Oyinlola Keeps His Promise Despite Tinubu’s Victory (2)
By Tunde Odesola
After reading the first part of this article last week, Oyinlola called me, and as my phone was ringing, I was tempted to fetch the bitter kola in my hunter’s pouch, take a bite, gargle some aromatic schnapps and chant the incantation, “Ohun ta wi fun ogbó, l’ogbó n gbo, ohun ta wi fun ogbà, l’ogba n gba, kóse kóse ni ti ìlákòse, á sùn má párádà ni ti igi àjà… tùèh!”
I wasn’t going to harm Oyinlola with my chant. Far from it. I was only going to safeguard the kill that Ògún Lákáayé Ósìnmólè, the god of War and Iron, had secured for me, a gunless hunter, from a gunnery old soldier. I didn’t want to hear, “Tunde, I mistakenly sent some bags of cowries to your vault. I’m sorry; they’re not meant for you. They’re meant for Tunde Kelani, the world-renowned cinematographer.”
Well, if Omo’ba Lagun had tried to recall the ancient legal tender aka cowries in my possession, in the manner Bible-loving Godwin Emefiele recalled the naira, I wouldn’t have been sheepish like the Nigerian masses. I would’ve stood up to him and reminded him of the epic Battle of Òrè during the Nigerian Civil War.
Oyinlola knows the art and science of war. He knows why the intensity of the Òrè Battle is prefixed with the phrase ‘O Le Ku’, Ija Òrè. It was in Òrè, Ondo State, that Biafran forces were turned back by federal forces.
I would’ve refused to return the cowries because in vain the moinmoin seeks escape after entering the house of agidi corn meal. The bracelet is cast on the wrist of Olóòsà, nobody can pull it off! I’ll remind Oyin that the Kelani that directed Ò Lé Kù also directed Agogo Eewo, which affirms the efficacy of African traditional powers. I have the full support of the Awise Agbaye, Prof Wande Abimbola, and the Araba of Osogbo, Baba Yemi Elebuibon.
When I picked up Oyin’s call, his voice was unmistakable, “Young man, you want to reveal what we did in secret, abi? I’m going to sue you and press for damages because people are going to bombard me.” I protested, “They’ve been bombarding me too, despite my incantations, sir.” “Na you sabi di fake incantation you’re chanting. You’re muddling ‘Ohun ta wi fun ogbó, l’ogbó n gbo’, and ‘Fírí, fírí loju n ri, bòhùn, bohun làgùtàn ń wò’; the two serve different purposes. One is to make you do what you wouldn’t do, the other is to render you powerless,” he said. Hmm, I could see Oyin doesn’t know Ifa has gone digital.
Oyin belongs to the rich cultural past when mothers exhaled thrice ‘ha! ha! ha!’ before slicing open the gizzard of a freshly killed fowl, nowadays, ‘ha! ha! ha!’ could indicate delirium or the commencement of the cult war. Nowadays, everything is muddled up.
Oyinlola continued, “I was the one God used to end the Ife-Modakeke War, not Chief Bisi Akande, as contained in the first part of your article. When I became governor, they were still fighting, albeit on a low scale. So, I went to Ooni Sijuwade Okunade. I told him, ‘Kabiyesi, you’re the only one who can put a permanent end to this crisis’. I said he should cooperate with me. Thereafter, I went to Baba Ogunsua, the late Chief Francis Adedoyin. I told him of the need to put a permanent stop to the war. I pleaded with him to follow me to Ife. And he agreed.
“It was on a Sunday. Modakeke people said Ife people were threatening that Ogunsua should not come. I said the Ogunsua should come in my car, that anyone who wants to kill or harm him would have me to contend with first. When we got to Ife, we entered the palace, and Ogunsua was given a seat, but he refused the seat and sat on the floor.
