Home News OPINION: Between Abiola Ajimobi And ‘Bankarere Asoroso-boto’ | Oladeinde Olawoyin

OPINION: Between Abiola Ajimobi And ‘Bankarere Asoroso-boto’ | Oladeinde Olawoyin

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Perhaps because of its own unparalleled gift of the garb, Ibadan is hyper-sensitive to the potency of speech––or more appropriately now, insult. In 1983, Chief Bola Ige met his own comeuppance at the polls when he was beaten in Ibadan by Omololu Olunloyo. Shockingly, Esa Oke-born Ige was the old Oyo State’s brilliant performer whose infrastructural imprints still dot parts of the old Oyo (Now Osun and Oyo) till date. Yet he lost fabulously at the poll. There is but a background.

Circa 1982, Ige was reported to have dismissively talked down on Ibadan people, allegedly describing them as thugs, ne’er-do-wells and “Omo eleran” who are incapable of modern governance. It didn’t matter to him that his wife, Atinuke, an Ibadan daughter from the famed Oloko family, was an accomplished judicial professional of repute. Some accounts had it that it was a propaganda, that Ige didn’t say those nasty things; but then the people cared less and the sentiment worked in Omololu’s favour. After all, propaganda (White, black, grey) is a fair weapon in electoral battles. So Ige was voted out in ’83 and replaced with ‘Lolu, a brilliant mathematician, amidst chant of “Omo wa ni e je o se” (Let our son rule).

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The 1983 election could not be said to be free and fair as it was marred by massive rigging and voter’s repression, and of course large scale violence notably in Ondo, but verifiable accounts have it that Ige lost fabulously in Ibadan––the most influential bloc in the Old Oyo state.

But because history is a bitch, it repeats itself in the most farcical manners and folks rarely learn from it. So in the days before the 2011 elections, three clear decades after Ige’s humiliating loss in Ibadan, Adebayo Alao-Akala, the bling-bling-fla
unting former governor of Oyo, repeated same mistake. After numerous battles with Olubadan and other chiefs––Baba Kuye, High Chief Balogun, Kola Daisi et al––Akala was reportedly caught on tape insulting Ibadan High Chiefs, saying elderly Ibadan men who bear no tribal marks are no better than loudmouthed bastards!

Ibadan rarely jokes with its traditional institutions and so the people replied him, not by words of mouth, but through the ballot. The fratricidal forces that saw to Akala’s inglorious exit were a complex one but Ibadan High Chiefs (and their subjects) played a key role because of that supposed insult.

Fast forward to last Saturday, again because humans are forgetful, the same phenomenon recorded another casualty. This time, the victim is a son of the soil and, ironically, the biggest beneficiary of Akala’s 2011 indecorous outing––Abiola Ajimobi.

Governor Ajimobi did not lose to PDP’s Kola Balogun, who, by the way, appears worrisomely bland and colorless. (Balogun did not even campaign much but must have benefitted from PDP guber candidate Seyi Makinde’s state-wide goodwill). The motormouth Ajimobi actually lost to the ‘brake-lessness’ of his buccal cavity. This afternoon, moving around the city, you get the impression that he was deliberately targeted not because he performed woefully in office but because of his numerous indecorous statements.

In Ode-Aje, folks in commercial bus know of one random man whom the governor abused and, because of the piercing effect of Ajimobi’s words, he (the man) refused to eat for three years; in Mokola, road side traders have tales of one elderly woman whom the governor insulted and she almost committed suicide; in Bodija, butchers know of a fellow butcher the governor once ‘dressed down’ and, out of annoyance, he refused to take his bath for seven days. In other words, Ajimobi’s loss, at least in places I have visited thus far, has little or nothing to do with his performance (Which I hope to dissect in a more serious OP-ED) but his politics––politics of word usage, precisely.

So whether we speak of his handling of the Unity Forum revolt, the numerous battles with Olubadan, his needless ‘war’ with Tungba master Yinka Ayefele, or the incessant war of words with some other powerful forces in the state—-which all triggered his humiliating end— we will still come back to his attitude, and most importantly, choice of words.

Ibadan offers an interesting paradox: your indigeneship may be considered questionable if you lack the city’s famed gift of the garb yet, on the flipside, you will most definitely meet your waterloo in their very hands if you misuse the city’s most famous gift. In all, the core concern is ‘Discretion’. That attribute, as they say, is the better part of valour.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s loss mirrors the lessons inherent in Bankarere’s fate in Yoruba people’s didactic phraseology. Considered a blabbermouth, Bankarere, otherwise regarded as “Asorosoboto”, is said to be fond of boasting about his unparalleled facility for excellent usage of words. He was warned to be cautious of his words; yet, he declined. The motormouth would later meet his disastrous end through the ripple effects of things said with his razor-sharp mouth. Like Ajimobi’s, Bankarere’s end teaches discretion, which is key.

It is one thing the next ‘political son’, nay leader, in and of the city, must take note of. Discretion.

Oladeinde Olawoyin, a journalist with Premium Times, is from Ibadan.

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