Archive for November, 2013

By Prince Charles Dickson

Yau da shi ya sa allura ginin rijiya (Hausa axiom) literally means doing a thing little by little made it possible for the needle to dig a well. 

In recent times I have read and watched with sadness the division in Nigeria. And this week, this is my admonition. 

For example, the one tablet-solves-it-all called the National Dialogue has not started but the feelers are ther–we won’t discuss our unity, let’s increase derivation, we shall use ethnic nationalities, no we have majority- arewa tackles ohaneze, afenifere blows arewa, middlebelt gives upper cut to allbelts. 

We are told by some who have seen the 1914 marriage certificate with a divorce clause after 100years. We are also aware of the ‘Nigeria will break 2015’ prophecy. 

Forced Marriage 
In the words of my brother Tope Fasua, what is special about Nigeria’s forced marriage, as different from other forced marriages all over the world – and is every country not a forced marriage. 

Civilization is about forced marriages, the only difference sometimes is the form of ‘force’. But substance over form, all countries have been forced to be together. 

There must then be something innately wrong with us, why you make so much hue and cry on one spot, complaining about a forced marriage and the need to dissolve the marriage, when we are all the offspring of such a marriage.

Can one liken the situation with that of a grown adult, who keeps complaining about the conditions of his birth, his ‘wrong parents’, his being born in the wrong place, rather than moving on? 

Is that not the difference between a Steve Jobs, who was born illegitimately and in penury, put up for adoption to not-so-rich foster parents, and who slept on the floor as a squatter in university, dropped out and made something global of himself, and many area boys in Lagos, Aba, and Kano, who chose to take to drugs and area-boyism because ‘their parents were not supposed to have met in the first place’..? 

Is there a possibility that even as we repeat this ill-informed, ego-induced, short-sighted, tunnel-visioned baloney about ‘FORCED MARRIAGE’, we are also telling our own children to start to put the union of their parents under the microscope, in order to find out whether the marriage was forced, or whether their parents were handsome enough, or whether their mothers went to enough school, in order to decide whether they will become street urchins or whether they will fight hard in the world to make something of themselves?

It’s the cockiness Nigerians spew out that i detest with everything in me. 

Cockiness such as when Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, alleged that  over 400 northerners may have betrayed the region after collecting money to back President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term. 

One wonders how such characters and the likes of Dokuboh, Clark, get public space, well its ‘public’. 

For ‘Worsetest’
I would tell us a fable–In a forest, a pregnant deer is about to give birth. She finds a remote grass field near a strong-flowing river. This seems a safe place. Suddenly labour pains begin.

At the same moment, dark clouds gather around above & lightning starts a forest fire. She looks to her left & sees a hunter with his bow extended pointing at her. To her right, she spots a hungry lion approaching her.

What can the pregnant deer do? 
She is in labour! 

What will happen? 
Will the deer survive? 
Will she give birth to a fawn? 
Will the fawn survive? 
Or will everything be burnt by the forest fire? 

Will she perish to the hunters’ arrow? 
Will she die a horrible death at the hands of the hungry male lion approaching her? 

She is constrained by the fire on the one side & the flowing river on the other & boxed in by her natural predators.

What does she do? She focuses on giving birth to a new life. It’s not just bad or worse–Her case is ‘worsetest’

The sequence of events that follows are:

– Lightning strikes & blinds the hunter.

– He releases the arrow which zips past the deer & strikes the hungry lion.

– It starts to rain heavily, & the forest fire is slowly doused by the rain.

– The deer gives birth to a healthy fawn.

For Better…
In Nigeria a lot is wrong, many persons with negative thoughts and possibilities. 

But some thoughts are so powerful positive they overcome us & overwhelm us like the golden eaglets victory in Dubai, or Super Eagles qualifying for the World Cup. 

Maybe we can learn from the deer. The priority of the deer, in that given moment, was simply to give birth to a baby.

The rest was not in her hands & any action or reaction that changed her focus would have likely resulted in death or disaster.

We have to roll up our sleeves and move on to a focus. The problem we have is not about any union. It is about the IRRESPONSIBILITY, THE VISIONLESSNESS, THE GREED, THE MENTAL ILLNESS, THE COWARDICE of the few who had and still have the opportunity, even me and you…but we fight Christians, fight Muslims, fight Idomas, Nupes, Beroms, and what not.  

I may not agree with you but will not deny you the right to that opinion. We certainly have a right to be wrong–but for how long, if we want change. It will come like the needle, very slowly, but do we want change and what are our priorities–only time will tell.  

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By Prince Charles Dickson

People talk about a woman who drowned in the river, and you talk about the cloth she wore around her waist.

Very quickly I never knew Festus Iyayi personally but when you read someone’s writing, once or twice, its a little fair to say you have made acquaintance with that person.

