By Suyi Ayodele
I have had to ponder over three events that happened in the last one week, analysed and paid attention to the issues surrounding them. I have equally tried to situate the antecedents and the body languages of the dramatis personae of the circus shows. In the end, I arrived at only one conclusion; Ifabonmi. Ifabonmi, as a name in my native Ekiti axis of Yoruba, is arcane and as Delhic as the Greek oracle at Delphi. If translated to modern Yoruba Language, it means Ifaotanmi. The closest English Language translation is: “The Oracle does not deceive me”. Ifabonmi is itself a shortened version of the full name; which is a multi-syllabic compound sentence.
The full name is: Ifanbonmieminabonrami (Ifa-bon-mi-emi-na-bon’ra-mi) – the oracle does not deceive me and I do not deceive myself too. Local as the name sounds, its philosophical concept has a universal appeal. One needs to understand the etymology of the name to be able to appreciate its universality and its didactic import. That is one of the beauties of African names; they connote and denote deep meanings. Ifabonmi is equally esoterically philosophical in Ifa divination. This is the explanation behind the derivational name.
When a client goes to consult Ifa, the practice is that he whispers his mystery to the divination objects. The Ifa priest or the diviner casts the divination objects and studies the particular Odu (Corpus) that surfaces. In most cases, when the Odu reveals a tough topic which the priest knows the client is unlikely to accept, he (diviner) chants the cognomen of Ifa and ends by saying: “Ifa bon mi, emi na bon ‘ra mi” (the oracle does not deceive me neither do I deceive myself ). The client is asked to repeat the statement after the priest. This is exactly what we have in today’s Pentecostalism.
Once the pastor says “my head rejects evil”, the congregation repeats the statement after the pastor. Thereafter, the Ifa priest goes ahead to tell the bitter truth about the object of consultation the very way Ifa reveals it. If the client follows the prescribed instructions by the oracle, he comes back to rejoice and praise the diviner, who in turn will praise the oracle. If on the other hand, the client decides to tell himself the opposite of the truth, he will later on reap the rewards of self-deceit. The message here is that at all times, the oracle tells humans the truth. We are the ones who tell ourselves the only “truth” we want to hear and believe.
Yeah, the oracle does not lie, the narrators, and or actors, are the ones lying to themselves. Unfortunately, after believing their own lies and painting them as truths, the actors proceed to sedate the public’s sense of reasoning in an attempt to make the generality of the people to believe the lies they (actors) tell themselves. However, when subjected to thorough scrutiny, the philosophical import of Ifabonmi plays out.
Last week, Ndi Anambra elected for themselves a governor in the person of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. In the tension-soaked election, Soludo and his party beat the other parties in the election like they did not exist. APGA won 19 of the 21 LGAs that make up Anambra State. The first runner-up, the PDP won only one LGA, while the YPP won the other LGA. The “beautiful bride”, which thought it was dancing very well at the arena as the electioneering campaigns lasted, the APC, came third without winning a single LGA. The result was no doubt, devastating for the ruling party, and proved all political permutations wrong.
The candidate of the APC, Andy Uba, while rejecting the results, hinged his claim of an “unfair contest” on the number of votes he garnered while he contested the APC primary as an aspirant. Speaking through the spokesman for his campaign organisation, Jerry Ugokwe, Uba said the election was “a charade”, because “It is inconceivable that our candidate, who polled over 200,000 votes in the APC primary election would be allocated slightly above 43,000 votes by INEC”. Painful! Uba, had allegedly won the APC primary by “scoring” 230, 201 out of 348, 490 votes cast. But during the general election itself, he managed to score 43,285 votes.
In essence, 186, 916 APC members who voted to elect Uba as their candidate either failed to show up or decided to vote for another party during the election proper. Again Uba’s publicist also wondered why “APGA that lost almost 80 per cent of its stalwarts through defection to the APC before the election came out ‘victorious’”. He listed the “stalwarts” to include “a sitting APGA Deputy Governor, seven members of the House of Representatives, 10 members of the Anambra State House of Assembly, a member of APGA’s Board of Trustees, many serving SAs, SSAs, in addition to a serving PDP Senator”, who “all defected to the APC very timely before the election”.
