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Olakunrin: Femi Adesina’s Lies That Blind ~ By Olusegun Adeniyi


Femi Adesina: “President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, whose daughter, Mrs Funke Olakunrin was killed along Ondo-Ore road by those described as armed robbers by Ondo Police Command…”

There are two important prayers in Yorubaland for parents. One, ‘Olorun o ni je ki e ma saree omo yin’ which translates into ‘God will not let you know the grave of your child’ and the second, ‘Olorun koni fi ina omo jo wa’ which also translates into ‘God will not allow us to know the pain that comes with losing a child’.

The author, Olusegun Adeniyi

It is against the foregoing background that one can imagine the pain of Afenifere Leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti who lost his daughter in very tragic circumstances last Friday. Sadly, the nonagenarian has not been allowed to mourn with any modicum of dignity. It would seem that to some people, the identity of the killers is more important than the loss. Even the presidency played the game, going by the first tweet from the Special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina: “President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, whose daughter, Mrs Funke Olakunrin was killed along Ondo-Ore road by those described as armed robbers by Ondo Police Command…”

Of course, Adesina’s statement was a response to the stories that the woman was killed by ‘Fulani herdsmen’, even before the conclusion of any investigation. Those who were quick to identify the ‘assailants’ and which ethnic group they belong as well as those who were eager to exonerate them are equally wrong. Neither had any basis for their hasty conclusions which only create a perfect condition for opportunistic crimes to thrive. In the end, the criminals win. What would matter to Pa Fasoranti is that those who killed his daughter are apprehended and brought to justice.

What is lost in the controversy trailing Mrs Olakunrin’s death is that in a plural society such as ours, resort to profiling not only creates and perpetuates a poisonous social environment, it also makes peaceful co-existence very difficult. It becomes even more dangerous when the profiling is associated with a crime as heinous as homicide. That was the point being made during the week by no less a personality than the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah. By defining people by which sections of the country they come from, the religion they practice or what language they speak, we have succeeded in creating territorial entrepreneurs who now seize available space to make their usual occasional threats on behalf of “their people”.

What is going on in Nigeria today is very disturbing because it is beyond the usual ‘gra-gra’ that we are familiar with. This is different, caustic and destructive. Nothing perhaps explains the underlining situation better than Chris Ngwodo’s book, ‘Fate of the Union: Breaking the curse of identity politics and reclaiming the Nigerian dream’ from where I picked the title of this piece. It should be a recommended text in all our tertiary institutions not only because Ngwodo brilliantly dissected how identity has become the lens through which issues are viewed and magnified in our country but also for the solutions proffered by the author.

Meanwhile, President Buhari should be held responsible for the state of affairs for two reasons. One, the national security situation is getting out of hands and if constituting a cabinet is too much for him to handle, it is easy to understand why the nation is practically under the gun. Two, his mismanagement of our diversity in the distribution of opportunities and implementation of potentially divisive policies has continued to energize certain subliminal impulses in our society. The president should therefore be worried that it is under his watch that Nigerians now appear incapable of having a conversation without ethnic, religious or even political party profiling.

Beyond the obvious personal tragedy that the death of Mrs Olakunrin represents for her family, the undue emphasis on the political status of her father has only helped to muddle the waters. We need to return this killing to the domain of the current national discourse on insecurity as a clear and biting urgency. Only in that context does it make greater meaning. If a person of such a status can be do casually murdered on a highway, what is the plight of the common person whose death in similar circumstances is not even likely to be reported?

This tragedy would be wasted if we allow it to be lost in the brackish waters of Nigeria’s perennial political brickbats. On the contrary, Mrs Olakunrin’s death would be elevated to martyrdom if it helps us in extracting from the federal government a more serious commitment to finding an end to the inferno of insecurity that is raging across Nigeria.

To Pa Fasoranti, as well as the husband and children of Mrs Olakunrin, I extend my condolences.

Overland’s Shameful Conduct

On Monday, a family guest was going back to her Ibadan base from Abuja and that morning, she bought Overland Airlines ticket for 4PM. By mid-day, there was a text message that the flight had been rescheduled for 7pm. Not wanting to travel that late, the woman asked that the ticket be changed for the next day, following assurances from the airlines officials that Tuesday’s flight would be punctual. By the morning of Tuesday, however, there was another text message from Overland, postponing the flight till 8PM!

With several commitments in Ibadan, the woman decided it was better to take a flight to Lagos and then head to Ibadan by road. But all efforts to get the refund of her ticket money from Overland were thwarted by the officials: She had to write and wait for some big officials to approve, a process that would take days. Since Overland had forced her hands and because she needed to be back to Ibadan that day, she decided to wait for the 8pm flight. By 5pm, there was again another text message, this time that the flight “has been cancelled.” Just like that!

Overland Airlines knew they were not going to fly to Ibadan but rather than inform their customers, they kept selling tickets. But they are not alone in this patently fraudulent practice. It is the same culture of impunity that pervades the whole system. For instance, in the first quarter of this year, according to data from the Consumer Protection Department of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Domestic airlines operating in Nigeria recorded 7,926 cases of delayed flights. Within the same period of January to March, no fewer than181 flights were cancelled, going by the report. That the airlines continue to treat their passengers with contempt is because the NCAA is not alive to its responsibility.

To develop as a nation, we cannot continue to condone this sort of reckless behaviour in such a vital sector.

You can follow me on my Twitter handle, @Olusegunverdict and on www.olusegunadeniyi.com

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