Octogenarian elder statesman, Osemwegie Ebohon, is a man of many parts – a veteran journalist, researcher, historian, author, poet, playwright, cultural icon, and native doctor. Ebohon, born November 11, 1940 into a Christian family, and once preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, has for several decades been an adherent of the African Traditional Religion, ATR. A High Priest of African Traditional Religion, and founder/curator of Ebohon Cultural Centre, otherwise known as the Ebohon Centre for Art, Traditional Religion, and Witchcraft, Benin City, Edo State, Ebohon is well known for his many accurate predictions in the past. In this interview with Adekunbi Ero, executive editor, at his Benin City bio-cultural museum-park, Ebohon, gazing into his crystal ball, gave ominous and scary predictions about what lay ahead of Nigeria, stating that as far as 2023 is concerned, “Nigeria is not going anywhere”. According to him, there would be an attempt to change the outcome of the 2023 election, which would cause problems for the country.
As an elder statesman, you must be concerned about happenings in Nigeria. What is your take on the state of the nation? The nation is in a very bad shape. Nigeria is in a very bad shape and I do not think prayer will help us again. Why did you say so? We have been praying and our mouths are bent; so, the only thing remaining for us is…Zik (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first head of government), eight years to his death, said a time comes in a man’s life when prayers no longer help him. (Former President Olusegun) Obasanjo, I can’t remember the exact year, but it was when apartheid was at its highest in South Africa, said gun can no longer help in this matter; we should use African power, black power, and everything that we can. After two weeks, the apartheid crumbled. Then I said wow, the medicine everyone did is already working; and in less than three months, apartheid was gone forever. So, Nigeria needs to be pitied because when a thief is helping you to look for what is missing, you will never get it. We, the commoners, are the saints and angels in Nigeria and we cannot do anything to help Nigeria except we use sacrifices and a lot of things to beg the politicians. The president is a politician; senate is a house of politicians; the House of Representatives is a house of politicians. Our things are missing and the politicians are the people helping us to look for it. We will never get it. So, what we need to do in Nigeria is to forget foreign religions; they are not our own. If you say your culture or your religion is nothing, when your thing is missing, you won’t get what you will use in looking for it; so that is the state we are in today. We are at a crossroads. If you turn, look forward, look right, look left, look back, you don’t know where to go. There are so many crossroads around us, and they are more than 201. One, when you phoned to tell me that you were coming, I said they are coming for an interview; let me go into concentration for a few hours. If I can remind you of a few predictions I made before I stopped a few years ago; I talked of (Murtala) Mohammed’s death. NSO, SSS or whatever name they were called, they all came here. Then when (Ibrahim) Babangida came (as military president), NTA was here; the Observer was here, because I called them to tell them a plane was going to crash between now and the next 60 hours and that most of our middle-age soldiers would be killed in a fraudulent way. I say when it happens, the president shouldn’t go there in black; the wife shouldn’t go there in black; they should wear immaculate white. That if they put on black, Nigeria will go back 70 years. Before they got to their respective places – the journalists – a plane crashed in Lagos and many young soldiers, I think from Captains or Majors down; all the people in that plane died. Babangida, I don’t know how he went; but the problem we are having now, we are still probing into it. If we are able to surmount it, the scars will stay long on our bodies. The fear I am having is that we should pray for the youths. They say the cowards die many times before their death, and the king does not execute a coward. I would say if this thing belongs to me, and you take it from me, I won’t bother; I will leave you to God and his conscience because something is going to happen very soon, and unless care is taken, we would lose many of our youths. When I say it, people say no, no, no. I don’t want to go into that because it is highly political. Then, unless most of our politicians retrace their steps, they would regret what made them go into politics. One time in the Bible, they asked people to be touching their doors with something so that something will not happen to them. It’s going to happen in Nigeria, but we are praying for it not to happen; when many prominent men and women will lose people that are part of their blood, and bring tears to their eyes. I don’t want to be direct on anything I am saying because they are highly controversial, and highly fearful. What I’m trying to say is our people that are damaging this country are going to be paid in hot coins between now and the next one and a half years. But before they get the hotness on their hands, we pray that we do not lose too many youths. So, what I will advise youths is that I know your blood is pumping fast and hot. If anything happens against your conscience, leave it to God and the ancestors of the land to settle. Don’t go into the streets and protest because the end will be bad for our enemies. When I say our enemies, you, and we, your parents. God will take revenge for you; so don’t go into the streets and say you are demonstrating.
When you are expecting a zebra in the farm to come, it never comes. They are already planning against you that you are going to demonstrate. Surprise everybody and don’t demonstrate. Those people you are supporting in politics are hearing now; tell them not to demonstrate. God would also put His right hand on the minds of those that are preparing for them. They are preparing seriously; they are sharpening their cutlasses or machetes to kill whoever goes into the streets, but God and the ancestors will not allow it to happen.
