Before Okija, there was Otokoto. And then the whole Nigeria went gaga. I remember the then Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun stumping all over the forest, not knowing that more gory forests were flourishing right there in his backyard forests in Ogun, Osun and Oyo.
I’m sure, by now, every right-thinking Nigerian must be convinced that we owe the people of Okija a trailer-load of apologies for unnecessarily scandalizing them and their historic town over a few corpses and dozen or so shrines found in their sacred forest. For recent findings in Ibadan’s evil forest indicate that we’re all into this Otokoto business.
In fact, while most people agreed that what was happening with Okija, and its many Ogwugwus, was a case of some form of dispute resolution/retributive justice system getting hijacked by greedy elements, what we see in many of these other forests is outright money or power rituals – all of them requiring human sacrifice.
In Okija, it was always a case of people going to settle one dispute or the other, even if there were cases where both parties did not voluntarily agree on that justice system, but in Soka, Ibadan, what we have is a case of people been abducted and taken for slaughter, and their body parts sold to waiting buyers or used for other rituals.
I just hope that the frenzy over Soka Forest, like that of a certain Clifford Orji once upon a time, does not die without our establishing a link to the clients whose demands make this kind of evil trade continue to flourish. Let’s not just stop at arresting the gateman. Let’s, through him, get to his employers and his employers’ clients. Get to the landlords and land owners. This must not end like the Okija case where the police forever threatened to release the list of names on the registers but never did eventually. We must be able to name and shame the beasts amongst us.
But while the police and Oyo state government are at it, it appears everyone wants to make money by any means possible. Everyone wants to spend and spend and spend, since nobody is asking questions about how the money is made, anyway!
That is why our country is where it is today. Instead of striving to hold our elected and unelected public officers to account over how they manage our public funds, everyone is just praying and waiting for when it would be their own turn to get their hands on the same public till. The thinking seems to be: “For now, it is the turn of those presently occupying public office to loot, our own time will come too”. And our country keeps going down and down.
Hard work and honesty have since gone out of fashion. All the prosperity preachers are singing ‘Ise kekere, owo nla (little work, plenty money)’. Nobody wants to work hard for anything. We just want to sit on our butts and money comes rolling in. we all want to walk into some strong room tucked away at some corner of our private homes, make incantations and loads of currencies come dropping from the ceiling. And you know what, we expect that such naira notes that come dropping from the sky would not be fake notes. So, if they are not fake notes, which coffers would they be coming from? How would the accountants there account for the money that just vanished without trace? Under what headings would the auditors enter it on the balance sheet? Or is that what happened to the notes that disappeared from the Security Printing and Minting Company? Or the $20 billion we have been trying to help Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the NNPC find?
We have come to convince ourselves that the most potent rituals are those done with human blood and have since diverted all the energy we ought to use in developing our country into senseless rituals for money and power, killing thousands of fellow countrymen and women in the process.
When Ombatse exploded on our faces in Nasarawa, we were treated to unbelievable tales of how politicians patronized the Alakyo cult group for all manner of power rituals, including how the crisis might have broken out because politicians who rode to power on the back of the cult’s support failed to keep their own side of the bargain.
Of course, there was nothing too extraordinary about these claims; we live in a country where politicians seeking public office have gone to private homes to step over coffins, collected money from godfathers over the barrel of a gun (the symbol of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron). Others have gone to yet another evil forest to take naked oaths of allegiance.
Curiously, in all these rituals, no mention is made of the electorate, whose vote is supposed to determine who gets into public office and who does not, just as no mention is made of hard and honest job in the shrines and forests where these Nigerians go to make their money ritual.
Of course, I am not in any position to tell if these rituals work or not. I am more interested in our society which jumps to celebrate the next millionaire without sparring a thought for the possible source of this sudden wealth. I am worried about a society where people are no longer their brother’s keepers, where nobody gives a damn about what is happening in the next compound. Where nobody reports suspicious movements to the police – probably because the last person that did never lived to tell the story. I am worried about a society where all manner of people, wearing all manner of real and fake uniforms, and claiming to be one taskforce or the other, just grab people on the road, throw them into their vehicles and zoom off, without anyone asking what became of those so arrested or if the arresters were genuine government officials. I am worried about a country where the most heinous of crimes happen right under the nose of our police and the officers look away – since there’d be no free money to extort. I am worried for a society where our politicians, for the sake of the next election, refuse to bring criminals to book, because those are the same criminals they’d use in rigging the next election.
Most of all, when my Yoruba friends accuse me of Okija and Otokoto, I will remind them of Soka and Sagamu. It is just that Okija was not nearly as crude and beastly as some of the details emerging from Ibadan today. This is why we owe Okija people a national apology.
Re: Blood on our hands
Mr Frank, I totally agree with you. there is blood everywhere in the land from the north-east to Kaduna down to the south and yet our looters are on top of the situation. Steve, 08032645622
Hi Super Lion! I’ve always restrained myself from texting you after reading your weekly colum. But now I can’t restrain myself any longer from declaring you a master satririst in the mode of notable Restoration Period English satirtistes: Alexandra Pope, John Dryden. 08188632927
Are you encouraging we the youths to go into the vices you highlighted instead of decent search for job? Please your joke is a buttress to malfeasance. Stop that; you are wounding us the more. 08029040143
Steve, it is sad you often treat serious issues with kid gloves and provide no iota of solutions to them atlast. In as much as what happened at NIS recruitment centres were sad, mad, and irresponsible on the part at NIS here are others who should share in the blame too. Education starts at application of knowledge, which includes perception. The crowd would have been more at those centres if some applicants, who used perception to abandon the exercise at citing the crowd, had joined the fray. Casualty would have been worse. If an employers applies an unreasonable device capable of taking lives, should applicants allow desperation to overshadow their lives? No. Some columinists cited atleast a similar occurrence with NIS recruitment execerise which ended the same way in 2008. If such mediamen had given an alert of such disaster, would it not have reduced casualty now? Manage your bit well too.
Lai Ashadele, 08023632992
Something must be fundamentally wrong with our country. When I was in the campus in the early eighties I came across a quote by Ogbaja where he said “if I have the opportunity to be born into the world again I would not want to born into Nigeria, I would prefer a country like Tanzania that have good programme for their youths, that Nigeria leaders have noting for our youths except apologies. Thank you for the masterpiece. You are indeed a voice for the voiceless. Remain blessed. Pastor Staley Eze Okore. 08037731634
Once population is growing, joblessness must grow. The best thing for us is to divide this countries called Nigeria. It is too big to be managed by one president.
Blood all over us, PDP loud mouth, Mr Metuh will warn us not to politicise it. The presidency will warn us not to divide the country. David Mark will preach for calm while Oga Gowon will ask us to pray. Bros na team work ooo.
Collins O. 0803453634.
Imagine the minister saying it’s not a time to trade blames. I personally blame him because this incident happened in 2008, I was among the crowd then and nothing different has been done.