In Nigeria, twenty-four hours is a long time. Yes, in Nigeria’s sociopolitical environment, it does not rain, it pours. While one is pondering on an event, ten others have happened. While we were yet discussing Saraki’s CCT appearance -to be or not to be, bombs were dropping on Maiduguri. And when bombs blast there are always human casualties. Before you can say “What?”, Chief Olu Falae has become the latest unwilling guest to the thriving new “hotel and tourism” business of hostage taking.
To top it, the centenarian matriarch of Awolowo dynasty was reaped in what has become death’s harvesting of prominent citizens in Nigeria. When was it that Oonirisha, Olubuse went on the solitary interminable journey of no-return that Mama also had to depart? Has the soil that Antonio Deinde Fenandez treaded dried that another icon had to go? What of Ogiame Atuwatse II, the Olu of Warri, and good others, too? It is a harvest of deaths.
I remember the painful death of Chief Oluwole Awolowo when it happened then, especially within the short time of another prominent citizen, Professor Chinua Achebe. I had mused at the two great events in my blog thus:
“Perhaps Professor Chinua Achebe was not yet through with Chief Obafemi Awolowo. May be he still intended to challenge the great sage in a celestial discourse on the House of Lugard.
“With the population in heaven, there is no doubt that the job of locating Papa might be herculean. Who could easily locate the sage in a thick multitude except one of his own? And since Mama is still busy sorting out some terrestial issues here, she had beckoned on the young Oluwole. “Wole, do you mind showing Chinua, Papa’s mansion in Heavenside, and tell Papa that as soon as I am through with the assignment he gave me I will join you all”. “No problem mom”, the young Wole had agreed, excited at the prospect of seeing Papa again. Having agreed to guide Chinua to the greatest Nigerian of all times Wole joined the train to the Never, Never Land.
Now, with Mama’s eventual passage Death has made the great household empty, everybody is wailing, R.I.P Mama! Return If Possible? Ah, definitely not to this Nigeria. After almost a hundred years terrestrial soujorn, rest is long overdue. And we wish her sweet, peaceful rest.
May be we should not bother ourselves about death so much. Well, it’s not that Mama Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo’s death is not painful. It is just that of all the numerous deities and elements on earth none is as implacable as death. It is so malevolent and heartless that it must be a male. No female spirit can be so ferocious, morbid or gruesome. He has no shrine nor worshippers, neither does he enjoy the dignity of an effigy nor a statue. You see, while every deity has a predictable programme, a worship template and an operating system that permits human input, no matter how little, Death is a different case. He has no priests nor totems. He is very unforgiving, just cross his path, and bingo! You are a goner!
Death is the most widely travelled and the most infamous. He knows everybody by name and address. No one escapes his memory. He hardly makes mistake. Some people will swear that he goes about with a cudgel or a sickle. Thorougly disorganised, death can ignore a 90 year old woman and go for a 70 year “young” man instead. He can ignore a man of 113 years yet go for a toddler of three years old. At times he spares the sick and goes for the healthy. Some are writhing in pains and agony praying for death to visit them. For reasons beyond human comprehension, death will pretend to be too busy to see them. He is not methodical, logical or systematic in his activities. He can be in Venezuela looking for one Chavez, and in the next moment he is in the United States looking for Achebe, and before you could say ‘áh’ he is elsewhere looking for an Awolowo. You cannot bribe him, you cannot curry favour from him. He is thoroughly incorruptible. He is neither persuaded by praises nor angry at your criticism. What he will do, he will do.
Death is the busiest element on earth. He is busier than all the midwives of the world combined. He is a workaholic numero uno. He works with a ruthless precision. Little wonder he is so impatient. No occasion is too grand for him to attend or a land too holy for him to traverse. He gallivants across the globe a millon times daily. At times he preys upon his victim quietly and stealthily, On some occasions he announces his coming thunderously. He harvests in units as well as in scores. In some wicked morbid mockery, he allows his victims to run for cover before overtaking them, giving them a temporary false sense of security. The more you run away from him the closer you are getting to him. No weapon is too crude or too sophisticated for this guy to deploy. How can we waste our precious time paying attention to such a silly fellow, who is so untrustworthy, so unpredictable and so unreliable? Those who worship a deity will swear by that deity that it will protect them. Have you seen a worshipper of Death escaping death? No way. Death is an insatiable, malcontent fellow. He has no friend, he has no foe. He takes a great delight in the wailing and crying of the people because of the loss of their beloved one.
In all the history of mankind only two people have managed to escape this sadistic hangman. Enoch, whom the Bible claimed walked (away) with God, and Elijah who was taken away in a blaze of glory, riding in a chariot. Only these two have so far been able to mock Death, and cheat him in the mortal combat game. They rode farther and higher, beyond his icy hands and cruel grins. Even then, I am pretty sure that he has not forgotten their cases. He is so unforgiving that he must still be looking for them. While Enoch and Elijah stilishly evaded him, only one man has been able to confront him headlong. The Man, Jesus Christ. With contempt and disdain, Jesus told him categorically that He could lay down His life and take it back. Wow! It was a serious psychological warfare as the Man walked boldly to His death, defying the terror and agony of death. To ensure that the Man was irrevocably dead, Death made certain that after His death He was pierced with a spear and locked up in a tomb sealed with a stone-cover that only a combined efforts of supermen could roll away. Yet, He rose, admittedly.
Rejoice not Death for you are just a revolving door between this life and another life. One day Death will run out of business. No one does his kind of business and succeeds. What of all the condemnations he takes from mankind? No one speaks well of Death, neither the poor nor the rich. He is too proud and melancholic. He is so unsympathetic. He is never moved by pleas nor by tears. Onwubiko is never a pleasant appeasement. Maku is not a message of assurance. The sworn enemy of mankind shall one day be sacked from his job, when mankind shall have the last laugh over their most dreaded adversary. That day Death, too, shall die.
May be we should just concern ourselves more with ourselves and not bother about death. Well, except that his business concerns us, too. In any case, since he also will die, some day, let us not waste our precious time on this silly fellow but to laugh at the death of Death, in advance.
