Nigeria is blessed with so much talent all over the world in all sports disciplines. Divine Oduduru, 22, has been on the rampage in the past few weeks for the right reasons. Oduduru has been explosive on the tracks running sub-10 and sub-20 seconds in the 100m and 200m in the same competition. He recorded 9.94 seconds and 9.99 seconds respectively in the new athletics season during the collegiate events for Texas Tech University.
He is an athlete the country should nurture to be great for Olympic Games medals in years to come starting from Tokyo 2020. He also recorded 19.76 seconds to emerge as the current fastest man in the 200m. Today, he is one of the fastest men in the world for 100m.
He is third behind Noah Lyles of USA with 9.86 seconds and Christian Coleman also of USA with 9.86 seconds. And so, efforts should be made to make Oduduru even better than he is at the moment. Another athlete, Tobi Amusan of University of Texas El Paso, is on the rise. Also 22, she has qualified for the Olympic Games with her sub-13 seconds recorded in the 100m hurdles event also at the collegiate games in the USA. Amusan has been consistent over the years with gold medals won at African and Commonwealth Games levels respectively.
With her 12.73 seconds personal best, she is currently among the top 10 hurdlers in the world. Oduduru and Amusan deserve attention, proper monitoring and mentoring to get to the top. A wrestler, Oduayo Adekuoroye, 25, has been consistent in the past few years for Nigeria. She has won laurels at African and global stage. She is currently ranked number 4 in the world in her freestyle wrestling category.
She won gold at the German Grand Prix and was voted the best female wrestler at the African Senior Wrestling Championship which took place in Tunisia. Adekuoroye is also a potential Olympic medallist if well nurtured for the forthcoming Tokyo Games. Table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, is 30 years old but he has the potential to clinch an Olympic medal in the games next year. At the 2016 games in Brazil, he emerged the very first African to feature in the quarter-finals of the table tennis event. In football, the talents are everywhere.
The dramatic 4-0 victory Nigeria recorded over Libya in the recent U-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier was enough indication. Victor Oshimen who scored three goals in that match is on the rise. At club level, he scored 18 goals and four assists in all competitions for Charleroi in the Belgian top division this season. This is a huge feat and the guy is on his way to Egypt with the Super Eagles.
There is also Samuel Chukwueze who has shown so much promise in La Liga with Villarreal. He registered five goals in the league and eight goals in all competitions with three assists for the team. Chukwueze was in blistering form against Barcelona in a La Liga match as he recorded a goal and registered one assist in the 4-4 draw recorded in that match. He is also on the train to Egypt for AFCON. Oshimen and Chukwueze will be great for Nigeria’s quest to qualify and pick a medal in the football event of the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, the two young footballers deserve attention and mentoring.
The Nigeria Football Federation and coach Gernot Rohr will have to figure that out how best to take these players to the top in the interest of the country. These two youngsters are among the best performers of Nigeria in the just concluded football season in Europe. They deserve to be closely monitored with their transfer and progress so that they can play in the UEFA Champions League to boost the country’s profile in the game. Henry Onyekuru (21) and Paul Onuachu (24) also did great in Turkey and Denmark respectively. Onyekuru scored 14 goals while Onuachu scored 19 goals in all competitions.
These are future prospects that could break the jinx of not winning the Africa Footballer of the Year award since 22 years ago. But so much work will have to be done. The Ministry of Sports is yet to come out with a sports policy that will enable stakeholders to know the next step or move for budding athletes but this is necessary now that so many talents abound. As usual, the preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games is zero and it is important to encourage promising athletes across all sports to be at their best for the event and subsequent global meets after it.
Why and how history defines who we are (6)
THE KINGDOM OF BENIN: A QUINTESSENTIAL REMINDER OF THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY INTRODUCTION
History and experience tell us that moral progress comes not in comfortable and complacent times, but out of trial and confusion.
Last week, I started my discourse on the Kingdom of Benin. I have so far shown comprehensively, on the origin of the Benin Kingdom, demonstrating how the kingdom started in 900s, when the Edo people settled in the rain forests of West Africa and how it was later annexed by rampaging merchantilsitic British Colonialists in 1897. Today, I shall continue and beam our search light on what made this Kingdom stand out from other contemporary Kingdoms and Empires.
THE GOLDEN AGE
In 1440, Oba Ewuare, also known as Ewuare the Great, came to power and expanded the borders of the former citystate. It was only at this time that the administrative centre of the kingdom began to be referred to as Ubinu after the Yoruba word and corrupted to Bini by the Itsekhiris, Urhobos and Edo people who all lived together in the royal administrative centre of the kingdom.
The Portuguese who arrived in an expedition led by Joao Afonso de Aveiro in 1485 would refer to it as Benin and the centre would become known as Benin City.
The Kingdom of Benin eventually gained political strength and ascendancy over much of what later became Midwestern Nigeria; then Bendel State; and now Edo State. The Oba had become the mount of power within the region.
Oba Ewuare, the first Golden Age Oba, is credited with turning Benin City into a city-state, from a military fortress built by the Ogisos, protected by 50ft deep moats and walls.
It was from this bastion that he launched his military campaigns, furthered his conquests and began the expansion of the kingdom from the Edo-speaking heartlands. A series of walls marked the incremental growth of the sacred city from 850 AD until its decline in the 16th century.
To enclose his palace, Oba Ewuare commanded, the building of Benin’s inner walls, an 11-kilometre-long (7 miles) earthen rampart girded by a moat 6 m (20 ft) deep; great thorough fares and nine fortified gateways.
This was excavated in the early 1960s by Graham Connah. Connah estimated that its construction if spread out over five dry seasons, would have required a workforce of 1,000 labourers working 10 hours a day seven days a week.
Ewuare also added great thoroughfares and erected nine fortified gateways. More excavations later uncovered a rural network of earthen walls 6,000 to 13,000 km (4,000 to 8,000 mi) long, all of which would have taken an estimated 150 million man-hours to build and must have taken hundreds of years to build. These were apparently raised to mark out territories for towns and cities.
Thirteen years after Ewuare’s death, tales of Benin’s splendors lured more Portuguese traders to the city gates.
At its height, Benin dominated the entire trade along the entire coastline from the Western Niger Delta, through Lagos to modern-day Ghana. It was for this reason that this important coastline was named the Bight of Benin.
The present-day Republic of Benin, formerly Dahomey, decided to choose the name of this Bight as the name of its country.
Benin ruled over the tribes of the Niger Delta, including the Western Igbos, Ijaws, Itshekiris, and Urhobos, amongst others. It also held sway over the Eastern Yoruba tribes of Ondo, Ekiti, Mahin/Ugbo, and Ijebu. It also conquered what eventually became the city of Lagos hundreds of years before the British took over in 1851.
