Last week, Governor Rotimi Odunayo Akeredolu of my native Ondo State literally turned himself into the Jamaican reggae idol, Peter Tosh (now late), when he asked the Federal Government to legalise the cultivation of marijuana or “igbo” as our people call it but whose botanical name is cannabis sativa. It is also called Indian hemp, “gbanna” “crack”, among other names and aliases. Peter Tosh, in one of his deviant songs, had crooned: Legalise it/And I will advertise it”. If the Federal Government legalises “igbo” today, Governor Akeredolu is ready to immediately begin its cultivation on a massive scale to earn foreign exchange for struggling Ondo State.
Trust the typical Nigerian elites not ready to think out of the box; those who do not see eye-to-eye politically with the governor; those who feel threatened by Akeredolu’s advocacy which seeks to “put sand in their garri”; and, of course, those who must defend their “territory” or do their job. Among these are the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and a motley crowd of presidential and APC Alsatian dogs usually averse to anything that looks like stepping out of official presidential line.
Until this controversy broke, I never knew of the existence of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PASEDA) under the able leadership of my friend and brother, retired Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa, former Military Administrator of Lagos State. I dare to say that Marwa remains, till date, one of the best governors Lagos ever had. He also remains, in my view, one of the finest leaders that can take this country to the real next level (If you know what I mean) if given the opportunity. Although the press statement issued in his name pillorying Akeredolu for his “legalise marijuana” statement was unnecessarily harsh, I am reluctant to arraign Marwa with the motley crowd listed above because of his illustrious antecedents. We shall return to that.
Together with some other Nigerian leaders involved in the drug abuse war, Akeredolu had visited Thailand to see, according to the NDLEA boss, Muhammad Abdallah, how that country was trying to solve its drug abuse problems. From the NDLEA’s press statement attacking Akeredolu, Abdallah saw Thailand’s efforts at diverting the attention of its own people from the cultivation of illegal crops (i.e. marijuana) to legal crops (possibly, rice). There is nothing wrong with that and we can encourage it here as well. Ondo State, which Akeredolu governs, has the reputation or notoriety (depending) for hemp cultivation. It is obvious that the hemp farmers grow the crop for commercial purposes; they sell it to earn money to take care of their needs. No one needs to grow cannabis on a large scale for personal consumption. While growing up in my home town of Owo in the sixties and seventies, I had helped soldiers of the 133 battalion of the Nigerian Army quartered in the town and who were our tenants to water and look after their marijuana crops.
They were usually planted in pots, cups and such other containers. There was no big deal about it. There are, however, many other crops that can be grown as foreign exchange earners in Ondo State such as cocoa, cassava, palm trees to mention but a few. If the FG comes with the requisite resources while the NDLEA and others bring the experience of what they saw the Thai people do, Ondo State can be weaned, to a large extent, from the cultivation of marijuana and their attention diverted to the cultivation of other economic crops. Mere destruction of cannabis farms without replacing them with something else is sheer waste of time and resources. It has not worked and it will not work. I said “other economic crops” because marijuana is, indeed, an economic crop, which is a potential foreign exchange earner.
It is also medicinal crop, used as anaesthesia and is component of many drugs that we consume to cure one ailment or another without batting an eyelid. This is the other side of the coin that Akeredolu was drawing attention to – and you will not blame him for doing so. He runs a state that is cash-strapped. He has ideas but no funds to execute them. He sees his people in a quandary. Suddenly he sees a window of opportunity open that can help the state build its internally generated revenue. Is it not because Lagos State has high IGR that it is able to do the much we are seeing? He has also seen that the age-old practice of destroying marijuana farms has not delivered the desired results. Those pillorying Akeredolu are closing their eyes to the whole picture.
There are always two sides to a coin. The single story mentality sees and dwells on only one side of an argument – and this is perilous. The impression has also been created, even if inadvertently, that Akeredolu meant that marijuana should be cultivated for local use, so that it can ruin more of our youths. I read Akeredolu’s statement; that was not what it said. He wanted the medicinal value of hemp explored like the civilised world is doing – and I agree with him. He wanted the foreign exchange value of hemp explored like others will do if they were in our shoes – here, again, I agree with him. He simply was asking that we begin to think out of the box and address the issue holistically. I am not an Akeredolu fan. I have more often come down hard on him than praise him but on this issue of government having a better and more robust outlook on marijuana, I stand with him. That is, however, not to say that the other side does not have a point; which is why I said earlier that this issue is like a coin; it has two sides. It is like a bird, which African-American politician, Jesse Jackson, said needs two wings to fly.
The adverse effect of marijuana, indeed, all dangerous drugs, on the population, especially our youths, the so-called leaders of tomorrow, cannot be trivialised, glossed over or wished away. I must confess that I don’t know how it will be done but we must ensure that local cultivation of cannabis for export does not lead us to becoming end-users of the product. Already even with its criminalisation, hemp cultivation and use go on unabated, the best efforts of NDLEA notwithstanding. Nnamdi Azikiwe told a Colonial officer: If a policy is not working; change it! Organised crime is usually steps ahead of law enforcement everywhere and more so here where enforcement is generally lax and corruption, rife. Even with its criminalisation, people smoke hemp openly everywhere these days in broad daylight.
To think this was what they ceaselessly brutalised Fela for! Today it is everywhere. If Fela, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and others could see from the grave, they will feel vindicated. What is worse, more dangerous but legal drugs are in circulation today. Some are not even drugs but a combination of two or more drinks or you add “sweet” to a drink and, pronto, you have drugs more potent than marijuana! Some just need to sniff a refuse dump or soak-away! What are we talking about! Who needs marijuana or cocaine/heroin to get high these days? That’s too expensive and up there.
Hard drugs, dangerous drugs, are everywhere around us. And they are legal. We must begin to think out of the box! Is there anything with advantage that does not have a disadvantage? Are there drugs without side effects? Is cigarette not harmful to health? The carbonated drinks and volumes of sugar and sugary substances and foods that we consume as we go are harmful to our health: But are they all not legal? Crude oil and gas exploration and production are dangerous to people’s health. Gold mining and such other extractive economic activities endanger not just people’s health but also their life; still we engage in them. Pity we don’t have statistics here to show which of these and marijuana cause the worse adverse effects on people’s health and life. Think out of the box! Abandon the one story narrative and critically examine this issue holistically. In the U.S., the Americas and Europe, marijuana is being legalised along certain lines. If we can’t take the lead; let us be among the early risers and not come in late after everyone has taken all the available benefits. That sluggard mentality, attitudinal problem of “fire brigade” approach and “carrying last” have impacted negatively every facet of our national life. Black man, think out of the box! Back to Marwa: I trust in his ability and capacity for rational thinking. I have watched him at close quarters unravel seemingly intractable problems with adroit touches and Solomonic wisdom. I beseech that he let us do so again by investigating the Akeredolu’s initiative further. Every day new discoveries, new knowledge, new possibilities and vistas compel us to interrogate expired dogmas, stereotypes and old ways of doing things. LAST WORD: If the billions of dollars being wasted searching for crude oil in the North is spent fighting desert encroachment that is driving everyone down South, we will all be the better for it
Taking a cue from the Shi’ites…
The whole history of progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favour freedom and yet, deprecate agitation are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters… Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted. – Frederick Douglass
The Shiites of Nigeria and, indeed, the world over, will no longer wait for Godot! After they failed to be treated according to law by the APC/Muhammadu Buhari administration; after the judiciary, the so-called last hope of the common man, failed them, they have decided to take their destiny in their own hands, as it were. After the government blocked its ears to the voice of reason, the Shiites are now pursuing their project in the streets. Reason and commonsense having failed, rage and emotions have taken over. And blood is flowing freely.
No government in the history of this country has had this much shedding of blood in peace time. It is like those hellish days in Rwanda when – is it the Times or Newsweek – screamed on its cover “There are no more demons left in Hell; they have all gone to Rwanda”. The demons are all now trooping into Nigeria! They are relocating from all the hot spots of the world – from Syria, from Libya, name it – and are now converging on Nigeria.
They first came as herders; now bandits of all shades and kinds have joined them. The Buhari administration welcomes them. It even wants to gift them colonies and settlements all over the country. While the controversy over RUGA rages, the government, in the way it has handled the Shiite issue, is wittingly or unwittingly creating another Frankenstein monster the same way its predecessors created Boko Haram. Dictatorial regimes have a way of radicalising their own people. Ordinary people; peace-loving citizens when pushed to the wall will fight back.
