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.
Now that SA has apologised…
ow South Africa has apologised for the xenophobic attacks that saw to the death of many African compatriots in the hands of South African mobs, have we seen the end of a sad chapter in the history of Black Africa? Nigeria was one of many African countries caught in the xenophobic web that the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, sent special envoys to apologise for earlier in the week as well as given assurances that all is now well – or, more appropriately – that all will be well. Can we take his assurances for it? Cyril himself was a fire-eating Labour leader in the last days of the armed struggle against apartheid; so he should know the mentality of his people. A facade of hope that normalcy has, indeed, returned to SA was the fledgling anti-xenophobic movement in SA itself where “wives” of victims of xenophobic attacks were summoning up courage to come out of their cocoons to decry their own losses.
A few other conscionable South Africans have joined in their rank. Will these be enough to stem the tide? Is the SA Government sincere with its apology and can it do the needful? Are the xenophobes now tired, remorseful, been won over by superior argument or they are simply on recess, waiting for the next opportune occasion to strike? Time, as they say, will tell!
As the repatriation of the endangered Nigerians proceeds apace, it is safe to conclude that only a few will venture to return. Many will stay put, the dangers to their life and livelihood notwithstanding, while others will relocate to other countries. The reasons for this are not far to fetch: The situations and circumstances that ran them out of their fatherland have not abated; instead, they have become more pronounced in the last four years of the APC/President Muhammadu Buhari administration. While APC leaders have been creating millions of jobs by words of the mouth, the real unemployment situation has gone from bad to worse. Not only are new jobs not being created as claimed by government, those in employment are losing their jobs at an alarming rate. Absence of jobs, especially among the youth, has led to high rate of criminality, such that government now begs criminals to sheathe their sword, having lost the moral right, the wherewithal as well as the will power to fight crimes. Nigerians leave the shores of this country in droves in search of better living conditions. “Better life”, which was nothing to write home about before, has deteriorated progressively since 2015. Inflation and devaluation have robbed the Naira of close to half of its purchasing power, if not more. Education, health, power supply, and infrastructure have decayed beyond acceptable levels. Corruption today is more mind-boggling than in times past; if in doubt, compare what Buhari spends as fuel subsidy with what Jonathan spent. To make matters worse, the state of insecurity today – with Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, ritualists and cultists rivalling Boko Haram – have left Nigeria worse than Buhari/APC had met it.
Recent reports said 60 doctors leave Lagos hospitals every six months (10/month) while 700 (appro. 61/monthly) doctors dump Nigeria annually. The Yoruba would say “Orisa boo le gba mi, fi mi s’ile boo se ba mi”. If you can’t help, don’t make matters worse for me! Not so Buhari/APC!
South African returnees would therefore be returning to a Nigeria worse than the one they left behind. For those who left when PDP/Goodluck Jonathan was in power, they will have the added pains and humiliation of “Operation Crocodile Smile” to contend with. The war of attrition between APC/Buhari and their allies on the one hand and pro-Biafra forces on the other is yet to abate. Ask Ekweremadu! Ask South-East governors! Few South-easterners, who form the bulk of the South Africa returnees, are proud of Buhari: The president’s bare-faced sectionalism, tribalism and nepotism have not helped matters! Expect a visibly embarrassed South Africa to put obstacles in the way of repatriation to try and squeeze the returnees, make their return difficult if not impossible as well as buy time while mending fences. Only reason why SA pretends to be remorseful is because it risks isolation. It is doubtful whether Nigeria has made adequate preparation for the returnees. For those returning with empty hands, how do they start life afresh? Shame and fear of disgrace is another reason why some will be unwilling to return. “Iku ya j’esin”, our people will say. Better die than suffer ignominy! The politics of the repatriation, though, is not as much as doing a good job as giving an impression something was done. It is less of substance but more of appearance.
FUOYE: Two deaths too many
What is beyond dispute now is that two students of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE) died during a peaceful protest that went awry last week. Except for those who still have the milk of human kindness running in their veins in a Nigeria that had since lost all sensibilities and feelings but now has scant regard for human life, this is mere statistics – “only” two lives lost! Yes, “only” two! Since the advent of APC/Buhari, our attitude to living and dying has become cavalierly. But consider that one of the “only two” were your own son – let our men and women of power consider that “just one”, not the entire “only two” of the FUOYE dead were their own son or daughter! If you do not appreciate what belongs to others, someone is coming who will not appreciate what belongs to you. If you pay scant regard to the life of the other person, someone is coming who will pay scant regard to your own life or the life of someone you hold so dear. That is the Law of Karma and the import of Prophet Nathan’s message to King David after he had killed “good man” Uriah and appropriated his wife Bathsheba.
The least that Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi can do is to unearth the killers and ensure they are brought to justice. As governor, Fayemi is the chief security officer of Ekiti and the buck stops on his table. It is his duty to get justice for those whose life, like Abel’s, Uriah’s and Nabot’s, was snuffed out in cold blood. Failure, he will account, like Dele Giwa minced no words in telling us, if not now then later; if not before man, then, before God.
Fayemi must follow up his instructions to the CP, Ekiti State to unearth the killer-cops. The death of the two FUOYE students, for now, has been woven around the legs of Fayemi’s wife, Erelu Bisi; unless Gov. Fayemi is able to shift the guilt elsewhere, that is where it will remain – and that is where justice shall be served.
Having first driven away the fox, let us now return to speak a word of truth to the FUOYE students: But for the fact that students will always be students, why demonstrate and risk your life over an occurrence as common in today’s Nigeria as power outage? For those of us not students and who also suffer power outrage – and have to pay rapacious estimated bills to boot – where do we carry our own protests, peaceful or violent? But, then, like they say: “Agba wa bura pe ewe o se o ri!”
As an undergrad at Ife, I, too, demonstrated on a countless number of occasions, storming Lagos and screaming “Obasanjo na goat o, na goat o, (Shehu Musa) Yar’Adua barawo ni, o omo eran”. On one occasion we vandalised a posh car belonging to Oloye Olusola Saraki, the then Senate President, within the premises of the then Senate Building at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. Thank God, we were not shot by errant security details of power-drunk politicians! It is likely that the Fayemis also demonstrated while on campus at Ife. What if they had been shot?
What is left of VP Osinbajo?
On Monday, the Buhari administration stylishly, even if in characteristically deceitful manner, admitted to the failure of policy and personnel when it disbanded its Economic Management Team headed by VP Yemi Osinbajo and instituted another called Economic Advisory Council (mere semantics!) headed by one Prof. Doyin Salami. The new EAC got rid of Osinbajo as both head and member. Who does not know that this is an indictment and that Osinbajo is being held responsible for the many astounding economic failures of the Buhari administration?
Osinbajo as VP is not allowed into security meetings; ministers and other political appointees report to the president through the Chief of Staff; civil servants and parastatals report to the president through Secretary to the Government of the Federation; and now, the economic team bypasses the same VP who has the statutory responsibility of chairing their meetings! What is left for – and of – Osinbajo in the Buhari administration? Pity!
Nigeria’s leadership quagmire
After the infamous verdict of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) on Wednesday, 11th September, 2019, there was palpable quiet and lull in the land. It was as if majority of Nigerians were bathed with cold water. No noise was heard. No playlets were rehearsed. No toasts were scripted. No celebrations were anchored nor were there any spontaneous jubilations in response to the judgement, which returned victory to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari as validly elected at the polls.
Before now, under the APC-led Federal Government, the country has sustained a leadership atrophy that has become lazy, unproductive, laid back, with visible signs of incompetence, incapacity and under-performance. The end result is a rising profile in kidnapping, armed banditry, killings, insurgency and armed robbery.
It has reached a crescendo, making some governors become regular visitors in the bramble forest in their domain, in search for Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and other agreements with armed bandits.