The state developed an advanced artistic culture, especially in its famous artifacts of bronze, iron and ivory. These include bronze wall plaques and life-sized bronze heads depicting the Obas and Iyobas of Benin.
The most well-known artifact is based on Queen Idia, now best known as the FESTAC Mask after its use in 1977 in the logo of the Nigeria-financed and hosted Second Festival of Black & African Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77).
By the late 1400s, the capital of Benin, Benin City, was already a large and highly regulated city.
Europeans who visited were always impressed by its splendor and compared it to the major European cities at the time.
The city was laid out on a clear plan, the buildings were reportedly all well-kept, and the city included a massive palace compound decorated with thousands of intricate metal, ivory, and wood plaques (known as the Benin Bronzes), most of which were made between the 1400s and 1600s, after which the craft declined.
In the mid-1600s, the power of the Obas also waned, as administrators and officials took more control over the government.
The first European travelers to reach Benin were Portuguese explorers under Joao Afonso de Aveiro in about 1485. A strong mercantile relationship developed, with the Edo trading slaves and tropical products such as ivory, pepper and palm oil for European goods such as manillas and guns.
In the early 16th century, the Oba sent an ambassador to Lisbon, and the king of Portugal sent Christian missionaries to Benin City. Some residents of Benin City could still speak a pidgin Portuguese in the late 19th century.
The first English expedition to Benin was in 1553, and significant trading developed between England and Benin based on the export of ivory, palm oil, pepper, and slaves.
Visitors in the 16th and 19th centuries brought back to Europe tales of “Great Benin”, a fabulous city of noble buildings, ruled over by a powerful king. On his part, the Oba began to suspect Britain of larger colonial designs and ceased communications with the British until the British Expedition in 1896-97, when British troops captured, burned, and looted Benin City as part of a punitive mission, which brought the kingdom’s imperial era to an end.
A 17th-century Dutch engraving from Olfert Dapper’s Nauwkeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaansche Gewesten, published in Amsterdam in 1668 says.
The king’s palace or court is a square, and is as large as the town of Haarlem and entirely surrounded by a special wall, like that which encircles the town. It is divided into many magnificent palaces, houses, and apartments of the courtiers, and comprises beautiful and long square galleries, about as large as the Exchange at Amsterdam, but one larger than another, resting on wooden pillars, from top to bottom covered with cast copper, on which are engraved the pictures of their war exploits and battles. Another Dutch traveler was David van Nyendael, who in 1699 wrote an eye-witness account.
Military operations relied on a welltrained disciplined force. At the head of the host stood the Oba of Benin. The monarch of the realm served as supreme military commander. Beneath him were subordinate generalissimos, the Ezomo, the Iyase, and others who supervised a Metropolitan Regiment based in the cap ital, and a Royal Regiment made up of hand-picked warriors that also served as bodyguards. Benin’s Queen Mother also retained her own regiment, the “Queen’s Own”.
The Metropolitan and Royal regiments were relatively stable semi-permanent or permanent formations. The Village Regiments provided the bulk of the fighting force and were mobilized as needed, sending contingents of warriors upon the command of the king and his generals. Formations were broken down into sub-units under designated commanders.
Foreign observers often commented favorably on Benin’s discipline and organization as “better disciplined than any other Guinea nation”, contrasting them with the slacker troops from the Gold Coast. Until the introduction of guns in the 15th century, traditional weapons like the spear, short sword and bows held sway. Efforts were made to reorganise a local guild of blacksmiths in the 18th century to manufacture light firearms, but dependence on imports was still heavy. Before the coming of the gun, guilds of blacksmiths were charged with war production-particularly swords and iron spearheads.
(To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.” (James Baldwin).
I thank Nigerians for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s treatise.
• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN
A kidnap victim told this story
n another kidnap instance, those who went to collect the ransome had communication gap with those keeping the victim. Network was bad so those keeping the kidnapped victim released the victim thinking that the money had been given as agreed. The man was set free.
In another case, a victim was put in the boot of the car and when they came to the place where the road was bad, unknown to kidnappers, the car boot opened and the man jumped out. When the kidnappers arrived at their destination, they discovered he had escaped. They then called him to tell him to pay certain amount of money to their account or they would come after him or family members. The man had to oblige without reporting to Police to save the lives of his family.
In another instance, the kidnappers asked someone to travel to a place in one of the South – South States to drop the money. The man travelled to the place and was directed to enter church premises – a popular prophet’s church premises and they took him to their room where they were staying and collected the money but warned him not to tell anybody. The church has a lot of work to do. The prophet was not aware of it but hears from God. How?
THE CHURCH AND KIDNAPPING
In one of the cases mentioned, the pastor’s bank details were used to receive money. Truly, the minister did not know – he was just told that some used his bank account to collect the money.
However, in the second case where a popular prophet in Nigeria has his church and conferences, how come he is not aware? Yes the man of God converted them on 31st Night, called them out and warned them openly and decided to give them some rooms in the camp / premises to stay. As a prophet of God, should he not know? I can’t say exactly what happened.
TYPES OF PRAYERS (Type 1)
A good word is a good word, and a bad word is a bad word even if it is used in prayers or in a joke. For example the scripture says that light excels darkness; goodness excels bad / evil; live excels hatred, mercy excels judgement; life excels death, and wisdom excels folly. Also forgiveness excels unforgiveness, health excels sickness or disease; cleanliness / holiness excels sins or grace excels calamity and Blessings excels curses. Better, Stronger, Sharper.
Wisdom is better than folly as light is better than darkness (Ecc. 2:13)
In other words, wisdom exceeds, excels, and is more powerful than folly as light exceeds, excels, is preferred, is pre-eminent and defeats darkness, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness – in all areas. Whether in praying or in blessing, wisdom and light are better, stronger and defeat folly (silliness) and darkness. Better, Stronger, Sharper.
Also the scripture says mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13). In other words mercy (forgiveness) exceeds, excels, wins out, triumphs, and more powerful than judgement and justice. Calling for justice is judgement, vengeance, as opposed to forgiveness and mercy.
Mercy is stronger and better than judgement and justice. Better, Stronger, Sharper. St. Paul says in Rom. 12:21 (Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good). This simply means that good is better, excels, exceeds, more powerful and stronger than evil, in every area. Evil can’t equal good. Infact the scriptures state in Rom. 12:20, (therefore if thine enemy is hungry, feed him.