All over the country, the Buhari administration is pushing people to the wall. The Yoruba of the South-West already have their back to the wall. Even the deaf can glean that unmistakeable message from statements emanating from all manner of likely and unlikely places in the region. Only a few errand boys and lackeys of the powers-thatbe are playing to the gallery with the way they are trivialising a very serious issue.
Government appears not to be interested in doing the needful in the South-West, in the same way it arrogantly snubbed the Shiites until they are now forcing it to respond to them by fire by force. Will the South-West also need to toe similar line of taking its demand for the protection of life and property to the streets before the government takes it seriously? Force does not suppress popular agitations.
Many dictators get to realise this only when it is too late. “Meanwhile corpses lie in new-made graves – bloody corpses of young men; the rope of the gibbet hangs heavily… Those corpses of young men, those martyrs that hang from the gibbets, those hearts pierced by the gray lead, cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with unslaughtered vitality. They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers, again ready to defy you… Not a dismembered spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose but it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, counselling, cautioning.
Liberty! Let others despair of you! I never will of you” (From “Poem of the dead men of Europe…). Che Guevara succinctly put it when he said: “Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms.” How many receptive ears have heard the Shiites’ cry for justice and how many hands are reaching out to the weapons of the slain?
The Presidency plays Pontius Pilate when it attempts to wash its hands off the continued detention of the Shiites’ leader. He has been admitted to bail again and again; let him enjoy his bail while his trial continues. Is that too “technical” for this fumbling and wobbling government to understand? Tanko Muhammed is everywhere!
Listen to this debate in an African parliament: Honourable Madisha: Half of people in this parliament are stupid! Speaker: Hon. Madisha, withdraw that statement. Hon. Madisha: I withdraw the statement. Half of people in this parliament are not stupid. Speaker: Thank you; let’s proceed. How sound is the speaker in question?
Hon. Madisha only played on his intelligence or took him for a jolly ride. The first and second statements by Madisha said exactly the same thing. So, he withdrew nothing but only adumbrated it. It is like
saying six or half-a-dozen; better still, “the cup is half-full” or “the cup is half-empty”. Hon. Madisha still got away with saying that half of the people in the parliament were stupid without the technically deficient speaker realising it.
Or did he simply choose to play the ostrich so as to let sleeping dog lie? How many other Honourables in the parliament saw through Hon. Madisha’s cruel joke? Standards have fallen everywhere, particularly so in this country Nigeria.
Many will tell you that the so-called dichotomy between educationally-advantaged and educationally-disadvantaged states of the country is where the rains began to beat us. When students who score 2% are admitted into Unity secondary schools, how do you expect them to cope? Yet, they must be pushed through!
When people who barely managed to go through college now find themselves in the commanding heights of the society, what performance do you expect from them? Mr. President’s school certificate controversy comes to mind here. If the school certificate and other results of the now confirmed CJN, Tanko Muhammad, which are trending on social media, are also anything to go by, we shall be expecting too much from him if we want stellar performance.
Federal character is one policy that means well on paper but whose implementation has ruined merit and excellence across board, especially in federal establishments. Ask those from the southern part of the country working in federal establishments; they have tales of woes and frustrations to tell as they are made to do the job while less qualified and less competent northerners – always – call the shots. This kind of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” is one of the reasons why it is extremely difficult to make a nation out of the many nations comprising the geographical expression called Nigeria.
Beyond competence, though, is the deliberate choice of our leaders across board to engage in rigmarole, like I believe Tanko Muhammad did, any time they want to obfuscate issues, not that they do not know what they are doing. El- Rufai, Osinbajo, Tinubu, Oshiomhole, not to talk of Lai Mohammed, are fond of this.
Everywhere now, technicalities are used to deny justice and serve vested interests. How did Tanko Muhammad himself become CJN? In the states where the House of Assembly is steeped in crisis; in elections all over the country, technicalities have come to the rescue for those that are intent on perverting the course of justice. Expecting the CJN to talk straight on the issue of technicalities/justice is preparing the noose for him to hang himself on a future date.
Or what do you make of a Buhari who reasons that since Kano and Bayelsa each have the same number of senators, then, the Constitution cannot be fairer to all? That, certainly, is not the height of Mr. President’s intelligence. They get ridiculous when they bend over backward to defend the indefensible and serve vested interests – and not that they are nit-wits. LAST WORD:
The rate at which Nigerians are being murdered abroad is alarming. I, however, find the noise our government and people are making over it as hypocritical. Charity, they say, begins from home. If the life of a Nigerian is worthless here at home, how can it attract premium outside?
RE: Politicians kill, judges bury May the good Lord deliver us! Let our judges also read Amos 5: 23 & 24 – 0806 532 4139.
Yours defies description.
Shall I call it blunt, hard, courageous and truthful! Honestly, I have never read anything like this about our Judiciary in my 45 years at the Bar. Your picture of our Judiciary is the true picture but that you have the courage to call a spade a spade gladdens my heart that great and patriotic men like you are still in this country Nigeria. More power to your elbow! – Chief Segun Adegoke, Ondo.
I have often tried to ask myself very critically if the present All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari has indeed achieved any tangible mileage in its educational agenda for the country. I was just wondering over what has changed or what is set to change. I took cognisance of the school feeding programme in a decayed infrastructural environment. I took cognisance of the promise of the APC to transform the education sector and effect a holistic curriculum that can contend with the needs of 21st Century world, with changing dynamics and sophistication in a new world order driven by technology. I noticed that ASUU strike punctured academic calendar in time past, and its recent threat of another strike is yet again an opportunity to put the country on the reverse gear. I kept asking myself what are the creativity, innovations and inventions within the academia that have impacted on the growth of the country. What exactly are our academics doing to further the narrative of a new Nigeria driven by technology and knowledge?
What do we produce from the Ivory Towers as response to problems confronting us in the country? Beyond the public commentaries from our experts, what have they invented in the different aspects of our lives to provide ready made solutions to our nagging problems? What exactly are our professors professing? What do they do with all the researches from undergraduate to postgraduate levels in the universities? They gather dust on the shelves or become handy disposable wraps for “akara” sellers. Almost every item is imported in our laboratories. Almost every equipment is imported in our hospitals, yet we have seasoned professors who excel so proudly and profoundly outside the country through consultancy services they render to those who pay heavily for them. When you take a sample population of Nigerians in diaspora, you will find a collection of some of the best brains in the world, inventing solutions to global problems and offering other perspectives to developmental problems across the globe. Rather than invent, create and innovate, the news from our higher institutions talks about sexual harassment, sex-for-marks tales, lecturers “being set up”, and other categories of inanities that easily pre-occupy idle minds.
Our curriculum remains essentially the same as handed down by the British colonialists, except for a few tinkering. Rather than change, we are detained by obsolete curriculum, and the colonialists find a huge market coming to brainwash our people to patronise their own universities; some kind of huge capital flight in a country of telling contradictions. I saw pictures of Nigerians who graduated from foreign universities, children of the rich, being celebrated by their proud parents as they don their graduation gowns in fulfilment of their course of study. When they finish, they return to Nigeria, undergo the compulsory National Youths Service Corps, before they become easily integrated into the world of work. These days, the establishments both private and public, prefer graduates from foreign universities. So, the urge to seek foreign education keeps recurring and increasing. In fact, it has become a status symbol as parents proudly tell their onlookers that their children graduated abroad from X university or the other.
A government that takes integrity as its watchword should have applied integrity in all it does. Integrity of our education should have been a huge target. Integrity of our security agencies should have been a huge incentive to contend with growing sophistication in crimes and criminalities. Integrity of the governance process should have been an exemplary indulgence to maintain sanity and decorum in public service. Integrity in our recruitment process without given to intense lobby and waiting game should have served us better as we impatiently aspire to climb the ladder of growth and development. What we have is a situation that patronises mediocrity and romances incompetence as a new fond lover. This government cannot lay its hands on any tangible breakthrough in our educational pursuit. The Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) declared recently that about 4.4 million Nigerians sat for their matriculation examinations. Of this figure, our universities can only accommodate less than a million. The rest are left to roam the streets for another examination year in a circus that exposes our crudity of purpose and unseriousness of intention.