It beats my imagination trying to rationalise a scenario where a governor will wake up, assemble a team of Police personnel and other security details, hopped into his vehicle in a long convoy drive deep into the forest, to strike a deal with bandits. And the bandit at the other end is feeling on top of the world, waiting to receive the almighty governor and his coterie of aides in his rickety conclave, where sirens are forbidden under strict protocols.
The bandits, looking unkempt, armed with AK47, posed for reassuring photographs with the governor smiling away his folly, as if he has just won a visa lottery to God’s own country. And you see the security operatives in military and police fatigues, also smiling in ecstasy, to their collective follies in the forest of so many demons and bandits. The bandits called the shots in their jungle. There are boundaries not to cross.
There are limited number of persons permitted within the precinct of the bandits’ palatial conclave in the forest. Another industry has just been officially commissioned by Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, the President’s home state. It is the industry run by the bandits in a trade by barter system where abductors are exchanged from both the side of the government and the bandits.
When Governor Masari successfully returned to base from his journey to the forest, a few transactions were struck. It was reported that some persons who have been captured before now were released while the government also opened the prison doors to set free bandits who have earlier been arrested.
It is possible that after series of transactions by barter system, the parties to the MoU may choose a date for their Annual General Meeting (AGM), whether in the Government House or in the familiar forest, to re-assess the ‘growth’ and ‘performance’ of this ‘business enterprise’. But reports of other abductions may simply put spanners in the work. And that has already set the awful tone to this barbaric engagement.
When questions are asked at closed quarters, the information is that state governors have become helpless in the hands of bandits and kidnappers. As Chief Executives of their state, they have no power to give directive to the security agencies in their domain, but when the trip to the forest was consummated, operatives of the Nigeria Police and Military, accompanied the governor. Does any state governor have the capacity and freedom to initiate a security architecture that would be a response to the insecurity challenges confronting him in the state? Irrespective of what the narrative might be from the presidency down to the states, the indices of our national development are essentially in the negatives.
Growth rate is appalling, our GDP growth is becoming ridiculous, investment is rapidly dropping, the population of unemployed, able-bodied youths, is growing in geometric proportion, interest rate is still at two digits, inflation rate is alarming, while the gains earlier recorded in agriculture pre-APC era, has nosedived owing to kidnapping activities and farmers/herders clashes.
The farmlands have become endangered zones because of herders and farmers clashes, coupled with kidnapping activities. Added to this is the huge figures of returnees from South Africa and Libya, as a result of xenophobia and its associated virus. Nigeria has never been this troubled.
Nigeria has never been this agitated in contending with its developmental challenge. The hunger in the land is alarming. The deprivation is debilitating. The poverty of ideas in government circle has compounded the poverty in the homes of Nigerians. Education is in shambles, health sector is in comatose, road infrastructure is decayed, while the economy is awkwardly struggling to walk straight.
Insurgency has eaten deep into the fabric of the populace in the North-East, while the military formations appear overstretched because of the plethora of engagements they are compelled to undertake. Frustration has taken over enthusiasm, while despondency has overtaken patriotism that should fire the adrenaline of national development. Killings and hopelessness have become the operative nuance in a country with rudderless leadership and its pliant followership.
There is anger in the land. There is frustration in the land. There is poverty. There is hopelessness. There is hunger and street begging has dominated our streets more than ever before. The country is appearing to be a rudderless ship battling to remain afloat. All the visible indices of a failed state are becoming instructive on a daily basis in Nigeria.
While President Buhari talked about bailing out 100 million Nigerians from poverty in 10 years, the Vice President reduced the figure to 10 million Nigerians, contradictions that spoke volume of the internal disconnect of a presidency that runs in circles. Despite assurances of a bailout, job losses are on the increase amid a growing unemployment figures that should worry any serious government in a new world order.
It is in recognition of these ills and failings in this government that the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal should have quashed the victory of President Buhari for a breath of fresh air. Rather, the tribunal went forum shopping for evidences that do not exist to rationalise and ratify its unpopular verdict, ignoring very copious evidences that were tendered before it. Nigerians are becoming refugees in their own country.
The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the country has never assumed this huge figure. Yet, the circus continues unabated with each geopolitical zone, finding meaning with self-help measures to combat crimes and criminalities. Nigeria needs urgent help.
The president needs help, urgently too. The easiest and only way to ease out this non-performing government is for the Supreme Court to speak to the issues of electoral fraud, the merit and not technicality that has taken the shine off the Court of Appeal verdict. Visuals of little kids holding plates in their hands in search for food only breeds emotional trauma and sense of nostalgia in the minds of the people. With Nigeria’s abundant resources coupled with our human capital development, we should have no reason to continue to agonise and lament in the face of plenty.
But when a leadership has acquired a feudal status, the courage to caution the leadership in the face of wanton demolition of the nation’s moral fibre, for the love of country, becomes a matter of self-judgement.
It is a statement of fact that Nigeria is bleeding on all fronts. The APC is lost in the middle of nowhere, trying to make meaning with its political power. Its chieftains are more interested in what happens in 2023 than getting its acts together presently to chart a road map. The contestation for 2023 election is more attractive to a party of supposed progressives than contestation of ideas that could generate the uncommon initiative to bail out the country. Just like I did tell a few friends last week after the PEPT verdict, this is the era of affidavit than certificate.
It is a verdict that has given me the leeway to acquire the title of a professor, backed up by an affidavit. Since the tribunal says there is no need to show evidence of certificates obtained, insofar there is an affidavit, it is as good as saying INEC should eradicate form CF001, to save taxpayers’ money in preparation for elections.
In a country of different tribes and tongues, it will be difficult to attain homogeneity of purpose, when different standards apply to different geopolitical zones in the leadership recruitment process. What is F9 in some zones, is a pass mark in others. That is what you get when ethnic emotions override national emotions. Indeed, “Affidavit Pass Certificate”, APC, such ingenious coinage that says it all.
To curb xenophobic attacks, tell the truth
he recurring decimal of xenophobic attacks in South Africa would have been nipped in the bud if the truth had been allowed to prevail. Since the end of apartheid rule in 1994, South Africa had experienced escalating xenophobia because of the failure by the governments to be decisive in nipping the crisis in the bud by sitting on the fence. Many deaths and uprising could have been averted had the appropriate authorities acted promptly and honestly.
Over the years, the assault and hostilities had continued as black South Africans continue to kill fellow black Africans. In 2017, South African security agents were openly blamed for looking the other way as a Nigerian was molested while the police were implicated in extrajudicial killings. Two years earlier, the Zulu king, Goodwill Swelithini had derogatorily described foreigners in a hate speech as ‘lice’ that ‘should be plucked out and left in the sun’ and ‘requesting those who came from outside to please go back to their countries.’
The Chief Executive Officer of newly-established Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri, said that in 2016 alone, 118 Nigerians were killed extra-judicially in South Africa. Some of the celebrated murder cases include that of a former Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu, who was mysteriously found dead in her hotel room. Before Ndubusi-Chukwu’s attack was the killing of Dennis Obiaju, a 17-year-old high school student, who was fatally shot dead. Life of black foreigners had become so cheap that they are being slaughtered like animals in South Africa. Many casualties are not recorded officially.
Even though, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa and other African leaders of having condemned the mayhem, what cannot be wished away is the fact that the unending attacks can be said to represent a monumental failure to stop the maltreatment of Africans by Africans. Ramaphosa and other South African leaders never agreed that their citizens were doing the wrong thing by killing and looting shops and business interests of other nationals. They are sitting on the fence and not telling the bitter truth by condemning the violence and the perpetrators.
