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Travelling through Nigeria in Tinubu’s yacht, by Tunde Odesola

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Tunde Odesola

Travelling through Nigeria in Tinubu’s yacht, by Tunde Odesola

Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, November 17, 2023.

By the Rivers of Babylon, there I sat down; yeah, I wept, when I remember N-i-g-e-r-i-a. Verily, verily I say unto you, these words that I write, are words of redemption and wisdom. 

Therefore, I beseech you, brethren, to keep these words in your hearts, inscribe them in stones and scribble them on scrolls.

I exhort thee, keep the stones and scrolls, do not hide them under the bushel, set them on the hill for light to shine on them and bring people to know the truth, for only the truth shall set the land free.

Like the hands of a sinner spread wide on the cross, River Niger and River Benue divide the land called Nigeria into three unequal communities of the North, West and East. The Fulani dominate the North, the Yoruba have the West, and the Igbo populate the East. Each region and people had their strengths and weaknesses. The land knew peace.

But when political iniquity became official, and the supplications of the oppressed minorities rose to the ears of the Most High God, the portion of the land that flows with oil, milk and honey became gazetted as the Niger Delta, a vast treasure that was initially part of the eastern and western regions.

And the Lord regretted creating man because the heart of man was perpetually evil. So, the spirit of the Lord hovered upon the face of the waters, inspiring patriots to call traitors to repentance and justice.

It came to pass that there arose a mutiny within the Nigerian Army when some young, idealistic officers, mostly from the East, toppled the civilian government of Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, a northerner, who was killed, and an easterner, Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, ruled in Balewa’s stead. The January 1966 coup broke the embankment that had dammed the river of hate and suspicion from flooding the country.

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Six months later, a countercoup executed mainly by Hausa-Fulani soldiers was nicknamed a revenge coup, in which Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed. The fallout of the countercoup fed fodder to the cannons of a Civil War, which boomed between July 6, 1967, and January 13, 1970, as crazed soldiers played football with three million Igbo skulls felled by battlefield bullets, ethnic cleansing and starvation. 

In anger, the Lord God of Host turned his eyes away from the people and the land, and He allowed jackboots in military uniforms to chastise them with scorpions because the innocent blood of coup victims and Biafrans refused to drain into the earth. 

Here are the names and surnames of the rulers of Nigeria after the Civil War, in order of their ascension. Yakubu, the son of Gowon; Murtala, the son of Mohammed; Olusegun, the son of Obasanjo; Shehu, the son of Shagari; Muhammadu, the son of Buhari; Ibrahim, C the son of Babangida; Ernest, the son Shonekan; Sani, the son of Abacha; and Abdulsalami, the son of Abubakar. All these rulers ruled in the Old Testament.

But Babangida was wiser than a snake. Indeed, he was a deceiver extraordinaire. His bright smile has the cooling effect of iodine on a fresh wound, before the stinging pain. For is it not written that Babangida’s regime was the bloodiest in the 63-year history of Nigeria as many soldiers died in alleged coup plots while 163 senior soldiers died in a plane crash on September 28, 1992?

“They got me,” were the last words of Dele Giwa, the Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine after a letter bomb blew open his entrails in his Ikeja home on October 19, 1986, shutting his eyes in brutal death. Giwa’s deputy and comrade-in-pen, Ray Ekpu, described the killing as ‘state assassination’, adding that the Friday preceding the Sunday Giwa received the letter bomb, he (Giwa) was grilled by the State Security Service, which accused him of ‘arms importation, planning a socialist revolution, doing a follow-up story on Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, who had been removed by President Babangida, and planning to employ a former Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Alozie Ogbugbuaja, who said the expertise of the Nigerian military top brass was in drinking pepper soup and planning coups. Ekpu said Giwa was only guilty of one of the four allegations, that is, planning to employ Ogbugbuaja.

After he annulled the June 12 presidential election won by MKO Abiola in 1993, and the backlash thereof was unbearable, Babangida planted on the throne, Sonekan, who was blown out of power by the hot air from the nostrils of Abacha. Abacha ruled for just four and a half years before karma handcuffed and flung him into the bottomless pit reserved for the shameless. Nothing confirms the looting of public treasury by successive Nigerian governments than the unending return of billions of dollars stashed in foreign countries by Abacha. Remember, Abacha spent just four and a half years in the vault and he became the Glutton of All Time!