In modern, thinking, forward-looking and agenda-setting societies, the youth population is the most critical resource that must be deliberately catered for especially on account of their vulnerability to social vices typical of the adolescent and post-adolescent years. Such countries create certain policies and programmes that would absorb the youth whilst waiting to gain admission to pursue their course of study. In Nigeria, students go through hell to secure admission, often times bribe their ways through overbearing admission officers and their overzealous superiors, and suffer through school because of decayed infrastructure and absence of conducive environment for learning. When they manage to graduate, they get unleashed into the world of unemployment, deprivations, hunger and poverty. The jobs are nowhere to be found. The course of study is often predictable: Medicine, Law, Accountancy, Business Administration, Information Technology, Computer Science without practical, and Architecture. They often see these courses as the A-category. Those who studied History, English Language, Geography, Yoruba Language, Hausa Language, Physics, Biochemistry, Biology, and Mathematics, are seen as the dregs amongst their colleague graduates.
How many universities truly offer the contemporary needs of a growing society in Nigeria? Courses like shoe-making, soap-making, fashion designing and concepts, bricklaying, leather production, vehicle manufacturing, and a host of other productive courses that could respond to the growing needs of the country. To get good hands to do a finishing job on any building, Nigerians now go to neighbouring Benin Republic, Togo and Burkina Faso to seek out those skilled labourers. Our youths are not ready to learn those types of skilled labour or at times too much impatient to make a living from it. It is the reason why “yahoo-yahoo” or internet fraud has become a fashionable vocation amongst a certain category of youths. Even when the resources dropped to their account, rather than invest in other productive concern and abandon such fraudulent means of wealth acquisition, they end up buying big cars and SUVs to announce their arrival. This is what you get when a society is disconnected from reality or when reality in the contemporary world leaves a society behind. When the value system has become poisoned without a deliberate action of government to re-order our priorities and set the tone for national consensus. We are just running amok without a discernible destination.
I thought by now, the Buhari-led administration would have defined the roadmap for our education sector to inject breathe of fresh air into a system and sector that has remained circuitously detained by acts of omission and commission. Beyond the school feeding programme which to me is another drain pipe for those buccaneers in government, what has President Buhari done to impact on those almajiris in the North, who have no predictable future? What policy has the government introduced as a clear response to the threats posed by this army of poverty-stricken youths roaming the streets in the North and elsewhere begging for alms? Given our unedifying rating as the second country in the world with extreme poverty, indices which offend rational sensibilities, what deliberate effort is government putting in place to arrest the drift before we get consumed by the inactions of these roaming youths? Instead of making effort to revamp our educational sector from primary, secondary and tertiary levels, or commence the almajiri schools, government is devoting more attention to the RUGA initiative. If RUGA means compulsory education for all school age children from the North, it would have been a welcome development, but to ignore education and embrace herders in such whimsical manner is to understand the defective psychology of this present administration.
This is to alert our professors and their contemporaries that they need to sit up. They need to generate ideas to move this country forward. They need to profess their knowledge in specific areas, and come up with solutions to our problems. This regime of importation of the smallest item is killing us by all standards. We must give a total package attention to education and encourage our youths to embrace education instead of indulging in kidnapping, armed banditry and robbery.Our educational curriculum must be redefined, restructured, repackaged and fine-tuned to embrace new ideas and thinking. We must educate to suit our needs and not our needs being tailored to suit our education. We must develop curriculum that would provide answers to perennial questions of underdevelopment. Our Engineers must put on their thinking caps. Our technocrats must show a paradigm shift in their interventionist effort to drive governance. If a revamped education sector is all that the government could achieve, he would have set a benchmark that will forever be a point of reference.
Cursing cows instead of exporting beef
This herdsmen-must-go cacophony has been louder than the Ghana-must-go noise of the 80s, don’t you think? Everybody is talking at the same time. Each person is insisting his position is right and nobody wants to admit there is another way out of this noisy market.
It’s either my way or the highway, all the way. How is that even logical or sensible? The Yoruba have a saying that shows that our different positions don’t have to lead us in different directions.
There are many roads that lead to the market. ‘Ona kan o w’oja. ‘ And if we can all get to the market from different angles, why don’t we do just that instead of arguing over which route is shorter, longer, safer, more dangerous or whatever? That’s what we have all been doing all year. Speaking big English, throwing terminologies and generally pissing one another off. Yet the market is still empty. We are still in our different huts.
So, I ask, why are we still all at home, selling nothing and buying nothing when all we should be doing is doing good business and making good money? “Ruga it is and Ruga it must be.”
“Not on our ancestral land.” “Everybody must be free to go everywhere in Nigeria.” “Ruga is a monster designed to decapitate our children.” “Ruga is a thief.” “The 401 gods of Yoruba land forbid Ruga. Indeed, they will fight all cows and their owners.” “Alright, herdsmen and herds boys, come home, don’t let them kill you.” “We, the herdsmen were not consulted and so we are not going home.” “Herdsmen must go.” ‘Herdsmen must come.”
“Herdsmen will stay.” My ears are ringing. Why is there so much noise about something that is purely a money-making venture, strictly a matter of commerce? Why are we letting politicians into something that is strictly about hard work, sweat and business? When are we all going to learn from Nollywood and the Nigerian entertainment industry? Or haven’t we noticed that the only reason Nollywood is thriving is because it has not allowed politicians to politicize it? Musicians choose who they sing for, make good money and are free to change their minds and lyrics between one election and the next campaign.
Nigerian movies are now on Netflix. Canal+ just acquired ROK studios. Wizkid is making money in every currency. Genevieve Nnaji took her ‘Lionhearted ’ straight to Netflix. Bottom line, Nigerian music and movies are export commodities. Yorubawood, Igbowood, Kannywood, any wood, Nigeria is earning money in other currencies apart from naira.
Nollywood has stayed strong, grown in leaps and bounds because it has not allowed ethnicity or partisan politics creep into its fold. Indeed, these days, I see Chinwetalu Agu in movies with Yoruba stories. Ojopagogo (Rasaq Olayiwola) in an unforgettable episode of ‘Castle and Castle’, a legal drama series on Ebony Television. It’s all business and smart operators in the Nigerian entertainment industry know it’s about making money and they are smiling to their banks.
Pray tell me, is rearing cattle a hobby? Is it about politics? Does anybody ask the meat-seller if the beef he’s selling is from Borno or Adamawa? Does anybody really ask the chef in Sheraton or Transcorp if the beef he’s serving speaks Yoruba or Fulfude? I’m confused by all the noise, really? How do you explain it to your 10-yearold that ranching, cattle farming is just a business, not a blood-sucking spirit being supervised by witches and wizards? The bewildered boy hears and sees news about herdsmen and the news item are about death, kidnapping and AK47. Now he wants to have a piggery because he thinks cow business is dangerous.
We really need to interrogate the kind of examples we are laying for our children and the kind of Nigeria we will hand over to them. In all good faith and decent sense of patriotism, I think we should exclude politicians from our business and any clean business.
We can even go a step further by threatening them with the wrath of God Almighty and all the gods and goddesses of our land (that is the 401 in Yoruba land and all the ones from Bayelsa to Sokoto). Politicians can’t be trusted too much.
Haven’t they already messed up our polity and politics almost beyond redemption? I will make my point that cattle rearing is strictly business and it should be treated strictly as such. Should there be ranches? Of course, we need ranches.
We already have poultry and piggery, even snake farms where we keep snakes so we can export their venom. So, we must have ranches. Cows are for sale. They are not museum pieces and we do not worship them like some do in India. So, let’s build ranches all over. Aren’t there shopping malls all over the country? Are the shopping malls owned by an ethnic group? Are the malls occupied by all or just Tiv, Jukun, Okrika business men and women? You need to feed and care for boars to get a good number of piglets.
You need to feed your laying chicken with layer mash to get eggs out of them. You don’t see poultry farmers herding chickens from house to house looking for wastes and leftovers to feed them. I don’t even want to imagine pig owners taking their pigs all over the place seeking cassava farms to devour. If a chicken or pig owner decide to herd them, aaah, people will steal, kill, beat them and curse the owner.
In any case, that farmer will make less money than those who keep theirs in enclosed pig farms and poultry farms. You will be shocked at how much money pig farmers make watching football, playing scrabble while their pigs make piglets in dozens.