Lest we forget, the terrorism of kidnapping is gradually spreading like a dreaded virus. This ingenious forceful redistribution of wealth should put socio-economic engineers to shame. The aroma of kidnapping is irresistible. Unlike armed robbery that is bloody and messy, kidnapping, to the practitioners, is a well assured compulsory voluntary donation. Very clean. We call it ransom. By yourself you will take the money to them praying that your family member would be returned to you, intact. Even when a payment is made, it is publicly denied.
Bottomline: Except the middle class is urgently restored, the abject hopelessness of the lower class would always motivate them into a headlong conflict with the rich. Kidnapping is a symptom of national socioeconomic dysfunction. Is this the type of nation we longed for? God forbid.
There are times that I often wonder whether Dr. Bukola Saraki is indeed Yoruba or Fulani. It seems to me there is too much Fulani blood in his veins, much more to shame a full-blooded Fulani. He may actually bear Yoruba name like his progenitors, but his conduct is too machiavellian, which in the Nigerian political anatomy is an almost exclusive preserve of the Fulani. One can easily recall how Alimi -a Fulani, supplanted Afonja in Ilorin and turned his host, at the behest of whom he landed in the place in the first instance, to his subjugated subject.
Till today, that is why the mainstream Yoruba believe that the Ilorin, the offsprings of Alimi cannot be taken on face value, with the sobriquet that “although they lie prostrate in reverence, yet in spirit (inwardly) they stoop in defiance”. Probably because he is a fringe Yoruba (of mixed ancestry) and, moreover, one that was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, that is why the Yoruba cultural milieu of “political correctness” is not ingrained in Dr. Saraki. For example, the Yoruba loathe “taking that which belongs to another and/or being denied his”. In the same vein, they hate “crude machiavellian theory”. The means, to them, are as important as the end. It does not matter whether the setting is family heritage, township patrimony or national politics. There are things that offend the Yoruba concept of decency which they may excuse its infringement by other nationalities but not theirs. They expect theirs to know better. For example, you do not call those who are clearly older than you by name. It is regarded as symbolic of improper upbringing. There are no spoilt brats; but kids not well brought up.
Leadership, by the Yoruba concept, must not be attained by fraudulent means, no matter how altruistic ones aims are. The Awolowo-Akintola imbroglio which snowballed into a fatricidal riot in the West was more of the means of Akintola’s succession of Awolowo than the deed itself, after all Akintola was the second in command, and the heir apparent! But to have treacherously aligned with another political party to fraudulently ascend the premiership of the West was what the Yoruba found odious. If you are Yoruba by name and Fulani in philosophy you will have problems. It is not as if anything is wrong with any political philosophy – Yoruba, Fulani, Igbo, Jukun, Ebira, etc. But once you begin to play politics outside the socio-cultural parameters and understanding of your immediate cultural constituency you will have crisis. Neither will understand and support you – your cultural constituency and owners of your loaned political philosophy. At the end of the day, in fact, even before, you are on your own.
This is why the ascendancy of the Senate presidency by surreptitious alignment with elements of opposition party is perceived as crude and crass machiavellianism which is not in tandem with the Yoruba concept of Omoluwabi. It is an invitation to “roforofo” fight because machiavellianism by its nature is “roforofo”. The Senate President is not equal to the President of the Federal Republic. Has Dr. Saraki not heard of “Baba mo gba” song? Well, how can he, after all, he is not Yoruba. The song posits that if everybody is deceiving you do NOT deceive yourself. There are one thousand and one ways the Federal Government of Nigeria, so mighty and almighty, as presently constituted, can get rid of someone, effortlessly. Before you take on the Presidency in political wits, you must not only be sure that you are politically strong, you must also be morally irreproachable. No cupboard, and if you have one, no skeleton inside. Not even that of a spider.
In Nigerian politics, a girlfriend you left a decade ago can resurface and accuse you of rape. Not now, then. And you are done for. It is trite that in politics you will consider your adversaries. Can you finish the fight or do you want to fight to finish? Yoruba do not fight to finish. Ah, they live to fight another day. The only one that fought to the finish, we eternally regret his costly decision. You must know when to retreat, lick your wounds and save the fight for another day or save the day for another fight. When that day comes, hopefully you may win, hands down. As a precaution, no victory laughter until long after the victory is won -signed, sealed and delivered.
There is this Ibo proverb that “the flies without advisers follow the corpse to the grave”. How instructive! Dr. Bukola Saraki’s advisers are nincompoops, or so I think. Should they not see the potholes and bumps where the man, due to political mirage and over-estimation of self-worth, was seeing just the smooth express road? Like the legendary “A o m’erin j’oba”, his advisers continued to fan his ego thus increasing his hubris and defiance. In politics compromise is the best victory. Win some lose some. If you win all as an individual, be suspicious. Once the party was magnanimous enough to grudgingly condone his treachery and allow him to keep his Presidential seat, he should have persuaded them by respecting their letter appointing other party posts. No. He wanted to win all. He alienated his party, ridiculed the Presidency and damned the consequences. The alleged forgery of the Senate Rules on which his election stands is another volcano waiting to erupt. Never increase the number of your adversaries.
Lest we forget, Dr. Bukola Saraki is the scion of Saraki political dynasty of Ilorin whose family owned and allegedly pillaged Société Générale Bank Nig. Plc. sending several millions of shareholders and account-holders to sudden penury at the collapse of the bank, and whose former Director Kennedy Izuagbe is currently on the run and wanted by EFCC in a case of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of over N3.6 billion. Bukola was the two-term Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011. He was elected Senator in 2015 and became the Senate President under controversial circumstances allegedly bothering on forgery of Senate Rules.
In fact, if I were Dr. Bukola Saraki I would have tamed my ambition of becoming the Senate President of the 8th Assembly, except I am cock sure that there is no trace of “poo” at the end of my alimentary canal, no matter how much microscopic examination, inquisition, inquiry and enquiry is done. Well, the question is, “Is it possible?”
With a President Buhari, who for reasons beyond religious homogeneity refused to consider a Bola Tinubu as his running mate, no one without high politico-moral credentials stands the chance of working in his government. Tainted politicians are political lepers that Buhari is waiting for the right opportunity to quarantine politically. Buhari, our High Priest of “Political Correctness” will sacrifice the corrupt like bullock on the Altar of Anti-Corruption. If Dr. Olubukola Saraki did not know this, long before now, then he is politically naive. I am sorry.
