NIGERIA’S CROOKED FEDERALISM: THE INFINITELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE ORGANIZED DISORGANIZATION (3)

                         

 

“If a country is bilingual or multi-lingual, the constitution must be federal….Any experiment with a unitary constitution in a multi-lingual country must fail in the long run. I predict that every multi-lingual or multi-national country with a unitary constitution must either eventually have a federal constitution based on the principles which I have enunciated, or disintegrate, or be perennially afflicted with disharmony and instability”- Obafemi Awolowo

As I begin the third instalment of my piece, I must raise a caveat. My arguments for fairer and better political structures do not affirm that the end to all of our problems is in sight. On the contrary, it is the beginning of our quest to finding meaning to our existence as a people. In critiquing our political modality, two issues are mostly up to address; they are management of people and leadership. In negotiating the terms of our existence as a collective, the focus is mainly on managing better the resources (man and others) of the nation to guaranteeing fairer and more equitable access to governance. It will not solve our leadership crisis. In fact, I believe it will accentuate it. However, in restructuring, we ask, what are the clear goals we have set for ourselves, putting into consideration our circumstances, history and peoples? Will this anticipated organizational structure ensure clearer understanding of the responsibilities to the people in terms of delivery of better governmental services, improved and sounder policies that improve the lot of Nigerian peoples? Does this envisaged organization impel the exploration of the numerous potentials in our nation or stifle it? In essence, the question Socrates posed as being the totality of all ethical postulations is on point in whatever exertions we engage in, which is, “how must we live?”

Let me state in concrete terms that my conviction in decentralization of powers for effective governance is not just a regurgitation of federalism as preached by western democracies. It is based on the realities and evolution of Nigeria with her historical appurtenances. History is affirming its nature. It stares at us with venomous audacity, reenacting its previously written script. Karl Marx once said history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. So it was in 1966, so it is in 2017. There is a feeling of de javu arising from our current experience. Agitations today are as rife as they were about 51 years ago. These questions were asked in events leading to the Aburi accord, the constitutional conference of 1966, the NADECO movement of early 90s etc. Some men chose at different times to provide solutions to the national question either by recommending its summary execution or by way of restructuring or referendum. The Adaka Isaac Boro movement for Ijaw emancipation of 1966, the Biafra war of secession of 1967-1970, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta by Asari Dokubo were all modes (albeit questionable) of impugning the character of the Nigerian federation.

With the above background, I shall attempt to answer the question that is; how must we federate? I believe that in properly federating, we are removing the injustice created by the game of geo-politics upon which the current unitarist federalism is anchored. This skewed system has its socio-political and economic implications. Nigeria’s problems are splintered across the geo-political structures of the nation. It reflects also in the almost contrasting beliefs, philosophies, cultures and political expectations of citizens in both the north and south. This gargantuan headache is made worse by the numerous religious and tribal representations. So as one problem is eradicated, another becomes prominent. Immediately Boko Haram brutal decimation of compatriots in the north appeared to have petered out, the Fulani murderous campaigns across the nation took over. From these, it is obvious unitarism cannot handle and accommodate the vast yearnings, expectations and responsibilities of all interests by the use of iron, force or military fiat. Now this socio-political problem worsens the economic conditions of the people as geography of politics in Nigeria is anchored on politics of geography and not productivity, talent and resourcefulness. What occurs is that those who have the power are either lazy or lacking the intellectual and ideological depth to use the power for the growth of their people, and those who do not are unable to engage their talents and resources for their benefits. Both tragedies climax to the disadvantage of the people. The inequity in power sharing has led to inequality of states and peoples. In this animal farm, some animals are more equal than others. The structurally superior are also intrinsically deficient in resources, knowledge, ideas and values. Citizens are therefore cramped in the same box of disillusionment in this dystopia no matter their location. It has led to the collision of alters of centrifugal and centripetal forces. Therefore, a structure that will distribute power equitably amongst interests in the nation is the solution. The dynamism of the people and their land can only be handled by the dynamism of structure that can protect dynamic interests. Structures and institutions that acknowledge and accommodate the diversity of Nigerian peoples, with philosophical and ideological ballast that maintain the durability of a people. No nation of Nigeria’s size can be maintained by fiat. Otto Bismark, the great Prussian and superb visionary, forged old Germany with iron and force (a tact needed at the time), She was to battle at various times with agitations from different interests of Austria-Hungarian origin, Alsace-Lorraine provenance, Poles, even Schleswig Holstein, Russian and French interests coalesced and colluded to ensuring the gradual balkanization of Germany. The defeat of the intemperate Hitler in World War 2 finally led to the bifurcation of the State to West and East Germany in 1945. Not until they promulgated a new charter in 1990 championed by Helmut Kohl were they truly reunified. Meanwhile, much ink was spilt on the difference between nations and nation-states, on whether Germany was “bi-national” or “post-national,” and whether or not a “cultural nation” could encompass two German states. Their history and the reality of their diversity were put into consideration in fashioning a new structure for the nation. Robust debates were held on the fate of the nation. Inputs were made by Christian Democratic Union, Liberal Democratic Party of Germany, representatives of about 7 civil society groups, Evangelical and Catholic Churches etc to structuring the new Germany. All this culminated in the promulgation of the “Wiedervereinigungsvertrag” (Reunification Treaty). People were involved and their diversity was put into consideration in articulating the terms of their existence. Therefore, Nigeria might have been birthed in 1960, but she needs a different elixir for the challenges of the moment. There is an urgent need to ensure a bottom up integration of Nigerians which can only be guaranteed by principled federalism.