So, what’s wrong with doing the same with cows? Cows, herding, ranching are private business matters, not federal or state government matter. My cows are my business. All government needs to do is support us cattle farmers with loans, land, security and opportunities to export beef. Namibia is a nation of 2.49 million people (just about three LGs in Lagos State) ranking 143rd nation in the world. It exports beef to Europe, to China.
Nigeria is inching towards 200 million in population and all we are doing is talking beef, fighting beef, threatening beef, not exporting beef, not even putting our beef in an organized environment so we can make money from it. Just thinking of our thoughtlessness is exhausting, I tell you. What is wrong with encouraging investors to build ranches all over the country and lease to farmers, ranches with all necessary amenities? I’d like to own a few myself and earn easy revenue. It’d be like building event centres, shopping malls and letting or leasing them. Let’s deregulate this ranching business.
Treat it like any other business. Let those who know how to make money get in the mix. Niger State is the largest state in Nigeria with 76,363km2. Borno has 70,898km2 and Taraba 54.473km2. Those states and indeed all the states in Nigeria need to increase their IGR. All the governors need to talk to all the bank CEOs about leasing land to ranch developers. The states will make more money. The ranch developers will need to buy building materials.
They will need bricklayers, welders, carpenters, plumbers, all of whom will need to eat. Those with houses to rent will make money from the developers’ work force. The petty traders will make more money. Jobs will be created.
The people will be happy. Cows will be happier. Herdsmen will be richer. In fact, herdsmen will no longer be called herdsmen. They will be called business men. What’s wrong with having Nigerian Cattle Chamber of Commerce? Why can’t we put sentiments aside and do what makes sense? All this talk about stressing cows from North to South is embarrassing, really. What if we are like Israel where rain is luxury? Where would the greener pastures be? Would there be a difference between the South and the North? Yet, in spite of Israel’s rain constraints, it exports vegetables to the U.K.
I was in Israel a few years ago and I couldn’t believe the size of their fruits. Israeli bananas are bigger and fresher than Nigerian plantains We are mouthing diversification of the economy but we can’t see our cows as that alternative. 2.4 million Namibians can see export opportunity in their cows. They go months with seeing a drop of rain but 180 million plus Nigerians can’t see a golden opportunity to earn forex outside of oil? Isn’t it just sad that 2.4 million Namibians are smarter than 180 million Nigerians? Truly, totally sad.
Why and how history defines who we are (part 2)
In part 1 of this write up, I strongly discussed the importance of history and why it must be introduced into Nigerian schools’ syllabi. It is with great nostalgia I recall our history lectures in most primary and secondary schools.
Can you believe that in the primary school (St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, now Athekhai Primary School, Iviukwe, my home town, near Agenebode), we were already taught deep history concerning important world affairs.
In primary school in the rustic village environment of Iviukwe, we were taught by renowned primary school teachers like Dakpokpo, Iboi, Eshiebor, Obagidi, Mayaki Elomhi, Agwanyeokhai, Kadiri, Akpeokhai, Ikhane, Onemhegbai, Aipoh, etc. One teacher usually took all the subjects, ranging from Arithmetic, English, Civic Education, History, Handwriting, to Nature Study. We started with chalk on black slates; graduated to using wooden pen holder and later, in primary six, to fountain pens.
We would fetch firewood for our teachers; carry out work in their farms; went through the caves and hills to fetch stagnant spirogyra-infested water for them, which would then be treated with allum. To be a class monitor was a special honour and privilege. And for at least three of my six years in the Primary School, I was one. It was a great honour (to the envy of other pupils), to carry the table, with the class bell on top, from the classroom to the teacher’s house during holidays. What honour was greater than being the class monitor who kept time, rang the bell for morning assemblies, closing times, prayer times, and recesses.
In primary school, we acted drama, participated in debates, recited poems, quoted memorised history, etc. Guess what? We acted “The Trials of Brother Jerro” by Wole Soyinka, in my final year (1969) in primary school!
SOME DEFINING HISTORICAL FACTS AND FIGURES
Can you believe we were taught about the 300-year-old Slave Trade (1856 – 1915), Booker T. Washington, an African-American Educator, orator, author and advisor to many Presidents of America. We were taught that Mary Slessor (1848 – 1915) was a Scottish Presbyterian Missionary to Nigeria, who arrived Calabar, learnt the Efik language and taught the native people Christianity, in their native language. The most famous act Slessor is remembered for is that she stopped the then prevalent practice of infanticide of twins among the Ibibio people. By the time she died in 1915 at a mere 66, she had become famous for Christian missionary working Africa, women’s rights and rescuing children from infanticide.
LADY FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE
Were we not taught about Lady Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910), the English Social Reformer and founder of modern day Nursing Profession? She organised training courses for Nurses during the Crimean war, caring for wounded soldiers. One of her most famous quotes that we were taught was that “it may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm”.
GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER
We studied the history of George Washington Carver (1864 – 1943) in primary school. A professor at Tuskegee Institute, USA, the African-American Agricultural Scientist and inventor actively promoted alternative crops to cotton, and developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated planting of cotton.
You can see from my reminiscences and recollection of history we learnt about 50 years ago, why I was deeply pained about the deletion of history from Nigerian schools syllabi?
THE SLAVE TRADE
We were also taught about the Atlantic or Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which for about 300 years, led to enslavement and transportation of Africans from their various settlements to mainly America. From the 16th to the 19th centuaries, we witnessed this inhuman, degrading and heinous triangular trade route merchantilism which involved indigenes of mostly of Central and West African countries. Started by the Portuguese in 1526, they completed the first trans-atlantic slave voyage to Brazil, promoting other European countries to follow immediately.
These human slaves were regarded by the transporting ship owners as cargo to be sold in America, to work in coffee, tobacco, sugar, cocoa and cotton plantations. They also worked in gold and silver mines, rice fields, construction industry, etc. They hewed timber for the building of ships. They were used as skilled labour and as domestic servants. The evils of slave trade were perpetrated by the British, French, Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish Empires. Many of these countries established outpost on the African continent where they purchased slaves from local African leaders and merchants.
While awaiting shipment, packed like sardines, slaves were first kept in factories. Over 12 million people were involved in this inhuman exploitation for over 300 years.
We were taken through the trajectory of Abolitionists of slave trade. We read about Thomas Clarkson (1760 – 1846), William Cowper (1731 – 1800), Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797), Alexander Falconbridge (1792), Elizabeth Heyrick (1769 – 1831), Toussaint Louverture (1743 – 1803), John Newton (1725 – 1807) and Mary Prince.
Serial campaigns, especially by William Wilberforce, led to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. Wilberforce died just three days after hearing the good news of passage of the Act through Parliament.
It was Abraham Mauri Lincoln, American President, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation. On 1st January, 1863. The passage of the 13th Amendment (ratified in December, 1865) finally abolished slavery in America, with over 50,000 slave freed in Kentucky and Deware.
HENRY THE NAVIGATOR
Let us examine in details the life, times and contributions of Henry the Navigator, another great historical figure we were taught in the Primary School.
Henry the Navigator was born in 1394 in Porto, Portugal.
In 1415, Henry, his father and his older brothers led an attack on Ceuta, a town in Morocco, along the Strait of Gibraltar. The attack succeeded, and Ceuta fell under Portuguese control. Henry became fascinated with Africa, a continent about which the Portuguese knew little. He thereafter developed a desire to learn about the Muslims who lived there, primarily in hopes of conquering them and spreading Christianity. And he became aware of Africa’s many resources, which he hoped to exploit for Portugal’s gain.
Under his patronage, Portuguese crews founded the country’s first colonies and visited regions previously unknown to Europeans. Henry is regarded as an originator of the “Age of Discovery” and dubiously, of the Atlantic slave trade.
HENRY THE NAVIGATOR’S SIGNIFICANCE IN HISTORY
Henry is often credited with beginning the Age of Discovery, the period during which European nations expanded their reach to Africa, Asia and the America. Henry himself was neither a sailor nor a navigator, his name notwithstanding. He did, however, sponsor many exploratory sea voyages, along the West African Coast. In 1415, his ships reached the Canary Islands, which had already been claimed by Spain. In 1418, the Portuguese came upon the Madeira Islands and established a colony at Porto Santo.
In addition to sponsoring exploratory voyages, Henry is also credited with furthering knowledge of geography, mapmaking and navigation. He started a School for Navigation in Sagres, at the southwestern tip of Portugal, where he employed cartographers, shipbuilders and instrument makers. It was from Lagos, near Sagres, that many of his sponsored trips began.
