VESSEL TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: INDIGENOUS OR FOREIGN LANGUAGE?

Language is not the invention of yesterday; it is one of the most precious heirlooms bestowed by the divinity at the moment of creation. IN PRINCIPIO ERAT VERBUM (in the beginning was the word) – Herbert Spencer, Philosophy of Style [1852]

At first glance, it would appear that when we speak of Nigeria’s ascension to greatness, language is nothing but a rickety ladder if not a fiery meteorite which is constantly drawing us back. However, is this truly the case? Can our dialectical diversity or linguistic import ever be a viable tool in our quest for national development? If yes, which is the way? Many have, with good cause, criticised Nigeria’s adoption of an exoglossic language. They say it has caused a massive erosion and corrosion of our culture. They even say it is one of the instruments of neo-colonialism. But then have we ever paused to consider that this may in fact be a blessing in disguise?

Statistics tell us that of the 7106 known languages of the world, as many as 527 are present in this tiny country called Nigeria. This much heterogeneity in the fundamental medium of communication may no doubt be likened to the Sword of Damocles as far as the unity and progress of the country is concerned. Put differently, there is no way a community can develop if the commonalty cannot communicate in unity. A unifying language is indispensable especially in a country like Nigeria where there exists deep-seated inter-ethnic antipathy.

In school, for instance, I cannot imagine what the experience would be like if I could not converse with my friends easily regardless of their tribe. A friend of mine even once remarked that there is nothing stopping him from marrying a lady from the North if not that he fears she may not be able to converse freely with his family. Thanks to our English lingua franca, his fear is trimmed down to a considerable extent.

Above is however just one end to the rope. In spite of it, I still believe we must be wary. We must be wary of the prevailing and potential dangers inherent in exalting the Whiteman’s language when it is not that we have none of our own or that ours are in anyway inferior. We must be careful lest we end up as strangers in our own land and illiterates of our own tongue.

For me, Nigeria can develop at the same pace and even faster without the sanctification of the English language. And one of the reasons this is so is that the English language has constantly constituted a glass ceiling to the youth’s educational advancement. You cannot further your studies to the university level unless you pass English language, a feat many do not find easy. The West African Examinations Council said in August, for instance, that only a meagre 39% of candidates who sat their examination obtained credits in five subjects including English and Mathematics while in 2012, 57% of the students actually failed English language. If this course is made voluntary and is substituted with familiar indigenous languages, it will prevent the dashing of hopes and quashing of dreams merely because of lack of English proficiency.

An understanding and promotion of our indigenous languages can also help to strengthen the amity between us as a people. It will lessen feelings of hatred and distrust. Nelson Mandela clearly understood this when he remarked that if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. Thus, if students are encouraged to learn the three major languages in Nigeria during their basic education phase, then we will not have to grapple with situations wherein a Hausa man would think a Yòrùbá man is calling him a thief (bàràwó) when he is actually saying báwo (how are you?). We have even heard of one who murdered his friend because he called him aboki, a word meaning ‘friend’ in Hausa but which Yòrùbás take to mean ‘a dullard’.

Furthermore, indigenous languages can also assist in the preservation of our culture. Marcus Garvey said; a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots; but I feel obliged to add that without roots, it is unthinkable for a tree to germinate or develop. Sadly, we presently live in a generation where mothers tongue-lash their children for speaking in their mother tongue, where pupils are fined for speaking in fine vernacular and where the youth rely on Android applications to get native proverbs. Also, we live at a time when of our 527 languages, 7 are extinct, 27 are in trouble and 43 are dying. All this must change for there can be no national development or even tourist investment if there is no unique national embodiment.

I would say that rather than wait to see how the language of our former slave masters will miraculously help us to become more developed than them, why not preserve and propagate our made-in-Nigeria dialects so that they may equally become foreign languages to other lands? Our fathers often say that no matter how long a log stays in water, it can never become a crocodile. Would it not then be wise for the log to ditch impractical fantasies while it works towards betterment?

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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.

