[Former] Senator Dino Melaye – SDM – (Twitter handle: @dino_melaye) on the 4th of August 2020 tweeted a cynically edited video clip of members of the Pyrates Confraternity singing his name in elated spirits. The comment that accompanied the clip SDM presented was, “SDM loved everywhere… even Pirates [Pyrates].” Call it narcissism, the tweet appeared to be a subtly devised public relation’s [PR] coup by SDM and perhaps it has worked well. Several Pyrates reacted on social media platforms professing that SDM was a fool to think the Pyrates were praising him because they, in reality, were mocking/condemning him for his bizarre resistance of arrest antics widely televised in 2018. The High Command of the Pyrates Confraternity in the person of the NAS Capoon stepped out to make a press release showing that not only were they not praising Dino Melaye, but they had also for ages used songs creatively to address the ills of the politics and politicians in Nigeria. These reactions looked like the were they responses SDM had hoped for from the Confraternity. He might even suffer Pyrate-envy since he is not a Pyrate.
It is the simplest thing in the world to assume Sub-Saharan Africans were illiterate and uncivilised before the coming of the White man. Such is well-embraced by the African – if you are well educated. Empire Day celebrated throughout the Commonwealth colonies reminded Nigerians that the King or Queen of England liberated them from bondage. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, one of the best-loved works of Western literature describes the African as a savage and languageless, communicating with grunts like apes. The Father of Modern Social Anthropology, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, swore that Africans had no institutions until the White man arrived – Africans had no marriages, kingdoms, trade, hierarchies, architecture, alphabet, medicines etc. of their own. All these facts are false but very rarely challenged by African scholars. Literacy and education did exist in South-Eastern Nigeria, for a millennium before colonisation. Let us talk about Nsibidi.
Igbe is neither my personal nor family religion, but I lived in Urhoboland, where it originated and is still practised, long enough to observe the faith with considerable detachment. I have also seen its practice in the United Kingdom. It is an Urhobo religion but may not be exclusively so. In this brief article, I intend to look at the more gnostic and historical perspective of Igbe than its practices.
Igbe in the Urhobo language means “Dance” or “Joy.” Igbe worship is also an act of gratitude to God for life itself and consists of celebratory devotion. The “Gnosis of the Igbe” is a vocation in which the revelation of the knowledge of the divine occurs to male and female practitioners of the religion provided they have a pure heart and mind. The white attire and headwear of the Igbe followers in worship symbolise stainless purity which is reflected inwardly. The spark of the divine often awakens in the fervent celebration of God; this is why dance and song accompanied by drumming are indispensable. Music has the facility to stir the innermost emotions in people.
After reading Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco a few years back, the unusual happened. I developed a keen yearning to rediscover a dormant space in my mind for the appreciation of illustrated stories and cartoons. I remembered the political cartoons of Josey Ajiboye and Omoba (Dotun Gboyega) and the entertainment illustrations of Morak Oguntade and some others. The illustrations of these men were as political and useful as the illustrations of Joe Sacco, hence the yearnings. Josey Ajiboye was a pioneer and grandmaster in the print media industry. The depth and influence of the work of these illustrators are incalculable as was elaborated in The Role of Editorial Cartoons in the Democratisation Process in Nigeria by Ganiyu Jimoh.
There was a time in the ’60s and ’70s when several jazz musicians of repute had to visit Brazil for a new spark of inspiration. It was almost a “rite of passage” for many jazz musicians. Classics like ‘Song for My Father’ by Horace Silver; ‘Brazilian Love Affair’ by George Duke; ‘Jive Samba’ by Cannonball Adderley Sextet; ‘Sidewinder’ by Lee Morgan; ‘Big Band Bossa Nova’ by Quincy Jones were born of rips and sounds of trips to and sounds of Brazil. These are a few of the Jazz Giants that had made their most successful albums through the Brazilian inspiration. Grover Washington Jr, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Bob James, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, Kenny Dorham and many others also had big lifts in their music by way of the Brazilian inspiration. The most Yoruba-influenced jazz group is apparently the Art Ensemble of Chicago (see picture above).
