‘As a historian myself, I have taken the keenest interest in this development, for it is through the aid of these Arabic documents and those written in African languages in Arabic scripts (more…)
We’ve had many essays that addressed leadership problems in Nigeria. Many columnists have posited that the only way out of the quagmire Nigeria’s in is to push for leaders that have ideas and that can make things happen. Where most of these arguments fail is that they do not make it clear that as important as it is to have good leaders, it is even more important to have good followers.
Nigeria’s leadership problem may predate its followership problem but the effects of both problems are equally devastating. The problem of followership has always been there but nowhere is it more pronounced than now.
In the past, there were radical voices amidst the followers that challenged government’s actions and spoke relentless truth to authority. We had Gani Fawehinmi. We had Tai Solarin. There’s Fela, Soyinka. We had Chima Ubani. We had radical voices that led the student movement against unfavorable government policies.
But this generation has the biggest case of bad followership. The few voices that used to speak have either been bought over, silenced or have joined government and are not worse than those they once spoke against. There’s Femi Falana who has become a voice that rails selectively.
There’s former NLC President and Former Edo state Governor, Adams Oshiomole who joined politics, became Governor and became a thorn in the flesh of his people. A man who once rejected the Federal Government’s ‘no work, no pay’ rule turned around to do same to his people.
There’s former Ekiti Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was an active voice in the NGO world and who pushed for democratic ideals before joining government, but when he ventured in, he became a different man.
And there’s Osun state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, a man who was part of the civil society, who fought alongside the people right until he became Governor, but what became of him? He became that person that fought the people he fought alongside and sent policemen after his former comrades.
But I digress….
Nigeria’s followership problem has never been more pronounced than it is today. Citizens have become accomplices in the destruction of the nation. Rather than monitor the activities of leaders, followers coin excuses to defend leaders’ actions, excuses that paid spokespersons have difficulty coming up with.
It is really simple. Nigeria has leadership problems but it has even bigger followership problems. Until the problem of followership is solved, irresponsible leaders will continue to be on the rise. Until citizens stop seeing challenging government as lack of patriotism, the country will not move forward. So, as important as it is to call for responsible leaders, it is imperative that we emphasize that responsible and responsive followers are a must for any nation to progress.
When you study the history of electioneering in Nigeria since 2003, you will discover that there is a recurring trend. That trend is called “settling”.
In the Nigerian Presidential election of 2003, Gani Fawehinmi was one of the Presidential aspirants. He was a man who people loved and who had a great record when it came to standing for what’s right. Yet when the results were announced, he had just 0.41% of the total votes compared to PDP’s Olusegun Obasanjo who won 61.94% of the votes to win a reelection.
In the 2007 election, Pat Utomi looked like he had something upstairs. He contested at a point in our national history when Nigerians were saying they were tired of politicians and needed technocrats and people who had the know-how when it came to the workings of a democracy. Pat Utomi should have been a shoo in going by this national body language. But he was only able to get 0.14% of the votes compared to PDP’s Umar Musa Yar’Adua who won 69.82% of the total votes to emerge President.
In 2011, there was a nationwide delusion. Nuhu Ribadu, the face of anti-corruption then stood no chance against PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2015, while some Nigerians were torn between choosing the PDP or APC, others agreed that Kowa Party’s Remi Sonaiya would represent a shift from the old order of recycling and mergers to a new order of competence and accountability. But again, Remi Sonaiya of Kowa was able to get 38, 076 votes compared to APC’s Buhari’s 15, 424, 921 votes.
What I am trying to show is that we have made settling an habit. We always know who can get the job done, who can be a new face compared to the old ones we have been seeing since 1960, but somehow we always manage to convince ourselves that those people won’t stand a chance. Before long it spreads, we start hearing: “Dat man for change dis kontri o, but he no fit win. If to say he dey APC.” Or “Dat woman sabi o, you no hear how she dey answer questions? But she no fit win. If to say she dey PDP now.” And like that, we convince ourselves and those around us that those better alternatives don’t stand a chance. And true to our predictions, those better alternatives go on to lose, resoundingly.
Now there is a psychological warfare at play here and it has been on for sometime now. It’s the same psychology that politicians used to win elections in time past. It’s the same psychology behind: “Whether we vote or not, dey don sabi who go win.” And so we sit at home and refuse to vote and with our refusal to vote elect men undeserving of that position.
But 2015 was an eye-opener. Misguided as the activities of the 2015 elections are shaping up to be, there are still lessons to be learnt from it. In 2015, the same politicians who had been waging this psychological war on us tried to awaken public consciousness by drawing attention to that war. There were jingles asking people to vote. There were adverts disabusing people’s minds of that notion of “whether we vote or not, dey don sabi who go win.”
The effect was startling. People voted and stood by their votes at a time when the nation was so on edge that some were running to neighboring African countries to escape the post electoral violence they were certain would occur. People slept at polling boots. People used torchlights to count votes. All over the country, voters defied the “normal”, defied the sun, went without food and helped usher in what they were certain was a new era.
Now, that psychological warfare is a two-faced war. We may have won one when we flung out the “Whether we vote or not, dey don know who go win” anthem, but the other side of that war is yet to be won. Until we fight and win that war, we will never truly have who we want in power. We will keep on settling.
