The custom in most African societies forbids whistling at night. Man is presumed to exercise dominion only over day. The ungodly hours are, in turn, conceded to dark creatures and fearsome principalities. So, it is thought that any unnatural sound may arouse the wrath of the gods of the night, thereby rupturing the harmony and balance of the social space.
In folklore, deviants of this ancestral norm are characterized as a curse on the community.
But to be sure, these are not to be mistaken for the loftier characters in Salman Rushdie’s magic-realist novel, Midnight Children. The magical exploits of Rushdie’s own fictive Saleem bear striking semblance with postcolonial India in turmoil. Though losing his power of telepathy after a medical procedure, Saleem instead gains a powerful sense of smell.
However, unlike the sometimes transformative magic of Rushdie’s incarnation, the midnight children in the referenced African fable revel in mischief, malice and pettiness.
In contemporary Nigeria, no one presents a more compelling parallel than All Progressive Congress. On the eve of its supposed hour of glory, the ruling party is in the news across the federation for the wrong reasons — troubles stirred by its own mutation of the metaphorical midnight children, increasingly constituting a nightmare to the nation at large.
So, even as resolute mother APC seeks to forge ahead in the communal market, her preoccupation now partly seems how to rein the wayward hands of the child on her back into the girdle, lest they scatter the merchandise on display sideways.
Nowhere is this anxiety better dramatized than Ogun where people have been forced to watch the comic folly of the Governor Ibikunle Amosun seeking to hide behind a finger. Though still wearing APC colours, it is open secret that the departing Ogun governor is funding the cases of all APM candidates at the election tribunal against APC members — from those elected into the state assembly to the governor-elect.
Still, bitterness over the defeat of his anointed (Adekunle Akinlade) by Dapo Abiodun in the last governorship polls has turned Amosun to a squirrel digging holes all over Abeokuta, curiously on the eve of his exit. And whenever he bites his own finger to ventilate that seething rage, his anger is probably compounded realizing that what hits him back instead is physical pain and that no blood drips from the swollen bite-mark.
When Abiodun’s people protested the festering plague of holes in Abeokuta, Amosun told another cheap lie to defend the first one. The man with the distinctive machete cap or “Fila-defia” (a jocular allusion to America’s Philadelphia city of highrises, “fila” being Yoruba word for hat) said he was only sprucing the state capital up ahead of the visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to commission his legacy projects, as well as prepare the grounds for the subsequent inauguration of the governor-in-waiting on May 29.
If that was the sincere intention, you would expect that drab walls be painted anew and gaping potholes filled instead. But in Amosun’s warped logic, you dig holes to make a city more alluring.
Worse, while the governor’s towncriers were busy parroting that spin last weekend in response to public outcry, they did not seem to realize that what was left unsaid showcased them in squalid lights. One, transition of this nature is supposed to be a colloboration between officials of the outgoing administration and nominees of the incoming. Instead, magisterial Amosun was said to have made public buildings and vehicles inaccessible to the committee raised by Abiodun to midwife his inauguration. Besides, not a single kobo was said to have been made available by the Amosun administration for Abiodun’s team to work with.
So desperate have matters become that Abiodun’s people have had to make contigency arrangements on some necessities. For instance, this writer reliably gathered that his team had to travel to Osun State to borrow an open-back jeep for the customary parade at the inauguration. Since Amosun has continued to hold tight to Ogun’s, insisting on deploying same for an elaborate “pull-out” ceremony he was arranging for himself on May 28.
Apart from digging craters, Amosun’s mischievous caterpillars were also reportedly deployed to either crack the soil in some communities or cannibalize the royal institutions across Ogun. In a desperate craving for public applause, the governor was also sighted performing “flag-off” rites for road projects amid dancing and praise-singing by paid drummers in a mindlessly elaborate exercise in public deceit barely a week to his departure! Of course, everyone knows that even the drivers of the emergency earthmovers would soon leave with Amosun.
While such ground-breaking event may soon be forgotten, not so with the royal gerrymandering Amosun has inflicted. No fewer than 73 chiefs who had lent themselves to Amosun as political hirelings were unilaterally upgraded to Oba status without due consultation in what is widely seen as a vicious slap on the Alake of Egbaland and the Awujale of Ijebuland. So, it is obvious that the incoming Abiodun administration will be inheriting a royal crisis.