I never knew Festus Iyayi the former chairman of the Nigeria’s Academic Staff Union of Universities popularly called ASUU, but all one needs to know is his battle with the Federal government as union chair to have a feel of who he was and some of the things he stood for.

Is this about Festus Iyayi, let me answer in a Nigerian manner ‘Yes and No’! However this is my admonition for this week, in my style I want us to put ourselves in perspective.

Festus Iyayi’s Death
Week after his death, no one person can tell exactly what happened on the fateful day. Did the Kogi state governor’s convoy cause the accident? Till death the Federal Road Safety Commission has remained mute. No arrests made, no official statement from Kogi state; on the contrary, they are waiting, weighing, and thinking the possible media management reaction.

How many times have we seen scenarios like this one?

Leadership
I have sincerely become disillusioned with the word/phrase, especially in context of Nigeria, where a man blames leadership for cobwebs in his toilet, rather than a lack of personal hygiene.

But yes, leadership is a big problem, and many argue is even the problem.

Talking leadership, I asked my friend in a conversation recently why do Americans call President Barrack Obama, ‘Obama’. His answer, but that’s his name.

Don’t you respect him? He answered the height of respect would be to referred to him as Mr. Obama.

In Nigeria, our leaders are not ‘respected’ on the contrary between two polar ends. They are ‘worshiped’ while in power and treated most times out of power with disdain.

Why is it that Nigerian leaders from mere councilor to President arrive an event late? Thus they must speed to an event or an occasion. With convoys of cars starting from six to as many as several scores, you wonder if they have an appointment with the devil.

The list is endless–I saw a university Student Union Government convoy last year with siren blowing.

Have you seen a traditional leader, customized number plates, his aides and those who provide AIDS to them, and all the speed to nowhere.

How about our religious leaders, in one of the middle belt states a function in which the CAN president attended saw him with an 11 car convoy plus a FORD open carrier with some four stern looking army BGs

First they remove you off the road, in cases, a largely under policed nation takes the luxury of assigning dozens of cops just for a man, mere mortal.

Off course, have you encountered the security personnel themselves, they drive like the cars have no speedometers.

Then attached to their long convoy is an ambulance.

Back to Iyayi
Festus Iyayi’s death is one we die everyday. We know of the death because it is oga Festus, many have mourned, condolences have poured in from the top. But we can’t bring him back.

Was his death avoidable? Yes it was, and how…by a group of people doing the right thing.

How many poor old women and men have collapsed because of the recklessness of these convoys or there was no ambulance to move them from a local hospital to a tertiary hospital.

But these are the issues, do you know the governor doesn’t drive the car, an ordinary Nigerian like Festus does, and an Iyayi is often part of the convoy.

In over 30years no government driver has been fired for refusing to drive within speed limits. They all speed whether oga wants, or does not. In most cases they drive according to oga’s instructions anyway.

So no one has been punished for all the Iyayis killed by executive lawlessness on our roads.

Irony
They make the rules, they break it. In Nigeria the law is for the poor, the police hardly stop luxury cars, what we call big man motor. Road safety doesn’t check papers of oga madam’s car.

When their kids drive as underage nothing happens, when the encounter the law, a phone call does it.

Nigeria is not a lawless nation, its just about lawless people. The groups that urinate by the roadside and those that disobey traffic and flog people off the road because a bourdillion van is carrying a few millions.

Late Prof. Ransome Kuti drove himself for a long while, convoys where unheard of then, we just gradually one-step at a time lost it.

These days’ restrictions are placed hours before some oga’s arrival. Access roads blocked when they go to pray. Policemen and women stand by the roadside. I am sure others would say its convention, but these are the conventions that are killing us as a nation.

Now we are pretending to be mourning Festus Iyayi, when many more will die ’cause a state government continues to argue with the FG on who should repair a bad patch on the road. How many villagers have been killed and no one mourned because they were not Festus.

The woman is dead, are we ready to talk about the real these issues or do we concern ourselves with the wrapper she was wearing when she died. –To the many Festus Iyayis, there is one debt that a strong man owes to the earth and it is death, we all will die, how and the legacy we live, only time will tell

The Message From London And Accra

Posted: November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Olusegun Adeniyi

Two profoundly significant episodes which speak to how other societies deal with issues bordering on abuse of public trust happened last week in the United Kingdom and Ghana. In the former, a Royal Marine was put on trial and convicted for extra-judicial killing in Afghanistan. In the latter, a minister was sacked for committing a crime of intention. Before we go further, let us take the stories one after the other.

On September 15, 2011, three British soldiers (simply referred to as “Marine A”, “Marine B” and “Marine C”) were on patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when they found an insurgent critically injured with an AK-47 gun by his side. Going by the 1929 “Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War”, such a wounded enemy combatant ought to be treated humanely. But having ascertained that none of his colleagues wanted to administer first aid “on the idiot” as he called the man, “Marine A” decided to “finish the job”. Unfortunately for him, “Marine B” was inadvertently filming the tragic episode on his helmet-mounted camera. In the footage which became what is generally regarded as “the smoking gun” (give-away-evidence) in criminal investigation, “Marine A” was captured shooting the Afghan with a 9mm pistol.

