“Iya Kabiru must be the luckiest woman in Nigeria today”

“Who is that? I don’t know anybody so-called”

“You don’t know Iya Kabiru? But you know Baba Kabiru?” 

“Do they know me?”  

“This is the problem with you. You only think about you, you, you. I am sure when I tell you now who Baba Kabiru is, you will jump up and say you know him” 

“Look, just say what you want to say. I have too many things to worry about other than this your D.O. Fagunwa story about Iya Kabiru. Today is a busy day for me not a day for idle talk”

“Hey, don’t get worked up, chill, my friend. Iya Kabiru is the wife of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the comrade Governor of Osun State who is leaving office today after eight years in office. Kabiru is their first son. He got married last year. Many people who know the Governor call him Baba Kabiru.”  

“So, what has that got to do with all the serious issues of survival that Nigerians are worried about. You know you should be more responsible. You can’t go about gossiping about other people’s lives.” 

“I don’t gossip. I am trying to say something very serious. By the time I am done, even you will learn one or two things. Essentially, I am trying to review the eight years of Aregbesola as Governor in Osun State.” 

“I tried to follow his stories. The man says he did not collect salary as Governor, even though he ate government food, used government cars…Good for him. But as for me.. I don’t like the role he played in the last Gubernatorial elections in Osun State. He practically imposed his own successor on the people of Osun State. We can’t have outgoing Governors behaving like dictators and insisting that they will hold the future of the state in their palms. And to think he is a Comrade like Adams Oshiomhole.” 

“That is not what I am talking about. Osun state people are not protesting. I can’t come and be weeping more than the bereaved.”

“I know. But I thought you wanted an assessment of Baba Kabiru’s eight years in office. So, let us do it, since today is effectively his last day in office”

“Yes.”

“For example, he says he has no bank accounts anywhere. He has no money and he has only the house that he built before he became Governor. He is happy that he was able to transform the lives of the people of Osun State.” 

“With Opon Imo. The tablet of knowledge. Ogbeni Till Daybreak. Let me help you. He also says he is leaving a state behind that has the lowest poverty incidence rate and the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria.”

“He built roads and schools.” 

“I know. I know. But what are the people of Osun themselves saying? What is the impression of the civil servants who were denied salaries for months? I will prefer to hear from the average man on the streets of Osun. But that is not what I want to talk about.” 

“You want to talk about Iya Kabiru”

“Yes. I want to congratulate her. And I say, Iya Kabiru, e ku oriire o.”

“What of the Governor himself? You don’t want to congratulate him on his successful completion of two terms in office?”

“I will leave that to people like you. My big take-away from the exit of the Comrade Governor is the statement he made about his wife, Iya Kabiru. He told the people of Osun State that he has been an absentee husband for eight years. He was so busy as Governor, he had no time for his wife. He wants to go back to Iya Kabiru and “enjoy each other”. He doesn’t want to go to the Senate like others in his shoes, he just wants to go home and spend time with Iya Kabiru.” 

“And how does that affect you?” 

“You don’t get the point? This is the era of women empowerment. Our Governors should not get to office and become absentee husbands. That is an abuse of human rights and a violation of the integrity of the other room! If I had my way, I will recommend immunity for wives from the absenteeism of husbands. If there was more time, I would recommend that Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President, should lead a movement to defend the right of women who are married to politically exposed men in office, not to lose their rights of access and enjoyment with their husbands. Public service should not interfere with the rights of wives!” 

“You always like to trivialize things.”

“No. When Comrade Aregbesola was asked what his regrets could possibly be, and I consider that an important question, his memorable response was that his being Governor did not allow him to enjoy his wife for eight years. He now wants to go and enjoy his wife. For me that was the most profound thing he said.” 

“How profound! I thought you would raise serious questions. Will his successor become his stooge? Will Aregbesola continue to rule over the state of Osun and treat Gboyega Oyetola as his proxy? Is Aregbesola now a Godfather pulling the strings from the corner? Will the new Governor Oyetola be his own man? Is Osun going to revert to its constitutional name, that is Osun State, or will it still bear the strange name: The State of Osun?” 

“Why should those things bother me? The one that I want to reflect upon is the absenteeism of Aregbesola as husband for eight years! And I identify with Iya Kabiru on this special occasion, marking the return of her beloved husband to full-time husband duties.”

“It is not your duty to intrude into other people’s privacy. What are you driving at? What the man says about his wife is not our business. He probably was talking more about truancy rather than absenteeism.”

“Na you sabi. I am saying congratulations to Iya Kabiru, all the same. As an advocate for women empowerment, I congratulate her on the many good things ahead: this special honeymoon that awaits her, in the loving hands of Baba Kabiru. And I say Iya Kabiru, e ku amojuba. E ku oriire, lopo lopo. In nine months, please invite us for a rice-and-soup-very-plenty-naming-ceremony. Triplets by the Grace of God!”

“You are very ridiculous. You are off limits”

“My friend, don’t be hypocritical.  If our father, the Iku Baba Yeye himself, the Alaafin of Oyo, at 80 plus  is still celebrating the arrival of babies, not just babies, multiple twins, Baba Kabiru must show proof of his own statement in nine months as a true son of Osun.” 

“You are absolutely incorrigible. Who told you the only way a man can show affection to his wife is to put her in the family way. Is that what you call empowerment” 

“I am just very happy for Iya Kabiru. I am overjoyed. Politics turned her husband into an absentee husband. Now, out of office, her husband says she will now be her project. Alihamdulilali!”