In understanding the challenges of our federalism, Dr. Tunji Olaopa’s article; Getting the discourse on Nigeria’s Federalism Right: Further Thoughts, published in the Nations Newspaper, on June 25, 2017 is on point wherein he stated that “in the Nigerian case, the core issues which have not been cogently addressed sufficiently to give federalism a bite include (a) the number of the federating units (b) fiscal issues in the relationship between the federating units (c) the schedule of functions that ought to divide the relevant responsibilities in a way that makes a federal state really federal (d) the dynamics of party politics and the electoral system that regulates the political parties and their jostling for power (e) inter-governmental relations etc”. The issues raised by him do not necessarily totalize the ailments of Nigerian federalism, but they do represent the major problems. I state, matter-of-factly, that subsets of our nation that we call states are the worst structured anywhere in the world. They are substantially without autonomy. The constitution gives them powers under the concurrent list which by the word itself means they only hold such power not exclusively to themselves, but only exercisable when it does not conflict with the powers of the federal government. Now, here is the heart of the whole matter. States are fettered and restrained from providing basic needs for their inhabitants. They cannot exercise full powers to explore their resources since they only get thirteen per cent of accrued benefits, they cannot generate power exclusively for their states as all energy generated must be sent to the national grid, majority of revenues are remitted to the federation’s account; a single account that encourages unproductive states to share from a pool of resources from their more productive counterparts, they owe little or no fiscal responsibilities to their people and vice versa, they cannot establish their own police or security apparatus to protect lives and properties they swore to provide etc. Their responsibilities to the federation and their citizens are so unclear as to be appallingly nebulous. They are full of mendicant governors who are so bereft of well chewed ideologies and the needed ideational leitmotif to power the vessel of state with robust economic policies, people centred programmes and audacity to dare and dream a better tomorrow. In plastering over these obvious cracks, all forms of dissension in the form of ethnic induced economic sabotage, class motivated wrangles, are met with unsustainable palliatives. Niger Delta has the Niger Delta Commission to assuage its dissentients, North East has its own commission, South East also wants a commission, while other regions are preparing their briefs of arguments for modalities they believe counteract this structure and assure a fair share of the national pie. The reality is there for us to see. There is an urgent need to rectify this badly arranged federation. Let each state or locality develop at its own pace and in accordance with its talent and decisions. There is a need to emplace a productive economy anchored on resourcefulness not numbers.

Every move towards civilization, civility, prosperity and better ways of life must be intentional and well executed. No nation on earth prospers without a charter agreed to by diverse interests. A house divided against itself cannot stand. It is high time we repudiated the current unitary mode of federating as it serves no purpose to the nation generally, and the people specifically. I dare state that nowhere in history have a people been subjected to institutional tyranny orchestrated by kith and kin as they are in Nigeria. In an enormously vast nation of diverse peoples with differing lifestyles and world views, it is only logical to give to its component units more powers to exercise for their benefits. This allays fears of domination by other competing groups, which are exactly the problems we are currently facing. Every single ethnic group arrived Nigeria with different historical baggage. A principled federalism will give people a sense of belonging which is currently lacking in our nation. We do not need to deceive ourselves. Nigeria is still a myth; it is not real to Nigerians. She is still considered a historical tragedy. People cannot be mollified by the mouthing of “one Nigeria” and “Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable”. Rhetoric cannot deflect existential crisis. Patriotism is not a mere concept; it is a spirit that must be cultivated. The articles of our union must be amended to ensure true and principled federalism that guarantee inclusiveness of all Nigerians. As Chinua Achebe stated; unity is only as good as the purpose for which it exists

A federalism that ensures a virile, united, prosperous, and progressive Nigeria where justice, equality, equity, mutual regard and equal chances are guaranteed to all Nigerian peoples irrespective of ethnic, tribal, religious leanings under the supremacy of the rule of law superintending the affairs of the people without favour or nepotism. This must be what we aspire to. This must be the goal worth fighting for. It is no pipe dream. It is only what we believe that we are empowered to become.

