This article will entail a figurative and poetic view of the poem that got Mr. Rotimi Jolayemi popularly known as Oba Akewi arrested by Lai Mohammed. There are several views to which the poem can be interpreted but the best interpretation to avoid any alteration in the message conveyed in the poem is a poetic analysis.
Recall that the incumbent Minister of Information and Culture in Nigeria recently ordered the detention of a Kwara-Based Journalist and his family members (his wife and his two brothers who are also journalists) over a poem he read on Radio. This poet is also a Journalist called Rotimi Jolayemi popularly known as Oba Akewi. The minister of information ordered the arrest of this young man for reading of a Yoruba Poem that Lai Mohammed perceive to be an attack on his personality owing to the fact that his name was mentioned in the post.
The poetic analysis of this poem will give a detailed meaning of the poem. All the figurative words used in the poem will be analyzed figuratively. There are some lines that cannot be comprehensible denotatively (That is, they cannot be grasped because they do not contain dictionary meanings). Some of these lines will be given a connotative meaning so as to stick with the mind of their Poet.
Insight would be placed on all lines as each line will be explained poetically and figuratively.
Line1 of the poem: “Having a child like Lai Mohammed is tantamount to a loss”.
The poetic meaning of this line is that whoever gives birth to a creature ‘Lai Mohammed’ has wasted his resources, care and labor.
Line2: “Liar Mohammed”
This line is a single phrase but it is called an epigram in Literature. An epigram is a brief but witty saying. This line is short but it contains a lot. In poetry analysis, it is also referred to as a Pun. A pun is a joke or type of word play in which similar senses or sound [Lai/Lair] of two words or phrases or different senses of the same word, are deliberately confused). The poet intended to play on the use of Lai, which is known to be the name of a person. He makes a slight alteration in the pronunciation of the word, to communicate two different meanings. The first meaning is that ‘Lai(r)’ is a Nigerian name and the second meaning which is the prevalent meaning is ‘Lia(r)’, meaning that a person who lies. Long story short, the messaged conveyed in that line is that a Mohammed that lies.
Line3: “He lied so many times and sold the nation with his lying tricks”
This line can be poetically analyzed thus: in the context of this poem, the poet alludes to ‘Lai Mohammed’ which is the name of a popular person in Nigeria. According to the context of this poem and the settings of the poem, it is deducible that the alluded figure is possibly the Minister of Information of the Federation, Minister Lai Mohammed. So, in par with contextual analysis, the line insinuates that the Minister is shady, crooked and tricky with his lies. The poet persona believes that the referent has been so dexterous, skillful and daft in telling lies that he sold the Nation.
Line4: “The man lied to the extent that there are no more lies in the whole of Kwara State”.
The poetic interpretation of this line is that Lai Mohammed has fetched the wells of lies in Kwara State empty that no other person could fetch any more lies in the State. Literarily, this insinuates that Lai Mohammed is a constant lair that rarely speaks the truth. He lies in most of his endeavors.
Line5: “For the people who see Lai Mohammed as an Alfa, Do you think Lai is normal?”
In this line, the poet persona insinuates that the Minister of Information and Culture of the Federation, whom many believe is a Muslim faithful, has a dubitable morality and normalcy. That is, his virtue of normalcy is subject to skepticism.
Line6: “Lai does not differ from an animal”.
Literarily, this line means that the subject is an animal but figuratively, the ‘animal’ used in this line does not refer to the creatures that we know. It just means that the subject shares the features of animals.
Line7: “He should have been in Prison since a long period of time now”.
This line insinuates that Lai Mohammed should have been jailed a long time ago.
Line 8: “We all know the Saraki of Kwara State and we also know how the thief puts himself on high self esteem”
In this line, the poet introduced a new character which he describes to be a thief. In reality, what this character seems to have stolen is a two-term Governorship seat of Kwara State (2003-2011).
Line 9: “Saraki was busy cheating us in Kwara State”
This line simply means that the newly introduced character (Saraki) in the poem has been a cheater in Kwara state for a long time. The Poet Persona believes that the Character cheated the people of Kwara State during his time on office as the Governor of the State.
The subsequent line 10, 11, and 12 will be analyzed together because they have an interwoven connection which affects their meanings.
Line 10: “Lai Muhammed would always come every four years to campaign for the office of the Kwara State Governorship”
Line 11: “The Ekiti-Kwara, Igbominas, and others would flock out to vote Lai Muhammed in but, few days to the election days; he will step out from the office”
Line 12: “ …because the Arm Robber (Lai Mohammed) has collected money from Saraki”
The Poet explains how the initial character (Lai Mohammed) and the novel character (Bukola Saraki) worked together to exploit the Kwara State’s Electorates of their votes. He explains that Lai Mohammed would contest for the Governorship sit and in the nick of time, he will step down, leaving the electorates with the only choice of voting Bukola Saraki whom they consider a bad politician as the Governor of the state. The Poet explains that Lai Mohammed maneuvered ways for Bukola Saraki in the Kwara State for his two tenures in office.
Line 14 “Why! Were you birthed with lies? Were you backed with the wrapper made of lies?”
The Poet exclaims how extremely unpleasant and annoying Lai Mohammed tells his lies. He wonders if Lai Mohammed was nursed as liar or bred as a liar.
Line15:“Your surname should been ‘Irolabi’ and your first name ‘Irogbemi’ ”
The Poet assumes that the character is better off with a different name which will properly befit his personality. He says that he is better being called Irolabi Irogbemi (Yourba names that connotes a person that tells lies). The Poet later reconsiders that there is actually no need to change his name because he has even been christened a Liar as his name implies “Lai/Lair”.
Line 16: “Both Lai Mohammed and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster and Management and Social Development, Madam Umar Sadiyat Faruq Buhari’s Mistress the head of thieves”
The poet presents another Character for ridicule. He presents the Nigeria’s Minister for Finance ‘Madam Umar Sadiyat’. The poet also alleges that she is the mistress of Buhari and also the leader of the thieves.
Line 17: “The maltreatment she is been meting out to Npower Employees is beyond measure”
Line 18: “Despite the cost of COVID-19, the Minister is yet to pay her employees a 3-month salary”
The poet accuses the Minister of Finance of looting money that is meant to pay her employers.
Line 19: “This is serious but the mad woman has no fear of God”
This line simply insinuates that the subject, Umar Sadiyat Farouk is allegedly a mad woman who does not fear God. Poetically, what this means is that the Minister does not have sympathy for humans, thus, she does not fear God.
Line20: “No wonder the National Assembly ask them to explain how the palliative money was spent”
Line 21: “She says the 1trillion Naira has been distributed and the breakdown is with the Accountant General of the Nation, Alhaji Ahmed, Idris”
Line 22: “the subsequent day, the office of the Accountant-General was on fire with all the money and record in it”
All these lines drive along the same route of poetic interpretation.
What these lines mean poetically is that, there is a mystery to the fire outbreak at the office of the Account General which the poet believes is connected to the demand for record of how the palliative money was spent by the Chairman
That’s all about the poetic analysis of the poem.