In the course of the court martial, prosecutor David Perry described what “Marine A” did as “not a killing in the heat and exercise of any armed conflict… it amounted to an execution”. In his verdict, Brig Dunham, deputy commandant general of the Royal Marines, said: “It is a matter of profound regret that, in this isolated incident, one marine failed to apply his training and discharge his responsibilities. What we have heard over the past two weeks is not consistent with the ethos, values and standards of the Royal Marines. It was a truly shocking and appalling aberration. It should not have happened and it should never happen again.”

Now, let us get some things straight. One, the Afghan insurgent would probably have killed those British soldiers if he was not so helpless. Two, there was no doubt that he was an enemy combatant who got injured in battle. Three, if the Marines had left him to his fate he probably would still have died eventually. Given all these, why then did the British authorities have to put their men to trial? The answer is simple: in holding “Marine A” to account, the message being sent is not only to deter others but also to demonstrate to the world that there are sacred values that the British people hold very dear and that what happened was against the norm. Put simply, the conviction was not because the British authorities love the fallen Afghan but rather that a British soldier was not expected to take the law into his own hands. Now, let us take the second story from Accra.

“I will not quit politics until I make one million dollars…If you have money then you can control people,” said Ghanaian former deputy communications minister, Ms Victoria Hammah, on a tape that has gone viral. Now, given that there is no record that she has actually stolen any money, one would have expected that some bureaucrats in her ministry would address the media to threaten those who breached the privacy of Ms Hammah by recording her and releasing the tape. None of such happened. Also, the Ghanaian President didn’t wait for the parliament to conduct any “public hearing” nor did he set up a committee to probe the matter. He simply did the needful by firing the minister.

I am sure many Nigerians would ask: Why should a minister be sacked for “anticipatory corruption” that may never take place? And many would also wonder why a Marine would be convicted for killing an “idiot”! However, if we pay attention, what the Ghanaian and the UK authorities are teaching us is that there are certain norms expected of people who hold positions of public trust. If the Marine is allowed to get away with murder simply because of what his victim represented, then the message is that such criminality is condoned in the UK. In similar vein, if the Ghanaian minister had been left to continue in office, the implication would be that in Ghana, the essence of politics is not to serve but to make money.

Given the yet-unresolved scandal involving our Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, it is understandable that the Ghana incident would attract the interest of Nigerian commentators. But I am of the opinion that the UK trial actually offers us a better understanding of what ails us. From the alleged extra-judicial killings of nine people recently in Apo Quarters of Abuja which we have all conveniently forgotten to the case of the 20 floating corpses in a river in Anambra State (that is also lost in our memory) and several of such unresolved killings across the country, the message is simple: when we close our eyes to grievous infractions, we debase our society and incentivize a culture of gross impunity. The ultimate lesson is also obvious: when a society places little or no premium on the lives of its citizens, it is asking too much to expect that those put in charge of their affairs would feel compelled to accept responsibility for abuse of “mere” financial resources.

The greater tragedy of our country, however, is that a system that is literally overrun by sundry abuses which undermine best practices is simply incapable of isolating any single act of misconduct for serious remedial action.

•This piece by Adeniyi originally appeared in his column “The Verdict” in today’s edition of ThisDay. He can be reached via olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

By Prince Dickson

“…The hungry child with stomach ache is busy pointing at his head and complaining of headache”. Local adage

‘Wetin’ is a word in local parlance that means many things, it is tone dependent, and it is also a circumstantial word, used by many and for all sorts of reasons. In simple English it means ‘what’.

So when one says wetin, he/she implies ‘what’…and it could be wetin you want, wetin be the problem, wetin dey do you, wetin be the matter…or just WETIN!

In this case, it is wetin cause am…meaning what caused it, the raison d’etre as the French would put it, a close phrase would be ‘whose fault is it.

And with the short take above permit me to share this week’s admonition with us, I am sure that we must be wondering wetin, or rather the reason, for this conversation and where we are headed.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU is still on strike, after an 11 hours marathon meeting with a Federal Government team, headed by the President, the Union is still consulting with stakeholders before it calls off the four months old strike—so wetin cause am? Who really is at fault, the students, teachers, government, what really are the issues?

I read the other day some university don blame ex- military President IBB as the reason for the drop in our university education and the strike, and I asked so wetin cause ‘Ali must go’ strikes.  And if IBB was responsible since, Abacha, Abdulsalam, and Obasanjo whose fault is it now?

I predicted that with each passing day the Stella drama known as Oduahgate would fade, and sure it is already, after all the committees, investigation, and ethnic/religious paintings and panting—wetin cause am, or is the raison d’etre an act of ‘god’?

