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What is the good in building up a population if you can’t use it to build the nation?

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By Oyinkan Medubi

When a country has a population such as Nigeria’s, it is supposed to constitute a formidable workforce that should make and keep the machinery of state at world-top level. Perhaps, the future we saw yesterday will return tomorrow.

You know, when one ponders the matter, it becomes obvious that the reason why we have not quite understood the point in this country is that we have all been talking at cross-purposes. You know what that is, don’t you? It is when two people have their wires crossed in their subject matters, sometimes deliberately, sometimes by a quirky calculation of pure chance. For instance, take the classical case of when a man wants to take a second wife. He begins by noting how hard it is for his wife to cope with the house-work and all, and even suggests getting someone to help her. Naturally, the wife eagerly throws herself into the conversation, nodding her agreement while believing the husband to be talking about the same kind of helper she is thinking of. Can a conversation be more crossed and entangled than when realisation dawns? I always love the point when reality dawns and the fireworks begin to fly.

In Nigeria, national discourse is often so entangled you can’t make out what anybody is saying. For instance, I read the other day that some assembly members, senators, and state governors somewhere in this vast expanse of a country had got their brains jammed and decided to fix a retirement sum for themselves that runs into hundreds of millions of Naira. It is enough to make anyone who is not a governor go and drown. Now, that is coming right after the furor generated by the unfair heftiness of these people’s allowances and emoluments; unfair to the rest of us of course, not to them. Naturally, many of us are so enraged we want to puncture their swelled cheeks with our nails in the hope of reducing them. Sadly, some others don’t see things this right way. You can easily spot them: they have eyes behind their backs. They are the ones wondering why we can’t spare more for them.

So many promising national discourses have nosedived into the ground and have not yielded any fruit because of these crossed wires. For instance, some among us insist on defending what cannot possibly be of any good for the health of the nation, such as someone charged with helping him/herself to billions of Naira using any argument on earth and in heaven? Yet, many of them regularly manage to be freed by the law courts and the people’s court, particularly when the people share the same ethnic background. The other day, I heard someone say that a bank chief accused of pocketing tens of billions of his bank’s money was only a victim of someone in the apex bank; in actual fact, he was innocent. I said, WOW! Now, I have heard everything. Next, they will tell us that the certain someone accused of pocketing funds from a pensions fund was actually the target of a functionary’s anger. What now, are we living in tents across the land where everyone runs to when they are accused of indecent behaviour?

The thing about discourses is that they have ways of bringing out the best, worst or dregs in the innermost recesses of our brains. The pity is that we all appear to be clothed in human skin, yet we are hosting so many incapacitating germs in our brains. This proves, according to a fable, what one animal said to another: there are many walking on two legs who should be using four. Many among us are really animals in animal skin, and many more are in human skin. When you consider that the world just celebrated the world population day this July, you want to pause a bit and reflect on these two important questions: what really makes up the Nigerian population; and what is the good in building up a population if you can’t use it to build the nation?

Honestly, I cannot begin to think of telling you the answer to the first question, lest I be hanged in effigy by many a reader. The unfortunate thing is that nearly all, if not all of us, have brought some degree of impropriety into the sanctity of Nigeria’s population. We all really deserve to hang our heads downwards like brooding chickens, pluck at our chests like penitents and intone after me: we are sinners and are not very proud of it. We are not worthy to be counted as members of the population of this country.

If you think you are not affected just because you have never ‘swallowed’ millions or billions raise your hand and I’ll show you an untruth-sayer. Please note, I have not called you a liar, just an untruth-sayer. Have you or have you never stopped in the middle of the road to greet your friend while traffic builds up behind you? Well, have you not? Can you say, in any given day, that you do not regularly break any traffic, building, contracting, policing, soldering, doctoring, nursing, teaching, civil-servicing, studenting, or anything-you-do rule? And the most important question of all, can you say that you regularly or even averagely work for the pay you get?

Nigeria has a population of people dwelling within her walls and occupying her space. Sadly, though, she has no builders, only sackers of treasuries, spoilers of lands and plunders of the nation. Everyone is so busy trying to get his/her itching hand on the ‘national cake’ it’s a wonder that there is still any left. Nigeria’s population right now is engrossed in ravaging the land like locusts, taking, taking, taking and giving little or nothing back. For them, there’s no such thing as ‘ask not what your country can do for you …’ and all that. For this population, it is what we can get from the country that counts. Yet normally, when a country has a population such as Nigeria’s, it is supposed to constitute a formidable workforce that should make and keep the machinery of state at world-top level. Perhaps, the future we saw yesterday will return tomorrow.

