By Mayowa Tijani

In the Yoruba culture, adults are rarely wrong. Of course, this does not say they are not wrong many times, it just means that when they are wrong, it is not in the place of a child to say it. It gets even more interesting: when adults fart in Yorubaland, a proper child or omoluabi, as we call it, is expected to say “eku idita” or “ara agba fere”. This is just some form of congratulating the adults on the success of his or her air pollution.

Personally, I love the culture, no matter how odd it gets sometimes. In the spirit of congratulating the adults for such air pollution, it is sometimes embarrassing to the adults if you cover your nostrils, in order to avoid “the global warming” emanating from the oldest butthole in the room. So you either hold your breath or respectfully leave the room. But you don’t judge, you don’t condemn the adult for farting where you are.

We are here again; we are at this threshold of history where the unexpected suddenly begins to happen, all in the name of politics. And for the next few days or weeks, the news cycle will revolve around two individuals — former president Olusegun Obasanjo and his military buddy, Muhammadu Buhari.

On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari finally called out his old friend, when he said: “You know the rail was killed and one of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent more than $15 billion, not Naira on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts and this year and last year’s budget I took to the National Assembly was the highest in capital projects, more than N1.3 trillion Naira.”

As a background, Obasanjo had been accused of wasting $16 billion on power projects, with darkness to show for it. He has been called to answer questions in the past, but nothing came out of it. When President Buhari was coming into office in 2015, many wanted him to probe that particular project, considering that it did not cost up to $16 billion to build the world’s largest refinery at the time. In fact, the Dangote refinery, touted as the largest single train refinery in the world, will only cost $9 to $12 billion.

But as politics will have it Buhari said two things. In March 2015, just before the elections, he said: “Whoever that is indicted of corruption between 1999 to the time of swearing-in would be pardoned. I am going to draw a line, anybody who involved himself in corruption after I assume office, will face the music”.

After he became president, his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said: “It would be a distraction for the president to begin digging into all former administrations but for a proper take-off of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, there is the need to look into the immediate past government.”

Nigerians were expecting a probe of the $16 billion power project and the multi-billion dollar Halliburton scandal, which also involves Obasanjo and many high profile Nigerian politicians, but Buhari said no to all of that.

But based on Buhari’s speech on Tuesday, Obasanjo in his non-octogenarian style was quick to fire back, asking the president and his co-travellers to read his three-volume books for explanations.

“We recommend that the President and his co-travellers should read Chapters 41, 42, 43 and 47 of My Watch for Chief Obasanjo’s insights and perspectives on the power sector and indeed what transpired when the allegation of $16 billion on power projects was previously made,” Obasanjo wrote via his spokesman.

“If he cannot read the three-volume book, he should detail his aides to do so and summarise the chapters in a language that he will easily understand,” Obasanjo added.


With this background, and my cultural perspectives to these issues of adults farting in public, we should not be distracted from the core issues in our national life: Buhari’s handling of issues of security in the middle-belt, Obasanjo’s 2019 power play with African Democratic Congress (ADC), and ultimately the future of our nation.

Going by Buhari’s and his government’s history in the last 40 months, he will do nothing to Obasanjo. And by nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, Obasanjo will not even be visited nor invited by any probe panel. Buhari and his co-travellers (apologies to Baba Iyabo) will only blame, blame and blame again. I would love some surprise, but I know I am not getting it.

Obasanjo and Buhari will meet in a few days or weeks, and they would laugh over our energy dissipation on mere public farting of two grown men. They would question our anger and disrespect for their expression of a fundamental human right — freedom of speech or freedom of defecation.

Nothing will come out of this public pollution of our airwaves. Obasanjo and Buhari are still going to be friendly foes — nothing changes. And this is the tragedy of our nation. It is our Sisyphean curse.

For those who do not know, Sisyphus, in Greek mythology, was the cunning king of Corinth who was punished for his craftiness. His punishment was that he should roll a huge stone up a hill, but when he almost gets to the top of the hill, or seem to have gotten to the top of the hill, the stone will roll down again, and he would have to begin again.  That is the Sisyphean curse. And he could do this for a lifetime. Obasanjo versus Buhari can be likened to one of Nigeria’s “huge stone”. When we think things have gotten to the top of the hill with them, they roll down again and begin the cycle again. Nothing changes.

So while we still can, let us just say “eku idita” to these adults and move on to better things. On this one, nothing comes out of it. It is just another air pollution.

Aare Buhari, Baba Iyabo, eku idita o.

Originally published in The Cable

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