Henry has the dubious distinction of being a founder of the Atlantic slave trade. He sponsored Nuno Tristao’s exploration of the African coast, and Antao Goncalves’s hunting expedition there in 1441. The two men captured several Africans and brought them back to Portugal. One of the captured men, a chief, negotiated his own return to Africa, promising in exchange to provide the Portuguese with more Africans. Within a few years, Portugal was deeply involved in the slave trade.
Henry died in 1460 in Sagres, Portugal. By the time of his death, Portuguese explorers and traders had advanced as far as the region of modern-day Sierra Leone. It would be another 28 years before Vasco da Gama, under the Portuguese flag, would sail clear around Africa and complete an expedition to India. (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.” (Victor Hugo).
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.
Women as instigators of rape
The spiralling cases of rape in our society is worrisome and condemnable but in some cases, the victims – women – are found to be instigators or causes of some or few of these criminal acts. I have many instances at my disposal that could serve as data for this claim.
The percentage of rape incidents inspired by women is low compared to the ones committed by sex predators but I think we should also look in the direction of some of the victims in the collective quest for solution. I decided to come up with this angle though it may not be palatable to some feminists or gender issues campaigners, howbeit, we should put things in the proper perspective.
There are a number of tricks some women use (either shrewdly or surreptitiously) to tempt some weak or violent men that eventually assault them sexually. One of the difficult cases to prove in court is sex related allegation. This is because it is done behind locked doors. It happens only between two people without a third party. Most of the time, reliable evidences in rape cases are usually based on tore dresses or under wears and/or scars sustained in the process of struggle. Another evidence is medical examination to ascertain if there is any forceful penetration into her vulva by the accused.
I know a woman who passed a night with a man she met on a dating site based on mutual understanding as lovers. But throughout the night, she didn’t allow the man to touch her. The man, a single father of two children at the time, endured her action calmly, behaved like a gentleman he is. While she was about leaving the next day, she demanded more money than what he gave her. The man smiled and warned her never to try that with some other men who might not be tolerant of her daring attitude. Thus, they parted ways. He’s now married.
In 2017, a secondary school teacher proposed to his colleague for a relationship. Both of them were single at the time but she declined. The guy had moved on searching for love elsewhere but this female teacher kept hanging around him. Sometimes at the weekend, she would come to his place to relax, yet, she insisted that nothing could ever bring them together as lovers.
The guy now called me for counselling saying, “Sir, what can I do about this woman before I misbehave?” I told him to tell her to stop visiting his place. She is sending a wrong signal to any other woman he may want to date. In the school environment, he should reduce their closeness so as to disprove the raging rumour about them. He found it hard to say because he really loved the lady but eventually he did and the woman was aghast that he could have the courage to utter such a statement to her. The following month, he met the lady he married early this year.
I know a married woman who declined overtures for an extra-marital affair with a single dad but chose to keep the man as a friend. I’m aware of two occasions she had passed the night in the man’s house without permitting sex on the ground that they were mere friends. The first time, her husband travelled and she didn’t want to stay at home alone. Her children were in boarding schools. The second time, she had malaria while her husband was on another trip. So, she went there for two days to treat herself.
You might think that something actually happened that I didn’t know about, not at all. He vacated his bedroom for her on the two occasions and shared the same bed with his younger brother who was living with him at the time. I actually stopped the woman from coming to the house uninvited. Apart from other stories I was told, I know of several other cases that I can’t exhaust mentioning.
Supposed the men I mentioned their cases forcefully had their way with these women, would it be right to allege rape? A woman becomes an instigator of rape through any of the following:
λ Hanging around a man she does not desire sexual intimacy with probably for pecuniary benefits
λ Sleeping in a man’s house without an intent of having sex
λ Insisting that a man should exercise self-control while provoking his sexual urge within his domain
λ Turning ‘sex by consent’ to rape just to blackmail or exploit the man
λ Dressing seductively in order to trap the man
At the heat of COZAgate three weeks ago, a good governance activist sent a video clip of Pastor (Mrs) Ifeanyi Adefarasin of House on the Rock Church, Lagos, to me. I really appreciate her rebuke for indecent manner of dressing to the house of God. She was on point just like Rev. Funke Adejumo, Pastor Bimbo Odukoya (of blessed memory) and a host of other ministers in the crusade for decency in the Body of Christ as well as in the society at large.
People often cast aspersions on the ministers of God found in error of sexual immorality. Yes, it sounds right but I think we should appreciate the burden of intimidating temptations they face on daily basis. I think the society is harsh on the ‘fallen’ ministers of the gospel simply because they are expected to be “blameless.” 2 Tim 3: 3.
A man of God that is sleeping with his members is committing a breach of trust. A man bearing the mark of Christ in whatever form should not condescend to defiling his seamless relationship with the Holy Spirit by partaking in filthy lucre or falling for momentary pleasure of sexual sin. If it happens, it is a spiritual tragedy to the Body of Christ.
It is more calamitous if he fails to seek help, repent and be quickly restored. Relaxing in the ‘fallen state’ often lead to uncovering his secret sins that would heap ignominy upon him, his family and his ministry. That’s why the Word warns that we should distant ourselves from every APPEARANCE of evil (emphasis mine). Appearance means anything that could easily be construed to be sinful, uncouth or immoral even if indeed, he is practically innocent of the deed. Loitering in the corridor of lustful indulgence could turn out scandalous!
As the storm clouds gather…
The madmen with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core value have taken cutlass of security”
– Olusegun Obasanjo
Great American composer, Irving Berlin wrote a lyric which he copyrighted in the 60s to the God bless America Fund International and the opening reads thus: “While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to the land that’s free, let us all be grateful for a land so fair as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.”
What does that tell us, that storm clouds gather far away from a nation that is fair as they raise their voice in prayers? The lyric also shows that allegiance is actually due and could easily be sworn to a land that is really free from injustice.
When a nation like ours crowds the churches and mosques daily in prayers and vigils and is not free and fair in their dispositions to their citizens, it would never stop the clouds from gathering and the weather man tells us that when clouds gather what follows will always be stormy.
Undoubtedly, the indicator signs are apparent showing that cloud is gathering in Nigeria and men of vision and experience are telling us that we need to make haste and look for rain coats because soon it’s going to drench us.
The first person who brought the metaphoric cloud gathering into the country’s current awful situation is no less a person than the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan. “As we all gather here in this peaceful environment, we cannot but draw attention, with grave concern to the ominous and dangerous clouds of destabilization hovering on the horizon of our nation,” the foremost cleric screamed. The Archbishop was actually referring to the tensed situation created by Federal Government’s plans to appease the nuisance Fulani herdsmen by creating havens for them in the states of the federation amidst protests from citizens over their ancestral land. The vexed project called RUGA is an Hausa term called cow settlement.
Since the conclusion of the general election in March this year nothing has preoccupied President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration more than trying to satisfy the cattle breeders operating under the umbrella body called Miyetti Allah. All the policies of government for this body have not gone down well with the rest of the country, but government’s commitment to it remains unhidden amidst general insecurity mostly arising from the herdsmen like rape, kidnapping and killings.
Nigeria’s only Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka was also on line to express his distraught over President Buhari’s handling of the menace of Fulani herdsmen. Prof. Soyinka who backed the President during the last election was so frustrated that he had to declare that Nigeria’s problem are beyond Buhari and that the President’s failure to tackle the activities of marauding herdsmen has wiped away the positive achievements of his administration.
According to the literary giant, “The problems of this nation are beyond the solution that can be offered by this government, that’s the first admission. There is a minimal level which any government, which has been elected to power, must achieve to be considered a true representative of the people.”
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring of all the reactions to the embarrassing security situation in the country occasioned merely by the ineptness of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, is last Monday’s open letter to the President by the former Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the letter very characteristic of Obasanjo everything was laid bare. The nakedness of this regime all along camouflaged by propaganda and lies was unconcealed in the letter. “Say what you will, Boko Haram is still a daily issue of insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum destructions and damage.
“Herdsmen/farmers crises and menace started with government treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer. It has festered and spread. Today, it has developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings all over the country. The unfortunate situation is that the criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more, unfortunately, many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current captain of the Nigeria ship. Perception may be as potent as reality at times,” Obasanjo said.
For Obasanjo, if the President refuses to stand up to confront the security challenges frontally, one or all of the four calamities itemized below will befall the nation under his watch.