Do you remember the case of missing millions from the MINT Company, or whose fault is it that Farouk Lawal and Femi Otedola has become a forgotten case. I sincerely cannot blame anyone for forgetting, these things happen either too fast or too many of them occur that it is difficult to keep up—so wetin cause am?

The question, it is like a visit to your car mechanic, or the radio repairman on account of a problem, and when he is done, or while diagnostics is being done, you quip, “So wetin cause am”.

Nigeria and our problems are a case of wetin cause am, a big blame game, no one seems to be in accord as to what the root of the problem is, when we label it as corruption we are quick to re-label when the culprit is our sister/brother.

We blame the leaders, yet we do not run a monarchy, the leaders are thrown up from us. We blame followers, but really where do followers get the staying power to protest anything?

Wetin cause am, that a man whose governor is stealing blames the President, and if his local government chairman is stealing he blames his governor. A man would blame government if his wife is unable to conceive, and blame the police for his dog that refuses to bark.

Who really caused Boko Haram, how did kidnap creep into the Nigerian society, where did it all go wrong, why did it go wrong, when did it wrong, is it us, or them?

The ICPC seized 61 houses from an NSDC official, how did he get them, haba, a mere NSDC official, so imagine what some permanent secretaries would own, I know a governor that owns half his state, wetin cause am?

Have you noticed or wetin cause am, that once they are out of government most of our ‘respected’ leaders become ‘activists’, ask Dino, Rufai, Ribadu, Oby, even Obasanjo, they all criticize government and you wonder until those of us outside government, get in there, and then—‘shuru’ (Hausa word for silent).

Can anybody explain to me when Tambuwal or Mark cautions leaders, or the Sultan blames the elite what they really mean, how does one really understand Nigeria…a nation where a consumer that owes PHCN bill for six months castigates the utility company for supply, and the supply company charges another consumer for power not supplied at all.

It strikes me, no one ever says sorry in Nigeria, I mean tell when has a Nigerian leader past, or present, even in the future—whether councilor minister or governor said, “I am sorry it was my fault, I caused it, I could do better, I took the wrong counsel”.

No, we blame our political enemies, the opposition, the police, and army. Then we jump on the faith board, Muslims blame Christians, infact I asked a Christian friend if we should to blame Boko Haram for erosion in Rochas Okorocha’s village, or how do we blame Christians for Fashola’s deportation saga?

Wetin cause am, banks declare billions after tax profit, Aganga, Ngozi and co. tell us ‘liebaran’ stories of success quoting millions and yet we do not see like they do, or understand like them, it must really be that we are the problem.

Wetin cause am say all they do at the Revenue Allocation Meeting is share money, and the people never understand where the money goes…oops, it goes to ‘their’ mansions, luxury bulletproof cars, concubines and voodoo men/pastors/imans.

Though I cannot claim to be an expert I have been involved in many relationships especially break-ups and potential break-ups. In my experience a large percentage of the divorced people I’ve worked with primarily blame their partner for the breakup of their marriage.

In relationships, it is always the other person’s fault; we are willing to justify ourselves. While there are always exceptions, it is rare that any one person is totally responsible for the failure of a relationship—or a conflict. There are rarely any totally innocent parties. We all contribute something in some way.

We see the “holes in their head” but can’t see the meshing “bumps on our heads.” When we do not do that, to ease the pain we blame ourselves, a case of we are all at fault.

I end by saying, we need to stop justifying ourselves and take a long, honest look at ourselves and resolve OUR problems, for us to have any hope of wholesome, and meaningful growth as a nation, as for now like the hungry child with stomach ache we are busy pointing at our head and complaining of headache, wetin cause am—only time will tell.

 

 

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

…As we left for Jeddah, “close your eyes let us pray”, the pastor said. And the driver closed his eyes…he was driving with his eyes closed…

During the week, I had an interesting conversation with two Nigerians,  one on good governance, the other on prayers.

My first friend I call M’hmmed, was of the take that good governance was/should be just a sentence by definition. He added by his father’s theory anything that couldn’t be defined by a sentence and understood was not worth it.

In the end, he said to me, good governance was to do things–like that NIKE ad, ‘just do it’. (My addition)

My take was good governance is still an evolving subject matter, meaning quite a whole lot of different things to different persons/nations too.

It is not something you can just define in a sentence like M’hmmed wanted. It is complex both in governance and government. It is one word–‘good’.

Like in my previous entreaties and admonishment to Nigerians, good governance is the only guarantee to peace, progress, stability, infact it is the only passport to delivering the dividends of democracy, just as credible practice of democracy should be anchored on good governance.

Most of our leaders that pride themselves as operating under the parameters of good governance cannot explain how.

What we have is a battery of contradictory description or proposition as to what good governance is, as a matter of fact the term good is difficult to define and in the essential contexts of the Nigerian condition.