The state that Nigeria is now, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, but God and the powers that be will reduce that problem. If He doesn’t, Nigeria will be no more; but Nigeria will still be there because if something is pursuing you to kill you, something that will save you from him will be following you. That is the reason we have hope; if not, there is a problem. You said Christianity has failed us, how have the ancestors helped us? Why have you people not intervened in the challenges Nigeria is facing? If you just walk into a court of law, they are judging a case, then you just raise your hand saying, “Excuse me, Your Lordship”, he will say go and face the wall; what is your business there? Does the case concern you? So, that is how this country is. In a place where they killed your father and mother, when you are going, you cover your head with a mortar, and hold the pestle as your walking stick. There was a time I told NTA; then, we were doing a programme – Many Faces of Religion – and I said something about (former head of state Ibrahim) Babangida and (his deputy, Augustus) Aikhomu. They sent people to come and arrest me in my house. When they came, I said you can’t arrest me; I am not going with you. So, they said okay; you will follow us. We are coming. So, one boy, he just entered the front of the car when they were entering my mother’s own, the car just tumbled and the police broke his right hand to pieces because the gods and ancestors of Nigeria were with me because I told them the truth. Before that time, there was a message from Lagos that they shouldn’t go to my house again and already, he has broken his hand. … So, I am begging youths now not to demonstrate for any result (this) year, because if you do, they kill you, your father and mother will be the ones to be in pains, like the one that happened recently at Lekki. What I am saying is it is the person who stays long on earth that can correct the mistakes he wants to be corrected. Those that are killed now will not join you and I to repair Nigeria because Nigeria is totally in a pitiable situation.
All we are seeing now, we are already intoxicated seeking for power; those of them in power are also intoxicated, they won’t listen to anything anyone is saying. And we the electorate that vote for them after they give us N20, or one small bag of rice, are the ones to suffer it. You see, at the end of every year, spirits carry the staff to every door. It is those that are not listening to advice that die in that house. It’s the same thing in a country. Let me tell you one thing; the debt Nigeria owes, it is not you and I that would pay it. It’s the people that did it that will pay for it. That is the law of cyclicity. As we are here now, 1,000 years’ time, we will be here again. You won’t be answering Adekunbi Ero; I won’t be answering Osemwegie Ebohon. Where that man is sitting, he’s going to be sitting there. So, what I’m saying is if you are a contributor to the killing of Nigeria, 14 times that you will reincarnate, you will reap it. So, the best thing is for all of us to retrace our steps now and say oh, I don’t think I will do this again. With your caution to the youths not to protest, do you foresee a crisis after the election? Nigeria is not going anywhere. We will still be here, and those that God says would stay, will stay. By the time everything cools down, it is a person that causes a war that gives it the thing it would eat. We will be here. One day; it’s a very sad story. Something happened to a public officer; not a civil servant. He was very bad to drivers in the state he was in. One day, a tipper just ran into his house and killed his first son in the room. It was a very pathetic something. The driver wasn’t injured. The tipper wasn’t mangled. Everybody was saying one thing or the other. I said no, you can’t say that. Assuming the father committed sin. There is a saying that it is the thing you have that you use in paying for something. That is why we must think twice when we are doing anything. I am advising brothers and sisters in politics; when you are intoxicated with a situational event, you don’t know until something happens, then your eyes will be clear. We forbid bad news. One period during Oba Akenzua’s reign, the dukes, within a week, three or four of them lost their first sons. Then Akenzua told me, because I had already started research; when I hear something is happening anywhere, I would run there. So, he said go and find out why this thing is happening. The moment they did the thing, that thing stopped. There was a time when cars were coming from Lagos they would be falling into Ovia River, near Iguoriakhi. I spoke to Daily Times and another paper; I told them what was to be done and the Oba asked them to go and do it, and those accidents stopped. I gave 11 serials to Lagos Weekend on what should be done so that the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t overrun Victoria Island. They did it halfway. And I don’t know who told them; they carried Cherubim and Seraphim or whatever there. Immediately they carried them there, water started overflowing and they started putting sandbags. The threat is still there. If you get there, some houses are inside the ground; three feet. They are sinking. So, it is your duty now to tell them… You see, in those days when we were coming up; when we had very volatile journalists like Ebenezer Williams, Peter Pan (Peter Enahoro), even Anthony Enahoro himself, (Lateef) Jakande, and all those, when they write certain articles, if you are going to commit suicide tomorrow, you will change your mind. It made certain people to resign from politics. May their souls rest in peace. So, you people should be advising us, including me, that we should tread softly, so that we do not crash-land. The controversy now in the political arena is the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket, Muslim-Christian ticket; it seems that the political class does not recognize the existence of African traditional religion. What do you think of this?
