By Busuyi Mekusi

Dear Arákùnrin Akeredolu, it is with great joy that I write you this missive. Hope you are in peace, just as I am, if so doxology! Contemplating a conversation with Arákùnrin Akeredolu at this time fluttered my mind with the traditional template that existed among primitive users of the English language, at a time when colonial vestiges were central to post-independence belongingness. The English language now has many ‘bastards in post colonies like Nigeria, where poor usage is redundantly emblematic of overall academic un-seriousness. Amidst this poverty of ideas, Eurocentric status-making and marking have killed indigenous languages on the altar of self-imposed imperialist subjugation. 

Do pardon me, Dear Arákùnrin, for my peripatetic approach to narratives. No doubt, the economic realities in Nigeria have been befuddling and traumatising. Speaking specifically, I was overwhelmed by the effusion of peoples best wishes and prayers for you on your 67th birthday anniversary, a day after your dear wife and Ada Owere I, Arabinrin, was celebrated by her likers as she entered the septuagenarian circle. Without giving room for her right to decisions, some hardliners similarly criticised her for planning a special jog for life’ from Akure to Owo. Nonetheless, the suspension of the event on this side of the divide, and her opportunity to stage a private version of that on the other side was a display of equilibrium. 

The most emotional dimension to your birthday celebration, dear Arákùnrin, were the videos circulated to assure us, your admirers, that our prayers for your recovery is being answered, trusting that the medical care open to you is reinforcing as well. Even though the videos generated various perceptive reactions, they were good for some, but bad for others. To this end, the negative narratives of the latter got pooh-poohed as your supporters were buoyed by the news of your recuperation. When some saw frailty, which is not strange to humans at critical challenging junctures, your raised fist signified your resolve to fight the enemies of your health and wellbeing, with the solidarity of collective mass struggles evoked. A lady radio presenter in the state called the video a proof of life. May you continue to have life, dear Arákùnrin!      

Furthermore, the unification of opinions during your birthday effectively swallowed the politicisation of your physical absence, caused by your medical leave. Apart from the claims of cabals that were accused of sidelining the Deputy Governor, who has since transmuted to Acting Governor, and the mischievous narratives of your incapacitation to comprehensively unseat you, it was obvious that the complainants were simply taking pain-relievers for the ache of someone else, as long as Ayedatiwa did not complain either quietly or loudly to us. Either way, your absence has been exploited by governorship hopefuls or aspirants to leverage on their ambition to succeed you by February 2025. Between holding the handle of the cutlass and the sharp end, the unsustainable conjecture is that the workings of the symbolic razor blade of governance would largely determine who wears the crown after you. However, let it be known that Olódùmarè crowns Kings, even though the place of critical partners could not be overemphasised! 

Dear Arákùnrin, relating to your present predicament, typically reflective of the vulnerability of mortals, I was reminded of the validity of three major Yoruba oral traditional tropes that have been enlivened in naming and music: the notion that sàsàènìyàn níí féni léyìn, terú tomo níí féni lójú eni’ (most people dont value you when you are absent, but all desire you when you are present); the lyrics of Sunny Ades song with the title: Ibi won ri o (wherever they choose), and a song by our kinsman, Orlando Owoh, to the effect that: Láì kú Ěgìrì láyé ń bí, kò séni jé fawo è sé gbèdu’. Notwithstanding the ill-wishes of your detractors, Dear Arákùnrin, your retention of the seat of the Governor of Ondo State remains a pulling force, making opportunists to continue to hang on, as they still hope to still benefit from your political relevance. They want you to speak in their favour, like Elisha promised to mention the Shunammite woman to the King.

As you remain the talk-of-the-town among politicians and their supporters, and relying on the contextual and performative logicality of words, I appropriate Sunny Ades musical evocation to wish you: the painless head to navigate the current murky waters like fishes; the cramps-free intestine of the snail to accommodate their bile; the comfort of fishes inside water to handle the present circumscribed space; the stress-free oscillation of hinges to maintain your balance; as you continue to trample on enemies as the elephant does of vegetations. This is as you return unscathed as the hand visits the mouth repeatedly unhurt. You may not have to consult Adahunse about your traducers like Orunmila, but your desires for them would hold, as long as a piece of cloth neither resists the penetration of the needle, nor the frog ignores the voice of the pond. It is certain that the skin of the antelope would not be available to knit the gbèdu-drum, until after death, and, for you, you will see the end of those who wish you dead. 

Dear Arákùnrin, there is no gainsaying the fact that you brought peculiar virtues to governance in Ondo State in particular, and Nigeria in general. Your courageous interventions in national issues shaped the perceptions about and reactions to insecurity across Nigeria, with you championing the Southwest security outfit codenamed Amotekun, and nudging the government at the centre towards true federalism, among others. Your commitment to truth is uncommon, and your frankness would easily defeat death, irrespective of its stings. Sometime ago in Ondo State, at a public function where you were invited to commission a facility, you did not only commend the impressive performance of your government in the area of primary education, but you bluntly acknowledged that your administration had not done enough in the area of secondary education. This is not to mention your frankness on local and national touchy matters that could ordinarily hurt your political interest, when others would have dissembled. No doubt, you are motivating others to sign on the path of truthfulness! 

I have been privileged to be associated with your longstanding reliable friend that I will simply reference as uncle RO. I have stressed to him the need for you to emplace a leadership succession structure in our dear state, particularly considering the failure of your predecessors in this regard, and reminded of the fact that you have been lucky enough to be saved from the poisonous burden of godfathers. While commending you for your recommendable commitment to friendship and brotherliness, as exemplified in your relationship with uncle RO, your decision to remain true to past social dealings is one way one could get cured of avoidable bigmanism that is common to the tempestuous Nigeria political climate. It is envisaged that these past links would remain assets to you and your political investment, and not liabilities that would injure the reputation you have built for yourself in both the legal profession and public life. 

Dear Arákùnrin, my dream-encounter with you very recently availed me the opportunity to ask who you would want your successor to be. Regaled in a white-track suit similar to the one you wore in the video of your 67th birthday anniversary, we had a fairly long conversation, strolling, until we got to a corner at which point I woke up, without you responding to my question. We must note that I am not, in any way, suggesting that I have the spiritual powers of dreams to see into the future or unmask cloudy scenarios, as foretelling has been reduced to political analyses by self-acclaimed prophets who, analogous to the biblical vision-impaired man, continue to see human beings like trees. Knowing about tomorrow and the politics of prophecy in Nigeria are negatively complementary.

Our Dear Arákùnrin, as I end my short letter to you, do not despise my call to you to come back: to continue your courageous leadership, particularly in Ondo State, and by extension Nigeria; to reconcile with aggrieved political leaders in your party in the state, and build a united front; to sustain the laudable economic initiatives to move the state forward; to emplace the needed political community from where we could assemble purposeful leadership sustainably in the state; to advise us on who of the whole lots that seek to succeed you is the preferred, but ensuring the centralisation of collective interest as against self-enlightened pursuits that could make democratic leadership a curse and not a blessing. I look forward to reading from you soon, my dear Arákùnrin.  

On behalf of the Osunpamisi descendants of Ijare, I wish our dear patriarch, Chief Olajimbiti Oni, a safe trip, as he is committed to mother earth today!

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