SIGN TO BRING BACK “THE DEBATERS REALITY SHOW”!

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CLICK HERE TO SIGN NOW!

‘Hello Everyone, we know you cannot wait for the next season, thank you for your messages and support. Please stay tuned to this page as something really exciting is coming your way soon. Oratory … the power to change [Posted on Facebook on the 5th of July, 2011]’.

And that was the last we heard of The Debaters, a reality TV show which once kept thousands upon thousands of Nigerians glued to their Television sets while its two seasons lasted. This captivating and educative programme was a first of its kind as it gathered some of the country’s best youthful brains, trained them in the almost-lost-art of polemics and enlightened a broad audience sitting in the confines of their home while so-doing. It was a unique programme which rewarded intellectual growth and showed the world that Nigerians aren’t just fantastic on the football pitch or in amphitheatres.

Sadly and to everyone’s dismay, after the completion of the second season, the third never came. For four long years, we’ve waited but it still is not here. That lovely programme vanished into thin air without a word of explanation. But of course, it can easily be assumed that someone got tired of sponsoring it perhaps because it brought no financial gains.

However, this gloomy disappearance and intellectual homicide ensued in the same era where Big Brother Africa has been held for nine years consecutively and with the winner getting a whopping sum of US$300,000 last year. This tragedy is occurring in the same era Nigerian Idol, another Reality show, has been held for five years running. It is happening in the same time where MTN Project Fame has been annually held 7 times in the past and 18 contestants are presently battling it out in the 8th edition. We also have the Glo Naija Sings, Guilder Ultimate Search, Maltina Dance All amongst many others.

The importance of these entertainment shows is not in any way being undermined. But then the non-existence (and premature death) of equally top-class intellectually flavoured programmes (such as ‘The Debaters’ and Zain Africa’s Challenge) depicts the lopsided nature of our priorities.

In the year 2009 when ‘The Debaters’ made its debut, Lola Odedina (Group Head, Communications and External Affairs, GTB) said that GTB’s support for the programme was predicated on the fact that the development of the mind and the intellect is a tool for sustainable development. She also added that if the country would reproduce the like of Anthony Enahoro and Wole Soyinka who had through their oratorical skills been agents of positive change at one time or the other, there is the need for a well-structured system that would breed such agents.

To conclude therefore, I am humbly using this medium to call on Nigeria’s rank and file to strongly demand for the resuscitation of ‘The Debaters Reality Show’ and other programmes like it. Similarly, the bigwigs and large corporations in our society should also support intellectual activities as much as they do for recreational ones.

Particularly, the National Orientation Agency, the Ministries of Education and Youth Development and finally, Inspire Africa (which initiated it ab intio), should all strive to revive ‘The Debaters’ soon and in earnest. It will cost virtually nothing, yet the intellectual drive that we stand to benefit is simply enormous.

Bring Back The Debaters! Bring it back. Make it bigger and better.

God bless Nigeria! ✊

https://www.change.org/p/nigerian-ministry-of-education-nigerian-ministry-of-youth-development-national-orientation-agency-bring-back-the-debaters-reality-show?just_created=true

CLICK TO SIGN NOW, and don’t forget to also SHARE!

Please, equally share these hash tags to promote the movement:

#BringBackTheDebaters #IntellectualNigeria

This movement is not just about THE DEBATERS , it is to correct the general insouciant attitude of government and society to intellectual activities.

Cheers! ❤👋

THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE: PROGRESSION, WASTE OR WHAT?

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‘The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labour’.

These words of the French philosopher, Albert Camus, featuring the absurdist tale of poor Sisyphus inevitably bring to mind the pitiable story and futile circumstance of some 496 individuals, most of them advanced in years, who, on the 17th day of March, were ‘conscripted’ to partake in the on-going national conference.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said the conference is a medium where high-standing national stakeholders will ‘engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all’. The question that crosses ones thoughts then is; what comes next after the resolutions have been charted?