She is my first baby girl
And the epicentre of the family.
She took charge of the home majestically
And all the chores she did matronly
And we all depended on her absolutely.
Once she’s around all challenges disappeared.
She cooked the food, fixed the gas,
Powered the generator, handled the laundry,
Fumigated the house and herbicided the grass.
She would smoke out any rat in the house
And any snake that strayed into the compound was in trouble.
While everybody fled for cover she would pursue the snake
And make the serpent pay dearly for its stupidity.
Strong and valiant – our own German Machine;
When she broke down occasionally we all felt it.
We wished, and worked for her rapid recovery
-at least in our own interests.
As a daughter she served meritoriously
And when loved crawled into her bosoms
We hardly noticed the magnitude of it.
Yet she has her life to live.
On the eve of her wedding day
The celebration of Engagement,
She was full of life and radiance
Such as never seen before,
Sweet and sparkling like champagne.
And on the Wedding Day she danced
A dance of independence
A dance of love
That ended her father’s hegemony
And the beginning of a new life,
A new season, a new home.
We understood each other so well
Can’t remember ever beating her once
She is everything anyone could wish in a daughter
I rarely called her Ayopo,
Except in exasperation
When she was beyond earshot.
Her lovely sobriquet was Yoppy
Although others call her A Y,
And her name I often whistled.
Saturday -November 15,
Every one left everything else
And came to celebrate her
Wishing her a happy married life.
It’s still like a dream to me
That my baby girl is gone from me.
It’s the reality of life, though.
With tears of a joyful heart
I joined friends, family and well wishers
And with ten thousand applauses
To wish Mrs Ayopo Ogunsanya
A Happy Married Life.
But truly – I am already missing her.
Without any modicum of doubt, the Nigeria Police has gone full circle, becoming exactly the disease that it was created to cure: lawlessness. Hardly would a week pass without a gory tale of lawlessness of Police officers in one form or the other. If they are not venting their anger on innocent Nigerians, they are taking on other security agencies in a show of lawless impunity. On a number of occasions they have been undeniably caught on camera extorting a ridiculously silly and disgracefully cheap amount of money from commercial bus drivers. One was caught like a demented bullock pounding a hapless food vendor and threatening to shoot her because of some food. The litany of police brutality is both legendary and robust. The aphorism “Police is your friend” is a security malapropism that can only be taken romantically at the peril of its believer. In fact, “police” has become a metaphor for treachery, debauchery and decadence. Those who trusted them with confidential information on criminals have had their fingers burnt. It is open secret that some of them hire their guns to criminals for a piece of the “cake”. Their shortcomings are so pronounced and multidimensional that when they carry out a brilliant operation once in a long while (what should ordinarily be routine) it is celebrated to high heavens with stupendous accolade and lavish funfair from the public.
Truely, the police is the oldest and the largest of all security agencies. Their workload progressively becomes burgeoning that once in a while the government has necessarily had to trim it and give a little bit to another agency to make the police more effective and efficient in handling the remaining assignments. So were Immigration, NSO (now DSS), FRSC, EFCC, and NSCDC created to handle some assignments exclusive of the police. Rather than complement the efforts of the government by giving such newly formed agency operational and logistic support, when and where necessary, and face their own assignments squarely, they would go into undue and irritating rivalry and competition with such agency, abandoning the rest security assignments to pursue the foregone. The “efficiency” that was conspicuously lacking when such assignment was under their jurisdiction they would suddenly rediscover and demonstrate with nauseating zeal and hypocritical gusto to discredit the new agency as incompetent and mischosen. This is the basis of the police’s introduction of a duplicitous contraption known as IG Pipeline Monitoring Team.
Often times they use such zeal as a decoy to sabotage the efforts of the new agency and perpetrate crime, and in some cases the police openly challenge the legitimacy of such organisation as though it is not the same Federal Government that established such agency with the necessary legal instruments. In fact, it baffles me how the police arrogates to itself the oversight function and supervisory role to curtail the powers of the Federal Government to create and abrogate MDAs. Any challenge by the police to the legitimacy of any properly constituted (either by an Act of Parliament or Presidential Proclamation) federal MDA is a direct affront and challenge to the sensibility and wisdom of the Federal Government.
It should be noted that over ninety percent of interagency clashes have essentially and compulsorily involved the police. One wonders why the police top brass are not bothered by the reckless and shameful assailants that their rank and file have become. In the last ten years not less than ten clashes had occured between the police and other security agencies, not counting that of between them and Civil Defence in Niger State; Maiduguri, Adamawa State; Ikorodu, Lagos State, 2013; Oyo State, July 2014; and numerous other unreported cases. Some of these clashes regrettably have claimed lives on both sides. For the police, it is more professionally rewarding and esteem-wise fulfilling to engage other agencies in fisticuffs than engage criminals. In deed, it is as if they have gone into an unholy fraternity with the criminals. While rapists, armed robbers, cultists, assassins, kidnappers, vandals, terrorists, and other felons are having a field day, the police is busily engaging coordinate agencies in avoidable wrangling and distracting altercations.
United States has sixteen main Intelligence and Security Agencies. In addition to these sixteen agencies which formally comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community, it also has several other federal tactical military intelligence and security organisations, as well as those responsible for security responses to transnational threats, including terrorism, cyber warfare and computer security, covert employment of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics trafficking, and international organized crime. The list is almost endless. Yet they don’t engage one another in a senseless show of paternalism or seniority.
The deficiency of discipline, regimentality, est spirit de corps is so pronounced in the police that apart from their own, they hardly recognise and give compliments to superior officers from other agencies like Prisons, Immigration and Civil Defence. They consider it infra dig and condescending for a policeman to salute their superiors from those agencies.
The latest of their insufferable buffoonery is the recent temerity and insubordination to lawfully constituted authority displayed on Friday, August 22, by a police inspector who threatened to fire a shot at the Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr. Ade Abolurin. His grouse: The Commandant General, and indeed Civil Defence have no business at oil pipeline area. The CG’s team which was put together by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, to verify disposable judicially forfeited items was at Ikorodu, as in other places nationwide, also comprising members from the Nigerian Army, Navy, EFCC, ICPC and Office of the AGF. It is trite to say that the military men were equally in uniform and would be high ranking officers to merit the membership of a team constituted by the AGF, and chaired by the CG. This latest odious act of the police if not severely sanctioned with the highest possible punishment will clearly demonstrate that the hierarchy of the police is the mastermind of the various unprovoked antagonism and bloody belligerence of their rank and file against Civil Defence.