The Nigerian government has equally been accused of being slow or failing to provide enough protection for its citizens whenever they are unjustly treated abroad, using all available diplomatic weapons. To counter the criticism, the Nigerian government, this time around, took swift action by boycotting the last World Economic Forum on Africa, sending a special envoy to the South African leader and summoning the country’s High Commissioner to Nigeria. There have also been intensified calls by individuals and corporate interests suggesting that South African businesses should be nationalised in the country. Despite the big-brother role Nigeria had played in the past, as a frontline country, to end racial segregation and bring down the white-minority apartheid regime in South Africa, it is curious and unacceptable that Nigerians are now targets of attacks from its benefactor.
No amount of diplomatic rigmarole can abate the carnage until and unless parties agree to stop sitting on the fence and tell each other the truth that xenophobia is evil. The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Monroe had denied reports of any xenophobic attacks in his country. The envoy simply described the attacks as “sporadic acts of violence,” adding that businesses belonging to other South Africans were also affected in the violence. In the usual manner, the import of Monroe’s statement is that there is nothing special or spectacular about the tragedy against Nigerians. This is being economical with the truth and would end nowhere other than worsening the problem.
Telling the truth is what would bring about justice. Denials, passing-the-buck, and trading blame would not yield anything positive. Doing the needful, Catholic Bishops of South Africa have boldly disclosed that the claim by South African authorities, suggesting that the attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners were not xenophobic, was mischievous, incorrect and misleading. Archbishop Buti Tigagale of the Southern African Catholic Bishop’s Conference Office for Migrants and Refugees had boldly stated that what happened was xenophobic. Acting as the voice of the voiceless, Tigagale said the bishops were dismayed and condemned the violence.
“Once again, we receive reports of the authorities doing very little to protect the victims. We received the report of police standing by idly in Pretoria while shops were looted and people attacked. Not a single arrest was made on that day. The authorities resort to the old explanation that this is not xenophobia, but the work of criminal elements. Let us be absolutely clear; this is not an attempt by concerned South Africans to rid our cities of drug dealers. And this is not the work of a few criminal elements. It is xenophobia, plain and simple. If it was about drugs, why are South African drug dealers not being targeted as well? Are we really to believe that there are none? And why are drug addicts, who rob people in our city centres to get money to buy drugs, not being targeted? If it is the work of a few criminal elements, why are South African owned businesses not being looted as well?” the bishops said.
The move by the Federal Government in the evacuation of stranded Nigerians and the rare show of patriotism and generosity by Mr. Allen Onyeama, who fully sponsored the airlifting of stranded Nigerians, is commendable. The South African government must address the unending hostility fueling the deprivation of its citizens such as insecurity, education, hunger, unemployment, and housing. The reality is that the restive youths expect succour from the state, following the end of apartheid, but were neglected. Rather than looking inwards, they became envious of fellow black African foreigners that were doing well in business and more prosperous through hard work, thereby appealing to female suitors. African governments should be up-and-doing by improving their economic fortunes that is fuelling illegal migration of their citizens from home in the quest for greener pastures. For the huge loss, the government of South Africa should be made to pay compensations for the losses and killings while culprits should not be shielded, but apprehended and punished.
The government needs to go a step further by enforcing a state of emergency and red alerts whenever foreigners are being attacked. They should stop sitting on the fence, tell the truth and face the issues squarely. Our continent would continue to lag as long as governments continue to sit on the fence; a situation deplored in Lenrie Peters’ poem titled, The Fence, “Where the body ages relentlessly and only the feeble mind can wander back there I lie in open-souled amasement.” According to Peters, there is an endless battle between the ‘truth and untruth’ because human beings are naturally inclined to tell lies when only the truth is called for, especially if truth-speaking would not be to their advantage. That is where the role of Catholic bishops everywhere becomes indispensable as the real voice of the voiceless.
By always telling the truth and avoiding sitting on the fence in promoting good governance, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) admits that Nigeria and Nigerians are deeply sorry for the wrong use of divine and naturally endowed gifts and blessing through acts of injustice, bribery, and corruption, as a result of which many of our people are hungry, sick ignorant and defenseless. Not only that, it is trite that we are weighed down not only by uncertainties but also by moral, economic and political problems that spur many people to flee our dear country. Getting xenophobia behind us requires one strong thing; stop sitting on the fence and telling the truth!
λKupoluyi writes from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) via email@example.com
The leadership lessons from the life and times of Robert Mugabe
The life and times of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe present very interesting lessons for despotic, authoritarian, absolutist and dictatorial African leaders.
That life is vanity upon vanity, all equals to vanity. That no leader transports to heaven or hell, when he dies, brute force, greed, avarice, power, money, influence, body guards, siren-blaring, motorcade, property, wealth, women, mistresses, opulence, bootlickers, praise singers, etc.
That a leader, like any other person, dies and leaves this world empty-handed, desolate, deserted, lonely, and as poor as a church rat, in the same poor state he had come into this world. He is buried alone six feet in the ground, forgotten by all, detested by the unfortunate recipients of his misgovernance, cursed by his traduces, or praised, euologised and canonized by all, if he governed well. That it is a leader’s positive impact on his people, especially the vulnerable, the poor, hapless and hopeless peasants, the rejected hoi-polloi and the denied and dejected Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”, that determines his place and space in history. Some are remembered for the vilest of historical misdeeds and misgovernance.
Some are remembered for the greatest deeds of nobility. Late President Mugabe, who had started well and zoomed into the consciousness of his people and the world from the latter angle, when he helped save his beleaguered people, ended up consigned into the ignoble pantheon and historical oblivion of the former. Such is life. Such are the lessons for our African leaders who play tin gods, who believe that their imperiousness and power inebriation will last forever. No, it will not. Power is like the vapour of the sky. It apparent now and disappeareth the next moment. A word is enough for the wise. To say more will be otiose.
XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS ON NIGERIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND THE INACTION OF NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT (Part 1) INTRODUCTION
The apartheid era in South Africa saw Nigeria as one of the foremost supporters of anti-apartheid movements, including the African National Congress.
It is on record that Nigeria spent well over sixty-one billion US dollars in fighting apartheid in South Africa. Nigeria has since been in the fore front in peace keeping operations in South Africa and other African countries with devastating effect on her human and material resources.
The Nigerian government issued more than 300 passports to South Africans seeking to travel abroad during the apartheid era. Sunny Okosun, the late popular Nigerian musician, wrote the hit song “Fire in Soweto” in 1977 to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid in South Africa.
He waxed others for our brothers and sisters in Southern Africa: “Which Way Nigeria”, “Papa’s land”, “No More Wars”, “Tire Ni Oluwa”, etc. In fact, all Nigeria’s Civil Servants and public officers made a 2% donation from their monthly salary to the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SAFR).
These donations were widely known in Nigeria then as the “Mandela tax”. Nigeria even boycotted the 1976 Olympics and Commonwealth Games in 1979 to protest against this hideous apartheid system. The Nigerian government and her people contributed over $10.5m to the SARF.
These included students. In 1960, the Nigerian government set up the National Committee Against Apartheid (NACAP). It provided about $5 million to the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) annually. Nigeria later founded the SAFR in 1976 to enable her bring relief materials to Apartheid victims.
When apartheid eventually ended in 1994, several South African businesses sought for Nigerian professionals to immigrate and help build their battered economy.
Over 24,000 Nigerians are estimated to be currently living in South Africa. Much of South Africa’s good will towards Nigerians for supporting the ANC during apartheid suddenly disappeared due to wrong perception by most South Africans as a result of activities of some Nigerian organised crime in their land. Truth be told, many Nigerians have engaged in criminal activities. But, this can never be justification for taking it out on all Nigerians, most of whom are innocent, clean and hardworking.