To be continued
After you say ‘I Do’
What happens if, as a man, after you had proposed or as a woman, after accepting a marriage proposal you saunter into somebody that is the exact description of your dream life partner? What will you do? Perhaps it happens after your wedding, how will you feel about it? Before you respond, read these true-life stories:
Recently, a Pastor sought my intervention in a family squabble between a man and his wife. The wife is a member of his church while the husband, I was told, do show up occasionally or whenever there’s any special programme. After listening to both parties, I asked the man a couple of questions; his answers provided the pointer to the root of their conflict. Further probing questions eventually revealed the reason why the man was feeling like the eight-month-old marriage was ‘hasty’ and actually a ‘mistake’ on his part. He was ‘no longer interested in the marriage’ for reasons best known to him alone. It took expertise to make him open up to me; by this time, I had excused the wife to allow a ‘man-to-man talk’. You care to know his reason? Please read on:
There’s a lady in his place of work who is the exact description of his kind of a woman. She was employed into the company after she lost her job at a new generation bank in the wake of economic downturn early in 2016. Interestingly, the lady in question, still unmarried, found a friend in him as they relate freely, warmly and seamlessly. The friendship became highly treasured to him that he can’t wish it away; more so, he had dreamt of a lady that has a striking semblance to her a few years back. The wife later confirmed that he had told her about the dream before they married. He decided to marry after waiting and scouting for two extra years without seeing any woman that came close to his desire. His wife was his ‘Option B.’ Therefore, when the ‘real woman’ appeared, regardless what the consequences of his action might be, he wanted to quit his marriage!
A lady had accepted marriage proposal from her fiancé shortly before she went for her national youth service. At the orientation camp, she met a handsome, fair guy on whom she instantly had a crush! She was ready to throw off her engagement ring if this Adonis could look in her direction. Apart from his physical appearance matching the desired look of her dream man, the guy was a law graduate while she read accounting. Interestingly, she had made her fiancé promised that he would read law after they are married even if it is on part-time studies because she had wanted her husband to be a lawyer.
What finally sealed her conviction while on a date with her crush was when he asked if she will like to live overseas because he’s a British citizen by birth and his parents and siblings live in the United Kingdom but he has chosen to stay and practice in Canada afterwards. Meanwhile, a two-year plan with her fiancé was already in place as she had hoped the two years savings would be enough to make them relocate abroad after wedding. Yours sincerely, that was the beginning of a dramatic break-up that got both families rattled.
Several people have tall dreams about the look, profession, nativity, age, complexion, religion, social status and academic background of who their would-be spouses should be. There are those who decide based on dress sense, eloquence of speech, dancing skill, culinary ability, proficiency in the bedroom games and spiritual fervency. Somehow, people make their choices but the interests of their partners do not count when their preferred choices emerge even when it’s practically too late.
Are you having a similar experience or challenge at the moment or you know anyone passing through unexplained issues in his/her relationship? In my findings through personal encounters with such folks, there are symptoms that are manifest in the conducts of people having divided interests or shifted attention in their relationships:
λ The first symptom is that the disgruntled partner becomes intemperate. He/she will complain about everything, every time and everywhere.
λ Two, the partner will become unduly hostile, easily provoked, ready to magnify simple or joking matter to a serious issue. They become frenetic about every issue be it minor or major.
λ Three, the ‘unhappy’ partner will often threaten to quit the relationship/marriage or abandon the home by blaming the spouse for everything including cockroaches or lizards found in the vicinity.
λ Four, the irked partner will be staying late outside more than necessary. Traffic, heaps of urgent jobs at work, breakdown of the vehicle on the way home are common excuses at the beginning.
λ Five, the partner will begin to skip meals, especially dinner many times a month by giving tiredness or because he/she had a lunch at work as an excuse for loss of appetite.
λ Six, the partner will always express regret over the marriage at every point of minor argument.
λ Seven, the about-to-quit partner will no longer appreciate his/her spouse; rather, will choose to compare the spouse with some other ‘angelic or faultless’ spouses out there in a provoking manner.
λ Lastly, the partner won’t like to welcome a third party or family intervention or peace meeting from any quarters until the situation is way beyond easy resolution.
Let me assure that a confused situation like meeting a preferred choice after you say “I do” is not beyond remedy. Through counselling, frank talks, family intervention and prayers sanity would prevail. However, sometimes it is better to allow the disgruntled partner to quit. Otherwise, apart from making the home hellish for the spouse where neglect, malice, provocation, abuse and assaults will reign, if care is not taken, the emotional storm might result to an unpredictable end.
Living with Jonathan’s nemesis
“I am the most abused and insulted President in the World but when I leave office, you will all remember me for the freedom you enjoyed under me” – Goodluck Jonathan in 2014
Since 2015 any sign of adversity befalling any Nigerian who directly or indirectly contributed or showed excitement in the political downfall of former President Goodluck Jonathan is easily seen as retributive justice. Such unfortunate condition is usually viewed as a downfall caused by an inescapable agent. The common word easily used to describe such state in political circle is nemesis.
According to dictionary explanation of nemesis, it is a cause of punishment or defeat that is deserved and cannot be avoided.
This word has continued to play up with the way and manner most of the persons who wittingly or unwittingly facilitated the coming to power of President Muhammadu Buhari or who contributed to the downfall of Goodluck Jonathan Presidency in 2015 are biting their fingers. Buhari Presidency has become such a regret mission for many and Nigerians have not failed to always look back to remind them of their roles in bringing the situation to fruition. As events unfold it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the Jonathan nemesis theory being bandied about.
Rather than look at every event from the point of its current origin, Nigerians have preferred to link every action to the past of the thespians involved.
When activist publisher Omoyele Sowore conceptualized his #RevolutionNow idea he was actually responding to the state of the nation where all the ingredients that make for a nation state were vanishing. He was retorting to a very glaring inability of the government in power to respond adequately to the challenges on ground and instead was creating them.
As the young man watched his beloved country go down without any sign of anybody working towards arresting the drift, he thought of starting something. His idea and dream was actually revolutionary but his scope for its execution was pedestrian. Revolution couldn’t have been as simple as just producing a WhatsApp message and throwing it to the cloud without any structure or proper coordination. Nigeria state is not a student union parliament where everybody is virtually on the same wavelength. The effect was to show when the bureaucracy came for him and ended the project at least for now.
If it was a real well coordinated revolution, taking away the dream ring leader would have been the catalyst for the subsequent actions and reactions. For example, when Boko Haram was created, the government operative then thought that eliminating their leader Mohammad Yusuf would mark their end but instead it became the fuel that inflamed the fire for nearly a decade now with thousands of souls wasted and a whole geo-political region of the country destroyed.
Because the Sowore revolutionary dream failed at least for now, discerning minds are trying to decipher the reason why and are asking the pertinent question. Whether the Sowore project was really a revolution or just blackmail stuff with mercantile underhand?
This idea joggling then brought them to the Jonathan nemesis theory as Sowore was at the forefront of those who actually collapsed the Jonathan structure and paved the way for the reigning King. Irrepressible social media actors and actresses have divulged Sowore’s past bringing to the fore all he did that facilitated the coming to power of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari. Sowore was actually on marble to have said that President Jonathan era was and would remain the worse in the history of Nigeria. To now turn around trying to create a revolution against a baby he helped to midwife into existence rightly called for the ensuing joshing on him in the social media.
