DOES AFRICA ALONE HAVE THE CAPACITY TO FIGHT TERRORISM?

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Photo Credit: Defence Web

PRESENTED AT JAW WAR 2015 QUARTER-FINAL ON THE 7TH OF OCTOBER, 2015.

GEORGE C. Kimble said; the darkest thing about Africa is not its black people, its black magic or even its shocking history of slavery and colonialism. The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of Africa. Many persons cannot fathom what Africa truly is, the great qualities she possesses and the magnificent things she is capable of. And so when it is asked that: can Africa fight terrorism, as a matter of reflex and inferiority complex; we tend to forget the facts and even flex the index – all in a bid to say no.

JUDGES, fellow warriors in this tournament, ladies and gentlemen: Good evening to you all. Here stands an African, Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, from the faculty of law proudly saying yes to the question – DOES AFRICA ALONE HAVE THE CAPACITY TO FIGHT TERRORISM?

FOR the sake of clarity, the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 described terrorism as criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes…

OUR Yoruba elders often tell us that a society without laws is a society without sins and flaws – ilu ti o ba ti sofin, ko le si ese. You see, though social scientists may not wear suits on a normal day, they do so by all means today because it is then law, the way of public speaking. Premised on this, I can confidently say that Africa’s legal weaponry is a perfect start in the fight against terrorism. This is evidenced by Article 23, Section 2, Paragraph (b) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which categorically provides that for the purpose of strengthening peace, solidarity and friendly relations, state parties to the present Charter shall ensure that their territories shall not be used as bases for subversive or terrorist activities.

MOVING ON, the existence and re-emergence of the Central Multi-National Force against Boko-Haram between Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin shows that Africa has the unity and solidarity necessary to fight the monsters in our territory.

MOREOVER, what could be more convincing of our capacity to fight terrorists if not the 2014 Global Terrorism Index which places as many as 10 African countries in the list of top 32 countries with least cases of terrorism.

ALSO, it is as clear as the Zik River that the social values in Africa are a nightmare for terrorism. It is these values of justice and equity that propelled the formation of the Civilian Joint Task Force which has been doing a wonderful job in North-Eastern Nigeria fighting and ousting the menace of Boko Haram.

FURTHERMORE, the great Marcus Cicero once remarked – to know nothing of what happened before you were born is to forever remain a child. Thus, the question begging to be asked is: has Africa ever fought or won any fight against terrorists? Besides, how better to judge Africa’s capacity other than through the caps in Africa’s reality? Africa has indeed won several battles against terrorism. And a good instance is the 1985 total obliteration of the Yan Tatsine. We also have the Lord’s Resistance Militancy of Uganda, the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone and the Die Boermag of South Africa ALL of which are heard of no more today. And ah, not to forget our dear Niger Delta Militants who by the way promised us a Civil War should Uncle Jonathan lose the election. Six months later, it is apparent they only had the jaw but not the means to start the war.

IF my friends from the Social Sciences claim that Africa lacks military might to fight the blight of terrorism, please tell them that according to the 2015 Global FirePower list which ranks countries by military strength, India has the fourth best military in the world. However, this does not stop the same India from being ranked number six of the most terrorised nations of the world by the Global Terrorism Index.

FINALLY ladies and gentlemen, before I leave the stage, I must warn us. I fear that my opponents will soon come here to dish out a perfectly prepared delicacy full of the red herring fallacy. I fear that they will present an irrelevant item in order to divert attention from the original problem. And so, let us remember that the topic of today’s debate is not do individual African countries have the capacity. It is – does Africa, the continental land of milk and honey, have the capacity to fight terrorism. Therefore, my answer remains yes, yes and yes! If we combine the acuity of South Africans, the practicality of Egyptians, the numerical capacity of Nigerians, the martial vitality of Kenyans and the positive peculiarities of the 50 other Africa nations, we will not only fight the terrible terrorists terrifying our terra firma, we will in fact win that fight.