The Nation Newspaper Online (Sat. Aug. 23) quoted the newly appointed Force Spokesman, DCP Emmanuel Ojukwu as denying the incident, saying, “if he (CG) was shot at, he would either have been dead or hospitalised. But anyway, nothing like that happened.” Yeah, denial, lies and falsehood is typical of police. Can you imagine a police spokesman being so casual and pedestrian in his approach, and bareface in spewing lies? No sense of alarm, no sense of shock. Just plain indifference.
Lest we forget, the authority of the police to prosecute crimes was brutally butchered when a Federal High Court sitting at Lokoja, Kogi State held that the police’s power to prosecute pipelines vandals has been effectively transferred to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). In a judgment delivered on June 17th, 2013, in a suit instituted by the police against Abuh Daniel, a suspected oil vandal, Justice I.E. Ekwo, said section 3 (1) (f) (vi) of the NSCDC Act (Amendment) Act 2007 has expressly conferred the authority to investigate offence of oil pipeline vandalizstion and to initiate proceedings thereto on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation to NSCDC.The judge said: “This means that even if it is the Nigeria Police that apprehended any person suspected to have committed such offence, it is the duty of the police to hand over such suspect to the NSCDC for prosecution.”
Till date the police has not appealed the ruling, yet its operatives are saying that Civil Defence, that is legally constituted and empowered to apprehend vandals has no business at the oil pipeline area,even to the point of wanting to shoot the CG. All well-meaning Nigerians must rise in unison and put the police where it properly belongs. No one, least of them security organisation, is above the law.
Clearly, the police is becoming a rampaging behemoth, and an intolerant and treacherous organisation. With a friend like the police, Nigerians are no longer in need of another enemy. The police should be tamed, and urgently too. A deep surgical operation is the panacea. The police must be repositioned to accomplish its primary goals. There must be urgent re-orientation, undesirable elements must be weeded out, discipline must be upheld. The jurisdictional integrity of other agencies must be respected with responsible, synergetic cooperation, and not disruptiive obstructions.The IG Pipeline Monitoring Team (IGPMT)) should be immediately disbanded as it has become a cog in the wheel of NSCDC assignment. The IGPMT has become a desperate instrument of unnecessary confusion, unwarranted confrontation and avoidable conflagration. The new Inspector General, Suleiman Abba, definitely has a herculean task ahead, that is if he feels outraged at the hydra-headed monster his organisation has become. If not, the festering decay continues.
Today, I remember Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 Oct.1938-2 Aug. 1997) in a very special way. As the Scripture says, “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house”. It does not cease to amaze me why the authorities had to hound him down for saying the obvious facts of the socio-econo-political situation of Nigeria. Facts that were so obvious that even the blind could easily see them. Facts that were so obvious that every home, indeed everyone, talked about them. Much more amazing was the docile complicity of the traumatised larger society whose pains and agony Fela voiced. Hounded like a common criminal, the docile Nigerian society stood by or better still, like the proverbial levite in the Good Samaritan story, they passed by on the other side unconcerned, unperturbed, undisturbed and unworried. Yet Fela was fighting their battle and dying their death. A good man that was born at the right time but in the wrong place. How I wish he was born in the northern part of the country! No one would have been able to cage him like his kinsman did before the Nigerian foreman finished him off. The talakawas for whom he lived and died, sang and remonstrated would have caused no small havoc during the razing of Kalakuta Republic by the Obasanjo and the infamous frame-up by the Abacha juntas.
Forget about his personal idiosyncrasies and outlandish behaviour. How much better were those who appeared in conventional apparel and with socially correct attitude? Fela wore bizarre pants and freakish apparel but he dared the establishment and stared terror in the eyes. To many undiscerning minds, Fela was a bad influence. He smoked ganja. Yes, he smoked marijuana! Was that the most heinous evil anyone can commit against the society? Our leaders that appeared in impeccably starched uniform and billowing immaculate agbada, who to many were idols, and for whom many prayed to God to give them such national and international figures as their own children stole us blind. They beguiled us and milked us dry. They betrayed our trust in them. They converted their fiducial power to personal assets. More heinous than Fela’s igbo. Whitewashed sepulchres. Wolfish sheep. What a shame of leaders! There was and still is no end to their rapacious stealing and egregious brigandage.
But Fela campaigned against corruption, he campaigned against skin bleaching (another form of corruption), he campaigned against government inefficiencies, he campaigned against zombieism, he campaigned against democracy of brigandage, he campaigned against colonial mentality. He campaigned against so many atrocious deeds by the governments. He demystified the military hubris by ascribing the uniform to ordinary tailor’s work. His songs were blistering crusade for social justice, egalitarianism and democracy. He was a human rights activist per excellence. He served the docile society brilliantly. He served his generation commodiously and meritoriously. A prophet was in our midst and we knew not. Long after he left, his divinely-inspired lyrics are still ringing true. Wish to God that one day a radical President will posthumously honour him with a national award. He deserved no less.
For me, the most fascinating of his music was Shuffering and Shmiling. In the timeless musical craftsmanship, he highlighted the plight of ordinary Nigerians in their daily labour and frustrations: overcrowded transport, query in the office occasioned by lateness to work caused by transportation inefficiencies, and daily retirement into a home without electricity and other basic necessities. He juxtaposed the suffering of the masses with the smiling of their religious leaders who feed fat on the Widows’ mites of the masses. He berated the mental docility of a people that deluded themselves with the delayed gratification of a compensatory heaven when their religious leaders were taking their own rewards, succulent rewards, in the here and now. Oh my God! Fela left too early, damned too early. He did not wait to see the religious leaders ride in jets. Private Jets! He did not wait to see religious leaders establishing their own private universities. Sure his bones will rattle in grave on hearing all these. As the religious leaders become stupendously rich, the army of the poor and needy continues to increase. I thought all their tithes would end up in Jerusalem. No, how naive.
