By Semiu Okanlawon
You must have seen the viral video of Mr. Femi Adeoye, the Ekiti man who vehemently refused to accommodate his son because he violated the regulations guiding travels within this period of pandemic. That must be one of the most watched clips in recent times. Not even with the ‘drama’ that attended its recording with Mr. Adeoye and his son being the only ‘actors’ in the almost two minutes ‘movie.’
It was not surprising that under 24 hours of the release of that clip, a debate had ensued among Nigerians over the conduct of Citizen Adeoye. It was a matter of arguments for and against the decision to reject an erring son by a no-nonsense father even in the face of clear and present danger to his life.
A true and caring father would not, under any circumstance, throw out his son, some argued. Many backed their sentiments with the Yoruba saying ‘A kii le omo buruku fun ekun pa je’ which means “You don’t push out a stubborn child in the way of clear danger as a means of teaching him a lesson.” As it looked truly, it did not appear Citizen Adeoye had any grains of thought for the possibilities of fatal consequences. It did not matter to him. His “No!” was his “No!”
But the opposing camp was quick to laud this father for the principles he displayed even if the interest of his child was involved. Those who held on to the philosophy that it is wrong to push out a terrible child in the way of death also forget that the Yoruba people also support Adeoye’s action with the saying that “Tori ti omo o ba daran, lose n loruko” meaning that it is for the child to carry the brunt of his self-inflicted woes that he carries a different identity and name.”
These seemingly contradictory philosophical stances are part of the rich Yoruba heritage that seeks most importantly to guide human conducts, serve as models for acceptable norms in order to build stable, prosperous and orderly societies.
When you stray out of these jealously guarded behavioural patterns, you were mostly likely to become alienated from your people who hold tenaciously to the ideals of a good and morally upright society.
Sadly, that era passed by, leaving behind a topsy-turvy in moral conducts with the society being worse off.
I am aware of the grave concerns a few of the political leadership in Yorubaland have nursed over the prevalent moral decadence that has robbed the Yoruba of their legendary and historical identity.
Even in the pursuit of the greatest good for the greatest number of their people, revamping, reawakening and reinvigorating that moral consciousness has remained a focal point in recent times. I am aware this has been an area of the concerns under the auspices of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN).
Towards value regeneration and re-orientation, no moment could have therefore been more auspicious for leadership to make loud statements than the one seized by Governor Kayode Fayemi.
The invitation to Citizen Adeoye and his appointment as a member of the Covid-19 Task Force in Ekiti plus a letter of commendation represents a major promotion of the integrity, honesty and selflessness that the Yoruba are known for.
The governor’s action practically silenced the other side of the debate. It simply elevated Adeoye to the level of a hero and a good specimen to be replicated everywhere.
Adeoye’s reason was unmistakable. He had heard of the news of a pregnant woman who sneaked into Ekiti carrying coronavirus with her. Her mission to Ekiti has further complicated the situation of the state, infecting others in the trail of her movements and therefore threatening the wellbeing of the Ekiti people.
A quick look at the channels through which coronavirus has snaked its way through the world, one is left with no other conclusion that great indiscretions have been mostly responsible. Sentimental reasoning and compromising; lack of disclosures of status by infected persons, indiscriminate journeys and all that keep shooting the figures up. It becomes much more threatening baring in mind the very weak system that pervades our health institutions especially when juxtaposed with the frightening rates at which corpses are being piled up at morgues and lined up at cemeteries in countries we used to envy as the bastions of reliability in healthcare delivery.
With Kano and some other states of the Northern extraction on Nigeria’s lap, we sure have complicated the spread of the pandemic in what now appears line a burgeoning the country is battling with.
Adeoye therefore comes in time as a good ambassador in preaching the gospel of coronavirus which calls for respect of the laid down protocols irrespective of family sentiments.
Who else could be more fittingly appointed if not a man who was ready to sacrifice his own son if only to sound the warning to others against sabotaging the efforts of those battling to extinguish this fire?
And this is where proactive leadership comes in. In Kano and some other Northern states, all we saw were some religious leaders standing before huge congregations to deride coronavirus all the efforts on coronavirus as a scam. “Babu Corona” simply became the sad chorus of the choreographed laziness of the political elite that chose to look the other way. The outcome was that the cemeteries suddenly woke up to a flurry of grave diggings in response to rising deaths.
But those same clerics, in my opinion, were the same tools that ought to have been employed as megaphones to preach the coronavirus messages if the leadership had woken up to its responsibilities early enough. Still, loss of values in leadership!
Even if many do not see the immediate nexus, this is to say that the myriads of the problems we have stem from the loss of values which the forbearers held so golden.
Shortly after the current Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola assumed the leadership of Osun, he embarked on what didn’t quite appear to many as a priority at the time. The Governor saw that at the heart of the complex situations of the economy, politics, education, religion and social life was a loud disappearance of the values, which the Yoruba speaking of Nigerians were noted for.
The Omoluabi ethos, those highly revered age-long traditions of respect, integrity, honesty, truth, commitment, loyalty, hard work and industry were missing and the impact of that absence of valued ethos on the general wellbeing of the society was becoming too alarming.
That is why today, should you demand from Aregbesola what, of all his achievements while in Osun, appears to him most cherished and impactful, he is not likely to list his gigantic schools or his legacy roads or even the thousands of direct and indirect jobs his government created. He is more certainly to inform you that he cherishes the realization that after his eight years, the orientation of the people, especially the youths, had considerably changed from what it was prior his arrival as Governor.
Value re-orientation, many at the helms of leadership are yet to fathom, constitutes a major plank of rebuilding the society’s economy, education, enterprises and even religious uprightness.
In 2012, a Nigerian from Ibadan, who had studied at Harvard and been exposed to the need for value orientation, Adewale Ajayi, published his book, Omoluabi 2.0: A Code of Transformation in 21 Century Nigeria.
Interestingly, Governor Fayemi, it was who provided a foreword to that book stamping Ajadi’s concerns and erudite propositions on how to bring back the good old days of values.
In an age where parents race to hire lawyers for their advanced fee fraudster children, the action of Citizen Adeoye stands out as one worthy of celebration.
In 2019, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission disclosed that mothers of “yahoo-yahoo” boys were already forming associations across the country. Those were supposed to be some form of pressure groups to fight it out with government and security agencies what they considered to be “unfair” treatment and harassment of their children.
Even at the level of institutions, the virus has infected the very basis of existence to the extent that governments are up for the defence of the blatantly wrong against what is patently right. In the face of a spread of such moral retrogression, there is no way we won’t celebrate whenever we see some fine specimen out of the heaps of rot.
* Semiu Okanlawon, journalist, communication and political consultant wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org His Twitter handle is @sokanlawon