Is Wadume Not What We Know of Our Leaders, Politics and Evolving Cultures?
Since the inconceivable incident that led to the death of four police officers in Taraba made newspaper headlines, Hamisu Bala, alias Wadume, the kidnap kingpin at the center of the saga has been the talk in town. In Wadume, many see a bandit, a kidnapper. Yes, he is! Yet, the majority of the commentators on the issue stop short of asking who Wadume is? What was his background like and his status in his community before his arrest? Why was Wadume accepted in his community, viewed as a philanthropist and made a youth leader without questions being asked? How is Wadume different from our leaders and the dirty foot soldiers at their service? This opinion piece addresses these questions by drawing on what has been reported of Wadume, his own account of himself and what is known of our political leaders and politics.
Like most Nigerians of his age, the 34-year old Wadume is from a poverty troubled home. Wadume dropped out of secondary school due to the financial constraints faced by his parents. He had fewer options of what next to do to earn a decent living, a problem that is facing many of our countrymen, including those with a good university education. Like his parents, Wadume embraced the fishing business as a form of livelihood.
Petrified of dying from ocean waves, Wadume narrated that he restricted himself to buying and selling of fish, making about N5, 000.00 a day. Somewhat successful he was that he purportedly saved enough money from his fish merchandise to erect a fish pond, a new business line he maintained for some years before venturing into gunrunning.
From the sales of just one AK-47, Wadume could make about N350, 000.00 profit. He sold a lot of guns to those he identified as bad boys in his areas, bandits and all sorts of criminal elements to the extent that he became a Big Man.
Money earned Wadume fame, visibility and coveted roles in his community. He became a philanthropist and a youth leader, a highly influential one. To further secure his future, Wadume diversified his business lines by adding politics, from which he noted: “I made so much money from politicians.” A curious mind would like to know, how did this happen, an issue that is addressed below.
Wadume was offering certain paid services to politicians. Accordingly, Wadume stated, “I am a youth leader, so I have a strong relationship with a lot of bad boys that is why I knew that I would surely excel in the business”. Here, Wadume connected youth leadership, with knowing bad boys and staying successful in his illegal gun dealership. Obviously, the bad boys were patronizing Wadume’s guns and maybe, were sources of new customers for his guns. Sad enough no one seems to be asking how did Wadume make his money from politicians, an issue that ought to have enthused the curiosity of many, especially our acclaimed corruption-hating president.
The bad boys were also human assets to Wadume politically, because he saw opportunities in selling their bad boyships as services to politicians in return for money. This could mean supplying bad boys to politician kill, maim and tame their political opponents. Wadume has the guns he could offer his bay boys to do their jobs for politicians. And he may be selling arms to politicians to distribute to their own bad boys. Dropping some hints, Wadume stated, “As a youth leader, money meant for the youth was given to me. I am to mobilize them, hire thugs where necessary and make arrangement for weapons that can be used to protect our people. There is a lot of killing in my state, so it’s wise to always protect yourself in-case of any attack. It was during 2015 and 2019 elections that I made so much money to acquire cars and houses”.
It appears no one, or not so many people are asking how many people were killed by Wadume bad boys in the course of delivering service for APC and PDP? Mr. President seems not perturbed by the gravity of this allegation!
Wadume was not only providing services to politicians, but he also became a kingmaker in his own right. As he recounted, he claimed credit for the electoral victory of PMB in Ibi, his home town, during the recently concluded election. During the 2019 gubernatorial election in his state, as a mercenary, Wadume averred, “I switched over to PDP and assisted them to win” adding that, “in politics, if you want to make money, one needs to join the winning team.” He added, “I couldn’t get the ticket of PDP or APC to contest for State House of Assembly. Luckily, Young Democratic Party (YDP) accepted me but I still lost the election”.
To ensure that his “businesses” and ignoble acts were fully secured, Wadume added our security men to the unholy equation. He built a camaraderie with them and gained fame among our security men in his state. From time-to-time, Wadume would gift to the security folks in his domain, Owo Awon Boys (bribe), ranging from at least N20, 000.00. The reason he noted, “it was necessary so that no one will disturb my businesses”. That was Wadume speaking to the tarmac culture of reciprocity, rub my back, I rub your back.
Captain Balarabe currently in the eyes of the storm was one of Wadume’s beneficiaries of free gifted money and free ileya ram gifting culture. Wadume benefited Captain Balarabe in many ways to the extent that when Wadume was arrested by the police, without any request for help, Captain Balarabe felt obligated to intervene. Captain Balarabe allegedly sent his men to forcefully secure the release of Wadume from his "assailants," a mission that led to the death of about four policemen.