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I am a full-blooded Nigerian. I have no family roots in Niger Republic like Buhari, or ancestrial link to Mauritania like Peter Obi’s presidential running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed. Nigeria is my only home. I feel anguish daily when my hands hit the bottom of my empty trouser pockets, groping for unavailable naira, whose value equals the clap of thunder to the deaf.

Hope is dead in Nigeria’s New Testament. The testament of the latest Republic. Obasanjo’s civilian government opened the floodgates of corruption in the electricity sector, the privatisation process and the National ID card scam. Governments, thereafter, stirred the broth and served the booty, strangulating the economy.

Sadly, the chickens are back home to roost. Now, everywhere you turn, cries of economic hardship have taken over the land even within the Emi Lokan ruling party. Curses have replaced compliments. But me, I thank God I still have my mind intact. Many Nigerians don’t. Whenever I see any of the corrupt clique of 99.9% Nigerian leaders – former or present – I say in my mind, “Look at this one, it’s only God that knows how much of Nigeria’s money that this thief has stolen. Ole!” Treasury looters know what Nigerians think of them but they’re just shameless and unperturbed because the river of justice in the land has frozen.

The economy is gasping. Fathers have turned to beggars, and wives have turned to harlots. Children are deflowered for a bite of Gala. Commodity prices reside in the sky. Yet, our President buys a $6.1m yacht, and our senators and representatives crave N58bn SUVs, all living the life depicted in Luke 12:19, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

Brethren, look closely at the pictures of their merriment, the voter is missing. So, tell me, what does it profit a voter, who supports bàráwò candidates, and is dehumanised after elections?

When the earth brimmed with iniquity, Noah stood up to be counted for righteousness. He built a three-deck ark with gopherwood and ushered in two of every kind of living creature, including the members of his family.

When Nigeria brimmed with escalating prices of goods, soaring foreign debts, double-digit inflation, and starvation, Tinubu, lawmakers, ministers and members of the ruling class tightened the belts harder on the masses. To cater for the insatiable gluttony, they have demanded underfunded federal universities to submit 40% of their meagre IGR to a federal purse which, characteristically, would lack accountability.

You don’t need righteousness to enter the presidential yacht. You need a brainless head and a soulless body. You need to make money your god and not flinch to proclaim all the seven colours of the rainbow black – like our judges who sell elections like pure water hawkers in traffic snarls, smashing and grabbing, kówó sá ti pe.

I thank God I have my mind intact. In my mind, I can see Noah in his robe, hewing wood and fetching water, sweating, sawing and nailing. I can see him clutching a bell, trekking the length and breadth of the land, calling the people to come and enter the ark. Noah’s ark is for salvation.

Tinubu’s yacht is for enslavement. He doesn’t need gopherwood or God’s directive to build his yacht, he needs dollarhood. He doesn’t need the masses inside his toy, he needs his people. 

Barely a month left in 2023, the year of his election, Tinubu has bought a yacht for himself, SUVs for lawmakers, with the $2.176 trillion 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Act he signed a few days ago, and the masses are left wondering ‘is this not the ‘son’ of Abibatu Mogaji, who claims to build modern Lagos? Emi Lokan doesn’t only mean ‘it’s my turn’; it also means ‘I’m badly hit’. Ask the Yoruba. 

True, it’s Tinubu’s turn but the masses are badly hit. True.

Since Tinubu performed so well in his first year, may he sail safely in his yacht and perform much better next year. 

Amen.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com; Facebook: @Tunde Odesola; X: Tunde_Odesola.

Opinion

Farooq Kperogi : LGBTQ storm in $150bn Samoa deal teacup

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Farooq Kperogi : LGBTQ storm in $150bn Samoa deal teacup

In the last two days, my social media feed has been suffused with impassioned expressions of grief and outrage from Nigerians over a putative June 28 agreement that the Nigerian government has signed with the European Union to legalize LGBTQ+ rights in the country in exchange for a $150 billion economic package.