It is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that the conference is an utter waste. Reasons being: one, despite the fact that the whole venture is meant to be a service to the nation; and many of the delegates are pensioners with enough wealth to suffice their whole village and numerous progenies, the government still finds it appropriate to fund the conference with ridiculous generosity. At a time when various abandoned projects daily cry for attention, we find the government bold enough to spend as much as about 7 billion naira on a ‘talk-shop’.

If it were to end there, the situation may still be manageable as the funding, though unnecessary anyway, can be deemed a sacrifice for a worthy cause. But then, the whole process is just ‘vanity upon vanity’, waste upon waste, because the conference, from all indications, lacks any iota of efficacy. This is because the conference is not sovereign and fully autonomous. It is, at the end of the day, answerable to the President. In essence, whatever the resolutions reached, no matter how laudable, they are still subject to the whims and caprices of the government of the day which is the quintessential exemplar, if not origin, of the decay in the nation. This is a pointer to the sad fact that the national conference is nothing but a façade of seriousness and an incapacitated gathering of honest patriots. As Tony Blair aptly puts it; ‘power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile’.

The national conference is not the panacea we seek. It was set up to find solutions in issues such as fiscal federalism, resource control, regional autonomy and security of lives and property. And even if it actualises this, it definitely cannot serve as a means of tackling political corruption, abject poverty, miscarriage of justice etc., as these are problems only sincerity on the part of the supreme authority in a country can solve. It cannot be, as the President has said, ‘a means of resolving differences and tensions that may exist in the country’, because the delegates were not popularly chosen. When it ends, it does not mean the average Ibo man will cease to hate the average Hausa man, or that the Yoruba Ijaw man will be comfortable handing his daughter in marriage to the typical Yoruba man.

Fred Allen once said that ‘a conference is a group of people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done.’ How true this is. The reports of past conferences and committees, a good instance of which is the National Political Reforms Conference constituted by Former President Obasanjo in 2005, are still gathering dusts wherever it is they were dumped.

To conclude, I would say the national conference can definitely not be regarded as a form of progression. In fact, it is a means for retardation. It is not a step in the right direction; instead, it is many steps on a vain path. It is not a thing of value; rather it is a big joke, a diversionary and pointless activity; a waste, of time, money and, most saddening of all, lives. To suggest otherwise is to live in fanatical denial.

INSECURITY AND AMNESTY: A JOLLY RIDE TO LAWLESSNESS

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ABDUL FATTAH ADEBAJO ADEKUNLE, LAW, 100 LEVEL

Winner of the 1434AH superior pen writing competition

[Published on pages 38 and 39 of Adh-Dhikr Magazine, February, 2014]

Written: several months back…

At times, I wonder how it is that we find ourselves in the current predicament. What have we done or failed to do as a nation that causes us to deserve this ‘punishment’? Are Nigerians that distinct from those in other lands, that we are bedevilled with insecurity?

It is quite demoralising that, today, the word ‘Nigeria’ is coterminous and equated with fear, insecurity and loss of lives. Nigeria is, today, a no man’s land. No tourist wishes to see our mouth-watering cultural artefacts. No company holder dares attempt to extend his investment to Nigeria. In fact, the ones already here are, so to say, running for their dear lives. That is not all; presidents and government officials now publicly announce their apprehension in paying Nigeria a visit. A quintessential instance is the recent case whereby President Obama of the United States visited African nations such as Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and deliberately put Nigeria aside.

The pivotal genesis of their lugubrious status-quo is not far-fetched. It all started with militant activities in the Niger-Delta region, which perhaps was made possible during the civil war of 1967-1970 that left myriad arms in the hands of individuals. As an offshoot, we also have innumerable cases of high-profile kidnappings; those being most rampant in the South East and South West on the other hand are infamous for harbouring petty thieves and notorious armed robbers. With the intervention of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s regime, the militants in the Niger-Delta, and activities of MEND were considerably checked. This was mainly due to the introduction of amnesty, which is a process in which violent individuals are disarmed in exchange for education, employment or wealth. This recession brought untold joy unto the hearts of Nigerians, but little did we know that we are yet to get to the end of the beginnings of the burdensome quest.

