AFENIFERE: The trait of an owl

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Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Acting Leader, Afenifere.

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By FEMI ABBAS

 

“Historically and responsibly, Nigeria’s Southwest Muslims, have paid their dues in terms of tolerance, patience and endurance. But elasticity has its limit. No group of sheer opportunists should ever ignorantly think anymore that the deceptive gimmicks of the past will be allowed these days to ride roughshod over the Muslims of the Southwest. Enough is enough.”

 

Monologue

Today’s article is not new. It was first published in this column, in 2014, albeit under a different title. The name Afenifere is a mere nomenclature adopted by an Ijebu Christo-Mafia with a permanent hidden agenda.
For those who are quite familiar with it, the mere mention of that name (Afenifere) is a signal indicating an impending opposition to whatever will not be of direct benefit to the Christo-Mafia that adopted it. And, looking at the antecedent of that Mafia, since its inception almost 70 years ago, one can hardly pinpoint any positive achievement attributable to it beyond benefit to its own circle.

For instance, as an addendum to its clandestine initiation of a hidden agenda codenamed National Confab in 2014, this Mafia rolled out its obsolete drums and invited some like- minds, among the Yoruba people of the Southwest, to dance to its un-chorus-able sour song of the past. It will be recalled that two-thirds of the selected participants in that Confab were Christians despite the demographic majority of Muslims in Nigeria. And, all efforts to convince the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to correct that anomaly, for the purpose of equity, fell into deaf ears. Yet, the loudest noise about the adoption of the outcome of that Confab as Nigeria’s constitution has invariably come from the enclave of the Mafia that initiated it.

In Retrospect

When this article was first published, in that same year (2014), with the title “Afenifere: Generals without Troops”, its viral effect immediately reverberated across the length and breadth of the world, through the internet, and attracted reactions from various conceivable angles.
Thus, it was not surprising, when, recently, some ardent readers of ‘The Message’ column demanded its re-publication as a reminder of the reality of the contemporary time as against the futility of the years past, which Afenifere still treats as a glorious euphoria of its hidden agenda. And, as an open-minded columnist, I had no choice other than to concur to such a demand since readers, like customers in a consumer market, are Kings and Queens in their own rights. Please, read an excerpt from the first publication of this article as presented below:

Yoruba Adage

A Yoruba adage which informs that “all sorts of knives do surface on a day of an elephant’s death” may be axiomatic after all. Politics in Nigeria today is like that proverbial elephant. It throws up all hidden agendas and exposes all clandestine motives by certain selfish characters in the society, who still see the world of today with the eyes of yesteryears. In other words, the satanic cloak under which some obscure, chameleonic politicians masquerade, deceptively, in a bid to benefit from Nigeria’s new political paradigm called ‘stomach infrastructure’ seems to have become an implacable calamity seeking to devour the fragile vestiges of peace in the land.

Parable of the Owl

The bird called owl was, at a time, like a janitor among other birds. With its incessant noise, the owl was known and recognized for alerting other birds of the time to sleep in the evening and the time to wake up in the morning. Yet, despite this laudable service, the owl could not interact freely with those other birds because of its intolerable antics amounting to a hidden agenda.

Like the crafty owl, among birds, the Mafia called Afenifere cannot freely interact with credible, well-meaning Yoruba men and women of substance on real issues of relevance today. And, that has a political implication that may not be able to get streamlined in a foreseeable future.

As of today, the tap root that feeds the Afenifere tree, stem and foliage, is in Ijebu while its rubber stamps including its ‘Yes Sir’ scribe, are scattered in some peripheral parts of Yoruba land. All of them, men and women, including the so-called Board of Trustees, are Christians, not by error but by design. They do not even see the glaring oddity in portraying such a Mafia as the representative of the Yoruba people of the Southwest as well as that tribe’s mouthpiece where Muslims are evidently in the majority. That deceptive agenda, which blurs the vision of Afenifere towards the implications of its antics can be best described as laughable.

The Nature of the Owl

For people who know the owl very well with its queer operation in the forest, the antics of Afenifere’s political demagogues cannot be strange. Here is a Mafia of nonagenarians and octogenarians who have spent their time and the time of their children as well as that of their grand children and are still seeking to spend the time of their great grand children for their own parochial benefits alone. At this time when vision, rather than improvidence, is the order of the day, this Mafia is still dwelling ambitiously in deleterious political activities geared towards the search for self relevance even where and when relevance for the primitive wish of its members has become anachronistic.