Instead of giving up on who we think can get the job done because they are not running on the platform of a popular party, how about we support them because we know they are capable. How is it that we are trying to break free of the PDP and APC stranglehold and yet we still wish our preferred candidates ran on the platforms of those parties? How is it that we want to go to Canaan but we keep pining for the things of Egypt?
The reason why politicians who run on the platforms of these known parties win is because their political platforms manage to convince the people that the “battle” is between just two parties and that a vote for any other party asides those two is a vote wasted. From then on, the people begin to feel trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. They begin to feel that they have to choose between two devils and must choose the lesser devil.
But that is psychological warfare at play. To fight and win this second phase of the war, electorates must vote who they think is best no matter the odds stacked against him/her. You will find out that millions of people feel the same way about the person. Politicians win because people vote for them. Without people, they are not better than the ordinary man on the street.
This second phase of psychological warfare will not be shouted from campaign podiums or ring from campaign jingles; it is the ruling class’ (regardless of party) weapon of mass disillusionment. The only way to win this war is to unlearn the lies we have been told about how “The woman no fit win. If to say she dey APC.” or “The man sabi o, but he no dey PDP.” We must stay true to ourselves. We must ditch the herd mentality of “Na PDP my grand papa and grand mama dey vote for tete.” Or “Na APC my fiance dey support o” and just be true to ourselves. The better alternatives can only become better choices when we give them a fighting chance in our heads. The moment we write them off as doomed-to-fail in our heads, we will only be playing into the hands of the psychological warlords bent on preying on our gullibility.
When those of us who know refuse to settle for lesser devils, our thoughts, our actions will spill over and affect the psyche of those on the streets. Did PDP not share money in 2015? Did that stop anything? Forget the “no power can stop an idea whose time has come” thing; the “idea” that won in 2015 has been around since 2003, why didn’t it fly before 2015? It’s because before 2015, the people were still held captive by the manipulations of the “whether we vote or not, dey don sabi who go win” psychological war. A victory over that psychological manipulation ushered in a totally radical way of viewing things and influenced the actions of the electorates in 2015.
That second phase must be won too to allow for the emergence of a new order separate from the familiar faces that have been around our political space since 1960. It is a victory that must be won in our minds first before spilling over to influence our actions and that of those around us.
Friday in the Muslim world is a very sacrosanct day that affords the faithful opportunity to congregate and share thoughts.
As for the Friday 15th of July, 2016 it was indeed a dark one as some elements within the Turkish military forces planned to topple the democratically elected government in the country.
The reality was that the coup hit a brick wall courtesy of the masses resolve to move massively against the military forces who had announced a takeover of government on that faithful day. The fall out from the failed coup was massive as well with over 200 people reportedly killed while about 1,500 sustained injuries following confrontations between the forces and the defending masses.
On the other hand, there is currently a massive purge of military officials who have been involved in the purported usurpation of power while about 6,000 arrests have been made.
The judiciary is also not left out of the purge as over 2,000 judges have been removed apparently in a bid to institute a reform process in the judiciary which will block a reoccurrence of such senseless act against a democratically elected President in the country.
This is because Turkey does not have capital punishment laws against acts of treason by individuals against the state. That the constitution will be reviewed is certain when viewed from the outcome of this ugly incident.
Recall that the president some few days to the attempted coup through the judiciary gave more powers to the military apparently to secure the nation’s territory from wanton act of terrorism that had engulfed the country in recent past.
Let me stop there for now as my intention ab-initio was to dissect the reasons behind the successful Egypt coup of 2013 whereby the first Democratic government in the country led by Mohammed Morsi was toppled and why the Turkey’s version few days ago was unsuccessful even though the two Muslim countries share similar religious sentiment.
Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected in Egypt following the 2011 Arab Spring protest which saw the end of Egypt’s maximum ruler, Hosni Mubarak. Due to Morsi’s Pro Islamic tendencies, he was tagged as a threat to western secularism and democracy.
He was removed by General Abdulfatah Al Sisi after massive protests from the masses who were sceptical about Morsi’s posture which they believe was tilting towards a more religious Egypt. Thus, the masses rejected a government they had elected through the ballot just because of some uncertain sinister motive.
Once again the masses had their way and for me there are more angle go that. The believe that a new bloc that will challenge western hegemony had emerged hence their grip of the Middle East and by extension the Muslim world will slip away in no time is a factor to note. The west supported the military regime to topple the first democracy in Egypt a system they had always preached and even financed across the globe. It thus means that democracy is good for the people when it favours the west and it is bad when there are tendencies it won’t satisfy their selfish interest.
The social media as usual played a vital role in mobilising the masses against Morsi. While its use during the “Anti-Morsi” campaign was successful same could not be said of the failed coup in Turkey as it was a story of a different stroke for a different folk.
So what has changed between 2013 that Egypt’s Morsi was toppled and 2016 that Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was unable to be toppled?
A lot has changed. The Turkish are now more conscious of their freedom than being a stooge to some foreign conspiracies and this could be viewed from the Egypt scenario as nothing has changed since the unpopular government of Al Sisi took over. There have been growing insecurity and human right abuses with many opposition politicians and journalists now behind bars.
As for Turkey, the government of Erdogan had been accused of the aforementioned challenges in Egypt as well and had been tagged as having Pro Islamic tendencies like Morsi thereby bringing to disrepute Turkey’s secular leanings as championed by the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Atatürk. But the fact that the masses wanted him is an indication that the mandate of the people cannot be compromised.