However, here we are today, the about one hundred and sixty-million of us, a population bred as a nation that cannot even keep its own laws. How then can we build a nation? Oh yes, failure to keep the law is failure to build the nation. Someone once said she was afraid to train her child to be obedient, law abiding, humble and all that because she was certain that many parents are allowing their children to grow up as wild, lawless beings, thus making her good children greatly disadvantaged. For answer, I did not answer.

I guess World Population Day is the day we are supposed to gather round a table as a nation and talk about how to control it downwards or upwards, considering that the food resources are at the moment presently not at par with the users. So, we are supposed to discuss how best to match population with resources for the maximum development potential of every individual. However, I chose the road not normally trodden today for a good reason: that many of us do not sufficiently appreciate the connection between respecting the country and gaining access to the just and equitable utilization of her resources. It is this connection which prevents humanity from being a useless population to a useful one. For what indeed, does it profit a country to gain so much population figures and lose its very essence? Let us make Nigeria’s population count in a way that matters.

This article was first published on 13/7/2014.

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Opinion

Buhari rests in London, Nigeria boils by Tunde Odesola

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, April 12, 2021)

As a herdsman, ‘yowwa’ is the likeliest gratifying word to escape from the tight-lipped Nigerian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) if his cows nuzzle their muzzles against him as they eat hay from his outstretched hands during a random visit to his herd.

And as a devout Muslim, ‘Auzubillahi!’ is the likeliest word the President would utter if a dog mistakenly snuggles up against his ankle; Islam forbids human-dog embrace.

Aside from the religious injunction, however, the 78-year-old northern leader is unlikely to prefer the dog to the cow. Quite unlike the slow, witless and clumsy cow, the dog is a very intelligent, friendly, sensitive and witty creature. Universally, the dog is seen as man’s best friend, not the cow. Notwithstanding all these attributes, President Buhari’s preference will still be for the cow, not the dog, any day, anytime – for ancestral reasons.

The age-long ‘yes-sir!’ military mentality that upholds loyalty to superiors over patriotism to Nigeria, predisposes Buhari, a veteran soldier, to choosing the pliant cow over the witty dog.

Surely, the flunkey ‘yes-sir’ mentality is the reason why the Nigerian military, police, DSS and other security agencies put Buhari far above the country and the Constitution, and would shoot at innocent youths at Lekki tollgate even when such an order is in clear breach of the rules of engagement and the Constitution.

Indeed, the distinction between sycophancy and patriotism was what saved the US when subversive forces rose against its democracy on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol as the judiciary, the legislature, the military and all other institutions of government stood in defence of the American Constitution over the shenanigans of former President Donald Trump and his cohorts.

The understanding of the distinction between racism and patriotism is what is currently playing out in the trial of the white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of African-American George Floyd on May 25, 2020, sending him to an early grave in Minneapolis city of Minnesota, USA.

Chauvin’s ongoing public trial, which commenced on March 29, 2021, displays the unquestionable ability of the American nation to reinvent itself when faced with challenges.

For the average Nigerian like me, it beggars belief to think that serving and retired Nigerian police officers would enter the witness box and vehemently condemn one of their own as it’s being done in the trial of Chauvin, who faces up to 40 years in prison if the second degree murder charge, which presupposes that he didn’t intentionally kill Floyd, is upheld.

Since public hearings on police killings and brutality opened in various states of the Nigerian federation, following the #Endsars nationwide protests last year, no ex-security officer or serving security officer has come out to condemn army-police extrajudicial killings.

Public officials’ arrogant misuse of state power against the citizenry is one of the reasons for the overwhelming call for the restructuring of the country.

The monumental failure of the Buhari-led regime in tackling insecurity, corruption, nepotism, poverty, ethnicity and government insensitivity is the fuel to the agitation for the break-up of the federation.

Arrogant, insensitive and utterly reckless, the All Progressives Congress-led Presidency, in 2019, released the picture of Buhari picking his teeth, probably after drinking some (nunu) milk from his cows – while the citizenry groaned under the weight of unemployment, lack and dejection. Only our I-don’t-care President would pick his teeth after drinking milk.

Commenting on the tooth-picking picture, presidential aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, displayed the characteristic arrogance and insensitivity of the Buhari regime when he said in a tweet, “It’s hard to understand why some people are genuinely angry because of this innocent pic. When I innocently snapped it on Feb 27 and posted (it) on my Snapchat, it didn’t occur to me that it’s going to give wailers that strong hit…”

As Nigerians have been gnashing their teeth since the beginning in 2015, so shall it be till the end in 2023. Nothing will stop the plunge. Buhari is on an eight-year vacation.

Displaying his nonchalance to public outcry for the umpteenth time, Buhari, on march 30, 2021, embarked upon a two-week medical check-up in London, despite the nationwide strike by medical doctors in public hospitals back home.

