This might ring as a wild postulation. But there must be something about being fanatical about a candidate that obligates people to disgrace themselves as they pursue their favorite’s cause.
The other week ‘’Elder’’ Godsday Orubebe, Peoples Democratic Party agent, stole primetime attention and made himself a heckler for the history books when he attempted to abort the announcement of the Presidential result.
This week, the occupant of the throne of Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, brought himself shame and ridicule by threatening to transpose a Pharaoh act to the twenty first century. The Oba warned that he will have to herd all Igbos into a baptismal holocaust in the Lagoon if they voted for any other person than his favorite.
(The Oba gave me a proper epiphany. Before his apocalyptic advisory, I had presumed that the Lagoon was a mere body of water serving some aesthetic purpose. How wrong was I!
The Lagoon is the receptacle of Human Waste, the dump site of the children of disobedience, a kind of hell.)
It is hard to miss the notion that is implicit in the threat. The same notion seems to be the rationale for the mass death sentence. And it is the diabolical lie that all humans who live within the bounds of Akiolu’s kingdom had tacitly subscribed to conform to every of his expressed desire as part of their terms of residency and rent.
Now, we are liable to err. There will always be occasions when word flies ahead of thought, against our best intentions. And there are temperaments that have been certified to lean towards instinctive agility. But hate speech is inexcusable and cannot be rationalized. It is not the stuff the remarks of the monarch of a megacity should be made of. The threat sounds more like the outburst of a haughty lunatic.
To invoke baptismal holocaust on a people who are still struggling to recover from the trauma of a civil war that consumed three million of their kith and kin and reduced their collective prosperity to twenty pounds is the height of recklessness.
To decree ethnic cleansing in the name of a governorship election is to cheapen human value. It is to elevate a piece of furniture in Alausa above precious souls.
The Palace has published a sanitized transcript of the Oba’s remarks. But a recording of the proceedings confirms the truth from the horse’s mouth.
Rilwan Akiolu actually tore a leaf out Adolf Hitler’s handbook. Only that Akiolu will not use something as exotic as the gas chambers. He will use the Lagoon in his backyard.
This is one threat that, at once, sounds stupid and staggering. Drowning millions of humans in some waters is not feasible in this modern world. The Oba might stealthily hang a millstone around the neck of one individual and sink the poor soul. But he cannot have a bumper harvest like a massacre. The world is now a global village. This global village will not watch the Oba kill to his heart’s content.
As the traditional ruler of Lagos, the Oba wields influence over some cultural factors. But he went way beyond the purview of his role by purporting to decree that choosing between his preferred candidate and another candidate correlates with choosing between life and death. The Oba doesn’t have the powers to criminalize voter choice.
Oba Akiolu endorsed Akinwunmi Ambode on May 15, 2014. At the launch of ‘’The Art of Selfless Service’’, a biography of Ambode written by one Maria Osoba, Akiolu said,’’ you people know me well that I do not hide my feelings on where I stand on issues. We, the royal fathers, have consulted widely within the state with the sons and daughters of Lagos and have come to the conclusion that the person to take over from Mr. Babatunde Fashola, iconic governor of Lagos State, is Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
Although Lagos State belongs to all Nigerians and the state will offer opportunities to every Nigerian to actualize the Nigerian Dream, Ambode remains the best man with the required pedigree and character to take Lagos to the next level.’’
Akiolu further asserted that ‘’ the APC can go ahead with their primaries but the elders of the state have met and agreed that Ambode should be the next governor of Lagos.’’
The above quote reveals the mindset of an Oba overwhelmed by the primacy of his status. He sits on a throne that is exalted above countless skyscrapers. His wish is the command of millions of his ‘’subjects’’. If he expressed his wish for anything, everybody is supposed to prostrate and acquiesce. He is Kabioyosi.
The Oba conflated the office of the Governor of Lagos State with a chieftaincy title. He holds the impression that his sovereignty transcends the award of Palace honors; it also reaches into the democratic space. His latitude of authority empowers him to bestow the governorship mandate with the same singular ease that he can arbitrarily thrust a chieftaincy title on anyone he likes. Who the Oba and his circle of chiefs like becomes the governor. The elections should serve no other function than to ratify the Oba’s selection.
The Oba is mistaken. He cannot commandeer people’s volition. Democracy, the principle that governs the Nigerian state, is not a joke. It is not such a silly charade that could permit a citizen, whose only true distinction is the fact that he sits on a certain chair, to impose his choice on millions of other citizens.
We respect the significance of the Oba institution. We revere the place of the Palace in cultural symbolism. But we do not agree that the Oba has a right to push his superiority complex as far as assuming the power of life and death.
The threat of genocide is a measure of how far the Oba will go to ensure that his will is done on the earth. It is to spook us with the capacity of the Oba to work monumental disaster. That genocide allusion harks back to the Armed Robber’s ancient open sesame: Your Money or Your Life. Here, the charcter of the Oba of Lagos is the malevolent Terror who orders us,’’ Your Vote or Damnation’’.
Note that the Oba recognizes the liberty of thought and action of Yorubas and all other tribes. They are free to vote whichever way they want without fear of incurring the Oba’s lethal wrath. However, the Igbos are cannot enjoy the same freedom. In the Oba’s book, Igbo is the less equal tribe. He would rather not assume that they are qualified to make an informed electoral decision. His diktat is a necessary gift. They must accept it on pain of pogrom.
Any hint of genocide is utterly despicable. Nobody should have to tell the Oba of Lagos that the people who he wants destroyed are one of his domain’s great assets. Nd’Igbo are contributors to the Lagos story. The Igbo people, in pursuit of personal success, have invested in the pillars that hold the economy of Lagos. The intuition and enterprise of the Igbos have benefitted the land and aborigines of Lagos.
So what is about the Igbos that makes Rilwan Akiolu want to be an incarnate of Adolf Hitler?
Did the multiplication of a tribe with Jewish roots in his realm wake anti-Semitism in him? Or has he always detested them in the same way that a man may hate somebody without any apparent cause? If there is no accounting for love, isn’t it likely that the same could be true of hate too?
Many people have called the foul on the Oba. The Oba has refused to backtrack. Even with the audiovisual evidence in free circulation, he won’t admit his outrageous gaffe and apologize. Instead, he has caused his aides to publish a fictionalized account of his remarks to counter the veracity of his hate speech.
The Oba’s refusal to acknowledge his blunder is not a sign of pride. His refusal to air an unequivocal confession of error and give it the same wide publicity that his mass death sentence amassed is a clear indication that the Oba believes there is nothing to apologize for. He believes in the validity of his threat and the validity of the grounds that inspired its issuance.
It was not an ordinary gaffe. The idea to force a sudden and sweeping extinction of a tribe, millions of human beings, is so grand in scale and scope that it could not have bubbled out of the Oba on the spur of the moment. He has brooded on this fantasy for long. It came out of the abundance of his heart.
The Oba came out of the closet. He has affirmed that he would no longer live a false identity. He will no longer maintain pretentions to a cosmopolitan outlook and largeness of heart. He will not deny himself in order to appease civility. He is an Igbo Hater. And he will be an Igbo killer for any reason!
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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