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ENDSARS protests as mere smokescreen

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By Lai Olurode

A literal, indeed, an illiterate and surface reading of the current ENDSARS protests will take them as a call for an end to police brutality. Of course, Nigeria Police is overwhelmed in several respects – poor funding, poor training and absence of low ethics. But more seriously is the task of being asked to police and maintain an impossible and an unequal, exploitative and  oppressive material  relationships. What is happening in Nigeria should not be completely unexpected for obvious reasons.

Of course, the Buhari-led government is not to be held  entirely culpable for the current imbroglio. It would be most uncharitable and a historical to so submit. Of course, government’s handling of the immediate causes is abysmal.  In the main, the causes are in the remote as the situation has fostered for generations.

Over the years, governments at all levels had shown much tardiness and unresponsive enough to cries of poor and unethical governance. Youth’s worries and cries had been left unattended to for too long. Our youth cannot see any dim of light at the end of the tunnel but hopelessness and frustration. Yet, through social media, the positions of youth in much poorer land are known. They keep on asking ‘why do we remain this way? The older generation even wallowed in ignorance. They are punished in retirement.  Only ex-governors, their deputies and current public officials get retirement benefits. Though the houses of worship had proliferated, Nigerians now think more of this world before imagining and figuring what the heavens would look like. Religious leaders are no longer saintly. In their prayers, they patently and eagerly identify with the dominant political leaders and pray earnestly for their triumph over the downtrodden. Worst practices had become elevated. Pockets of ethical islands had become diminished and scoundrels have had a field day. Assuming for a second that the decay is at the centre, what are the striking features at the states and local governments, as crippled financially as they may appear to be? Are they completely handicapped?

Yet, we cannot gloss over the befuddling structure-agency problematic in Nigeria. The dominant structure of governance needs to be urgently reformed. But agents of the structure should be infused with a large dose of ethics. The money culture in public and private life has become so notorious and rapacious.  The once vibrant culture of service has become diminished and moribund. Institutional effectiveness has become drained of their core essence of service delivery. Attempts to turn around by government are often met by organised resistance by benefiting from status quo. The very thought of how to revive things  can indeed be intimidating. And yet, to ignore it can be suicidal. Culture, whether at the material or ideational level are central to development. To assume that the current impasse  can be ameliorated through a structural intervention alone will be missing the point. Our practice and attitude toward governance and particularly its resources must change. Governments have been approached for too long as sites for spoliation and bandit. There cannot be any justification for Nigerian legislators to be competing in salaries and emoluments with their American and European counterparts. Nigerian’s per capita income is paltry and should be embarrassing to us all. Definitely, no government can throw its youth into the abyss of life and hope to rest peacefully, not even in the graves. Indeed, time is running out and all governments need to act fast. But as it controls a large chunk of national assets, the onus is on the federal, and particularly the national assembly to  trigger and guide the reform process. The executive needs to demonstrate willingness to tolerate and embrace change. It is in our collective and self-enlightened interest to respond with alacrity to this crisis of governance lest we perish in the consuming inferno. Of course, no government can effect desirable change miraculously. Any good process takes time to germinate. But the process should start without further vacilation.

Olurode is a professor of Sociology at the University of Lagos (08022906068).

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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