My Conversation With Chief Akin Oshuntoye (Part 2) -By J. Ezike

Filed under: National Issues |

Nigeria is without doubt a mad country. And the irony is that only mad men can help bring it to sanity. As a lover of Fela, I am easily seduced by people who exude same radical, progressive and unconventional values as the late musical maestro who had employed “Truth” as a weapon of evangelization. It is my duty as a writer to represent the voices of the people, to highlight their convictions regardless of the dissimilarities, misunderstandings, stereotypes and pontifications that may accompany their convictions.

Such a humble charismatic leader as Chief Akinbayo Oshuntoye with rich political background may well have seen it all or at least outlived the Nigerian experience. The beautiful fact is that in spite of the acidity that corrodes the union and the seemingly timeless dictatorships enthroned in Aso Rock which over the years have brought despondency to Babylon, Chief Oshuntoye stands out as one of the very few leaders with a clear sight on the way out of the labyrinth of Nigeria’s disarray.

J. Ezike

In a tradition that is likely all too familiar to Ndigbo, telling the “Truth” about Nigeria’s incoherent configuration may really not be the beautiful addiction of a typical Yoruba but it will certainly amount to “inductive generalization” to subtract the other half of the Yoruba population whose protestations for a “wholesale reconfiguration” have been loud but perhaps not loud enough to be registered or deemed convincing enough. Consequently, (they) as a tribe, as a nation, is haunted by the Igbo-criticism for bleaching “Truths” about the union of attrition. But I can say by the virtue of “Truth” that I have met a distinct Yoruba who like the gentle version of Fela Kuti, is not disinclined to sing his own song, to separate his voice from the noise and to contend with the State of Affairs, which he believes was started by the giant tribes of the South (Igbo and Yoruba).

The essence of this series is simply to rationalize the “logic of Nigeria” through the leadership instincts of Chief Oshuntoye and to put forth the “popular anger” borne out of the necessity to address the topical issues bordering the 1999 Abdulsalami Abubakar’s constitution that spurs the miseries of Nigerians.

I am not here to disgorge every valuable and exclusive information from my personal engagement with the great Yoruba son of the soil for that will be an abuse of privilege and will amount to mere historicity. It is also noteworthy to place on record that I have the “full blessings” of Chief Akin Oshuntoye to pen these words and lap them on the bosom of History. I am strongly aware as a freedom-conscious writer that it takes the audacity of courage to protest about Nigeria’s political arrangement, either by speech, by pen or by literature. And the willingness to sacrifice pleasure for the sake of the unborn generation remains the characteristic of the Selfless.

Indeed the cadre of Nigerian progressives I met in North America, on that fateful day, especially my conversation with Chief Oshuntoye helped shape my understanding of Nigeria from an in-depth perspective. Though it may not influence “my core independent opinions” on about Biafra but at least it will afford the “Nigerian youths” the “thick skin” needed to adjust their philosophical views on this present arrangement that fosters backwardness and threatens the strategic advancement of our social, economic and political system.  If anything, my conversation with Chief Oshuntoye allowed me to contend that in the absence of Independence referendum as a final decider of the people’s will, we lack the luxury of a revolution, without the use of force…

“What is a revolution?” Chief Oshuntoye had asked me quietly.

“A revolution is when the people are fed up… a revolution is when the people are no longer passive but actively and consciously involved in the pursuit of a positive change…” I replied with conviction.

“Who will bell the cat? War is not an option… the best option for Nigeria is a confederation which is simply a union of independent nations controlling their resources but accords a certain percentage of their regional revenues to the central body… the 1999 constitution must be toppled… it is an apartheid charter…” Chief Oshuntoye said assuredly, as if to resonate with Chief Emeka Ojukwu’s proposal at Aburi. He (Chief Oshuntoye) was of the opinion that a “revolution” without the explicit mission of war and employed within the purview of the 1999 military constitution, was an illusion – the exact type that would result to a ground-breaking, genocidal loss of human lives – a repetition of 1967. “But this time, Nigeria will never survive as a country…

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Barth resonated with his submission. An enormous consensus had come upon us. And we all felt the same impulse to view the 1999 constitution as the document that legitimizes the sufferings of Nigerians and by consequence bedevils the union. This is not to say that dissimilarity of ideology was absent. Quite the opposite. But what animated the circle, the gathering, was something of an intercourse of ideas by Pan-Africans, Southerners, who sought to take the light of modern civilization to the ends of Nigeria.

