– By Hakeem Babalola
– Gone were the days when parents would speak omoluwabi into the soul of their children. Omoluwabi can be translated as a gentleman; someone who is polite; a fine fellow etc.
It is a positive word that defines good character. It can mean omume in Igbo; halin kirki in Hausa
Omoluwabi connotes integrity, honesty, hard work, knowledge, enlightenment, generosity, chivalry, perseverance and epitome of virtue in honour.
In those days it was common to hear parents admonishing or counselling their ward:
Eni ba j’ale a d’ele ejo (He who steals will be prosecuted)
Eni ba j’ale a f’ara gbota (He who steals will die by firing squad)
Those were the days when the court was court. Hum, those were the days when lawyers were lawyers. Those days when judges were judges…
So Pa Olaniyi Babalola ati ololufe re, Madam Silifat Abake Babalola, detest stealing just like many other parents.
Consider yourself dead if you pilfer. Make off with belongings of others and you may be disowned. Yes disowned and I am not kidding.
Like in many other homes, stealing was, to say the least abomination. To steal was to disgrace your family and bring shame unto them.
Hum, those were the days of Omoluwabi – of no nonsense
Today, however, shame seems to have lost its meaning, especially among our public officials. The more shameful the more popular they become; the more disgraceful the more accolade and the more embrace. Almost everything has turned upside down.
I remember there was punishment for robbery in those days. F’eyin ta’gba known as death by firing squad introduced by the military regime who itself can be described as a clique of gangsters robbing the nation. Someone called them VIP – Vagabond In Power
I remember one Ishola Oyenusi alias Dr Oyenusi whose notoriety for robbery was a first class distinction. Actually, he earned the appellation Dr. because of his brutality in the act. His partner called Babatunde Folorunso was described as an expert in driving. We were told this young man could drive in reverse and still overtake those driving in normal mode. What a waste of talent!
In the 80’s there was Monday Osunbor and there was Anini who terrorised the whole nation with a master key – of robbery. He too was so notorious that the then so-called evil genius soldier, the one and only Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was constrained to ask the then Inspector General of Police, “My friend, where is Anini?”
At the tender age of five or six, Pa Olaniyi would send me to Oranmiyan junction to buy him newspapers. Hum, those were the days when newspapers were newspapers; when news was news; when journalists were journalists.
On that bright Thursday, September 9, 1971, on the front page of Daily Times is the story of one Dr Oyenusi with the caption, “Oyenusi Smiles To His Death”.
Oyenusi with six of his members tied to separate Agba (drum barrel), soldiers pointing guns at them! According to the story, while others take one bullet, it takes several bullets before the notorious Dr gives up. Death by firing squad…
When I reached home and handed over the paper to papa, Pa Olaniyi invited me pointing to his lap; his eyes glued to the front page. That was the first time I was so close to Papa. Who born monkey? And who am I to plop myself down in Almighty Pa Olaniyi’s lap?
But I digress a bit. Today, my own children not only asleep in my lap but on my shoulder, on my back! “Daddy carry me to bed is a song I am used to”. Hum, a’iye nlo a nto – It’s time of life.
So I guess such unthinkable scenario took place because of the weight of what papa wanted to indoctrinate his dear son. To do it in an uncritical way, rules must be violated and for the first time, I must be closer to papa. So in a reluctant manner, I accepted his sudden and generous offer. It was he himself that carried and eventually sat me on his lap. The moment was that significant.
And Pa Olaniyi Babalola began what invariably would direct my life. Papa began to tell me what later in life would ridicule me in the Nigeria’s of today. It was in the form of admonition, advice, suggestion, warning and lamentation. But all the same a mockery in the context of today’s Nigeria.
“Eni j’ale lo’bomoje, Pa Olaniyi said in a deep tone voice of authority. He who steals is a disgrace – to the family”. He continued, “Don’t steal. Don’t be a thief. You should never take what belongs to you not. If you grow up and you work in the bank, know that the money is not yours. Don’t allow huge money to tempt you. It is not yours. It belongs to other people…”
In retrospect, I wonder if Pa Olaniyi’s vision of he who steals is a disgrace is correct in the model of today’s Nigeria. To tell you the truth, I wonder aloud sometimes if listening to Papa and Mama is the right thing to have done. But it seems it is too late for me to change. Too late?
I mean look at what is going on in Nigeria’s of today. It is a place where someone who refuses to steal or tries to fight corruption becomes the guilty; becomes the outcast; becomes the target of abuse; becomes the mumu in the eyes of the public; even among relatives.
The luxury and corruption among the upper classes has reduced Dr Oyenusi or Anini to an amateur robber. Mind you, both were executed by firing squad.
Thieves have become the role model for the youth. The so-called leaders have in addition stolen our youths’ innocent hearts and replaced it with that of stone.
Today, Nigeria remains a place where one man can steal a cow while another must not even look at its tail. A mindset like that will never allow development. Because there will never be peace where there’s no justice. But Nigerians want peace without justice
Just read the arguments of some of the so-called Nigerian presidents and judge for yourself whether I am right or not to put blame on my parents for teaching me Omoluwabi:
*There’s honour among thieves – the yeye Owu man parading himself as elder statesman
*Every Nigerian has a price – the cunning man in Minna
*Corruption is not stealing – the Otuoke fellow who dug his own grave
*Abacha did not steal Nigeria’s money – the so-called yeye corruption crusader who is clueless about governance and the way forward
From the head of institutions to the local government chairman, to the governor, to the senator or Assemblyman, to the ministers – federal or state, to the office of the president, even the masses – it is the same song. Everywhere and everyone have been infected with the HIV virus – of ThiefRoba.