THE TERM, XENOPHOBIA
“Xenophobia” is a singular term used to describe the irrational fear developed against foreign elements, which manifests in hatred, discrimination and violence against such foreign elements. The recent horrific and agonizing wave of xenophobia which has swept through South Africa is mostly directed at Nigerians.
The tragedy of Elizabeth Ndubuisi- Chukwu marked the commencement of a reign terror against Nigeria. She was murdered in cold blood through xenophobia anger, and strangled in a hotel room in Johannesburg. Elizabeth’s only crime was being a Nigerian, a non-South African.
Till date, the culprits are still walking freely on the streets of South Africa. Businesses of non-nationals, especially Nigerians, have been vandalized, looted and burnt in areas around Johannesburg, including the Central Business District and the township of Alexandra.
The glaring failure of the government of South African to deal with the rampaging blood-thirsty crowds is seen by many as a tacit endorsement of the advocacy. South Africans have been attacking foreign nationals, particularly Nigerians, whom they scapegoat as the reason for rising rate of crime in their society and diminishing jobs and social benefits.
One wonders how Nelson Mandela would be feeling in his cold desolate grave. His idea of a truly democratic and free South Africa anchored on a society where all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities, is furlong and distant.
The increasing competition between the two countries for positions at multilateral organisations across the globe appear to have worsened relations between Nigeria and South Africa. Nigeria has been championing the course of South Africa without corresponding benefits to her national interest.
Nigeria’s foreign policy should be “Nigeria! Nigeria!! Nigeria!!! No more, no less.
As we speak, Nigerians are being cheaply maimed in large number. Our government cannot forestall same. Many have been killed. By way of mutual retaliations, some South African brands and interests are currently facing attacks as their shops are being closed in fellow African nations such as Nigeria and Zambia. More worrisome is that just between 2000 and March 2008, at least 67 people died in South Africa in identified xenophobic attacks. In May, 2008, a series of attacks motivated by xenophobia left 62 people dead.
In 2015, another nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against immigrants in general prompted a number of foreign governments to begin repatriating their citizens.
The Nigerian government led by President Buhari has been virtually helpless about these gruesome and unprovoked killings, looting, and arson of properties belonging to Nigerians. Most Nigerians were shocked by the irrational action of authorities at the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa, when they locked the gates against our compatriots in the face of bloody attacks. This left them to the cruelty and savagery of their assailants.
A report credited to the CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri, said as at 2016, 118 Nigerians had been killed extra-judicially in South Africa, while an additional 88 had been killed since then.
These orgies of violence against Nigerians have been continuous because the Nigerian government has been too weak in defending Nigerians and Nigerian interest. The glaring failure of government to run an economy that provides jobs and reduces poverty has also greatly contributed to the mass exodus of Nigerians abroad where they are faced with human carnage. If our government were to be alive to its responsibilities, the government of South Africa would have been made to pay heavy and deterrent compensation and make restitution for the killings of Nigerians, This would have awaken the South African government to their responsibility to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians and other Africans in that country. (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile to continue talking about peace and non-violence against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people.”
(Nelson Mandela). LAST LINE I thank numerous readers across the globe 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 bumper treatise. We must revive our history. It helps us renew and rediscover ourselves and eschew past mistakes.
• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN
Solving sexual problems in marriage
Last week, I promised to address some challenging issues of sexual condition of many adults. This is a common problem that is ravaging many homes and tearing apart quite a number of promising relationships. Unfortunately, it is one issue that people shy away from discussing in the open on the pretext of moral or religious grounds. Sex education has over the years been advocated that it should be incorporated into elementary school curriculum in order to equip the mind of children and teenagers for the future. Considering the alarming rate of paedophilia and misconstrued notion of sex in our society, I think now is the time for teaching sex education as a moral subject in schools.
Many homes have broken up primarily on the issue of sex. Some religious organisations do not help matters either. Sex is coded in conversation as if it’s a taboo. In the years gone by, some conservative counsellors do scare dating couples from the issue of sex. It’s almost a shame for a woman to complain if her husband starves her with sex. Such women were being derided for behaving like sluts or nymphomaniacs. Except for child bearing, women of yesteryears were schooled and conditioned to believe that sex had no other benefits.
A sexless marriage will ultimately fail. Couples that keep their sex life active regardless of moments of quarrel or disagreement will last till death comes. I know a great couple that drew a line between their personal issues and bedroom duty. They do quarrel, sometimes hotly, too. In the bedroom at night, even if the wife feels hurt or angry with her husband for whatever the issue might be, the man often demand for his right. That ends the face-off. A woman had argued that the couple did not actually quarrel. If they did, “they might not greet or like to interact with each other for days.” My response was that it was once like that with them but incidentally both of them share demanding traits for sex. One day, the man told his wife that “we are bound to disagree and quarrel; it’s normal with humans but it must never be allowed to affect my bedroom duty. I can’t take it any longer.” Thank God the couple didn’t buy into the “rape” madness where the husband could be standing trial for raping his wife. The decision didn’t allow acrimony to have a foothold in their home. Unfortunately, the woman passed on recently.
No matter how responsible and loving a man is, he has to complement with a satisfactory sex life. Ideally, between the ages of 18 and 40, men, naturally, shouldn’t have issues with their sex life. Using sex pills to enhance performance within this age bracket is abnormal. Erectile dysfunction, quick ejaculation and waning libido are indications of poor health or early genital abuse like masturbation. There are four major factors that account for weak sexual performance in men at 50 and above. They are: infections, enlarged prostate condition, poor diet and sedimentary lifestyle (lack of regular exercise). Likewise, women have frigidity, infections and psychological conditions to grapple with.
For men, the higher percentage of poor sexual performance is traceable to infections. Apart from commonly diagonised urinary tract infections, others like candidiasis, herpes and staphylococcus often deal severe blows to a man’s sex life. Half-treated infections are more dangerous. They could ruin a man’s virility completely. Therefore, men suffering from sexual weakness should consult their doctors who will prescribe the types of tests to be done. The treatment should be total and completed.
Prostate enlargement is a killer of sex life. Irrespective of sex enhancement drugs being used, it will be of a very low effect, if any, in a man with enlarged prostate. I do warn men against trying to impress women like porn stars. Sex, like a race, is at individual’s pace. The most important thing is to be satisfied. Going three or six rounds when it’s not a competition is unnecessary. Young men could do that, maybe those in their 20s and 30s could go any length using their natural energy but not so for men in their late 40s, 50s or 60s.
Women on their part need to tap energy from their men. An active sex life make the woman younger, healthier and stable emotionally. Such women do think straight, clearer and relaxed. A highly temperamental woman needs more of her husband to balance her mood. Haughty, saucy women scarcely enjoy the warmth of men. Men feel safe in the bosom of mother-like women.
I want to advise that some of the sex enhancement drugs (herbal supplements or pharmaceutical products) do not work as loudly advertised. You will realize that the hyped drug is not as effective as you were told; surprisingly, you will be encouraged to buy more to truly feel the impact. Again, many of the imported drugs have grave effects on human system on the long run. Even some foreign herbal products don’t work for our men here due to climatic conditions and herbs species.
The most annoying thing is the outrageous price tags attached to the drugs. It is a rip-off! Most of the products are sold at N15,000 whereas their unit cost might be about N5,000 or less. I have taken my time to investigate and trace the supply sources of some of these products. You will be shocked that a product that was released at N4,500 is being advertised at N16,000 online. In fact, our local herbal drug makers have joined the fray. It is argued that Nigerians only value products according to the market prices. Get yourself treated by professional and qualified healthcare providers. Herbs are much more lasting in treatment but it must be prescribed by experts. Get your life back on track by reactivating your sex life for healthy living and successful marriage.
As judiciary casts its own vote
“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King Jr.