But what else can be said of a Mafia that once claimed to be progressive because of the media prominence it arrogated to itself but has now retrogressively turned round to become ultra-conservative in the belief that conservatism is the real bastion of stomach infrastructure for people in the twilight of their lives whose only realistic expectation should normally be nothing but death. This is not wishing them death but isn’t engagement in agenda for ‘stomach infrastructure’ at this stage a euphemism for advanced corruption? Yet, this is the same Mafia that anchors the chorus of corruption allegation against others.

Religious Politics

In 2019, when a Presidential. election was approaching, this same Mafia openly told a particular Presidential candidate that Yoruba people had decided to give him their block voting. By whose mandate was such a declaration made? That unsolicited pronouncement in the name of Yoruba tribe was in anticipation of a richer stomach infrastructure for its obscure members alone and that has perennially been its permanent, aggrandized political hallmark consistently pursued to the detriment of the same tribe it fraudulently claims to be leading politically. It is necessary to ask here about what eventually happened to the results of the referred presidential election. Did Afenifere fulfil its promise? Except in a glaringly deceptive situation, can a feather claim the weight of a stone on the scale of reality?

Unlike in Nigeria’s dark days of the 1950s, isn’t it obvious, these days, that you cannot give what you do not possess? It is time for this Mafia to know that the days of abracadabra in local politics, in the name of a towering demagogue, are gone and gone forever.
If a Mafia of nonagenarian and octogenarian members like Afenifere can still be known for the same pranks of yore, even at the twilight of their lives, what legacy will they be leaving behind for their successors in the future of the region?

Fictitious Dream

Judged by the public utterances and conducts of its members, Afenifere has become a ridiculous paradox between yesterday’s fictitious dream and today’s disappointing nightmare. Had the members of that Mafia known how much they have become a gang of laughable stock in Nigeria today, they would have probably reclined into their obsolete shell and stopped behaving like the owl among birds.

But, unfortunately, this Mafia is yet to realize that the trend of literacy which once gave it undue advantage of occupying the upper echelon of relevance in the region’s political setting has since changed. At least the inability of most of its members to put their fingers on the keyboard of the computer has obviously confirmed that change assertively.

Yoruba Muslims in the 21st Century

To this so-called Afenifere, the usefulness of the Muslim multitudes in Nigeria’s Western region does not and should not transcend voting and clapping for the region’s ‘lotus eaters’ which Afenifere typifies. Despite the glaring difference between the Muslims of the 1950s who were treated like serves and those of the 21st century who are highly sophisticated in essence and substance, the Mafia still plays an ostrich by pretending not to take note of that conspicuous change, hence the ignorant wish to continue to maintain its obnoxious primordial status quo.

Warning

Let it be known to this self-elevated Mafia that the antics of the yore with which this so-called Afenifere once outsmarted and relegated Yoruba Muslims to the background have gone with the irritating particles of the past. And, any further attempt to want to continue such primitive antics to the detriment of Yoruba Muslims of today will be adequately resisted in letters and in law.

That the umbrella body of the South West Muslims called MUSWEN does not respond to the various unwarranted, frivolous utterances of Afenifere and its affiliates is only due to high level of discipline, civility and responsibility with which it is endowed in training of Islam.

Historically and responsibly, Nigeria’s Southwest Muslims, have paid their dues in terms of tolerance, patience and endurance. But elasticity has its limit.

No group of sheer opportunists should ever ignorantly think anymore that the deceptive gimmicks of the past will be allowed these days to ride roughshod over the Muslims of the Southwest. Enough is enough.

Gone are the days when wisdom was genuinely attributed to old age because old age, at that time, personified sagery with experience. Today, from the experience of technology and its effect on the modern society, the human wisdom of the bicycle age seems to have been rendered anachronistic by that of the internet age.

Thus, like the rise of a modern building from the debris of the old mud structures, the Yoruba Muslims of this generation have come of age and can no longer be swept into any political refuse bin with the rubbles of the past. Today, we do not need any borrowed mouth to speak for us on what our interest is or should be, and, nobody has a right to speak for us without our mandate. I hope Afenifere members are reading this article.

As it takes two to tango so it must take a give and take relationship to ventilate a peaceful atmosphere of togetherness in a multi-religious society. No group should deceptively assume any vainglorios superiority over others and expect peace to thrive.

To live side by side and cohabit in harmony, mutual respect must be in the front burner of our relationship.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. God bless Nigeria!


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