Wadume noted, “On the day I was rescued, I never knew he (Captain Balarabe) was the one that came to my rescue until I got to his house”. Providing further details, Wadume stated, “The soldiers quickly rescued me and took me to a red saloon car and we drove off immediately.” He was driven to Captain Balarabe’s house.
Indicting a highly rank police officer as an accomplice in how he regained his freedom, Wadume narrated that Captain Balarabe “called the DCO of Ibi Police Division, one ASP Aondona Lorbee. He came to the house and told the Captain that he could not find the key. They then brought an iron cutter and cut the handcuffs on my hands and legs”.
Next, Wadume dropped a bombshell that detailed what he saw and how he felt when Captain Balarabe’s boys brought the corpse of the policemen they allegedly sacrificed to free him: "I was outside when I saw the soldiers drive in with four dead men. They dropped them on the ground and I realized that these were the people who arrested me. I was shocked because they were all alive after the vehicle somersaulted." Sadly, he added, "even the DCO saw the dead bodies and just looked at them and left the compound. While the dead bodies were still on the ground, I decided to find my way before anyone will know that I was there".
Wadume’s story has attracted a lot of news coverage and triggered ceaseless conversations on social media spaces in Nigeria. Yet, it has not triggered any major national outcry. Attention has mostly focused on Wadume as a kidnapper. But are there no other Wadumes around? How is Wadume different from our governors and political leaders? Are they not one of the same variants? Here, the story of Late “Hon.” Olatoye Temitope, alias Sugar, comes to mind.
From being the face of the fight against cultism at Osiele, Sugar graduated into a community leader and then a notorious serial killer, whose service was allegedly secured by Gbenga Daniel, when he was a governor. Daniel appointed Sugar as a supervisory councilor in Odeda Local Government, during which he was reported to have provided similar political services to the governor, as Wadume did to his political patrons. Impressed by the quality of Sugar’s service, allegedly measured in brutality terms, Governor Gbenga Daniel elevated Sugar in status by appointing him as a State Special Adviser. Working with Sugar were other variants of Wadume, including Ologbowon, Ozogula and Bukky Boy.
Akin to Wadume, Sugar made money and acquired fame through notoriety, by working with politicians offering bad boyish services and by trading in politics too. Like Wadume too, Sugar became a youth leader and also built a solid relationship with the security men in Ogun State and Ibadan. Sugar also became renowned for gifting money to people and for various acts of philanthropism. No one ever really worried about nor questioned how Sugar made his money. Unlike Wadume, Sugar made it to the State of Assembly in Oyo State in 2011 and to the Federal House of Assembly in 2015-2019, representing Lagelu/Akinyele. On March 9, 2019, Sugar was consumed by the culture of violence that cultivated him and earned him money, fame, and power.
An inquisitive mind also wants to know how is Wadume and Sugar any different from the notorious gangs called State Boys in Osun State, who are allegedly working for APC. An inquiring mind wants to know how is Wadume different from Asiri Eniba, and Sunday Igboho, whose service Governor Rahidi Ladoja once patronized. Igboho’s boys are a menace in Osun now, working in partnership with politicians.
Is Wadume any different from Buharin Daji alias Dogon Bangaje. Daji, who, before his death, was an infamous and a popular forest bandit leader in Zamfara. Like Sugar, Daji benefitted from his infamy, and he was appointed a Special Adviser to Governor Abdul'aziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara State. Daji and his gang of bad boys were responsible for the death of many innocent souls in the state.
As a governor, during his first term, Ayodele Fayose allegedly kept and used a killing squad, another reflection of the Wadume in our leaders. Even President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan worked with notorious elements like Tompolo, Boyloaf, and General Shoot-at-Sight to win an election, as his foot soldiers during his reign as the president and as a support group for his failed presidential reelection bid. During the gubernatorial election in Rivers State, another Wadume played out as Wike and Amaechi’s camp unleashed terror on one another and our security men. The bad boyish component in Wadume business lines played out. PDP Wike and APC Amaechi bad boys traded war-type heavy gunshots, targeted against themselves, their opponents, our security men, and innocent citizens. People got killed, with some left to nurse live injuries sustained from the terrorist acts.
On January 8, 2019, during the gubernatorial flag-off campaign of Babajide Sanwolu of APC, notorious garage elements traded gunshots, matcheted and stabbed one another. There is no evidence that those involved in the criminal act have been prosecuted. While responding to the act of terror, APC spokesperson, Joe Igbokwe stated, “NURTW took their gang war to our venue, but thank God it was not worse. We are overcomers. We are not denying they are our members, but must they take their struggle for power and supremacy to our campaign ground to endanger other people”.