Defining good in relation to governance has often been a difficult task, to categorize it for decision makers and policy executors, so we say in political science that good is that to which everything tends, and in that regard indefinable and a naturalistic fallacy.

In the Nigerian context, our situational ethics sets the tone to the effect that we have a relative dysfunctionality, what is good in one place may be bad in the other, there must be a given situation, time and space.

Under this little intellectual exercise we can say that the talk of good governance in and for Nigeria, past, present and future is idle, not lending itself to any objective and precise analysis.

So until good governance is viewed as the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) we are still far off.

We will continue to lack good governance because despite political activity under the guise of democracy we are yet to find the balance; we still operate a political economy of state robbery, rather than popular democracy.

Good governance within the confines of a popular democracy should be anchored on two things, one, a constitution suited to the special needs and circumstances of Nigeria as multi-dimensional ethno-socio and econo-political structure: and two a leadership suited not only to the exigent needs of Nigeria as an unlawfully under-developed but also to the smooth operation of the same constitution.

We have refused to cultivate a regime of leadership that has shown a knack to develop a mental magnitude, as clear as our problems are, there seems a lack of ability in appreciating and grasping the salient details as well as most of the temporal and practical implications, of a given situation or problem, and in our own case the problem is a lack of good governance.

In my honest thinking while we keep debating on the morals or otherwise that good governance cannot be attained or not definable I say part of the problems will remain because good is platitudinous rather than obligatory on our leaders.

There is the problem of political in-direction, thus an economic morass in the polity, our lack of anything good is premeditated on our inability to have an ideological notion of destiny. We have no coherent body of thoughts; we have no heroes, nobody to look up to, good governance exists only in a vacuum.

Prayers
Finally to my second friend–his name Godswill, he is a governor, he tells me with the prayers that has been offered in Israel and by those who went on hajj all will be well.

I called his definition of prayer the combination/use of words in waffles and babbles. I argued with him, whether it is the church of annunciation or the kaba, the fact is our rate of clowning on important matters is ever increasing.

State resources expended by government apparatus in a ‘prayerdom’ won’t bring good governance. Bringing government to a standstill because a state governor has gone to pray, is only an interlude, as the stealing ala carte continues on his return.

Prayers, prayers and prayers. The more they pray, the more good governance erodes us. Infact while they are gone, we are inundated with more tales by moonlight of mind-boggling fraud.

Ever wondered how organized Mecca is, how it manages its affairs despite all the hitches. Imagine all the imbroglio of Israel and Palestinians, yet the University in Jerusalem is not on strike.

While Lagos has more churches than Israel, the taps in Jordan runs, while cholera devastates several praying states in Nigeria.

How can our prayers be answered as a nation, when we choose the time, purpose, and type of ‘amen’ we say.

After all the prayers, ASUU still strikes on, the system and institutions of government still operate at best in an epileptic manner. And my friend Godswill wants me to accept that all is well because they prayed.

Prayers are no bribe, miracles are no magic I told him. The amount of prayers in Owerri or Benin is proportionately equal to the kidnap, and rape, so also is the case in Damaturu, and Maidugiri.

Synergy
We cannot continue to close our eyes and bow to issues that should by all sense and purpose be tackled by standing straight with our eyes opened.

Nigeria can be made to work if we correct our political leadership deficit, if followers open their eyes and grasp the issues of ‘good’!

There is governance and government but there is little or no good in it. Yes, prayer is good, but there is no good in prayers if while driving you close your eyes, how the journey ends and who says ‘Amen’–only time will tell.

By Pius Adesanmi

In recent lectures, interviews, and essays, I have suggested consistently that our struggle for Nigeria has shifted to the psychology of the Nigerian. I have claimed that even more than corruption, the psychology of the Nigerian is Nigeria’s deadliest enemy. Rewire that wrongly-wired psychology and all other things shall be added. What I have thus far failed to address in this line of thinking is the role of location in the actuations of this wrong psychological wiring.

While not justifying or excusing manifestations of wrong psychological wiring in a large number of Nigerians based at home, I daresay it is largely understandable. If he is fifty years old and below and has never left the shores of Nigeria, no matter how educated, cosmopolitan, urbane, polished, and refined he is, you must remember that he has never ever experienced responsible and accountable governance for one second of his life. He has never experienced the humility and ordinariness of power.

