The tide will turn

Unexpected “General Winter” defeated the invincible army of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte; opening a second war front in the East (against Russia) became the undoing of Adolf Hitler’s deutsche machine. I read Prof Akin Onigbinde arguing somewhere that Nigeria (better still, the Fulani) cannot defeat the Igbo (Biafra) and Yoruba (Oodua nation) agitators taken together. Onigbinde’s hypothesis remains to be proven one way or another – right or wrong. We may soon see! But history is uncanny; it repeats itself. And like George Santayana posited, those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeating its mistakes. In lawn tennis, they speak of unforced errors that make the favourite fall to the underdog; the elders say too much wisdom unhinges the wise – especially those who are wise in their own sight. The tortoise – always vicious, always wise, always smart, always cunning, always deceitful, always audacious, always having the initial upper hand and always having the first laugh – always ends up undoing himself, always loses every initial advantage, always ends up in disgrace, and always becomes the object of ridicule and the butt of cruel jokes.

As Nigeria totters, those who think they hold both the yam and the knife should climb down from their high horse in their own interest. Scripture admonishes those who think they stand to be careful lest they fall (1 Corinthians 10: 12). Jimmy Cliff in “House of Exile” warns those who think they are well protected that, sooner than expected, they will “feel like a fish out of water.” And that the day of reckoning comes when it is least expected. Then will they begin to wonder what is the matter!

Says Jean Jacques Rousseau to today’s strongmen: “The strongest is never strong enough to be always master unless he transforms strength into right and obedience into duty.” Let them listen if the gods have not yet made them deaf! Remember, those whom the gods will destroy, they first make deaf! Likewise, the scripture has soothing words for those at the receiving end of today’s vicious abuse of power: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30: 5b).

I publish here today two viewpoints that capture the mood of the times; that speak naked truth to power as well as address the ragging issues of the future of Nigeria. The views approximate mine, one by Prof. Babafemi Badejo and the other by Mrs. Helen Nnoli. Enjoy them!


Badejo: NBA, NBA VP, “crush” Kanu, Igboho and rule of law

I had once expressed the view that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), an organisation I am a member of, needs to do more in the struggle against corruption in Nigeria. I had posited an inverse relationship between the rule of law and corruption and expressed the view that the NBA was not doing enough in fighting corruption

And now, the First Vice-President of the NBA, John Aikokpo-Martins, recently made a statement that articulates a militaristic upholding of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, to wit, that Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho should be crushed by Federal might! His constitutionalism overlooks the failure of the state to provide security as expected under that same constitution. The NBA First Vice-President by his oversight on constitutionalism makes the NBA to be in cahoots with the Governor who reportedly sees kidnapping for ransom, with killing, maiming and raping as collateral damage in the process, as “business”, which he says is superior to those asking for the division of Nigeria! So many issues are thrown up for consideration by the statement of the NBA’s First V-P.

Thanks for the statement by Olumide Akpata, the NBA President, who recognised the fact that peaceful protests do not deserve to be ‘crushed’” like Aikpokpo-Martins advocated. It equally points to the fact that the 1999 constitution is not cast in iron as Nigeria remains a signatory to the UN Charter, amongst others. More importantly, the fact that the 1999 Constitution recognizes procedure for amendment puts the human beings in every epoch above Article 2 or any other Article since they can seek amendment. Elsewhere, I have articulated the realisation of a confederal Nigeria as others want restructuring.

How many Constitutions has Nigeria had in the last 60 years of its existence? The Independence Constitution gave way to the Republican Constitution in response to political demands under civilian government before the 1979, 1989, and 1999 Constitutions were foisted by military regimes. How can a people realise constitutional change or change of constitutions if they cannot peacefully canvass for their objectives? It is not a crime to peacefully canvass for constitutional changes with the objective of dividing Nigeria peacefully. Should a purportedly “democratic” government, even though headed by a military General, not have pacific settlement approaches to popular demands for self-determination by many Nigerian nationalities?

I do not want to join the “my bandit is better than yours” type of argument! Certainly, Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho is not a bandit or terrorist like the ones Sheikh Gumi has been romancing with as he presses for federalized ransom to be budgeted beyond the current subsidies being paid to terrorists. But even then, does Sunday Igboho deserve the type of multi-security apparatus invasion that he faced penultimate week for any reason when he has only disarmed killer herdsmen that the world has recognised as terrorists? Should he be castrated or be made to face extra-judicial killing or, as the NBA V-P says, should he be “crushed” for calling for a peaceful rally in support of self-determination for a Yoruba nation? Is the overnight attack on Igboho the type of Nigeria that the NBA stands for? Are human lives important for the NBA and its human rights section that I believe the First Vice-President leads? Aside from properties allegedly destroyed, the FGN and Igboho are agreed that people were killed at Igboho’s residence during the failed attempt to arrest Sunday Adeyemo. Is extrajudicial killing of citizens now supported by the NBA? Are there procedures we, as members of the NBA, should stand for on arrests and searches of homes?