It turned out that a July 4 Daily Trust titled “LGBT: Knocks As Nigeria Signs $150 Billion Samoa Deal” might be the source of the cultural and social anxiety that Nigerian are expressing about Nigeria becoming an “LGBTQ+ nation,” as someone put it on social media.

Unfortunately, the Daily Trust story failed to cite the portion of the Samoa agreement that mandates Nigeria to change its laws to accommodate LGBTQ-friendly policies. It based its headline and entire story on an unnamed report without even citing evidence from the report.

“The agreement reportedly has some clauses that compel underdeveloped and developing nations to support the agitations by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community for recognition, as condition for getting financial and other supports from advanced societies,” it wrote.

The paper then proceeded to fish for people who would express fury and consternation over a piece of information that it hasn’t originally seen, and these expressions of fury and consternation created a self-reinforcing loop. We call this circular reporting.

Circular reporting, also called false confirmation, occurs when a source contrives a piece of information, repeats the information to multiple sources in the form of interviews (in the case of journalism), and then cleverly passes off the views of the interviewees as the original source of the information. It’s basically creating something from nothing.

I read the 12-page agreement titled “The Samoa Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific States” that is posted on the website of the European Parliament. There is no obligation in the agreement that requires African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries adopt LGBTQ rights.

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However, page 2 of the document states, “The chapter on human rights should explicitly list the forms of discrimination that should be combated (such as sexual, ethnic, or religious discriminations) and mention sexual and reproductive rights.”

Even so, there is an admission in the document that several countries, including European Union members, are resistant to enshrining “sexual rights” in their legal codes.

On page 5, for instance, we see the following: “As of 22 November 2023, however, 30 OACPS members, mostly African and Caribbean, had failed to sign…. Some leaders explained they wanted to check whether the agreement would be compatible with their legal order, notably as regards same-sex relations and sexual health and rights.

“This move surprised several commentators, as the wording on these topics does not go beyond existing international agreements…) and was agreed after years of negotiation; in addition, the agreement includes the possibility for the signatories to make interpretative declarations or reservations.”

Again, page 8 of the agreement notes that not only African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries but also some European Union members resisted being bludgeoned into agreeing to LGBTQ+ rights.

It says, “While the parties will commit ‘to promote, protect and fulfil all human rights be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural’, some ACP states were reluctant to see the foundation agreement mention sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTI rights) – an issue on which there are also differences among EU Member States.

“As a matter of compromise, the parties will commit to the implementation of existing international agreements – notably the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Beijing Platform on gender equality and their follow-up (negotiated agreement, Article 36). The wording however falls short of the EU negotiators’ ambitions,” the document says.

Further down on page 9 of the document, it was made certain that the European Union was unable to universalize the merit of protecting sexual health. “Access to sexual and reproductive health services and information will be promoted – without further details, as the parties have varying views on this concept.”

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In other words, although the European Union did want to get countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific to embrace an expansion of the notion of human rights to include sexual minorities, they got a sustained pushback, not only from them but also from some European Union members.

The only rights that Nigeria and other countries agreed to in the Samoa Agreement are the rights they have already been signatories to for years such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, and the Beijing Platform.

Plus, a provision in the agreement, which states that countries that signed the agreement have the latitude to “make interpretative declarations or reservations” about controversial issues means that they can understand “sexual discrimination” in ways that suit their cultural peculiarities and existing laws.

Anyone who takes the trouble to actually read the 12-page agreement would know that our lazy, stenographic news media ecosystem has merely created a storm in a teacup. In addition to the reality that the cultural soil in Nigeria is too inhospitable for the seeds of LGBTQ+ rights to germinate, much less flourish, no halfway sane Nigerian politician would risk irrecoverable political, social, and symbolic self-diminution by signing an agreement that violates an existing domestic law, i.e., the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, and that causes extreme anxiety in a cultural conservative country like ours.