In 2009, a group popularly referred to as Boko-Haram came into the limelight. Jama’atul Ahlis-Sunna lidda’awati wal-jihad (Boko-Haram) is believed to have originated from the activities of Maitatsine in the 1970s and 80s. its fame also rose when Mallam Alli was heading it around 1995. Thereafter, he passed the leadership to Muhammad Yusuf, a radical whose extra-judicial death in 2009 gave rise to the blood thirsty side of Boko-Haram and the death of more than 10,000 Nigerians – most of the innocent.

The federal government has for too long a time turned a blind eye to the activities of the sect, allegedly because some of the members have rich backgrounds with links to top government officials. However when the situation appears to be getting out control, albeit it never was in control; the government deemed it fit to offer a friendly arm to the sect; taking as precedent the Niger-Delta militants saga. This offer was, sadly and unexpectedly, harshly turned down, with the remarks that it is the government that actually needs amnesty.

Relentless, President Goodluck Jonathan shows that he is still ‘on top of the situation’ by putting to use another trick up his sleeve, a declaration of the state of emergency. This he did on May 14, 2013 in four states of the federation including Adamawa, Bornu and Yobe states. He imposed a 24-hour curfew in these states and sent thousands of military personnel, with the aim of fishing out and crushing the sect members. In addition, telecommunication and GSM were disabled to disorganise the sect. despite the strict measures, we still hear incidents of bombing (of religious institutions and market places); a very fresh case is the killing of juveniles in Yobe by setting a school ablaze. Up to 20 people were reportedly killed. Those who fled from the inferno were shotdown in cold blood. This is to point out that, truly, no real progress have been made.

All said and done, what can we say is the panacea to this precarious situation? The answer to this is very simple, but the implementation, not quite so. Indubitably, the root cause of Boko-Haram and other shapes insecurity is taking in Nigeria is simple and straightforward: poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. In the case of Nigeria, these are most obtainable in the North.

At this juncture, it would be apt to cite one of the remarks of a famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle – he said: ‘poverty is the parent of revolution and violence’. A hungry man does not think of anything but his hunger; and an idle hand, they say, is the devil’s workshop. The only rational explanation for a case in which a teenager in Lagos killed another individual with a knife for 10,000 naira is poverty.

I hereby submit that no level of military expedition or amnesty can salvage us from our predicament; Muhammad Yusuf was able to gain supporters and disciples because people were ignorant and because he strongly preached against corruption and police brutality. Thus, if we must restore sanity, safety and self-dignity in this nation we must set out to tackle corruption, fight illiteracy, and combat poverty with all available means, lest the aftermath becomes ineluctable: a jolly ride to lawlessness.

ON ‘MAMA PEACE’ AND HER ‘PEACEFUL’ BLUNDERS

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I must confess, many times in the past, I have thought them exaggerations, all the viral posts on social media that supposedly point out the shameful grammatical blunders or hilarious outbursts of Mrs Patience Dame Jonathan, alias Mama Peace, the first lady and wife of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria.

However, after seeing for myself a recent video in which she literally humiliated herself on national TV, I might just believe any remark credited to her henceforth. It may not even be out of place to suggest that a separate set elections be conducted  for the office of the First Lady in subsequent elections; or that there be a constitutional provision for both a ‘first lady; kitchen’, and ‘first lady; publicity’. 🙂

Here is a transcript of her most recent outburst [or ’emotional display’ as put by Channels TV].The words in bold are her words, while others aren’t.


Do you come with two teachers?

No [comes the reply].

You were not informed too? Ehn?

Continue. No problem. God will see us. There is God. [With a raised voice], there is God in everything we are doing. Those bloods, that are sharing in Bornu, will answer … What of two teachers, WAEC, two teacher, two, ehn what of two teachers that can tell us that they conducted that exam? Do you come with any? ‘Prispal’?

Ma [says Principal].