In truth Sowore is not alone in this finger biting and teeth gnashing regrets for helping to bring President Buhari to power. Many prominent Nigerians are in it. Our own ebullient Baba Obasanjo has since rerouted his caustic letters he used in chasing away Jonathan to Buhari but it appears the letters have no much effect this time, apparently because the current addressee is not the reading type and may not have read any of it. To say that Obasanjo is not regretting his role in bringing Buhari to power would be like saying that American elites are not regretting Donald Trump Presidency.
The likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Governor of Kano State Rabiu Kwakwaso who massively supported Buhari coming against Jonathan have all long apologized publicly expressing regret for their political misadventure.
Even among the activist community, Sowore is certainly not alone in this Buhari mishap. Our highly revered Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, human rights activist lawyer Femi Falana and our dear Obiageli Ezekwesili have all seen their political reasoning put to question with the Buhari/Jonathan discernment. Perhaps the literary giant Soyinka would be more pained against the backdrop of the certificate scandal unfolding around his 2015 preferred candidate against a PhD holder. But realistically they have to see whatever agony they are going through in Buhari presidency as a prize for poor political judgement and learn to cope with it as a Jonathan nemesis.
The undisputed truth remains that the fallout of Buhari presidency has evidently put to question the political shrewdness of these hitherto heroes who have been influencing our political thoughts and directions for years.
At this juncture, there is absolute need to underscore the fact that the analysis in this musing does not in any way give a pass mark to Jonathan Presidency, not at all. After all if his administration had not lowered governance to such embarrassing level, the frustration would not have led to all these nosedives. It was his regime’s steep downward plunge and dramatic deterioration that led to that dangerous power grab regrouping that has now turned into a clear political disaster.
If our leaders had been more circumspectly and not driven by ego and personal aggrandizement in handling Jonathan’s weaknesses or even taken time to do some laboratory analysis of the person they were choosing in his place, maybe today’s grieve would have been averted.
The political tragedy of all these is that sincere and judicious criticism of regimes is suffering. Rather than see and digest issues from points and contents, the populace now indulge in comparison. Obasanjo writes a letter whose body totally captures the heart and minds of the majority but the attention instead is on asking him ‘are you not the one who brought him’. Sowore looks at the distasteful happenings in the land and moves even if unrealistically to stem it, the people who are victims of this vile rule turns and instead of providing support to him begins to herald his role in the coming to power of the tormentor-in chief. Erudite Soyinka furiously berates Buhari and compares him to the nation’s late maximum leader Gen. Sani Abacha, the people respectfully possibly because of his age says to him, ‘Prof, but you supported him?’
Until we get it right and escape from this malady of poor leadership circus, we may continue to leave in the nemesis of rejecting a lesser evil.
Clearly, our situation now in this country has become like that of Old Testament story when the people of Israel told God to give them King like other nations, that they are tired of Judges as their political heads, their creator subtly reminded them the implications of what they were asking for but they insisted and he gave them King Saul and what followed is now both scriptural and political history.
Similarly, Nigerians saw in President Jonathan a weakling and desired a strong leader, a military General who will take the security challenges headlong. Few voices that tried to remind us of the yore were drowned by the backing of respectable leaders like Obasanjo, Soyinka among others including the civil society groups. Here we are now bemoaning from all corners as the chicken arrived home for roosting. What a confused nation we really are.
Corruption is a ‘minister’ in Nigeria
Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), raised the alarm last weekend in Kaduna during the graduation of 328 intelligent superintendent cadet-trainees at the Nigeria Defence Academy. He spoke about the ferocity of corruption and how it was killing the economy of Nigeria. Even though he stated the obvious, one would have thought that given the present APC-led Federal Government’s “avowed commitment” to combat corruption, the rewards ought to have abated this endemic scourge. But five years on, since this government came on stream, we seem to be drifting in different directions, leaving substance and chasing shadows, in our anti-corruption fight.
I can understand the pressure on Ibrahim Magu, a man who has remained in acting capacity for four years now. I can also understand the politics of politics that has made his confirmation a subject of sustained horse-trading amongst the power oligarchs around the corridors of power. But the subject matter remains the same: corruption is eating deeper into the mainstream of our nationality.
Fighting corruption with corruption has its own telling contradiction on a system and the expected impact it ought to have in checkmating the growing incidences of it. While the APC-led Federal Government rode on its so-called anti-corruption mantra to get itself into power, it has looked the other way each time there are copious cases of corruption amongst its leaders and chieftains. From the leadership position to the followership buffer zone, there are inherent contradictions that are making the anti-corruption crusade not to gain the maximum traction. First, the president’s refusal to make an open declaration of assets has rubbed off on the seriousness of the crusade.
The President of the country should have done what the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, did with respect to open declaration of assets. The governors in Nigeria ought to be taking inspiration from a president whose handlers easily call “man of integrity”. Aside from Governor Makinde, I am not aware of any governor who has publicly declare assets. If a man so reputed for possessing a large dose of morality and integrity could not publicly declare assets, what else should we expect from lesser mortals in the political power corridors? The blatant refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to declare his assets publicly has set the tone for the contradiction in the anti-corruption crusade.
If the APC leader seen with bullion vans in his compound could not be interrogated and arraigned for money laundering, I am just wondering why the EFCC would shout blue murder over the $2 million allegedly found with one of Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers, and his son in-law, Babanlele. If the parameters for assessing corruption intent are anything to go by, applying selective amnesia on similar cases, easily kills the objective, motive and level playing field which anticorruption crusades are known for. A critical anti-corruption crusade is one that is blind to all persons no matter the relationship they enjoy with those who control the levers of power.
An anticorruption crusade is one that applies the rule, without exception. Any fight against corruption must be devoid of sensationalism and media trial. It must be a fight that applies the rule of law and not the rule of man. It must be a fight that derives its loyalty from the constitution and to the constitution. It is a crusade that sees everyone as equal before the law, from the president to the ordinary Nigerian on the street. Once, an anti-corruption crusade fails these basic tenets, it amounts to mere sloganeering, and certainly not a fight against corruption.
I used to think that when a nominee for any appointive position is said to be undergoing security check and screening, that it is an opportunity to run due diligence on such an individual to ascertain his suitability for such position. I had thought that the “eagle eyes” of the security goons would help to unravel hidden and dirty details of such nominee to prevent him or her from securing such position. I was sold to such belief until I realised that former Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun “passed” through security screening without any detection of her “oluwole” (scammed) National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
When the exposè dominated the public space, I was arguing with my inner mind that Kemi Adeosun was being unnecessarily harassed until she capitulated under the weight of compelling evidence. And later took the exit door in the full glare of a government that prides itself as anticorruption fighter. Who is fooling who? Not done, the same security screening could not unravel the fact that Adebayo Shittu, former Minister for Communications, did not carry out the mandatory one year NYSC programme, yet he was “screened” as suitable for ministerial position. Nothing else should remind us that all these oversight functions are products of corruption.