“To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities:
1. abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type;
2. spontaneous or planned reprisals against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.
3. similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom;
4. violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.
A nation that makes a 94-year-old nationalist to bury his 58-year-old daughter killed due to the inability of the government to provide security really need not be told before it realizes that all is not well. And to show that such nation has lost any sense of sorrow their leaders in the name of sympathizing have been embarking on photo showing.
What a dance on the grave it has been since the weekend’s mindless murder of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, on the Benin-Ore Road by suspected gunmen was made public.
Yoruba leaders and other Nigerians including the Vice President of the federation who should be mourning and sympathizing with the old man has turned his abode into a political ground to settle scores. Lagos strong man Bola Tinubu found the mourning place a platform to show his love to the Fulani and to demonstrate his no love lost on Ndigbo for daring to thwart his popularity in Lagos in the last election. The media themselves have instead of sending social sorrowful writers to the man’s home to capture the grief-stricken mood have instead despatched political reporters and photographers for the needless and heartless after sympathy press conference.
I am one of those who believe very strongly that any new crime will flourish in the land so long as its victims remain the ordinary people. Imagine the hullabaloo over this death because a big iroko is involved but this is what goes on across the land daily.
Late Nigeria military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha couldn’t be more right when he said on the marble that any insurgence or massive violent crime that lasts beyond 24 hours uncrushed by the nation’s security forces, then the government must have some questions to answer on the possibility of culpability.
Have you bordered to wonder why and how the Fulani herdsmen suddenly turned from their timid nomadic business to potent terror group? Could this abrupt transformation been possible without some drumming from critical areas? In between the line reading of Obasanjo’s letter one could find some answers to some questions all pointing to the fact that all is not well with our nation and that the storm is indeed gathering.
Politicians kill, judges bury…
To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice – Proverbs 21: 3
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? – Psalm 82: 2
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice… marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they – Ecclesiastes 5:8
Let justice run down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream – Martin Luther King Jr. in “Letters from the Birmingham jail”
No evil deed will go unpunished; any evil done by man to man will be redressed; if not now then certainly later; if not by man, then by God; for the victory of evil over good is temporary – Dele Giwa.
Nineteen-ninety-nine (1999) till now (2019) is the longest unbroken span of democratic governance at a stretch that this country has experienced. Self-rule preparatory to Independence for the Eastern and Western regions (1957) and the North (1959) pre-dated independence on October 1, 1960. Up till January 15, 1966, the country enjoyed a spell of democratic governance before series of military interregnum, after which we moved again to July 1979, when the then military Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, handed over power to Alhaji Shehu Shagari. That experience lasted till December 31, 1983. It was, thereafter, rigmarole after rigmarole under different military dictators until the return to civil rule on May 29, 1999. Reasons commonly adduced for the truncating of civil rule by the men on horseback, as Samuel P. Huntington calls the military adventurists, are bad governance epitomised by corruption, ostentatious living, profligacy of the few on one hand and dearth of basic necessities of life on the side of the suffering majority on the other; and the perversion and subversion of the people’s will epitomised in the rigging of elections. Since 1999, the alibi for soldiers’ incursion into politics has not abated; if anything, it has assumed monstrous proportions; meaning, then, that there must be other reasons keeping the soldiers within their barracks. An argument often canvassed is that military rule has become anachronistic and untenable and, thus, has lost its allure and gone out of fashion. The international community, we are told, has lost its patience for military rule and is vigorously opposed to military take-overs. Through training, the right indoctrination and political education, the military are also said to have become more professional and less inclined to stepping out of their barracks at the least promptings to take on roles they are not trained or cut out for. Plausible as these arguments may seem, we have, nonetheless, seen military take-overs in a few places such as Egypt and Sudan. One point which is often glossed over in Nigeria is the decisive action taken by Obasanjo when he assumed office in 1999.
He made a list of military officers who had eaten the forbidden fruit of political office and promptly retired them from service. Those with the most likely urge to topple a civilian government thus lost the much-needed pedestal. It also sent an unmistakeable signal to others of the dangers of professional imperilment should they fall out of line to seek filthy political lucre.
If corruption and election-rigging alone determine the survival or otherwise of any nation’s democracy, Nigeria’s would have long ago come to a disastrous end; for at no time in the history of this country has corruption become so rampant. Even the government that pretends to fight corruption is itself whacked by corruption. In its ranks are fabulously corrupt Nigerians who are protected by their membership of the ruling party and government while a mockery is made of the anti-corruption war running after opposition figures. The brains behind the country’s first coup, Major Kaduna Chukwuma Nzeogwu et al, who bellyached about First Republic politicians’ corrupt tendencies, describing them as “ten-percenters”, would turn in their graves to see that, today, the whole 100 per cent of project and contract sums are spirited away without contractors visiting the project site or turning the sod. In those days, however, the country had something going for it; there were fearless and upright judges despite the authoritarianism of military dictators. We had judges who were bold; who looked the military adventurers straight in the face and told them bitter truths. We had judges who were minded to do justice regardless of whose ox is gored. We had the likes of Akinola Aguda. We had philosophers and Socrates who sat on the Bench and made pronouncements that made Britain’s Lord Denning green with envy; we had the like of Chukwudifu Oputa and Kayode Esho. But, no more! The few upright judges that remain are hounded and side-stepped via forum shopping.
Today, politicians kill our democracy; judges bury it! Both work hand in glove. They are arrayed in tandem in an unholy alliance that makes the conscionable distraught. We have never had it this bad. Not only are men of conscience in short supply in the Bar and on the Bench, little or no effort is made at all these days at pretence. It is like the Nigerian policemen who collect their bribes in broad daylight without caring a hoot about who is watching or passing by. The other day, some policemen were caught by the Inspector-General of Police himself; the errant officers had demanded bribe from their “Oga at the top” without knowing who he was! These days, powerful litigants and big-cat lawyers have their favourite judges and courts that would do their bidding. It is no longer the law you know or the “justness” of your cause. Once the list of judges is made known in a case or the court is mentioned, you know the likely outcome. Some judges are known as “client” of this or that; the names of judges who act as consultants and go-between between judges and politicians are open secret. How did we get to this sorry pass? If a judge proves stubborn or is not amenable, you can quickly pack your bag and baggage and relocate to a pliant judge, regardless of the provisions of the law. The law here is an ass that panders to the wiles of the powers-that-be – and they are riding it to its death.
Why the judges do not care – or are yet to notice – that they are losing self-respect and relevance is baffling. The Judiciary is treated like scum by the Executive, yet, it does not care. Judges behave like Samson before Delilah; and like the proverbial foolish cock which exposed its joker to the wolf. Baron de Montesquieu, widely acknowledged as father of the theory of separation of powers, would turn in his grave. Judges are treated as trifle; they are treated as rags; their orders are spurned; yet, they remain chummy with the vile offenders. They loath to fight for their rights and dignity! The Judiciary is co-terminus with the Executive and Legislature; being the third Estate of the Realm, independent and possessing equal powers. Judges ought to fight back and possess their possessions – but they acquiesce. It beggars belief how they display such a huge propensity to cringe and be servile. What has become of judges? Spineless! Wole Soyinka said in “The Man Died”: In those who keep silent in the face of tyranny, the man dies. Not only do judges keep silent in the face of tyranny meted out unto others, they themselves have become victims of self-same tyranny that whacks the entire citizenry. Judges lose their voices – and balls – when their corruption is exposed and waved in their face. It is flagged and brandished to intimidate and compromise them. How can a judge do justice when his hands are tied behind his back? They become caricatures and impostors profaning the temple of justice!
Mercifully, there is nothing hidden (today) that will not be made known (tomorrow). Corrupt judges should know that we know them. Oh yes, we see you! Your wheeling-and-dealing is not unknown. You who dispense technicalities in the place of justice; vermin and vampires devouring the truth and upholding falsehood: when a Daniel shall come to judgement, you will come under the full weight of the law you have so shamelessly, wilfully and whimsically perverted. It is travesty when the so-called last hope of the common man becomes his last scourge; consenting to the rape of our democracy and putting justice, their very raison d’être, to the sword. Theirs, like Brutus’, is the unkindest cut of all on the bleeding body of Caesar; nay, Nigeria!