No too?

Yes [replies Principal].

Na only you waka come, okay …[Again, raising her voice], now the first lady is calling you, come, I want to help you. Come to find your pa…, your child, your missing child. Will you keep quiet?

Nooo [All murmur in unison].

Chai! Chai! There is God o! Theeere is Good ooo! The bloods we are sharing, there is God o. [Crying now], there is God o, there is God o, there is God. Theeere is Good o, eeeee [crying loudly, clearing tears with handkerchief].

Please can you change your camera [says a male voice from the back].

 


THESE ARE SOME OF HER PAST UTTERANCES ACCORDING TO NEWSINNIGERIA.ORG

Can’t vouch for the veracity of most of them though.

1. My husband and Sambo is a good people (Imagine)

2. The President was once a child and the senators were once a children.

3. My fellow widows.

4. A good mother takes care of his children.

5. The people sitting before you were once a children.

6. Yes we are all happy for the effort, it is not easy to carry second in an international competition like this one,(addressing press men after Female Under-19 FIFA World Cup).

7. The bombers who born them? Wasn’t it not a woman? They were once a children now a adult now they are bombing women and children making some children a widow.

8. My heart feels sorry for these children who have become widows for losing their parents for one reason or another.

9. We should have love for our fellow Nigerians irrespective of their NATIONALITY

10. Thank God the Doctors and Nurses are responding to treatment.

11. I would rather kill myself instead of committing suicide.

12. Ojukwu is a great man, he died but his manhood lives on.

13. On behalf of 2million, I donate my family.

14. Why will boko haram bomb last churches on christmas day, they don’t have respect for Jesus, they are a very bad person, in fact I’m a sadder woman right now and Mr.President is more saddest.

15. We all have HIV.


NIGERIA HAS NOT FAILED!

NIGERIA HAS NOT FAILED

I was spreading my washed clothes one afternoon [23-04-2013] when ‘it’ suddenly crossed my mind…

It’s been repeated on innumerable occasions, through several means; television, radio, newspapers, social networks, bear parlours, collegiate debates, gossip joints etc. that NIGERIA is not only a failing nation, but an already failed and irredeemable one.

It is said that NIGERIA is a doomed country, a marriage grounded on duress and mistake, a company about to liquidate, a time-bomb waiting to explode. In fact, a particular politician has developed the habit of uttering the view that ‘the ship of the Nigerian state is heading towards {an avoidable} cataract, iceberg and oxbow lakes.’ And, fortunately or unfortunately, that is the view of the majority, excluding, of course, the ‘microscopic few’ who feed off the woes, hunger and misery of the masses.

However, putting sentiments aside, and focussing solely on reality; how true can we say this viewpoint is?

I’m sure it is obvious already, from the title of this write-up; that I disagree with the notion, even though I definitely am not part of the parasitic ‘microscopic few’. So what exactly is my thought respecting the issue.

I believe Nigeria is not a failure. But neither can she be labelled a success.         I believe just as we cannot call a particular course (or subject, as the case may be) a failure or success, we cannot call ‘Nigeria’ the same.

What am I trying to say? Only students fail or succeed. They fail or pass particular courses. And since Nigeria is not a student, {just a subject or ‘a mere geographical expression’ as Chief Obafemi Awolowo once put it} she has neither failed nor succeeded. Thus, the accurate proposition should not be ‘NIGERIA has FAILED’ or ‘NIGERIA is a FAILED STATE’; it ought to be; ‘NIGERIANS have FAILED NIGERIA!’

In school, we have easy courses {e.g. General studies, use of English etc.} and difficult ones {e.g. advanced mathematics, programming, physics etc.}. If we are to categorise Nigeria into one of these two broad types, she would be a very easy course to pass, easier than English language, easier than religious studies and even easier than ‘nullology’, the study of nothing, if there’s anything such thing. This is so because she has all the resources in the world to make even a dullard pass. Yet, Nigerians have failed her.