He has never experienced anything outside of the arrogance, rudeness, corruption, crudeness, and utter stupidity of Nigerian government officials. He has never experienced anything other than the unbridled irresponsibility of power in Nigeria. He is not in possession of any alternative realities and experiences that would make him know that it is wrong for soldiers and mobile police men to dehumanize and whip him off roads built with his tax money just because Goodluck or Patience Jonathan is coming to town. When he sees pictures of David Cameron riding the London tube or of the Canadian Prime Minister quietly waiting in a queue behind ordinary civilians for his own coffee, he thinks there is something stage-managed about all that for he has never seen even a mere local government chairman wait for his turn behind ordinary Nigerians. When he hears that some world leaders have no official planes, travel light, and stay in average hotels to cut costs and save money for their countries, he marvels for the only world he knows is one in which irresponsible government officials commute in private jets or helicopters, ride only bulletproof jeeps and limos, stay in the world’s most expensive hotels, ordering caviar and choice champagne like there is no tomorrow. He does not know that this is crass, galling impunity; that these bacchanalian boys and girls in government in Abuja have no right to do any of these things on the public dime. How could he possibly know?

I could go on and on. You’ll be amazed at the things that this ordinary and well-meaning Nigerian does not know simply because he has never experienced responsible and accountable governance in a genuinely democratic setting and is therefore unable to project mentally into a universe of different realities. When I wrote about Colonel Texas Chukwu, the idiot who stormed the Guardian’s office in Jos with his men to arrest a civilian for publishing a story he did not like, I was surprised by the large number of emails I received from ordinary Nigerians all over the country. They were thanking me for that piece of civic education. They simply did not know and had never imagined that soldiers have no powers of arrest in a democracy. They can be forgiven.

Considering Nigeria’s terrible postcolonial romance with impunity how is a Nigerian who has never left the shores of that country supposed to know that soldiers flogging and arresting civilians in our streets are breaking the law and ought to be court-martialled and dismissed from service? How is this Nigerian supposed to know that police men who bark, “open ya boot!” without a search warrant signed by a competent judge are breaking the law? How is he supposed to know that the soldier and the policeman have no right to do any of these things in Nigeria? They do only because the masses hardly know better and the oppressors in power ensure that there are no consequences for they themselves are guiltier of impunity than the soldier and the policeman.

It is this lack of a lived experience of the real thing, of the real deal, that sometimes transforms the Nigerian regular Joe into the most vociferous defender of his own oppression. If you know better and you hit the airwaves and the public sphere with tales of alternatives, the wrongly wired Nigerian could become your deadliest foe. He is going to come after you with all he’s got. He is going to defend with his last breath the same irresponsible government officials who are raping his present and mortgaging his future. If you look at things closely, this is to be expected. You are rocking the boat of the only world he knows. You are talking scornfully about the only experience of the world he can boast of. You are saying that his world is inadequate, corrupt, hopeless, unacceptable, and indefensible. You are saying that the only national space he knows is inferior to the Paleolithic age. He will fight you. He will abuse you. This is what makes him the most reliable weapon in the hands of folks like Doyin Okupe, Reuben Abati, Reno Omokri, Ahmed Gulak and all those who make a living by retailing lies, deceit, and illusion on behalf of Nigeria’s corruption and impunity. The wrongly wired Nigerian is their greatest asset. Here, they have an army of volunteers ready to be used in the schemes of their own very oppression. They will defend the status quo and the “shitstem.” They will defend the sadists who sell lies on behalf of the status quo. They will tell you to bugger off.

But you must not bugger off. You must understand that you owe it to Nigeria to persist and to insist. You owe the wrongly wired Nigerian, no matter how much he screams and abuses you. You owe him empathy, sympathy, compassion, and understanding. You owe him a great deal of patience. You owe it to Nigeria not to abandon him in the hands of the government sadists for whom his wrong wiring and lack of civic awareness are assets worth more than their weight in gold. You have to understand that the rapists of Nigeria rely on his wrong wiring to be able to continue and sustain their successful rape of that country. And the way to do that is to under-educate or mal-educate him, keep him permanently in a state of blissful civic unawareness, fool him into believing that he is being patriotic by defending them in the name of religion and ethnicity. You need a lot of patience to cut through five decades of deliberate psychological miss-wiring of this Nigerian by the oppressor he is defending. Look up Stockholm syndrome in the dictionary and you will understand why this Nigerian deserves your patience.

However, you must understand that the Nigerian who is wrongly wired at home has a formidable ally abroad. This foreign-based ally of the home-based defender of the status quo is one of Nigeria’s most dangerous enemies. Unlike his partner at home, he does not possess the valuable excuse of ignorance. He has lived long enough in Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, and the United States to understand the real meaning of responsible and accountable leadership. He has lived long enough in those places to understand that what obtains in Nigeria does not even vaguely resemble what the rest of the civilized world calls governance. From what he has experienced abroad, he understands perfectly that Nigeria is a coalition of 170 million people ruled by crass impunity and unbridled, unaccountable irresponsibility.

