Ayo Odebisi, also known as Paramole, would have turned sixty-five Wednesday, 28th of April. He was not a man you could forget. The aura he projected on those around him and his immediate environment contributed to the weight of words and ways. I never met anyone as sincere with himself and about the whole palate called life. He stood as an exemplar of the human spirit. I never get carried away by his thought; he was not superhuman, he was human and humane.Continue reading
A truism of economies is they tend to thrive when they have a large stable middle-class. In the mid-2010s, one of the most aggressive facts promoted about the Nigerian economy was that it had created a large and thriving middle-class. Many observers were sceptical but were called naysayers. Today we are all concerned about the future of our economies which has become incalculable due to the uncertain impacts of COVID-19; rising inequality, growing poverty, upward concentration of wealth, and climate change. Nigeria is facing such concerns and has a serious youth immiseration and deprivation problem. And yes, the middle class and the less well-off are the hardest hit. Upward mobility for the youth has become a phantom.Continue reading
As we approach the uncertain aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many developed and developing societies remain shaken, disrupted and precarious. Jobs and austerity are the main tacit or stated socioeconomic fear of most people. The political economy of despair we are witnessing never enters the perception or the historical heritage of a nation, place or people with positive reception. We accept COVID-19 as a global pandemic is a tragedy. Most will survive it, but the death toll remains staggering and the caused disruption colossal in many countries. Our daily transactions, interactions and relations society and the economy rely on had to cease indefinitely, but for how long?
The problem for most citizens around the world is the survival of their regular economic and social expectations. Individuals have had to deal with many trenchant uncertainties at once, unawares. Jobs, businesses, opportunities, property, status, privileges, leisure and rights, many aspire to or worked so hard to attain are now looking like the glimmers of a past era. Yet, in our free-market-oriented world, orthodox economic theory demands everyone without exception must be rational in their actions. Rational cannot prevent winter or make disasters disappear instantly. To ask robust rationality of citizens under conditions of despair or even prosperity is quite a stoic demand. The political economy of despair under the current paradigm is never complete without the contradictions it produces.
The leading University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGF) have had a long run of durability in their existence. Like many glorified dictatorships, autocracies and predatory cults, their enduring survival is a function of the longevity of the founder or historical leader. There is no retirement- some are late and some are present.
The “cult of personality” of the historical leader prevents the development of consistent and well-enforced institutions, laws or rules within the UCGF. His changing moods, whims and preferences rule the UCGF as he pleases. The challenges to his inconsistencies are few and attract punitive sanctions. The outcome is that the UCGF is always in a state of permanent uncertainty; every member has to wait for the latest deceptions, half-truths, excuses, threats, punishments, exclusions or instructions of the leader to know what will happen next. Keeping members guessing is one of the most ancient tricks of cult leaders. The problem resulting is that the cult leader never lives forever. He will eventually become too ill or senile to lead, or he will pass away someday. That is when the succession battles and disintegration begin; he never thought any successor a good enough replacement. The scramble for power on his departure can be desperate and violent – many will eat and drink poison.
Ideology can be such a blinding and narrow-minded state of mind, individually or collectively. Accurate history informs us that plagues and pandemics have devastated the world several times and for millennia, long before socialism and capitalism came into existence and the human race is still here. But not because of the excessive passions that drive ideology. My conservative friends of Nigerian origin seem to think otherwise. Continue reading
One of the most interesting but intractable things about development in Nigeria is the pervasive perception of both what it is and should be. What is development? Why are Nigerians always left behind? These are questions best answered indirectly. Continue reading
Corruption is here in the world to stay, and it entrenches itself in our society deeper daily. Such is our most significant contemporary reality in times of peace and not in an emergency. It is even now legal. Corruption has paved the way for unnecessary and preventable wars, unrest, pestilence, systemic failures and emergencies. Many commentators brand such occurrences as unexpected contingencies. “Things happen”, is the persuasion we must believe, as if they occur with little or no calculated intention and help. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed more corruption than is normally available to the average citizen. Backing ideologies, facilitators, and the consequences of corruption have become more visible to all. The media, criminal justice mechanisms, legislation and civil services could never offer the people such an accessible view of corruption in normal circumstances.
