We live in a nation that crave unanimity devoid of malice; but in Kogi State; a minuscule Nigeria in character and complexion, a crop of prejudiced cohort, pedestal on ethnic xenophobia and political jingoism still raise their tone aloft against what might necessitate any form of unison. They prefer the ill-mannered bickering in which they are politically profiteers, rococo in cultural patriotism. They are, like their fellow travellers, wallowing in emotive preponderance, emptied without a shred of promise to deliver anything to their zombie adherents. They tinker with the promise of development and progress in their land, premised on the activities of the current government in Kogi State on the altar of nothing but egotism and filial appeal, even though they are refuged in the epicentres of capital cities across the nation, while their kin wallow in dearth and lack in the back lands.
When in recent times the popular maxim, Enemuneme greeted the streets, beginning with the ostensible current epicentre of eastern part of Kogi State, political watchers recognized that certain movement was launching. They know that there was a silent, albeit, patented, yet potent aphorism on the horizon that could define the political landscape and upcoming assemblage, not only in Igala speaking areas of the State, but its length and breadth.
There is mordant bite that sloganeering Enemuneme has on its opponents, most of whom lack the cutting edge competence to curtail its spread. It has continued to be a household singsong for politicians in the state, big and small. In fact, it is a nightmare to those who stand against its popularisation. Yet, it has continued to be received with much gusto and relish. The zest with which the proponents win converts dwarfs the frantic crack it in its track. In fact, I would not be taken aback if some remote musically perceptive youth within Kogi State makes a hit track out of the coinage.
To the naysayers, it is an affront, an erroneously opinionated imputation by their own kinsmen (kinsman), to popularise an administration being spearheaded by a non-tribe. They are very few that see governance as the exclusive preserve of their own kinsmen to the exclusion of any other one, even if he is component. Most of them live in Diaspora and so, other than what they read on social media, lack firsthand knowledge of actual happenings in their own towns and villages of origin. They are therefore angling for the return of their ‘heritage.’ The Enemuneme catchphrase therefore itch their skins to the deep. But they are not sitting back. They have launched their own counter-coinage, Omayemime.
Now, what is Enemuneme? I will tell you. But first, I want you to know that I am not Igala and don’t speak their language. But enamoured by the passion with which the sloganeers echoed its chorus, I was moved to find out what it means. At one of the political gatherings, having heard it repeatedly, I was compelled to ask, to which I was informed by a willing respondent in his squashy, but boyish voice, that it means “A stranger is acceptable.” I was further infatuated by the wording on how the meaning was told to me. I moved closer to ask what necessitated the coinage, and a middle-aged man, Andrew Okekwu, told me that it was coined as a result of the remarkable achievements of the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, in Igalaland and Kogi East in general.
This resonated with me and I wondered why there is so much excitement in chorusing the term despite the hue of maladministration by the Governor being championed by some groups on the social media. My respondent told me further; “We in Kogi East as well as Igala land have never had it so good in terms of physical and human development since the creation of Kogi State. Despite the fact that our own people have been in charge of government in the state, they have left our roads, hospitals, schools and other social amenities in tatters. They cared more about their families and friends, enriched themselves by stealing our monies and building filling stations and hotels, instead of using these resources to improve the welfare of their people.
“The most painful aspect of the whole thing is they did not invest or build those hotels and filling stations in Igalaland, which would have attracted some revenues capable of improving the land. Rather, they invested these resources in other states and Abuja, the nation’s capital. What these means is they are using the state’s resources to develop other lands. Is that not the height of wickedness?”
With his rhetorical question still ringing in my mind, I reflected on the voices of the proponents of Omayemime, a slogan that, other than a few livid characters, is yet to resonate with the public. The ego bruised personalities have shown their grievances with several of their kinsmen who have had the reasoning character to identify with the exploits of the Enemuneme camp. A friend, Abdulkareem Haruna, an Igala man from the heart of Igala land recently got a taste of these groups’ fangs when he publicly but tacitly identified with the Enemuneme camp. He posted his experience with Omeyemime camp on his facebook timeline thus; “I shared a picture recently on Facebook with the caption “Enemuneme” and some people engaged me via inbox to express their disappointment. Some even called my direct line to register their displeasure, not to mention those that called my parents, asking them to warn me. To them, I am beginning to cross the ‘National Red Line’. The funny thing is that the picture wasn’t even about Kogi State or Governor Yahaya Bello, it was purely on Buhari and the construction of the Enugu-Porthearcourt Road which a South South Lady acknowledged. My only offense was that I used the word ‘ENEMUNEME’ to caption the photo.”
The ethnic colouration of their rants notwithstanding, my friend got irked by their seethe as he adds; “I am not an ethnic jingoist, I prefer we engage based on merit, In as much as I don’t subscribe to whatever would bring further division to the Igala race, it is important that we look beyond political interest and engage the word ‘ENEMUNEME’ in its true context.
“We have collectively agreed that our brothers have been at the helms of affairs in the state since creation, yet we remain among the least developed. It is said that ‘if a wall is not cracked, a lizard will find it difficult to get in.’ If Amomayewa (Our Brothers) who were placed in positions of leadership in the past didn’t neglect and subject us to ridicule, ENEMUNE will not have the chance to come in. The insensitivity and political myopia of the past is what has made the ENEMUNEME slogan to be attractive. It doesn’t matter what political underpinning you think the slogan has, those who are against it still have a lot of explanations to do.”
Instead of their bridling postulations, what those people don’t understand is that hate begets hatred. Larger societal politics, as is being practiced in some climes within Nigeria, is responsible for immeasurable carnage that has contributed in the monumental underdevelopment in the country. This is because blood begets blood. Check all the revolutions and agitations that fail to exploit dialogue and compromise globally. Be it Chinese; English; French; or Soviet. Whether it was Napoleon’s thirst for blood or Bismarck’s iron dream; the turning points of Europe in mid-19th century or Metternich’s nationalist fury. Maybe some of those postulating only negatives and divisive tendencies can take a little lesson from history books.
Remember that most of the current agitations ravaging the nation and murdering our sleeps as a nation result from the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970 where some majors in the army stepped onto the lion’s piss, shaved the beast and expected the raping of the lioness to achieve the weariness of all flesh. But the nation has paid with its pound of flesh year after year, even till today. This is manifested in one coup after another to give birth to governments that have been characterised by corruption scandals, one after another, the topsy-turvy of its political elite, the friction over consensus and the consequential slide in every facet of the nation’s life.
These crops of persons who romanticise ethnic bigotry are the ones promoting the other side of Enemuneme; theirs is Omayemime. It means “my own kinsman is acceptable.” To this crop of persons, it is about their fellow tribal man, not minding that such posturing is capable of stoking the negative embers of ethnic empathy to the disadvantage of the rest of Kogians. No doubt, as historians put it, if we don’t study our history, we will be “a rudderless craft in the uncharted sea of time.”
Away from the political anecdote and devilish staging of the slips in the current administration in Kogi State to create a facade, there is a precarious antecedent capable of staging political misnomer in the state. They have employed art of passing facts and parsing them to their own interest. At the end, they leave their members of audience with biases, pastiches, myths and outright falsehood. This is the method they have employed in promoting their own version of alternative facts.