Yet, our friend has perfected the art of experiencing his world in Euro-America with one set of standards and Nigeria with a different, lower, inferior set of standards. Whatever it is he would never accept or tolerate as a member of the civic community in Euro-America he joins up with career rationalizers of mediocrity on the ground in Nigeria to praise to high heavens. That which he rejects for his base in London he justifies and rationalizes forferior set of standards. Whatever it is he would never accept or tolerate as a member of the civic community in Euro-America he joins up with career rationalizers of mediocrity on the ground in Nigeria to praise to high heavens. That which he rejects for his base in London he justifies and rationalizes for his fatherland in Nigeria. In the unusual circumstance that a snowstorm disrupts power to his neighbourhood in America, Canada, or Europe, if power isn’t restored within hours, he is on the phone screaming, “this is not acceptable at all” at a poor customer service representative who is assuring him that “we are doing everything to restore power sir”. But when he hears that an entire city has not had power for two weeks in Nigeria, the career rationalizer of mediocrity for Nigeria in him takes over. He joins forces with his local teammates to shout at and abuse the collective children of anger for complaining about power failure. He takes over Facebook and Twitter, preaching patience. While flipping channels between baseball and basketball in his New York living room, he tells Nigerians coping with darkness that Rome was not built in a day. He churns out constipated data about how many electrics poles Goodluck Jonathan erected last year all over the country and urges the people to be grateful to their President.

Yet, in all the donkey years he has spent in America, Canada, or Europe, he has never encountered that strange beast called gratitude to government officials and public servants by members of the public for doing the job they are supposed to do with tax payers’ money in the first place. He has never opened the Guardian of London, New York Times, Toronto Star and encountered members of the public taking centrespread ads to thank the Mayors and officials of those cities for tarring roads, clearing snow, providing electricity to neighbourhoods, building and renovating classrooms in public schools. It’s their freaking job! Yet, when his sycophantic and obsequious team mates in Nigeria want to thank a Governor, a Minister, a Senator, or President Jonathan for awarding the contract (same contract previously awarded by Presidents Obasanjo and Yar’Adua) for the construction of an expressway, they may even ask our friend abroad to contribute to the cost of buying advertisement space in ThisDay. Joro jara joro, our friend will rush to Western Union in London, Washington or Toronto to contribute money to the “worthy cause” of buying newspaper advertisement space to thank a government official for doing his job in Nigeria.

Take the behaviour of this fellow during the recent controversy surrounding President Jonathan’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem – accompanied by the obligatory bloated entourage. Now, in all of this guy’s years abroad, he has never encountered such galling impunity as a public official dipping his hands into the treasury to sponsor a personal religious obligation. It cannot happen and will not happen where he lives. Of course we all know that President Jonathan and the members of his huge entourage are well within their constitutional rights to undertake a religious pilgrimage. I have even written in a social media statement that were President Jonathan be inclined to renounce Christianity in favour of Candomble, I will support his right to go on pilgrimage to the Orixa shrines of Salvadore de Bahia in Brazil, em…em, so long as he is paying his way to Brazil out of his personal earnings. Simply put, as the head of a secular state, he has no right to dip his hands into the public till to sponsor his religious pilgrimage. That’s impunity. The President was breaking the law. That his Moslem predecessors have been doing it is no justification for his own act. Just like him, his Moslem predecessors were breaking the law.

Some of the idiotic rationalizations we encountered for this brazen impunity can only happen in a mad country like Nigeria where it is culturally okay to cite yesterday’s crime as justification for today’s crime; where it is always somebody’s legitimate turn to be a criminal on the basis of his or her ethnicity or religion. President Yar’Adua also went on pilgrimage using public resources so that justifies the re-enactment of that crime by President Jonathan. Impunity, breaking the law, is now the turn of southern Christians. You’d of course expect a Nigerian with lived experience of the behaviour of governance in genuinely secular dispensations to understand these issues and help with the urgent task of public instruction. For where?

The Nigerian abroad, blinded by Christian partisanship, became the arrowhead of woolly-headed rationalizations. Our friend, who would be the first to scream blue murder were Angela Merkel or David Cameron to fund personal religious obligations with public funds, joined forces with his teammates at home to chant “go on s’oun” to President Jonathan and the bunch of corrupt clowns who accompanied him to Jerusalem at the expense of the Nigerian tax payer. Now, what does one owe this species of Nigerian in Euro-America? Certainly not the compassion, patience, and understanding one owes his teammates in Nigeria. I believe that one owes him only contempt and disdain for he is wicked at heart and there is no truth in him. One must treat him like an Orisha who chances on your destiny and does not improve it. You tell such an unfavourable Orisha to leave your destiny alone jeje as e meet am and not worsen it for you. The time has come for boda Nigeria to tell this foreign-based career rationalizer of mediocrity: wish me what you live abroad or get thee behind me, buddy!

Where Common Sense Is Not Common

Posted: November 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Olusegun Adeniyi

There is this story of a hardworking man who as usual arrived home from work very late to meet his young son in the sitting room waiting for him. “Why are you not asleep?” the man asked as he slumped on the sofa, tired. “I was waiting for you because I have not seen you in several days,” the boy replied before he asked with childlike innocence, “Daddy, how much do you earn per hour?”