There is an old African tale in former times used as a universal allegory. There was once a flourishing pond with an environ full of animals and provided enough for all their needs. Strife was minimal. A Monitor Lizard in the pond had a big reputation for perpetrating wickedness, slander and treachery against other animals that inhabited the environs of the pond. The pain of others was his chief daily joy. His stripes, complexion, eyes and movements made him look both alien and wretched – perhaps the source of his deformed personality. Lying by raising reasonable doubt or obfuscating facts was the essential deception he used to harm and ruin others for no good reason at all. He also had gotten many animals severely punished and banished from the pond despite their innocence. Above all, he was a master flatterer who could easily get former victims to support him and his many schemes. Alas, the animals that lived by the pond accepted the Monitor Lizard’s evil ways as inevitable possibly because they dreaded him. Then a day of reckoning emerged.
In the Summer of 2015, I met and briefly befriended an interesting and pretty British-Nigerian lady in London for a couple of months. She was a focused intellectual type and an ardent seeker of knowledge. She was introverted and I extraverted. For some inexplicable reason, there were many popular and unusual topics we debated for hours. Unexpectedly, in September 2015 she announced to me she had gotten a scholarship to study for a PhD in the USA and promised she was going to miss me. I was flattered. That was the last I saw of her and her company. Despite having spent so many hours talking with her about a variety of topics, we never exchanged surnames. It was a sincere Platonic relationship we had.
What is Col Sambo Dasuki doing locked up in detention indefinitely without trial at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari? What happened to court trials in Nigeria which are sending other politicians guilty of corruption to jail? Supporters of President Buhari [regardless of party affiliation] would naively (the vast majority) or insincerely (very few) have people believe that Col Dasuki’s detention is evidence of a strong anti-corruption ethos under the present government. The truth is that it is one of the most histrionic acts of corruption of the Buhari Presidency courtesy nepotism. Dasuki is in detention for his very own safety at the fawning kindness of the President. If anyone can accurately evaluate the most likely politician that would be assassinated in Nigeria on any given day of the year, it will be Dasuki by a very wide margin and it is unlikely he would survive unprotected. But why? An informant in military intelligence tells us. Continue reading
At the moment the Urhobo nation is both essentially saviourless and leaderless, forget the ethnic bosses. Chiefs Mukoro Mowoe, Michael Ibru, David Ejoor, Great Ogboru, and James Ibori have all been arguably seen as saviours of the Urhobo nation. However, only the legacies of Mowoe and Ibru remain as genuine saviours unperturbed and Mowoe the singular unobstructed unifying leader of Western, Central and Eastern [Isoko] Urhobo. This is shocking considering that Mowoe, the foremost Urhobo nationalist and first president-general of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), died 70 years ago. This no disrespect to (Urhobo Progress Union) UPU and its host of influential leaders. The Urhobo people have produced many illustrious sons and daughters in many endeavours of life, some even rivalling in achievement the five named saviours. One may wonder what it is that distinguishes these five men as saviours to Urhobos but not necessarily leaders? Continue reading
As ridiculous as it may sound, if Anioma were to be granted a State today, the new capital of Delta State would be either Koko (Itsekiriland) or Bomadi (Ijawland) or even Oleh (Isokoland). However, some Urhobos are crying for a [reinstated] “voice” in federal politics at the 90-day suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta: APC) from the upper house of the National Assembly but they cannot even handle themselves well politically within Delta State. Is this not the time for the Urhobo nation to look inwards and sort its cohesion challenges out?
Fejiro Oliver of Secret Reporters recently wrote about his utter disillusionment with the Urhobos (his full heritage) and his embrace of the Anioma people. He cited his betrayal by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the reason for his chosen ethnic preference. He was poached by Omo-Agege from NTA to be a staff writer with Urhobo Vanguard newspaper set up to assist Omo-Agege in his gubernatorial ambitions. When Fejiro was kidnapped in Niger State for investigative journalism in 2014, Omo-Agege and the entire Urhobo nation turned their backs on him giving mostly unbecoming excuses. Continue reading
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.
Akpunwaism is a cultural reaction to defeat and the subaltern status of an ethnic or regional group within a state. Akpunwaism is unique to the Igbo ethnic group but its manifestation is not exclusive to it. The Japanese and Germans have their unique forms of Akpunwaism as a reaction to their defeat and domination by the Allied Forces during and after World War II. Many wars have produced the same in other parts of the world but with varied approaches and circumstances. Misunderstood, Akpunwaism is often portrayed by other Nigerians as a composite of greed and domination by the Igbo man and woman. To the Igbo people, on the contrary, it is a necessary and peaceful approach to both survival and prosperity. One then wonders what Akpunwaism is after all.