The question to ask now, I guess, is WHY? Why have we failed our fatherland despite her rich and copious mineral resources? Why have we failed our country despite her possessing a more than enough {fresh and youthful} human resources? Why have Nigerians failed Nigeria, even though she is very easy to pass? Why, oh why? Is it that we are that daft? I don’t know. But in a country where hundreds of people die daily in the most despicable ways and yet the number one figure finds it easy to engage in political crusades; a country where little children are being raped, sold, kidnapped and murdered, yet all the parliament thinks of is a raise in allocation; a country where genuine justice is incessantly slaughtered on the altar of cupidity; what else do we expect? It is not that we are too daft to succeed, just that everyone is too busy ‘surviving’ {even if it’s at others detriment}, to care about the greater good. We are too busy salivating for political appointments and governmental contracts to remember that others also deserve a good life; and even a life at all. We are too busy chasing money; fame and comfort that we fail to see the big picture, to be concerned about the verdicts of posterity.

And until that changes, we will keep failing this country. We will keep having a ‘carry-over’ of the vicious cycle of corruption and poverty and insecurity.

This article is not aimed at highlighting the many problems bedevilling this country, because we do not just already know them, we, as a matter of fact; sensually perceive them on a daily basis. Again, it is not that I have set out to postulate solutions to these problems, as an ignorance of the way-out of our predicament has never been a problem for us as well; it is the will cum the zeal to follow them through that we lack.

I have only thought it worthwhile to correct the popular, but erroneous notion that Nigeria has failed. No! She hasn’t; because she is inanimate, she is lifeless, and she makes no decisions to determine her well-being or otherwise.

It is we, Nigerians, that have failed the Nigerian subject.

It is we, Nigerians, that have failed the Almighty, our teacher.

It is we who have failed ourselves.

Nigeria has not failed; rather she is failed.

I HOPE TO ALWAYS BE SICK

                            HOW I WISH  …

… TO ALWAYS BE SICK

Walking back home today ‘under’ the scorching heat, with no cash in hand [nor in pocket, nor in the bank], and witnessing a gradual resurrection of my supposedly buried malaria infection, I could not but become philosophical in mood.

I was sick of the level of abject poverty that walks free in my society. Old men without security, struggling to keep a life many without creed would thoughtlessly terminate. Young children who stare at their juniors going to school, and who, rather than go to school too, are forced by their guardians to hawk petty goods for long hours every single day. Fathers [and these days, mothers too] who become speechless or prevaricate whenever their kids ask why they can’t have this or that; why they eat once a day while their neighbours have all they want; why they have to wear the same dress for the same festival, five years in a row, before getting a new sub-standard one. What about the gutters? Rather than prevent flooding; they have become a massive bin system, an abode for flies, tadpoles, and in fact unwanted new-borns.

I was sick of the naivety of our youths. The guys going through any means imaginable to be [not just rich but] filthily and ostentatiously rich, wrongly assuming that’s all there is to life; and then spending all the money, not on education or business ventures, but on drugs and girls. And the girls: thinking so low of themselves and trading their priceless bodily endowment for small, insignificant ephemerons. Both parties trying endlessly to please the other, but doing no more than to ruin their own lives.

I was sick of people dying, dreams quashing and families crumbling; all because some unemployed and confused youths are paid to blow things up for whatever reason. Every year, the frustration keeps increasing. Frustrated youths, both within and without the country, are taken advantage of to frustrate the lives of others. And then, there seems to be no end in sight.

I was sick of the government responsible for all these. Not that it caused it, and neither that it didn’t, but that it failed to arrest them. Politicians who sponsor terrorism just to register fear in the people’s minds and pit them against their opponents. Office holders who steal, in a matter of seconds, what their whole kinsmen and countless progenitors may never exhaust; building mansions in faraway countries, which they may never step in; buying sporty cars as if buying their kids toy cars, and as is they could ride in ten at the same time.

I was sick, and I am still.

Hence, how it is that wish to always be sick.

How I wish my sickness would graduate to become sadness.