In all this, my major worry is that Nigerians waste precious emotions and expend tremendous amounts of energy over issues that are really of no consequence to their everyday lives but look away when threats that smolder their souls and annihilate their very existence confront them. The World Bank and the IMF routinely give loans to Nigeria and attach punishing conditionalities to them.

The removal of subsidies on everything, the devaluation of the naira, the shrinking of expenditure on education and health, etc. are some of the conditions these evil institutions attach to the loans. Someone close to people in power told me a few days ago that Tinubu’s resistance to the IMF’s insistence that he increase petrol price has dissipated and that it’s a matter of when, not if, he’ll approve a price increase of over N1,000 a liter.

When that happens, people will merely grumble, thicken their skins, make peace with their suffering, and move on. So long as LGBTQ+ people have no rights, so long as our religious and cultural values are respected, it doesn’t matter if the IMF and the World Bank instruct our leaders to murder us piecemeal.

That’s why people in positions of power will perpetuate their dominance of society and sustain their oppression of the people intergenerationally. They know that most people are governed by their emotions, not their intellect, by their hearts, not their heads.

The day Nigerians are as engaged and as enraged as they are about this non-existent LGBTQ+ conditionality in a European Union economic package as they are about the IMF’s and the World Bank’s conditionalities that ensure that our people continually live at the subhuman level is the day true liberation will start.

Farooq Kperogi : LGBTQ storm in $150bn Samoa deal teacup

Farooq Kperogi is renowned columnist and United States-based Professor of Journalism.

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Further thoughts on being sick and tired about Nigeria – Farooq Kperogi

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Farooq Kperogi

Further thoughts on being sick and tired about Nigeria – Farooq Kperogi

When I wrote my column last week about being sick and tired of being sick and tired, I had not the slightest inkling that it would resonate with such vast and varied strata of the Nigerian public sphere. I merely wanted to ventilate the pent-up disillusionment that had welled up in me over time and expected most people to ignore my self-absorbed rumination.

Columnism is, after all, self-expression before it is public commentary. In fact, all forms of writing are conscious and unconscious self-portraitures. As Nobel-Prize-winning South African author John Maxwell Coetzee noted in his 1994 book titled Doubling the Point, “All writing is autobiography; everything that you write, including criticism and fiction, writes you as you write it.”

That was why I was overcome with pleasant disbelief by the unexpectedly overwhelming profusion of identification with the sentiments I expressed in my column, by the cornucopia of pleas to me to not stop writing, and by the careful, flattering chronicling by readers of the impact that my writing has had and continues to have in Nigerian politics and policies.

Let me make this clear: I won’t stop writing, haven’t given up on Nigeria, and have resolved to resist the disempowering but tempting tyranny of cynicism and surrender. I was merely giving vent to my disillusion at our prolonged infancy as a country, and it was therapeutic. I am glad that it also helped provide conscious language for others to articulate their bottled-up mental and emotional exhaustion. I hope that our passions will be rejuvenated after we vent because giving up is not an option.

One of the scores of emails I received over the past few days in response to the column humorously pointed to my rather unusually caustic spat with the Supreme Court in February 2023. It noted that of the thousands of people who routinely criticize the Supreme Court, I was the first and so far the only person in Nigeria’s history (I haven’t fact-checked this claim) whom the Supreme Court considered worthy of an individual response, even if the response was an apoplectic and threatening one. “If that isn’t making a difference, I don’t know what is,” she wrote.

Others called my attention to the Nigerian Labor Congress borrowing the perspective and language of the column I wrote on the economic apartheid in socially stratifying electricity consumption into “bands,” among scores of examples they identified as solid evidence of the seepage and utility of my thoughts in arenas that matter.

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Well, I am probably guilty of what I choose to call a vulgar uniformization of markers of success of endeavors, by which I mean the tendency to use the same yardstick to measure the impact of all actions. In today’s Nigeria, for instance, conspicuous consumption—big cars, glitzy houses, expensive phones, sartorial extravagance, lavish gastronomic indulgence, etc.—has been uniformized as the only legitimate marker of success.