The primary function of a judge is to interpret and apply the law not make it. The making of law is reserved for another arm in the doctrine of separation of powers which runs conspicuously in a democracy. Nigeria has been in this democratic journey epileptically since 1999. The three arms of government were actually institutionalized to compliment and check one another for growth and development bearing in mind that a deficiency in one automatically robs off on the other.
Since 1999 the three arms of government, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have all performed below average. In all, judiciary is seen more as the conscience of the rest because of its revered and strategic position that allows it take the final decision when there is a dispute in the system. What it means is that the judiciary more than the other two is supposed to be above board, no wonder it’s regarded as the last hope of the downtrodden in the society. A nation with a sick judiciary is a ruined nation.
Yesterday September 11, 2019 was a special day for the country’s judiciary. It was the day the nation’s judiciary took one of the most critical decisions in country’s political life. Before yesterday, September 11 had emerged as an international date although from negative point of view. On this day in 2001 the world was visibly shaken to its foundation as the then emerging new brand of crime called terrorism took a strange and dangerous dimension. A group of religious fundamentalists led and directed by a Saudi Arabian terror kingpin Bin Ladan coordinated four terrorist attacks on the United States that brought down the twin building housing the World Trade Centre in New York, easily the tallest building in that country killing over 3,000 persons drawn from over 50 counties of the globe. Since then 18 years down the line the date has remained a day to remember
For Nigeria yesterday became a significant day not for any act of terrorism but for judicial rascality that has stood the nation’s polity on its head. The five-man 2019 Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) headed by Justice Garba Mohammad delivered its ruling on the petition filed by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in February 23, 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party, the PDP against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his own party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Before Wednesday’s ruling the lead counsel of Atiku and PDP, Dr. Livy Uzokwu (SAN) had told Nigerians through the media that the outcome of the tribunal was going to affect the country’s jurisprudence significantly one way or the other. Which way for you readers will depend on how you perceive Wednesday’s ruling of the Presidential election tribunal.
Earlier also the 88-year-old nation’s constitutional law icon, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) who made brief appearance for Atiku and PDP had told the tribunal that the outcome of the deliberations and rulings of the tribunal was going to define the place of democracy in this country. All democratic watchers both home and in diaspora are in agreement that yesterday’s ruling was going to have far reaching effect on the way future elections are to be conducted in our clime.
In the last 24 hours the social media, the crazy platform for discourse courtesy of modern means of communications has been awash with varying reactions from the tribunal ruling. Social media warriors on these platforms had even been threatening possible political apocalypse should the outcome from the tribunal not be reflective of the public opinion and the position of the law. Not a few are in agreement that the outcome of yesterday’s tribunal will go down in history as a day to remember given the sombre mood that enveloped the nation. Pundits had maintained that the importance of the tribunal ruling lies in the fact that what was at stake was Nigeria and its democracy not just Atiku or Buhari or APC or PDP.
The ruling generated all the interests, anxiety and expectations because of so many variables, what was at stake being the highest job in the land. Now that the ruling has come and gone where do we go from here? Did the judgement agree with the public perception? If no why, if yes why?
What is it that informed the Justices arriving at their various decisions, is it law, ethnicity, religious or group political interests or what? Were they induced or intimidated by whom and for what purpose? Fact remains that this appeal level is not the final as the case is certainly going to the final court in the land, the Supreme Court. To what extent will the ruling of yesterday at this level affect the final decision of the apex court? All these permutations and even more will continue to dominate the public space until the Supreme Court puts the final nail.
But my concern which is at the centre of this week’s musing is the consequences of yesterday’s ruling on the nation’s electoral behaviour.
Judiciary as electoral ombudsman has been noticeable in mitigating and lessening the gravity of the do or die politics in the country since 1999. To what extent can we say that Wednesday’s ruling measured up to the expectations? Was the ruling able to establish the age long holding that judiciary is the last hope of the deprived in our society?
Some of the questions being raised here may never get an answer immediately because they would require some theories or philosophy of law to properly decode it, but there are some pertinent areas that does not require any technical knowledge of the law to determine. Any ruling on political matter that fails to reflect the public feeling of the matter is not going to provide the anticipated service.
Even though APC and PDP have been reacting based on their biased interests as ruling and opposition parties, there exists some aspects of the ruling that stood out beyond the technicalities.
A court ruling on sensitive political matters is supposed to be in tandem with vistas of majority of the populace. That explains why Suzy Kassem, an American of Egyptian origin writing in her book Rise Up and Salute the Sun cautioned that “if we want truth and justice to rule our global village, there must be no hypocrisy. If there is no truth, then there will be no equality. No equality, no justice. No justice, no peace. No peace, no love. No love only darkness.”
Many political watchers had expected the Justices on Wednesday to stand up and be counted among the great jurists in history but to many it did not happen but others they did their best. Charles Evans Hughes of US Supreme Court perhaps captured it well when he said “when we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.”
No matter how much long we can continue to pretend that injustice can strive in certain circumstance, an American social reformer and US Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story here lays bare the implications of undelivered justice in a society and I totally align my views to his in this circumstance. “Without justice being freely, fully, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected. And if these, or either of them, are regulated by no certain laws, and are subject to certain laws, and are subject to no certain principles, and are held by no certain tenure, and are redressed, when violated, by no certain remedies, society fails of all its values; and men may as well return to a state of savage and barbarous independence.”
A word they say is enough for the wise and we should also not forget that wisdom is a virtue that comes to us as grace from God if we ask and work towards it.
Lessons from South Africa
n the “xenophobic” response to the xenophobic attacks on foreigners by black South Africans, useful lessons which ought to have been learnt, first to prevent a reoccurrence and, secondly, to avoid and or avert a tragedy of greater monumental proportions here in Nigeria, will be lost if care is not taken. “Sunkun muus, riran muus”, as they say! It sounds like Latin but it is not! It is a slang which means that even though we are weeping, we must still make efforts “to see road”; otherwise, tragedy will become double. That will be akin to what Fela called “double wahala for deadi bodi and the owner of deadi body”!
Xenophobia simply means fear/hatred (phobia) for foreigners/strangers (xeno) by citizens or owners of the land. There are citizens and foreigners in every country or community of the world, hence the saying that a slave somewhere is a free born elsewhere. So many factors cause a free born or bonafide citizen to become foreigner/stranger in another land. There is the phenomenon called emigration, in which citizens move from their country to another country to pursue some objectives which may include tourism/holidaying/visiting, schooling/studying or search for the proverbial “golden fleece”, running away from persecution/asylum-seeking; and search for the proverbial “greener pastures” or better living conditions.
There are two types of immigrants – legal and illegal. A legal immigrant stays in a foreign country with the consent and permission of the host community. He has all his papers and therefore enjoys the protection of his host community. He has virtually the same rights as a citizen for as long as his papers are okay. These papers are renewable periodically. After a period of time and having met some conditions as set by the host country, a legal immigrant can even acquire the status of a citizen through a process called naturalization. On the other hand, an illegal immigrant is a criminal in the eyes of the law and does not enjoy the pleasure of his host community or the protection of the law. Many enter legally but soon become illegal immigrants because they overstay; because they convert brief stay to permanent stay, in order words, they knew right from the time they were applying for short stay that they had no intention of returning home, so on getting to a foreign country, they just “miss”, as they say; and others because they work when they have no work permit. Some immigrants run into trouble when they engage in criminal activities, that is, when they break the law. There are also those who “stow away” by various means and who, from day one, are illegal immigrants.