Should the brigandage in the whisking of Nnamdi Kanu back to Nigeria be endorsed by the NBA? Are there procedures for extradition as opposed to rendition? Should the NBA dance in favour of violation of international law and still claim to the world that it exists to promote the rule of law? The NBA has “promoting rule of law” as the cornerstone of its existence. It is its raison d’etre. So, I disagree with the NBA president that the NBA First Vice-President has a personal capacity to express such militaristic modes of expression like “crush” citizens, as if we are in a militocracy! Of course, he has a right to articulate his views as any other Nigerian but definitely not to expressly undermine the rule of law as a way to upholding the constitution of Nigeria and still remaining the First Vice-President of the NBA.

The NBA should clearly stand up for the rule of law and ask its First Vice-President to leave office for his statement, even if on his Facebook page. Statements on Facebook are public and different from dinner table talks.  The NBA leadership owes all of us the duty of accountability and needs to separate us from a First V-P who thinks and articulates the need, in this day and age, to “crush” citizens even before they have had their day in Court. It is my hope that the NBA will stand up for the rule of law and not confirm that an organization gets the type of leadership it deserves.

Nnoli: North and South master-servant relationship

“The North versus South master versus slave and bully versus victim scenario playing out in Nigeria points in one direction – Direct confrontation by whatever means is inevitable! It is unfortunate that the Southern governors would speak and one inconsequential trade organization representing cattle herders will have the effrontery to counter them! As if that is not enough insult, some scavengers in the Presidency will also open their mouths with their brains closed to showcase their utter stupidity and start raining insults on elected governors! Seems that is the only qualification needed to get a job in the presidency in the first place! Granted that Buhari’s school certificate is harder to find than a needle in a haystack and it is, therefore, safe to say that it is non-existent, I can, with a clear conscience, excuse him because he may be ignorant of the consequences of his utterances, actions, and inactions as well as those of his aides! If we cannot blame the president because he is not the stuff presidents are made of, then, it becomes imperative that we seek ways of surviving under his government.

One of the first rules for survival is: Stand up to the bully; if you do not, he will continually demand more from you! I recall my days as a pupil at CKC, Ibadan when two pupils shared a short bench. I happened to share one with a bully. First, he ruled a little bit more than half the bench and declared his own half a “no-go” area. I didn’t mind because I could sit conveniently on the part he allowed me. Needless to say that he kept on reducing my portion until I could only perch with half of one-half of my buttocks. It was uncomfortable but the alternative was to be beaten to stupor or death; so, I endured it without a whimper. Next, he started demanding half of my lunch money! I gave it to him.  I’m sure by now you’ll guess he started demanding for the whole amount! I was bitter but I still handed it over to him! Needless to say that whatever belonged to me that he wanted, he simply stretched forth his hands and collected without a whimper from me! This continued until the day of the guava!

My mom came back from the market with a couple of guavas; what was unique about this one was that it was a white guava. In those days the common variety was the pink guava, and this was my first time seeing a white variety. I put it in my school box and rushed off to school only for this bully to demand both my lunch money and the guava! It was too much for me to bear. I offered to give him half but he refused; he wanted the whole! That day something snapped in me. I refused to hand over the guava; I ate it! He swore to send me to hell when school closes.  I tried to run but was prevented; so I was forced to face him. When the moment came, I rushed into him, determined to leave a mark on him before my trip to hell but was shocked to find him on the floor beneath me! Needless to say that he had a meal of sand that I force-fed him! From that day, I was free from his bullying but now I am ashamed to admit that I became him and started bullying him till my father found out and cured me of that madness.

The North has turned into a bully that sees the South as a conquered territory and would continue to demand more and more until we say “Enough” and refuse to give.  They will not stop without a fight because we have for so long allowed them to have their way in subverting the Nigerian Federation. The Southern governors are awake, albeit late! What about our elected representatives? It is time we began to monitor them and know on whose side they are! When matters affecting us are debated, those of them found wanting should be recalled”


Mark my word: This tide will turn!


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