The Evolving Poetics Of The Jagaban Of Borgu

By Isidore Emeka Uzoatu.

Aspects of Nigeria have been compared to a dancing mask. No less so, its political leadership and followership. Like one overzealous pundit aptly put it, the story of our nation’s power play is always in an unravelling mode.

In fact, the assertion holds true from ever since the amalgamation of its northern and southern protectorates by Great Britain in 1914. But it didn’t hit a critical mass till 1960 following our flag independence. Thus, as the 2023 general election beckons, it can only hold true to form that new heights are being attained by its dramatis personae.

Only that it does appear as though the politicians and their followers are engaged in a lopsided romance. For while the former keep rummaging deeper into their bag of tricks, the latter can only mope on in apparent befuddlement. O yes, for contrary to reason, rather than the voters, the contestants appear to be holding the yam and the knife like the Igbo say. 

For now, it’s no longer news that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are setting the standards for the rest. Following its rabble-rousing trouncing of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it has more than lived up to the change slogan it rode on to power. Like it stands, they appear to have seized all the aces that guarantee victory at the polls.

And so, as another electoral cycle behoves, they appear to have achieved a second wind. Sadly, though, not unlike the last time around, it’s all mostly aimed at the end justifying the means rather than vice versa. As in like telling the people what they’d enjoy hearing afore and not caring a pin about its fulfilment after.

The list – as always – is unending. From their choice of a successor and running mate to the incumbent and the gods they worship, to their geopolitical regions it has been a tale of sorts. Also, they choose which town hall meetings to attend, which states to visit and what television stations to grant interviews. As though politics and morality, like prophesied, shouldn’t be bedfellows.

The most glaring brouhaha, however, has been the many cases surrounding the integrity of its presidential flag bearer, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) the Jagaban of Borgu. It’ll be an understatement to posit that the man’s candidacy has been dogged in all kinds of controversy from inception. These have included his very name, parentage, education, past and present businesses, health status and what have you. 

Indeed, it can be said that no day dawns without a new allegation labelled over his head. Anyway, some of these arisings are still being battled out in courts of competent jurisdiction. So we can only stop so as not to run the risk of subjudicial infringement.

Which is all well and fine, being that they can’t be adjudged to be neither here nor there sans controversy. Like is well known, it’s the stuff heroes are made of. After all, even this very party falling over themselves in his defence had actually jettisoned him from the contest from onset. Till he came fighting back like the Jagaban he truly is. Yes, but for that e mi lokan diatribe of his, he would have been left ranting like Gov Wike of the PDP is presently doing.

And like the APC has us believing now, the nation has all to gain for his perspicacious choice. After all, overtime the preferred qualification leaders should have to perform at full tilt is philosophy. Like elucidated by the Greek philosopher Plato, it gave them all the requisite preparations to accomplish political tasks with prerequisite panache.

This is why back in time groups used to boast whenever they were blessed with one. All the way back to the time of kings who ruled till death did them in. Any wonder why those of them that had drops of it reserved in their blue blood used to be all the rave. Like Alexander the Great of Greece and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore to name but the dead.

Ditto presently. Only that these days they are now fewer and farther between. More like seeing a gentleman in any Nigerian composils. Nay, in that self-same Lagos that same Tinubu had built in his days of verve. Or, for that matter, running into a patriot in our Federal Capital Territory currently under the threat of bandits.

Alas, like many have braved to dare, the truth remains that we are only embroiled in the present mess because our current ruler is no philosopher. A development we have been promised will cease to exist come 2023. By the time, it’s hoped, Tinubu, upon winning the 2023 presidency, will come to town with his Lagos magic. 

As the hagiography reads, when he assumed the gubernatorial seat of the seaside state, its account was in the red. Life within the four walls of our former federal capital was only comparable to that in the state of nature. Movement from the island to the mainland, for instance, took an age and a half. Unlike the mere minutes it took when Chinua Achebe wrote No Longer at Ease.

Before the enthronement of the Jagaban, even canals and waterways were blocked all year round. Then he took over and courtesy of the Southeastern assistant responsible for them, they became freeways to salvation. All year round, there was not even a drop of water to be seen overland from Ikeja to Epe.

Perhaps, philosopher kings are crowned in turns. That must be why the man himself is insisting that it’s his turn to be president of Nigeria. Just because, according to him, it was his political dexterity that put the present calamity on the post in place. And who, indeed, can fault him. Not when the enigma in question tried for three unrewarded times to mount the diadem. Did I hear the chorus of ‘O lule’?

Yet it appears the kingmaker has forgotten the underlying currents bedevilling his ascension. Just like that, he appears to think that the country is one homogeneous whole untroubled by numerous pulls. Nor that his assumed predecessor has done all in his might to accentuate these.

But all hope is not lost, sha. From abiding indications, the height of the task at hand is not lost on the Jagaban. As proven by the fact that, rather than philosophy, he has taken to the higher calling of poetry for authenticity. An art form his Southwest region of origin is well blessed with. From the oriki practitioners of old to such current maestroes as Niyi Osundare and Wole Soyinka to name but two again.

Only that, given his peculiar standards in politics, his poetry doesn’t come any cheaper. So far, the last line of his latest effort, ‘Balabloo-bu-bulava’, are only reminiscent of the last lines of Irishman T. S. Elliott’s The Wasteland: Datta. Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. Shantih. Shantih. Shantih.

*Uzoatu writes from Onitsha, Anambra State.

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