LAST WORD: Aftermath of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin’s killing in Ondo State by suspected Fulani herdsmen; I wondered what had become of the security summit the state organised with fanfare on Thursday, January 17th this year in Akure, to which I was invited. Responding, Jones Ogunmusire, chair of the organising committee, dispelled my suggestion that it was mere jamboree, adding that soon, we shall see action. Adekola Olawoye, SAN, Ondo’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said government was “still studying the recommendations (and) government position will be made public very soon”. How soon is “very soon”, Sir? Not after we are all dead! A snail will move faster than the Ondo State Government!
Our misplaced worries worry me
admit there’s a reason to be worried, in fact many reasons to be worried. I just don’t understand why Nigerians are worried about all the wrong things, why we are not worried about what we should be worried about. In Bible parlance, we are worrying amiss. Our worries are misplaced. Don’t get confused or even start worrying about my worries.
It’s the season of worry alright, but we must see through our fears, tears and trepidation. We must worry carefully so we can worry effectively.
Take for instance the bandying of words with bandits on the tragic death of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin at the weekend instead of calling the spade by its true name. If herdsmen, Fulani or Igbo herdsmen decided in their evil coven to hunt down the daughter of an Afenifere leader, our worry should be: ‘why would herdsmen block the road to kill a Yoruba leader’s daughter?’ Our worry should not be the language the killers speak or how they dress. Our concern should be the soreness of our national psyche right now and the motive of those who find this an auspicious time to pose like herdsmen to kill in the heart of Yoruba land. Do we not have enough trouble? Did Pastor Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God not just warn us of a looming plague because the Nigerian soil is blood-soaked and that the blood of the innocent has a voice and it is speaking against us? Shouldn’t we be worried about fifth or sixth or seventh columnists trying to set Nigeria on fire just to see if their lighters are working?
All this talk about whether the killers of Fasoranti’s daughter were bandits, armed robbers or demons even, do not make sense to me, really. I think some people are plotting against Nigeria. They are determined to start an ethnic war. They are evil enough to prove whatever their evil plans are by throwing our land into doom and gloom. That is what should worry us. That they may decide to dress some men in herdsmen garb to blow up oil pipelines in Port Harcourt or dress some almajiri boys up in Niger Delta militants garb in Kaduna and tell them to blow up mosques or kill cows. That is my fear. That is the danger we should be worried about. All the ‘nearest in meaning’ grammatical exercise are dumb, dumb, dumb.
Unfortunately, our misplaced worries did not start last Friday on Ondo-Ore road.
Why the dickens are we worried about Nura Dahiru, the customs officer who promoted himself to Deputy Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service. Dahiru, a lowly Assistant Superintendent of Customs took a good look at himself in the mirror, one morning, and decided he’d had enough of his rank. He shook his head, tapped his nose and decided to do something about it. He decided to use his own two hands to fix his problem. He bought himself a new uniform, ironed it to an inch of its life and then did the shocking thing – Dahiru somehow found all the epaulettes of a DCG of customs, and pinned them all on his chest and shoulders. Abasi Mbok!
‘DCG’ Dahiru then proceeded to the office of the CG, Hammed Ali, where he sat in all his ‘majesty’. Some of his ‘normal’ superior officers even saluted him. I can see them in my mind’s eye standing at attention, hands raised in smart respectful salute.
If it wasn’t such an embarrassing scenario, I’d be rolling on the floor still, laughing, even one week after. But it’s not funny, really. Good comic relief but very very worrisome.
Look at it this way: these new ranks, those colourful things on his chest, the dapper embroidered decorations on Dahiru’s shoulders, are they that easy to come by? Does the Nigerian Customs Service have them on display in a ‘Tuck Shop’, like the one in my church where we buy chin-chin and soft drinks after service?
Can I also buy some for myself and use it to go terrorize people especially in Lagos traffic? Who gave or sold those things to Dahiru?
Have you also asked yourself the real meaning of ‘porous security’? Porous security, according to me, is a man of unstable mind marching through the ‘security men’ (they are just mai-guards, truth be told) right into the office of Nigeria’s Number One Customs’ Officer and being allowed to sit and wait for the CG, just because he said he had orders from the Presidency to take over from CG Hammed Ali. Dahiru had no letter, no papers.
The so-called security men did not hear the directive on radio, television or read it online. No newspaper reported the purported change of guard. They simply believed Dahiru. They simply forgot their security training and brief.
My people, what if Mr. Dahiru was a suicide bomber deployed to bring that building down? What if he had that ‘Oyinbo’ demon that makes nine-year-olds shoot their classmates and teacher in moments of demented affliction?
Just imagine the number of customs officers he would have gunned down and wait for it, he’d most likely would not have been convicted for premeditated murder because he and his lawyer would have pleaded insanity.
What if CG Hammed Ali was in his office and Dahiru had just shot him in-between the eyes!
I shudder to think of the kind of headlines CNN, Channels, AIT, TVC would have had scrolling within minutes.
“Nigerian Deputy Controller-General of Customs bombs Govt. Building,
That is, before they realise that Mr. Dahiru bought his rank in a roadside kiosk and smiled his way into the CG’S office.
Ah, and then they said he was mad, sorry, of unstable mind.
I disagree, totally.
It is we, all of us, worried about Dahiru’s mental state that I’m worried about. How did we end up paying so much for security that is non-existent? If we are not all sick somewhere, how is it that one man can buy a DCG’s rank, wear them and walk into the CG’s office? Is that the way it is in Immigration, Prison Service, even in the Police. Any demented folk desirous of promotion can buy those colourful things and gum them on a well-ironed uniform and trample all over our national dignity?
Again, if we were not a nation of people who worry amiss, how would we have gotten to this point where the Shi’ites have now budgeted 21 million lives to protest the continuing detention of Sheikh El-Zakzaky. Yeah, 21 million Shi’ites are ready to die in this protest. They mean business and they are prepared. And I’m wondering how do you threaten someone who wants to die with death?
If we won’t worry amiss, we should see this Shi’ite protest as a metaphor for something bigger than religion or the incarceration of one influential cleric. We need to see it for what it is, a symptom of a disease that could end up being terminal. This is not an itch. It’s a god-awful leprosy. This is not a cough, it’s tuberculosis. While we’re going about our lives, believing that the Shi’ites would soon run out of steam and abandon El-Zakzaky, the group moved from the outskirts of Abuja into the main FCT, then into the Three Arms zone. They invaded the National Assembly, forced lawmakers to remove their flowing gowns as they fled. Shi’ites, the stone-throwing group is now a gun-totting one. They are now shooting live-bullets?
And Shi’ites came to Lagos during the week. No, they didn’t go to the cinema. They came to protest. Imagine what that can mean if they decide to lock down Third Mainland Bridge or block all routes leading to the airports. They already locked down Ikorodu road on Thursday, so don’t accuse me of putting ideas in their heads. We’d do well to fix this migraine quickly before it fixes us. I don’t know if you are scared or not, but I’m trying to remember how the Arab Spring started.
And to think so many Nigerians are worried about the ministerial list! How is the existence or non-existence of that list even affect the price of fish! Our poor President is being pressured, tremendously even, by those who think the presence of ministers will disarm Shi’ites, cure madness of uniformed men and even provide jobs.
We have real problems, life threatening ailments, a looming plague. Staring into space, picking our goddammed noses and worrying about synonyms of killer herdsmen, armed robbers and bandits is a major sickness in itself.
Oba Ewuare II: Giant strides within a short time
Oba Ewuare II (N’ Ogidigan), Uku Apkolokpolo, the 40th Oba of Benin, is the scion of Oba Ewuare the Great (1440-1473), who reigned after Oba Uwafiokun (1443-1473) and was succeeded by Oba Ezoti (1473-1475).
Ewuare the Great, it was, who developed the Edaiken title for the eldest son of the Oba, to stamp succession authority in the royal lineage. A warrior par excellence, who built city walls, moats and boulevards within Benin City and led his army to conquer many cities and towns, up to Owo and the Niger Delta area, Ewuare the Great no doubt reincarnated in the present Oba of Benin, Ewuare II.
The handsome quintessential diplomat illuminated the dark crevices of locked diplomatic channels during and after the military years, as Nigerian envoy to Angola, Italy (with concurrent accreditation to Albania), the Kingdom of Sweden (with concurrent accreditation to the Scandinavian countries of the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Denmark and Norway). Since his ascension to the throne of his forefathers two years ago, Oba Ewuare II has achieved so much within a very short time on the throne.
