Lisabi’s paradigm against insecurity
By Bayo Fasunwon
F rom the earliest times, the security of lives, properties and the territorial integrity had been an issue over which sane nations have never compromised their stand. Therefore under no circumstance will Israel fold her hands and watch a tiny strip of her territory become the property of her neighbor. In the same vein, irrespective of colour or race of descent, an American citizen would be shielded against attack, anywhere in the world, and in certain cases, the blood of a slain American would be avenged. Thus, good nations hold their territories and nationals in high esteem to the extent that an encroachment would be an invitation to war. Such was the case with Lisabi in his quest to emancipate his territory, land and people from the chains of vassalage.
In Lisabi Agbongbo Akala’s days, the Egbas were under the control of Oyo. The Alaafin of Oyo did not only take tributes from the Egbas, but also took over the political control of the land, and her people by the installation of colonial officers, Ajeles in the subdued land to monitor, direct and enforce their obedience to Oyo’s colonial rule. The Ajeles were a law to themselves, living large and subjecting the locals to the gratification of their thirsts and lusts. While the subdued groaned over their land arrests, and the heavy yokes of tributes, the fear of the foreign invaders made them bend their necks to servitude without the thought of independence. However, in the midst of the cowed and subdued citizens of Egba was a man who felt that not only was a revolution necessary to claim his fatherland, he also believed that it was possible.
The first assignment was the identification of the factor responsible for the continual subjugation of his people. It did not take him long to realize that his people suffered from the same malaise of the Yorubas, disunity. Each town and household in Egba was against one another. The intra conflicts gave the Ajeles access to information that was used to subdue them. The internal wrangling closed their eyes against their common enemies while they denigrated and sold themselves politically to the foreign elements that were keen on destroying them. The Southwest zone of Nigeria had been strong and powerful in the days when they spoke with one voice. When the Action Group was in control of the affairs of the region, the development that took place and the human dignity accorded to the Yoruba man was enviable. However, with the creation of the NNDP as a splinter group and the creation of the Midwest region, the curse of Aole seemed to have its full course, and the Yorubas became a house divided itself, turning them into the ladle that is used to stir the contents of hot water, while being secluded when the time for the consumption of the porridge was ripe. The disunity, as was in the days of the Egbas became the gap in the wall that created an avenue for the lizard’s entry into their palatial heritage. Therefore without mincing words, insecurity in any community thrives as long as the ravaged people live in selfishness, disunity, and disregard for the comfort of their fellow men.
The second factor was the economic deprivation of the people. Given the constant demand of tributes, the harvest of farmers dwindled, and all lived from hands to mouth. Individualism restricted the extent of cultivation and harvest of the farmers; hence capital accumulation became very difficult. Lisabi organized Aaro system, which was a farmers’ cooperative group in which all farmers, aroused by the drumbeats, would join hands and cultivate a farmer’s land for a day, gather and cultivate another’s on another day, and continue in rotation until all the farmers’ had their lands tilled and cultivated for the season. This economic unification brought about increased cultivation, higher yields, employment for youths, and an encouragement for enterprise. In addition, quarrels were discussed and solved, and unity was fostered. This attitude, one is wont to believe laid the foundation for the formation of the Oodua investments, although in practice differs from the Lisabi paradigm. If the Southwest could have joint economic ventures in the different States, the unity would be stronger, and enterprises would flourish.
In the spirit of sacrifice, as against the selfish primitive accumulation of properties by visionary leaders, Lisabi committed himself to energetic contributions to the development of her peoples’ farms without seeking that his farm would be the first point of call. He made no demands from the people he dutifully served until they were compelled to ask him the day for the cultivation of his farm. In other words, when leadership is committed to serving the people, the people would of their own volition follow and serve leadership without coercion. In any political system wherein people are being forced to serve those in power by senseless taxation, forced labour and coerced obedience, then it is evident that the leadership is not serving the people. Lisabi was of the opinion that prosperity under incarceration is poverty. Therefore, it was the deliverance of his people and land that occupied his mind and that was what he asked for. His farm was war against the intruders, against those who rape their daughters and wives; war against those who ravage their farms, and waste their efforts, war against those who make living and travelling a fearful venture and war against those who pillaged, and exploited their resources with impunity.
Given his leadership, commitment and servitude on their farms, and the bond developed over time, the revolution became a national creed. This is unlike the call for Revolution by a man whose sacrifices, contributions and unifying efforts are unknown. Nobody likes to follow a leader of rhetoric, grammar and theatre. Revolutionaries are men who give a hand to lift others, with selfless service and ascetic lifestyles. That a people would follow. So Lisabi rallied his ‘weak’ men and dislodged the Ajeles. In unity, the dreadful forces of Oyo were conquered when war was declared on the Egbas. During the war, strategy, unity and selflessness turned around the captivity of the Egba people, who sustained their independence forever. Every political system that refuses to unite his people and protect their economy and well being would always be a slave to another political system that does. Amotekun is a step in the right direction, but its success would depend largely on the adoption of Lisabi’s paradigm.