Imagine a baby just a few days or old. He or she has been crying for food endlessly, but nothing is on offer. There is no money for baby food, so the mother has to feed the child with her breast’s milk. How ever, the delay that kept the baby hungry was because she is taking time to inject, swallow or smoke drugs. The baby’s nourishment from the mother’s breast may be laced with varying concentrations of drugs. That is the baby’s meal and survival. We are not even talking about how well-fed the mother is, the child’s immunity, health and treatment if it falls ill, the environment the mother and child lives, hopes of a better life and so forth. One may further ask if the child is the only one, or the second or third or if another one is on the way? Look at the photo above, and you can see a mother simultaneously smoking marijuana and feeding her baby. It is happening in Sapele, Delta State like in many other towns and cities in Nigeria, particularly the slum areas, but the usual denial by many Nigeria is that the photo was taken in South Africa, Gabon or Chad. Drugs are not just destroying a generation of youths; it is already destroying their babies. Continue reading
The 2019 elections have come and gone and have produced its victors and losers no matter how illegitimate the ballot was. Many issues that plague Nigeria severely were not even discussed in the campaign season. Dividends of democracy? What was discussed was patrimonial-manias in the shape of the obtuse mantras of “only X can save Nigeria”; good luck to the promoters. The unresolved issue of interest here is the raging drug problem that is ruining an entire generation of Nigerian youths and severely embarrassed the Buhari government through a BBC expose titled “Sweet Sweet Codeine.” As the drug problem has been largely unresolved, the government is going to be embarrassed again shortly. One may ask, where is the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in all of this? One should perhaps, more importantly, ask what roles the presidency and national legislators playing in drug enforcement? Continue reading
What has happened, Africa? This is the question a bright youth leader on a private forum asked when he learnt the Chinese have set up the 13th Chinese Police Station in South Africa. The answer is Nothing. Whether we base the question on fact, fiction or exaggeration is immaterial. Chinamen are coming and coming big to Africa. Continental tragedy was visible in African people who should have known better in advance, notably the intellectual/educated class, who were unwitting. “Bright lights” keenly supported the decadent misgovernance many of the post-colonial leaders foisted upon their citizens on the continent up to this day. Africans are now living with the harsher realities of such thoughtlessness and misfortune. The Chinese are now exploiting Africa’s naivete. Who will not?
“Guilt by community association” (GBCA) is back in Nigeria in fresh form in 2018 not by the actions of a foreign colonialist but those of the local Nigerian auto-colonialists courtesy Fulani herdsmen affairs. In the colonial state of Nigeria under British rule, the main means by which the Nigerian staffed police force secured conformity and order from Nigerians was community arrest and faux crime taxation. If a person dropped dead in Ilesha, Oron, Keffi or Ughelli (or some village), the police would arrest all the heads of family in the area (or village) requiring each to bail themselves at a prohibitive cost; GBCA was born. The people quickly learned that a police matter was a money matter. This was the very first habit the Nigerian police force acquired that ensured that they would become hopelessly corrupt in future. Corrupt initial conditions bred both corrupt post-Independence foundations and institutions, a legacy of empire. Today, Nigerian auto-colonialists carry the blame for GBCA.
I reject the claim the article titled Gowon and Babangida Created Nigeria’s Drug Culture, which I wrote is guilty of appropriating unnecessary blame to Gowon and Babangida wrongfully or misleading readers about the creation of the drug culture in Nigeria. In the first paragraph, I made it clear that some will disagree with the content. There is a big distinction between the “drug culture” and “drug trafficking” in Nigeria; the former is local Nigerian addictive drug use and the latter concerns Nigeria as an “entrepôt” for international drug trafficking. Even if some assume they are the same thing, let us look at the Gowon and Babangida regimes and their impact on drug access more carefully and see where the blame for Nigeria’s drug culture lies. Continue reading
It is certain that “access to drugs” policies have been mostly responsible for either a rise or decline in the demography of drug addicts in Nigeria. A controversial thing the Obasanjo military government did in 1976/77 was to progressively ban many goods [including controlled substances] into Nigeria to curb the wanton and wasteful “Import or Die” phenomenon triggered by the unexpected “Oil Boom” years governed by General Gowon. The first experience of drug culture in Nigeria, though very limited and short, was a creature of the frenzy of Oil Boom importation. Some will argue the ban’s impact on drug use was inadvertent or even nonexistent. Nigerians back then did not have to escape reality though; life was good and masses sought conspicuous consumption and luxury. When the ban on imported goods came into effect the drug abuse phenomenon faded like a fad but created smuggling boom in which smugglers found Veblen goods like lace and refined stills far more profitable.