Micah S. Babarinde

NIGERIA’S CROOKED FEDERALISM: THE INFINITELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE ORGANIZED DISORGANIZATION (2)

 

Nations are artificial creations only receiving spiritual, physical, and philosophical fortitude from men. Every nation must figure out the right balm to soothe her myriads of infirmities. In preferring a way out of negative goings on, its historical evolution must be put in focus. I will not tire to state that Nigeria was not structured to be a viable political habitat. The north and south were not strung together to serve a productive purpose. Therefore, this disorganization was done by those who formed the nation. There is a style to our senility, a structure to our misadventure, a method to our insanity. However, the greatest problem that has befallen Nigeria and her disparate peoples is lack of a purposeful leadership since post-colonial incarnation of the nation state. In fact, the greatest tool for post-colonial imperialism is her leadership. As Isichei once quipped, “imperialism makes its victims its defenders”.

I had mentioned that Man’s basic needs must be met as an economic beast. For man to properly function as a political being, it must first be an organized economic being. The contention is how man can aspire to his dreams and aspirations, cater for his welfare within a functioning political structure. For while human ingenuity and resourcefulness are not space bound, their manifestation and development are often conditioned by the nature of the local material with which they have to work. The result is a close interaction between the people and their land, between the course of history and element of environment. How can Nigeria function for Nigerians? Nigeria is a forced conglomeration of different nationalities with no purposeful founding charter. It is like canning Germany, Russia, Japan, Britain and America in a place. It would be roiling collision of centrifugal forces at its best. Nigeria has no founding vision to aspire to. A people without a vision will eventually atrophy. Without a defined vision, there can never be talk of “restructuring”. However, the dominant view is that the nation must be unbundled for it to explore its numerous potentials for the benefit of its disparate peoples. For starters, the nation had between 1955 and 1966 practiced a semblance of “genuine” federalism. Each region used its resources to advance the cause of its people. The resulting competition for developmental edge by the regions was beneficial to the citizens. After 1966 happened, the state was delineated in response to military exigencies and not for the advancement of the welfare of the people. Power was wrestled from the people and their regions and concentrated to the centre. Nigeria then became a vast military garrison with a general at the helms. You can hardly blame the khaki boys. They were not trained in the refined art of nation building neither did they have time for engaging rhetoric and diplomatic jibber jabber. Nigeria is still the way it was structured after 1966; a powerful centre giving handouts to state at month ends. The centre owns the resources in the lands of constituent states. The effect is that states become redundant with no innovative spirit, creative ingenuity necessary for the survival and durability of a people and lacking in audacity to hope. Whereas the centre become overburdened, overstressed, and overwhelmingly encumbered. What the nation has successfully created is rogue federalism anchored on rogue democracy. A federalist state that is actually unitary. Our democracy is not anchored on ideological beliefs. The earlier days had NCNC and AG, though with ethnic outlook, engage in fierce philosophical and ideological slugfest. AG was fiercely federalist in disposition while NCNC pursued unitarism vigorously. The nation was better for it.

Today, our nation practices rogue federalism but wants valuable fruits of true federalism. Our political parties are platforms for appropriation of the resources for purely selfish goals. Dissent only comes when there is threat to their pockets. When these interests clashed, we assumed we were on the cusp of a major systemic revolution. Once the mist cleared, we found out that it was only mere political revolt disguising as political revolution. A school of thought even suggests that elitist dissension only arises when the military power brokers cannot agree with their civilian counterparts on the next course of action for the polity. With this attitude, the nation can hardly pass muster. In fact corruption thrives because the nation is currently a feudal vast land. The current mode of sovereignty is toxic to efficiency of a people as a productive force and stifles their humanity. For instance, I see no reason why efforts are concentrated on making seaports in Lagos function while the ones in Calabar, Port Harcourt et al are laying waste. Why can’t states have power to change the fortunes of their localities? What exactly do we lose if we unbundle our country? A visit to Aba market is an educative odyssey. Therein lay evidences of human potentials awaiting recognition and exploitation for local and national development. The place is a hub of creativity and innovation; an affirmation that intuitively, there is nothing embarrassingly disgraceful in a black man’s thoughts, creative introspections and capacity to explore, exploit and expand the frontiers of knowledge. While a minister once mentioned his dreaming of 2018 as the year Nigeria will be self-sufficient in pencil production, Aba men and women are competing, in their little way, churning out creations of imagination with reckless abandon. It is a place to start, if we dream a Japan for ourselves.

