Perhaps it is not irrelevant to begin this essay by making a confession: I had a little problem deciding on the title of this article. Many captions were competing for attention for days on end until I settled for the one above. Captions like: Tuface: How Not To Be A Hero; Tuface: From Hero To Zero; Tuface And The Rest Of Us; Tuface: Between Heroism And Self-Preservation; Tuface And The Dashed Moment Of Glory; Tuface: The Face Of A Coward; Idibia: The ‘Innocent’ Of A Coward!; Tuface Unplugged And Demystified!; The ‘Tufaced’ Volte-Face. Sometimes such situation of indecision arises only for it to give way for a better idea. It goes to show how competitive one’s faculty could be subjected to in order to produce the best.
Innocent Idibia (popularly called Tuface by his fans) is a talented merry-go-round musician in Nigeria. His hit song My African Queen catapulted him to global scene as a singing superstar winning awards and accolades in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. Tuface has hit stardom making money and name for himself through his melodious talent. He is popular at home and abroad! But as is the case with many stars that have achieved fame and success in life Tuface has abused stardom on more than one instance. He is not known to be doing drugs or drinking himself to stupor but his relationship with ladies marks him out as a philanderer who finds bliss in the company of damsels– some Jezebels!
Penultimate week the I-stand-With-Nigeria hashtag was trending globally online. Before then Tuface had initiated a social activism programme aimed at demonstrating publicly against the prevailing economic situation and prevalence of corruption in the system in our country. A date was fixed for the national protest-march whose major objective was reminding the government of their responsibility to the people and the need for them to improve the Nigerian condition. A good idea indeed saluted by many Nigerians (at home and abroad). But something happened along the way that poured cold water onto the whole project: Tuface backed out!
Nigerians were ready for the street protest in many cities and towns. And suddenly days before the announced D-day for the social crusade the initiator (Tuface) renounced his participation even single-handedly calling off the event! He told a flabbergasted populace that security could not be guaranteed if the event went on as planned fearing loss of lives and destruction of property by street urchins who could capitalise to unleash havoc on the streets. Was Tuface intimidated by the authorities or he just decided to save his skin against any possible repercussions from the mass action against poverty and misgovernance? Prior to his volte-face the Lagos State Police Commissioner, the notorious Fatai Owoseni had sought to cancel the march citing the fear of a hijack by hoodlums to cause mayhem.
But after the presidency issued a statement saying citizens had the right to protest in accordance with the constitution and interventions from the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and other high-profile Nigerians the police approved the march promising to provide adequate security for same. A pro-government march was equally scheduled to coincide with the anti-government one to be led by Tuface. The police, as always, are ever combat-ready to protect those demonstrating their support for the government but anything otherwise is disallowed or outlawed! This police partisan nonsense ought to be challenged in the law courts by human rights advocates.
As he signed out shamefully however the other organizers of the event declared their intention to hold the rally without Tuface. Indeed, the nation-wide demonstration took place in various cities including Lagos, Abuja, Benin City and Port Harcourt. In Lagos the radical Publisher of New York-based SaharaReporters, Comrade Omoyele Sowore, (the area-reporter turned 46 recently; this is wishing him many more years of positive combat for the nation) Charly Boy Oputa, the Area-fada and other activists led the march. The turn-out was encouraging as speeches denouncing corruption and maladministration were read out. No area boy or hoodlum hijacked anything and no disorder was ever recorded anywhere! So Tuface and Owoseni were proven wrong in their security assessments.
While Tuface is a disappointment we salute him for initiating the move nonetheless. Whenever the light of a revolution is lit its smouldering effects grow beyond the initiator(s) in the event of them dying or being detained or even bowing to pressure. But he can be pardoned for his metamorphosis. He has never told us or pretended to be a Che, a Castro or a Fela. He has simply shown his lack of readiness to sacrifice anything, least of all his comfort for Nigeria and Nigerians. As a randy singer in the mould of Felix Lebarty what interests Tuface more is how to maintain his wives and concubines and children. And make history as a good-looking lover-boy whose manhood is as sharp as a razor blade! Yet professionally and seriously speaking Innocent Idibia must have fallen from grace to grass, hero to zero without knowing it. The impact of this disgraceful cowardly reversal of a good cause ought to be appreciated with time.