Tempting as it may be to believe Ugokwe’s lamentation about his principal’s failure at the polls, we also need to ask, “what did the Anambra political oracle tell Uba and his APC before the election?” If Uba is claiming to have scored 230, 201 at the APC primary, we need to ask him what happened to the aggrieved members of his party, who never believed he won the primary, or that there was even any primary at all. We may also want to ask him the size of the Golden Tulip Hotel venue of the APC primary, such that it could accommodate 348, 490 APC members at a go.
And what is “stalwart” about a “sitting deputy governor”, who decamped to the APC some three weeks to the election but lost his ward at the general election? Are Uba and APC saying that they were not aware that the November 6 Anambra Governorship election was an endorsement and loyalty to the eternal leadership of the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, and not about a Soludo, or a Willie Obiano? When the oracle has spoken without lying, why is Uba now blaming INEC, because he, Uba, and the APC, decided to lie to themselves about the numerical strength of APC in Anambra State?
The second event that occupied my mind throughout the weekend is the “hit-and-run” analogy of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, in the matter of Tordue Salem, the Vanguard’s reporter attached to the National Assembly. Tordue, we all recall here, disappeared on October 13, 2021. He was said to have been dropped off by a colleague, at a filling station, adjacent to the Police Force Headquarters. That was the last that was heard of him until last week Friday, November 12, when the Force PRO, Frank Mba, announced that the corpse of the journalist had been found. Mba, a Commissioner of Police, while telling a bewildered nation about the discovery of Tordue’s corpse, also showcased a 29-year-old, Itoro Clement, who is believed to be a commercial driver, as the one who killed the journalist, in a case of “hit and run”.
The story is not just adding up for me. As a matter of fact, the story is “hitting” my sensibility and “running” like the so-called Itoro of a driver! For crying out loud, Tordue was not dropped off in the bush. The filling station, where he got off his friend’s car, is said to be “adjacent” the Police Force Headquarters”. Where did the “hit-and run” accident happen? How long does it take, in a city like Abuja, for a pedestrian to be hit by a driver, who immediately takes off, before help comes the way of the victim? How come it took the nation a complete one month to discover the corpse of a “disappeared” journalist to be the same as that of the victim of a “hit and run”?
While accepting a Brought in Dead, BID, for morgue preservation, is CP Mba saying Wuse General Hospital did not do identikit verification?
What about the “three identity cards comprising that of the National Assembly, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Vanguard Newspaper, as well as two ATM cards found on the remains”? What the NPF spokesman is telling us is that the management of Wuse General Hospital deposited Tordue’s corpse in the mortuary with his work ID card, his National Assembly ID card, his NUJ ID card and his two bank accounts ATM cards, all intact in his pocket; that nobody in that urban hospital, had the intelligence to check the cards and the whole nation waited in agony for a whole month?! Is this what a Commissioner of Police has to offer by way of explaining the outcome of a thorough investigation of this unfortunate death? Does CP Mba realise that we are talking about a corpse deposited at a Wuse General Hospital, FCT, Abuja, and not one nondescript dispensary at Iyanfoworogi village? Again, Ifabonmi!
As if that was not enough, that same last week, the police again paraded 14 personalities as being responsible for the penultimate week’s invasion of the home of Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court. Parading the persons, Mba again told us that the suspects conspired to raid Justice Odili’s residence following information that Her Lordship “was keeping a large sum of money in foreign currencies”. If you were expecting the police officer to tell you that upon the alarm raised by the Supreme Court Justice, the police moved in, and had all the invaders arrested, then you are a distant cousin of Samuel Beckett and an adept believer in the trends of “Waiting for Godot”. The story the Nigerian state would want us to believe here, through the police, is that while the siege on Justice Odili’s home lasted, the jurist never thought of calling the police or anyone in the corridors of power. She was too frightened to call her fellow jurists, even her husband, who happens to be a former governor! There was no Intelligence Response Squad to swoop on the suspect and arrest them on the spot. The nation had to wait for days before the suspects were picked up one after the other “in the course of investigation”. Thankfully, Nigerians know the antecedents of this government in relation to the nation’s judiciary. As much as the oracle does not deceive, we also have a duty not to deceive ourselves. Ifabonmi