The West should note this as more people are getting acquainted with their ploy day by day. Though they have distanced themselves from the sponsors of the coup in Turkey, the role they played in the toppling of the Morsi government leave many in doubt as to their resolve against Erdogan who shares similar sentiment with the latter.
The same social media that was used to rally support against Morsi was employed by Erdogan to reclaim his mandate from the invading marauders who had come in the form of military forces. The masses took to their feet having been mobilised by President Erdogan who urged them to picket the streets and airports to defend their mandate. No doubt the president is popular among them even after he had been accused of plans to destroy Turkey’s secular posture.
Turkish cleric and businessman, Fethulah Gulen was accused by the Turkish government of influencing the coup attempt following successive plots aimed at pitching his followers against the government of Erdogan while latest document obtained by Arab TV channel Al Jazeera showed names of 80 top government officials who would have taken power had it been the coup was successful.
For posterity sake those behind the coup attempt be it local or foreign should learn to respect the people’s mandate which is the core principle of democracy. The Turkish government has called for the extradition of Gulen who had been on exile in the US. Such a decision should be respected by the US if after investigation the man is found to be guilty.
Other leaders from across the world should learn from Turkey’s Erdogan because had it been he is not popular among the masses, he would have been left alone to carry his cross. Such popularity however do not come from an impoverished masses, it comes from an empowered ones.
I voted President Buhari in the last election. But no, it wasn’t because I thought he could change anything; I have never seen him as anything but a living and breathing disaster. I voted for him because I overrated the ability of Nigerians to think and reason correctly.
My thought was that if President Buhari failed (as I knew he would), Nigerians would sit, think, and consider a “third option”. That was what birthed my THIRD OPTION crusade. I wrote then that the problems of this country are systemic and will never be solved by mere electoral gimmicks and reforms, but by a revolutionary third force.
As at that time, PDP had ruled. A Yoruba man had been President. A southerner had been President. My thought was that if a northerner and a product of the merger became President and failed too like the ones who came before him, Nigerians would see that Nigeria’s problems surpass an APC, PDP, North, South thing and unite to birth a third option that will painstakingly erode the old order, end this current shitstem that glorifies looters and celebrates lawless leaders and establish a new order where illegality and the madness that characterised the old shitstem can no longer thrive. But I was wrong.
We don’t think. It is said that when a man is pushed to the wall, he will turn back and fight. Not Nigerians. We will bang our head against that wall and keep bleeding instead of turning back to fight. We don’t think. Baba Fela was right to have described us all as zombies. We have handed over our brains to political and religious leaders.
Look, Nigeria has bigger problems than Buhari, APC, PDP or the north. We are suffering from systemic failures resulting from a system that harbours countless social contradictions. You don’t patch up systemic failures this pronounced; you either rise to end the system or continue in the four-year electoral delusion, hoping things would change only to discover that they won’t.
Come 2019, President Buhari will either be reelected or somebody else will become President. We will restart the cycle of hope and right before our eyes see it dashed like before. We will come on Facebook and our blogs and write beautiful grammar about how we have been let down and how we have to wait till 2023. We will console ourselves with: “Your voters card is your power. If he fails, we will remove him too.” But we lie.
How many failures do we have to witness before we become old and grey and leave a horrible country for our children? It is delusional to think that any real power lies in that voters card. The real power lies in our ability to think and take unpopular steps.
Our search for sanity in the midst of these chaos will yield no fruit until this shitstem is torn down. Until then, we will continue to elect the same folks under different party names. Party names will change. Slogans will change. Emblems will change. Portfolios will change. But what will remain constant is the suffering and groaning of the ordinary people.
The children of the ordinary people will continue to get crumbs and continue to be offered 23, 000 naira jobs for 2 years while the children of the illegal beneficiaries of this shitstem will continue to get backdoor appointments to CBN, FIRS, etc. Ordinary people have no future under this shitstem. Their only hope for a better life lies in the struggle for a new system where merit, equality, freedom are more than mere words on paper.
We must end this cycle of madness. It has gone on for too long. Some people have been singing “e go better” since 1960. E never better o. Some people have been voting since 1960, chanting slogans, “HOPE xxx”, “TRANSFORMATION XYZ”, “CHANGE ABC”. But nothing has changed. Nothing has been transformed. When will we wake up to see the insanity that we have embraced for far too long? When are we going to open our eyes to see the hopelessness of our hope? There is no future for ordinary people under this shitstem; their only shot at a better tomorrow is to end this shitstem.
As long as this shitstem lives, the dreams of ordinary people will remain buried. The death of this shitstem is the only force capable of rolling away the stone from the mouth of the tombstone where their dreams and aspirations lie buried. This cycle of madness has gone on for long enough; the time to end it is now.
The Mo Ibrahim’s prize for achievement in African leadership was announced few weeks ago and for the umpteenth time there was no clear cut winner for the coveted prize among past African leaders.
After reading the news, I remembered a discussion with a colleague at work recently on the personality of Mo himself and how best he could channel his God-given wealth to develop his home of descent – Sudan.
My colleague had argued that instead of Mo investing so much as high as 5 million dollars on African leaders, it would not be out of place if he directly spend or invest it in Sudan or some countries battling with economic challenges within the continent.
Since I was a novice about what he is saying I had to keep quiet but was quick to marshal out my point as well and told him I have heard so much about him and that he was at the anti-corruption conference held in London of recent alongside Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari among others.
