Ajimobi and the Storm in a Tea Cup - By Yomi Layinka

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My boss was recently in the eye of the storm, never mind that the storm was in a tea cup. For about a fortnight, the worldwide social media was abuzz with distorted stories, misrepresentations and caricatures of Governor Abiola Ajimobi as well as some members of his nuclear family.

Now that we thankfully have some calm in the air, perhaps we can do a brief recap of, and some reflections, on a few of the matters arising from that hoopla. In doing so, it is important to note the very toxic environment in which all these events occur; a universe inhabited by the politically dead, terminally wounded and vengeful foes – always lurking around, looking for any opportunity to pounce and take their pounds of flesh.

So, when next you hear that Ajimobi is in the eye of some storm, please be reminded that it may be no more than another round of vilification by a motley crowd of the politically wounded. Here then are some alternative readings and matters arising from that avoidable rumble.

First, is our national proclivity for contradictory expectations. As a people, we seem to find it difficult accepting the basic notion that we cannot eat our omelette without breaking an egg just as we cannot eat our cake and hope to have it. At almost every meeting between Nigerians, we are quick to bemoan how things have deteriorated but are   quicker to absolve ourselves of any guilt in the deterioration.

We refuse to take responsibility for our actions and inactions, always passing the buck to the next person who promptly and dutifully passes it on to the next person, ad nauseam. We all complain about the corrosion of our communal ties and values, about the progressive breakdown of law and order in our society but we are also the first to scoff at the few good people trying to fix things.

When our governments take the hard nosed and corrective positions necessary to return our country back to the path of sustainable growth, we swiftly rise in unison urging our functionaries to sabotage the rules. When Ajimobi asks market women to stop endangering their lives by refraining from selling on the highways, we turn logic upside, railing and ranting to score cheap political points.

When he directs the law enforcement agencies to follow through on extant laws that demand compliance, interests groups begin to lobby and seek ways out of their obligations. If and when Ajimobi insists on pursuing those laws to their logical conclusions, he is branded obstinate, inflexible and proud.

We claim to be worried that our youths are becoming wayward, uncouth and unruly; Ajimobi tries to say the same thing to some disorderly youngsters, but rather than rally behind him, we upbraid the man for correcting his children’s mis-behavior. So, what do we really want?

Second: some of our commentators unwittingly, and I believe, in grave error, sniggered at the fundamental importance of culture in the definition, sustenance and growth of any community. To this, I can only plead caution. As we generally ought to know, culture is the totality of a people’s way of life covering their history, lifestyles, arts and the subtler codes of their relationships.

It includes the moral anchors and spiritual compasses that help them navigate through life’s treacherous labyrinths. Without such strict codes of etiquette agreed upon by stakeholders, the journey may be no more than a rudderless adventure that surely leads to communal perdition. Once it becomes acceptable for children to publicly abuse and ridicule their parents and constituted authorities, we may well say goodbye to all the holding devices left of our already fractured society.

Shame of our failing society

Our people say, and I concur, ‘it is the lack of respect for the elderly that has turned the world into a crooked place’. As for those who suggest that we can conveniently hide behind the veil of modernity to cover up the shame of our failing society, I say: look towards China, India and other great and emerging civilizations to see whether they sold their mores and cultural values on the altar of modernity.

Which brings me to the much joked about, and now popularized, ‘Constituted Authority’ subject. While the phrase itself is not new, Governor Ajimobi may have at last brought the nation’s attention to it in far more important ways that we think. Apart from offering us a chance to ponder the true meaning and implications of the term, he provided us the chance to enjoy big terminologies made simple; much like “Oga at the top’ and ‘The Other Room’ before it.

So, while this one lasts, let us enjoy the fun, so long as we do not suddenly find that the joke is on us. Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that neither the rankled critics nor the satirists have argued against the validity of Ajimobi’s claim to the title. No one that I know has competently put a tenable counter to his legal iteration.

The Law Dictionary defines constituted authorities as ‘officers properly appointed under the constitution for the government of the people’. Constituted Authorities can be said to be the sacred guardians of the laws, of the orders and of the cultural codes of the community.

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