Our suicidal existence is anchored on a mental makeup. Conspiracy theories abound as to the reason for our current mode of existence. Our nation is built on psychological and spiritual redundancies only manifesting in the physical. A version of the conspiracy theory is that from existence, or more poignantly, since the departure of our imperial slave raiders, a section of the country has been the anointed one of the departed slave holders. This unction is the reason why population and vast land are the main modalities for sharing proceeds of the nation and not productivity. This is why census is such a big deal. This was why dogs and cattles suddenly became humans for demographic purposes in 1962, 1990 and 2006. The more, the merrier. Ideological standings are scotched by the heat of venomous ethnicity. Tataalo Alamu refers to it as “reverse nationalism i.e “ethnic myth trumping national myth”. “It is our turn” is the pervasive rhetoric. In order to “balance” contending interests, we created federal character without philosophical character. My point is, our federal character is not founded upon merit, resourcefulness, knowledge and productivity but mere ethnic balancing based on numbers and primodialism. If this is the only modality for national integration, we are of all men most miserable. You cannot answer national question with this shambolic modality. Whereas it is axiomatic that certain organs must reflect the federal character of a nation, it is corrosive when it is the abiding infrastructure even as it sacrifices merit. Any form of system that sacrifices merit on the altar of regional balancing is not ideal. Any structure that does not include Nigerian peoples of every tribe, religion, sex and age is toxic, bad, malevolent and against good conscience.

It is difficult to see how a nation of nations can exist without occasional disagreements amongst contending power centres. The south and north were shaped by different historical experiences. Much of the North had experienced Arab invasion and Islamic civilization before the English Imperialists berthed their HMS Prometheus at the shores of Lagos in 1861. The Hausa states, Kanembu Empire were moulded by experiences of invading Islamic influences arising from trans saharan trade mostly from 12th to 15th century. Much of the south was shaped by Western incursion and slave trade. The amalgamation of 1914 was therefore a dangerous coupling. The two divides have acutely different modes of apprehending realities as to be contrasting. There is no reason to keep plastering over cracks. This is why new terms of existence must continually be negotiated to handle novel exigencies and contingencies. No nation is founded in its totality. National question will continue to be asked till thy kingdom come. Nigeria is without doubt unable to reflect the commonality and communality of a people. This was the reason why Awolowo Obafemi, quip in Path to Nigerian Freedom, 1947, that Nigeria is not a country but a mere geographical expression. This was what informed the decision of his party to pursue federalism as a perfect medium to stratifying power. The 1960 Constitution structured Nigeria across powerful regions with powers given to each of them. The federal government only assumed a supervisory role. In fact there were only 28 items on the exclusive list (as against 60 in the 1999 constitution). What this constitution did was make state governments (i.e regional government) responsible for the growth and development of their peoples, entrench competition and strengthen grassroots mobilization. However, after 1966, the centre arrogated powers to itself in order to impose its military superstructure. People have ceased to be prime partakers in the making of their own constitution ever since. It is therefore laughable to see “We the people…..” in the preamble to the Nigerian constitution 1999. It is even more offensive to the spirit of a democratic constitution for it to have been enacted as “1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Promulgation) Decree……Decree 24”. Our constitution is a Decree! The people were the last consideration in the making of the constitution. What is crooked is crooked. No matter how you embroider the truth. The power of the righteous is nullified, if the foundation be destroyed.

….to be continued.

 

Hustlers in cassock

We must fulfil the book. This is the only conclusion. Shepherds that lead sheep astray. They are in town, the venomous lot. With their engaging rhetoric, hypnotic macabre oratory, they subvert the will of the expectant and unsuspecting many. They are men of God without God of men. They wave the holy book with appalling “unholiness”. They are not victors of our circumstances; they are orchestrators of our misfortunes. Seductive rhetoric, loquacious philosophizing and engaging semantics have taken the place of life changing sermonettes. Damn sermons! Leaches that feed on the souls of many. They occupy a space, that tiny space where man desires to connect to his maker, where man yearns to rationalize his realities, purpose, essence and existence. They feed on man’s existential limitations and arrogate the power of the almighty to themselves. But the Holy Book speaks of their coming, the inevitability of their arrival. They are here. They are many and they are feral. Go beyond them, pick the Bible and read it yourself. Approval only comes after studying. The best man of God is still a man. Test every spirit. They are marauders looking for whom to devour. They wan chop !. We, hustlers in shirts, skirts and ties; they, hustlers in cassock.