Even immensely accomplished, well-regarded, and far-famed professionals whose contributions to their fields will outlast them consider themselves—or are made to consider themselves—as “failures” if they are not “rich,” if they can’t flaunt vain indicators of prosperity, if they are just merely modestly comfortable. This crude uniformization of pointers of success is the main driver of the rat race for wealth by any means.

Maybe, I was guilty of uniformizing how impact is measured. Expectation of immediate, drastic, and dramatic change in policies and practices in response to sustained critical interventions is unrealistic, even quixotic. Persuasion takes time and work. Even at its best, it is often a gradual process consisting of small, incremental changes at a time.

That’s why revolutions take time to gestate and incubate before they burst forth. All revolutions start out as disparate resentments that coalesce into mass resistance, often at the rhetorical level. Mass resistance then blossoms into spontaneous, leaderless protests. If the frenzy and rage of the protests are sustained by the conditions that inspired them, they culminate in a rebellion.

If the rebellion has a self-aware, transcendent, ideologically situated vanguard, it can achieve the status of a revolution. And it can start with something as seemingly inconsequential and belaboring as writing.

Well, as I pointed out last week, this isn’t the first time I’ve questioned the efficacy of my popular interventions and (temporarily) divested my emotions from the home of my birth (where my heart always is) in frustration.

About this time last year, I chose to impose on myself a moratorium on active Nigerian political commentary and social media intervention, which was occasioned yet again by my temporary loss of hope in the capacity of Nigeria to reform.

After self-reflection, I concluded that the passions, energies, commitments, hopes, and aspirations that I had invested in Nigeria through my commentaries and engagements were wasted efforts because they made no difference. I concluded that I was merely wailing in the wilderness and that no one of consequence heard me.

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Even when I thought I was heard, I didn’t think I made any impact. The vitriol and threats to my life that my engagements invited, particularly during Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency, would be worth it, I thought, if I made a difference, if I galvanized enough people to set aside their primordial differences and demand good governance from whoever was in power. After more than two decades of doing the same thing with the same result, I thought I was done.

Then, out of the blues, I became aware that the legendary Professor Toyin Falola—author of nearly 200 books with some of the world’s most prestigious presses, one of the world’s most cited living scholars, and an endowed Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin and Extraordinary Professor of Political Science at University of Pretoria— had written a book titled “Citizenship and the Diaspora in the Digital Age: Farooq Kperogi and the Virtual Community” that chronicles, analyzes, evaluates, and engages with the social, political, and cultural commentaries in my columns and social media platforms.

On June 15, 2023, an academic conference was also organized by the University of Pretoria’s African Centre for the Study of the United States with the theme “Farooq Kperogi, The Digital Age and US-African Diaspora Diplomacy,” at the behest of Professor Falola, where scholars from around the world discussed and analyzed my scholarship, newspaper columns, and online dialogic engagements.

I felt at once honored, flattered, and appreciated in ways I hadn’t before. I asked myself: so, someone of Professor Falola’s heft and gravitas notices my writing enough to find it worthy not just of his time but of his scholarly engagement in a book form? Had I been underrating the value of what I did?

As I said in my remarks during the conference, it was indescribably humbling when a vastly accomplished, larger-than-life, widely respected scholar like Professor Falola about whom books have been written, in whose honor annual transnational scholarly conferences are held, who is the most famous African scholar in the United States, and from whom I derive inspiration and guidance in my scholarly pursuits found me worthy to write an entire book about even when I consider yourself a mere mid-career academic who is still building his work. It’s an honor I truly believe I am wholly unworthy of but that I nonetheless embrace and cherish.

In moments of emotional weakness, which is natural when you’re the citizen of a country like Nigeria whose leaders serially violate even the most modest expectations of good governance, I will always remember the encouragement I received from esteemed intellectual patriarchs like Professor Falola, the hundreds of readers who wrote to me and left comments on my social media pages, and my heightened self-awareness that the impact of writing is often osmotic and almost imperceptive but significant nonetheless.

I have also come away with another insight: Passionate criticism of governance is often evidence of deep devotion to the progress of the country. Its absence can be a signal of the loss of hope in the redemptive capacity of critical engagement with the state. That’s not a state any state should want its citizens to be in.