How I wish my sadness would graduate to become resentment.

…and that resentment would, in one way or the other, lead to an insurgence…

…be it peaceful, or otherwise… I don’t care, because no patient is patient enough to care HOW he gets treatment, all he wants is THAT he gets it.

FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN 2015: HOW FEASIBLE?

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FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN 2015: HOW FEASIBLE?

THE WINNING SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE FINAL ROUND, IN-HOUSE SPEAKING CHAMPIONSHIP, ORGANISED BY THE LITERARY AND DEBATING SOCIETY, FACULTY OF LAW, UI.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Date: 14th Day Of March, 2014.


It is indeed a historic day. A day that has been anticipated for four long years. A day that has generated much dispute and quarrels. A day, the only day, that sovereignty truly belongs to the people. On this day, we see people: male and female, juvenile and senile, children and their parents, the leaders and the led; everybody marching to the same location, harbouring the same intention, to engage in the same action. The day is the 14th day of February, a Saturday, the Election Day. And coincidentally, Valentine’s Day.

Good afternoon friends, brethren, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, and I am here at this event to share my thought on the question: FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN 2015, HOW FEASIBLE?

Let us cast our minds back in history. On June 12, 1993, millions of Nigerians voted in an election that is widely acknowledged as the best in the history of the nation. The elections were properly planned and conducted. There were pre-election debates, making it easy to know the candidate who is truly brilliant and the one who only has a charming smile. People voted and when it was obvious that MKO Abiola would be declared winner, his rival, Bashir Tofa was said to have sent him a congratulatory message, showing a spirit of comradeship. Records have it that has the results were being declared, prices of goods and services were dropping. Some businessmen even refused to be paid because they were glad that hope has finally come to the people. Unfortunately, this memorable election was annulled by the then Military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida.

Fast-forward to 20 years later, elections in Nigeria are nothing to write home about. It is in Nigeria that politicians tear one another’s posters all because of power. It is in Nigeria that you will see a presidential aspirant being invited for a debate by the people and rather than grace the invitation, he decides to be grooving with a popular musician. Yet, he still wins. It is in Nigeria that you find party loyalists at polling booths offering ₦500 and cups of Garri to voters to ‘buy’ their mandate. It is in Nigeria that thuggery during the electioneering process is a normal thing. When thugs do show up at a polling unit, the voters gladly welcome them asking why they came late. In short, 20 years later, elections in Nigeria are increasingly decreasing in credibility. They are only getting better at getting worse.

Now, 2015 is in the corner. We are still seeing a lot of abnormalities in the system. The recent activities of INEC have brought little or no hope, most especially the November 16, 2013 gubernatorial election in Anambra state which left many in a state of utter confusion. Nigerians have lost confidence in the commission, so much so that we invented a new expression, Jega, meaning ‘the act of stupidly wasting the time of a lot of people whilst keeping them under the sun.’

But then, Professor Attahiru Jega has (has contained in an article of the Sun newspaper published Tuesday, March 11) promised us that new machineries are in place to prevent rigging in the coming elections. It will not be business as usual. Permanent voters’ cards will be distributed without which a person cannot vote. On getting to the polling unit, a machine will be present to verify the voter’s passport and fingerprint, making it impossible for politicians to buy voters’ cards.

That said, I believe that very soon, the story will change. I believe that the 2015 election will not only be free, it will not only be fair; it will be first class. In fact, better than what we saw in 1993. If only we are willing to sacrifice. If only our leaders will do away with thirst for power; if they will be concerned about the welfare of the people and not the well-being of their pockets. If they will be true statesmen and not politricksters, because as James C Freeman aptly said; ‘a politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.’

In conclusion, I would say: Let us be positive thinkers. A positive thinker sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible. Let us be positive thinkers, and in essence great achievers, by seeing that freedom and fairness in the 2015 election is much feasible.

God bless Nigeria! God bless you!

Thank you!

NIGERIA: A FAILED STATE?

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NIGERIA: A FAILED STATE?