“You’ll hardly find the Northerners abroad seeking greener pastures. It’s always the Igbo and Yoruba (Southerners)…” Chief Oshuntoye said quite sadly. And we pondered over it in a melancholic way. Indeed, Southerners loomed large in the outlook of Nigerian Diasporans. Little wonder foreign lands had become alternative homes to millions of Igbos and Yorubas and other immigrants of Southern Nigeria. Chief Oshuntoye was of the opinion that the Northern-controlled Nigerian system ensures that the best brains (Southerners) are drained to the Western World and that Northern communities remain retrogressive, almost always ancient and concentrated with “fossil minds” that are dependent on Northern messianic figures who exploit the 1999 constitution to pouch executive power for the region. For the average Northern illiterate whose living condition is worse than a forest being, as long as an Hausa-Fulani occupies a leadership role and controls the country’s affairs from the Tower of Babel, then all is well with Nigeria.

Chief Oshuntoye believed that Nigeria’s ill-starred journey began  in 1960 when the founding fathers that history described as “the most noblest and worthiest “ of all African nationalists, took the rostrum, in demand for a “premature independence” from Britain.

“The founding fathers did not fight for independence, to serve the collective interest of the people but rather to gain fame and power…” Chief Oshuntoye explained briefly. He had subtly described 1960 as a great national mistake. He expressed his anger for Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe , Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro and others.

“Awolowo was not a national hero but a tribal leader… Azikiwe on the other hand was privy to the first coup before it was hatched. He faked illness and ran to England to save his head… Anthony Enahoro had buried ammunitions in my uncle’s farm, which he had wanted to use to train guerillas in Ghana as a means to topple the then civilian government but was caught and jailed for treason… In short, the problem with Nigeria is the Yoruba and the Igbo (Southerners)…until we are ready to change our ways, Nigeria will remain a country of dispute…” Chief Oshuntoye disapproved of Awolowo’s and Azikiwe’s legacy with a conviction that was far-flung from “popular praise” and that history had been distorted to colorize Awolowo’s “unforgiving heart” with wide-eyed idolation. Chief Oshuntoye proved to be his own man – a lone ranger, a man in control of his own mind. Apart from the fact that he was a classmate of the billionaire businessman Chief Mike Adenuga at Ibadan Grammar School, Chief Akin Oshuntoye is also the son of the late Chief S.A Oshuntoye who was the “best friend” and “confidant” of Chief Obafemi Awolowo – the man widely regarded as the leader of the Yorubas. In his autobiography: “Life at Wesley College” Chief Obafemi Awolowo had revealed the “bond of trust” between him and Chief S.A Oshuntoye. In the aforementioned autobiography, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had written: “My only companion in the open rebellion is S.A Oshuntoye…

Chief Akin Oshuntoye’s ties with past and present Nigerian leaders are unquestionable. And the very details of his ideology and immense wisdom points to his rich political background. Above all, his inspirational courage to represent truth, like Fela, is worthy of emulation.

“Yorubas are idiots they don’t see beyond their nose… All they do is to act as puppets for the North… As for the Nigerian youths they have been buried in corruption… In the end there will be nothing for the youths whose destinies have used as thugs and objects to advance the interest of the recycled old brigades…” Chief Oshuntoye had lamented in a prophetic undertone. Indeed, the Yoruba youths will do posterity much good if they can follow the footprints of the likes of Fela Kuti and Chief Akin Oshuntoye by embracing the politics of the progressive Nigerian. They (the Yoruba youths) should take advantage of the mass movements and political philosophy pioneered and evangelized by the youths of the South-East and the “South South”. Whether (we) opt for confederation, regional government or outright independence via referendum, nothing will happen until we, the Southerners unite as “One Sun” to chase the “darkness” that flaunts itself as the 1999 Abdulsalami Abubakar constitution…

I will end this article with Chief Oshuntoye’s personal convictions; “I’d rather be dead than to allow anybody to take away my dignity.”

The End…

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