Tunde Odesola

I bring to you the sad story of a kingdom turned upside down. A very shocking but truthful tale I bring. It’s the story of a kingdom where corruptible judges, shameless politicians, dishonourable lawmakers and an overly permissive citizenry live. If you will read my story and call me names at the end, please, read no further. Mature and tolerant citizens, I plead that you read my story with open minds, and not see issues from jaundiced political prisms.

This is not a cock and bull story. But it’s about a greedy cock and a bull in a china shop at Jebako town. The town is currently spinning in senseless motion. Everybody is running and talking, all at once. Abomination! The bull has pursued the cock into Jebako’s only china shop and the townspeople have trooped out wielding cudgels, some siding with the bull, some siding with the cock, only a handful others are genuinely worried that all the expensive china delicately arranged might come crashing down. Jebako would be the loser; the china shop is its mainstay.

But why is the cock on the run? And why is the bull in hot pursuit? Please, read along.

Jebako is a beautiful town that has fallen into adversity after years of thriving profligacy, corruption and visionless leadership. The best of Jebako land was seen in the years when the whip of slavery whacked by colonial lords offered more compassion than the milk and honey of self-rule promised by succeeding indigenous leaders. Jebako; the good old Jebako, a town once overflowing with oil wealth, is now a curved spine on a bent waist, gingerly treading its way to the grave with a walking stick. Who will save Jebako? Is it the predatory cock or the daft bull or the blabbing citizenry?

The English evolved the phrase, ‘Cock and bull story,’ to depict the exaggerated stories, gossips, banters, rivalries and rumours exchanged among travellers on horse-driven coaches from London to Birmingham while lodging in two separate inns called The Cock and The Bull, in the 16th Century. This was before the locomotive engine emerged to change the face of transportation about three centuries later, but Jebako, sadly till date, has yet to explore the use of any technology, let alone the archaic locomotive technology.

Jebako is a town like no other. It’s a town where the bull is the king of all animals. It’s also a town where the cock is not the red fleshy-comb feathery creature whose breast, legs, wings and thighs escort rice and stew, or pounded yam down the narrow road called throat. Remember, Jebako is a big kingdom turned upside down. Here, the cock is the chief judge. It sits at judgment over the perpetual case of ruination instituted by the corn against the evil of the weevil. In Jebako, humans are killed to mourn the death of a bull. Keeping corn inside bottles is no safety guarantee; the cock in Jebako is skilled in breaking bottles and gobbling on the contents. The Jebako cock crows for the highest bidder.

In the topsy-turvy kingdom, the sturdy, stubborn and stodgy bull brooks no dissent, everyone must fall into line; no one must eat from the innumerable cobs of corn in the barn, except the members of the cow family, and their acquiescing friends, who should be ready to drink cow urine and eat cow dung, occasionally. In a rare and taciturn address to the citizens of the kingdom, the bull announced: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than the others. I trust no one but the members of my tribe only. We’re born to rule. I’m a man of unquestionable integrity. In four years, I will stamp out corruption in the land. I will stamp out insecurity and make life more abundant for all. But we all need to tighten our belts. We need to fast and pray at all seasons.”

But the cock, who is the chief judge of the kingdom, together with its brood, would hear none of preachments of the bull. So, the bribable cock devised a means to secretly feast inside the sacred chambers while pretending to live on the monthly ration provided by the kingdom, desecrating the temple of justice. So, the content of the cock’s innards grew to include fresh corn, worms, weevils, ants and cockroaches. And it maintained a straight face, cuckooing justice according to the deepness of the pockets of litigants. The cocky cock said, “I’m the spirit and the letter of the law. I’m the technical and substantive law. No one cometh unto justice, except he pays. Justice is expensive, injustice is cheap.”  He lets out a pleasurable laugh, scratches its comb with its left foot and continues, “Of the trinity, the judicial chair is the safest; the executive and legislative chairs are tenured quicksand, open to impeachment and questions. Who can question me, the ultimate lordship? In my hand resides the fate of every citizen. I’m their lordship.”

And the bull got wind that the cock was feeding fat and fine when he had decreed every citizen to squeeze their faces upon the pangs of hunger-induced fasting. The bull also learnt that the rogue cock was aligning with legislative insurgents in the red-carpeted hollow chamber, in cahoots with their cohorts across the land.

So, the bull went charging to the palatial cage of the cock, who luckily saw him raging from afar of, and flew out in time through the window before a head-butt smashed the cage of corruption into smithereens. Running, flying and cackling, the frightened cock sped towards the only sanctuary in the vicinity, the china shop, but the stubborn bull galloped after it. Finding a space between two large china plates with the map of Nigeria on them, the cock squeezed itself in, and went mute. The bull braked just outside the shop, mooed and barged into the shop, dangling its curved horns precariously.

In a minute, the whole town arrived at the shop, cudgel-wielding supporters of the cock and those of the bull. The atmosphere was boiling but everyone agreed that the china dishes, cups, pots, plates and ornaments in the shop mustn’t be broken.

A young citizen called Future stepped out to address the aggressive crowd. “Elders and the people of Jebako, I greet you all.” Someone in the crowd shot back, “How old are you to address the kingdom?” But Future continued, “These are times that try men’s souls. I come neither with a machete nor a cudgel. I come with words of reason to solve the logjam at hand. It’s unfortunate that half of the people of Jebako are in support of the cock, closing their eyes to his spine-chilling acts of corruption. Another half is, sadly, in support of the bull, whose actions and those of his aides are not better than that of the cock.

Instead of considering issues objectively and seeking a peaceful resolution, supporters of the two are bleating to high heavens, outshouting one another in senseless arguments. People argue in view of daily bread. Where’s patriotism? Is the cow guiltless in amassing unaccountable wealth? Is the bull blameless in the non-prosecution of his aides and allies fingered for corruption? Those blaming one and acquitting the other are corrupt themselves, and our land can never be healed by chasing after bread and butter alone. Let’s subtly get the cock out of the shop and ensure that he’s tried and jailed if found guilty. Let’s insist on the trial of the aides and allies of the bull alleged to have corruptly enriched themselves. If they’re found guilty, they must all be jailed. Justice is the only condition for the redemption of our land.”

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