If a security agency could not unravel such fraudulent practices, it tells of the level of rot in our system. Not done with bizarre themes in a government of anti-corruption, some of the latest nominees for ministerial position, are persons who still have questions to answer with the relevant anticorruption agencies. There are ministers-designate who have questions to answer with EFCC.
They have no business being part of a team to deliver the anti-corruption agenda of President Buhari. But in a country of sins without sinners, I am told that political patronage mostly favours those who spend illicit funds to install a government. While the anti-corruption crusade of this government has become a huge joke, those nominees have become mere jokers.
The only pain is that it is the ordinary Nigerian on the street that suffers the contradictions and hypocrisy of the system. I have really wondered aloud why it was difficult for President Buhari to make good choices from the 200 million Nigerians without recycling old brigades and persons with cases to answer with EFCC. While the APC-led government easily derides the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for being responsible for the heist in the system, the declaration by Ibrahim Magu at the weekend that corruption is still killing Nigerian economy, shows that the practice has not abated. It means that corruption is still prevalent in the country.
It means that the present effort of government and its own internal contradictions, are just a drop in the ocean of corruption. Just imagine what difference it would make to the anti-corruption fight if President Buhari declares his assets publicly, and directs all his ministers to follow suit. He would have set the right tone for a holistic fight against a scourge that has left us prostrate.
To state euphemistically that corruption is a minister in Nigeria is to understand the position which corruption occupies in the scheme of things in Nigeria. And to use corruption to fight corruption is to miss the point altogether. Government must live above board and be transparent in its conduct. Government must insist on the right approach to combat corruption and reduce the incidences of monopoly, which is often subjected to abuse by public officials. It must be ready to take punitive action against persons irrespective of their party affiliation or the position they occupy in the society.
The law must not be a respecter of anyone no matter his religious status, ethnicity, political stature or financial muscle. The law must be law. And it must apply across board from the president down to the ordinary person on the street. A lawful society is one that courts civilisation and globalisation.
A lawful society guarantees freedom of speech for the citizens as well as promotes constitutionalism. We cannot afford to be caressing incompetence and cuddles nepotism, and pretend to be building an egalitarian society with equal opportunities for all. Leadership of the country must know when to play politics for the sake of politics, and when to be nationalistic for the sake of our common identity. We need transparent government. We need openness in government to create the right atmosphere for confronting corruption and other financial crimes. This present approach and indices are a bile in the dish.
Buhari’s shocker that reshaped JAMB
hree years ago, Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede was appointed the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). This announcement was made precisely on 1st August, 2016. The appointment was greeted with a lot of expectations given the strategic position the Board occupies in the education sector.
True to the vision and expectations of those who nominated him, Prof. Oloyede from the outset stated that his mandate was to build on the legacies of successive Registrars of the Board. His appointment should be seen against the consensus within government circles, as enumerated by the then Minister of Education, that there was a necessity to rebrand the Board for improved performance in terms of delivering credible and fair assessment.
Armed with this resolve, the new Registrar launched a five-point agenda. Chief among which was the need to partner with relevant stakeholders to develop a robust technological infrastructure that would ease the operations of the Board and boost organisational efficiency.
However, it was not until much later that we were to gain valuable insights into the aptness of the four philosophical underpinnings of his convictions, which if imbibed by a nation, are capable of taking her to the Promised Land. These four attributes are highlighted as follow:
Patriotism: The veritable antidote in addressing the plethora of national challenges we see today is to develop a very robust system that would produce very patriotic leaders who will see the responsibilities placed on their shoulders as a clarion call to render selfless service to the fatherland. By so doing, any vestige of allegiance to tribe, religious or self would be annihilated.
The love for one’s name: Attachment to one’s name and the fear of such a name being besmirched if one does something wrong is a great quality in leadership. A man that fears nothing, including whether his name is dragged in the mud, is one that should not be placed in any position of responsibility.
Courage: One of the greatest attributes of leadership is to be courageous in taking critical decisions. As such, unless one is courageous, one may not be able to alter the status quo. This is because daring to change the status quo in a corrupt society is to incur public opprobrium and attract flaks from all quarters. As such, to dare to do things differently is to incur the wrath of the corrupt. It is, therefore, a truism, as asserted in a presentation recently by Prof. Oloyede, that in taking the decision to do the “abnormal”, public officers who desire to change the usual narrative should know that they will suffer infamy and censure of those who thrive in an atmosphere of dishonesty and underdevelopment. However, he had always maintained that whoever desires to make any positive change must not only be angry with the status quo but also be sufficiently equipped to deeply reflect on and consider all options including the possibility and reality of change-induced resistance. This is obvious because most landmark transformational policy directions are often rejected out of hand by the public, thus it will take a courageous leader to stick to his guns by not allowing the fear of backlash or possible removal from office deter him from his noble path.
Determination: This is a consistent desire to make an impact irrespective of whether support is available or otherwise. Most times, one’s effort is not appreciated but the determination to achieve a set goal should always keep one going.
It is the culmination of all these qualities in Oloyede, the uncommon transformer, that has helped in greatly repositioning what is today known as the sanitised Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board.
As we celebrate three years of Oloyede’s iron-clad determination to imprint his name on the sands of time, we call on Nigerians from all walks of life to see his numerous efforts as his patriotic contributions to national development.
Never has someone done so much to arrest a systemic rot as has been done in the last three years by the Oloyede-led management of the Board. Oscar Wilde probably had Oloyede in mind when he said: “You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”
Oloyede had committed many “sins” in the last three years of his stewardship in JAMB than he had probably “committed” throughout his life as a transformer. This is because doing things properly is seen in our clime as challenging the status quo. Yet, Nigeria is highly endowed with all that she needs to become a superpower. For instance, she has multitudes of very intelligent people who are knowledgeable in all aspects of nation building. The problem is that many of these people are not ready and determined to challenge those daunting and highly-ossified societal norms. Change is daring the status quo to do things differently and more importantly, producing positive results.
The Board has become the darling of many public examination bodies globally owing largely to its giant strides in many fields. The nature and extent of its service delivery could only be likened to those obtained from private concerns. This is largely owing to the board’s long-term and strategic perspectives on good governance and human capital development coupled with a good grasp of Nigeria’s heterogeneous complexities.
As a manifestation of the foregoing, the Board, in the last three years, has increased the number of CBT centres from 300 to 700 to ensure proximity of centres to candidates as well as for ease of examination administration. It has also revolutionised the registration process such that candidates initiate the process at their own convenience by just sending their names to a code; introduced telcos as vehicles for the conduct of examination without necessarily using the Internet; introduced mock examinations to give candidates the opportunity to have a hands-on experience on the computer and above all, he renegotiated all processes involving third parties thus yielding surplus to the tune of N20 billion which was promptly remitted to the federal treasury. When the remittances were made, some vested interests raised issue with the humongous remittances not knowing that Section 22(2) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) mandates the Board to make such remittances. Perhaps they would have prefer the money stolen.
