate as long as the Ooni lived. On the day the Ooni died the Abobaku must be ready to die with his boss. The empire has played its part. When there was little, the Abobaku made do with little, but when there was plenty, he gorged himself. In times of plenty, as well as the times of famine he shared of the leanness and the abundance of the land. It was therefore an eye-opener to meet him in his hiding place and exchange silences with him. For, to every greeting, every query, every wish addressed to him, he responded with silence. And he refused to provide written answers to written questions sent to him on his mobile, to his email and through WhatsApp.
While we were all in hiding with High Chief Abobaku Kokumo, the rest of the country came to us through the National Peace Committee. Like High Chief Abobaku Kokumo, this committee had come to meet the President to persuade him to tear up his MOU with the rest of the country. During the campaign for the presidential position, the then candidate had promised to put a dent in the immunity of corruption, to deflate the arrogance of ‘na-we-dey-there’ and correct the lop-sidedness of our social poverty -richness, our richness-poverty. Now that he is president, the peace committee has come to meet him and tell him to tear up the memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian electorate.
The chief even mentioned Babangida who went poetic in praising the efforts of PMB to rid Nigeria of corruption. Here is the man who is credited with being one of the creators of the industrial type corruption that the country now has, and the systemic interweaving of corrupt processes into our being, going ballistic in praise of someone who vows to rid the country of corruption. And nobody demands that he takes responsibility for his role in this situation.
As if in support of this modest action by the follower of a man who entered the church and called on those who would, not to turn his father’s house into a den of thieves, the Cardinal separately called on the president not to probe anybody. Instead, the Cardinal bid the president “call this people (sic), they have consciences, they’re Nigerians. Even, look at the way they’re dropping money, one person went and dropped over $1 billion. Not even naira. So, you call such a man, talk to him.” Furthermore, the Cardinal continued: “appealing to the conscience of the alleged treasury looters would produce a better result” than probing them. The question, Mr. Cardinal, is if they had conscience in the first place would they have looted the treasury? Where would they have found this so-called conscience of the Nigerian? Please, can you provide further details of someone who dropped $1 billion, just like that. $1 billion out of how much? Do you know Mr. Cardinal what a billion dollars looks like? It looks like so many well-stocked hospitals in our cities and rural areas. It looks like well-equipped university laboratories doing cutting edge research in the knowledge industries of the world. It looks like six lane dual carriage roads across the country. And even more. Nothing declares to the world more than this that the church has failed dismally in Nigeria.
There are other failures too in terms of what we can now call the Abobaku Syndrome of Nigeria – a syndrome in which we renege on our promises. The seeds we plant renege on their promise to reproduce themselves. We plant maize and in 90 days’ time a weed appears and asks for pardon for not being what we planted, pleading that times have changed and what existed when we entered into the memorandum of understanding that when we plant maize we expect to harvest maize in 90 days’ time, is no longer what exists now. Or maybe we plant cocoa seedlings and in five years’ time when the young cocoa tree should be sprouting and bringing forth cocoa pods, we hear that the cocoa trees have taken off and gone, fleeing from the plantation because they have become useless parasites incapable of being the cocoa they were supposed to grow into.
Are the clerics making a human rights case for the alleged looters of the treasury?
Hopefully the Cardinal and the Bishop have heard of the absconding of the High Chief Abobaku Kokumo of the Yoruba Empire. What do they think of his action? For now, nobody knows. But we know what Chief Abobaku thinks of the position of their Eminences Cardinal and Bishop on national corruption. The Chief disapproves of their position and condemns them for advocating that corrupt looters of the treasury should be placed in intensive care instead of in maximum hard labour security prisons. How did the chief communicate this opinion? Well, you will not believe that while the high chief was not prepared to talk about his own irresponsibility for breaking his promise to the people of the Yoruba Empire, he was voluminous on the crimes of others. The chief even mentioned Babangida who went poetic in praising the efforts of PMB to rid Nigeria of corruption. Here is the man who is credited with being one of the creators of the industrial type corruption that the country now has, and the systemic interweaving of corrupt processes into our being, going ballistic in praise of someone who vows to rid the country of corruption. And nobody demands that he takes responsibility for his role in this situation. Nobody asks him, as nobody has asked any of those named as having foreign accounts in billions and millions, how come they have said nothing about these allegations. After all, some of those named as owing banks have sued the banks for false accusation.
High Chief Abobaku Kokumo insisted, off record, that humanity has gone beyond killing people to accompany someone who has died his own death. Let sleeping dogs lie, he said, smiling in a snide manner. After all this is the twenty-first century. Are the clerics making a human rights case for the alleged looters of the treasury?
Kole Omotoso writes from Akure.