He is development conscious for his people. SOME IMPRINTS He has since strongly called for the repatriation of all Benin artefacts carted away during the mindless and punitive British expedition and invasion of Benin Kingdom in 1897. He has implored the Federal Government to have more federal presence in Edo State.
He has called upon Edo State government to introduce Benin language and history in the curriculum of schools. Using what he coined as “cultural diplomacy”, Oba Ewuare called for cultural renaissance as a great tool to promote harmonious relationships, respect traditional institutions, unify the people and resolve communal and individual disputes through the principles of social justice and equity.
DISBANDMENT OF CDAs
One of his earliest actions on being crowned on 20th October, 2016, was to order the immediate disbandment of the notorious and parasitic Community Development Associations (CDAs).
This was a platform used by unemployed youths in virtually all the communities within Benin Kingdom, to perpetrate heinous crimes. Potential investors were serially chased out with machetes, clubs and guns, whenever they refused to pay huge sums of extortionist money to them. Private homes and property developers were not spared this anguish and nightmare.
The Oba immediately set up a committee of intellectuals, professionals, security gurus and traditional chiefs to map out a roadmap towards elimination of this anti-development menace. Yours sincerely was privileged to be part of this historic platform.
The result was the Oba’s forging of a close alliance with the Edo State executive and legislative arms of government to promulgate a law criminalizing and out lawing CDAs and their ill-wind deleterious effects.
Today, Edo State, especially the Benin Kingdom axis, is seen by investors that troop in, as a safe haven for investment. Inspite of this, His Royal Majesty, during his thank you visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso villa, emphasized the strengthening of security in Edo State and the dire need of infrastructural development in Edo State.
ADVOCACY FOR GELEGELE SEA PORT DEVELOPMENT
One project quite dear to the heart of the Oba, who has since modernized the royal palace and vicinity, is the Gelegele seaport. He implored President Buhari to help develop it, to open up the state to commerce and industry.
Perhaps, the most ambitious project so far embarked upon by the Oba, and indeed any royal father anywhere in the world, is the proposed satellite town to be established at Ugoneki, in the Uhunmwonde L.G.A. of Edo State, along the Benin – Agbor road. The proposed town to be known as “Oba Ewuare II Satellite Town”, is to be self-sufficient, with sundry basic amenities of life and 24 hours of security and power supply.
OBA EWUARE II FOUNDATION
His focus on development led him to set up the Oba Ewuare II Foundation, which, in collaboration with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), has since organised skills acquisition programmes, training over 50 youths, including returnees from Lybia.
The Foundation is geared towards eradicating poverty amongst youths and the most vulnerable of the society. It is to halt social vices, illegal migration and human trafficking of Edo indigenes to foreign countries, in the vain hop of greener pastures; and to provide empowerment through scholarships, skills acquisition and total liberation and reorientation of the “get-rich-quick” mentality of the new generation.
The Foundation seeks to develop Edo language and provide free feeding for the needy, with over 1000 already fed. The revered Oba has even placed many Libyan returnees on salary. He retired into the sacred realm of his ancestral abode, came out and placed a curse on human traffickers who prey on young, vulnerable and innocent ladies, with the words, “our gods will destroy you”.
He even cursed native doctors who administer oath of secrecy on unsuspecting victims.
ALL HAIL A ROYAL TOUCH
Thus, within the short span of two years, Oba Ewuare II, like his forebear, Oba Ewuare the Great, has changed the face of traditional institution in Nigeria, striving for development and modernism, even as he jealously guards our prime culture, customs and traditions. Oba gha to kpere, isee.
AN INTERIM BLUEPRINT OF GOVERNANCE FOR PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI UPON BEING SWORN IN AFTER AN ELECTION THAT IS STILL BEING HOTLY CHALLENGED AND CONTESTED AT THE TRIBUNAL
President Muhammadu Buhari is still battling with his election mandate. I will therefore not comment on it, being one of the lead counsels in the Atiku Abubakar legal team. However, before the much awaited Election Petition Tribunal judgment, Buhari must quickly take Nigeria out of the social, economic and political doldrums he and his APC government have plunged it. He should be more nationalistic in his outlook and approach to governance; less sectional, functional, partial, nepotic, cronystic and prependalistic.
He should drop his stiff garb of suffocating military Louis XIV imperiousness and jackbootism and know that he is supposed to be a democrat, subject to due process of law, with the attendant democratic safeguards. Buhari should allow Rule of Law to flourish uninhibited, learn to obey court orders and respect citizens’ cherished and inalienable fundamental human rights. Buhari must, as president of a whole nation, drop his 97%-5% bellyaching mantra of those who did not vote for him and endeavour to be less divisive and vindictive.
He should treat all Nigerians equally and as one, whether they presumably voted for him or not. He must stop promoting the superiority, suzerainty and sovereignty complex of his ethnic group, over and above the other more than 350 ethnic groups in Nigeria.
He must give democracy dividends to the Nigerian people, through the provision of adequate security (section 14 of the 1999 Constitution), robust economy and infrastructural development. He should think outside the box of how to fight corruption, as his performance in this regard has been woeful, selective, exclusionary and favouritism-based. Nigeria is more corrupt today than ever before (according to latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index).
Where corruption could be said to have been “democratized” by previous governments before him, corruption under Buhari has been greatly “privatized” by a few highheeled cabalistic elements.
Thus, corruption money, unlike before now, no longest circulates, or sips down to the common people. It has been hijacked privatized and held down by the jugular by these few elements at the precincts and corridors of temporary power.
More importantly, Buhari should dust up the over 600 ground- breaking recommendations of the 2014 National Conference scripted by 492 delegates drawn from across Nigeria (wherein I was a Federal Government delegate, and voted “Cicero of the 2014 National Conference”) and implement them.
Some of the most important amongst them is the vexed, but overdue issue of devolution of powers and restructuring of the unworking Nigerian contraption, to become a truly fiscal and federal system of government.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.” (Seth Berkley).
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
Super Eagles vS Desert Foxes: Chukwueze: another chance to da zzle
Rave of the moment, Samuel Chukwueze, will once again be on the spotlight when Nigeria confront Algeria as the Super Eagles continued their quest for glory at the 2019 AFCON, which has now hits its homestretch. The 20-year-old Villarreal player has been one of the revelations of the 32-nation tournament in Egypt, a fact highlighted by his emergence as the Man of the Match in last midweek nail-biting encounter against South Africa – a match he opened the score to put him on the record book as the youngest scorer so far in Egypt 2019.
The last one year has been memorable for the left-footed winger whose dribbling runs have light up the attacking strength of the Super Eagles who are just two wins shy of reclaiming the title they won on their last appearance at the biennial championship in 2013 before their unanticipated absence at the last two editions.
The Abia-born Chukwueze undoubtedly knows his value such that he declined an invitation to Nigeria’s Under 20 team to the last FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Poland opting to fight for his place among players the star-studded senior national team. Now that decision is justified as he has been constantly linked with top European clubs such as Liverpool, Man City and Man United to mention a few. For a football-mad country like Nigeria, Chukwueze, like his colleagues, reckons the need to keep a top performance in Egypt.
The player who was on the brink of joining Arsenal a couple of seasons ago expressed his delight at Wednesday’s game and is fired up for more explosive outings. ”This is my first major competition for Nigeria, and I scored my first goal in a very, very important championship like this.
I am happy. “I thank my teammates for standing by me and encouraging me. I am very young, but they encourage me. “They all congratulated me for this very important goal in my career. I hope to score more,” he said.
There is no denying the fact that Chukwueze’s valuation has appreciated further due to his exploits in Pharaoh’s land. He puts up a flashy display in his first match against Burundi but he was overlooked for the games against Guinea and Madagascar.
German Gernot Rohr was forced to call on him when Nigeria was facing elimination against Cameroon in the round 16 clash and he made telling impact on the match, which eventually led to a 3-2 win in Alexandria exactly a week ago. Algeria, so far, has been the in-form team in this tournament posting a 100% record in the group stage before seeing off Guinea and Cote d Ivoire but now, the onus lies on Chukwueze to unleash his awesome skills against the Riyard Marhez-captained Desert Foxes. Chukwueze’s potential couldn’t well have been summed up by Eagles’ vice captain Ahmed Musa who declared that with time, he is going to be the best player in the Super Eagles and another mesmerising display at the Cairo International Stadium will see him soar to the tag of the new golden boy of Nigerian football.
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