When a former president of a country flaunts his wealth in the face of the masses; when a serving or former senator decorates his or her house with exotic and expensive automobiles and there are no charges against such fellow, then I conclude that my parents and other parents like them did not see well regarding today’s Nigeria. For me, Nigeria’s present situation has proved my parents wrong.
You know what? Sometimes I wished Pa Olaniyi had told me what Olubukola Saraki’s father told his son concerning stealing. I wished Pa Olaniyi and his wife – my mother had told me what Dino Malaye’s father told his son when they also had the opportunity to sit on their father’s laps. That the more exotic cars you have, the more adoration; that the more fraud you commit the more adulation and servile flattery.
Senator Olubukola Saraki’s father, for example, might have advised his son; and I felt constrained to think along this line because of so many stealing charges against this man.
“My pikin, my love. You dey hear me so? This kontiri Nigeria is full of thieves. Almost all Nigerian presidents are thieves. Even fela sings it. So thieves will rule and continue to rule Nigeria. So be on the very side of thieving. You’re my son, my son, don’t deceive yourself thinking omoluwabi principle will work in Nigeria. Be rugged and please take whatever you can take. Let them call you a thief. That’s their Double Wahala; their palaver. Thief and thief well, my chosen son. The mouth that calls you a thief is the same mouth that will be compelled to call you oga sir, ranka dede sir Ki ade o pe l’ori sir. You will never be dethroned, sir
To buttress my point further, Olusegun Obasanjo who can be described as the Father of Corruption is now accusing others of corruption and being hailed here and there! Or have you forgotten this? $74million Halliburton bribe; Malabu $1.1 billion scandal involving Obasanjo; 3rd term bribery scandal; Obasanjo’s presidential library in which it was alleged Obasanjo forced many governors to contribute a huge amount of money and so on!
Oh, Pa Olaniyi, why have you misled me…? Why didn’t you tell me what Pa Saraki told his son? Why? Papa why?
And so recently I made up my mind to approach Papa with the intention of telling him that he had misled his son with the teaching of Omoluwabi’s principle, which has no bearing in today’s Nigeria.
I was expecting papa to say sorry that he had actually misled me as I claimed. No, this man stood his ground.
He looked at me and I looked at him. I did not know what he saw but what I saw in his now wrinkle face – surprised me. I saw something like confidence, honesty, hard work, knowledge, enlightenment and epitome of virtue in honour.
And Pa Olaniyi Babalola said, his face wreathed in smiles. This time around he did not allow me to sit on his lap. Perhaps for fear of breaking that fragile lap!
“Ohun agbin ni a o ka – you reap whatever you sow. Eni j’ale lo b’omo je – He who steals is a disgrace. Elese ko ni lo lai jiya – A sinner will never escape punishment. If you happen to be involved in people’s money, deal with it in Omoluwabi way….”
I wanted to say papa don’t preach…I wanted to say enough of Omoluwabi’s nonsense which has no place in today’s Nigeria. I wanted to say, papa, don’t you know it takes an extraordinary heart to remain Omoluwabi in the context of today’s Nigeria. Yes, I was angry. Yes, I was upset. Yes, I was sad.
And then the whistleblower phenomenon surface from the blue. And then the raw cash money scandal hidden in Ikoyi apartment involving those who have and still ruling Nigeria came to the open. And now they are in hiding…
In February, $9.8million, £74,000 was found in the house of Andrew Yakubu, former NNPC Managing director. In March, #49million was abandoned at Kaduna airport. On April 7, #448.8million was abandoned at a Bureau de change in Lagos. On April 8, £548, 000, €21,000 and #5.6 million was discovered inside a Lagos market.
Though I don’t need any newspaper – online or whatever to tell me about the nature of authority stealing going on in Nigeria, here are some of the headlines:
*$50million hides in Lagos apartment;
*Seized $43m, £27,800, N23m: Investigators Probe Goodluck Jonathan Link;
*Amaechi, Wike Trade Words over $50 Milion Finds at Ikoyi Apartment;
* Gov Wike and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) fight over ownership of $43m seized in Lagos by EFCC
*Sagay, Wike, others flex muscles over ownership of N13bn recovered from Lagos apartment;
*Former PDP Chairman Mu’azu disowns Ikoyi House where $50million was found
* Nigeria’s former attorney general, Bello Adoke, named as an alleged beneficiary in the $1.3 billion Malabu oil scam, has said he may not return home until he gets some concessions from the Nigerian government.
Do I hear someone saying Pa Olaniyi Babalola may eventually be right one day regarding authority stealing in Nigeria? And are you sure you’re in your right senses? Talk to me brother; talk to me sister as you sing along with me o jare…
You be thief (I no be thief)
You be rogue (I no be rogue)
You dey steal (I no dey steal)
You be robber (I no be robber)
You be armed robber (No be armed robber)
I no be thief (You be thief)
I no be rogue (You be rogue)
I no dey steal (You dey steal)
I no be robber (You be robber)
I no be armed robber (You be armed robber)
Argument, argument, argue
Authority people them go dey steal
Public contribute plenty money
Na authority people dey steal