Try as the xenophobic South Africans may, they will never completely eradicate immigrants from their country. There are immigrants who just must be there, such as members of the diplomatic corps and employees of international organisations. Every country is home to multinational corporations that reserve the right to recruit their staff from countries of their choice; ditto businesses legally owned by foreigners and lawfully established and run by those foreigners. It is, therefore, plausible to say that when the nationals of a country are up in arms against immigrants, some categories of lawful immigrants must be excluded. Those usually at the receiving end are illegal immigrants and legal immigrants engaged in illegal or criminal activities. It need be said, however, that in xenophobic attacks, legal immigrants can also be victims, even where they are not necessarily the target; they can also be part of the target as the divide between the legal and the illegal is often blurred in mob attacks. It is therefore advisable for everyone, both legal and illegal, to be security conscious and stay out of sight when mobs are on parade. Even where the authorities embark on well-structured efforts to clean the society of illegal immigrants, as Trump is presently doing in the U.S., legal immigrants often find themselves in the web until the wheat is separated from the chaff.
Many factors cause xenophobic attacks, chief of which is economic. When a country faces economic problems, the first scapegoats are usually immigrants who are seen as having taken jobs meant for citizens. Usually, this is just an excuse because such jobs are mostly menial, which citizens snub but which immigrants, far away from home and desperate for survival, grab with both hands. Nigeria has sent illegal immigrants packing in the past, hence the popular “Ghana-must-go” saying. Ghanaians, too, have sent Nigerians packing. There is a house in the Sabo area of Ogbomoso with the inscription “Olorun se nwon le mi ni Ghana”; meaning, “Thank God I was driven out of Ghana”! Usually, immigrants whose country’s economy is on the downward slide get derided by their more prosperous hosts. Immigrants do all sorts of menial jobs and are paid peanuts. Ironically, however, immigrants over time usually get more prosperous than their arrogant hosts. Jealousy sets in. It is exacerbated where the immigrant community is not humble but boisterous and loud. The Yoruba say “If your yam is very succulent, make sure you cover it with your hands while eating it”. Don’t expose yourself for your hosts to see how greatly you have been blessed. Abraham and Isaac suffered this kind of fate in foreign land. Jacob suffered similarly in the hands of Laban. The same Jacob chided his sons who insisted on avenging the harm done their sister in foreign land because he feared a backlash from his hosts. Lousy, arrogant, uncultured, uncivil immigrants bring ruins upon themselves.
Where an immigrant community grows to the extent that it swarms their hosts, there will be problem; as happened to the Israelites in Egypt when a Pharaoh that knew not Joseph mounted the throne. Statements emanating from South Africa reveal fears that the immigrant population in some South African cities has overgrown the citizens in their own land! Where an immigrant population is noted for crimes and criminal activities, be sure they will soon run into trouble. It is not enough, like some commentators have said; that the hosts themselves are also into the drugs trade. It is their country; if they like, let them ruin it! They do not expect you as immigrants to join or even overtake them in that enterprise. Only legal immigrants should be encouraged to travel out of any country – and it should be impressed on them to be law-abiding, humble and respectful of the sensibilities of their host communities. No country has the right to insist that its nationals must behave willy-nilly or ride roughshod over their host communities. Illegal immigrants must be punished and repatriated home. Law-breakers and the criminally-minded must also be similarly treated. Then, of course, we must fix our own country. It is because our country is hopelessly broken that our people are “Andrewing” out.
Many have reacted sharply to the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa because of the gory details of some of the killings. Sheer hypocrisy! More gory killings have taken place here on a daily basis and for years and we have taken them all in our strides. Are we suddenly discovering our “humanity” simply because a foreign country, learning from our bestial ways, now treats us as we have treated ourselves? Many are also miffed because of the help we gave South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. I must admit that, in this, we did so well! Unfortunately, however, we did not build on that foundation but eroded it; not only in Southern Africa as a whole but elsewhere. Always, we make monumental sacrifices but fail to reap commensurate dividends. Failure of leadership is why Nigeria is a laughing stock everywhere. With Robert Mugabe dead, we can have some respite from his wicked, cruel, and malicious jokes – and whether David Cameron, Putin, the Chinese leader or Donald Trump, the story is the same! Gradually, one step after another, we lost the respect South Africa had for us – with the vile dictator Sani Abacha’s treatment of Olusegun Obasanjo (the darling of South African leaders) and the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others despite Mandela’s pleas. We also worked against South Africa at the AU and in Cote d’Ivoire, among other foreign policy debacles. Mandela himself led the campaign for Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth for two years over Saro-wiwa.
Rather than cry over spilled milk in South Africa or shed crocodile tears over happenings in a foreign land while same storms are gathering at home, let us address the swarming of the South by illegal/foreign immigrants before it is too late. Let South-West leaders also urgently address the taking over of their land, commerce, and, slowly, politics by “foreigners”. Already, there are rumblings underneath. A stitch in time, as they say, saves nine!
Last week’s “Like Buhari, I love cartoons” was brilliant. I read it from beginning to the end. It was unputdownable! You wove humour, satire and realism into such an interesting and compelling read. Well done! – Reno Omokri.
Buhari and the burden of leadership
Nigeria has been in socio-political and economic turmoil since 2015 as a result of the under-performance of the APC-led Federal Government. There are several dislocations across the country. There are several Nigerians living in Internally Displaced Camps, there is poverty in the land, there is hunger everywhere, there is hopelessness, there are deprivations all over, the psyche of an average Nigerian has been badly affected because of the inability of the leadership to deliberately create stop gap measures that could arrest the prevalent drifts across the country.
Our image has been badly affected as a result of the released list of 77 Nigerian fraudsters and the copious allegations of drug business by Nigerians in South Africa. This has sustained the xenophobic attacks in a manner that has brought Africa and Africans in very bad light to the entire world. It has thrown up the leadership question and foreign policy agenda of Nigeria nay Africa in the global arena, in a new world order that dwells on the development of the continent.
Within the Nigerian Federation, trust is broken down, mutual suspicion reigns supreme, ethnic bigotry prevails, nepotism has occupied a prime place in the scheme of things, while there is near absence of nationalistic vision to drive the narratives of a new Nigeria built on equity and fair representation. The anti-corruption agenda of the government has lost steam because of perception crisis. People are seeing the crusade more as a witch-hunt than any serious interrogation of the processes that could yield any positive outcomes in our collective effort to chart a roadmap for a holistic appreciation of the challenges confronting us as a country. There are too many contradictions in the system. Hypocrisy has become second nature to a government that loves praises for doing virtually nothing. We hear sounds without sounds. The sound bites we get are made up of empty rhetorics and high sounding sweet nothings. The nation is at a crossroads and the need to begin the process of national conversation is more urgent than ever before.
President Buhari does have a huge moral burden on his hands as a result of discrepancies on his claimed secondary school certificates. There have been too much hoopla hovering around the issue in the last five years and the discourse has refused to peter out because certain revelations have come to the fore. Prior to 2015, chieftains of the party, the APC, have argued that the president did have a certificate, but that it was misplaced and could no longer be found. Rather than own up to the certificate item and lay the issue to rest once and for us, further interrogation on the matter has exposed several contradictions. The issue now borders on lying on oath and under our laws, it carries a huge penalty if found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. It has also become one of the grounds against the outcome of the 2019 presidential elections. It has gotten to a time that the president, in line with his “integrity” claim, must speak out on this issue and finally lay it to rest once and for all. The process is simple; accept the flaws, apologise to the country, and resign your position as President of the country and forever remain a statesman built on integrity. But once we are still rotating on this circus show of travelling from Cambridge, through WAEC to School A or B, searching for attestations to prove what seemingly appears non-existent, it will tell on the acclaimed integrity of the President.