Akpunwaism [derived from Akpunwa meaning “tough one” or “hardwood”] is an attitudinal or behavioural form of the partial exit from the state. Peace within the state of peace in exit from it, it does not matter. Peace is what matters incomparably for the flourishing of Akpunwaism. [Partial] exit from the state means not being reliant on or connected to the government. We have often seen an Igbo trader confidently state “the federal government cannot tell me anything because it knows I need nothing from it”. Such is the mark of an exit from the state, a firm almost passive repudiation. What makes the exit robust are the reliable socio-economic networks created which facilitate trading and enterprise.
The Igbos have to work through and compensate for the aggression they suffered and that lingers with their psychic cum historical heritage with non-aggression. That requires the innovation of character. We must remember Akpunwaism is a reaction rather than a preferred way of life. On an individual level, it is an attitude that hollers, “I will not be left behind”. It is only when considered collectively can it be a step towards the partial exit. What is most interesting is that while some Igbos see it as a long term partial exit strategy others see it as just living the life.
After a major loss, there is the necessity to rebuild by storing up as many capacities, strengths and resources as possible peacefully and legitimately and this only stops when all subaltern limitations are overcome within the state [Nigeria]. Like the mythical sukube tree which standing in isolation bears no fruit but when cut or burned down regrows bearing irresistible-tasting fruits and only dies when its descendants start growing all around, so is the Akpunwa. It then becomes a responsibility for survival.
Akpunwaism has an invisible side; caution and circumspection – aggression is never far away. Yet, synonymous with Akpunwaism are the virtues of determination, focus, strength, shrewdness, adaptability and tact. This is backed up by a keen self-awareness, internal structures of reliance, competitiveness, risk-taking and sacrifice. Never mind Nollywood. Akpunwaism is potentially a very productive state of being and a robust approach to self and community development when practised without deficiency or excess. The moment vices are introduced into the manifestations of Akpunwaism, it ends up giving it a bad name. Akpunwaism by itself is not greed, violence, selfishness, subversion nor wickedness, those are just vices that can be mixed in with it.
Even the harshest critiques of the Igbo attitudes towards earning a position or income would occasionally in moments of reflection admire Akpunwaism. Some even wish their ethnic group had such an approach to doing things. However, when we look beyond the stereotype, you will find Igbos that are not rich, not successful, not educated and not high-flyers in their careers but they still practice Akpunwaism just as much as their richer, more successful, better educated and high-flying kinsmen.
A necessary question is, was it the Civil War that triggered Akpunwaism in the Igbos or was it always there? I do not know the answer but I will offer speculation. Weak people never really start wars, civil or external. This would suggest that the Igbos felt or were able to fight a war and win. Nevertheless, the Civil War did create a “peaceful reaction” of rebuilding among the Igbos in the aftermath. The brief phenomenon of Nnamdi Kanu as Igbo leader did show that the potential of an exit from the state exists but it will take a lot more than demagoguery and ‘cause celebre‘ to actualise it. It also proved that Akpunwaism does not seek full exit but partial exit.
Though not the focus of this article, the other two major ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Yorubas and Hausa-Fulanis, have done well but largely within the embrace and facilitation of the state. Such is a more secure and inclusive approach to survival and prosperity. Whether exit from the state is better or worse than the embrace of the state for the building of an ethnic group as contributors to society is not for me to judge. My concern has been the misunderstanding of the phenomenon called Akpunwaism and I have attempted to address it in a simple and clear style.
In 2012 an Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) operative intimated to me very intensely that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo was a traitor to the Yoruba race citing many things he did as military and civilian head of state as proof. One accusation was the nationalisation of Western region-owned assets to the federal government dominated by the Hausa-Fulani. Another accusation was the initiation of the transfer of the Nigerian capital from Lagos in the South-west to Abuja in the North. There were other accusations mentioned and they were supposed to persuade me and others that Obasanjo was a thoroughgoing agent extraordinaire for Northern hegemony or imperialism. In the 1960s and 1970s, the nationalisation of major industries was a global vogue and blaming Obasanjo as one head of state in a thoroughly global trend is harsh. Continue reading
In the UK and the USA, the spectre of Nigerians achieving academic excellence in institutions of higher learning everywhere has increasingly etched for itself a significant space in the folklore of immigration. Such widespread excellence is even used with dubious effect to show how Blacks born in America or in the UK are simply lazy, unambitious and even of criminal disposition. This is certainly the Hegemon’s and Black Conservative’s comfort; one side of an overstated story. The prospect of Uber, the mobile app taxi business, losing its UK licence for gross corporate irresponsibility exposed a most understated side of the story in a shockwave. Continue reading
Young, obscure student leaders initially led the best chance of a revolution Nigeria had at the University of Benin campus in May 1989. These young leaders staged a protest that became famously known as the “Anti-SAP Riots”. This protest-turned-riot, spilt into Benin-City and rapidly to other cities in Nigeria including Lagos, Port Harcourt and Ibadan. The masses were firmly behind the student protesters. The people bought the persuasive message of the obscene leadership corruption and thoroughgoing military repression. However, it was the rejection of neoliberalism that was mercilessly impoverishing the majority of Nigerians that spurred the citizenry. The people and the student protest were one people with a united aim. The guns of the repressive military regime no longer frightened the masses; they had nothing left to lose.
