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Wednesday, June 29, 2016
17 years of democracy: Which way Yoruba nation?
THERE was a time the issue of employment was taken for granted in Yoruba Land. Virtually all children that had formal education, which was free, had one form of collar job waiting for him without compromising standard. Then, blue-chip companies besieged university campuses and scrambled to offer employment to graduating students, dangling brand new cars and other alluring offers before the leaders of tomorrow of the Yoruba nation
Then, traders could display an article of trade in conspicuous places, indicate the unit cost of each item and step out for another means to complement their gains without the fear of theft or being shortchanged by prospective customers. Then, the political leadership in Yoruba land valued the veritable template of honesty, transparency and piety encapsulated in the word omoluabi inherited from the progenitors of the Yoruba nation. Then, the political leadership in Yoruba land was what a highly cerebral constitution lawyer. Dr Olatuji Abayomi, described as "a bright colour hung on a pole in a public place."
Then, it was a stigma for any family who a policeman came to arrest for any offence against regardless of the gravity of the offence. Then, the sight of a soldier in a community evoked a mixed feeling of pride and fear, pride out of respect and honour for the military uniform, as it was considered a privilege for anyone to don the military uniform. Ditto the clerics of the dominant religions in the South-West.
All these virtues exalted the Yoruba nation, as Nigeria prepared for self-governance on October 1, 1960. The political leadership concentrated on building institutions, empowering the vast majority of the population and creating a conducive environment for industrial takeoff. In his account of the synergy among the conscientious political leaders in Yoruba land, a top military then, Major General Olufemi Olutoye, said the leadership "chose a well-knit, highly disciplined and fanatically loyal team," drive its vision of a prosperous Yoruba race. He said team proved the confidence reposed in them, when given the opportunity to serve as they acquitted themselves creditably. Huge network of infrastructure, establishment of manufacturing industries relying on local contents, massive cash crop cultivation and harvest, free quality education, rural development and provision of potable became a common denominator among the Yoruba.
These feats were achieved only from February 6, 1952 and 1959, when the Action Group formed by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the premier of the defunct Western Region. Thus, challenges of unemployment, unskilled manpower, heinous crimes and other major societal vices were minimal and controllable.
The period of military interregnum inflicted a degree of blow to the heroic strides of the modern architect of the Yoruba nation. Those institutions that were products of the political will, visionary leadership and sagacity began to show symptoms of ineptitude, impropriety and neglect until the advent of the Second Republic. The institutions were given fillip by the then Unity of Party of Nigeria (UPN), a scion of the AG. Its five cardinal programmes, which centered on the welfare of the majority in the South-West, rekindled the hope of better days now and tomorrow. The policy of free and qualitative education all levels afforded all school-age children to enroll in schools with the states in the south-West establishing their own universities and other tertiary institution to absorb the products of those schools in the nearest future. The gains of the foresight of the political leadership of that time are manifest in the vast opportunities those higher students provide for the increasing number of Yoruba sons and daughters with rapacious appetite for university education, coupled with the abundance of skilled manpower that span across many professional disciplines.
The abracadabra of the military oligarchy caused the premature death (collapse) of the Third Republic. But suffice to say events that characterized the militocracy (diarchy) of the third Republic marked a watershed in the annals of the country. It is controvertible that the Yoruba nation made enormous sacrifices in the struggle that led to the restoration of civil in Nigeria on May 29, 1999. Eminent sons and daughters from the South-West laid down their lives in the cause of championing the demand for the de-annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, won by late Chief Moshood Abiola. At the time Yoruba land was turned into a theatre of war by the military establishment behind the annulment and in power, assassinating, maiming, incarcerating and forcing many Yoruba leaders into exile the United States and Europe, just as another set became victims of a phantom coup plot. Most industrial concerns owned by Yoruba became objects of violent armed attack and liquidation by the establishment. All these instances, the Yoruba were left alone to sulk over their predicament.
The drafting of Olusegun Obasanjo, who had been sentenced to death over the phantom coup, to assume office as an elected president after the 1999 general election, was seen as a ploy by the Establishment to atone for the political sins committed against the South-West. Through an aggressive propaganda campaign, the Yoruba wanly bought into the project, though with the majority detaching their political loyalty to the popular Alliance for Democracy (AD), which comprised essentially leaders, allies and associates of leaders of the NADECO, the coalition that sustained the June 12 struggle. The relative vote of confidence by the Yoruba for the Obasanjo as president was premised that he could use the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past administrations against the South-west. This included marginalisation in the scheme of things, abysmal neglect of infrastructure in the South-West, lopsided distribution of local governments, unfair sharing formula for Value Added Tax (VAT) and revenue sharing formula. There was also the expectation that his presidency would assist Yoruba land in regaining its past glory as the leading producer of cash crops like cocoa, as well was complement the quest by the South-West to tap into the benefit of rail system towards easing the current hardship in the transport sector in the South-West. With the vagaries inherent in the oil industry and threatening the revenue of the country from oil export, it was believed that Obasanjo would facilitate the process that would enable states in the South-West to explore the huge mineral resources and maritime sector in the zone.