Irritated by the question, the man barked at his son to go and sleep but after a while, he realised he was too hard on the boy and felt remorseful so he went to his son’s room and met the boy still awake. “I am sorry son but I never meant to be hard on you. As to how much I earn per hour, I guess it would be about a thousand naira if one does a rough calculation. Are you happy now that I have answered your strange question?”

“Yes daddy,” replied the boy “but can you give me six hundred naira?”

The man was again baffled. He, however, decided to play along but as he handed over the money, the boy brought out from under his pillow some other crumpled naira notes and the man was infuriated again. “If you already have money why did you ask for more?”

The boy calmly straightened the notes and said “because it was not enough but now it is. Daddy, with this one thousand naira, can I buy one hour of your time?”

The moral of the question is that most often, we leave the most critical things unattended to as we run the rat-race of life. But as it is with individuals so it is with nations and nothing sums up that better than the way we place our priorities in Nigeria. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the fifth month that students of our public universities have been out of their campuses following the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Yet I have not seen the same passion we devote to the politics of 2015 and the sundry scandals that have now defined public service in our country in the feeble attempts to resolve the logjam. To compound the problem, the supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, was reported to have said last week: “the federal government is very concerned about the state of public tertiary institutions in this country. The federal government is really worried about the ongoing strike by ASUU and the strike would be resolved in a few months.”

The import of that statement is that a resolution to the crisis in our public university system is not expected in a matter of days or weeks but rather in “a few months.” How do we build a secure future for our children, and by implication, our country, with such cynical disposition to education, which ordinarily is the bedrock of every society?

Albert Hirschman’s book “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty” deals with how people negatively respond to failing institutions and the thesis captures the attitude of Nigerians to our public utilities and social services. Rather than fix the problems, our people would rather exit but it is a short-sighted approach that has serious implications for everyone. In the case of the education sector, for instance, the problem started from the primary school and then secondary school until we are now in a situation in which the desire of every parent is to send his/her children to universities abroad (including Ghana, Togo and Republic of Benin) or have them attend one of the elite private universities at home. But this approach to governance comes with serious consequences.

Nigerians like to talk about corruption and by all means we should–given its damage to our economy and national psyche. But what is often ignored is that we can easily link the reason why many people are on the take to our poor governance culture. Let’s look at it this way: if public utilities like electricity, water etc. are not working and everybody has to dig his/her own borehole and buy his/her own generator, the money for such expenditures would have to come from somewhere. The same goes for education. From primary to secondary and now tertiary institutions, most Nigerians would rather have their children and wards in private schools since the public schools can no longer deliver good education. So tragic is the situation that I in fact know many lecturers in our public universities, including respected professors, whose children attend private universities in this same country.

As I noted in a recent intervention on this page titled “ASUU and the Nigerian Dilemma”, the crisis in our public education system demands that we hold honest conversations about so many issues, including the state of infrastructure, curriculum models, instructional methods, staffing policies as well as available educational resources in terms of libraries, laboratories etc. and whether the current regime of free tuition can realistically be sustained. The challenge is so fundamental that even if some form of truce is achieved with ASUU in the coming days or weeks or “a few months”, I don’t believe that would give us any tangible result either in the short or long run. That is because there are also serious integrity issues which would require more than throwing some humongous sums of money at ASUU to resolve.

If there is indeed anything that exposes the extent of decay in our educational system, it is the damning report of the Presidential Visitation Panel to the troubled University of Abuja. The report reveals that the university was producing graduates that in fact never completed their degree programmes and 31 of such cases were identified in the 2003/2004 academic session. From admission racket to poor examination results record keeping to suspicious computation of students’ Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA), the report is indicative of how not to run a university. But we will be deceiving ourselves to assume that the well-documented lapses are peculiar to the University of Abuja—they are not!

However, anybody who has read the report would weep for what education has become in our country. For instance, on the admission process at the university, the panel report states: “Only the first 60 per cent of admissions adhered to the JAMB admission categories of merit, catchment and EDLS to a large extent, while there was no evidence of how the balance of 40 per cent was done except for staff and some concessional requests from outside the university. Nonetheless, the 40 per cent often exceeded the numerical value of the earlier 60 per cent as the final figure often exceeded by a large percentage, the carrying capacity of the university. It would be safe to say that the second-tier admission exercise for a so called 40 per cent violated JAMB guidelines in every aspect…”

For sure, the challenge of public education system is not restricted to our country, it is a global problem. But the difference between our country and other societies is that people don’t just fold their arms or resort to escapism. They confront the problem head-on. We deceive ourselves to imagine that as a nation, we can wobble and fumble our ways into the future. Therefore, it is time we rally to resolve the ASUU crisis so that our students can go back to their campuses. After that, we can then begin a serious conversation about public education in Nigeria.