Without a word on the plight of millions of sick Nigerians condemned to attend public hospitals nationwide, the President hopped on a plane and zoomed off to England, probably with two toothpicks in his mouth after a meal of tuwo and isi ewu.

Defending Buhari’s shameless medical trips, the most meritless of Buhari’s media aides, Lauretta Onochie, tweeted on April 7, 2021, “NEXT YEAR. PRES. @MBuhari WILL GO FOR A ROUTINE CHECKUP.

  1. We have been here since 2016. Its been the same wailing. So the response will also be the same. At least, once a year, People across the world see their personal Doctors especially one they have seen for about 40 years.’

It’s not hard to distinguish the noise of an empty barrel. So, Buhari, Onochie and the wastrels that make up the Presidency see nothing wrong in wasting Nigeria’s hard currency abroad in the last 40 years?

That Buhari cannot give Nigeria just one hospital he can attend, despite ruling Nigeria for eight years now, summarises his failure as a leader. It’s scandalous that Buhari didn’t feel ashamed about going to England still – for treatment – when he’s in an opportune position, in the last six year, to turn around Nigeria’s health sector.

The latest trip makes it Buhari’s 12th time to run off to London for medical treatment, despite his country having 72,000 registered medical doctors with over 50,000 of them, shamefully, out of the shores of the country due to lack of facilities and adequate welfare packages.

Buhari’s insensitivity doesn’t stop at the medical sector alone, where nurses, physiotherapists, health technologists etc are leaving the country in droves, the lethargy of his regime permeates every fabric of our national life, and holds the country down to slow death.

Even his wife, Aisha, left her matrimonial home, and took off to Dubai for six long months. It’s unheard of anywhere in the world that the wife of the president of a country, which isn’t at war, would go on vacation abroad for six months! Or, could it be that oga madam went on antenatal vacation ni?

Henceforth, I’ll be on the lookout for a bulge in the mid region of the beautiful Aisha. If Aisha gets pregnant penren? Eeeehhh!! Nigerians will put Buhari to the sword online. I bet you, trolls against the Buhari family will burn down the internet!

But seriously speaking, President Buhari won’t touch the dog. I’m sure he won’t touch the pig, either, because he’s a very pious Muslim. However, Buhari is the chichidodo, a bird that passionately hates feces but loves to eat the maggots in feces.

Buhari hates corruption, but corruption has been the signpost of his administration with millions of dollars yearly disappearing into non-working refineries and his former EFCC chair, Ibrahim Magu, enmeshed in financial scandals.

Buhari promised to stop medical tourism when campaigning to be President, but he and his family have made England, France, Germany, Canada, Dubai and the US their second homes.

Buhari promised to revamp the education sector, but his children never graduated from a Nigerian university.

Buhari, in 1983, promised to build infrastructure when he seized power in a military coup, but he cancelled the lofty Lagos metro line project initiated by the late Lateef Jakande administration, throwing the traffic of the lagoon city into eternal chaos. He came back in March 2019 to inaugurate a bus-stop in Lagos, though. Chai!

The alarming picture just keeps flashing in my head: Nigerian President on the bed of a random London hospital in an age when microchips can be implanted to monitor and control patients. Unmh!

Buhari rests peacefully in London while peace has fled his own country, Nigeria. Terrible.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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Video: Nigerian leaders won’t be part of a decision that will take them out of power – Fr. GEORGE EHUSANI

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Demise of Yinka Odumakin, a dependable ally of the masses

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By Lai Olurode

The passing away of Chief Yinka Odumakin was a great loss to this country.

He was committed to a great but restructured Nigeria.

He was a dogged and committed fighter for causes that he believed in. And really, he was committed to fighting whatever would rob off negatively on the masses, no matter their ethno-religious identity.

To my mind, not many living Nigerians are as committed to a restructured Nigeria as he is.

Odumakin was courageous, bold, painstaking in the pursuit of facts and figures.

He had a robust and versatile mind. He speaks fluently and unrelenting and consistent in the pursuit of truth.

He had no permanent friend except in what is just, fair and right

The last time he was in touch with me was a couple of weeks back and in respect of the death of yet a greater Nigerian, Alh. Lateef kayode Jakande. He wanted some clarifications about LKJ’s unbelievably spartan life, which I obliged him.

May the soul of Odumakin rest in peace and may God be with his wife,  Dr. Mrs. Joe-Odumakin and the children he left behind. His death is certainly a devastating loss to the progressive camp and to all lovers of a great and peaceful Nigerian.

 

*Olurode is a former National Commissioner at the INEC and professor of Sociology at the University of Lagos.

April 3 2021

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