By Tunde Odesola
Humility rarely resides in little bodies. As youngsters, short-man-devil was the jocular name we had for guys with brief physiques. We also had a name for the bumbling tall fellas, who threw their heights about as though tallness counted for wisdom. We called them Dagini Dooro, which is neither a baptismal name nor a name given at sunnah. Dagini Dooro defines a good-for-nothing beanpole. It’s akin to the utter uselessness of the long rope tied to a bucket that goes into a well – in search of water – but comes out empty.
Opposites attract. They complement. And feed idiosyncrasies. Life is a pot embowelling positives and negatives. Born in Daudawa community of Katsina State on February 16, 1960, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, is an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. El-Rufai, a little man, is supercharged. Buhari, a tall man, is languid. A loyal party man that adapts to any weather, el-Rufai is always quick to defend Buhari like he once fiercely defended President Olusegun Obasanjo when Obasanjo appointed him as minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Just last February, el-Rufai’s great love for Buhari made him threaten foreign observers with death in body bags during the countdown to the 2019 presidential election that returned Buhari. While many see him as an arrogant, mouthy, sycophantic, and loose cannon, I see him as intelligent, bold, calculative and devil-may-care leader. I love el-Rufai.
Physical opposites attract. Buhari picked Professor Yemi Osinbajo as deputy. The sinister General, Ibrahim Babangida, and the gigantically short General, Sani Abacha, had tall deputies in Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Lieutenant General Oladipo Diya and Vice-Admiral Mike Akhigbe. But Ian Fleming, the British author, actor, journalist and naval intelligence officer, who achieved fame playing the role of James Bond, made this cold statement about short men: “Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All the lives they would strive to be big – bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world.” I disagree; el-Rufai didn’t cause the trouble of Kogi, Yeye did. El-Rufai only knelt down to praise it. Yeye Below! Yeye can’t be above because the masses’ handwriting on the wall is anger. Yeye is a synonym for trivia. Yeye is the bull in Kogi’s china shop.
I’ll defend el-Rufai but I won’t stick my neck out for him. I love my neck and the way my big head sits squarely on it. El-Rufai’s party, the All Progressives Congress, and its senators have suddenly turned to headhunters obsessed with hoisting the skulls of Nigerians on poles over misspeak codenamed hate speech. The same party that wants people hanged for hate speech condones corruption without retribution. Since 1999 till date, the same senate had been the shrine where the fatlings of the land are sacrificed to feed, clothe and worship insatiable gods. What but cutthroat gods would cuddle corruption and spit thunder at a slip of tongue, miscue of the fingers on the keypad or even deliberate libel? Even the Omniscient God doesn’t want the death of sinners. But death, blood and sorrow are hate-speech rewards that the APC senators want Nigerians to harvest. Death for hate speech, crown for corruption.
Kill! Death! Blood! The APC gods are angry! They’re angry at the Internet-given freedom that enables mortal Nigerians to ask questions. These gods are not crazy, they’re only mean. They want to guffaw and clink glasses of blood-red wines as journalists’ heads tumble down the guillotine. Past Senate presidents sacked for alleged corruption still have their heads sitting on their necks. There’s no mercy in the gas chamber. The only mercy in the red chamber is for distinguished members.
I don’t know the position of el-Rufai on hate speech but I know he’s not blood-thirsty. I know he only wants the best for his party and the current champion at Aso Rock. That was why he sprinted the 304-kilometre distance from Kaduna to Kogi and jumped on the campaign podium and proclaimed youthfulness as an excuse for non-performance. A beggarly el-Rufai wailed, “Many people say Yahaya Bello is young (is he old?), that he has fought many battles (hasn’t he?). For everyone that the governor has offended, I’m asking you to forgive him. He’s young, he’s supposed to make mistakes…On his behalf, I’m kneeling down to beg all of you to forgive Yahaya Bello if he has offended you…”
Though I fear for my head from the head-hunting sword of the APC hate speech bill, I’ll still comment on el-Rufai’s falling down flat like the Wall of Jericho before Kogi voters. The humble Kaduna governor sounded desperate when he squealed, “He (Bello) cares about the people of Kogi State. He cares about this state. He has brought progress to this state; he has brought young people and women into government.” Mallam el-Rufai, where’s the long CHANGE manifesto of the APC promising good roads, schools, electricity, water supply, hospitals, housing, security, social welfare etc? So, Bello failed in the provision of infrastructure but succeeded in employing young party men and women, and you call that an achievement? May I recall, Your Excellency, that you once said, “Obasanjo is entitled to his opinion, but I don’t believe people change much after the age of 18.” This was when you were asked to comment on Obasanjo’s assertion that Atiku had repented from his old ways and should replace Buhari in the last presidential election. Maigida el-Rufai, if people don’t change much after 18, why were you begging Kogi voters to elect the 44-year-old Bello, whom you admitted is prone to mistakes?
I recall that you once boasted that you were not afraid of death. But, Sir, Nigerian masses are afraid and tired of dying like rats on terrible highways. They are tired of taking sick relatives to hospitals and bringing them back home dead. Nigerians are sick and tired of living in the dark like cockroaches. Though they hailed you when you went down on your kneels in Kogi, pardon their shortsightedness; it’s the result of hunger induced by poverty. They cannot see the rice your party said is brimming in invisible paddies. All they see is fear, insecurity and death. Nigerians too want to celebrate their birthdays abroad like the head of the Buhari clan, Mamman Daura, did on his 80th birthday with his children and grandchildren surrounding his table. Nigerians want to send their children to overseas schools like Buhari did. They also want to buy toy bicycles for their children, not those multimillion naira power bikes that grace the garage of Yusuf, our President’s son. You know, they can’t afford to fly their children to London for treatment should they fall yakata like Yusuf and suffer head injury. Your Excellency, the children of the poor also deserve to live in decent accommodation like the daughters of Daura and squabble over suya with family members.
Sir, I wish you could share with me your thoughts on the shame fight between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo and the National Chairman of your party, Adams Oshiomhole; the continued detention of Omoyele Sowore despite a court order that set him free, and police shooting at those agitating for his release. I want to know, Sir, if you’re proud of the killings and violence that characterised the Kogi and Bayelsa elections? I want to know how you felt watching the video of the burning the Social Democratic Party’s secretariat in Lokoja, and the cry of its governorship candidate, Natasha Akpoti.
From the foregoing, I guess you’re disappointed with the performance of your party like a majority of Nigerians are. But don’t you think President Buhari should kneel and beg Nigerians like you did? I think so.
But Babai won’t apologise even if Nigeria burns down.
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