Leadership carries a huge burden of trying to live above board. Leaders should not be found wanting in every sense of the word. Leaders are expected to behave differently from the ordinary man on the street. Leaders are chosen because they possess certain credentials that distinguish them from the maddening crowd. Leaders are problem solvers. They possess the cutting edge knowledge that spices up their leadership roles. They give a sense of direction to all concerned and offer solutions to problems and challenges. But when a leader becomes part of the problem rather than the solution, it becomes cumbersome to create the right temperature to dispense with leadership essentials. The certificate question has continued to be a pain in the neck of President Buhari and the opportunity of the tribunal would have been a veritable platform for him to resolve the issue once and for all. But he bungled the opportunity. The same narrative has refused to go away. A nation that desires moral healing must be prepared to confront the challenge than sweeping every item under the carpet. This is why it is extremely important for the president to own up to this certificate issue and throw in the towel for the sake of posterity.
It is ridiculous for us as a country that in a 21st century Nigeria, we are still talking about certificate or no certificate of the number one citizen of Africa’s most populous country, especially in a country with massive human capital and huge intellectuality. This age of ideas is one that is knowledge-driven if any country aspires to catch up with globalisation. In a new age, with massive investment in information technology, we need leaders that have the capacity to create the right synergy to pull together all centripetal and centrifugal forces to get the right momentum that could stimulate enterprise and productivity. We are in an era of ideas and intellect. An era where creativity and innovation become handy tools to drive a new narrative that would engender a harmonious inter-relationship amongst all the competing forces. This is not an age for weather beaten rhetorics of searching for result or certificate that doesn’t exist anywhere. The president must come with clean hands. Aside from washing his hands clean, he must be seen to be above board. A nation in crisis must not have a president in crisis with his certificate. Rather than setting agenda for the country, his certificate crisis has now become an agenda unto itself. The distraction caused by this nagging issue has the potency to derail national consciousness desirously needed to build bonds and uncommon relationships across ethnic divides in the country.
The President of Nigeria as giant of Africa must not be an individual that will become a butt of jokes for other African countries, but one who possesses unquestionable credentials in his trajectory through the four walls of knowledge-based institutions. The president of Nigeria must be a leader with a hands-on approach to leadership and governance. He must possess a broad mind to accommodate all manner of persons from across a broad spectrum of the country. He must not be ethnic biased or seen to be nepotist in his conduct. He must possess a pan-Nigeria orientation and be seen to be for all irrespective of creed, religious inclination or geo-political considerations. The country needs moral healing and rearmament, and a man whose certificate has become a thorny issue cannot market hope and moral suasion.
A country that is poised to regenerate its moral fibre cannot possibly rely on a man who is burdened by his own past in terms of his academic certification. We must be bold to declare without fear of contradiction that this is a new age that comes with a different approach to doing things to meet up with the high expectations of a country that is seriously encumbered by insecurity, unemployment and gloomy economy. The present leadership of the country has shown a manifest disdain for performance and its certificate burden remains a minus for him and for the country.
Xenophobia: Curing the SA perfidy once and for all
f the occurrences in South Africa weren’t that tragic and inhumane, Nigerians could vote for them as a cure for the dangerous divide in the polity, especially after the 2015 general election.
Since the news broke, Nigerians have unusually “spoken with one voice” in condemnation of the xenophobic assaults, and called for retaliatory actions on all fronts.
Although opposing forces were always at play prior to the 2015 polls, the aftermaths have polarised the country to the extent that critics cite the periods of the Nigerian Civil War as more cohesive and united than today’s society.
Nigerians no longer see “eye to eye” on any issue, thanks to the deployment of politics, religion and ethnicity by politicians and sectional irredentists to put us further asunder.
The unifier of old, “football,” which Nigerians are crazy about, may be unable to do the magic of getting the diverse tribal and linguistic groups talking on level and friendly terms. It’s as bad as that!
Compounding the situation are the latter-day security challenges posed by insurgency, farmers-herders clashes, banditry and cattle rustling, and kidnapping and other forms of criminality that have seized the country by the jugular.
This was the reading in the polity when the latest round of attacks on foreign nationals reared their heads in South Africa. Nigerians and other Africans bear the “anger” of black South Africans over alleged “take-over” of their jobs by “foreigners.”
Thus, immigrants in South Africa, many of whom engage in legitimate endeavours, have been attacked, maimed or killed, and their businesses looted or destroyed. About 200 Nigerians had died in the circumstances.
No meaningful results had come from repeated appeals to the government of South Africa to stop the xenophobic attacks, and take stern actions against the perpetrators of the bigotry.
The latest assaults, which have resonated globally, have finally roused Nigeria from its presumed docility and slumber, to take “Enough is Enough” steps to protect its citizens.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is leading the charge with its robust and yet diplomatically-couched condemnation of the attacks, and South Africa’s government failure to stem the tide.
Besides summoning the South African High Commissioner for questioning, it dispatched a Special Envoy to South Africa; withdrew participation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town; and called for compensation to victims of the racist attacks.
Should the South African government snub the quest, as hinted by its Foreign Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor, the Buhari administration is contemplating a legal redress, even as it wants a firm guarantee that no Nigerian would suffer future assaults in South Africa.
The fiery voices from Nigerians are all-embracing of the polity: The political class; the elite and opinion moulders; the business community; the student bodies; the organised labour; the ethnic nationalities; the ordinary Nigerians; and the media.
The novel rage is directed mainly at the failure of the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa to checkmate the wave of violence against foreign nationals on the shores of South Africa.
Two powerful platforms in the Nigerian polity: the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, sum up the feelings of Nigerians, with a series of demands to tame the South African perfidy, once and for all.
The National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on Thursday, September 5, said the APC’s giving President Buhari the needed support base “to go on the offensive, in order to sound a note of warning to other African countries that may want to copy the antics of the South Africans.”
The party wants the government to nationalise telecommunications giant, MTN; cable television operator, Multichoice (DSTV); and Standard Chartered and Stanbic, while the landing right of South African Airways, and licenses of other franchises should be revoked.
Similarly, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Nnia Nwodo, on Friday, September 6, warned that instead of allowing the attacks to promote divisive local (Nigerian) conversations, the government should seize the opportunity to “dramatise our unity of purpose.”
His way forward is as follows: “The Federal Government must be courageous enough to announce retaliatory measures that will make it clear that enough is enough. Such measures must address specific South African assets in Nigeria, especially in the communication, oil, banking and aviation sectors.”
These suggestions came in the wake of the uncoordinated “Alluta” by principally young but infuriated Nigerians on some outlets of franchises established by South Africans in Nigeria.
But to prevent maximum damage, and earn similar rebukes directed at South Africa, security operatives, including the Police, Military and other specialised agencies, were deployed to guard South African interests nationwide.
And to indicate that Nigeria is a nation of law and order, as opposed to what the South African authorities had demonstrated repeatedly, the Nigeria Police spared no identified persons that attacked some outlets of Shoprite in Lagos.
Eighty-three persons arrested were promptly charged to a Chief Magistrates’ Court on a six-count charge of stealing, wilful damage and conspiracy, riotous acts and harming of passers-by.
Kudos to the Nigeria Police for showing their South African counterparts how law and order works: Swift and decisive, so as to deter future untoward happenings.
Save undisguised condonation and abetment, we haven’t seen such a determination from the South African government, as noted by Comrade Oshiomhole, in response to the brewing controversy.
There have been conflicting claims on the number of casualties from the instant occurrences, with President Ramaphosa giving 10 deaths, on both sides, while the Police put the figure at five. Even on the reported arrest of 80 suspects, the Police didn’t disclose the stage of their investigation, and prosecution.
It appears the attitude of the South African authorities towards the killing and destruction sprees in their land is that of “good riddance to bad rubbish” – aligning perfectly with their vain attempts to blame the series of attacks, and crimes on foreign nationals.
Indeed, Ms Pandor, South Africa’s Foreign Minister, is on all fours with this reasoning. In an interview with eNCA, a South African outfit, she said South Africans believe that many Nigerians are “harming our young people.”