The Board would not be daunted as it sees such a step as its patriotic duty to the nation. However, it is saddening that this uncommon display of patriotism was not employed as a unique opportunity to interrogate other systems and proffer lasting solutions to burning national issues.
Meanwhile, commendations to the Hon. Minister of Education would very much be in order for his uncommon courage of appointing very credible individuals as heads of parastatals and agencies under the Federal Ministry of Education. It was this support that makes these remittances possible in the first instance. Mr. President should also be commended for taking keen interest in the affairs of the Board particularly monitoring the remittances which led to his prompt directive for the slash of the registration fee from N5,000 to N3,500.
Furthermore, the Oloyede-led management of the Board also ensured that 90% of the service hitherto rendered by contractors is now offered internally by staff thereby guaranteeing the sanctity of the Board’s examinations. This is an apt demonstration of the fact that in every organisation there is always capacity if the right atmosphere exists.
In conclusion, the whole essence of celebrating Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their various fields is to encourage many others to do same as well as put the records straight for posterity. If they had done otherwise they would have been rightly castigated as well. As such, the system should not only be seen as punishing wrongdoings, it should also celebrate and reward intelligence, hardwork and creativity. The remaining years of Oloyede leadership look very promising. Changing a system is like entering a shopping mall, for every choice in the mall, there is a price tag and Prof. Oloyede having made his choice is determined to pay the price.
λDr. Benjamin is the Head of Media, JAMB
Why and how history defines who we are (5)
In the last four parts, I have been able to demonstrate why and how we must study history. By way of summary, history must be taught across schools so that the new generation is well guided and prevented from committing the mistakes of the past.
THE KINGDOM OF BENIN: A QUINTESSENTIAL REMINDER OF THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY
While in primary school, I was taught the history of great historical figures such as Vasco Dagama, Mungo Park, Clapperton, Lander Brothers, Booker T. Washington, Prince Henry the Navigator, George Washington Carver, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Mary Slessor, Lady Nightingale, the Slave Trade and the Abolitionists, etc. I had earlier, in part 2 of these historical series named specific teachers that taught me history in primary school between 1964 and 1969. They fired the embers of my knowledge of the indispensability of history in human affairs.
However, some other historical personalities and historical facts that I have already dealt with, or yet to treat, were taught me in secondary school, not primary school. In this categorical are Kingdom of Benin, Oyo Empire, Mansa Musa, Songhai Empire, Haile Sellasie, Kanem Borno Empire, the Asantes, Fantes, etc. I have decided to write exclusively on the Benin Kingdom today. I have, therefore, decided to devote more time to this unique Benin Kingdom. Very proudly also, I am the ENOBAKHARE OF BENIN KINGDOM and I sit comfortably in the pantheon of the highest league of High Chiefs of Benin Kingdom, in the Oba’s palace, called EGHAVBONORE. Our leader is Chief Sam Igbe, the Iyase (traditional Prime Minister of Benin Kingdom).
In this prestigious group you find the Eson of Benin Kingdom, Chief Amos Osunbor, the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri and the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief (Dr) Gabriel Igbinedion, etc.
ORIGIN OF THE KINGDOM
The kingdom of Benin, or Benin Kingdom, or Benin Empire, or Edo Empire, are one and the same reference to a large pre-colonial African state of modern Nigeria. The Benin Kingdom, which began in the 900s when the Edo people settled in the rain forests of West Africa, was one of the oldest and most highly developed Empires in the coastal part of West Africa until its annexation by the British Empire in 1897. By the 1400s, the people of Benin Kingdom had created a very wealthy kingdom with a pre-eminently powerful ruler known as the OBA. This Oba lived in beautiful palaces decorated with shining brass.
These people who lived in small family groups, and who began to cut down trees and make clearings in the forests, gradually developed into a great Kingdom. The Kingdom was called “Igodomigodo” and was ruled by a series of Kings called the “Ogisos” (Kings of the Sky). The first Ogiso was called Ogiso Igodo, was wielded much influence and gained popularity as a good ruler. Upon his death after a long reign, Ere, his eldest son succeeded him. About the 12th Century, a great battle for power erupted between the warrior crown prince, Ekaladerhan (the only son of the last Ogiso) and his young paternal uncle. Ekaladerhan was sentenced to death as a result of the act of the first Queen (who was barren) deliberately changing an oracle’s message to the Ogiso. The Palace messengers, who were directed to carry out the royal instruction to execute Ekaladerhan, had mercy on him and set him free at Ughoton near Benin. The death of Ekaladerhan’s father ended the Ogiso dynasty. The people and royal King makers preferred their late King’s son, Ekaladerhan, as their king.
The exiled prince, who had by this time changed his name from Ekaladerham to Izoduwa (“I have chosen the path of prosperity”), sojourned across forests and found his way to Ile-Ife in Yorubaland. Ekaladerhan arrived Ile-Ife at a time the Yoruba oracle had pronounced that their king will come out of the forest. Thus, when Ekaladerhan arrived Ile-Ife, he was promptly and warmly received by the native people and given the title of Oni Ile-Ife Imadoduwa (now known as Ooni of Ile-Ife Oduduwa). The elders of Benin led by Chief Oliha, mounted a search for the banished Prince Ekaladerhan, to return home and ascend the vacant throne. But, he could not return to Benin due to his advanced age, and the fact that, as he argued, a king cannot leave his Kingdom. He told the messengers that since he had seven sons, he would direct one of them – Oranmiyan-to go with them and become their king.
Oranimiyan was fiercely resisted by Ogiamien Irebor, one of the Palace Chiefs. He therefore took up his abode in the Palace built for him by the Elders at Usama (now a coronation shrine till date).
Soon after his arrival, he married a beautiful lady, Erinmwinde, daughter of Ogie-Egor, the ninth Enogie of Egor, by whom he had a son. After residing there for some years he called a meeting of the people and renounced his office, remarking in vexation, Ile-Ibinu (“ile” means land, “binu” means anger; and thus the kingdom was called Ibinu, which was mispronounced “Bini” in the 15th and 16th centuries by the Portuguese). This was out of frustration as he often expressed that “only a child born, trained and educated in the arts and mysteries of the land could properly reign over the people”. He arranged for his son, born to him by Erinmwinde, Eweka, to be made king in his place, and returned to Yorubaland thereafter. His son the new king was soon found to be deaf and dumb, and so the elders appealed to Oranmiyan. He gave them charmed seeds known as “omo ayo” to play with, saying that to do so will make him talk. The little Eweka played with the seeds with his peers at Egor, his mother’s hometown. While playing with the seeds, he announced “Owomika” (meaning “I captured it”), when he struck the only remaining he took this as his royal name. Thus, he gave rise to the tradition of the subsequent Obas of Benin spending seven days and nights at Usama before proceeding to announce their royal names at Egor. Eweka, taken from “Owomika” thus started a dynasty that now bears his name. Oranmiyan went on to serve as the founder of the Oyo Empire, where he ruled as the first Alaafin of Oyo. His descendants now rule in Ile Ife, Oyo and Benin.