Micah S. Babarinde

 

NIGERIA’S CROOKED FEDERALISM: THE INFINITELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE ORGANIZED DISORGANIZATION (1)

A nation is the territorial affirmation of a set of people especially in its modern essence. It may be delineated according to how a people or its oligarchy envisages it. But national and international territorial affirmation is steeped in politics and its institutional dimensions. There is however nothing special in politics, it is primarily an elites game only receiving affirmation, theoretically, of the people in a democracy. The Nigerian nation is strange both in its essence and purpose. There is something in us that makes us impregnable to plain civility and logic. There is this self-contradiction mixed with toxic adamancy, the predilection towards everything that is awkward, strange and abjectly simple. What is straightforward is always bent backwards, what is clear is clearly warped. The “Nigerian” factor is one strange phenomenon. Most analysts, whichever their ideological temperament, are in agreement that something will soon give. It is either the state implodes, or statesmen explode. Nothing troubles the skull more than Nigeria’s obvious disorganization. Nigeria, as the largest conglomeration of black people, has toyed with different political traditions. There is hardly anything special in political tradition. It is just a mode of organization of geographical space. What is important is that such paradigm assures equitable balance of all interests in the geo-political boundary. Be it fiefdom, kingdom, monarchy, different shapes of modern incarnation of state formation in the form of federalism, unitarism, etc, the object of focus is man who must be able to express himself towards affirmation and self-actualization and should not be inhibited in any form.

The hues and cries over Nigeria’s mode of political engagements have assumed a staggeringly abrasive proportion. The contention is that the current method of organization, with its democratic pretensions, has not, will not and cannot accommodate the yearnings and aspirations of its disparate peoples equitably and fairly. The summation is that there is need for “restructuring”. The need for re-bargaining the structure is because the current one smoulders the dreams of millions of its inhabitants, since you can hardly procure straight furniture from a crooked wood. However, whatever the crookedness in the political architecture of the nation, there is a guiding intention and an intentional guide that pulls the strings and builds the mode of organization in its image. There is an order to this disorder. There is nothing wrong with a sculpture, it has only taken the image of the sculptor, no matter how crooked it is. The question is what is the abiding thought behind our current mode of organization? In whose image is it? Is it the act of a person in his lonesome? An ethnic based oligarchy? Or an oligopolistic stranglehold that cuts across different power centres? What purpose does this mode of prefecture serve? In critiquing the structure of Nigeria’s federalism, we are interrogating the character of the Nigerian state even to its atomic level. However, the crux of this piece is primarily discussing the reason why man (i.e Nigerians) yearns for a better political infrastructure and the need for “true” federalism or whichever political modality we create for ourselves; to be fair, just and equitable for Nigerians.

I have deliberately stratified this discuss in three parts. History must be our guiding torch as we try to comprehend the kind of organization Nigeria as a collective has emerged with. I believe that in apprehending systems of organization of men, history of man in such space must be scrutinized. But in the interim, why does man need a political set up? Why is society especially in its modern rationality essential to man’s development? What primarily necessitated man’s societal expression? What form of societal ordering can ensure man’s all round development? For a multi ethno-religious post-colonial contrapment like Nigeria, what type of political modality can she evolve for her diverse peoples? These are questions that need answers in our quest for illumination. First and foremost, as yours truly never cease to say, Nigeria was (and probably is) a fiefdom. It was never intended for it to be a viable nation. Its essence and purpose as conjured by the British slaveholders was that she becomes a viable farmland.  It is an animal farm of the deaf and the dumb slugging it out in a no-holds-barred gladiatorial warfare. Confusion begets confusion. Nigeria’s eventual extrication from imperialism was secured in disagreement. Our consensus is always maintained in habitual disagreement. Our orientation is that of national disorientation. Ethnic loyalty trumps national myth. In fact the agitation for a truer and better form of organization has taken the traditional ethnic fault lines. Historical memories are mostly ethnicized. As far back as 1953, Anthony Enahoro moved for Nigeria’s independence, it was only secured in 1958 with the undecided north prevaricating till 1959. Importantly were the ideological temperaments of our forebears especially on the preferred mode of organization of the space they all cursed but of which fate had played a fast one on them. Obafemi Awolowo and his famed Action Group favoured federalism as the perfect way of stratifying the society especially the kind fissured along ethnic compartments. Nnamdi Azikiwe was to have none of that as he and his NCNC (National Coucil of Nigeria and the Cameroons) espoused doctrine of unitarism as a proper antidote to ethnic bigotry and tribal chauvinism. They called the bluff of AG. The NPC (Northern Peoples’ Congress) and Sir Ahmadu Bello seemed not to care two hoots about the mode of structuring once northern interest was served. Federalism won the supreme ideological slugfest and was anchored on regionalism. With unplanned political exigencies competing with extant inter-ethnic animosities; crisis of existentialism was a national heirloom passed on from one regime to another till 1966 happened. Since then, terribly misconceived and abjectly incoherent modes of governance have been bequeathed to the polity with passionate disingenuousness. Military autocracy, militocracy (as exemplified by Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida), unitary federalism or federalist unitarism have taken turns one way or the other. It is disconcerting to state that for now, there is hardly anything autochthonous in the myriads of political modalities we have taken turns to adopt. They are mostly regurgitated products of other centres of civilization. However, whatever we must copy, we must localize to meet the needs of our society with its peculiarities. This we have never done. We may copy letters but never the spirit. Federalism may seem the best form of organization we can adopt in a multi ethnic society such as ours with all its virulent centrifugal forces bearing their fangs. But this piece is simply to accentuate that Nigeria’s mode seems to be rogue, toxic and crippling.