Thursday, two weeks ago I had just come out of hospital after a two-week stay there. As a resident of a Bermondsey, my brother wheeled me to the shops. As we got to the former Santander Bank premises on Southwark Park Road, then turned into the headquarters of the Simon Hughes Liberal Democrats Return campaign, we bumped into the man. Simon Hughes was all alone carrying a large cardboard box out of the headquarters and headed for a yellow-painted black cab which he was known to drive. My brother and I greeted Hughes, but he barely responded, he looked unhappy. Hughes is usually a cheerful and accessible person. The June 8 elections had just ended, and the former MP had lost. It was a very personal irony for me, a very difficult one. I did not want Simon Hughes to come back as my MP.
A “billionaire” kidnapper, Evans, is now the new icon shining in the dull skies of Nigeria. One may ask how a ruthless kidnapper can either be an icon or hero to millions in Nigeria? Because it is Nigeria. Claude Ake once stated that “Nigeria is the only country in the world where no one questions the source of one’s income.” The depth of the statement is far from casual or mere observation. Amassing wealth in Nigeria, whether legally or illegally, has a highly regarded and venerated virtuousness of its own. In many cases, the more crooked the source of income, the better it is rated by the public. That is why you find young men who have legitimately worked very hard for their money blatantly lie that they made the same money by crooked means. How twisted can things get? Continue reading
When I wrote the articles Getting Ready to Islamise Nigeria? (http://wp.me/p1bOKH-BE) and The Complaints: Getting Ready to Islamise Nigeria? (http://wp.me/p1bOKH-BT), it was taken by many as mischief with a keyboard or a pen. Muslims denied any attempts at an Islamisation of Nigeria and Christians compatriots said it was neither possible nor even thinkable. As I have said before the Islamisation of Nigeria will be ‘structural’ or ‘institutional’, not ‘martial’ as some unwittingly expect. Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) is now being completely removed as a subject from the national academic curriculum while Islamic Religious Studies (IRS) and Arabic Studies (AS) remain. Why not ban Use of English Language from the curriculum too? History was taken out some time ago. Continue reading
Today, on Nnamdi Kanu’s release he has become “cause celebre” supreme in Nigeria. He visits and is visited by an impressive list of the ‘high and mighty’ in the land. Despite his oppressive bail conditions which prevent him from undertaking any activism or agitation activities, Kanu’s persona is flourishing. Kanu has become an unlikely but genuine national icon of the “Igbo struggle”. Igbo leaders who shunned Kanu when his troubles began must now embrace him, expediency would not permit otherwise. Otherwise, Igbos and other Nigerians who saw him a mere nuisance cannot deny his current moment of greatness. Yet, Kanu’s greatness was a far too visible and predictable product of an unwitting incarceration by the government of Muhammadu Buhari; Buhari made Kanu [great] as foreseen in The Government Has Jumped Up Biafra (see http://wp.me/p1bOKH-pt). Continue reading
The Pyrates Association has legally ascertained that the “4-7 Creed”  can neither be patented nor used exclusively by the National Association of Seadogs (NAS). Thus, the Pyrates Association is rightful and justified in its adoption of the 4-7 Creed as its central and guiding philosophy.
The “3-4-7 Creed” is the purposeful transformation of the very benign 4-7 Creed into a very specious admixture of manipulation [cf George Orwell’s Animal Farm]. The “3”; “Odas is Odas” is a brazen excuse for oppression, “No Friend No Foe” a brazen excuse to victimise targets and “fall guys” and “Absolutely No Lagging” a shameless justification for exacting slavery on free men. NAS can keep the “3” for its “intended” uses and conveniences; no benign organisation will adopt such doublespeak.
