Opinion

Please don’t sell us into bondage again

It bears repetition that it is not all Yoruba that are omoluabi and it is not all omoluabi that are Yoruba. This statement needs no further qualification as we remind ourselves that Obafemi Awolowo’s legacy in leadership still stands today as an Ebenezer for those who would speak for the future of our people.

It’s for this reason, that the reported meeting held in Lagos between prominent traditional rulers, our governors and ministers of the South-West zone and the federal delegation represented by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari – President’s Chief of Staff, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Alhaji Lai Mohamed, Minister of Information and Culture, and Alhaji Yusuf Magaji Bichi, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) should set alarm bells ringing all over the homesteads in South-West of Nigeria.

Convened by Rotimi Akeredolu and hosted by Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, the general idea was to bring closure to the disruptions triggered by the #End- SARS protest and chart the way forward.

The meeting was conducted with the tact and diplomacy that defines the Oduduwa progeny and an all-encompassing 13-point communique was signed by the Oni of Ife and Governor Akeredolu afterwards.

Laudable as the exercise was it is important that certain shortfalls must be pointed out because the future and security of an entire cultural nation is at stake. Obafemi Awolowo was always thoroughly prepared for meetings and his submissions were always focused, pertinent, well researched and justiciable. None of the issues tabled at that august meeting were surprising and they represented the harvest of a problem identified long ago.

Awolowo watched for eight years after the Nigerian independence before saying “It is incontestable that the British not only made Nigeria, but also hand it to us whole on their surrender of power. But the Nigeria, which they handed over to us, had in it the forces of its own disintegration. It is up to contemporary Nigerian leaders to neutralize these forces, preserve the Nigerian inheritance, and make all our people free, forward-looking and prosperous.” The key phrase here is “forces of its own disintegration” and Awo followed up with three pointers on how to solve the problem.

In my opinion there were enough persons of South-West extraction in that meeting who are capable of replicating Awolowo’s legacy of deep research, clarity of thought and thoroughness. We even expect some of them to go “beyond Awo” in problem solving because of the added advantages of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning plus the latitudes and phenomenal processing speed of digital computing.

For good example, when the other side of the national distrust-divide go back to study the minutes of the meeting they will note with glee that the South-West is yet to address an old but important issue that could tilt the balance if we set the pace.

This represents one of the areas the South-West needs to have gone “beyond Awo” by now. Obafemi Awolowo, Pandit Nehru of India and Sir Adesoji Aderemi had a dis-cussion around 1954 on the future of monarchical rule.

Nehru had quipped that the king of hearts; the king of clubs; the king of diamonds; the king of spades; and the king of Britain would be the only surviving monarchs by the end of the century. Totally unmoved the Oni of Ife, Adesoji Aderemi, replied that the progress of his people was of paramount importance above the survival of his stool.

If only we had taken advantage of machine learning to develop the algorithms that could project the future taking note of the wide body of literature and papers available worldwide on the pros and cons of hereditary rule, the South-West would have been the first to recreate and upgrade our traditional stools for modern application.

The value of human worth is the core strength of our omoluabi heritage and we don’t need to stretch our imagination to see that it is the major pillar of any civilization. Time and space will not permit me to roll out the great statesmanship roles of the Alake of Egbaland, the Osemawe of Ondo and many others who worked with Obafemi Awolowo to dignify the lives of the omoluabi. By sieving out moribund and unprogressive traditions the defense of this core omoluabi enculturation treasure, the preservation of moral values in addition to consensus building and opinion moulding should be enough to sponsor a financially independent, modernized and relevant “House of Oba’s” replete with dedicated diplomatic training schools. Borrowing a leaf or two from the British monarchy this wholly African concept could be a mainstay of our peculiar democracy.

It is doubtful whether any constituted authority would have dared to approve a military assault on unarmed civilians if our House of Oba’s dedicated to the upholding of human worth was in place in Lagos.

All the 13 points mentioned in the communique without exception are problems that stem from the devaluation of human worth in a national community built on divisions and strife. Problems that would not exist if we followed up on the three-pointer Awo’s counsel of 1968 mentioned earlier. Without any offense in mind, the South-West part of that meeting must take note that Northern Nigeria flew a kite on her own version of restructuring some days ago.

It was enumerated in a memorandum submitted at the National Assembly by “Friends of Democracy” advocating a return to the 12-state structure and signed by Alhaji Othman Tofa, Dr. Usman Bugaje and other significant leaders. An adage from the omoluabi kitty says “omode mogbon wa, agba mogbon wa la fi da’le Ife.”

If the South-West leaders had an ear to the ground, they would realize that this call for restructuring will not fulfil the three-pointer counsel of Obafemi Awolowo. Our youths who live on the right side of the digital divide consider it to be an old school idea crafted to satisfy elders and mortgage the future of youths again.

A reformat or reprogramming of Nigeria would satisfy Awolowo’s three pointers, solve the root problems and enforce a justiciable restructure with one stroke but it might be wishful thinking to ask avowed dinosaurs to assimilate digital ideas in a culture where “ko si nkan ti agba nfi ewu se, bio se k’a re omode je!” An added advantage of a digital solution is that it would expunge the “Afonja” factor but what can youths know?

Toluwase is the Omoluabi Network Youth leader.

 

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