In understanding the reason man yearns for a functional society, we must see society and its various incarnations as a form of human expression. Humanity is primarily about human expression. Behind every form of human expression be it in the arts, sciences and the social sciences, is always an abiding thought, a form of philosophical underpinning. Even an act in thoughtlessness is still a thoughtful act. The evolution of man from a hunter gatherer setting to modern political incarnation has shown that the need for equity in the distribution of scarce economic resources was the plank of political system. Man is homo economicus as a famous columnist once put it. This forms the setting of my first plot as I expatiate on Nigeria’s rickety architecture. The yearning for a better welfare package is the crux of the first theory under review. Men are not primarily social beings; they are economic souls with insatiable needs. The two planks or paramount considerations of any society are man and the utterly limited resources in the face of insatiable needs. The object of contention has mostly been the satisfaction of man’s insatiable needs. Territory is first and foremost, an affirmation of resources for a people to the exclusion of others. Therefore, territorial delineation is mostly founded upon economic consideration (please “mostly” is deployed to emphasize that the sentence does not always represent the true state of events in all nations). Human history is replete with incidents of clashes of two major orders; the plebeians and the patricians, the proletariats and the bourgeoisies, the haves and the have nots. The world is shaped by the pull and push of these two forces. More so, slavery happened because feudal farmlands needed workers, colonization occurred because expanding industries of European merchants needed raw materials. Africa was created as plantain plantation for old England and France, much of the Americas were the vassal states and economic waterbed of Spain. Simply put, man was an economic beast before becoming a social animal. Adam tilled Eden before he needed Eve. The world as we know it is moulded by constant struggles for, first economic liberty, before political autonomy. Political independence is sought to cater for economic needs, before social exigencies. Boston tea party that catalyzed nationalist agitation in most of English colonies in the Americas happened because of perceived economic injustice. United States of America was created afterwards. There might have been no problems if they could feed themselves. Political liberation only shadowed what was first a fight for economic justice. Every agitation which is being expressed in the form of the Boko Haram decimation of the north (circuitously), the militants’ obliteration of much of south-south, the Biafran irredentists’ articulations on “true federalism” (in its present form) are all against perceived inequity and imbalance in the ordering of the nation. We yearn to share the national cake without putting efforts to build the bakery. In fact, the laziness of our countrymen and corrupt practices that have become the culture of Nigerians are linked to the availability of free oil money. Remove oil, and you may not have Nigeria. The current skewed economic structure which is manifectly in favour of a region can hardly bode well for compatriots. Thus, it has led to searing economic sabotage manifesting in various forms, appearing in militants’ insurgency at times, or ethnic dissentients some other time. It can reappear as class struggles with different labour formations bearing arms in form of strike actions against the nation. The present structure cannot serve the economic interests of Nigerians across all ethnic nationalities in our nation. It is this perceived economic injustice that the Sermonists of restructuring hope would be addressed when the new structure is emplaced. Thoughts therefore must be geared towards tinkering with ideas on how to accommodate the economic necessaries and the political needs of Nigerian peoples. Any such mode must be able to cater for man’s welfare at the most minimal level. Economic architecture of a nation is quite important to its political survival.

