Of lions, jackals, hyenas and other weaker animals

By Yomi Odunuga

If you mingle with the kind of ‘crazy’ acquaintances I meet on the social media, a day would hardly pass without you opening your ‘32’ to let off some steam. And you would have to believe me if I say that your problems must be more than Nigeria’s if the jokes shared daily by this set of people fail to ease your tension. Here, I’m not even talking about the MoFeTo Clan, which is increasingly gaining more leverage by the day as the one-stop-shop to laugh your sorrows off, begin and end your day on a lighter note. Well, if you don’t want to be a recluse, utterly immersed in the multidimensional problems plaguing this country, you’ll have to devise a means of laughing through your pain.

And that’s the gap the MoFeTo laughter skits and commentaries try to bridge. However, today, I speak of the postings by guys like Kolapo Abiodun, Emmanuel Ogheche, Olaleye Olawale and others who have made the art of political commentary, sauced with whimsical wits, such a delight to read. Take, for example, Abiodun’s mischievous interpretation of Hajia Aisha Buhari’s subtle innuendo about how the ‘lion of the tribe of Aso Rock’ would devour all the jackals and hyenas that have constituted themselves into clogs in the wheel of progress of the country, mischievously latching on the President’s protracted infirmity.

For Abiodun, it was time to situate the matter within the political dialectics obtainable in a big zoo called Nigeria (Ogbeche actually called it Zooeria). Kolapo’s words: “When the First Lady said the hyenas and jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom, I begin to wonder maybe Nigeria is actually a zoo kingdom like the rascally Nnamdi Kanu once said. Maybe it is not also coincidental that Nigeria has been governed, time and time again, by animal experts. OBJ is a poultry farmer, GEJ is a zoologist and PMB deals in cattle.

Maybe the late Fela Anikulapo (the Abami Eda) was right when he described us a “beast of no nation” and “animal in human skin!” Quite honestly, Fela hit the nail on the head many years back. It is just that most people never took him seriously. Those that believed in his music couldn’t raise their voices above the maddening cacophonous ranting on the streets. Yet, somehow, we are all victims of the monsters we unleash on ourselves in the name of governance. If, indeed, powerful cabals exist in the corridors of power as it is being speculated daily, then we need to interrogate how we – a docile, ever fawning populace – paved the way for this monstrous arm of the government to fester.

Unless we opt to play the ostrich, we do know exactly what Madam Buhari was talking about when she spoke of jackals and hyenas. Or don’t we? Are we going to deny the fact that some persons are presently abusing their privileges as close confidants of our ailing President to chain down the wheel of governance? Or do we ignore the fact that the mischief and deliberate act of sabotage on display by the legislature ever since Buhari jetted out for medical treatment in London form the integral part of a developing democracy under siege? Are we blind to the vicious circle of motion without movement in the corridors of power and the sacrilegious report that some dunderheads would rather seek approvals from some proxy claiming direct contact with London than obey the directives issued by the Acting President? For sure, Nigerians did not start getting choked with the wrong end of the stick under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The tradition has an unforgettable history under the endless reign of military jackboots while the so-called democrats borrowed a leaf or two from the aberration. It is for that reason that, oftentimes, the Constitution is always the first casualty in the power equation.

If the Constitution is given its prime place in representative democracy, I doubt if we would today be talking about some nebulous jackals, hyenas and all sorts of weaker animals trying to wrest the kingdom from the Lion King who happens to be Buhari in this instance. But because ours is a country run like an unstructured zoo (yes, most zoos do have structures), we have become yet another butt of jokes. You know it just occurred to me now that Buhari, or whoever was responsible for drafting his handover letter intimating the National Assembly of his desire to travel abroad while Osinbajo continues as “coordinator of government activities”, was up to some grievous mischief that is deleterious to engendering an atmosphere of law and order in The Presidency. I was one of the persons who didn’t take the joke that seriously until events started unfolding. Like Olaleye pointed out in one of his interventions on the matter, Buhari’s Freudian slip (if I may call it that) emboldened the hawks in the corridors of power to unleash their fangs.

Though Osinbajo has been painstaking in making the best out of a very bad situation, the gaps are too visible for one to conclude that he does not, in anyway, exercise absolute power in tandem with the position he presently occupies. So who are these cabals frustrating the works of the Acting President? They are the jackals and hyenas that dine and wine with their new boss but hold nocturnal meetings elsewhere, to circumvent his moves. Under the late Yar’Adua, we were living witnesses to how a previous band of hyenas and jackals made life hellish for the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan whose misery was compounded by the fact that no letter was transmitted to the National Assembly before Yar’Adua was airlifted to Saudi Arabia for treatment. As the cabal spun one wicked tale after the other to perpetuate their evil agenda, a toothless Jonathan was eventually saved by the National Assembly which came up with a ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ that effectively gave him some authority until Yar’Adua’s eventual death.

If you really want to know how powerful the so-called cabal was, you may wish to read Olusegun Adeniyi’s book, ‘Power, Politics and Death’, where he dedicated some pages to the days of the cabal and how he watched scenes unfold from his privileged front row seat. It was obvious that this set of animals in human skin pushed Jonathan to his wit’s end with their stranglehold on power in the name of a boss that didn’t have the pleasure or presence of mind to know what was going on around him. It was, therefore, not surprising that the first casualty of the Jonathan presidency had to be members of the cabal. Yes, in cycles of similar events, history repeats itself. But you are wrong if you thought that lesson would have made Jonathan stronger by the time he mounted the saddle. Instead, Jonathan came in with a stunning revelation that as President, he was not the lion Nigerians wanted him to be. He said he was not also a Goliath or Commander in Chief. He would rather cuddle the attributes of a dove in power while others acted as the lions and lionesses under his reign. At least, we all know how that infamous romance ended.

Now that the present lion on the seat has been weakened by an ailment that is yet to be made public, we are back to the days of the long knives by these thieves in the night. Mrs. Buhari has aptly captured their wily shenanigan, hoping that her husband would be firm enough to tame them on his return. But then, wishes are not horses. For all we know, that might not be on Buhari’s plate for now.

The fact that Osinbajo had to make a few hours cameo appearance in London earlier this week at the instance of his boss was indicative of the fact that Buhari wouldn’t be coming home soon. He is on his third month, battling with an ailment that has seriously affected the lion’s capacity to roar. What a pity. Osinbajo’s words of reassurance that the President was high in spirit and recuperating fast, count for little. Haven’t we passed through this lane before? With that better-forgotten experience, we have become conversant with some tricks about political chicanery. This latest farce is evidently not far from it. First, Madam Buhari flew a kite of hope.

And, in less than 48 hours, came the palpable imagery of hopelessness by the Acting President. Our lion’s expected return from is tied to no fixed date and time. The anguish continues as the cabal grins with relish. And so, we are back to the whole charade in Zooeria where the jackals of power seem to be having the upper hand in this hazy political chess game. Some have said the visit to London should serve as a morale booster for Osinbajo to start acting like a lion if he doesn’t want to be consumed by the characters around him. Well, that is just within the precinct of conjecture as nothing has happened to warrant a belief that things would be different. Talking about leadership and animals, we don’t really know if Osinbajo has special interest in any. No doubt, he has comported himself with respectable poise and carriage, diplomatically avoiding the visible potholes put on his way by the jackals within and without. Would he hold for a bit longer or would be give in to the wiles of these despicable agents of doom as Buhari recuperates? Answer to that question hangs in the air as the pushing and shoving unfold in this animal kingdom where the weaker animals appear doomed to groan in the absence of the lion king!

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