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In the similitude of Eniola Salami

In the similitude of Eniola Salami
January 20
08:33 2022

BY JOSHUA OPANIKE

In August 2021, Kemi Adetiba released a sequel to the King of Boys blockbuster. This piece seeks to amplify thoughts that probably went through Adetiba’s mind as she developed the character of Eniola Salami. Played by the enigmatic Sola Sobowale, Salami provides an insight into what goes on in the murky depths of Nigerian politicking.

The ‘King of Boys: Return of the King’ began by presenting the mortality of Eniola, the injustice against her, her loss, and her helplessness. Isn’t the story of a mother who lost her two children and herself became a destitute touching? Deliberate stimulation of sympathy is a common item in the playbook of political gimmicks. It’s either the President didn’t have shoes as a boy, or the Governor trekked miles before getting to school.

Such stories of grass to grace project a sense of hope that somehow, the bearer of such terrible experience when elected to office would help straighten things up in the country. As if suffering and languishing for the essential things of life are the hallmarks of responsible leadership. With that stellar introduction, it is easy to forget that Salami was a notorious political thug. She, though hidden in the dark, sat with the men that walked the corridors of power and ran their sinister operations. She was the King of Boys, a leader of a state-backed criminal organisation that should hang for her many crimes.

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For someone of such antecedents, isn’t it disturbing that she went on to win a gubernatorial election? I do not think it was Adetiba’s intention to camouflage Eniola’s character. She presented a scenario far too common in our dispensation. We somehow fail to see the evil characters hidden in plain sight of men who seek to lead us. We fall in love with the theatrics of their story and fail to see them for whom they indeed are.

Musiliu Akinsanya may not ring a bell, but his alias, MC Oluomo, might. Mr Akinsanya bears a similitude to Salami in some ways. Akinsanya is the current chairman of the Lagos state branch of the NURTW, a trade union that is well known for a few things; violence and its anti-democratic tendencies either by disrupting lawful demonstrations or in the manner the union itself is run.

Before getting the top job, Akinsanya was one of the leaders of the union, and now he controls and wields the resources and machinery that the union bears with almost no restrictions and checks. He is a king, too, like Eniola; king of the boys that have perpetrated some of the most gruesome violent acts our local civilisation has witnessed.

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At the same time, he isn’t in court for any crime, which is quite understandable in a system like ours. His association with an organisation of such reputation, albeit occupying an influential post, leaves much to be desired of him and what he has to offer as an electoral candidate.

Furthermore, the source of his wealth remains a mystery. Several MC Oluomo’s children are schooled abroad in schools that bill thousands of dollars per year. The question is, how could he afford it? Well, he wouldn’t have sent them there if he couldn’t afford the fees. How he amassed enough wealth to do that can only be imagined. He may be seen as a progressive. Someone who probably didn’t have a formal education recognises its importance and strives for his children to enjoy the luxury.

If he cherishes formal education, why won’t he promote it when he gets to power? But there would be a pattern here. Understanding the significance of a basic amenity doesn’t imply that it would be provided. It’s no more considered an anomaly that political leaders have children enjoying a working education system abroad while they consciously stifle the procedure at home. If anything, such acts indicate selfishness and blatant shamelessness. One of the president’s spokesmen was once reported to have said the president sent his children abroad because he could afford it. Of course, he could. After all, he is the president!

In recent times Akinsanya has opened social media accounts and is portraying an impeccable image of himself. He comments on current affairs with correctness. Musicians sing his praise. He is hiding in plain sight, and his charm seems to have the desired effects. The emergence of men like him is what rational irrationality exhibited by many electorates. Of a truth, many of such characters like Eniola Salami abound, and they are in plain sight. As an election year draws nigh, they are making their moves, and we must be wary of them.

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Joshua Opanike is a fourth-year medical student in south-west Nigeria.

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