There is a conspiratorial nexus between religion and government, visible to only those who have the inner eye to see. It is an evil connection. The governments oppress us and our religious leaders keep us in check from revolting, from rocking the boat. How many religious leaders openly castigated government inefficiencies and corruption like Fela did? How many pastors and imams berated the government for mass poverty and pervasive criminality like Fela did? Rather, the religious leaders kept mute in an unholy alliance with government. They preached to us and not to them. They killed in us the innate revultion to oppression and subjugation. They killed in us the natural propensity to confront our oppressors. They emasculated us in the name of God. The more poverty created by the government, the more people that seek solace and sanctuary in churches and mosques. The government keeps the religious leaders in business and the religious leaders in turn keep the government in business.
Not everyone that goes to church or mosque wants to serve God. That’s why they are neither serving him in spirit nor in truth. Many are there because the economic situation is callous, unforgiving and unbearable. Let a more responsible government emerge today with our industries roaring back to life, with (at least) 12 hours of electricity daily, with cheaper food, affordable housing and efficient transport system, I bet you, our churches and mosques will be empty by half. So you see, our governments and our religious leaders are making merchandise of us. Jointly and severely, they pulverise, weaken, enfeeble and finally de-societize us. Unfortunately the rich among us don’t care any more. Opulence and comfort have benumbed them to the suffering of others. Having escaped the poverty trap that has ensnared them for years, they live in their own sanctuary of opulence in the midst of pervasive squalor. The rich don’t care, the religious leaders don’t care and the governments don’t care. Worse still, we the victims don’t care.
So, we stand by in supine impotence, too religiously timorous and too politically timid to act. Afraid to die we suffer and smile, afterall a living dog is better than a dead lion. We forget that with or without the shackles of oppression we shall surely die one day. We are yet to learn that it is better to die trying to break the shackles than to live docile in its eternal bondage. An unfulfilled life is a worthless life.
Seriously speaking, a people that appropriate more than their fair share of docility and lethargy in matters of socio-econo-political existentialism have descended, far down, below the minimum requirements for such an elegant and capacious name – society, and thus can only be called a dociety for want of a better nomenclature.
It was the vintage Fela Anikulapo Kuti in his characteristic anti-establishmentalism that likened government, in one of his timeless musical releases, to a teacher that was trying to teach (him) nonsense. He ended by telling off the teacher, ostensibly Government, that he and the teacher were not in the same category (class). In other words, that student (Fela) was definitely more knowledgeable, more enlightened, better educated and well informed than the teacher. Of course it takes only a student who reads and studies beyond the resrictive ambit of the curricular prescriptions to know when a teacher is digressing or, in fact, teaching utter nonsense. And such students are we, the people of Nigeria. We are not in the same category or class with our teacher, the government and her officials, being better enlightened and world-wiser than they know or think.
The other day, it was the Chairman of ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, that was trying to teach us what the Abami Eda would call “Babanla Nonsense”. Trying to reprogramme our minds and reset our thinking, Mr. Nta castigated us as nincompoops and dimwits for thinking that stealing public funds is corruption. “Stealing is not corruption” he thundered at us when a delegation from the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) visited the Commission in Abuja. (Punch Newspaper, Monday May 19, 2014 pp 3). I am sure the august guests must have been shocked beyond belief. For the confirmation of your knowledge, ICPC is Independent Corrupt Practices Commission on whose shoulder rests the onerous duty of stamping out corruption in Nigeria through the diligent prosecution of offenders. By the way, what do government officials think we are? A bunch of mongoloid idiots who can have any form of thrash or bunkum forced down their throats helplessly?
If Mr. Ekpo Nta does not understand his job, he should get out of the way instead of making us a laughing stock in the commity of nations. Can you imagine? A chairman of an antigraft Commission who cannot see a nexus between the corruption of the mind and the predilection to steal or embezzle government fund is unfit to head such agency! Probably, it is pardonable for a junior officer in the Commission to regurgitate such putrid and “whaat?!” kind of offensive odour, but not the Chairman who is supposedly the custodian of the policy thrusts and directions of the agency. Oh my God! Unfortunately, this Mr. Nta who, I think, would have been better off as Chairman of NTA, at least for the symbolism of his name is even dragging our educational system in the mud of his corrupt and twisted logic. Hear him “Stealing is erroneously reported as corruption. We must go back to what we were taught at school to show that there are educated people in Nigeria. We must address issues as we were taught in school to do.”
Excuse me! First of all, as the Chairman of the Commission has he gone through the Act establishing the Commission? If yes, does he understand fully the work of the Commission? If yes, are there sections of the ICPC Act that are not in consonance with his own personal perception of what corruption is? If the answer is also in the affirmative, then the question is: What is he still doing there? If on the other hand there is, in spite of that divergence of perception between him and the Act, whose interest is his Chairmanship of the Commission supposed to serve? His own interest? The Commission’s interest? Now, if he is propagating an idea or a perception that is strange to and unaccommodated by the Act, whose interest is he serving? Clearly, he is no longer serving the interest of the Commission which is an embodiment of the interest of the nation.
Secondly, how were they taught in school to address issues? And by the way, which school was Mr. Nta talking about? Is it primary, secondary or tertiary? Or probably law school? If the Chairman does not understand the law of cause and effect that is his own burden. If he cannot see elements of yellow inside the green colour of the flag it is not because he is blind. Rather it is due to the inadequacy of his knowledge. As far as we know, a corrupt mind will take undue advantage of his position to enrich himself. He will use his position to corner the commonwealth. Institutional votes would be channelled into private pockets. He will deny the public its due service to his own pecuniary advantage. He will embezzle funds that are allocated for certain purchases or purposes. Pension funds will dissappear through sleaze. There will be inappropriate and inexplicable virement of budgetary votes. In fact budget implementation will be frustrated at their desks. And finally, they will manipulate the system to obtain judgement and escape justice.
In fact the ambit of corruption is so wide and inexhaustible. It’s an octopic phenomenon with poisonous tentacles. Stealing public fund is just one of them. When funds are stolen, projects become stalled, developments grind to a halt, lives become tedious and frustrating. These are the sociopolitical ecology of banditry, brigandage and terrorism.
