The Abatis and Okupes in Yoruba’s usual political left-over post of “Federal” Akéde do not to the position come well-equipped – Tọla Adenle



When I heard of Doyin Okupe’s pronouncement in far-away England two weeks ago that most towns in Nigeria get at least NINE HOURS OF ELECTRICITY SUPPLY EVERY DAY, I laughed not because it was funny but it was the kind of “laughter” that says in Oyo Yoruba, Ọ kare, onirọ́.  It shows the level to which this 50% of President E.G. Jonathan’s Akéde has already sunk and is willing to sink further.  [Reuben Abati, the other 50%, remains the author of stingers like

[Since most who are reading this know THE Abati I’m talking about, a first-time visitor or a non-Nigerian who has never heard his nameshould simply type ‘Reuben Abati’ into the search box of this blog to see how very much like Orwellian Information Guy, Squealer, this guy is.]

It seems understood in circles of those to rule Nigeria that a Yoruba man must be Akede – to put a spin on late S.L.A. Akintola’s description for Information Ministers who, in his time, was Ibo – yes, as it seems to be these days, too while the biggies go to the North:  Water Resources, et cetera – but we all know that the real noise-makers for presidents have shifted from Info Ministers to PRO who come with different titles and here are a few:


Duro Onabule for retired General Babangida’s presidency; Late real gentleman, Tunji Oseni for retired General Obasanjo’s presidency for a while but he was not cut from the same cloth as loquacious 50% of President Jonathan’s Akede; like the Orwellian character who would readily call black, white.


It would have been a good campaign stump speech but this was none such but  must have cost Nigeria a tidy sum moving all those Nigerian print and broadcast journalists to Chatham House to sell lies; there were also foreign correspondents present but I’m sure from the way Okupe could not answer a simple question on how Nigeria is fighting cyber-crime – or the way he chose to answer it, pardon me – Nigeria was made to shell out what could have been millions to sell the president and Nigeria in a most unflattering way.


The two-for-one(?) guys may be Yoruba but they do not even possess the gift of oratory that those OF and IN the trade in ages past had in quantum.  Worse, they attempt to sell blatant lies to audiences and newspaper readers here and abroad who recognize lies when they are faced with such.

Elect-my-man oratory OR forget-the-other-guy’s party?  Check out the one below.  Nary an out-and-out lie in sight but plenty of put-downs that would make you re-think who to vote for IF your mind was not already made up – way back when.





The antecedent of Yoruba campaign oratory


When I read news reports calling for a halt to “abusive language” used during the campaigns, I was surprised.  I do believe that the clampdown on opposition rallies and campaigns by the president deprives Nigerians the chance to take in colorful political campaigns as happened in the past.  While other Nigerian languages must have expressions of derision, praise, etcetera, it was Yoruba campaigners that angered those who saw red in “indecent” language during the recent campaigns.  Unfortunately, the president, assisted by the Ehindero-led police, prevented rallies of non-PDP candidates.


During the campaign of the first President Bush in 1988, Senator Dan Quayle whose looks was his greatest asset as Bush running mate, had tried to score a cheap point by comparing his experience to that of late John Kennedy before he became president: “I have as much experience … as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.”


He got a retort from his Democratic opponent, the magisterial Lloyd Bentsen: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy.  I knew Jack Kennedy.  Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  Senator, you’re no John Kennedy”!


How about the Republicans’ “slick Willy” sobriquet for Clinton”?  Or Reagan’s “the Teflon President?”  Or, “I am not a crook” President Nixon? These may appear not THAT derogatory but the allusion to Clinton’s “untrustworthiness” is very derogatory. The implication that Reagan was loved in spite of the reality that he never was held down by any of the many catastrophes of his presidency like the Iran-Contra affair was not complimentary.


During the campaign, therefore, I was elated when I first noticed the AC in Lagos employ the old Yoruba tactic to get under the skin of the PDP’s Obanikoro by using all the variations possible from the governorship candidate’s last name. Most Nigerians had gotten used to “People’s Destruction Party” – a “worthy successor” to “No Plan for Nigerians”, (National Party of Nigeria, NPN). The coined name seems apt for People’s Democratic Party because it symbolizes the evil that the ruling party has become to most Nigerians.  Employing a dictionary method, there was first “Koro’siv – to corrode, to destroy …”.  The candidate’s friends had always referred to him as “Koro”, a shortened form of his last name!


The AC’s copywriter became more creative, resorting to alliterations and puns, two common and potent figurative methods in Yoruba Language.  For example, there is Nkan ti a nwa l si okoto ti o wa l’àpò ṣòkòtò [You need not travel to faraway Sokoto when the thing you want is right inside the pocket of your sokoto, a man’s trousers].  The implication/real meaning is apparent.  Or the denigrating O ri ẹsẹ̀ Busari, o ò bu k’o fi ’ogun [A sucker, of which Busari is supposedly one, is born every minute!] but the ‘Bu’ in Busari becomes the alliteration employed in the verb ’bu’ which implies in the saying, to “cut of Busari’s foot for rituals because he’s stupid enough to allow it”!


Instead of Koro looking for Yoruba linguists to find words to whip Fasola, he became a wimp, failing to understand the ads, crying foul and taking expensive ads – no problem for a PDP candidate – to denounce what, definitely, was intended pun. The broom party – very apt symbol – merely cranked it up:  Eko o ni korò, o. Eko is the Yoruba name for Lagos while koro means “bitter”. [May Lagos not become a bitter/sad place] although the koro in Obanikoro takes two inflections that are different from the two that misrepresents the last four letters in the candidate’s name to “bitter”!