Therefore, the Pyrates Association by consensus will adhere most sincerely to the provisions of 4-7 Creed, from brook to ocean, in the spirit of true and transparent democratic practice, unlike the wanton autocratic methods that nurtured it initially.
Be Good, not Lucky
 The 4-7 Creed
Four Compass Points:
Against [moribund] Convention / Against Tribalism/ For Chivalry and Comradeship / For Humanistic Ideals
Seven Rudder Blades:
Deck before Ego / All before Self / Sense before Slogan / Truth before Cant/ Learn before Leap / Change over Stasis / Act over Yap
Tower Dock, the first branch of a new organisation, has emerged exclusively from what is known as the National Association of Seadogs. It was has been floated on the early hours of Thursday, the 23rd of March 2017.
Tower Dock is the maiden branch of the Pyrates Association. Its founding members consist of seven newly initiated members (on its floating day). And fifteen members who were hitherto initiated into the National Association of Seadogs (names retained) but have chosen to seek new directions. The Pyrates Association will keep the “4-7 Creed” as its revered philosophy but completely rejects all other practices associated with the National Association of Seadogs.
Tower Dock is a fraternity of brothers that shall only engage in practices can effectively better the society and that is internally and externally consistent with the moral codes of its institution, its members and the wider society. Time will tell.
Be Good, not Lucky
One of the most challenging experiences a Nigerian [or other African nationals] in Diaspora will ever face is encountered within the paradox of deciding either remaining in a foreign land permanently or going back home for good. Continue reading
James Ibori is both Nigeria and a Nigerian in the most representative of terms. The Ibori Corruption Saga has much less implication for the ex-governor of Delta State himself; it is a signature of Nigeria as it, its forgettable past and possibly its uncertain future. Ibori’s triumphant entry into Nigeria is seriously superficial, his real welcome was a very deep reflection of the expectations and preferences of the ruling elite in Nigeria and their clients. Ibori’s return home to Nigeria is a test for all who have misgoverned and stolen big from Nigeria.
Nigeria has no time or space for impractical people. By nature or nurture, the Nigerian is thoroughly pragmatic, mostly about money and power, in all their ways. Money (and power) is the true God in Nigeria, not Jehovah, not Allah, not Mohamed, not Amadioha, not Olodumare and not Okunovu; why deceive yourself? Super pastors are in strong competition with each over the obscene claim of being the “richest pastor in Africa”. When neoclassical economists say every single thing human beings do is merely to increase their utility or profits, they are describing Nigeria perfectly. Continue reading
Dr Joe Abah, the Director General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms and academic, in very casual style unwittingly or knowingly re-triggered a limited exchange on one of the most contentious controversies in modern intellectual history; what is the role the intellectual in society? The triggering sardonic comment by Dr Abah (@DrJoeAbah) on Twitter yesterday said “How to become an “expert”  in Nigeria: Be jobless; go around TV stations & beg to appear on ANY programme; criticise all govt actions. Done!” Of the many replies he got [most of them friendly] one by Mark Spencer (@Ack_Spencer) which was equally sardonic read “How to become an expert, sign up as media influencer visit all radio &TV station[s] hailing govt inefficiencies and cluelessness”. This is really the flashpoint of the controversy. However, the contention Dr Abah triggered is one many avoid because of the unexpected possibilities it can generate. Continue reading
When I read the article titled ‘The Welcome Party for Ibori’ by Simon Kolawole, it was thought-provoking journalism considering the context of Delta State’s ex-Governor, James Ibori’s much-celebrated release from Belmarsh Prison, London, England. Many Nigerians mostly see Ibori’s celebrated release by mostly people from his home state of Delta as a national disgrace and most rightly so. However, when you consider Nigeria’s history of convictions for corruption, many who complain about Ibori’s smug prison release may simply be tribalists who would do the same if “their man” was convicted and eventually released. The real crushing national disgrace for Nigeria is that it still cannot convict her Big Thieves in her courts and rely on foreign governments to convict “selected” offenders. Yet, Nigeria celebrates Independence. Continue reading
Wole Soyinka is forgiving and commuting personally designed punitive sanctions once again and in the most “magnanimous” and “solemn” of ways. Wole Soyinka is a great man. Soyinka is neither God Almighty, a spiritual leader (except within the National Association of Seadogs a.k.a. Pyrates Confraternity), a president, a jurist, nor an organised crime boss. Where the authority for Soyinka pronouncing “Fatwas of Forgiveness” upon great and small men originates from is a disturbing curiosity countless people share. The new round of forgiveness from Soyinka has been triggered by the mourning of his long-time friend and confidante, the very excellent and honourable person of lawyer Deji Sasegbon, SAN (Deceased).