With a chairman like Ekpo Nta ICPC does not need another saboteur. Indeed, it is people like Nta that bring the nation into international ridicule and contempt. One can recall with glee the ICPC days of retired Justice Mustapha Akanbi as the pioneer Chairman of the Commission. One will expect that as corruption gets desperate and the people gets indignant, anti-corruption agents will also get more determined. But this is Nigeria! How did Mr Ekpo Nta get the slot in the first instance? Federal character? What are his pedigrees in social crusade? None! Apart from educational qualifications, what other values made him most qualified for the job? By the way how many convictions has the Commission secured since his ascendancy? This is Nigeria. A square peg in a round hole.
Seriously speaking, there are thousands of Nigerians outside there, whose minds revolt at the mindless corruption and dare-devil sleaze, who will rather die than allow graft to escape. They are there in the North, South, East and West. But will they be allowed to get the Chairmanship? They have no political connection, although, they care less. Those who have the political connection are grossly unfit for the job. That is the trouble with Nigeria. Our leaders care less whether corporate goals are accomplished or not . As long as they are drawing their salary and the perquisites of office all is well. After all it is government job. Our leaders need to reprogramme their minds to accomplish the goals of their MDAs. They should not try to reprogramme our minds. They should not teach us nonsense.
Constitutionalism will not cease to amaze me. It is one form of government that eminently distinguishes orderly society from jungle community. It has a set of rules by which everyone should live, behave, conduct personal affairs and official duties, especially governmental duties. While every society entails hierarchical order, constitutionalism surreptitiously avoids Absolutism. Regardless of whom you are there is a delimitation of your functions, responsibility, power and authority.
Unfortunately, constitutionalism is a despicable stranger in Africa where everyone is overtly conscious of his powers, where everyone wants to create a fiefdom for himself. While the euro-caucasian mentality is cooperative and submissive to law, african mentality is possessive and domineering. Africans don’t see the Law as the aggregation of communal wish, desire and authority, and therefore towering compulsively over and above everyone. To Africans, generally, and many a man in particular, everything in life is an extension of his personal property, his wife, his office, including his children who are, constitutionally, adults on their own. Personalisation of office is antithetical to constitutionalism. Africans are too romantic of office, and too egoistic of it. African men, and women inclusive.
Until Saturday 8th February, 2014, Mr. Mark Harper was the Immigration Minister of UK. He was so appointed in September 2012. He resigned his appointment speedily and honourably when it was discovered that one of his domestic helps, Isabella Acevedo, breached immigration regulations. In spite of his acknowledged effort at ensuring compliance through regular screening for them, Acevedo, an illegal immigrant from Colombia lied to Harper about her papers. Even though there was no evidence of complicity or collusion on his part, Harper, nevertheless, resigned instantly snd honourably. Mr. Harper could have harped on his avowed personal innocence and non-complicity to hang on to power. But no way! Harper is caucasian. He is unlucky to have been born British. Resign because of an inconsequential issue? Bullshit! Contrary wise, Ms Stella Oduah was the Aviation Minister of Nigeria. She was exposed by the media in October 2013 to have approved the purchase of two armoured BMW 7 cars by NCAA a parastatal under her Ministry at a body-staggering sum of 255 million dollars. Not only was the amount found to be outrageous, she had no authority to approve the award of contract to that sum without recourse to the Due Ptocess Office, which she conveniently ignored. So indicted by the National Assembly, she neither resigned nor was compelled to do so by the President who saw the allegation, though proven true, to be an affront on his presidential ego -typical African leaders’ malaise. Ms Stella Oduah was just gracefully swept away on 12th February 2014 in the collective purge of some Federal Ministers as if she had no case to answer. Although Oduah speaks Queen’s English smoothly, that admirable English character of personal integrity is not manifest in her. While Mr. Mark Harper voluntarily resigned the next day of media exposure, our dear Ms Stella Oduah sat tight for additional four months! You see, the fault is not in our blood, it is in our character. Law rules in Europe, Men rule in Africa.
Enter Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the loquacious Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria who was constantly in competition with the State Governors for media attention and philanthropic donations. He was behaving as if indeed there was a 37th state somewhere which he governed. In breach of ethics he stirred controversies, openly romanced with the opposition, unabashed in manifest religious bias, brazenly partisan in favour of the North in his philanthropic donations, which was equally wrong at all. He found it difficult to define whom he was without his actions opposing him. A perfect study in split-personality. He desecrated the hallow chambers of the CBN and the halo of the CBN Governor. Oh my God! I remember yesteryears poignantly like yesterday. Dr. Clement Isong was the Governor of Central Bank when I was just outgrowing my teenage. Beyond his ubiquitous signature on the currencies he was hardly known to exist. Such was the quality of CBN Governor at that time, sober, self-effacing, apolitical, non-intrusive and thoroughly professional. Now the cycle has gone full swing throwing up a theatrical CBN Governor, an unconscionable CBN Governor, a recklessly hasty CBN Governor! How could a CBN Governor claim that 49 billon dollars was unaccounted for by NNPC only to turn around in less than a couple of weeks later to recant by saying it was 20 billion dollars? That credibility gap in his statements is enough to make an European nation Central Bank Governor to throw in the towel. But Sanusi is not caucasian. He is an African: body, soul and spirit. Not only an African but an Emir-in-waiting to whom we must all attend as his dimunitive courtiers regardless of the un-ingestible putrefaction of his official verbiage.
Well, as the saying goes, when the irresistible collides with the immovable, something is bound to give way. So, characteristic of the African monarchs of old, who brooked no nonsense from any of their subjects, the President in dealing with the scourge that Mallam Sanusi has become resorted to self-help. He recoursed to extra-constitutional step to remove him. He circumvented the law. The President suspended him, an act which is synonymous to removal, that the constitution precluded the President from taking in order to protect the independence and integrity of the Central Bank. If indeed Sanusi was suspended on account of an investigation into the activities of the CBN by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria which was instituted in May 2013, and was still on going, according to Reuben Abati, the Presidential spokesman, then the suspension throws up a number of questions. Since the investigation is still ongoing why the undue haste to have him removed when it is yet inconclusive? Has he been given a fair chance to defend himself of the allegations? Why did the President not think of compiling the horrendous infractions of Lamido and forward same for the consideration of National Assembly to sack him? Since he was due to depart in June 2014, and having endured his inconveniences so far, why couldn’t the President bear the remnant of his irritating tenure with equanimity? Why is the timing of his suspension coming at the heels of his recent revelation of monumental corruption at NNPC to the National Assembly? Isn’t there a nexus between the proverbial midnight cry of a witch and the death of a child at dawn? Unfortunately, it was the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and not Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that was suspended by the Presidential action.
