SATIRE SATURDAY: Nigeria Ruga-ruga; many things COZA-COZA

The embattled senator representing Adamawa North senatorial district, Elisha Abbo
The embattled senator representing Adamawa North senatorial district, Elisha Abbo

Lovers of Nigerian Afro-pop would easily notice the hackneyed title of this piece, borrowed from the works of one of Nigeria’s foremost pioneer rap artistes. The title is an abridged version of some lines from Jaga-jaga, Eedris Abdulkareem’s smash hit of same title, released through Kennis Music circa 2004.

Jaga-jaga was a smash hit not only because it resonated well with the average Nigerian nor because it was groovy; it was essentially because it captured the oddity that was the Nigerian reality at the time. From its depiction of the 2003 COJA debacle, through Charles Taylor’s stay in Calabar, Jaga-jaga was a metaphor for our haphazard way of doing things, of our institutionalised culture of anyhowness, of Nigeria’s never-ending theatre of the absurd.

The last few days must have been the most breathtakingly dramatic in this Luggardian contraption since January, especially for netizens of Nigeria’s social media community. It was as though there was some conspiracy among actors at the centre of the different dramas to fill the lacuna of “un-governance” Nigerians have continued to witness since May 29.

It began with the Ruga controversy, followed by the different allegations of rape against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, then the undistinguished conduct of Undistinguished Senator Elisha Cliff in the viral video published exclusively by this newspaper.

Central to all these dramatic moments is the consciousness of the Nigerian social media community, captured in that rather commendable resolve to ensure that perceived “power brokers” at the heart of the controversies are held accountable.

If anything confirmed the supremacy of the “Office of the Citizen” in the last few days, it was the decision of Nigerians to ensure that justice is served in perceived cases of abuse of power and privileges, via the instrumentality of the new media.

But beyond the conduct of Nigerians, events of the last few weeks remind this column of Eedris’ Jaga-jaga. And if the artiste decides to record a sequel today, SATIRE SATURDAY would suggest that he adopts the word “Ruga-Ruga”——because it captures our official culture of anyhow-ness and how it could ruin otherwise promising initiatives.

First off, this column opines that the Ruga initiative isn’t necessarily a bad one, even if dissected with the chaotic details presented by the Nigerian authorities thus far. Anyone genuinely concerned about solutions to the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers would see through and rise above the emotions and hate that clouded the (non)-debate that trailed the introduction of the plan. But because the government destroys so many things with its implementation style, by default, people simply assume that all things introduced by government are bad. Yet this is not necessarily so.

Now, to be sure, those who have expressed fears over the plan have genuine points, even if perennial hawkers of hate and division are hiding behind these points to spread their own hate-filled gospel. The optics of one ethnic group taking over peoples’ territory is better imagined than experienced, not even when the plan is coming under a president that has shown the least concern for Nigeria’s fragile ethno-religious make-up.

Frankly, as the Ruga plan has shown, it is not binding on states to adopt it. It’s even more reasonable to have states where the fear of Fulani domination isn’t pronounced adopt the plan, like in the far north. If it proves successful in those places, other states would willingly adopt it. It is not enough to condemn open grazing and still shut meaningful conversations on an alternative solution.

But thanks to the “Ruga-ruga” style of government officials, the plan had to be suspended by the president. Or what do you make of the contradictory positions of Messrs Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu? Or Vice president Yemi Osinbajo’s press statement dissociating himself and his office from the plan? Or even the rather disturbing concerns that procurement issues may not have been well defined? Or even the ministry of agriculture’s curious role in all of this? Nothing shows the “Ruga-ruga” ways things are done in government circles now like this Rug plan. Pathetic.

Again it is disturbing that there was no stakeholders’ engagement, which would have resulted in common resolution before the plan was launched. It perhaps explains why the National Orientation Agency (NAO) disappeared in the middle of the chaos—-even as hateful, ignorant and deliberately mischievous contents flew in the air. Of course, it would not be a surprise if the NOA director-general does not know what the Ruga plan is all about.

That’s a perfect picture of governance by “Ruga-ruga”!

Away from Ruga, the case of Mr Fatoyinbo of COZA also generated ripples in the week. Much has been said about him, anyway. But as PUNCH columnist, the brilliant Abimbola Adelakun suggested on Thursday, Mrs Fatoyinbo must be interrogated so the public understands her position in all of this debacle. It is instructive to note that on that same Thursday, a few moments after I read Ms. Adelakun, another alleged victim came out with another horrifying narrative, suggesting that the wife knew/knows about the pastor’s sexcapades. She may be right, who knows?

Finally, the woman-battering Senator Elisha Cliff must by now be biting his fingers, screaming and cursing the day CCTV was invented by one meddlesome Oyinbo man. This is because this column is convinced, beyond doubt, that Mr Elisha would have denied that incidence if there was no CCTV footage exposing him. One does not need a degree in communication to read through his mind. And his half-hearted apology was perhaps the most cringeworthy thing to ever come from such reckless, power-drunk public office holder. He must be made to pay for his demeanour. DEARLY.

SATIRE SATURDAY is however happy that Nigerians—both APC and PDP members—are united in their admission that the footage was not “doctored”, nor “engineered”. But again, Mr Elisha would perhaps be biting his fingers now, regretting that he is not a member of the APC and, most importantly, President Buhari’s favourite godson. If he was, he would probably have received the Kano treatment. For, a discerning, unconvinced and technology-savvy Mr President would have raised a committee to look into “the kind of technology used” in capturing him in the video. And he was not even smiling, unlike our good man in Kano. Poor Elisha!

Oladeinde tweets via @Ola_deinde


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