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NIGERIA’S EDUCATION: A THEORISED KNOWLEDGE?

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

A speech delivered on November 4, 2015 and which got me the “King of the Podium” appellation (2015/2016) as far as Kenneth Mellanby Hall is concerned.

It is said that when the head is too big, it cannot dodge blows… The head of today’s event, Nigeria’s education, is bigger than its body and thus must endure being constantly discussed.

Good day fellow Mellanbites, kingmakers, fellow speakers and the audience. Before you is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, an aspirant for the crown of the podium. And I am here to take the floor on the question – Nigeria’s education: a theorised knowledge?

Ladies and gentlemen, Terence once said nothing is said which has not been said before. It has, before now, been argued that our education system is not laden with theorised knowledge because we have various practical sessions like industrial training, teaching practice and chamber attachments. It has also been argued that the presence of quality private schools has greatly reduced focus on theory. It may even be argued that our knowledge is not theorised because we not only have theory questions in our examination, we also have German and objective ones. But we all know that these arguments may not hold air let alone water.

Finding an irrefutable assertion is like finding a popular YouTube video with no dislike. There are always two sides to a coin and two ends to a rope. And so it behoves me to examine the other side to this argument which in fact appears to be heavier. To compare it with the former is to compare Mellanby hall to a boys quarters.

The reality today is that our education system is crude and lacks exposure. It not only focuses on theory but off-base, out-of-date triviality. Our lecturers for instance find nothing wrong in using pre-colonial lesson notes 55 years after independence. We have engineers who do not move near engines, doctors who know no better than conductors and Professors of Mechanical Engineering who still take their engines to the mechanics for engineering. Our students can define the internet but cannot use it, they can define a laboratory and in fact list 10 apparatuses it contains but have never entered one, they can describe a wind turbine but have never seen one; they can talk all day about how the tractor works but we have not for once driven one.

In 2012, investigations carried out by Vanguard Nigeria revealed that many schools in Nigeria lack up to date computer technology and the few that have lack access to electricity. For instance, out of a class of about 60, only one claimed to have once worked on a computer – his uncle’s laptop.

Just last month, the cerebral Dr Olisa Godson Muojama of the History department was on air at Splash FM and he declared that Nigeria is operating mercantile, commercial capitalism and not true industrial capitalism. Meaning we import virtually everything but we do not ourselves create or construct anything. Even the things we manage to create, we still import the raw materials from overseas. Does this then mean Nigerians are too dull or lazy? No, of course not! It is only because our education system does not encourage creative thinking. It only reinforces routine robotic reasoning. The problem is not intelligence but lack of experience. And this cannot help us. It will only cast us in a state of motion without movement, activity without productivity.

You see, when Nigerians go abroad to learn, their genius often becomes manifest because of the change in environment. Almost a 100% of Nigerians who ever invented anything worthy of international recognition benefitted substantially from foreign education – from Saheed Adepoju who invented the Inye tablet to Seyi Oyesola who invented the ‘hospital in a box’, from Jelani Aliyu who made General Motors leading auto-brand to Cyprian Emeka who holds more than 160 patents worldwide. Last May, we also heard about Mr Ufot Ekong who made a speedy electric car while studying in Japan. He definitely would not have achieved that had he studied in University of Ibadan.

Fellow Mellanbites, what I am trying to say in essence is that we have the perfect intellectual pool, but our schools lack the perfect intellectual tools. School is not just about pen and paper; it is about ken and actual encounters. School is not only about learning and character; it is about knowing and being a master. School is not about la cram la pour la pass la forget; it is about la grasp la tour la surpass la recollect.

Gentlemen, I shall close by quoting from Benjamin Franklin, a foremost American statesman.  He said tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. And so if our education sector is truly interested in the impartation of knowledge, then it must provide not just updated theory but engaging practicality and actual intellectual activity.

Post scriptum: Paragraphs 3, 4, 8 and the last sentence weren’t part of the final delivery due to temporal inadequacy.