Quizzed on the failure of the country’s security agencies to protect foreigners, including Nigerians, she responded: “I believe that Nigerian nationals are involved in human trafficking and other abusive practices. These kind (sic) of assistance of ensuring that such persons do not come to our country will be of great assistance to our nation.”
It’s no surprise that Ms Pandor claims there’s no compensation laws in South Africa, perhaps to counter the persistence of Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, that Nigeria would press for compensations for victims of the xenophobic attacks.
Pronouncements, and mindsets of the nature of the South African Foreign Minister’s do not help matters, especially as relations between South Africa and Nigeria are tottering.
Gladly, on Friday, September 6 in Abuja, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on behalf of the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, responded appropriately to Ms Pandor’s awful theorising about the attacks.
He said: “We reject entirely the obvious attempt to change the true narrative of events, by casting the recently organised acts of violence as merely internecine conflict between gangs fighting for turf.
“Unless it is the position of South African government that all Nigerians living in South Africa are gangsters and criminals, we demand that they reject these claims without equivocation.”
Notwithstanding the magnitude of our anger and consternation over the actions of some misguided South Africans, and the tepid, and unhelpful responses from the country’s authorities, Nigerians should exercise restraint, and await the outcome of the Federal Government intervention on the matter.
Again, the words of Gbajabiamila give assurances we should pin our hopes on. The government, he said, would not rest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerian nationals until justice was served.
His words: “Let no one be left in any doubt, we will seek, and we will obtain, by whatever means available, due restoration and recompense for all that has been lost in this latest conflagration and all the ones that have come before.”
Nothing to add except that, in order to assuage the angst sweeping the African continent, and particularly Nigeria, South Africa should apologise, and pay compensations to the victims of its citizens’ orchestrated attacks.
Shaibu Usman Dan Fodio and the Sokoto caliphate in history (Part 9)
In our last eight parts of our discourse on the above topic, we have been able to show the importance of studying history and why it should be encouraged in our educational curriculum. Today, we shall x-ray this great issue with the study of the personae of Shaibu Usman Dan Fodio.
SHAIBU USMAN DAN FODIO (15 DECEMBER, 1754 – 20 APRIL, 1817)
Usman was born in the Hausa state of Gobir, in what is now northwestern Nigeria. His father, Muhammad Fodiye, was a scholar from the Toronkawa clan, which had emigrated from Futa-Toro in Senegal about the 15th century. While he was still young, Usman moved south with his family to Degel, where he studied the Qurʾān with his father. Subsequently he moved on to other scholar relatives, traveling from teacher to teacher in the traditional way and reading extensively in the Islamic sciences. One powerful intellectual and religious influence at this time was his teacher in the southern Saharan city of Agadez, Jibrīl ibn ʿUmar, a radical figure whom Usman both respected and criticized and by whom he was admitted to the Qādirī and other Ṣūfī orders.
HOW HIS LEADERSHIP SURGED
Throughout the 1780s and ’90s, Usman’s reputation increased, as did the size and importance of the community that looked to him for religious and political leadership. Particularly closely associated with him were his younger brother, Abdullahi, who was one of his first pupils, and his son, Muhammad Bello, both distinguished teachers and writers. But, his own scholarly clan was slow to come over to him. Significant support appeared to have come from the Hausa peasantry. Their economic and social grievances and experience of oppression under the existing dynasties stimulated millenarian hopes and led them to identify him with the Mahdī (“Divinely Guided One”), a legendary Muslim redeemer, whose appearance was expected at that time. Although he rejected this identification, he did share and encourage their expectations.
During the 1790s, when Usman appeared to have lived continuously at Degel, a division developed between his substantial community and the Gobir ruling dynasty. About 1797–98, Sultan Nafata, who was aware that Usman had permitted his community to be armed and who no doubt feared that it was acquiring the characteristics of a state within the state, reversed the liberal policy he had adopted towards him 10 years earlier and issued his historic proclamation forbidding any, but the Shaykh, as Usman had come to be called, to preach, forbidding the conversion of sons from the religion of their fathers, and proscribing the use of turbans and veils.
In 1802 Yunfa succeeded Nafata as Sultan, but, whatever his previous ties with the Shaykh may have been, he did not improve the status of Usman’s community. The breakdown, when it eventually occurred, turned on a confused incident in which some of the Shaykh’s supporters forcibly freed Muslim prisoners taken by a Gobir military expedition. Usman, who wished to avoid a final breach, nevertheless agreed that Degel was threatened. Like the Prophet Muhammad, whose biography he frequently noted as having close parallels with his own, the Shaykh carried out a hijrah (migration) to Gudu, 30 miles (48 km) to the northwest, in February, 1804. Despite his own apparent reluctance, he was elected imam (leader) of the community, and the new caliphate was formally established.
With regards to the structure of the caliphate, the Shaykh attempted to establish an essentially simple, non-exploitative system. His views are stated in his important treatise Bayān wujūb al-hijra (November 1806) and elsewhere: the central bureaucracy should be limited to a loyal and honest vizier, judges, a chief of police, and a collector of taxes; and local administration should be in the hands of governors (emirs) selected from the scholarly class for their learning, piety, integrity, and sense of justice.
Initially the military situation was far from favourable. Food supplies were a continuing problem; the requisitioning of local food antagonized the peasantry; increasing dependence on the great Fulani clan leaders, who alone could put substantial forces into the field, alienated the non-Fulani. At the Battle of Tsuntua in December 1804, the Shaykh’s forces suffered a major defeat and were said to have lost 2,000 men, of whom 200 knew the Qurʾān by heart. But, after a successful campaign against Kebbi in the spring of 1805, they established a permanent base at Gwandu in the west. By 1805–06, the Shaykh’s caliphal authority was recognized by leaders of the Muslim communities in Katsina, Kano, Daura, and Zamfara. When Alkalawa, the Gobir capital, finally fell at the fourth assault on October 1808, the main military objectives of the jihad had been achieved.
Although the jihad had succeeded, Usman believed the original objectives of the reforming movement had been largely forgotten. This no doubt encouraged his withdrawal into private life. In 1809–10, Bello moved to Sokoto, making it his headquarters, and built a home for his father nearby at Sifawa, where he lived in his customary simple style, surrounded by 300 students. In 1812, the administration of the Caliphate was reorganized, with the Shaykh’s two principal viziers, Abdullahi and Bello, taking responsibility for the western and eastern sectors, respectively. The Shaykh, though remaining formally Caliph, was thus left free to return to his main preoccupations, teaching and writing.
Usman was the most important reforming leader of the western Sudan region in the early 19th century. His importance lies partly in the new stimulus that he, as a mujaddid, or “renewer of the faith”, gave to Islam throughout the region; and partly in his work as a teacher and intellectual. In the latter roles, he was the focus of a network of students and the author of a large corpus of writings in Arabic and Fulani that covered most of the Islamic sciences and enjoyed—and still enjoy—wide circulation and influence. Lastly, Usman’s importance lies in his activities as founder of a jamāʿa, or Islamic community, the Sokoto Caliphate, which brought the Hausa states and some neighbouring territories under a single central administration for the first time in history.
Readers, to see that these were all done in primary schools, not secondary school!
Fast forward to secondary school. The real big history started with renowned teachers like Mr. Ilevbare and Pabo Ozimi. We were taught the history of important historical figures and great Empires; their rise and fall. (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“You can’t change history. These things happened the way they did. What you can change is how you look at it and how you understand that it takes the good moments and it takes the difficult moments to move forward.” (Margot Lee Shetterly).
I thank numerous readers across the globe 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 bumper treatise. We must revive our history. It helps us renew and rediscover ourselves and eschew past mistakes.
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