To Godwin Emefiele we say: As the CBN Governor your words must be well measured because they carry weight or ought to. Your submissions at all time must be unassailable. You have the figures, you have the data, you have the trained personnel to do your analysis for you. Yours is the culmination of the all the facts and figures which are available to others only in parts and particles. As the CBN Governor, you cannot afford the luxury of being a two-handed economist. Even at that, your right hand must be longer and stronger than the other because you are the guiding light to national fiscal discipline and thus the economic emancipation of the nation. These necessary ingredients were glaringly missing in the unpalatable menu that was your predecessor.
For Sanusi, there is no doubt that the end of the matter is not yet in sight. He has gone to court to restraint the Police, SSS etc from effecting his arrest, and also to seek other reliefs. Surely, the think-tank in the Presidency will be looking for ways to tame this cannon that is dangerously let loose. But lest we forget, the recurring question is, How much do we comply with the letters and the spirit of the constitution in all these?
“Honesty is the best policy” is supposed to be a time-honoured aphorism except that there is something so dishonest about it. It is an orphan. Being without parents, an orphan is everybody’s errand boy but with no-one to clothe, shelter and defend him. He is easily used and easily abused. Time has recklessly worn out the saying so much that it is largely observed in the breach or revered with a sneer. Well, everybody loves an honest man but not at their own expense. Everyone expects everybody else to be honest except themselves. That, precisely, is the problem. Until that “everybody” includes everyone “we ain’t going nowhere”. How many citizens have been singled out for national honour based on honesty and integrity? Not any. So how can we be encouraged to be honest? How many have been persecuted socially or prosecuted legally for corruption and dishonesty? Not many. So how can we be discouraged from being dishonest.
Honestly, we are so dishonest that we cannot fill a simple form or answer a questionnaire honestly. If we do not falsify our age, we give other wrong information to circumvent regulations. We want to take advantage of the non-vigilance of others. Dishonesty breeds distrust. Even our institutions are not immuned from this malaise. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was reported, sometime in 2013, to have recovered N8.6 billion as excess charges fraudulently collected from customers by banks in ten months. The Deputy Director, Consumer Protection Department, CBN,Umma Dutse, disclosed this to newsmen. When you go to filling stations, the corporate dishonesty game continues. They underdispense fuel. Usually, they fraudulently dispense between 800 and 900 mililitre as being 1 litre (instead of 1000 mililitre). Including NNPC filling stations which ought to be exemplary in fuel-dispensation honesty. Why are we so thoroughly dishonest? Dishonesty permeates every sector of our socio-political lives.
Unfortunately, dishonesty is bad for the economy.In an interview by Christiane Amanpour of CNN aired on Tuesday, 16th April 2013, The Finance Minister and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said 99.9 percent of 170 million Nigerians are honest and hardworking. In other words only 170,000 Nigerians are dishonest and lazy. Yeah, maybe the Minister is refering to rent seekers, emergency contractors, swindlers, subsidy scam beneficiaries, political hangers-on, etc. Yet her figure may not be correct. While I agree that we should not wash our dirty linen in public I do not think we should not wash it at all. Pray, where did Oga Madam get her statistics from in a country that is averse to data gathering and conducting research? Definitely not from the Federal Bureau of Statistics. On the other hand, majority of us are thouroughly dishonest. Probably her assertion is inversely correct. Only 0.1 of us (or 170,000 Nigerians) are honest. Ours is a non-trusting society.
According to Professor Whiteley of Essex University Britain, in a study carried out on honesty and integrity, “In a non-trusting society, however, things are different and enforcement mechanisms such as formal contracts and courts are required to ensure compliance, and these all make the costs of doing business higher. Clearly, integrity is essential to the building of trust.“Empirical research suggests that societies in which trust and integrity are strong perform much better on a range of economic and political indicators than societies where they are weak.”Professor Whiteley also concludes that societies with greater degrees of trust sometimes enjoy better health and education, reduced crime and higher levels of life satisfaction. He adds: “The corollary of this is that low trust brings pathologies, such as poverty, crime, ill health and unemployment. More recent research shows that trust is equally important … So a lack of integrity has serious consequences for our society.“This highlights the need to research integrity and its apparent decline over time. It raises many important issues such as how do people actually define dishonesty? Can individuals genuinely disagree about what honesty means in practice? Is honesty all of a piece or is it compartmentalised in people’s lives? –“In other words can they be honest in one context and dishonest in another?A simple questionnaire below, I bet, will be dishonestly answered to favour the respondent. If you think I am not being honest you are cordially invited to the Integrity Test.
Try the “integrity test” as devised by Essex University for yourself. Rate your attitude to each of the following activities as follows.
One point if you think it is never justified;
Two points if you think it is rarely justified;
Three points if you view it as sometimes justified, and
Four points if you think it is always justified.
Write down your score against each question.
Be honest. (Need we remind you)
A. Avoiding paying the fare on public transport.
B. Cheating on taxes if you have a chance.
C. Driving faster than the speed limit.
D. Keeping money you found in the street.
E. Lying to protect your own interests.
F. Not reporting accidental damage you have done to a parked car.
G. Throwing away litter in a public place.
H. Driving under the influence of alcohol.
I. Making up (false claims in) a job application.
J. Buying something you know is stolen.
Integrity Test Analysis
A score of 10 points suggests you are very honest,
11 to 15 points means you do not mind bending the rules but are more honest than average,
16 to 20 suggests you are relaxed about the rules (You are dishonest)
21 points and above suggest you do not believe in living by the rules (In other words you are thoroughly dishonest).