In Ayoade Akinibosun, is the Wadume of Senator Bukola Saraki, a former Governor and a one-term Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ayoade was the gang leader of the armed group that struck in Offa, on April 4, 2018, robbing a bank, killing six policemen, a pregnant woman and no fewer than 20 passersby. Akin to Wadume, Ayoade was a youth leader and the Chairman of the Liberation Youth Movement, Kwara South, a political group populated by bad boys, and which was allegedly funded and founded at the instance of Senator Bukola Saraki.
Describing what is group was to Bukola Saraki and the Wadume-type activities they were offering him, Ayoade stated, “We are the Senate President’s boys. We work for him at Kwara South. We are the ones that hold Kwara South for him. …We have been working for him since when he was the governor of Kwara State. When he was in PDP.” Ayoade added, “We mobilize for him and we are the ones that do political arrangements for him. For example, where we cannot win, we mobilize people and make ‘dabaru’ arrangement there. We scatter elections if we don’t win.” Is that not a Wadume at play?
How is Wadume any different from Kashamu Buruji, whose political and bad boyish services were once reportedly patronized by former President Olusegun Obasanjo before their relationship turned sour. Like Wadume, Buruji became a kingmaker. Buruji also made it to the senate and even aspired to become the Governor of Ogun State, alongside Reuben Abati, his running mate. Yet Kashamu Buruji is wanted in the US for a massive drug peddling crime. No one really questioned how Kashumu made his money.
A questioning mind also wants to know how does the culture of reciprocity that led to how Wadume was rescued from his “assailants” any different from the role-play of the federal government in Kano’s rerun gubernatorial election. CP Mohammad Wakili had during the initial governorship election in Kano allowed his men to arrest some APC stalwarts, including Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the Deputy Governor of Kano State, for allegedly committing some electoral crimes during the collation of local government results for the governorship and state assembly elections.
The response from Abuja, which seems to enjoy the backing of PMB was to protect the interest of one of their own, Governor Ganduje, by taming CP Wakili during the rerun election. A DIG of Police, in person of Mr Anthony Agbizili was drafted to Kano to oversee the rerun election, which was overshadowed by bad boys, similar to those that worked with Wadume to tame politician perceived opponents and enemies. Bad Boys from APC had the upper hand during Kano’s rerun gubernatorial election. Armed with knives, broken bottles and cutlasses, they unleashed terror and took over the rerun election. The police too were not left out of the shenanigan, neither was PDP without their Wadume-types boys wrecking havocs on their perceived enemies, too.
How are Wadume and his bad boys any different from the cult boys who have made their ways from campus politics to offering various forms of bad boyish services to our politicians? Kunle Poly whose bad boyish services were once courted by Senator Obanikoro is one such illustration. Wadume is your governor, my governor, our governor. Wadume is a reflection of most of our politicians and political leadership.
We have always welcomed the Wadumes in our communities, enjoying their money without questioning what they are doing. Many Wadumes occupy the front seats in our religious houses, spending heavily to the praise of all. The Wadumes have been decorated with revered titles, as a way of honoring their fame, status, money, and philanthropism. Yet, little to no question gets asked about how the Wadumes made their money as the Wadumes fit well with our evolving culture of money is everything!
The problem appears not really the Wadumes, but in my view, our evolving culture of silence and acquiescence, the culture of watching evil grow amidst us without stopping it. The evils we have all nursed consciously, subconsciously and unconsciously have matured and now consuming all of us. Yes, Wadume must be condemned, just the same way we all must take the blame for embracing the culture that birthed the Wadumes in our political and community leadership.
It is not too late to start having conversations on how to tame the evolving cultures that are breeding and sustaining the Wadumes in our society and in us. We must ethically be rebirthed, go back to the basis/ fundamentals of what we inherited from our forefathers and religions as values of dignity, honesty, and stewardship. That journey commences now with me, you and everyone, otherwise, we all may be consumed.
A final note. I join all well-meaning Nigerians calling for the unconditional and immediate release of Comrade Omoyele Sowore. He is no Wadume, instead, a fearless man who is gifted to championing a better Nigeria for the benefit of all. Unlike the Wadumes in power, who are walking freely in the land, Sowore has never killed or maimed any single soul. He has always fought his battles using the media and by calling to demonstrations. Let Sowore regains his freedom, otherwise, we may as a nation, has learned nothing from what became of iron-fisted ruled countries whose despotic leaders ignorantly thought they could silence the likes of Sowore forever.