“I don’t see how Aregbesola can leave politics. Politics in Lagos and Osun. He will still be busy.” 

“But with Iya Kabiru fully attended to. And by the way, Aregbesola should leave Lagos politics alone. He should stay in his own state of Osun.”

“You are crazy. Did you drink anything this morning? Can we change this subject?” 

“On one condition”

“What condition?”

“You will congratulate Iya Kabiru”

“Okay, congratulations Ma. Thank you for standing by Governor Aregbesola through thick and thin. One yeye man in Lagos says you are the one we should congratulate”.

“Say it in Yoruba”

“Iya Kabiru e ku oriire o. E ku ti ipadabo Baba Kabiru o.”

“Only God knows how many women out there who have to deal with the challenge of having absentee husbands because their husbands are involved in the public arena. Such women are the true heroes of Nigerian democracy.”   

 “You know when you say that, what comes to my mind really, is the plight of the wives of the many soldiers who were killed recently by Boko Haram terrorists in Matele, Borno State. It is one thing to have a husband go to the battle-field, if he is absent, you at least know where he is and that he is busy, but to have him die on the battle-field, never to return, that is tragic. I feel for the widows of the fallen soldiers of Matele..”

“I am not satisfied with the way the Nigerian government has handled the matter. Obviously, Boko Haram has not been technically defeated. Has Alhaji Lai come up with anything yet?” 

“Alhaji Lai? No, please. I watched a video of the attack that was in circulation over the weekend. I was horrified. The Boko Haram terrorists caught the Nigerian soldiers off-guard. They ambushed them and mowed them down. Sad. Very sad. I later saw a social media tweet by someone who said he saw his father in the video and the family has not yet heard from the Nigerian military. I also saw a post by a woman who cried out over the loss of her husband. Each time a soldier dies at the battle-front, many lives are affected.” 

“118 of them. Just like that.” 

“The government is obviously overwhelmed.” 

“What really can government do? Terrorism is the new tragic reality of the age. It is the worst form of inhumanity known to man. It leaves governments in a bind; it drives society to the edge. It disrupts the order of values. 

“There is a lot that the Nigerian government can do.” 

“Please, this is not about politics. Don’t bring politics into this.” 

“Who is talking about politics? I am saying our soldiers need to be better equipped and better protected. When a man signs up to be a soldier, he knows that he has signed up to die for his country if need be, but that does not mean he must be served up like barbecue to the enemy. Why are our military bases so porous, so poorly defended? Why is it so easy for anyone to get a military uniform? When our soldiers fall at the battlefront, what are the protocols for informing their families and managing the communication process? We need to professionalize the Nigerian military. If we must rely on technical assistance from other countries, let us do so. When our soldiers die, there must be special grants for their widows and survivors, to be paid for life if possible.”

“I will add another point. Any service chief that is not ready to focus on the job should be changed. Nigeria’s security chiefs should stop attending political rallies and meetings. We want soldiers in uniform, whoever wants to do politics should remove his uniform and wear agbada.”  

“Anyway, the President has said that the loopholes that led to the fatalities will be blocked once and for all. I take that to heart.”

“Yeah, he spoke a whole week after the incident. I am surprised nobody is making an issue out of that.” 

“You never know. May be the President was busy at the time. And a President doesn’t just talk. He has to consult and be briefed.” 

“What is that? Busy doing what? Donald Trump talks every day. He is on twitter every morning, commenting on anything that catches his attention. He is involved.”   

“This is Nigeria. This is not the United States. We have our own way of doing things here, from the Presidency to the man on the street. The President could have been busy for example, preparing for the 2019 Presidential debate.”

“Which debate? You think he will agree to participate in a debate?” 

“Why not? I will like to see him in the debating hall, taking on issues with the likes of Omoyele Sowore, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu, Tope Fasua, Donald Duke, Obadaiah Mailafia and of course Waziri Atiku Abubakar. Let him defend the “Next level” and let Ezekwesili and Sowore take him on.”

“I see you are not a nice man at all.”   

“How? There are things the President can and should talk about. You have been lamenting over the killing of soldiers, for example, but look at what the Federal Government has just done for policemen.” 

“And what is that?”

“Yesterday, the President approved more pay for Nigerian policemen. He approved the Rank Salary Structure Adjustment for policemen”  

“No wonder”

“No wonder what?”

“There is this policeman that I know. I saw him and his wife yesterday evening. The two of them were laughing like jackass. I have never seen them look so happy. I thought something was wrong. So, it is the salary increase?” 

“Let’s just say policemen deserve to be happy too. But it is not enough to increase their pay. Nigeria is heavily under-policed. We need more policemen. Like the military, the police should also be better equipped. They need better training. Clean uniforms. Decent barracks.  An average policeman should be a university graduate, not a primary school drop-out.”

“Why are you saying policemen should be graduates, when most of your politicians don’t even have secondary school certificates? Sometimes, I don’t get you.” 

“I know what I am saying. Every policeman should be a college graduate. You don’t understand.  It is a next level thing.   Nigeria can only move to the next level if we all begin to think out of the box.”

“Like your thoughts on Iya Kabiru eh”. 

“Ha. Iya Kabiru! A hero. Someday, she should tell her story: the story of the big sacrifice her husband made as Osun State Governor!” 

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