Seriously speaking, dishonesty is cancerous. It debilitates the economic health of a nation. It breeds fraudulence, encourages survival of the “thiefest“, creates wealth without labour, fuels inflation, and numerous other socio-economic vices. We hope the Ministers recently relieved of their posts (Ms Stella Oduah of Aviation Ministry, Mr Godsday Orubebe of Niger Delta Affair Ministry, Navy Capt (Rtd) Caleb Olukolade of Police Affairs and Dr. Yerima Ngama, Minister of State for Finance) would be sufficiently honest in filling the Code of Conduct Form as expected of them after their tenure. Time will tell.
Well, if you expected to pass the integrity test and did not, do not worry. Just GO and sin no more. Do you think others can fare better? Invite them to the Test.
Next to religion and ethnicity, politics is the most emotional subject. Because political parties have their ardent adherents to whom political criticism or appraisal is sacrilegious, making social comments on political development is a thankless job. Indeed, it’s more dangerous than thankless. Yet politics and political parties are the vehicle for governance, and good governance does not accept emotional rationalisation. Sequel to the horrific political experience of the 60s when local police were deployed to harass, intimidate and hound political opponents, the wise men that drafted the 1999 constitution, just like it’s 1979 precursor, abrogated the local government police and centralised it under the auspices of the federal government. However, in order to balance it, since the Governor of a state is the Chief security officer, the position and office of the Commissioner of Police was directly responsible to the elected State Governor even though he, the CP is appointed by the President. It’s a very cumbersome and intricate political balance although the process appears straightforward. The wise men felt they have killed two birds with a stone: take away the local police abuse on one hand and return the control of the police to the same local political chieftain, in this case, the Executive Governor. The drafters of the constitution must have congratulated themselves for their political ingenuity and mental sagacity.
As the saying goes, when a family is at peace it’s because the bastard is still a toddler. In their wildest imagination it never occurred to them that in a democratic dispensation, which is essentially civilian, a police man – a uniform officer could openly and brazenly superimpose himself on democracy, as embodied by the elected governor, to whom he is expected to be subordinate. Having done away with the relics of Governor-General, the colonial symbol of a man in uniform with epaulette, supervising democracy and sharing political space with the Premier or Prime Minister, the wise men felt comfortable with their home-grown constitutional arrangement. How we wish men are infallible! Current developments have shown the inadequacy of human wisdom.
They never bargained for Joseph Mbu, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State. He has become so powerful that it would not be wrong to call him the Governor-General of Rivers state, and the Superintendent of Democracy in the state. He refuses to take orders from the Governor. He openly criticises and calls the Governor names. He himself has become a threat to security in the state. Short of setting up a parallel government, he has taken over the machinery of administration in the state. He decides when the fictionalised House would sit and determines which faction. He dictates which entrance or road the Governor should use to Government House. He uses bullets to disperse peaceful rallies. Like Zeus, the greek god of the sky and ruler of Olympian gods, Mbu has the divine ability to determine the motive and intention of govermental activities. When the government invited newly recruited teachers to the stadium in order to gve them their letters of employment Mbu said the intention was to organise a rally against GEJ. He even permitted hoodlums to disrupt opposition rallies. It’s an endless seasons movies from Rivers.
We are enjoying the entertainment. Why not? If the government will not make people happy by providing social amenities, at least we can enjoy the comedy of errors. The Executive Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and the Governor General, CP Joseph Mbu have engaged in red eyeball game. Who blinks first? For Joseph Mbu, I think wisdom is profitable. He should have quietly sought for redeployment if he could not manage the Governor instead of getting himself embroiled in professionally damaging and politically controversial decisions. After all, there are some other states where there is no love lost between the President and the Governor. Yet the Commissioners of Police in those states have been more matured, clandestinely partisan though but adroitly fulfilling both the spirit and the words of the constitution. His rambunctious temperament and garrulous arrogance do no good to his career, his image or that of the police. I am not sure his colleague CPs are envious of him. We may not have all the details of the political intrigues and the high tension undercurrents in Rivers State, but one thing is clear: The constitution subordinates the office of the CP to the Governor. To that, there is no controversy. Security agents should allow politicians to sort themselves out. Prevention of bloodletting is their duty, not brazen partisanship. It should have been sufficiently clear to the Commissioner of Police that he is the one that would eventually leave. A governor cannot be redeployed but a CP can. When the situation becomes dangerously unmanageable as it is, men of goodwill will persuade the President to do something, and the only thing he would do is to ask the Inspector General to redeploy him. There is no doubt that the CP has become an embarrassment to the glorious services of the IG. I am not sure he is still taking orders from the Inspector General. Can you imagine a Commissioner of Police doing exactly the opposite of what he is paid to do? Quite preposterous!
It is not about Rotimi Amaechi, it’s about constitutional democracy. Governor Amaechi, for sure, may have his excesses, but the constitution has not empowered the CP to act as a check on him, and he cannot arrogate to himself the powers he does not have. The hallmark of good ‘CP-ing’ is the delicate management of conflicting interest of diametrically opposing parties in a politically volatile state without being seen to be partisan. To want to teach a Governor a lesson in “Deference to the Office of the President” is beyond the brief of a CP. Politics should be strictly left for politicians in a multiparty democracy. Can we imagine an Inspector General taking on the President brazenly like that? If it is impossible at the national level it is impossible at the state level. After all, a state is a microcosm of the nation. With just a few exceptions, every thing that applies to the President applies to the Governor. In fact, as far as the constitution is concerned the President is just “first among equals”
As at today, we can ask the following pertinent questions – Is the CP still attending Security meeting with the Governor? Does he provide the Governor with adequate, timely and reliable intelligence on the security situation of the state? Is he giving the Governor genuine security advice? Is he ensuring that security of lives and property which is number one duty of government is maintained? Your guesses are as good as mine. Well, if the answers to these posers are not in the affirmative, which cannot possibly be because of the irretrievable breakdown in relationship with the Governor, the CP has outlived his usefulness to the government and the people of that state.
Seriously speaking, the developments in Rivers State are too grim to be ignored. To think it’s their own problem is to lack a deep understanding of the ramifications. Any act of commission or omission that may jeopardise and truncate this Republic must be collectively resisted in spite of our different political leanings or even apolitical inclinations. Before Mbu takes us to destination unwanted, the rest of us have a duty to scream, “Enough is enough”. It’s time for Joseph Mbu to rein himself in or rail himself out of Rivers State. There is no third route.