Nigerians, prisoners of their own spaces
Lately, I have toyed with the idea of participating in partisan politics but sadly there are many like me who have a serious identity question mark hanging over us; will I participate as a Plateau or Yoruba, or Igbo man.
Last week I was a guest at the prestigious “Stepping Out” platform discussing the topic, Nigerian Unity, are we the cause or the curse? My conclusion is that we are both, and as long as we keep the current format of mind behaviour, as long as the current constitution is the driving document, as long as leadership gropes in the phantom belief that the nation is not negotiable, we can run, but we cannot hide, as doomsday approaches soon.
Before I go to my admonition I will like to start this way; the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arrested a former Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Dibu Ojerinde, for allegedly misappropriating N900 million. A statement issued by the ICPC said Ojerinde, who was arrested on March 15, 2021, in Abuja, by operatives of ICPC, is alleged to have committed multiple frauds while heading JAMB and the National Examination Council (NECO).
The statement said Ojerinde was detained by the commission for questioning over “allegations of multiple identities, abuse of office, money laundering, tax evasion and making false statements to public officials.” The former JAMB boss is also being questioned by the commission for allegedly awarding fraudulent contracts to Shell companies which cannot be traced.
The commission said he was alleged to have awarded contracts for the supply of pencil and eraser at the cost of N450 million each, to Double 07 Concept Limited and Pristine Global Concept Limited, respectively, between 2013 and 2014 while heading JAMB.
“There is no evidence to show that the items which are examination materials were supplied as the contractors cannot be found,” the anti-graft agency said. The ICPC said similar contracts were allegedly awarded to Solid Figures Limited, Holywalk Limited and other companies for various sums without any trace of executions.
It said Ojerinde was being held on a remand warrant and would soon be charged to court upon the conclusion of the investigation. The commission had announced in April 2020 that it had obtained an order of interim forfeiture of some assets linked to Ojerinde.
Now while we study the above, my quick question is what system allows for such mindless, and reckless alleged looting? Kindly hold your thoughts and let us all go to Kwara state, and whichever side of the divide one takes, for, or against the hijab, mission schools, school ownership and the government. As a matter of fact, our system, our constitution, its operators inherently has failed us, and will keep failing us.
Nigeria needs to renegotiate, and it needs to do so fast, in Benue, it is the Tiv versus the Idoma vs others, in Kogi it is the Ebiras versus Igala, in some cases it has even degenerated to no Catholic has ruled our state, and in others, we cannot allow the Muslims to continue. And then in recent times, the Fulani phobia narrative has gained all sorts of traction. Nigeria is so structurally divided, and we are afraid to do the needful – Sit and talk! Look each other in the eye and chart a way forward. The current constitution is a fraud, tongue-in-cheek.
We are so structurally deformed we check how many South East, South West, South-South (which by the way is an anomaly), North East, North West, North East are on a list before we check whether they are qualified. We still suffer an Ebola-like disease called Federal Character in a characterless state, still plagued by terms such as catchment area, and educationally disadvantaged (by who I beg). We pride ourselves on our state of origin, yet are minorities in many cases in the so-called state. We debate which region is poorest, and which feeds the other. A nation of an elite and intellectual class that lacks critical thinking; that is why blockade of food was seen as a tool of warfare for a war that has not started, deep minds should know that that action itself speaks volumes regarding how we see ourselves.
We need a referendum so that restructuring can take place, we need to negotiate how we want to exist, but a nation that cannot get its elections right, how can it conduct a sincere referendum. Nigerians remind me so much of what deep thinkers can be. I think that first, insincerity, have we really allowed the federal structure to work, with bogus census figures, with criminal politicians, is it about systems, structures or those that work it? If today we have a feeding bottle federal fiscal structure, do we expect much difference or will it be the same difference?
The last talk-shop, went as far as recommending 50 plus states, all in the name of marginalisation, who really is not marginalised, from the cruel mother-in-law that won’t let her daughter-in-law be, to the woman that terrorises her husband, to the lecturer that teaches better with his third leg; we are all victims of our current structure, albeit do we want to think or we just want a quick-fix, an ambulance solution?
Let me end with this little narrative. A young man chooses to change his name for reasons best suited and known by himself alone. For small money he walks into the High Court, swears to an affidavit, that reads, “I, Zakka Davou Dangwang, Nigerian citizen, Adult residing at XYZ, deponent to the oath, and by virtue of positions (that I know he’s not conversant with), changes the said name to Zakka Azi Nyam, all documents/credentials bearing old names remain valid.” He even adds a newspaper change of name publication.
What has changed? The young dude is still who he is; in reality, all those calling for restructuring are the same elites that have refused to restructure the structure, especially when they had the opportunity. We have to negotiate our spaces, we are currently prisoners of our spaces. Almost everything is not working, because the foundation is faulty, Nigerians are not yet sure what they want, to restructure, or to structure the restructuring, or to make structures work.
• Dr Dickson PhD, the team lead at the Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre), sent this piece through
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