So, who is Mo Ibrahim?
After the announcement that there was no winner in this year’s edition of the award, I was further challenged to do some googling about his personality and his rationale for setting up the African Leadership Achievement Prize.
There I found out that Mo is a Sudanese-British Billionaire with investment majorly in telecommunication and one of the most powerful persons in the United Kingdom.
The foundation he set up has been in the fore-front of sponsoring the African Leadership Prize which is geared towards celebrating leaders from the continent who had contributed immensely to the growth of their country.
From my research, one of the objectives of the prize is to ensure that Africa continues to benefit from the experience and expertise of exceptional leaders when they leave national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.
Aside the 5 million dollars prize, it is expected that such Leader will earn 200,000 dollars monthly for the rest of his or her life.
That’s breathtaking you will say? Well, it was borne out of the free will of the donor which aims at encouraging African Leaders to invest vigorously in the countries they govern while also ensuring that such legacies are sustainable.
That the monetary value of the Ibrahim’s Prize is higher than the coveted Nobel Prize for Peace is also an indication that Mo meant well for Leaders from his continent of origin.
Since the Prize commenced in 2007, it has been won by four African Leaders, the last being former President of Namibia, Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba, .
In 2007, President Joaquim Chissano from Mozambique won the inaugural Prize while South African Leader, Nelson Mandela was an honorary awardee for that year. The award was not given to any Leader in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and of late, 2015.
Will it elude past African leaders in 2016 as well? Only time will tell.
So what’s my concern about someone’s else intention to reward African leaders for their achievements? The answer is not farfetched.
Most of these leaders are rich already while some of them will get life pensions and allowances after leaving the office. Why I am not saying leaders who have contributed immensely to the development of their countries should not be celebrated, what the sponsors of the Ibrahim’s Prize need to do is to look at sectors in which such huge amount of money can be invested.
Sectors like Science and Technology, Universal Health Coverage, Water Supply, Electricity, Education, Agriculture and Research among others can be prioritized, thus taking the continent out of the quagmire facing it in terms of funding these sectors.
Some specialized higher institutions on the continent have been established for the purpose of research in Medicine, Agriculture and Science and Technology. Such institutions are lacking adequate funds and they need grants to further consolidate on the mandate of establishing them.
Mo Ibrahim need to review his mandate on the 5 million dollars African Leadership Prize by channeling it to the development of countries and institutions on the continent rather than her leaders.
Africa need more philanthropists like the Sudanese-British billionaire at the moment in order to take her rightful place among the comity of nations.
Ours is a continent that is rich with abundant resources and talents which will take up the world in the near future. Suffice it to say that most innovations and inventions we see in America and the West today were developed by African brains.
Obviously, the position of CAN which premised education as a sole property of missionaries requires rigorous review. The colonial authorities used education as a tool in administration towards integrating their culture and religious belief to respective countries they colonize. Yet the education and civilization promoted by the colonial masters were largely inherited from Islamic Civilization and Muslim Scholarship.
Sir John Glubb in A Short History of the Arab Peoples, 1969 stated that ‘the indebtedness of Western Christendom to Arab civilization was systematically played down, if not completely denied. A tradition was built up, by censorship and propaganda, that the Muslim imperialists had been mere barbarians and that the rebirth of learning in the West derived directly from Roman and Greek sources alone, without any Arab intervention’.
Furthermore, UNESCO and the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL) in 2015 marked the 1000th anniversary since the appearance of the remarkable seven volume treatise on optics – Kitab al-Manazir – written by Arab scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) who was a pioneering scientific thinker that made important contributions to the understanding of vision, optics and light. He was described as the father of modern Optics, Ophthalmology, Experimental Physics and Scientific Method and the first Theoretical Physicist.
Ian P. Howard argued in a 1996 Perception article that Alhazen should be credited with many discoveries and theories which were previously attributed to Western Europeans writing centuries later and influenced medieval European scientists and philosophers such as Roger Bacon, Robert Grosseteste, Witelo, Leonardo Di Vinci and Christian Huygens. But Alhazen’s book came into its own later, when it attracted the attention of mathematicians like Kepler, Descartes, and Huygens, thanks in part to Friedrich Risner’s edition published in Basel in 1572.
Again, the Arab Muslim physician, Abulcasis, has equally been described by many notable scholars as the father of modern surgery who first describe ectopic pregnancy and haemophilia among others and pioneered the preparation of medicines by sublimation and distillation. In 14th century, the French surgeon Guy de Chauliac quoted his book – al-Tasrif – over 200 times. Pietro Argallata also described Abū al-Qāsim as “without doubt the chief of all surgeons.”
Surprisingly, it took the turn of the millennium before World Health Organization (WHO) could acknowledge the pioneer work of Persian physician Rhazes (860-932) who gave the systematic description of measles, and its distinction from smallpox and chickenpox and published –The Book of Smallpox and Measles. The Bulletin of WHO, May 1970 read thus “His writings on smallpox and measles show originality and accuracy, and his essay on infectious diseases was the first scientific treatise on the subject.” It is thus befitting to ask: how would the world have been today without “algorithm”, “algebra” and “alkali” as the legacy of Muslim polymaths unto the West?