But one would not be surprised if his musical career takes a turn for the worst following the betrayal of a noble cause. Like Meiway in the Ivory Coast, the Zoblazo exponent, the talented Kora Award-winning musician based in France, who boasts of eleven children from eleven different women Tuface is in love with love and money and what the root of all evil can afford for him! He is afraid of death or detention since he believes he has found his paradise here on earth. TuBaba is just a glorified coward whose libido is as gifted as his musical talent! He deserves our collective pity for buckling under pressure — marital, familial or governmental.
Nigeria has not had the luck of producing revolutionaries. We only hear about them and their exploits in places far and near: Bolivia, Cuba, Philippines, Burkina Faso etc. The Tufaced volte-face, more than anything else, questions our collective commitment to the revolutionary ideals as espoused by the late Guevara, Sankara and Castro. We cannot be happy or content living in bondage in a jungle as challenging as hell! The promised change must happen now or never!
Nigerians, in their majority, should not be poor in a blessed land flowing with petro-dollars, limestones and other solid minerals. In a rich nation where a James Ibori could claim not to be “a thief” during an elaborate thanksgiving church service in his hometown to celebrate his corruption ordeal in London; in a bastardized landscape where an Andrew Yakubu could be found to be hiding millions of Dollars and Pounds stolen during his years as the NNPC GMD then woe betide our land — one whose soul has been ripped out and thrown away to the dogs!
The bewildering looting going on in Nigeria often gives credence to the position of some pessimists who contend that the only radical solution to the Nigerian problem lies in the dismemberment of the nation. One is tempted, sometimes, to see reason with this assertion no matter how cynical or skeptical it could sound. It seems that many Nigerians do not believe in the mantra of unity or even change being propounded by the Buhari administration. We have very few patriots among us! These people see Nigeria, rather, as a moribund experiment or project waiting for an inevitable implosion and/or disintegration explosion.
Fellow Nigerians, as the Area-fada has said pointedly: “Our Mumu Don Do!” We can no longer accept a situation where a few unpatriotic idiots and imbeciles steal with impunity what belongs to all of us thereby living in paradise while we live below poverty lines serving them instead of them serving us! We must, therefore, rise and prove to Tuface that he underestimated our resolve to power on in the face of his capitulation or abdication. The people-power movement has transformed societies far and near; ours should happen in our life time.
The Nigerian project must be saved from itself. No revolution has ever happened anywhere without a courageous leader spitting fire and making the ultimate sacrifice (even death!) in order for societies to be liberated and changed radically for good. Nigeria must not be an exception! Our Mumu Don Do indeed! It is time to reposition our potentially great nation for the greatness that has eluded her over time. This generation has all it takes to restructure Nigeria for the next generation. No one can do it for us if we decide not to take part.
Perhaps the volte-face of the son of Idibia has thrown up a motivated intrepid Charly Boy whose revolutionary instincts are legendary. We welcome the Oguta-born maverick one with enthusiastic exclamation nay, thunderous ovation. Aluta Continua Victoria Asceta! With his recent published essays one can see his determination and readiness to not only speak truth to power but lead any mass action that could bring about the change we clamour and deserve.
Let it be said, in the final analysis, by history and posterity, that once upon a Tuface history, in its power and glory, beckoned on him and he chose mortality over immortality as it were. Let it be said that he preferred to remain the mundane entertainer in the prison of vanity! That he decided to remain the little man of little mind, a she-man without balls! Let it be said that he cowardly refused to challenge the god of heroism. That Innocent refused to answer his father’s name, Idibia, at a great moment in history, in order to be counted among the immortals of our time (living or dead).