The difference between pure science and applied is incredibly huge when one considers their particular usefulness to society. Pure science is mostly cerebral and experimental but applied science is of totally practical use to society. Technological know-how, medical understanding, microscopic explorations, extra-terrestrial conquests and superstition minimisation are all the dividends of applying science to all manner of problems encountered by human beings. In all societies, developing and advanced, it is the application of science and not mere theory that has made the technosphere so amazing and useful. This is certainly not an attempt to denigrate pure science, whatsoever. One can only apply scientific solutions to everyday and rare problems, big and small if the practitioner or student knows enough pure science, to begin with. It is the application of science that makes tonnes of metal to fly in the sky, incurable diseases curable, summer foods to grow in winter, people to communicate with each other over thousands of miles in real-time, meat to be preserved for months. Pure science and applied science are truly beautiful, even though they can be put to ugly uses.
So many Nigerians (particularly those from Delta State) I have come across in the UK very recently appear to be the alter ego of Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). Quite shockingly, far too many people appear to know him personally and very well. Pinnick’s name is being dropped so frequently and intimately by so many Nigerians, one begins to think he is probably the most socially friendly, widely connected and open individual from that country. Pinnick is not an internationally famous celebrity but his private and public life just as well-known or supposed as so among numerous Nigerians. It is Olympics Time! Continue reading
If one asks the everyday person from Edo or Delta States, which make up the now-defunct Mid-West region or Bendel State, or anyone from the rest of Nigeria who Albert Okonkwo was, probably much less than 1% would know the answer. Many would ask why they should know who Albert Okonkwo was in the first place. But why not?
Major Albert Nwazu Okonkwo, a Biafran military officer and medical doctor, was a former Governor [Military Adminitrator] of Mid-West Region, Nigeria during the Civil War i.e. when the Biafran army successfully though temporarily annexed that region after crossing the Niger and capturing Benin-City. Okonkwo was Governor for 67 days (August 17, 1967 – October 20, 1967) taking over the Government House in Benin-City. There some Nigerian Governors who have served for less time than Okonkwo did but his history simply cannot be found in the “regular” history of Nigeria. Andy Uba, former Governor of Anambra State, holds the Guinness World record for being the shortest-serving governor in world history, 16 days, but it is a part of mainstream Nigerian history.
While much that has been reported about this brief tenure appears apocryphal, one interesting fact about the reign of Okonkwo as governor was it gives some insight into a subtle part of the strategy the Biafran High Command adopted to incorporate non-Igbos into the realisation of the Republic of Biafra. “Ethnic cleansing” and “forceful subjugation” are widely reputed to be the strategy by which the Biafran High Command was going to dominate non-Igbo Easterners and Mid-Westerners. Such a claim has currency because of the incomplete history of the annexation of the Mid-West. Did the Biafran High Command ever make plans to “cleanse” the ethnic groups of what now constitutes the Mid-West peoples? It is a rational question. Besides suppositional or unverified evidence, there is no proof that such an action was ever planned or undertaken even though there was much resistance from the aforementioned groups towards the Biafran army. War is a very terrible thing and has its costs which are usually even more terrible and enduring. One cannot make excuses for war and its consequences. Yet, rumours and talk of violent secession or the unlikely belief in “peaceful secession” seems to have captured the nation today.
The paramount goal of Albert Okonkwo was to “persuade” (with the help of the barrel of a gun) the people of the Mid-West to declare their own Republic as the Eastern region had done and the Western region had promised to do but never did. The Biafrans knew the Mid-West had the wherewithal to stand alone as a nation. The autonomous independent “Republic of the Mid-West” or “Republic of Benin” according to mainstream history was declared by Okonkwo on October 19, 1967; a day before Col Murtala Mohammed regained control of the region with a decisive military victory. There is at least one credible source that the independent Republic of Mid-West was declared by Okonkwo on behalf of the Biafran High command as early as August 1967. The Biafrans knew the South-South was not part of them and resorted to persuasion.