While all these issues still begged for attention at the time he left office in 2007, his loyalists said Obasanjo and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) succeeded in taking the Yoruba to the next level. One of those leaders that belong to that school of thought is Senator Olayink Omilani, a former PDP national vice chairman for South-West. He had declared: "We are proud to say that our governments in the PDP south-west zone have been leading lights in the larger PDP family and have been national examples on how best to serve the citizens...Our governors have been very creative and innovative in implementing our party manifesto and programmes. They have made the difference to be crystal clear to our people and never again will our people allow name-droppers to deceive them."
"Under the PDP government in the South-West, some of the legacies for which the Yoruba were known were not only sustained but were superbly surpassed by our governors. Programmes on education and health that endeared our people to the late sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo have been better implemented under the PDP governments in our zone, than their predecessors. Those who thought they had the sole copyright to those programmes now know that the people know the game is up. Never again would they use such political gimmicks and name-dropping to win cheap votes."
In the past 17 years or so, one issue that has dominated the political space is about constituency projects. Of recent, stomach infrastructure has found its way into the lexicon of the Nigerian political class. But none enjoys much controversy than the constituency projects, which come in several weird ways and manner. Commercial motorcycles and grounding machines, distribution of grains in very small quantities top the items that are offered to constituents as democratic gains from politicians after securing the mandate of the people to serve for four years with sacrilegious pecks of office and salaries.
In most cases, the events where those items are distributed are not just celebrated but orchestrated as the greatest thing that has ever happened to the beneficiaries. But there are a few exception, as highlighted by a former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin in his record of stewardship while in the Senate, He said: "I thank God for the opportunity to serve and for the little additions to my constituency and as a welfarist politician which I have continued to do where the opportunity present itself....It is not also in my nature to celebrate what should be my duty to my constituent as some do by rolling out drums even to dedicate a borehole."
In the opinion of an observer, most elected public officials from the zone since 1999 have not done appreciably in consolidating the foundation laid by the past leaders of the South-West in terms of physical structures that have continued to generate much internal revenues and constitute a source of pride to the Yoruba nation. Critical sectors like education, civil service and local government administration are riddled with challenges, including unpaid workers' salaries and pensions. Rather than enriching the commonwealth inherited from the past, most of the leaders have been preoccupied with establishing personal business empires and living a life of profligacy almost in disdain the counsel of a former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande, who once said: "The glory of a politician is not in the offices or positions he held but always in history's recognition of the path he strode." The import of his message was not too long ago, accentuated by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who once stated that the legacies of the past heroes and heroines of the race should be the guiding principle for the political leadership in the South-West. Coupled with this what she said was the fact that "The fate of coming generations of Nigerians depends upon how firmly we stand today." noteing that, " Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a foremost federalist, united the Western Region and was responsible for many of the progressive social legislations that made Nigeria a modern nation."
Lethargy of the citizens
Election is just one stage of a democratic process. Monitoring by way of trying to bring elected public officers to give account of their stewardship is another stage of the process. While the constitution provides for recall of erring lawmaker, or removal of governor or local government chairman, the lethargy on the part of the citizens fosters impunity among those in power, and ultimately bad governance. All these have called to question the cost and benefits of the South-West becoming a major player in mainstream politics in Nigeria. From 1999 to date, AD, AC, ACN, APC, Labour Party and PDP have had a stint in power in different states in the region, with the gladiators changing platforms sometimes to remain politically relevant.
There was once the Oodua development Council that was inaugurated in 2002 by the late leader of Afenifere, Chief Abrahm Adesanya, as well as the Yoruba Assembly under the leadership of Lt. General Alani Akinrinade, which was launched in Ibadan a couple of years ago for the purpose of making sure that the South-West get its due as a vital integral part of the Nigerian federation under democracy. Other groups like the South West Professionals Forum (SOWPROF) was established in 1999 and which comprises Yoruba professionals in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, propagating the need to initiate a social security system for the millions of people in the South West to take care of the needs of the aged, children and the unemployed. The president of the body, Mr Segun Akinjubulu said: "We need a system that will take care of those without the economic means to survive. .No state can do it alone. All the willing South-West states need to work together. This is the best way to minimise violence and tame the tide of instability in the South West region for the overall peace and well-being of Nigerians."
The founder of a pan-Yoruba organisation, Atayese, Chief Tokunboh Ajasin, also believes there is the need for the political will among the leaders in the South-West to engender integration, given the not too impressive gains of the zone since 1999. "That (integration) has always been what we wanted. We have set up the dawn, but governors are slow about it; we want a more active system. It is obvious that we are still sitting on the goldmine. We must deploy our comparative advantage to reposition the South-West. We should maximise the vast opportunity that exist on the coastal areas of Yoruba land," he said.
With a population of more than 60 million, the Yoruba land is believed to surpass the combined human population of seven major countries in ECOWAS countries. Such countries include Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Gabon, Gambia, Liberia and Togo. Coupled with the huge human endowment are natural resources spread across the six-Yoruba-speaking states, with each immensely endowed in agriculture and solid minerals.
THE IGBO RANT
BIBLICAL TRADITIONS OF NDI IGBO BEFORE THE MISSIONARIES CAME TO AFRICA* IGBO 101.
THE IGBO TRIBE AND ITS FEAR OF EXTINCTION
The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities
Written by Emeka Maduewesi
~on fb. 28th September, 2016.
The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.
The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.
In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.
Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.
In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.
The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.
Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.
The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.
The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.
The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.
This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.
RT. HON. DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE TO DR. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1981)
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