No wonder HRH Prince Charles of Wales, the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II, said in 1993 “If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilization owe to the Islamic world. It is a failure, which stems, I think, from the straight-jacket of history, which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society, and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history”
Moreover, the pre-colonial scholarships of Muslim Ulamah in Yorubaland also lend credence to this assertion coupled with their promotion of societal stability via mutual tolerance. Long before Missionary adventure in 1841, Islam has been in Yorubaland for well over two hundred years where the first and only literacy was Arabic as widely noted by Emeritus Prof. Ade-Ajayi. According to Prof. Isaac Ogunbiyi, the origin of the word ‘Yoruba’ has been traced to Arabic writers such as Ahmad Baba (1627 in his mi’raj al-su’ud) and Muhammed Bello (1837 in his infaq al-maysur) both of whom were reported among the earliest to name the people in Oyo ‘yariba’, ‘yaruba’, ‘yarba’ at a time when they were still referring to themselves by their diverse ethnic identities.
It is on this basis of freedom of religion that Barack Obama stated at Cairo University in 2009 that “Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.”
Reinforcing this assertion, Michelle Obama paid a visit to Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, United Kingdom in 2015 to inspire hundreds of young people where majority of teenage students cover their heads with hijab. Speaking to the crowd of hijab-clad girls, Mrs. Obama said, “When I look out at all these young women, I see myself. In so many ways your story is my story. I’m here because of you. Because girls like you inspire and impress me, every day.’ She couldn’t have chosen a more fantastically multicultural school – only a handful of hijab-free heads in the entire place – or a more impressive one, against the odds. More than 70 per cent of the students are on free school meals, but four-fifths go on to university.
Obviously, we live in one world as reiterated by Kofi Annan. We need to understand and respect each other, live peacefully together and live up to the best of our respective traditions. That is not as easy as we might like it to be. But that is all the more reason to try harder, with all our tools and all our will.
It is time to unlearn intolerance and accept hijab as a divinely endowed honours worn by blessed Eve wife of Adam, Sarah wife of Abraham, Mary mother of Jesus and Khadijah wife of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with them all) as a symbol of purity and humility.
On September 11, 2003, two teachers at the Franklin Science Academy in Muskogee, Oklahoma, were discussing the terrorist attacks that had occurred exactly two years earlier, when they spotted a sixth grader, Nashala Hearn, wearing a Muslim headscarf. The school’s dress code prohibited students from wearing “hats, caps, bandanas, plastic caps, or hoods on jackets inside the building.” One of the teachers sent Nashala to the principal, who warned and later suspended the eleven-year-old when she continued to wear the scarf.
The school attorney said, “You treat religious items the same as you would any other item, no better or worse. Our dress code prohibits headgear, period.” The school was willing to articulate the Establishment Clause argument against its initial antagonist, the Rutherford Institute, a Christian civil liberties foundation that assisted the Hearns in filing their complaint in a federal court. When the US Justice Department intervened by filing additional briefs against the school in the spring of 2004, however, the school quickly caved in.
Under a settlement agreement, the school agreed to change the dress code so as to include an accommodation, or exception, for religious headgear (hijab). The school also paid an undisclosed sum of monetary damages to the Hearn family. In response, Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta issued a public statement that “This settlement reaffirms the principle that public schools cannot require students to check their faith at the schoolhouse door.”
It is this constitutional position of law that underlines the judgment delivered by Justice Jide Falola of the state High Court in Osun State on Friday June 3, 2016 in favour of a case instituted by Osun State Muslim Community against the state government on the right of female Muslim students in public schools in the state to use hijab on their school uniforms. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), its chairman and others later joined voluntarily as respondents.
In his judgment, Justice Falola traced the history of religion and observed that religion was introduced to the case when CAN and others joined the suit, noting that he decided to deliver the judgment after all plea to settle the matter amicably has proved futile. Premising his judgment on Section 38 of the Nigeria Constitution and Article 8 of the 2004 policy published by the state Ministry of Education, Justice Falola held that female Muslim students were not exempted from the freedom of religion, conscience and thought.
The judgment re-echoed the position of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, addressed to the Department of Public Information (DPI) seminar on “Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding” in New York, 2004 where he identified unlearning intolerance in part as a matter of legal protection. The right to freedom of religion – and to be free from discrimination based on religion – is long enshrined in international law, from the UN Charter to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other instruments. Such standards have been incorporated into the laws of many countries.
Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace as enshrined in Article 1.1 of the Declaration on Principles of Tolerance, proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November 1995.
Article 26 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the international community in 1948, states that “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
It is on the basis of using education as a tool in promoting tolerance that prompted Vernon Hills High School in USA to stage “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab” event in 2015 designed to allow Christians and other non-Muslim female students the opportunity to wear hijab and gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith. In the same vein, Dr Larycia Hawkins, a Christian and a Wheaton College Political Science Professor, posted photos of herself on Facebook and Twitter wearing a hijab to show solidarity with Muslim women in America and inviting other women to join her.
Saheela Ibraheem, a native of Ede in Osun State with her full-grown hijab was accepted to Harvard College at age ahead of her time. At 16, she was named to a list of “The World’s 50 Smartest Teenagers,” which got the attention of the White House. She was invited to Washington D.C. in early March 2015 where she introduced the president and first lady at a reception to kick off Black History Month. Acknowledging her exceptional nature, Obama said, “We are so proud of your accomplishments and all that lies ahead of you, and you reflect our history. Young people like this inspire our future.” At no point in her career has she been denied wearing hijab.