Many might argue that this declaration was a devious stratagem by the Biafran High Command to first befriend the Mid-West region in its attainment of its own independent republic from Nigeria back then assuming the secession war had succeeded and later conquer and integrate it into Biafra. Others can refute such arguments on the premises that the Mid-West was highly strategic to Nigeria especially in economic terms and if it got its independence, Nigeria would be less of a threat to Biafra. Some might even argue that Major Okonkwo and his governorship is not important enough to be remembered. Today such arguments continue without missing pieces of history. It is unfortunate that the current state of affairs in Nigeria laden with multiple insurgencies and resistances that have the potential of ripping the nation asunder actually encourages such thinking for the worse. However, was the Republic of Mid-west a fluke, a one-off or a future possibility many secretly look forward to? It may not be too easy to envision what the independent Republic of Mid-west would have been if it existed today. Taboo topic?
Nevertheless, Biafra in the Mid-west is an interesting missing piece of Nigerian history like others that may perhaps create some useful new perspective on the current state of ethnic relations within Nigeria. It is a possibility worth exploring. The seeds of the future are often found in events of the past. At least, we should learn from our mistakes not repeat them.
Persuasion without the barrel of a gun to shoot from is what Nigeria needs if only it will listen.
The recent pronouncements made by Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, to “regulate” religion by banning the “unlicensed places of worship” of Christians in his state has caused many Christians to take the threat of Islamisation more seriously than ever. The threat was further escalated to an ‘imminent level’ when at a recent forum meeting for the 19 Northern Nigerian State Governors unanimously decided to regulate Christianity in their respective states. Is the “One Nigeria” doctrine again under the serious threat of failing for religion sake? Continue reading
Fulani herdsmen have always secretly been subversives monitoring and reporting activities throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria and they have paymasters; so my source affirms. This information, however, does not explain the ostensibly ‘senseless phenomenon’ happening frequently in Nigeria today; the killing/kidnapping of Nigerians all over the country by Fulani herdsmen. The long-hidden history of Fulani herdsmen grazing their cattle all over Nigeria should no longer be a secret. Continue reading
It is almost a rule that as a member of the public you will encounter UCGFs (University Campus Grown Fraternities) and their members vehemently deny that they are cults or cult members, respectively, in any personal or media platform available to them. One would think that such is a practice of mere or strong ‘cult denialism’ because of the negative image it conjures in the minds of members of the public? Wrong.
In everyday Nigerian parlance, the dreaded word “cult” is habitually conflated and interchanged with the word the “occult”. It is where the mistake begins. As such many UCGF members and members of the public have not taken the time to find out what a cult is and are not aware they or those they love may be members of cults by proper definition and implication. Many cults are very secular and do not practice any religious, spiritual, magical or esoteric beliefs. Occultism is not a core characteristic of a cult at all.
Between 1999 and 2007 there was an acute frenzy of political aspirations occurring among Nigerians in the diaspora; it was quite an evident wave. The frenzy was about Nigerians seeking to return home to go successfully into politics and hold office or get lucrative contracts from the government. Pre-1999, many if not the majority of Nigerian males in the diaspora were quite content to live indefinitely overseas but after the 1999 return to democracy, it was rare to find a Nigerian male who was ‘away’ that did not want to return to Nigeria to make it big. That was the birth of the “X say make I come home” era.
For ‘X say make I come home’ the X was either, Obasanjo, Ibori, Igbinedion, Tinubu, Duke, Akande, Odili, Omene, Makoju, Clarke or any other leading politician or technocrat in power. ‘X say make I come home’ had a stilted drama to it. It was said in a smug, self-congratulatory, ostensibly humble, ‘I have arrived’ manner. ‘X say make I come home’ was perhaps the most prestigious thing a Nigerian in the diaspora could utter to his fellow compatriot expatriates at the turn of the Millennium. Nigerians were returning home in large numbers to make it big or have a comfortable life.
Many that went home to ‘the call’ experienced a mixed bag of fortunes and outcomes which could be classified into four distinct groups. The “Winners” went home and landed great jobs or won major elections or got juicy contracts without much ado or with a bit of a struggle. Some eventually became ministers, governors, state commissioners, directors in government agencies, local government chairmen, assemblymen, representatives, and senators. Others became personal assistants, special assistants and unofficial proxies to the winners, sharing in their often fabulous good fortune. Then there were the glorious contactors.
