Tinubu’s hypothesis and Momodu’s ‘Owners of Nigeria’ diatribe
There is a tinge of dramatic irony heavily upholstered with metonymy in the off-the-cuff adulatory remarks of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu respecting Chief Bisi Akande at the book launch of “My Participations” sometime in December 2021.
Tinubu had said at the occasion that “Chief Akande is such a person with whom our lives are better because of the selfless public and private contribution he has made to this national family”.
Dramatic irony is evinced when the words or acts of a character in a play carry a meaning unperceived by himself but understood by the audience. The irony is located in the contrast between the meaning intended by the speaker and the added significance understood by others.
Dramatic irony as a literary device is occasionally applied to non-dramatic narratives and is sometimes extended to include any situation (such as mistaken identity) in which some of the actors on the stage or some of the characters in a story are curiously blind to facts known to the audience or reader.
Metonymy is a figure of speech is characterised by the substitution of a term or idea for an object closely associated with the word. It occurs, for instance, when we substitute the crown for royalty or Abuja for the Nigerian seat of government.
In Tinubu’s remarks respecting Akande at the occasion aforementioned, the ranking members of the ruling APC have been conveniently or dubiously substituted for the generality of the Nigerian population.
The dramatic irony in Tinubu’s creation subsists in the fact that whereas by “national family” he meant to deceptively refer to the critical mass of our demography, his audience or listeners clearly understood him to be making reference to the grudging and un-generous self-constituted authorities located in the hollow but distended political matrix of Nigeria.
The entire socio-political and economic space of Nigeria is pompously straddled by Tinubu’s sparse “national family” members. 200 million Nigerians truly do not belong to Tinubu’s “national family”.
On the other divide concerning a necessary or desirable discussion of the requirement to identify the true ownership of Nigeria’s landmass, of her flora and fauna, of the purveyors of her ruling ethic, or the custodians of her mores, customs, and so on is Dele Momodu’s caustic denunciation of the status quo.
Momodu, a senior journalist and publisher in the light-hearted or entertainment genre is making a foray into the murky waters of the contest for Nigeria’s presidency. It must be noted that Momodu may represent a refreshing whiff of air in the race for the coveted prize of the presidency of Nigeria come 2023.
Momodu’s analysis of a shared understanding of the modus operandi of the true owners of Nigeria has unveiled many of those who control the levers of power in the country as mere pretenders to the crown of Pontifex.
In his interview with Arise TV recently, Momodu exposed the primary preoccupation of these “owners of Nigeria” which is to teleguide the selection of political leaders especially presidents.
Momodu empathises with the people who he observes as hapless and helpless victims and who have borne the rascality of their oppressors this long.
For obvious strategic political reasons or for reasons of expediency, Momodu did not go far enough in his exposé. He has, however, alleged that an amorphous group of diviners has from 1999 up until 2019 held the nation by the jugular. The group parades, he reveals, an intimidating membership list.
In 2019, the group lost its grip and mystique as paradoxically rabid and suave leaders of a forlorn dispensation. Another group has surreptitiously or mysteriously appeared on the horizon taking advantage of general political docility.
Captained by the late Abba Kyari, it stealthily terminated the suzerainty of the anciént regime. Even in death, going by how things are evolving respecting the subterranean struggle for the soul of the Nigerian nation in terms of who becomes president, Kyari seems to be alive still and calling the shots.
It may be argued with a certain degree of conviction that Momodu’s involvement among members of both the “National Family” and “Owners of Nigeria” may have rubbed off on him or compromised his reputation among liberal-minded members of society. Even if such a position achieves its purpose of threatening to expose the many probable under-the-table compromises that may have been occasioned by their business-induced interactions, the right to dissent may not have been endangered after all.
In the mood of electioneering, Momodu has assumed the offensive with a sweeping indictment yet of a pre-existing “deal” regime. Speaking slowly and with great solemnity to a television audience who may have in the privacy of their closets, punctuated almost every statement with applause and approval, Momodu condemned public officials who ignored or treated lightly the threat to free choice by the people of who their leaders should be. He seemed to have predicted that their influence would soon be extinguished or be a little more than that of the Reichstag of Germany during the Second Reich and the Weimar Republic.
Momodu blames the persistence of an economy in fits and starts on the government. He insists that a great bureaucracy is no substitute for private judgment or private policy initiative. It is to be expected that the pro-government press will ridicule Momodu’s submission and the laissez-faire underpinnings of his thesis. If Momodu can identify any government on earth where awry curmudgeons are not its handmaidens; that does not seek to foist its predilections on the people – and has survived – he would have made a notable contribution to the discussion, Momodu’s critics may chide.
Momudu’s courage, candour and perception ought to be applauded not derided. The political currents now ought to furiously swirl around him and others like him who are expected to join the race to produce the best or most appropriate material for the presidency.
There is also a nascent interrogation of the vehicle with which a candidate for true change may run. The existing frontline vehicles are primed to maintain a stifling status quo. The candidates of the New Deal must take their assignment seriously. They are enjoined to organise a coalition ticket because it is imperative or in the public interest that the present political order be defeated. This government particularly has done this country untold harm politically, materially and morally – especially morally – to the extent that far outweighs any meritorious actions it may have taken. If the government is re-elected, it may run away with an underserved feeling of invulnerability. This is dangerous not only for our sense of self-esteem –even as we are each an important factor in the political equation –it is capable of reversing our emerging social consciousness process.
Further, it is prone to render our effort futile and our labours vain. The impulse now should be to lie low because the adversary is raging and rueful. It has identified the New Deal with a sense of probable success in the struggle to unleash Nigeria from her present state of anomie or erosion of age-long values and cherished traditions.
The closely reasoned responses to interview questions by Momodu and the applauses and seconding approvals of his listeners in their homes have sparked considerable interest and enthusiasm for an ardent search for a new generation candidate to drive the new deal. Numerous electorates are liable to switch to the new and refreshing arrangement at the opportune moment and particularly all through the weeks and months of electioneering. The ability to insightfully pore over an avalanche of materials and sort their salient thrusts is the distinctive feature or merit of the “now people” even as their analogue counterparts waffle on in arrogant ignorance.
Our duty – each and every one of us – is to consider no extent beyond us for the enthronement of civilised governance and of authority that is dependent upon the reasonable application of incidental relationship to the public interest. Another opportunity surely beckons in 2023.
Rotimi-John is a lawyer and public affairs commentator.