“At the meeting, I suggested to Oba Sijuwade that all the lands of Modakeke seized by Ife should be returned, and he agreed. I also urged him to upgrade Ogunsua, who was a baale, to a king. Sijuwade also agreed. Also, I implored Sijuwade to pay all the salaries accruable to Ogunsua, which had been seized, during the war. Oba Sijuwade agreed to that, too. That was how the war ended permanently. So, when people ask what my greatest achievement was as governor, it is ending the Ife-Modakeke war, not the Osun State University, not the numerous infrastructural projects. Human life is sacrosanct.”
Never dig the hole of antagonism deep because you might find yourself in it, counsels a Yoruba proverb. I was the Lagos State Governor’s Office/Lagos State House of Assembly reporter when the letter transferring me to Osun State as correspondent came. Some of my Alausa colleagues I shared my impending destination with warned me of virtually everyone on Oyinlola’s media team. “Ha! Lasisi will want to control you.” “Oh! Oladeji is cunning. You can never know where he’s going.” “Salam is manageable, but don’t trust him totally.” The advice came in torrents. But I never allowed what I had heard about the trio to affect my relationship with them.
I cherish and nurture friendship. An ex-Osun House of Assembly Speaker, Chief Adejare Bello, was the first politician I met when I got to Osun. His enigmatic Press Secretary, the late Olumide Ajayi, (my ‘aburo’) saw me the day I arrived and insisted I must see his ‘oga’ in Ede. I complained it was getting late, but Olumighty begged. He was such an irresistible soul. I succumbed.
When Bello left the government, I still kept in contact with him. Bello, now the Ambassador to Mexico, loves football. His team is Real Madrid and his favourite player is Ronaldo. Hardly a day passes without me needling him about the inability of Ronaldo to win the World Cup like my favourite player, Messi did. In return, he would remind me that Real Madrid is superior to Barcelona, my team.
During the Qatar 2022 World Cup, I was rooting for Argentina while Bello was seeking their ouster. When Argentina got to the final and I started to diss Bello, he said in annoyance, “Argentina will never win the cup.” “The cup is already in Bueno Aires,” I fired back. “Do you want to bet?” “Yes, sir, I want to bet.” “How much?” “N100k.” “OK?” Ok!”
When the referee blew the final whistle and I was jumping about the house, thanking God for crowning Messi’s stellar career with a World Cup, my phone rang, it was Bello, “Tunde, congratulations! Send your account number, please.”
“N100k just like that? Why have you been wasting your time in journalism? Why don’t you become a pundit and make money, Tunde?” I wondered.
I don’t like to bet. The few times I have betted in my life, I returned the won bet. But what’s N100k to an ambassador? Did I ask for the win? Tunde, send your account number jo! I did and heard an alert shortly afterwards.
In 2011, inside the PUNCH newsroom, I predicted the outcome of the 2011 Osun governorship election. Saturday PUNCH had on its cover the map of Osun, showing the 30 local government councils. The election was a straight fight between the incumbent, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and the challenger, Chief Iyiola Omisore. Saturday PUNCH Editor, Mrs Bisi Deji-Folutile, predicted victory for Omisore.
The Executive Director, of Publications, Mr Adeyeye Joseph, now Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, asked if I was the one that shaded each candidate’s areas of strength on the map. He was told I wasn’t. He called for me and directed that I handle the map.
On election day, Aregbesola won in all the 22 councils while Omisore won in the eight I predicted, though there were one or two councils where I predicted victory could go either way. When I got to the office on Monday, Segun Olugbile, the news editor, told me Saturday PUNCH editor was looking for me. When she saw me, she was full of praise for me.
I speak regularly with General Oyinlola. After the 2023 presidential election, I called Oyinlola to get his view. He said Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would win but I said Tinubu would win. He said, “Do you want to bet?” “Yes,” I said. “How much,” he asked?” I said, “Sir, let me stake N500,000.00 to you N5m.” He said, “Which type of betting is that?” Are you betting or not,” he asked with a military finality. I said, “Yes.” “How much?” he asked again. I said, “If I bet N500,000, I’ll win N5m.”
Last Monday, I got an alarm from a microfinance bank. I called Oyin. He said, “I am a soldier. I keep my word.”
Written by Tunde Odesola and first published in The PUNCH, on Friday, December 8, 2023)
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola