By Busuyi Mekusi
The return of Arakunrin Akeredolu to Nigeria after his medical leave; woke up sleepers, recalibrated pens with inks, printers with toners and imbued brains with new coinages, in a flurry of congratulatory messages. Unanimously, it was a relief that the people’s governor came back with vigour, getting to reinforce the possibility of answered prayers, even though western medicare was central. Nnoo, our dear Arakunrin! I join you to thank Ledumare! Like I wrote in my previous letter to you, we are looking forward to you; sustaining good governance at a time the economy is biting, upholding courage when the hearts of some are failing, mending fences across different divides, and conveying a successor platform that would help us deepen good governance in our dear state, even as ambitions are being expressed for the next gubernatorial election.
Human prestigious positioning would not, ordinarily, insulate the person from the vagaries of life or what artists either call human frailties or vicissitudes. It is for the foregoing reason that mortality became a check in human existence. The Biblical symbolic personality of longevity, Methuselah, now lives in a world of his own, as the old order of prolonged living has since been vitiated by what is now dismissively or conciliatorily referred to today as low life expectancy. The contradictions in human existence have also been fired by the oppositional gravitations towards development, and away from nature. By reason of technological development, artificiality continues to dominate the human natural body, with the latter getting burdened more with vulnerability. From foods, vegetables, clothing to chemicalised ointment, equipment, household utensils and tools, etc., strange elements get infused into the human body, with the body left to grasp with lethal foreign bedfellows.
Monarchs, political leaders, religious saints, etc., have shown, variously, in the past that the human in them is best driven by the earthen configuration that encases the other personalities; the spirit and the soul. Therefore, no matter the spiritual and soulish values attached to the earthen vessel that the human body is, the body is open to sicknesses, feebleness, and death. Little wonder that it is only at death that decomposition takes place, whether the dead body is ostentatiously buried, left to decay on the earth surface or reduced, more beneficially, to specimen in medical laboratories.
As fortified as the Aso Rock, the seat of Nigeria Presidency, is two occupiers of the edifice, Abacha and Yar’adua, at different times, responded to calls from the other side of the divide, and died while in office. Buhari was very lucky that predictable expectations of his death, based on the life-threatening undisclosed ailment he nursed and treated for several months in the United Kingdom, did not come to fruition, even though the inexplicability of his recovery and improved health birthed the malicious fabrication of the myth of ‘Jubril of Sudan’. He, like few others, including Arakunrin, was aware of the social media announcement of his ‘obituary’, as he later acknowledged his bewilderment about such development.
Ascension and succession to traditional and political offices in Nigeria are wrapped in subterfuge, treachery and avoidable shenanigans. While Yoruba traditional institutions, for instance, allows an ailing king to continue to rule, even by proxy, and makes room for regency on the death of a King, constitutional provisions in Nigeria prescribe a vice or deputy that stands in when the first citizen of a government is not available or indisposed.
Just as traditional regency has turned out vexatious in certain occasions, deputising in political offices has also created tensions and misgivings at different times and places. Obasanjo/Atiku; Tinubu/Bucknor-Akerele/Pedro; Akande/Omisoore; Mimiko/Olanusi; Akeredolu/Agbo are some of the initial productive political alliances and collaborations that later went awry. It is for the reason of the divisive distracting tendencies inhered in this political culture that some watchers in Ondo State are worried about possible breakdown in the relationship between Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa. We should also be reminded, however, of the concept of ‘place holding’ that Tinubu practiced through Masari.
Until recently, when the necessity of transmitting power by Akeredolu to Aiyedatiwa to act as the governor dawned, to allow the former proceed on medical leave overseas, the striking semblance in the patterned beards of the duo would have passed for unity of thoughts, aggregation of intentions, collaboration beyond collusion and acceptance without suspicions. The grapevine was filled with possible politicisation of the ill-health of Akeredolu by forces allegedly loyal to Aiyedatiwa, as loyalists of Akeredolu were said to have accused Aiyedatiwa and his people of weaponising Akeredolu’s challenged health, with a wish for his ultimate death. Aiyedatiwa has, however, continued to emplace his loyalty to his boss, accusing detractors of planting deliberate discords to score very cheap political goals. The complications of heir apparent in political ascendancy got clearly manifested in the aspiration of Osinbajo in the 2023 presidential primary, and Aiyedatiwa may also learn from that, given the verisimilitude.
The re-jigging of the media aides that led to the deputy governor being stripped of the old compliments has been described by some as a pointer to things to come. It is possible that there would have been newer development between when this piece was written and the time it would be published, including the possibility of the rejuvenation of the state executive council. It is hoped that amidst these political rumblings, the interest of the people would be central. Citizens of Ondo state are of the opinion that governance in the state was on holiday, while Arakunrin was away, and he must sustain the announcement of his presence through the signing of the bill for the creation of Local Council Development Areas. The state and federal controlled roads in the state that are causing the people pains should be attended to expeditiously, while more reliable approaches to palliating the dreadful economy should be evolved.
From the excerpts of what Akeredolu told members of the State House of Assembly and the state executive council members during his various meetings with stakeholders in Ibadan on his arrival, it was obvious that there were some ‘unsaid’ things from what he said, which could be unravelled through pragmatics. Basically, pragmatics studies how more is communicated beyond what is said. It examines the expression of relative distance, what determines the choice between the said and the unsaid; what people mean by their utterances, above what their words mean; the context that influences what is said, etc. With excerpts of Akeredolu’s speech given below, certain questions would arise, naturally, as part of the commitment to pragmatically understand what he said, and those he did not say:
Statements and questions:
* God has done what the majority of our people wanted (what did the minority desire concerning him?)
* Majority of our people here knelt down and prayed for our return, and we have returned. (what did the minority that did not kneel to pray do; sharing unattained booties?)
* I am back, and by the grace of God, I will be alive to complete my full tenure in office.
* I want to tell you that I am back, and I will resume work immediately (does it mean he could be back and someone else desire to still perform his duties?).
His alternative use of the first singular pronoun, ‘I’, and the plural variant, ‘we’, is very instructive. Even though it may stand for the plurality of authority, it is also suggestive of the place of the First Lady. From the speech of Akeredolu, pragmatics dictates that he said God did what the majority prayed and wanted, his return, he nonetheless implied that a minority did not pray for and want him to return. He similarly declared that he is alive to complete his tenure in office, with the possibility that someone else wanted him dead to complete his tenure. He opined that he would resume work immediately, suggesting that the person that performed his duties before then would stop forthwith.
As Shakespeare plays like; Macbeth, King Lear, Twelfth Night, etc., examine the game, intrigues, and devastation of power, we should be counselled by the thought of Richard in Richard III to the effect that “plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, To set my brother Clarence and the king in deadly hate, the one against the other; And if King Edward be as true and just As I am subtle, false, and treacherous, This day should Clarence closely be mewed up” (Act I, Scene i, lines 32-38). To this end, as we set for the marathon of Ondo 2024, we must avoid dangerous plots, reckless wishful prophecies, devious dreams, and evil deadly hates against the other, reminded that we are mere dusts.
We look forward to the realities of the ‘unsaid’ aspects of the return speech of Arakunrin, hoping and trusting that the wheels of governance would grind effectively faster, with treachery and subterfuge not promoted to the relevant focus that our existential matters demand. Dalu, Arakunrin!