The “Runners” were the hustlers who had to work very hard to get any income or privileges to could secure. It was usually tough for runners but they eventually got lucrative contracts from their contacts in government. The fortune of the most successful runners was “win big, lose big”; their actions always had high stakes. More often than not, non-payment or severely delayed payments for contracts executed and completed was their Achilles heel. Many were crushed due to payment uncertainties.
The “Testers” were the ones that went to Nigeria with resources that would last them for up to eighteen months while they were prospecting for position and contracts in Nigeria. It appears that for this group of prospectors were quite pragmatic since many returned to their bases in diaspora when their resources ran out and the success of the ambitions remained unfulfilled. However, the testers were also a major feeder group for the winners and runners who eventually made it (big).
The “Shock Absorbers” are so-called because they appeared immune to the consequences and awareness of failure to the point of being rescued back to diaspora by third parties. A few shock absorbers did make it to the rank of winner and runner. The tales of the experiences of shock absorbers were often tragic and sometimes fatal. We leave it at that.
While the winners constituted (max.) 5% and the runners (max.) 15% of those who had said ‘X say make I come home’ the other 80% was a mix of unsuccessful Testers and Shock Absorbers. Most of the all the winners and most of the runners have remained in Nigeria while nearly all the unsuccessful testers and shock absorbers are back in the diaspora. In a nutshell, at best only 1 in every 5 made it well enough to go to Nigeria and sustain themselves enduringly there but only 1in every 20 fulfilled their dreams of “making it big in Nigeria.
These days we no longer hear guys in diaspora uttering the line ‘X say make I come home’. Most who got the call were disappointed by the patrons who “invited” them home. Some of such patrons strung their invitees along till they ran out of resources to fend for themselves then dropped them. Some invitees lacked the skills and acumen to make it in Nigeria even though they had sufficient opportunities to succeed presented to them. Others fell out with or lost the favour of their patrons. Quite a number had impatient wives back in the diaspora who were impatient with the delays in their husbands earning a repatriate-able income and pressured them to return. There were other factors too.
While the winners and some runners are smiling to bank many in the diaspora now realise that the days returning home was bound to bring a man success and financial independence just because he was from the diaspora or had very high ambitions are no longer here, they are gone… for most. You can still find people going home to make it big but in small numbers.
These days many Nigerians in the diaspora are content to earn their pension there or do so grudgingly without any recourse to go back home.
Femi Aribisala is undoubtedly one of the brightest and most effective journalists and bloggers writing out of Nigeria. He is one writer who indeed never seems to disappoint with his pen, be it a tweet or an essay for Vanguard or elsewhere. In a recent tweet, Aribisala emphatically states @femiaribisala – March 13th 2016; “Buhari said he is a poor man during the election, now he says he is a rich man who can afford to send his children to school abroad.”
Before the 2015 elections, millions of pro-Buhari supporters swore by his ostensible Spartan-lifestyle and voluntary poverty as an exemplary model to be emulated by all for Nigeria to progress. Those very same people are now with violent vehemence and intolerance defending the entitlement of President Muhammadu Buhari to be a very rich man. Continue reading
When President Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015 general elections, he did so largely with the support of neutral and anti-PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) commentators. Everything bad in Buhari’s life history was to be forgotten and everything good was in ascendance. From another perspective, it was very difficult for practitioners of competent thinking to justify the pervasive profligacy behemoth of PDP while in power. The ministerial appointments Babs Fashola, Timi Amaechi and other ‘gubernatocrats’ that took more than half a year to make that was the start of the negation of support for President Buhari. Many thinking men deserted except the likes of Wole Soyinka turned their backs on and pens against Buhari. But many political miracles were promised by the Buhari government. Where are they? Continue reading
Not all medical professionals (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, radiographers, medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists etc.) married from Nigeria into diaspora (especially the USA and UK) are “medical mail brides”. Female medical professionals are human and just like other professional and non-professional women; someone will desire them, court them and marry them where the possibility arises. The problem raised in the previous article (see http://wp.me/p1bOKH-vJ) is the “intention”, yes the intention, of men marrying female medical professionals from Nigeria or coercing them into becoming one after she arrives. If it is not loving, could it be pimping?
Before this matter is taken any further it should be emphasised that there are a whole lot of men who have married female medical professionals into diaspora but not as medical mail brides. Some men who have married medical professionals into diaspora had dated them in numerous previous circumstances in Nigeria i.e. as [secondary / university] classmates/schoolmates, fellow choristers, neighbours, family friends etc. long before diaspora came into the equation. Continue reading