On Thursday, I read Nyesom Wike railing against government critics like Senator Shehu Sani by saying, “The fact that many of you are activists does not mean you will do well if you were in our position. We have activists who have failed woefully in office. We have seen activists that were given appointments and yet they didn’t perform.”

Well, we don’t criticize because we think we would do a better job than the people we criticize. An English proverb that I like to quote in response to these sorts of pushback from people in government, says the onlookers, not the participants, see most of the game.

Coaches and technical advisers are needed in games not because the coaches and technical advisers are better than the players (several coaches and technical advisers, in fact, don’t have half the talent of players), but because the coaches and technical advisers have the benefit of technical knowledge and, most importantly, critical detachment from the field of play, which enables them to see the blind spots that players don’t and can’t see.

Further thoughts on being sick and tired about Nigeria – Farooq Kperogi

Farooq Kperogi is a renowned newspaper columnist and a United States-based Professor of Journalism. 

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President Tinubu exposes Nigeria’s big thieves

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Tunde Odesola

President Tinubu exposes Nigeria’s big thieves

Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, July 28, 2024)

Have you ever been to Italy? Whether real or virtual, a visit to Italy will hypnotise you. Italy is the canvas painted by the gods of art, architecture, culture, literature, opera, fashion, food and history, spreading through the Pope-led Vatican City, whose independent government inside another city, Rome, is called the Holy See, (The god’s canvas stretches) stretching to Venice, Florence, Milan, Bologna, Siena, Verona etc, in a cuddle of concrete and sexiness. Welcome to Italy!

I stiffen when politicians talk but listen when a Pope talks. Pope John XXIII, an Italian, upon retrospection about life, waxes philosophically: “Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling, and farming. My family chose the slowest one.”

For me, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Pope John XXIII’s family is luckier. The economic strangulation sweeping across Nigeria has mostly zipped up men’s trousers against womanising and generally dried up pockets against gambling while bandits have chased farmers out of farmlands nationwide. Methinks Nigerians have come to ruin mainly in three ways: leadership, corruption and passivity.

Another Italian, Professor Carlo Cipolla, an economic historian, expanded the meaning and scope of idiocy in his theoretical book, “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity,” published in 1976, in which he identified five fundamental laws of stupidity. In general, Cipolla argues that stupid people suffer from arrogance, self-delusion, persistent ignorance, absent-mindedness and more.

His first law of stupidity is that everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation. Cipolla’s second law of stupidity says the probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person – that is, he may be a professor, doctor, judge or inventor while the third states that a stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself derives no gain and even possibly incurs losses.

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In his fourth law, Cipolla says non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals, adding that, in particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places, and under any circumstances, to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake. He concludes in his fifth law that a stupid person is the most dangerous type of person, worse than a pillager.

The way many Nigerians argue when issues boil down to morality, decency, honour and corruption will make Cipolla coil in his earthen bed dug for him since 2000 at the age of 78. The way the majority of Nigerians stupidly opaque transparent issues made me seek more understanding of stupidity and Cipolla came to my rescue.

A serial thief was jailed in the US for consecutive internet frauds and deported twice. The hustler ran back to the illustrious Iwo community of Osun, and emerged king, using religion and slavish philanthropy as opium, yet a lot of people are hailing him. Hailing a daylight ólè dancing ijó ìyà in the palace with a stolen lamb. Commenting in a WhatsApp group, some members of the stupidity gang even said the Yahoo-Yahoo crimes of the king were unknown to Nigerian laws. Another member declared the ruler whiter than snow. I’ll not talk.

Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom oversteps the borders of introduction. The sage once said, “There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.”

Ogden Nash was an American poet popular for his unconventional rhyming schemes. Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, was named after his father’s brother, Francis, a Revolutionary War general. “There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all,” Nash said. Having no conscience at all is the lot of the stupidity gang twisting the truth out of Nigeria’s realities.

