TWO very symptomatic occurrences filtered into the system last week. One was the poor performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee for election to the International Criminal Court (ICC) jury, Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun’s decision to appoint winner of the just concluded Big Brother Naija and indigene of the state, Olamilekan Moshood Agbelesebioba, popularly known as Laycon, as Youth Ambassador of the state.
Of the 20 nominees, however, Justice Bello and two others, upon grading by the committee saddled with their screening, were found to have fallen under the lowest category, next only to disqualification cadre and thus falling short of requirements stipulated in the Rome Statute for ICC judges’ election. Bello’s nomination was specifically spurned based on his lack of understanding of “the knowledge of the workings of the ICC.”
The ICC rejection of the nomination of Bello should be a wakeup call on Nigerians and particularly the Buhari government, on the futility of underscoring indices other than excellence in appointments and nominations. Nigeria shone in the past, both nationally and internationally, even when placed side by side the best of other countries because selfish considerations were absolutely relegated.
First African to hold a PhD in Law from the University of London, Teslim Elias, in October 1975, through his nomination by the Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, was elected to the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations’ ICC.
Ditto Justice Akinola Aguda. Nominated for appointment by the Yakubu Gowon government as Chief Justice of Botswana on February 3, 1972, Aguda became the first indigenous African to be so appointed and concurrently acted as Judge of the Court of Appeal of Southern African countries of Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho.
However, over the years, the crevices of Nigeria’s divisions have jutted out embarrassingly. Runners of governments flee into mundane considerations when making national choices. It has worsened in the last five years where ethnicity is a major index in such choices. It is why Nigeria had to be thoroughly disparaged by the ICC in the choice of Justice Bello. The question to ask is, was Buhari the appointor, not aware that Bello was incompetent for that office? If so, why did he nominate him? Because he was Hausa? Were there no competent Nigerians at that point of nomination?
Another symptom of Nigeria’s tumble from the Olympian heights of hitherto-held values was Abiodun’s choice of the BBNaija star, Laycon. In an announcement made while he played host to Laycon in his office in Abeokuta, the governor handed him a three-bedroom bungalow and N5 million. His justification for this was that Laycon “will help inspire our teeming youths to channel their energies towards positive engagements and shun vices.”
Abiodun’s decision to splash such humongous public funds on the entertainer isn’t as execrable as his justification of the act. Since he became governor, it is not on record that he had effectively paid traditional pittance bursaries to students of the state spread across the country nor has the state been known to have celebrated teem- ing mental excellence that precocious indigenes of Ogun exhibit in every sphere of knowledge.
If the governor wanted to “inspire our teeming youths to channel their energies towards positive engagements,” I dare say that “excellence” in a house of voyeur which the BBNaija stands for should not be the index of such inspiration. Rather, what that cel- ebration inspired is belief that personable and excitable engagements, as against mental engagements which hold hope for advancement of societies, were more desirable. It can even be said to have been an attempt to play to the gallery and appropriate cheap adulations. As no nation becomes great on account of “It is a goal!” so are great nations never made out of such Abiodun excitable ventures.
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