Very disturbing photographs of Sapele Local Council boss Hon. Ejaife Odebala kneeling down before the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Monday Igbuya, emerged online on Tuesday, August 5. Very disturbing.
Odebala was photographed kneeling down helplessly outside a paved compound with Igbuya and some two others not paying him much attention to him. The person that leaked the photographs alleged Odebala went to beg the Speaker to help intervene and beg his Councilors who were bent on impeaching him for an undisclosed offence.
Since we have witnessed more ridiculous incidents in the Nigeria political space, the somewhat public humiliation of one more council boss was really nothing to some of us when Governors have faced bigger ones. But that changed when Odebala, instead of keeping quiet over the leaked photos decided to do rather lame damage control hours after. He took to his Facebook Timeline and tried to explain why he knelt down before Igbuya.
Hear him unedited: “I have read through the several comments on my kneeling down and appealing to hon. Igbuya, speaker DTHA. while i do not want to go onto details of our discussion since it is a private issue between us, i want to state that i do see anything wrong in kneeling before igbuya my leader and elder brother. from my up bringing and okpe culture, kneeling before elders to appeal to them is a cultural upright behaviour.”
He continued: “please note that i will do this again and again to appeal to my leaders/ elders when the need arises. please if the camera men are very effective, they would have seen me greeting my elders kneeling at public fora always. please be assured that my humility does not affect my integrity. the bible says, humble yourself and you will be assunded and assund yourself. you will be humbled.
“If kneeling down for igbuya, my elder, will bring about peace and development in sapele local government I will do it over and over again. thank you.”
Odebala no doubt has a big problem with tenses and punctuation marks but that is an issue for another day.
On a more serious note, whoever advised the council boss to try and explain away the kneeling down show did a very bad job of it. That he did not even put up a convincing defence makes it worse.
Let us take a critical look at the council boss’ rather infantile explanation. There is really nothing wrong in a younger person kneeling down for an elderly individual in African culture so there was nothing wrong if Odebala on arrival at Igbuya’s home decides to go down on his kneels either in greeting or in asking for a favour. In the now famous Okpe (Urhobo) culture which Odebala hung his kneeling down tradition on, going down on two kneels in greeting is a rarity. When an Urhobo man/woman says ‘Migwo’ (“my knees are on the ground”) to an elderly person, he is most times still standing straight on his legs or the more respectful ones bend slightly in deference. So one can safely conclude that Odebala is rare specie of an Okpe man that is facing extinction.
“please if the camera men are very effective, they would have seen me greeting my elders kneeling at public fora always”. Odebala lied here. He greets elders at public events, yes, ‘political elders’ but to claim he kneels down to greet them at public events all the time is a lie. Let us picture a council boss kneeling from one elder to the other at a burial ceremony. Aside the fact that he would constantly need massaging at the knees, won’t people think something is wrong with him? Odebala greets his elders, but he does not go on all knees to do that, period.
The council boss almost gave away the real reason why he knelt down helplessly before the Speaker of the Delta House here. “if kneeling down for igbuya, my elder, will bring about peace and development in sapele local government i will do it over and over again. thank you.” Pray, how does kneeling before Igbuya bring about “peace and development” in Sapele local council? What is the connection here? You are supposed to be an elected council boss and you answer to all under your council. So in that case, you will have to kneel down before every elder in Sapele for “peace and development” to visit the land. The reason for the humiliating visit no doubt was connected to the reported impeachment proceedings against him by councilors in Sapele local government council.
On the flip side, it is morally wrong for Igbuya or his aides to leak the photographs of Odebala kneeling in total submission to the Speaker’s will. It will be hard for Igbuya to feign ignorance of the fact that Odebala was being photographed as he knelt because the photos were taken from different positions, one even showing Igbuya facing the camera lens. Aside that, the photos were taken inside a fenced compound and not at a busy road junction. What did the Speaker stand to gain with the humiliation of the council boss?
It is not abnormal for anybody to kneel down and plead for mercy especially when either his life or his means of livelihood is involved. Odebala’s means of livelihood was involved in his kneeling down; forget the ‘respect’ for elders’ line he is selling out. We have seen a situation where an army General knelt and begged a Colonel (on video) when his life was on the line, so maybe we should cut Odebala some slacks. He should have come clean on the reason for kneeling down, not that cheap lie.
Odebala deserves our sympathy though. One can now understand the way politics is run in a Mafioso style in Nigeria. For someone who was a former State Assembly member and became down on his luck politically and decided to be ‘elected’ a local government council chairman, you will know that this man is a washed out politician fighting his last political battle before he goes into hibernation, forever.
But for now, I wish Odebala happy kneeling down before elders for ‘peace and development’ to come to Sapele.
On The Prowl with Justin Akpovi-Esade, firstname.lastname@example.org