AC knew it had found a “good thing” and milked it to the max.  After the elections in which Lagos State prevented being captured by PDP’s daylight robbery, there was the audacious Nwn s ‘pe Kò s’ibò, a e Koro ko n’ibo, o, a f’ẹ̀jẹ̀ (blood)!  Alliterations, a pun – and a damning verdict on PDP’s method of deriving power from the barrel of expensive guns used to kill and maim Nigerians.  Poor translation:  They [you-know-who] said there was no election but the fact is that ObaniKoro has no followers, but he caused blood to be spilled. The first ‘ko’ means “there is no …”; then the second ‘ko’ is part of the candidate’s shortened name and the third means “has no …”,  preceding ‘vote’!


Now, how can this type of rich language be interpreted as “abusing somebody’s parentage”? Whoever designed the Koro ads deserves kudos not because it would be understating it that I am NO fan of the PDP but because I believe the ad copies bring back the rich tradition of Yoruba Language in electioneering.


What is the history of campaigns that had such?


When Late Chief S.L. Akintola (S.L.A) was still in the Action Group with Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Awo), he showed his mastery of the Yoruba Language. One of the members of the NCNC – strong in the West – was named Ikejiani which, in Yoruba means “the second one will have”.  Alluding to a popular belief by Yoruba that Ikejiani’s “kinsmen” would always put their people in every position if the opportunity arises (e.g. old Railways); SLA waxed lyrical about “ekini a ni, ekeji a ni, nigbawo ni yi o kan ọ, iw m iya mi”?  [Here I go: The first one “ekini” will get; the second one, “ekeji” – a pun on “Ikeji” – will get; when will it be your turn to get [anything], my mother’s children/my fellow Yoruba”!


SLA also went for the pun again in dismissing those he claimed “were left in the AG” after leaving the party to form a new one:  using the names of late Chiefs Ọrẹdẹ̀ìn and Lanlẹ̀ìnein is from ‘ehin’, the Yoruba word for ‘back’ – he said that only awn ni hin [“leftover” people remained with the AG [don’t blame me]! And of late Alhaji D. Ṣôroye Adegbenro, SLA said:  he can only see the chieftaincy – the Premiership – but will not taste it; a promised land that he would see only from afar!  SLA implied – deliberately, of course – that the e (shay) in Adegbenro’s middle name asked a question, SE o ri oye rather than ṢO (sho) that is common in Egba names!


The AG also used to sing: T’ọwọ ba t’akuk, pnki ni a o ma fi an’yan, an allusion to the fact that the cock, NCNC’s symbol, is good for only one thing – served with pounded yam! The NCNC did not take the abuse lying low but fought back with an even more stinging Inu ‘gbo l’ọpẹ  ngbe; nikan o nk’le adẹ̀tẹ̀ s’igboro… A.G.’s symbol, the palm tree LIVES in the bush as no one builds a leper colony within city walls! The great Zik, Ibo, and leader of the NCNC who was fluent not only in Hausa but in Yoruba must have had a hand in this apt reply.


When SLA left AG, he became s ole, a homophonic play on S.L.A. – the feet of a thief – to most in Yorubaland and his Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), known for short as “Demo”, had a hand as its insignia which gave rise to the pithy song:  Dm ni mo wa, o r’w mi, o o r’inu mi. [You can see my hand but not what’s in my heart; I’m NNDP.]


Unlike PDP, the child of the man it went to bed with, Demo – SLA, was no wimp but fought back with O bu gau a homophone for UPGA (United Progressive Grand Alliance) which AG had formed with like-minded progressives from the Middlebelt. I know that gau means big trouble but it was the sound of a bomb that was implied by o bu gau.


How about the pun-filled UPGA, e Dẹmọ, eniti o ba ba igba yi, a ba igba l announcing the original declaration of “mainstream” politics? [UPGA supporters, join NNDP because it’s the party that will ensure you survive!]


My penny’s worth? “Mainstream politics” did not work then, has not worked now and will never work because the basis is deceit.


SLA, the Aarẹ Ọ̀nàkankanfò, who faced his death gallantly during the 1966 coup like other Aarẹ before him, occupies a special place in the pantheon of Yoruba great orators, no matter his politics.


Dismissing the Ekitis as good only in acquiring lofty educational degrees – the land they lived in was Awo country – he derisively referred to “awn bi Professor Aluko, Professor Atioro …” [“an area filled with people like Professor Aluko, Professor Atioro …”.  Aluko and atioro are  birds’ names; the illustrious Aluko is real but “atioro” has never been!


Finally, there was the colorful Adelabu, NCNC great who was accused of misappropriating Ibadan City Council money. It would have been too straight-forward to simply tell the opposition to go to hell. Ko ma ko ’wó  [abbreviation for owo – money] wa na, Igunnu l’o ni Tapa, Tapa l’o n’Igunnu was more Yoruba language: [What’s the problem? A Nupe man is Igunnu masquerade who, though unable to see how much money he gets, has another Nupe holding his money!]  Nupes live at Ago Tapa, Ibadan. [Tapa is Yoruba word for Nupe[


POSER:  While the Catholic Church has officially come out strongly, as usual, against the injustice that the recent elections represent, an Anglican Bishop, Owadayo of Egba, has acknowledged that “there were some fraud and irregularities” but that Buhari, Atiku and others should see the injustice done to them and Nigerians “as an act of God” and to start “strategizing” towards “2011 [which] is around the corner.”


The Nation on Sunday, May 2007.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014.  2:15 p.m.[GMT]





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