EXPANSION OF BENIN KINGDOM
By the 15th century, Benin had expanded into a thriving city-state. The twelfth Oba in the line, Oba Ewuare the Great (1440–1473) would expand the city-state’s territories to surrounding regions.
It was not until the 15th century, during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great, that the kingdom’s administrative centre, the city of Ubinu (or Ibinu), began to be known as Benin City, by the Portuguese, a pronunciation later adopted by the locals as well. The Portuguese would write this down as Benin City. Benin’s neighbours, such as the Afenmais, Esans, Ika, Ijaw, Itsekiris and the Urhobos, continued to refer to the city as Ubini up until the late 19th century.
Aside from Benin City, the system of rule of the Oba in the empire, even through the golden age of the kingdom, was still loosely based upon the Ogiso dynasty’s tradition, which was military protection in exchange for pledged allegiance and taxes paid to the royal administrative centre. The language and culture was not enforced, as the empire remained heterogeneous and localized according to each group within the kingdom, though a local Enogie (or Duke) was often appointed by the Oba for specific ethnic areas.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” (Harry S Truman).
I thank Nigerians for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s treatise.
SWEET HOME: Break barrier to healthy communication
As a man should open doors of communication withthe wife even after disagreement. This is because if the door is shut, yourwife will not enter into communication with you. When communication breaks down, assumption comes in andthis could lead to wrong interpretations of action(s). When there isphysical distance between a husband and his wife, the distance can be reducedwith good communication.
Thank God for the Socio Media that we now have. Thereare many couples that have stopped exchange of communication after marriage,believing that since they are with each other daily, everyone is fine. Howeverit shouldn’t be. On the contrary, Socio Media communication should not take theplace of verbal communication between marriage partners.
There are instancessome husbands use this in place of physical interaction whenever there is afight as medium just to avoid talking with one and another. Relying on thesocial media in place of physical interaction is like being in severalthousands of kilometres apart when effective communication is lacking.
In healthy communication, there should not be no-goareas; off limits and not to be brought up under any circumstance between ahusband and his wife. When we have this between husbands and wives it is notonly sad but destructive. They take away from the couple chances for intimacy,a heart-to-heart affection, and a soul-to-soul relationship.
It takes two muchmatured people to handle painful subjects. Rev Dr./Rev(Mrs) Peter & Comfort Odebiyi(08022100333, 08033005127) are theSenior Pastors with Christian Pentecostal Mission International (Integrity Cathedral), Ilaje Bustop,Ajagadi, Ojo, Lagos.
Keep your man, there’s no spare (2)
As unmarried women desire husbands to have their own homes, conversely, a horde of married women are looking for windows of opportunities to quit their marriages. That’s the irony of life! Reasons for those who want to quit their marriages are as divergent as the challenges facing the individuals.
Last week, I counselled women to work harder in order to keep their homes as ‘perfect’ men do not exist anywhere. This advice was premised on the fact that largely many women lack the spirit of tolerance, perseverance, submission and wisdom to handle marital issues. If some experiences and regrettable actions of some women are anything to go by, many broken homes would have been salvaged.
I know a number of women who confessed to being misguided or wrongly advised by friends, siblings, parents, and even spiritual guardians as reasons for quitting their marriages prematurely. They regretted trusting in those whose advice (perhaps not intentionally) led to their exit out of their marriages over reconcilable issues, only to feel like a fish out of water afterwards.
“I’m wiser now. If I had been this exposed to the reality of life, I would have kept my marriage. I was very intolerant of my husband’s bossy attitude and demands for perfection. I felt he was becoming overbearing as his penchant for details were suffocating to me. I told him we’re equals and partners and so he should limit his level of control over me since I’m not his maid. I shared my worries with a couple of friends and they encouraged me to reject his imposing attitude. At some point, they advised me to leave him for some time to make him sober, thinking he would come begging. Sir, that’s how I lost him. I even decided to return he refused saying he didn’t send me away in the first place,” a single mom sent this as her response to last week’s article.
Men are practically the same in many respects. Just as it rains where you are, so it rains elsewhere. If you leave your husband over a trivial matter(s) thinking another man will be better, it will surprise you that the baggage you are likely to meet in your fantasied relationship might be worse and unbearable than where you are coming from.
The truth some people refuse to admit is that the woman runs the home. The woman is the anchor of every family. She is the mother to her husband and children. She is the reason the man is classified as responsible or otherwise. She is the multiplier of her husband’s seed and the vine of his family. A man’s house becomes a home only when a woman comes in. A man is deemed responsible in the society and in the eyes of the law when he’s married. The woman owns the home. Truly the man is the head being the major provider for the needs of the home as well as the shield of protection for the family but the woman is in charge. More importantly, the headship is a divine ordination that is non-negotiable with anybody. The Word says “A wise woman builds her home (with godly character) but the foolish pulls it down with her hands (bad, ill-tempered manners). Proverbs 14: 1.
Men have their own problems, too. Not every man is worth marrying as a husband. Such a man is a nightmare and bad market for his unfortunate wife. There are men who are violent, stingy, irresponsible and incurable cheats. There are men who are hostile and uncaring to their wives but could do anything to take care of their children. Also, there are men who are terrible all-round: they’re bad fathers, loveless husbands and irresponsible men. Women who are unlucky to marry any of these categories of men would survive only by the grace of God and by being economically independent.
If your husband is not abusive or violent, he’s not a criminal, he’s not a ritualist and he’s not an impotent, my dear sister, you can still handle his case with wisdom, prayers and good counsel. A praying woman would settle the account of her husband on her kneels. I know a woman, a retired health worker, whose husband had taken to court for divorce four times! Today, the bed-ridden sick man is being taken care of by the only son the woman had for him. She’s a 63-year-old woman of an exemplary character.
While I do not seek to massage the ego of errant men, the truth is that an average man would cheat. Quitting your marriage because your husband cheats on you is not worth it. The same man could end up being a man of God later in life. Men do tell lies; but they claim that they tell lies for three reasons: to protect their homes/relationships; to show respect and honour to their spouses/partners; and to avoid shame or ridicule that may arise from their indecent conducts.
Women should deplore their weapons of high spiritual profundity and power of prayers to protect, support and change their men. Women are more sensitive and discerning than men; women are not as carefree or lackadaisical like some men; and women are more frugal and accountable in managing resources than many men who are profligate in spending.