Ironically, the viral drug problem of today’s Nigeria is fuelled by poverty, the demands of socio-economic survival and very harsh realities. The recent ban of codeine-based cough syrup by the Buhari administration after the BBC’s damning expose, Sweet Sweet Codeine will have nothing like the impact of the ban put in place by Obasanjo in 1970s. The present drug problem has now reached a high point after a long surreptitious build up; all presidents since Babangida reportedly created the Nigerian Narcostate have allowed the problem to fester. I will share my witness. Continue reading
Take a very good look at the photograph. In the photograph, you can see the portrait of a young teenager in a blue T-shirt (the Boy in blue) attempting to light up a reefer. He is closely surrounded by peers eager for him to do it because if he does they can too. There is some apparent awe for the Boy in blue by his mates; he is their leader by choice or nature. He is not from a privileged background and neither are his peers but they look up to him. Leaders instinctively know their followers expect them to be first movers and hardly back down. With the provision of privilege or means, he could be a future captain of industry, senator, Anglican bishop, colonel, principal or publisher. Who knows? What will be the use of the Boy in blues’ leadership appearance or qualities in the present and future Nigeria society? Who exactly is the Boy in blue and where can he be found?
One must seriously wonder what happened to a once genial and hope-filled town called Sapele. It was a youths’ town and youngsters were filled with promise and bright futures. Well… According to a competent and concerned eyewitness Ejorheya Brighoademo, a governance professional and works in the tourism and entertainment industry in Sapele, the incidence of drug addiction is conservatively 50% of the entire teenage population of the town! That is a whole generation afflicted with a destructive scourge. Incredible! How did Sapele, a major town in Delta State, Nigeria give into the drugs scourge? Continue reading
President Buhari like many past Nigerian heads of state is living proof of why slavery flourished along the coast of West Africa a few centuries ago. While the Europeans, Americans and others nurture, support and encourage their youth to build the edifices that have come to symbolise civilisation and world power, many African kings never had any use for their proliferating population of youths. Today is no different. Diaspora is the dreamland of the Nigerian youth. Under Buhari’s administration, the incentive for the Nigerian youth to go overseas for a better life has never been greater because of the lack of opportunities that stare them in the face. If leaders have no respect or value for their youth, who will? Continue reading
Recently, Wole Soyinka has been credited with stating in a speech or article titled “Where Did We Go Wrong?” stating a list of the very youthful ages of the Nigerian leaders and pioneers in the immediate post-colonial era. The wordings then goes on to adore the colonial youth of as men of vision and ability. I very strongly doubt that Wole Soyinka either said such a thing in public or wrote it. If he did, he must have gravely overlooked the realities and context that produced the very youthful leaders and pioneers of Nigeria’s past, which he is one. Nigeria’s youthful leaders, therein hailed, have left the country an insuperable legacy of misgovernance, corruption, polarisation and disaster. What is the fuss about Nigeria’s bungling first leaders? Nigeria produced youthful leaders in Nigeria for regrettable reasons, with truly pitiable consequences.
It has been one year since Ayo Odebisi went on another kind of going abroad trip. When I heard and looked at his photo, I saw more the love and friendship we had, and spontaneously I tried to reach out to him, I named him “Jimmy”. All the people I love I give pet names, Paramole’s has been the only posthumous instance. In the eulogy “I Will not Mourn for Ayo Odebisi (Paramole)” I wrote what many have said encapsulated his life and what he represented on one page. I will not repeat such here. What I valued most about Odebisi was his perspicacious construction of eudaimonia in the image of the 4-7 Creed, the Creed of the Pyrates. His approach to creating a better society could never have been more sincere or practical, but it somehow remains to many lofty.
The complete metamorphosis of the butterfly is a thoroughly adequate analogy for civilisation: the gradual progression from egg to slug to pupa to imago [the beautiful butterfly]. In the Nigerian context, it starts with the colonised state to the inexperienced independent nation-state to transitional nation-state to strong state. The furthest stage Nigeria ever go to was the ugly butterfly that never blossomed. However, after the initial euphoria of the return to democracy, it is now evident that Nigerian politicians and clergy are busy reversing the progress of the nation back into the stage of a slug as a consequence of their thefts and misrule; it suits them well. But does it suit the everyday citizens?