Presented As A Debate For The Purpose Of The “In-House Speaking Championship”, The Semi-Final.

Courtesy: Faculty Of Law, UI, Literary And Debating Society.

Date: 28th February, 2014.

MAIN SPEECH

I almost wept when I saw a picture of a newspaper headline that says ‘NEPA: No more black-out!’ I was sad, not because I’m seeing such promise for the first time or because I do not want the power supply in Nigeria to be stable. I was sad because the article was published as far back as 1988.

And we all know the condition of the power sector till this very date.

Nigeria: A failed state?

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo is my name, and I am here on this occasion to propose the bitter but factual submission that Nigeria is a failed state.

Before I delve deep into speechmaking, I think just as it is pertinent that we know what leadership truly is before we publicly declare Mobutu Sese Seko the Mandela of D.R. Congo, we also need to know what ‘a failed state’ means before we can wear its cloak for Nigeria.

A failed state, according to the Fund for Peace, means ‘a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government … [1] the central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory [2] non-provision of public services [3] widespread corruption and criminality and [4] sharp economic decline.’ Now, let’s take a look at these one after the other.

One, the central government is so weak that it has little control over much of its territory. The validation for this is simple. Let me ask us, if the federal government asks us to resume school for the next session on June 1st, and again, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko haram says nobody must go to school, whose order will we comply with? The answer to this goes to show that that the state has not only lost control over its territory, it has lost control over its citizenry too.

Two is the non-provision of public services. It is well known that Nigeria is such a country where the people are the government. Not in the sense that they decide how the affairs of the state are administrated, but that they provide virtually everything for themselves. It is the duty of the government to provide electricity, but we find people struggling to buy generators, struggling to ‘better pass their neighbours’. It is the duty of government to provide tap-water. Yet we find boreholes here and there dug buy private individuals. It is the duty of the state to give us good roads, but we still find people building bridges themselves and collecting tolls, we see people filling potholes with little stones.

Thirdly, we have widespread corruption and criminality. Nothing can be truer than this. The country is so corrupt that on typing ‘Nigeria’ on the Google search engine, it quickly suggests ‘a corrupt country?’ A country where the President can afford to spend 1 billion naira on food per annum, even though he vowed to be eating Cassava bread and majority of populace is starving to death. A country where 20 billion dollars can vanish into thin air and no one will raise an eyebrow. A country where armed robbery, kidnapping and bombing are the orders of the day. If such country has not failed, then perhaps I need to go back to my dictionary and check the meaning of failure.

I wish to sum up my points with the result of a recent survey conducted by the United States think-tank, an independent research organisation; the Fund for Peace and the Foreign Policy magazine. Nigeria was ranked as the 15th most failed nation in the world out of 177 countries. Even, she has moved upward 3 places from the 18th position in 2008. Meaning Nigeria is not just a failed state, she is gradually on her way to overthrow Somalia and hence become the king of failed states in the world.

This survey goes to show that the fact that Nigeria is a failed state is not only a well-grounded opinion of Nigerians; it is a universally acclaimed, globally established, self-evident truth.

In conclusion, I wish to seek validation in the sagacious diction of Demosthenes: Res ipsa loquitur, the facts speak for themselves, if only we will pay attention.

REBUTTAL

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it’ – Flannery O’Connor.

My contending debater has said that Nigeria can be said not to be a failed state because we have remain united. But let me ask. If I manufacture a vehicular contraption, a jalopy so to speak, that cannot move an inch. It does not work. Can we say it is a successful invention just because of the fact that the spare parts hold on together?

Again, he said Nigeria has produced numerous elites and scholars renowned world-wide. But I must say that this is in no way a function of our being successful, it is solely a function of our large population.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with all these facts, I am forced to propose that it will not be out of place if we rechristen the state from the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ to the ‘Failed Republic of Disaster’.

Confucius said ‘do not use a canon to kill a mosquito’. Thus, I will rest my case here believing we are convinced beyond any inkling of doubt that indeed Nigeria is a failed state.