‘The Daura man is very clever’
In other words, I have a gut feeling that most of us who have always been pontificating on the vision and strategy of the Daura man in Nigeria are the ones who are actually clueless about the dynamics and use of power – in a country we hardly understand. I mean a country where the power elite does not have a consensus about what they want their country to be. I appreciate the opinions of my brothers and sisters who have been outraged about mere rhetoric on President Buhari being suggested as a ‘Man of the Decade’. But I mean it. The Daura lanky man is my ‘Man of the Decade’. I would like people to understand that Buhari, our leader at this time, is the man the iconic Chinua Acbebe actually calls “the white man” in his classic Things Fall Apart.
Let’s understand this puzzle through Achebe’s setting:
“Does the white man understand our custom about land?” “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad, and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
This (plot) exchange occurs at the end of Chapter 20 during the conversation between Obierika and Okonkwo in the novel. In the discussion, which centres on various events that have come to pass since the arrival of the colonialists, Obierika seems to voice Achebe’s own thoughts on colonialism. Upset by the fact that the white men have come and completely disregarded the Igbo sense of justice, Obierika points out the impossibility of the colonialists understanding anything about the Umuofians without speaking their language. He points out the ludicrousness of denigrating unfamiliar customs.
According to this plot, yet, Obierika does not lay the blame wholly on the side of the white man. He feels also that the Umuofians who have converted to Christianity have consciously and wrongly turned their backs on their own “brothers.” This assessment complicates our understanding of the novel, as Achebe prevents us from seeing matters in clear-cut terms of good (black) versus bad (white). Indeed, Achebe elsewhere attempts to demonstrate the validity of some questions about Igbo culture and tradition.
If religion and tradition are seen as the threads that hold the clan together, and if that religion is flawed and that tradition vulnerable, it becomes hard to determine who is at fault for the resulting destruction. Certainly, Achebe does not blame the villagers. But, while this quotation displays his condemnation of the colonialists for their disrespect toward Igbo customs, it also shows his criticism of some clan members’ responses to the colonial presence…Or so it seems.
In the same vein, I would like us to understand that: The Daura man, (like Achebe’s white man) is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his brand of political style. We were amused at his craftiness and allowed him to win election and re-election. Now he has won our brothers, and our country can no longer act like one. Despite that, he has taken control of the three arms of government. He has retained control of the intelligence and security services. He has a stronghold of all the armed and paramilitary forces. He has in his firm control the police force. He has also deftly used his resourceful ‘kitchen cabinet’ (some call cabal) dominated by senior journalists to take control of the mainstream media. He appears to have pacified so many pipers. He, therefore, calls the tune as he controls even the pipe. He has also seized the presidency. The public intellectual with whom he shares the mandate has been kept busy, fighting for his reputation. He has the entire justice system in his hand. Three of the four anti-graft agencies can’t betray him. In fact, the fourth one is just there. Wait a minute, the ‘glocal’ agency in charge of financial intelligence to is headed by a technocrat who hails from a village close to the First lady in Adamawa state. He has all the governors’ forums at his beck and call. One is headed by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State another one is headed by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, another is headed by Governor Udom Gabriel of Akwa Ibom State and the central governors forum is headed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased. Let me go back to Ogidi, where Achebe is still speaking: He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
But like the Achebe’s white man, he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion and joined his party also say that our customs are bad…How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? Let’s think a little here: During the last (2019) election, the strong man of Daura, like the pied piper of Hamelin, also got all the governors of the five southeastern states to his side. Even the governor of the state Peter Obi once governed, Anambra state, did not support Peter Obi’s aspiration to be Vice President of Nigeria. The governors of the three PDP-controlled states in the South East, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states were against the choice of Peter Obi as a running mate to Atiku Abubakar. So many times, the then Deputy President of the Senate on PDP platform) also threatened to (decamp to the ruling party). Lest we forget, the governor of Anambra state (on APGA platform) was so pro-Buhari then that he reportedly called the leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo ‘an idiot’ for publicly supporting Atiku-Obi ticket before Buhari’s visit to Anambra state. The contextual report here is that though the people of the East might have supported the Atiku-Obi ticket, all the governors’ hearts were with Buhari. What was the level of political support from the PDP-dominated South-South to Atiku? Did the governor of governors of south-south states, Nyesom Wike fully support the PDP presidential candidate? How many times did anyone see all the PDP governors from the South with Atiku-Obi campaigns during the 2019 election processes? Didn’t all the Peter Obi’s brothers turn against him according to the gospel of Achebe? Did they not all work for the success of the enigmatic Buhari? Didn’t they all put a knife on the fragile Biafran thing that has held them together in the East because of the phenomenal Daura man? Where was the understanding or indeed the elite consensus on how to defeat Buhari they didn’t know in the old Eastern region? When state apparatus (was) mobilised against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen on the eve of general elections, was the first missile not fired from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from South-South who said he never had $10,000 dollars in his account for all his more than 50 years as a lawyer? How many Professors and indeed gurus from the Onnoghen’s region could see the nexus between the trial of CJN Onnoghen and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Usoro Usoro at the same time? How many big lawyers joined Onnoghen’s Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) to ask why the pending four appeals in the Court of Appeal were not mentioned while his (Onnoghen’s) trial was raging at the Code of Conduct Tribunal? Now that things have fallen apart, answers to these questions will continue to blow in the wind until the Wise Men from the (Middle) East arrive for the strong man’s third term bid.
Did you read a public relations gaffe by Nigeria from the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)? There was a report from one of the president’s men that in a fit of triumphalism, the President was speaking in a local language about the place of the Fulani nation in the world today. The setting was Nigeria’s day at the United Nations last when the three powerful Nigerian representatives on the stage were prominent Fulani: The President, Muhammadu Buhari, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Jane Mohammed, a Fulani, President of the United Nations 74th General Assembly, Professor Tijjani Muhammad Bande, a Fulani were all beamed to the world. The man we describe as clueless, planned that glorious moment for his nation. He already knew that Hajia Amina he supported to be UN Deputy Secretary was already there when he also nominated a world-class scholar, former Vice-Chancellor, former Director-General, NIPSS, of Fulani extraction, Professor Bande as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in 2016. Abike Dabiri-Erewa’s damage control statement explaining that the presidential aide should have mentioned three eminent Nigerians instead of three Fulani, last week could not take the steam out of the pre-eminent position the Daura artful man earned for his nation last week.
That is why I have no hesitation in recommending this quiet operator of our time, President Muhammadu Buhari who has achieved more than the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, Usman dan Fodio (1754-1817) and Alhaji, Sir Ahmadu Bello (1910-1966) for his nation as the indisputable ‘Man of the Decade’.