Afenifere and the kiss of death

For the umpteenth time, Ripples is constrained to cite the tortoise in the Yoruba tale. Asked when he would return from his trip, while bidding his folks farewell, he promised to return, only when he was disgraced!

Indeed, ace playwright, the late Ola Rotimi, was so fascinated by this tortoise quip that he used it to anchor the tragedy of Kurunmi, the ill-fated Aare Ona Kakanfo and Ijaye warlord, in his tragic play, Kurunmi.

Kurunmi, generalissimo of the Oyo imperial army, bated himself to self-ruin by his classic confrontation with Ibadan, the Oyo imperial garrison, under the command of Basorun Ogunmola, in those 19th century years of blood, gore and plunder, in the pre-colonial Yoruba country.

Good old hubris, couched in Yoruba native-speak, assailed the tortoise. That explains his irrational answer. The same hubris goaded Kurunmi’s tragic unhorsing; just as it is behind the unfolding but spectacular unravelling of the Afenifere gerontocracy, in contemporary Yoruba political country.

Pa Olu Falae’s popular censure, following the old man’s N100 million “obtainment” from Dasukigate, would appear a gripping sub-plot of that high drama.

Indeed, Chief Falae’s unfolding odyssey would appear the stuff of which Grecian tragedies are made.

Like Kehinde (last to come) in the Yoruba concept of twins, that nevertheless claims seniority over Taye (precursor), Chief Falae zoomed past about everyone to eminence. His Taye (to revisit that Yoruba twin metaphor), included battle-hardened veterans of the Awolowo political combat of the 1st Republic, that claim a near-divine right to the Awo political franchise.

Though a latter-day Afenifere joiner, his delicate positioning between Awoist high orthodoxy that balks at injustice from any quarters, and the Babangida-era new breed progressives that accused Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and co of perfidy, at throwing MKO Abiola’s June 12, 1993 presidential mandate, splendidly paved Falae’s way.

The Awoist old guard was uneasy with MKO, given Abiola’s past brush with Awo. Yet, they couldn’t, by their ideological DNA, be indifferent to the annulment. That a Yoruba man was victim was grand bonus.

On the other hand, though MKO was not ungrateful for Afenifere’s rally, he appeared more at ease with the younger elements, not the old fundamentalists. Falae, again appeared the merry median between the two.

At things would pan out, Chief Falae had the historical distinction of announcing the birth of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the final vehicle to battle Gen. Sani Abacha to the virtual death. He also — need we recall? — beat the great Chief Bola Ige to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) presidential ticket in 1999.

How Falae blazed the historic NADECO trail is rendered in Clapping With One Hand by a participant-observer, Olawale Oshun, in the first of his trilogy on the June 12 saga. The other two books are The Open Grave and The Kiss of Death.

But as Falae bolted to the top before everyone, he appears fated, by Dasukigate, to career down the abyss, also before anyone!

There is a story making the rounds — that Falae was booed in church, while telling his own side of Dasukigate. At best, the story might be true. At worst, it is only apocryphal.

But true or false, its believability only underscores the Yoruba obduracy against fallen heroes, particularly when accused of venality and abject lack of character. The Akure high chief now treads that perilous path.

But even as Falae’s odyssey unfolds (at least in the angry Yoruba streets), he may yet remain a hero to the Afenifere gerontocracy. What if the N100 million Chief Falae collected was less for the Social Democratic Party (SDP), of which he is national chairman, but more for Afenifere, in which he is regional champion?

This puzzle is not illegitimate because of the dissonance coming from within SDP. A national source claimed the chief rendered only N5 million; and even then, did not disclose the source of the “donation”. The Ogun SDP was even shriller in disowning Falae, claiming the state branch of the party never got a dime.

So, where did the money go? Or is Papa stoically not ratting on others?

The angst in the South West is as much shock at the Dasukigate chink in Falae’s hitherto formidable integrity armour, as it is linking Afenifere (Afenifere of Awo, the immaculate avatar), to free-wheeling sleaze in contemporary Nigeria.

Indeed, Afenifere of late had developed the disturbing conceit of the tortoise that courted nothing but disgrace. The body’s 2015 pre-election and electioneering manoeuvres were disgraceful — and wilfully self-destructive.

Awo never swam against the wish of his supporters. Indeed, his political canonisation stemmed from Awo, the ultimate policy wonk; as much as from Awo, the symbiotic politician: he led, but was also led, by his people.

But in their self-imposed season of anomie, Afenifere committed the ultimate ideological apostasy, by their own Awoist doctrine: pushed the wrong cause, backed the wrong horse, kept the wrong company, and coalesced behind the wrong person, as arrowhead to Aso Rock, in Ondo Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, ruthless political hustler and survivalist, who just defected to the wide-and-merry Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from the supposedly straight-and-narrow Labour Party (LP).

But whoever traded with Mimiko and made a profit: the late Adebayo Adefarati, the late Olusegun Agagu, Ali Olanusi or even Bola Tinubu?

Ah, Asiwaju Tinubu! That must be the original trigger: for if Tinubu moved right, the Afenifere grandees must move left, if he moved up, Afenifere must move down, even if it were the most asinine thing to do!

But why would a conclave of wise elders and seasoned political generalissimos bait themselves into sure misfortune, just because of the fortune of one man?

Spite. Concentrated spite often brews concentrated flaws, which could well deliver concentrated catastrophe!

That applies to Chief Falae, as it applies to the Afenifere conclave.

Incidentally, the full title of the last, of Hon. Oshun’s trilogy on June 12 is: The Kiss of Death: Afenifere and the Infidels. Some grim prophecy there, it would appear!

So, have the old fundamentalists of Awoism turned infidels to their own cause, and therefore earned the kiss of ideological death?

Just a thought.


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