President Bola Tinubu is not a prisoner of conscience, he’s a pricker of conscience. Tinubu pricked the conscience of Nigeria’s civil servants a few days ago when he rightly called for the heads of public workers still receiving salaries despite relocating abroad. THE NATION newspaper quoted the President as saying, “We must ensure those responsible are held accountable and restitution is made. The culprits must refund the money they fraudulently collected, and their supervisors and department heads must also face consequences for their complicity.” I offer a clap offering to the President for his clear conscience.

Eri Okan is a 1983 song by King Sunny Ade, the ageless Juju music superstar. It’s my top pick among all KSA’s songs. Eri Okan means conscience. In the forever green song, KSA describes Eri Okan as the unseen witness who watches the doer of good and evil, pricking the doer accordingly. He prays for his conscience to vindicate him.

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In his 1975 song, “Iduro S’oro,” KSA talks about the beauty of question and answer, explaining that both are mutually inclusive. Adegeye, however, cautions that anyone bent on receiving an answer to a question should also be ready to receive a hiding just as he warned the evil-doing adáni lóró of recompense.

I don’t want to receive answers to my article from the army of stupidity who always pounce to defend the ignoble in palaces, parliaments, presidency and everywhere. I don’t want war; I want peace! The stupidity gang, which comprises many civil servants, whom the government told it can’t afford N70,000 minimum wage, sees nothing wrong in the FG building a house of N21bn for Vice President Kashim Shettima, leaving the mind to wonder if Vice President Yemi Osinbajo lived on a tree.

With his alacrity in unmasking economic saboteurs, President Tinubu should kúkú double up as the Minister of Police Affairs, Inspector General of Police, EFCC Chairman and Generalissimo, Operation Amotekun.

June was the month the Alaafin Molete, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, died 16 years ago. Kwara-born Odolaiye Aremu was a popular and peaceful-looking songster but his Dadakuade music was a stormy petrel. In his renowned panegyric on Adedibu, Odolaiye captures the essence of Nigeria’s political class. Exploring poetic licence, Odolaiye describes Adedibu as an unyielding and unbending hard nail. Odolaiye says Adedibu storms the heart of Ibadan and returns home with plenty of chickens, adding that Adedibu didn’t buy the chickens in his possession, neither did he steal them nor were they given to him by the owner; the chickens were only unfortunate!

Exasperated by the callousness of the political class, foremost Nigerian columnist, Tunde Fagbenle, in an article, “A sickening country of conscienceless people,” published eight years ago, berated the lifetime salaries and emoluments ex-presidents, ex-governors and ex-deputy governors receive. Fagbenle said only a bloody revolution could reset the country’s feet on the path of redemption.

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A back-pat should be given Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, who refused the lifetime payment despite being an ex-governor. The same commendation goes to former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, who in 2023, wrote to the Ogun State Government to stop the payment of his retirement benefits, saying receiving such would amount to double emoluments – going by the fact that he is now in the Senate. Daniel said since he left office as governor in 2011, he has not received any welfare package from the state. Many former governors and their deputies are currently in the National Assembly, receiving salaries for their old and new jobs, feeding from two cauldrons in the hamlet of the proverbial Àlàdé.

I didn’t forget that each of these spongy leaders had their state governments build for them in the locations of their choices within the country a palace. They also get brand new cars of their choice as and when due.

Today, there’s no more space for holes in the common man’s belt, he’s now thinner than a rake, his life is popping out of his mouth like a dog hit by a truck. He’s stressed, frightened and threatened. Yet the revolution called for by Fagbenle won’t happen because the stupidity gang will make itself available to be used by government though their members suffer, too.

The President is busy looking for money to alleviate the economy, the economy of the Villa. The President needs a new jet. New president, new jet. Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, said the Tinubu administration has its gaze on the N20trn available within ‘the pensions, life insurance and investment fund industry’ (his words) to borrow money for infrastructural development. The presidential jet is a critical infrastructure, of course.

There’s no money! There’s no money! There’s no money to pay Labour a living wage. The only money available is to subsidise Hajj for N90bn, buy a presidential yacht, take care of the elected and prepare for re-election. Where’s the prodigal son?

President Tinubu exposes Nigeria’s big thieves
Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @Tunde Odeola
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