I do not think of anything because Nigeria already crumbled before we started coming into limelight…. They don’t recognize us. I have protested one million times… Presidents have come to this centre; senators have come. Big ministers from all over the world have been here; ambassadors. They will say what are the governments doing? I will say no government has done anything to this place. So, what I’m saying is, all those people who say they shouldn’t invite us to anywhere because we are pagans, we are this, they come in the night to do something. I have helped so many governors. One of them became an ingrate and I said I won’t do anything again unless anybody comes, he would pay me before I’ll be able to do what he comes for. A senator came here; I won’t mention his name. What he asked me to do for him from A to Z, I did it. He didn’t come back to say thank you or give me money; but I don’t bother. I do it for God and posterity. Maybe he would be lucky to read this thing and know that it’s a sin against God…Unfortunately, we are all illiterates on our side – native doctors (chuckles) ….The day I went to Jaji or so, where soldiers are trained. General Ike Nwachukwu led them. Babangida’s ADC, all those that died in the plane going to Abuja; all of them were here. Their pictures are there. (Pointing at a picture on the wall) So, Ike Nwachukwu wrote: ‘I’m marveled at your conviction irrespective of your education’. So, they said I should come to their dinner party; I said I won’t come. Your governor there is a deacon; I don’t want him to disgrace me, or insult me because he has a sword with two mouths. They said we are the ones inviting you. This Babangida’s ADC then said to me, they said you should come.
So I went. I went in traditional regalia; not like this I am wearing. So, when I just got there, a band I set up when I was in the Arts Council was there. They blasted my name on the microphone. When you are going to an enemy’s place, even if you have chronic hernia, you will walk normally so that he doesn’t know. When I was going, I held about N20,000 in N20 new notes; I put in my pocket, because I’m going to meet an enemy, that is, the governor. So, I sat down; they put one bishop by my right, another bishop on my left. Then immediately, they were sharing papers for the crusade. He will read, the wife will read; that is the governor. Then I just closed it and flung it with my left hand; the wind helped me to carry it away everywhere in the hall. So, Ike Nwachukwu (he will be laughing if he sees this publication) said how can you send this to that man? That is why he said he wasn’t coming. They invited me to the high table because I said I wouldn’t go before… They pacified me. So, what I am saying is, that we are not there, it is not our fault. Everyone that is in power takes us as their enemies; takes us as dirty people and God is helping this country through us. I have borne a lot for Nigeria. There was a coup that was to take place. I was sleeping, and I saw them pouring blood at the gate of Dodan Barracks. Then I said this must be a bad thing. But there is a way of changing it to white chalk, and we did it, and there was an attempted coup but nobody was killed. So, that is that. A president and his deputy; it was a military regime. They invited me to Dodan Barracks because the wife of the vice president was a Benin woman. Then she said she dreamt and that they should invite me to come and play oracle for them. That president was laughing; what is an oracle? At any rate, they sent me a helicopter, and I went with three cowries. When I got there, they said, ‘Are you not going to throw an oracle?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m ready.’ ‘Where is the oracle now?’ I said, ‘It’s with me.’ I didn’t hold a bag; I didn’t hold anything. So, I said look, you are going to make a law that you are going to break yourself and it tore the country into pieces. I said you are going to kill three people; you will backdate the something so that the law can hold them to be able to execute them. I said the day you are killing those people, there would be small rain, small sun; four things like that. They said, ‘That is all you saw?’; I said, ‘Yes’. I said, “One of you is going to violate the law he made.” They said they should not take children to hajj that year; I open it for you, and one of them did. You know who did. And that was a very disciplined human being. He told the press I am not the person; I saw him (his son) here. How did you come? He said Uncle this. It was an overzealous officer who brought the child; so, they now remembered me. So, that is the thing. That we are not put there is not a problem Nigeria has; they have bigger problems. It’s not all that I see that I can say, but God will paddle Nigeria through it. Ahead of next general elections, what do you have to say to Nigerians? I have made parables since. The election is not going the way you expect it because when it happens, they will try to change it, then there would be problems. I don’t know who’s going to win o, but if you are strong, your children are not strong. I don’t know who is going to win. They say the goat that a man was expecting to have a she-goat so that he can make much money, delivered a he-goat. So, that is what Nigeria is now, as far as the election is concerned. We should pray because the civil war of those days was a primary school drama. We will pray for Nigeria, and we will make sacrifices for Nigeria because the prayers won’t help. When I say prayers won’t help, there are still some people in the country that will pray and the prayers would be heard. But it is when you are clean and holy that your prayers would be heard. One day at Harvard University, I went to give a lecture. One girl came to me; she said pray for me. I said kneel down. So, I prayed for her. She started shaking; I said what is happening? She said ‘it’s as if fire burnt me’. I said you are okay; nothing will happen to you. Then another one came; till tomorrow, when I remember him, my heart bleeds for him – almost seven feet tall. He came for prayers with his wife. And then another lady, the friend’s wife; I prayed for three of them. Then I said you will escape it, but I knew he won’t escape it; between now and three days’ time, don’t drive at all, and don’t enter a car. Just stay in your house. When you get home, three days, don’t go out. The second day, they were going to the mall; they had a ghastly motor accident and he died on the spot. The wife used Western Union to send me $1,000 (USD) and said please, help me and my children with prayers. I called her and said I will pray, but I am going to make sacrifices for you because your husband, maybe he has offended the god of iron, which you don’t know; or which if you are a Christian, you don’t believe in. I said I will make sure I help because my heart is bleeding for him because as he was coming, a coffin was in his front; then I said those things. So, Nigeria would pass through it. All that we are seeing now will spoil some things, but will not spoil Nigeria.