In Zamfara, it is a case of shortlived revelry. Fumbling Governor Abdulaziz Yari would be made to realize rather too late the limit of the power of American dollars. Under him, the ruling party has made history as the one who supposedly won landslide victory at the polls but denied the trophy eventually.
The story we heard initially was that the state chapter of the ruling party failed to meet INEC’s deadline for primaries. When told this bitter truth, the deluded emperor in turn threatened to literally plunge everyone standing in his way to foisting all his stooges on Zamfara into the grave, not excluding himself.
First resorting to the sorcery of a cartel of shifty judges, Yari pushed himself over the first hurdle by securing assorted “black-market” court orders. Then, he fell for the sweet tongues of some Ponzi conmen lurking around Abuja. The whiff of American dollars in uncountable sacks apparently proved too irresistible at the party headquarters. In fact, the fixers with itchy fingers and wearing necklace made of glutton teeth hardly thought twice before surrendering the entire booklet of party tickets to the dollars Sheik from Gusau.
But just when Yari probably began to visualize Zamfara in his grotesque image beyond the midnight of May 28 (when his second tenure would end), came the rude shocker from Supreme Court last weekend pronouncing a regicide of sorts against all those elected on APC platform in the last general elections. In what could only have been inspired by a sense of sardonic humour, the court further slapped him with a fine of N10m (American dollars?).
With that, Yari’s earlier bluster to dispense political euthanasia freely would now seem to have partly turned a self-fulfillig prophesy.
Yari’s career bofoonery is perhaps only matched by Rochas Okorocha’s epic fawning in Imo State. For a man who rode to power eight years ago chanting “Rescue Mission”, how ironic that he himself is ending at the terminus politically wounded, his political empire in utter disarray, after a failed experiment at monarchism (“iberiberism”?).
While a sulking Okorocha would today lament a high conspiracy against him, what he would not admit is that he was actually outbidded in the sleazy bazaar camouflaged as party primaries last October, from where the rain truly began to beat him. As the popular account goes, someone supplied four times the amount of American dollars Okorocha allegedly offered to have his son-in-law made APC candidate in the governorship polls.
Now, aside the eternal shame of not having his son-in-law succeed him as governor after all the public boast, Okorocha faces additional trauma of a hostile take-over of the Douglas House with EFCC Rottweilers already barking ferociously at the gates.
In Oyo, we are listening to the bitter ending of the “Koseleri” panegyrics. When Abiola Ajimobi took over in 2011, workers jubilated. But he is leaving office amid labour strike. Being the first to win a second term democratically after a long succession of governors apparently got him so intoxicated as to arrogantly proclaim himself “the constituted authority” when some poor students heckled him for a more humane administration of their institution. Those still in doubt were taken into the literary appreciation of the term, “Koseleri” (it has never happened before).
But beaten silly in the subsequent polls and apparently afraid history might not remember him afterall, Ajimobi has embarked on perhaps the most bizarre pursuit of self-validation — a cynical attempt at self-immortalization. By not seeing any shame in rushing to name a major street after himself in Ibandan few days to his exit, Ajimobi has only ended up portraying himself as another incurably insecure megalomaniac seeking to preempt the verdict of the posterity.
In Lagos, sadly, Akinwunmi Ambode appears too traumatized, too disoriented by the loss of second term ticket last October to sustain his earlier presence of mind and finish strong. Nothing perhaps tells the tale of his diminished shadow better than the staccato of discordant tunes around his last days.
The magnificence of the new Oshodi bus interchange is, for instance, tainted by the side-talk that what President Buhari commissioned in April was a half-completed job. The allure of a section of the International Airport Road reconstructed is, in turn, smeared by the deepening squalor of the equally important Lagos-Badagry expressway. So much that last week, thousands of protesting residents of the axis poured onto the now famished road completely forsaken in the past four years.
Again, the transformation of Epe to a scenic wonder is contrasted by the continuing degradation of Apapa today. Added to that is a rather disturbing and yet undischarged allegation of squandering a staggering N49b of taxpayers’ money on the eve of Ambode’s exit from power.
Everything considered, it will, therefore, not be incorrect to say that these midnight children of APC are exiting the stage not in a blaze of glory, but with the whimper of a broken whistle.
– Odion is a fellow, Nigerian Guild of Editors