I have watched with dismay the video footage of Oyo State Governor, Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi’s interaction with students of the Ladoke Akintola Unversity of Technology, Ogbomosho, when they came to protest over the shutting down of their school for the last eight months. I have watched the footage over and over again, trying to look for the telltale slips, the mouth movements that do not quite match the sound, anything to tell me that that video was edited. I have found no such sign, which, by elimination, leaves me with one heart rending conclusion: that the people’s servant, a duly elected governor of a state, who campaigned and begged for votes to be able to occupy the government house, actually opened his mouth he uses to eat achicha and ayorayo, and uttered those words!
I’m shocked, not because of the utterances, but because of the sheer stupidity that allows such statements to reach the public domain. And I have waited with bated breath for the announcement of some of his aides, or at least the special adviser on students’ matters, but from the look of things, I will be having a long wait. Again and again, my sense of shock and outrage is stirred, as a public official shoots himself in the foot, or more accurately, bombs himself in the foot as though his foot is an IDP camp. More on this later. So the governor rants and rants, and makes a mockery of the citizens who elected him into office.
To be perfectly honest, my surprise stems from the fact that it is Ajimobi, whom I have always considered to be a student friendly governor, rather than from the fact that a governor addressed the people thus. You see, in Nigeria, we have a tendency to deify our leaders, be they spiritual, religious, political, or whatever. It’s sad, really. I see nothing wrong in having a healthy dose of respect for a leadership, or for duly constituted authority (popular phrase now, thanks to Ajimobi). But we cannot discountenance some salient facts;
Respect is reciprocal. You cannot be so blatantly disrespectful to a student body and expect that they will swallow your insults and ride off into the sunset without a backward glance. No sir. And fuck ageism here, these students have been at home for eight months. For those who have small businesses they operate in school as a side hustle to supplement whatever meager funds their parents come up with ( and yes, those funds are meager, the country is in a recession, and purchasing power is at an all time low), this is eight months of being broke, being angry, being dependent on mummy and daddy for everything from money for a shave to buying sanitary pads. If we want to be objective, a certain level of irritation, anger even, is called for. One would have expected the special adviser on students matters to address the crowd, but no, somehow (I stand corrected if proven otherwise), the governor came out, with the gun pointed at his foot and his finger on the trigger. And the cameras rolled and captured the governor’s blunders.
I think Governor Ajimobi’s mishap and his recent popularization of the phrase “constituted authority” is a failure of leadership. But leadership at its best is but a reflection of the followership it thrives on. It just shows the way we think, how a misguided ageism, and a so-called respect that is not even courteous to begin with have warped our thinking. The sad fact is we are all Ajimobis in our own little way, and we would likely behave the same way in a similar situation. It’s not strange: the policeman at the road block demands that you “roger”, without asking if the car owner or commercial vehicle operator has made anything for himself, what with ever increasing costs, high prices of petroleum products, and dwindling purchasing power. The secretary at the office where you go to submit that proposal looks at you and asks if you will not settle for your file to land promptly on Oga’s table. The messengers that stumble around shoddily until palms are greased. The scenarios are limitless. This is the sad truth! This is what happens when we hand out positions like “special adviser” as a reward for party loyalty, or as a personal favor, rather than due to the individual’s qualities that make him a worthy advisor. A country where the aides have aides and yet the leadership is unaided. And yet, we will march on, through the sand made thick and muddy with the tears and sweat of the common man. This is 2017, I can bet you that in a year or so Ajimobi will walk the streets of Ibadan agaoin, and demand a mandate for another candidate, telling people that he is the better choice for good leadership. In a state where the options to Ajimobi are Akala and Ladoja. Let’s not even talk about those ones abeg.
My fellow Ajimobi Nigerians, I greet you!
Ngwa, gwazie ndi yard unu!