Prioritise your home above other things. God will give you a better man than your husband if he maltreats you beyond what you could endure. God will send a comforter of a man into your life if indeed you’re a victim of his wicked acts or constant abuse. You will enjoy a better marital bliss elsewhere if he sends you packing unjustly or you quit to save your life from a dire situation. God will always defend the helpless in all situations.
From Last Week . . .
I received a barrage of scathing responses from some readers for daring to counsel women that they should work on their weak points and character flaws so as to keep their marriages. However, there are those who believe that women also have a role to play beyond finding faults in their men. Some people asked whether women in abusive marriages should stay put at the expense of their lives. My point is that women should not quit on account of “petty issues” that could be wisely resolved” and not life-threatening issues.
Revolution: Are we ready?
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” – Che Guevara
What is revolution? In simple explanation, based on the various intellectual works of renowned political scholars, revolution is when the ordinary people of a country often referred to as masses come together with a common objective of bringing down an unpopular and draconian government. The question then is do we have ordinary people who are not happy with the government now in this country? Yes. Do we have an unpopular government? Yes. Do we have a draconian government? Yes, especially with what is happening to Omoyele Sowore, for just using the word revolution. Then the final question: are we ready or can we carry out revolution as a people now? It is difficult to give a straight answer to the last question because of the peculiarity of Nigerians as extremely docile and gullible people.
Why did President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration panic when an activist journalist and politician Omoyele Sowore said he was mobilizing the people for a #RevolutionNow movement that was scheduled to kick off on Monday August 5, 2019?
The nation’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS) even took Sowore away 48 hours to the scheduled mass movement, saying that by conceptualizing and coordinating such movement he has crossed the lines. In security parlance, if you cross the lines anything including death can come your way. Response from security when you cross the line can be violent and brutal. The least you can probably get under such circumstance is to be put to death or in prison through judicial pronouncements.
In the case of Sowore they chose the lesser one probably because of the nature of government system in operation that even legalizes dissention and protests by the people as a way of expressing their disapproval of a government and their actions. Moreover it’s the court not security that will determine if lines are really crossed.
Expectedly, the action of the DSS is backed by their sister force the Nigeria Police who alongside the Presidency are saying that Sowore’s action of calling for a revolution amounts to a violent overthrow of an elected government which is treasonable and also a terrorist act. We however need to note that all these are definitions given to Sowore’s action by the same system he is confronting so you cannot expect much objectivity in their narration.
But the human rights community has however not kept mum on the development. They have cried blue murder with the aging activist and the only Nigeria Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka comparing the government’s behaviour to the nation’s dark days when late military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha held sway in the 90s. Also, the leading human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) point by point demolished the action of the DSS and the Police as ultra-varies and crass show of power and unconcealed violation of fundamental human rights of the citizens.
He even went further to show how in 2015 President Buhari then as a leading opposition leader called for revolution and hired him [Falana] as lawyer that sued the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government and got a favourable judgement barring Police or any security agency from disrupting peaceful protests of the people against establishment. The court then, according to him, went further to direct that in such circumstance of protests, the Police as part of their responsibility should provide security for both the conveners and protesters. But what did we see last Monday, a clear violation of this judicial directive with well-armed combined team of military, police and DSS chasing away protesters across the country with Federal Government excitedly celebrating it.
The reason why this government is jittery at the mere mention of revolution is because the government is alienated from the people and gets threatened by even its own shadow.
Even before the 2019 general election the administration knew that the gap between it and the people were widening. While the populace endured the situation with the hope of throwing them away through the ballot, the abracadabra election came that did not allow the will of the people to prevail. Predictably, the outcome of the election created further gulf between the people and the administration.
The apparent confusion in the government system that is underscored by the uninspiring cabinet just assembled after long wait, plus the continued bloodletting of innocent souls across the country was provocative enough for the Sowore #RevolutionNow Movement to act.
Knowing very well what happened last February at the general election, it was therefore annoying this government reminding Sowore and his group that the only way to change a democratically elected government is by ballot.
Perhaps the shocking development from the revolution issue is the level of mobilization of security agents, the Police, the DSS and the military to quash the planned protest.
If these bodies – Police, the DSS and the military – had shown similar energy, zeal and toughness in tackling the menace of herdsmen, banditry, and kidnapping ravaging the country, the level of distraught among the populace would not have reached their desiring a revolution. A television watcher after seeing the combined security team attack unarmed protesters in Lagos had this to say: where were all these people when herdsmen took over our highways?
The last time the country witnessed such level of security mobilization against an unarmed civilians was when the Nigerian Army took their python dance to the South-East in search of Nnamdi Kanu and his separatist group, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in 2016.
The same road the government followed then in creating a monster out of a harmless Kanu by incarcerating him is the same route they are following now trying to create out of Sowore for expressing his fundamental right of free speech and association.
On the road to this musing I took time to study 10 foremost revolutions in history: Chinese communist revolution, Iran revolution, Haitian revolution, Industrial revolution-global movement that turned Europe around, 1848 revolution, Cuban revolution, Xinhai revolution – the 1911 revolt that led to the collapse of Qing dynasty in China, the French Revolution – that led to series of decade of social and political reforms from 1789 to 1799, the American Revolution of 1765 that led to American independence from the Great Britain and the Russian revolution that ended Russian Empire.
I also took a reading at some latest revolts in Africa particularly in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, and Tunsia that led to the Arab Spring. The Egyptian revolution was the one President Buhari recommended for the country in 2014 when he was disturbed with political happenings in the country, but four years after he occupied the commanding seat and the situation even got worse, he now orders the incarceration of anybody thinking or using the word revolution. What a double standard? However, after my study of both the old and the new era revolution I have come to an undeniable fact, that this country is not yet ripe for revolution. Revolution is not a press conference matter where you announce its starting date nor is it an apple waiting to fall when it is ripe; in fact real revolution is as unpredictable as the arrival of an earthquake.
All notable revolutions are driven by passion for an answer to a challenge. In this land such does not exist, why because two heavy cogs are tightly holding revolutionary wheel from moving, they are religion and ethnicity. So long as we remain one country called Nigeria, we can only record pockets of uprising driven mostly by division among the greedy elites over sharing of loots and frustration due to hunger but none will ever develop into a revolution. If we have deep thinkers in this regime and among our security operatives, they would not have tried to create mountain out of molehill by escalating Sowore’s use of the word revolution. Now they have only enriched the profiles of the activist and further impoverished the already not too good democratic status of this regime.
Notwithstanding that however, Nigerian leaders need to note this: that those who refuse to heed the wise counsel of Mahatma Gandhi that non-violent revolution is the transformation of relationships that eventually end in the peaceful transfer of power, may have to contend with John F. Kennedy’s reminder that those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent one inevitable. Why not, you can only with your human power and might jail revolutionaries but certainly not their dreams which are the revolution itself. God bless Nigeria.
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