..to be continued
It is the middle of the year and also the last month in the second quarter of 2016. Thus, the month provides us with the opportunity to reviewing our achievements so far in the ongoing year in order to know where we are when compared to where we are coming from since the start of the year.
At the global level, the US Presidential election is gaining momentum.
It is believed that against all odds the battle is going to be between Democratic Party Candidate and wife of former US President, Hillary Clinton and Business Man turned Politician, Donald Trump who will be representing the Republican Party at the election billed for November.
In Nigeria, the fight against corruption is taking new dimension by the day while the government has also dealt a big blow on Boko Haram just like the world is dealing with ISIS.
However, this month has seen a new dimension to agitations by pressure groups in the country with the emergence of a new militant group in the oil rich Niger Delta – the Niger Delta Avengers. The group has blown up many oil installations of late and has threatened to bring down the government should it fails to grant their request, chief of which is the sole control of resources in the region by the Niger-Deltans and a call for secession.
The month of June is historic to many Nigerians due to the colossal “June 12” election. This day was widely adjudged the day Nigerians experienced the most free and fair election which was devoid of ethnic bias, religious bigotry and above all electoral violence.
After the election, Social Democratic Party (SDP) standard bearer, Chief MKO Abiola was declared the president-elect amid pomp and pageantry. But as fate will have it, the election was nullified by the military dictator, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
This event in June shaped the lives of many Nigerians home and abroad who fought for the actualisation of MKO’s mandate and the return to Democracy in Nigeria.
While many believed in the Democratic system as a better alternative to military rule, others have remained apathetic to the system since the election was nullified. They don’t even come out to vote anymore.
The same person who nullified the election, General Babangida was earlier reported to have died in Germany this June where he went for treatment. That has however been dispelled as the “Maradona” is back “in da hood” hale and hearty.
Many mystery about June you will say? Hold on, do you recall the role played by former military leader, General Sani Abacha in the MKO Abiola mandate? Well, he too died in June. That was 8th of June in 1998. The excitement which followed his demise is another story for the historians.
Why did I choose the title of my piece in the first place? Why the hullabaloo about June passing away like others? Well it was borne out of the recent deaths of the great boxing icon, Muhammad Ali, Nigeria’s finest , Stephen Keshi and Former Technical Director, Shuaibu Amodu.
These sport icons passed away within 10 days in June. Again why June?
Well the Yoruba’s will say “naso then dey ask person o” apologies for the pidgin English I employed there.
Yes, it is in June and just like every other month, people die but the reality is that those that died are colossus who have change the tide of time and there legacies have been imprinted on the marble of life.
We cannot but talk about them because they are celebrities.
While the world mourn Muhammad Ali “the greatest”, Nigerians received the death of its finest football star and later manager of the National football team, Stephen Keshi. It was painful because he just lost his wife six months ago. Apparently there is a “strong connection” between the two which the former find so hard to come to term with.
And just on Saturday the 11th of June, I was just reading some tweets and saw “Omo Gbajabiamila” twitted it that Shuaibu Amodu is dead. I had to post it on my Facebook timeline as well but with a question mark and in no seconds people trooped to comment on the comment box.
Some said no it was Keshi you mean to type, some said yes he’s dead.
Then, I got the information from the Nigerian football federation twitter handle @thenff which confirmed Amodu’s demise.
As usual many commented with the hashtag #RIPAmodu, “oh this is sad”, “what is really happening, may God save us all”, “only in June, we lost two heroes?” etc. The most interesting part was the fact that Nigerians used the opportunity to throw jabs at Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa who have been at loggerhead over who controls the glass house – headquarters of Nigeria’s football federation in Abuja.
It is good that we are mourning the dead and praying for the repose of their souls while also extending some hands of fellowship to their family members.
While we are also contemplating on immortalising them, we must all know that the sequential demise of the two Nigerian football icons must not be misinterpreted to querying God as to why? He knows how he does His will. The keyword should be how to live a life full of goodness with numerous impact in the lives of others.
The Nigerian Senate has been shrouded in controversies of late which has resorted to Nigerians believing that nothing good can come out of the hallowed chamber.
From the purported purchase of SUV jeeps at an over-bloated price, to the proposed amendment, and hitherto stoppage of the CCT, CCB and ACJ Acts, and to the handling of the “padded” and “unpadded” budget with the Executive, Nigerians are arguably not happy with the 8th Senate.
However, members of the 8th Senate have remained resolute against all odds and are prepared to bringing the dividends of good governance to the doorsteps of the masses. This, in itself, is a plus, and kudos to them for managing and concluding the 2016 budget brouhaha with the Executive in a matured manner.
The 8th Senate, notwithstanding the criticism against her, has also added another feather to its “very big cap”, with the recent promulgation of a death penalty for people involved in kidnapping which has taken a new dimension in Nigeria.
More worrisome is the fact that kidnappers no longer have criteria for choosing their victims, so far as they can identify any person working in an organisation – whether the individual is a full fledged staff or contract staff, the deal is done for them.
There are also instances whereby children connived with their mates to perfect this evil and barbaric act by kidnapping their parents to get ransom from them. In short, no one is immune from the onslaught of kidnappers.
That the Nigerian Senate had passed a law to put to death people involving in kidnapping is highly welcome, but the big question is how come that the phenomenon gained more grounds over the years? What had been the measures put in place by the Nigerian government to address this cankerworm?