Prosperity and people are always going to be linked. The most developed nations are also the most prosperous. The most prosperous nations are also the most prosperous people. Prosperous people make a powerful nation. Power, prosperity and people are the planks of viability of nations. The most advanced nations have structured their nations in such a way that man can aspire to anything that ensures his advancement within its territory. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson dwell on this in their book; “While Nations Fail”. No nation can exist without a fairer means of distribution of wealth amongst her component units and peoples. Sanity is the least luxury for a hungry people. Nigeria is large, with innumerable economic potentialities, but is one of the poorest nations on earth. Economic peonage is the dominant political tradition. “wetin man go chop” is the most popular aphorism. Political liberty without economic liberty is a big sham. Nigeria has unquantifiable human and natural resources but it is still the poor of the earth. It combines this atrocity with a rickety political system it calls federalism. It is an inelegant admixture of assorted lethal poisons to human development. Nigeria has one of the lowest human development indices in the world, humanitarian crisis is of epic proportion, unemployment rate is a sordidly worrying figure, malnourished employment class, totally eviscerated middle class gasping for breath, dilapidated infrastructure, crimes and criminalities make for a staggering statistics, out-of-school children are appallingly many, ethnic induced pogroms are unabatedly continuing. It therefore makes for sadder commentary, that she has two houses of national assembly with 469 members, 36 non-viable states and an FCT with respective houses of assembly, governors, commissioners, agencies and parastatals, 774 local governments with MDAs , multiplying redundancies at all levels. The nation is convulsing, capitulating and in dire straits. Nothing has ever worked. Nothing currently works. Nothing may ever work.

To be continued……………..
Micah S. Babarinde

Micah Stephen: AFRICA AND KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION (2)

 “Before political subjugation comes intellectual subordination”-Tataalo Alamu, Invention Of African Intellectual Tradition, The Nation Newspapers, November, 2011.

Everything was created from a thought, including nations. Success and failure are most often products of what was executed from thoughts. The question is, was Nigeria and indeed Africa a badly conceived idea or a badly executed one? This question begets many answers. But I dare say Nigeria, nay Africa, was a well conceived and well executed idea, as a colonial plantain plantation. But an economic plantation cannot be transformed into a viable political nation overnight. It must be done with persistent, coherent and committed intellectual exertion.

As I continue from where I drew the curtains last week, I shall attempt to link scarcity of knowledge in the evolution of our nation to our misadventure. Herein lies a caveat, in attempting this arduous task, I may dabble too much into our problems more than focusing on the topic of knowledge production. I apologize in advance as it will not be deliberate. As I have said previously, writing is a writhing task especially when you try to isolate and extricate one problem from another in Nigeria.

I believe the mind is a vacuum; an open book. Every man was born tabula rasa. It remains that way until experience comes to play as man grapples with the extant realities of his environment. This is why nations with ambition, try to isolate the mind of their people and impel them to think in terms of productivity, creativity and innovation. The mind is such a big thing to trifle with. I make a biblical detour as I try to expatiate. When God created Adam, rather, after God created Adam, he left the job of “sub-creation” to him. Adam had to use his intuition to give names to all animals, plants etc, such that they still the names we call these things, language variation notwithstanding. Adam used his skull to perform his tasks. God created man, with the intuition to grapple with his realities and engage his circumstances with scientific precision. God will not do for man, what He has created man to do for himself. You can pray for His inspiration and guidance in directing your affairs, but you do not expect Him to put food on your table, provide your shelter and govern your state. God created us to create something.  gods don’t build nations, people do. Wealth creation and national liberation can hardly be accomplished without productivity. Productivity can only be increased via the window of knowledge. For instance, less than 1% of the American population feeds the over 300 million Americans and other nations. They have taken advantage of the unquantifiable potentials of the human mind to navigate their way to the summit of human affirmation and dominance. Nigeria cannot even feed itself. Africa, lacking in knowledge, depends entirely on commodities. We rather export cocoa than chocolate, oranges than juice, cassava rather than ethanol etc. you cannot sustain a nation on commodities in this era. We import finished products, and export jobs. Again, this was the objective of the imperialists. This was the reason why colonialism happened and why Africa was created in the first place. We have continued to own fidelity to this founding charter. We produce raw materials, export them, they are returned as finished products. Our leather becomes their shoes, our cocoa becomes their chocolate, we are still the slave plantation and they are still the slave holders.

