Bad PR for Oduduwa By Femi Macaulay

 

Oba-Okunade-Sijuwade

Some of the things said and done on Oduduwa’s platform injure the reputation of the Yoruba ancestral father figure.  Also abbreviated as Odudua or Oòdua, his name continues to suffer as a result of exploitation by opportunists and self-projected cultural ambassadors.

A striking instance of this reduction by association was the August 21 ego-serving entrance by the National Coordinator of the Oo’dua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, at the finale of the Osun-Osogbo Festival in the Osun-Osogbo Grove, Osun State. When Adams arrived with his circle of exuberant followers, they caused quite a stir. Whip-wielding noisemakers disruptively created a path for Adams as he approached the sacred River Osun to announce his presence. He witnessed the unruliness of his men and encouraged it by his silence. The unflattering drama was performed on Oduduwa’s platform. His group was listed among “Partners” on the cover of the festival programme; the others were MTN, Goldberg, Seaman’s Royale, IOD, Kasapreko Alomo Bitters. The group’s emblem bore his name, suggesting that Gani Adams is OPC and OPC is Gani Adams.

Two days later, a newspaper report quoted him in an interview where he commented on the wall between him and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu: “We had some people who left our group because he was financing them to break it; they couldn’t break it, so they left. We continued to address the issue; even in the media, people were asking what I had with Tinubu, but they couldn’t find any reason. I decided that if I didn’t tell the whole world, my life and integrity would be at stake.”  He continued: “That was one of the reasons that I decided that if Tinubu goes to A, I will go to B. Somebody who has been working to block my progress for the past seven years; if I support him to be in power, he will do worse. Even though he is supporting the right candidate, I will go for the wrong candidate.”

This expressed irrational hostility helps to situate Adams’ politics as bereft of any progressive content. Considering the recently achieved political dominance of the APC at the federal level with its popular change mantra, his unapologetic opposition defines him as an anti-change supporter and promoter.

Interestingly, Adams also said about Tinubu: “When I asked around, people told me what he was hammering on was he (Adams) attacked us during the election. Did I use thugs to attack him? Is there any report in any police station that the OPC attacked the APC because of the Peoples Democratic Party?”

It is unclear whether Adams had a memory challenge or whether he decided to challenge his memory. The incident of March 16 is still fresh enough. On that day, OPC stood for Operation Public Chaos as the self-identified defender and promoter of Yoruba interests demonstrated that it had not only sold its soul for filthy lucre but also lost its collective mind. Members of Adams’ OPC faction took their militancy to heights that mirrored a disturbing depth of degeneration.

In an unprecedented demonstration of desperation ahead of the general elections, the group terrorised Lagos in the name of a political protest. A report at the time said: “The two pamphlets distributed by the protesters had 7 reasons why President Goodluck Jonathan must continue in office and 7 reasons why Prof Attahiru Jega, the INEC boss, must go on terminal leave and be replaced with a credible administrator before the elections.”

It was a message of force by forceful messengers. According to a report: “The protesters got traffic stuck for hours, smashed cars, harassed motorists and disrupted business in many parts of the city. They destroyed banners and campaign billboards of All Progressive Congress (APC) candidates.”

Who was behind the bedlam? A subsequent eye-opening disclaimer said: “We, the members of the National Coordinating Council of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, the highest ruling body of the organisation, wish to disassociate ourselves from the shameful, destructive, violent and reactionary activities of the Gani Adams-led team which occurred in Lagos today.” The statement added: “What was witnessed in Lagos was the highest level of political violence sponsored and funded by certain elements in the Jonathan government.”

From all appearances, the protesters were fuelled by reported multi-billion naira oil pipelines protection contracts controversially awarded by the Jonathan administration to a selection of militant and pro-militancy groups, most likely to influence their support for Jonathan’s reelection ambition. There were certainly enough pocket-related reasons to be overexcited.  The movement from pipelines protection to public chaos was a sign of a chaotic group headed by perhaps a chronically convoluted character.

It is a point to ponder that today Adams is crying about the same contract that made him laugh and possibly fuelled his group’s destructive manifestation on that day.  He is paying the price for the politicisation of contracts. In July, Adams was among three controversial contractors who held a meeting to consider how to get the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pay the money it allegedly owed them in respect of a three-month oil pipeline security deal that took effect from March 16 in the Southwest and some parts of the Niger Delta.  Dr Frederick Fasehun and General Shoot-at-Sight also attended the meeting.  According to Adams: “About 4,000 workers were engaged by our companies – New Age Security Company owned by Dr. Fasehun; Galaxy Security Outfit Nigeria Limited owned by General Shoot-at-Sight and Donyx Global Concept Nigeria Limited owned by me.”

Politics remains in the picture, considering that the political figure who influenced the award of the contracts while he was in power, former President Jonathan, failed to get a second term in office. With President Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle, there was no way his promise of change would not have changed things for the contractors. The non-renewal of the contracts after they expired was logical and reflected the public mood. It is interesting to note that although rivalry between Adams and Fasehun split the OPC, the two factional leaders are joined or conjoined by what may be described as “the whiff of money”. Again, the drama is connected with Oduduwa’s platform.

When a contractor’s cheese has been moved, particularly if it’s a large chunk of cheese, expect contractor confusion. Adams reflected such confusion by what he said in another interview: “All I’m saying is that government can merge the community residents and law enforcement agents to police the neighbourhood.” What Adams meant was that militiamen, euphemistically described as “community residents”, should be allowed to operate side by side with the official security agents. Despite the obvious absurdity of the imagined combination of forces, Adams couldn’t see the nonsense of downgrading the normal security agencies in favour of militiamen. He couldn’t recognise the irrationality of enriching militia leaders to the detriment of the empowerment of the country’s security personnel.

Adams is also the Chief Promoter of the Olokun Festival which the organisers describe as being “at the forefront of the promotion and cultural revival of Yoruba Tradition and Culture.” His involvement in this project looks like a ploy to reinforce his performance on Oduduwa’s platform. The reality is: The PR isn’t working.

NATION