Nigeria once [for several years] had constant electricity, reliable tap water supplies, a world-class education, a modestly corrupt civil service, a postal system that could be depended upon, rape was associated with slum areas, robbery was not something that bothered people, people drove their cars to their home towns 100s of miles away by night, educated women did not have to sleep with men to get employment, kidnapping was unheard of, sexual attitudes were responsible, people were not desperate enough to be easily conned by clergymen, major politicians did not serve rice with an apron in the streets to win votes. Most of all people wanted to be something, upwardly social mobility was open access and the moral cost of doing wrong was high. And this is not a glossy nostalgia for something that never happened, we all lived it even better if one is old enough to remember.
Where has it all gone? Continue reading
Knowing that one is living with oppression is a blessing whenever it decides to come, not knowing is a curse that will forever leave one much worse off. – Guynes
Before attempting to answer a few interesting questions arising from readers of the article Oppression as a Test: A Metaphor for the Nigerian Youth (https://wp.me/p1bOKH-P5), it is important to explain a simple taxonomy of oppression.
“Those who have come to know and trust death embrace it with love. It is the very foundation of freedom. Oppressors love no one, not their wives, not their children, not their friends. How can such a person love death? Behind the empty shell of the oppressor, he fears all the real tests of his worth that are imminent.” – Guynes
Oppression is a test or testing event. Some strange men habitually oppress others, and they commonly do so by the actual practice or simulations of “bone testing”. Bone testing works because it is the violent use of bones by those who claim to be “strong” [bullies?] and can in varying degrees damage the bones, muscles, tissues, and nerves of others, thus securing their submission. Bone testing not only causes ache and hurt, but it also can maim and kill too. Why would the oppressed and opressable not fear it? Such is the stuff of oppression; inducing fear. All resistance breaks down. The next level of oppression is the use of “word testing”. The words of mouth are perhaps the most effectively used human instrument of domination known, mainly, where the hypocrisy of peace and doing good exists. It is the domain of intimidation, scaremongering, perplexity and verbal dehumanisation on the one hand. And deception, persuasion, feel-good-factors and the sale of hope on the other. It is also oppression by mind-control. All dissent or oppositions takes a crushing. Bone and word testing as used to oppress are very physical and psychological, respectively, derived from a wide array of evil incentives.
Namadi Sambo is yet another victim of Wole Soyinka’s and the Pyrates Confraternity’s mischief. As an ambitious and bright student, in 1974 Sambo as an architecture undergraduate at Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria) chose to join the Pyrates Confraternity. Namadi Sambo later became Governor of Kaduna State and subsequently the 13th Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We must understand that Islamic Northern Nigerians, particularly of the Hausa-Fulani stock rarely ever join University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGF) since their ethos goes against the everyday sensibilities of Islam. Sambo’s (and others) interest as a Hausa-Fulani to join the Pyrates Confraternity seemed like a breakthrough in expanding the network of membership among Northerners. Nigeria is lucky today to have him alive considering the consequences of his initiation into the Pyrates Confraternity.
Usani Uguru Usani is another example of the protean victim Wole Soyinka, and the Pyrates Confraternity create. Again, in the late 1990s, Usani was made a commissioner in the cabinet of three governors from 1995 to 1999 holding various portfolios in Cross Rivers State. He was then seen as a future governor the state and today he is currently Minister of State for Niger Delta in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. However, if the Pyrates Confraternity had their way, his political career would have ended a long time ago.
Ben Oguntuase is a prime example of being a systematic victim of the mischief of Wole Soyinka and the Pyrates Confraternity. A very bright and energetic graduate of petroleum engineering from the Universities of Ibadan (Nigeria) and Louisiana (USA), Big Ben as he was often called, quickly rose through the ranks of National Oil plc (an oil marketing concern). And was a star in the corporate class of Nigeria. By the late 1990s, he had become the Capoon of the Pyrates Confraternity (a.k.a. National Association of Seadogs International). One thing he tried to achieve as the Pyrates Capoon was to eliminate the heinous and proliferating incidences of University Campus Grown Fraternities’ (UCGF) violence causing death, mayhem and ruin to the lives of so many young higher education students across the country. It was a great national concern of the day which persists. As noble as this quest of Ben Oguntuase was, it cost him his brilliant career at the singular order of Wole Soyinka.