Going down memory lane, kidnapping became popular through the activities of some aggrieved youths in the Niger Delta who felt that the region had been neglected for years by the government. They argued that Nigeria made a large chunk of her fortunes from the region through oil exploration without no cause to develop the region.
This metamorphosed into the kidnapping of oil expatriates and notable people who were sometimes used to get ransom and also score political points.
Having said that, it took the government many years before coming to terms with their mandates which later culminated to the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as well as the Ministry of Niger Delta and the introduction of Amnesty programmes.
But before these were put in place a lot of damages had been done while its resultant effects were the replication of kidnapping in other parts of the country.
Soon many Nigerian youths started kidnapping wealthy individuals and people who are related to business tycoons, politicians; there are even instances whereby the kidnappers kidnap religious leaders, children, market women et al, and often times they kill their victims when ransoms demanded are not met.
To cut the story short, we cannot continue like this as no one is spared of their activities, and that is why the 8th Senate should be applauded for criminalizing kidnapping and promulgating death penalty for people caught in the act, even though capital punishment is fading away in the international community.
Before we began to commit to death kidnappers in the country, there is the need to take a holistic view of the factors responsible for this menace.
No doubt everyone will agree with me that unemployment is one of the major factors responsible for kidnapping, and, if not nipped in the bud, it will continuously affect the development of Nigeria.
The youths are the most affected individuals that are unemployed in the country and when you look at kidnapping vividly, they constituted the majority of those involved in the act though they may have adults sponsors.
The irony in this is that their sponsors will prefer to use them in such acts than to provide gainful employment for them since kidnapping has become an avenue to make big money.
What the government need to do to stop kidnapping is to take the youths out of this predicament by providing employment for them. This no doubt will bring most of the perpetrators out of the quagmire in which they have found themselves.
Also, the economic environment need serious surgical operation in order to encourage the youths to take up entrepreneurship. Giving out soft loans with little or no interest to them should be one of the ways in which the government can engage the youths from towing the path of disaster through their involvement in kidnapping.
The government must also work with religious institutions to help address the challenges facing the youths. Here the religious bodies will play the role of admonishing them, while the government ensure that they do the needful by providing a level playing field for youths to get employed.
For me, if the unemployment rate is reduced to the barest minimum, kidnapping and other vices in our society will be a thing of the past. Then anyone involved in kidnapping and other similar vices can now face the full wrath of the law.
The recent I don’t care attitude of governments at all levels in Nigeria drew my attention to an incident that occurred when growing up.
News had it then that a cabinet member of a state had lost his family members to a car crash due to bad condition of roads within the state.
That was about 20 years ago. (more…)
News filtered in during the course of plenary at the Nigerian senate chamber last week that the ongoing amendment to the code of conduct bureau and tribunal act as well as the administration of criminal justice act had been suspended.
To some Nigerians it is a welcome development after the pressure was mounted on members of the red chamber to drop the amendment at this period. (more…)
Eunice, Precious and Taofeeq are friends whose certain challenges in life endeavours –what my other spiritual friends will call trials –propelled the need to re-understand “A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade” Yoruba philosophical thought. Eunice and Precious’ cases are similar, though with different causative factors. Taofeeq’s was quite different. But all are unified at a point where lessons on scarcity and resources allocation are indispensable.
Eunice is a slim lady, elegant, intelligent and with an impeccable command of English language. Many would like to attribute her communication prowess to her field of study: Eunice is a graduate of Mass Communication with Second Class Upper Division grade. I disagree because I have seen a graduate of English language who could not write complainant statement in pure English language without giving a substantial part to Pidgin. I believe Eunice is just a language nerd. Eunice would be 40 years old this year. To her, because she is still single, she is facing trial. May be from certain spiritual principalities! Precious’ body structure is the opposite of Eunice’s. She is a typical example of what is called, in street lingo, “Orobo to cute”. She manages to balance between being plump and sporty. Precious will be having her PhD in Human Development in few months. Similar to Eunice, Precious will be 43 years old in May, this year. She is also single. From my close interaction with both ladies, their morals – cultural and Christian faith-driven –are worthwhile, and their credibility is not in doubt.
Taofeeq, being a guy, probably wouldn’t be enlisting late marriage (or being single) as trial. He is married, though, and the marriage is blessed with kids. He controls a small enterprise of 20 – 25 employees. At an age of 36 years, the confectionery company he laboured to build from scratch, staring from years of baking apprenticeship, now fetches him an annual net profit of Five Million Naira. His fixed assets –building, machines and bakery equipment –value at Ten Million Naira. Taofeeq is a secondary school leaver. He could not afford a university education when he ought to, and this necessitated his exploration of other means of livelihood. To him, his inability to get a degree when his mates did is a trial, on which he still groans.
In all my respective discussions with these three persons –Eunice, Precious, and Taofeeq –I had ensured we re-engaged and re-understood “A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade” Yoruba philosophical thought on scarcity and resource allocation, in view of demystifying the spiritual attachment they have given to their scarcity-induced experiences. These are experiences they all do not want to take responsibilities, or accept fate, for their resources’ allocation preferences.
