The 2023 General Elections in Nigeria: Omodé gbón, àgbà gbón, la se da Ilè-ife

by Dele A. Sonubi
atiku tinubu obi

The 2023 General Elections in Nigeria: Omodé gbón, àgbà gbón, la se da Ilè-ife (The dictum that wisdom is not exclusively age or gender bound is the fundamental basis of social cohesion.)

The 2023 general elections have been fought and won. We have gone through a dark period in our national lives and associations. People had been betrayed, investments in people and systems had been chattered, and some had been vindicated with massive and unimaginable social and electoral supports, handshakes had occurred across the Niger, and so on. Elections had truly been fought, lost, and won, making compromises almost impossible to reach. It was a bitter period for everyone, including the general masses, who were caught in between the electoral greed and the pains of fuel and currency scarcity. Things were not this bad in the 1950s political experiences when the actors were Awólówò, Sadauna, and Zik, even when the country was constitutionally divided into three pieces and basically along ethnic lines. Political rivalries during those periods were much healthier, more respectful, and much more dignified, leaving much room for post-election reconciliations across cultures and divides.

Yet the wisdom obtained through this year’s election and experiences must be allowed to teach us something unique and invaluable. Different people and different parties (including the church and mosques) will take note of whatever lessons they each see in this race that are useful to the group. Wisdom therefore is to be candid with themselves and assure themselves that the lessons are real, and there must be concerted efforts aimed at ensuring that the lessons are enduring and useful input when we next conduct a similar election.

One of the lessons that I take away from the overwhelmingly social media-induced election is the agony of the demographic: the impression that the youths are more, they are resilient, and they are bitter, and therefore determined to take the reins of power in this country because they assumed that they were better than everyone else. They had a blanketed castigation of the older ones as being responsible for the woes and definitely out of fashion for leadership. But is it true that the older ones are done, not useful, and no longer relevant? The winner of this general election must help validate this rhetoric or vindicate those who shook their heads and voted for the victorious party during the elections.

The Yorùbá worldviews have always been guided and ruled by the principle that wisdom is not exclusive to one calibre of citizen in a society, nor is it a respecter of one class of citizen. And because of this characteristic of wisdom, it is good for us to accept that because we are within a certain age bracket, we cannot consider ourselves as holding superiority in knowledge and wisdom over every other class. It is advisable for us to acknowledge that while we cannot cast away the maturity of the elders, the aged, or the institutions, we also cannot disparage or denigrate the ideas brought forward by the youth, women, children, and even foreign visitors. A Yorùbá aphorism says:

Àgbà merin lo nse ilu; The socio-political administration of a community is shared by four key residents
Àgbà okùnrin; àgbà obìnrin; àgbà omodé; àgbà àlejò
The elderly male, the elderly female, the elderly youth, and the elderly visitors

Part of this aphorism also advises that the administration of a social sphere is collective, so those who win must be magnanimous in their victory. It must not only be in words spoken out of prepared speeches that the youths, the women, the middle-aged, and even the visitors will be tolerated in this victory, but they must be made to realise that an olive branch is extended to them and they are the ones who chose not to accept it. There must be limited cultural dances; this terribly ethnically incited election does not call for a cultural victory lap to ridicule others—even if they would have done the same ridiculing if they had won. There must be limited display of elderly arrogance; this race was about youth, about Endsars, and we must not rub it in their faces that they lost. And there must be a limited show of power; this election was about “power grabs,”, “recalibration of power”, “power must change hands” and it is “our turn to possess power”. We must constantly be reminded that there is wisdom in what our elders say, that Àgbà mérin ló nse ìlú; Àgbà okùnrin; àgbà obìnrin, àgbà omo dé; àgbà àlejò. And very much so that, omodé gbón, àgbà gbón, la se da ilè ifè because

Owo omodé ò tó pepe; t’àgbàlagbà ò wo kèrègbè  The hands of the youths cannot touch the high ceiling, (so they need the elder’s longer hands for support in this way). Similarly, the hands of the elders cannot touch the bottom of a gourd (the smaller and more skilled hands of the youth are required for support)
Isé tí omodé ba be àgbàlagbà ki àgbà ó má se kòó nítorí gbogbowa la l’óhun sé fun ara wa Therefore, whenever the youths make requests of the elders, let the elders not be too arrogant to oblige them, because we complement each other and will always need one another’s supports at some point or another.



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