Tag: Nigeria

10 Apr 2017

Nigeria’s Followership Problem

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.

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15 Jul 2016

Ending The Cycle of Madness: Reexamining The Third Option

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.

14 Jun 2016

Hijab, CAN and Religious Tolerance in Nigeria (2)

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.

Read Part 1

12 Jun 2016

Like Every Other Month, This June Shall Pass

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.

18 May 2016

Before We Cast The First Stone On A Kidnapper

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.

01 May 2016

The Laxity of a State

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…)

16 Apr 2016

“It is up to you”: My First Lesson on Plurality in Malaysia

From certain distant observers, Malaysia is an Islamic country, most likely, the nationals speak Arabic, and Sharee’a (Islamic) law is the national legal mechanism. No matter how ludicrous this assertion might sound to those in the knowledge of the actual identity of Malaysia, it should not be surprising.  It cannot be unusual when there are Nigerians naming Australia as a member country of West Africa. It can be that appalling!

Even though I was fairly informed of the national identity of Malaysia, and its socio-political characterization, I was extremely surprised to learn that, despite being of Muslims majority (70%, arguably), with handy portion of their legal instrumentality reflecting Islamic laws, Malaysians at their individual levels are pluralistic, tolerant of individual freedom of choice, even when they disagree. “It is up to you” is very close to an average Malaysian’s cheek; he or she throws it at you to simultaneously express respect to your choice, and disagreement or disinterest with/in that choice. “It is up to you to make your choice.” “It is up to you, since it is your life.”

This trait of an individualistic society is in steep contradiction with the Malaysian national collectivist culture which is perpetuated by the political class and generally obtainable in modern Asian countries. However, Malaysians, at their interpersonal relationship level, proudly exercise this tolerance to plural society and endorse libertarianism. As a citizen of a country of God-appointed litigators and moral policemen, Malaysians’ tolerant disposition to ideals they equally find strange and obnoxious was my first lesson.

I encountered “it is up to you” in many of my interactions with Malaysians –from classrooms, to group discussion, to shopping malls, to groceries’ stores. In all, Malaysians’ disposition to homosexuals, or people that are publicly exhibiting effeminate features (for supposed males), and masculine features (for supposed females), is the most reinforcing of Malaysians’ unmistakable maturity to deal with plurality.

To be very clear, and for the purpose of emphasis, Malaysians’ majority are Muslims, Malaysia is a close-open society, depending on your angle of appraisal, and homosexuality is a crime. Yet, Malaysians will not act with brazen impunity of dispensing justice on behalf of the state; Malaysians will not assault and harass people that are inclined to homosexuality. In fact, my close knowledge of homosexuals, their dressing style, outward appearances, and concrete understanding of their existential livelihood came from Malaysia.

I have had few encounters with this people, though distant, but till now, I could not still wrap myself around the actual fact and truth supporting their wish for anatomical shift. I have been subtly wooed by one of them, I have been served food in a restaurant by one of them, I have taken ferry with one of them sitting nearby, and most unbelievable, I have prayed in mosque with one of them. One of this people a typical Nigeria religionist so much abhor and ready to kill on behalf of his God is a mosque administrative assistant for people praying to their own God in Malaysia. I have since been wondering if Nigerians’ Allah/Jehovah is different from Malaysians’. If this is not, certainly Nigerians’ Islam/Christianity is different from Malaysians’, and/or Nigerian Muslims and Christians are different from their Malaysian counterparts. You cannot claim to read the same scripture, worship the same God and have different disposition to the same phenomenon, especially when such is argued to be scriptural or theological. A particular intervening variable must be missing out.

 

And I know. I know that Nigeria citizenry is one with battered psychology –evident in cheerleading of its treasury looters but reprimand its petty thieves. I know that as Nigerians provide alternatives to public amenities like electricity and water, they are also tempted to provide justice. But there is a need to specifically engage certain section of the Nigerian populace who dispense jungle justice or rationalises such national madness based on religious leaning and theological precepts.

It should dawn on us why we should quickly fix the Nigerians’ religionists’ demon; we should infuse “it is up to you” into their mental being for us to be safe from their theist terrorism.


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