Eunice, a Nigerian, in the midst of blacks, has always been dreaming of marrying a White guy. When the dream of leaving the shores of Nigeria, at least to afford her the opportunity of meeting Oyinbo, becomes bleaker, she resolved to “manage” a black guy, but one that is lanky, tall, and preferably with “six packs” abs. Eunice has now resorted to fate; she is ready to go for “anything husband”, in as much she will be loved. But at 40, her chances of marrying a single guy are almost non-existent. She is not yet in term with polygamy, nor has she agreed to marry a widower or divorcee, who, most likely, would have had children from previous relationship. She never prayed for step-children. In all, Eunice has achieved being a dream pursuer.
Precious had advances from men expressing their love and intentions of marriage immediately she completed her first degree. She turned all offers down. She was afraid of dream killers. She wanted to be a scholar, an academic, and a human development expert of international repute. She believed marriage, especially with men of superiority complex, would defeat her dream. As she is now rounding up her PhD, with fair number of academic journals and conference proceedings to her resume, and with a teaching job in a university, Precious is living up to her dream, but she still alleges that inability to marry till now is a trial caused by certain principalities.
Taofeeq wouldn’t want to appraise the progress he has made from another perspective: one that compares his financial status and standard of living with that of his mates who got their degrees when they ought to. Taofeeq was learning bread baking, while his mates were learning binomials. His mates are either employed, or unemployed. In Nigeria, few of his age mates could match his financial strength through legitimate earnings. Still, Taofeeq is bothered of being one that has no degree appellation to flaunt.
To the Eunice, Precious and Taofeeq: A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade. You cannot eat your cake and still have it. Aba Alade (Alade’s village) is a metaphor for a livelihood with limited resources. If our lesson in elementary Economics is still valid, the insatiability of human wants and the limitations of resources (material and immaterial) will always be responsible for scarcity. This will require systematic allocation of your resources. You probably will not be able to have it two ways. You will have to set your scale of preference; you will have to choose what your forgone alternative will be. You must be happy with your decision. You must not place responsibility of innocent principalities.
A ki je meji po, l’aba Alade is a Yoruba philosophical thought on scarcity and resource allocation that echoes the indispensability of these human and social (economic) principles. It tells you to choose one, you may not have both!
Africa, the Dark Continent of Conrad, has for long been a victim of civilization. The legacies of colonization have sharply brought down her much cherished culture. Culture is the totality of man.
Many scholars have concluded that colonization brought nothing to Africa than slavery and loose of consciousness. Walter Rodney expresses this in his book How European Underdeveloped Africa. He listed many instances to include the economy and political life in Africa.
With a sharp contradiction, Albert sees Europe in Africa as a privilege for Africa to develop. Africans could have developed better than where she currently is today. He blamed African leaders as the problem of development. Both scholars are right in their explanations and perspectives to the coins of colonization.
But I will like the Africans themselves to answer this question: What is the secret of Chinese development? Why have the Africans failed to develop?
The colonizers were religiously motivated to deliver the African countries from their leaders. This was one of the reasons for colonialism. Till today, the richest groups of people in Africa are the religious leaders. They use the church money on their names and families to build universities that their one-thousandths members cannot afford. The largest private universities in Africa are located in Nigeria. These universities are owned by Muslims and Christian leaders. These universities hardly give scholarship to their poor members who lived by hunger to pay tithes and offering. The colonizers gave out scholarships up till now to Africans while these leaders want to build heaven on earth with the gain of their worshiping centers. The irony is that while the Africans with scholarship will prefer to stay back rather than coming down to be polluted by the system of underdevelopment, the African religious leaders have successfully created their own religion that the poor Africans will worship through them.
Development is embedded in culture. African traditional leaders are nobody in the face of development. They are the neglected institutions. Colonial masters at first made use of the traditional leaders to purify the culture of the Africans. These African leaders misused these opportunities and increased the yoke on the shoulders of their people. Yokes of physical slavery, extortion and power exaggerations brought a re-think of African traditional institution.
Ekeh (1975) felt that Africa’s ‘common men’ politicians planned to take over the sacred seat. They fought and did so through, and with, propaganda. The traditional institution lost the seats of powers to new African elites who found themselves and terribly in the shoes of traditional leaders. The traditional African culture had suddenly become a mere form of cover picture of lion and lioness of a nursery kid. African traditional institutions were corrupt, fought for the sovereignty enjoyed by them before colonization. They refused to believe that democracy simply means lay down the sovereignty for general purposes.
African [leaders] elite tenure of African development is the second colonization. Here, Rodney was right that colonization was evil. But Rodney will be wrong to associate this to the white folks. Africans at this stage took ransom of other Africans. Sudan resolved to pre-colonial concept feudalism. South Sudan became the slaves for the north Sudan. In Nigeria, corruption brought unforeseen segregation. There are the poor, those who worked as slaves in different government and private parastatals, and the rich who also work in these places. The rich have access to the resources of the nation. They steal and assist their foreign partners-in-crime to accelerated stinking wealthiness. They made laws to chain the poor; they are always justified by the judicial arms of government. Rodney refuses to see the underdevelopment of Africa from the irresponsible leadership posture and lack of meaningful vision on the part of African rulers and people. Obama made it clear in his visit to Ghana in 2014 that African will only be developed by the Africans. It is a waste of time and resources to conclude that Europeans alone underdeveloped Africa.
African culture refused to develop Africa because of this development-mute of African leaders’ positions. China was a colony of the British but managed to emerge a developed country, her language and products, law are China-centered. Africa development is being hampered by Africans.