Wole Soyinka and his “goons”, as the man affectionately calls them, are the “Bad Brothers” and the Pyrates Confraternity is the “Bad Brotherhood”. It is only the long staggering history of theft, manipulation, racketeering, corruption, abuse, brutality, slavery and many inhumane practices that unambiguously establish the justification and evidence of the descriptor “Bad”.
The physical and psychological victims of this very “Badness” run into the thousands but have no voice and fear a vicious myriad of accusations, smears and violence if they speak out. There are the survivors too. But most of them have cut their losses with the Confraternity even in their daily thoughts. Hundreds of men blindly every year join the association, not knowing the realities within. Such men with high expectations of personal advancement but end up with one invariable outcome (cf. the road to Europe via Libya). Many within the Confraternity are still suffering as victims. And these members held captive, only cope through mutual [imposed] mechanisms of sheer learned helplessness and stupefaction; alcohol and song provide much solace. The adopted but subtle indoctrination associated with aggressively absorbent cults around the world is well-documented. These are in evidence in every prescribed action and thought of the Confraternity.
Fire!!! Fire!! I have to repeat it, Fire!!! When two or more Otukas gather, a fire is nearby ready to consume habitually bad men mercilessly. No ashes remain, and the Fire is too hot to scream in. Kegs of rum and seas of brine cannot quench it. The Fire though is always a potentiality, and it is only the purity of the human spirit. The Otuka encases that which turns him away from such an eschatology of the wicked. Inevitably, sometimes it has to be done. Plenty of indications, no announcement required.
May one resort to God’s word in this endeavour? For those who read the Bible or never will, I want to interest them in the “Book of Kings” 1: v 9-10;
Comment: Over the past six years I have written several articles about the wrongs and decadence of University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGF) (some deleted) with insider knowledge. I more recently even developed two essay series out of them, namely, Fraternities are Viruses in Nigeria and The Leadership of a Bad Brother (both which do not names persons or fraternities) with another series in making that does mention names. A major international media house and a documentary filmmaker have even contacted me for my expertise on the matter. However, over a decade before me, Omoleye Sowore (in 2002) had written one of the most important articles on the source problem of cults (UCGF) in Nigeria and its possible remedies. I am sure many readers will agree.
Sowore writes: “It takes a lot of gut to disagree with someone of Professor Soyinka’s standing in the world. In almost every sense he has used his courage, expertise, connections and skills to intervene on behalf of Nigeria to obtain freedom from terror, democracy and respect for human rights, it is common knowledge that he has done very well and I mean excellently well in his capacity as a literary giant, activist, Nobel laureate and Pan Africanist. Continue reading
One may wonder who within the Nigerian Ministry of Education orchestrated the removal of the History [of West Africa] as a subject from the national academic curriculum several years ago. Many have claimed that the removal was to hide the ‘darkness of the Civil War’ and to quell potential tensions it might harness. Has it worked for contemporary Nigeria? We know it has not. The Muslim-dominated North defeated Christian East in a very bloody and savage conflict that claimed millions of lives, and they want the people to ‘forget’ by robbing them of a significant component of their educational freedom? History is ultimately a reflection of the handwork of leaders for all posterity, and they know it. Agnotology does not often work enduring, and it has limits.
When the realm governed by the Bad Brother is hollowed out from the inside by the purposeful preponderance of evil, excesses and abuses to the point everything that held it together is so polluted and its rules irreparably unenforceable, a power vacuum is created. That is the art of negotiating oneself out of power by sloth. Folly. The high and mighty in society that once gave credibility and legitimacy to the realm turn their honourable backs and conveniently depart gradually if they were not expelled earlier. The least among men devoid of rectitude, creativity and intelligence then come into ascendance and potentially power by way of hunter-gather style ambition. The realm then gets hollowed out further till the skin breaks from the inside to the surface. Only the memories remain and the smell.
Boiss dey! Boiss always do right where the Bad Brother has done evil, and they invariably succeed in the end. The tables have now turned for the better, and the seating arrangements have changed for good as they should have a very long time ago. Not until the revolution is complete do guynes believe it.
“We are bigger than U.S. Steel” many members of UCGFs (University Campus Grown Fraternities) in Nigeria will tell you, vaingloriously about their “brotherhood”. Do not take such folly seriously; it is evidence the ‘mask of sanity’ fraternities has fallen off the cliff that once held them so high. However, now they see themselves as large facsimile corporations. Just as on LinkedIn, you will see corporations that have thousands of employees, UCGFs make favourable comparisons with such organisations based on their thousands of members.