Lack of knowledge production is the reason why we lack ambition as a nation. You cannot overcome what you do not despise. This is why we still use hoe and cutlass to farm and we expect these to feed a nation of almost 200 million. We generate lesser electricity than Paris, Germany with a population of 80 million generates more than 300, 000 Megawatts of electricity, while we are struggling to keep ours at 3,000 Megawatts. We leave policing to the centre and expect the centre to understand that the topography of Buguma is not the same as Kafanchan. We still use hammer to crush stones, camels to carry goods yet our engineers are gainfully employed in banks! In fact our leaders visit dibias to proffer solutions to economic crisis. Some governors have even attributed our economic woes to divine orchestration. Vain religiousity cannot take the place of detailed perspicacity. Thoughtlessness should not be mistaken for godliness. God is too big to be reduced to such vanity. Abdication of what is a primary responsibility cannot be redressed by patronizing God’s sovereignty. It is a futile effort.

The challenges that has bedeviled our generation, bogged down to clear this debris of acute ethnicity, wholesale butchery, internecine wars definitive of our continent are staggering. But it is only when we appreciate the roots of our problems that we can prescribe solutions. What we see in the form of corruption, nepotism, stark inhumanity on our continent is the manifestation of what is a deeper malady. We should not mistake the symptoms for the disease. A faulty premise begets a faulty conclusion. Embedded in the faulty answer is the faulty question. A bad diagnosis attracts a wrong remedy. The question, dear readers, is not why we have these effects, but what is the cause of these realities? The problems I dare say are the inability to achieve elite consensus even at the most minimal level and knowledge production. Most other problems are outgrowths of these two. While the first is crucial, the second is to me more fundamental.  Our people currently find it had to grapple with realities. Like I earlier stated, the mind is a vacuum which must be filled either by knowledge or ignorance. Once the latter occurs, the human is in darkness with no hope of emancipation. What is begotten is irresponsible leadership which has led to the capitulation of many states in Africa. There is therefore an urgent need to anchor national evolution on knowledge production and elite consensus. Now, by knowledge production, I do not mean being credentialed or certificated as is our wont, which hardly refines the human mind. I do not propose the regurgitation of 19th century syllabus as is our culture. It is of great danger to the nation to the “miseducated” than the ignorant. The miseducated does not know that he does not know. I am talking of the type that will stimulate the mind towards articulating sound solutions for the liberation, management and preservation of our continent. Africa will always lag behind if she does not transform herself with knowledge. The “trade ahead of aid” slogan bandied about by our leaders is not inspired by an aforethought economic plan, coherent policy formulation, educational roadmap that will power such motive, but it is chaired by  people who are neither partakers nor believers in the vision they profess. It is difficult to see how a Pierre Nguruziza will entrench sound political principles and economic master plan that will liberate Burundians. His immediate concern is Bujumbura, the seat of power.

A senior friend and mentor, asked on twitter, if anybody could articulate the Nigerian dream. Yours sincerely replied, with caustic relish, that I could articulate the Nigerian nightmare. In one fell swoop, there was a summary summation and dismemberment of a shared contradiction and circumstance. He, an evolving administrator (he was unarguably the best student leader of his time; the most innovative, creative and articulate faculty president in his time at the University of Ibadan), must have been miffed and agitated by his inability to comprehend Nigeria, Africa and their litany of problems. As a faculty president, he ensured he had an elite consensus and executed his many programmes using the best of human resources the faculty of law U.I could offer. It is therefore heart renting to see what was successfully done at the micro level of a university with a community as diverse as U.I’s, being difficult to achieve at the national level. I share his anguish and exasperation. Our anger is not directed at a dead past, but a dying future. Our generation seems distracted rather than surefooted. We are yet to extricate ourselves from the mindlessness of yesterday. We are being good sons of our fathers. This concern is even exacerbated by PMB’s second coming which is crumbling and a far cry from the messianic encore we had envisioned it to be.

At this juncture, I must say, we do not need anybody to tell us of our horrible state when the food we eat, the cloth we wear, the movies we see, our leisure, our history, our identity, legal system, our drugs, are given to us by nations who in the name of “common humanity” and globalization will prefer us bound to their apron strings. This is the reason for the epigraph at the beginning of this article. We need an urgent national rebirth.

As I conclude, my question is what is our expectation from governance? How do we expect our nation to be for ourselves and our children? Our answers will be the core of our consideration as we make our decisions in 2019. Our reality cannot be bigger than our expectation. As alliances are being forged ahead of the elections in 2019 over sticks of suya and cups of palmwine, will merit and knowledge play a pivotal role in 2019 or our pockets and ethno-religious solidarity? Our misbegotten past is going to be our future, if we embark on the same path as our fore fathers. For Nigeria to emerge as the unique torch bearer of the emancipation of the black race, it must ensure that knowledge guides its deliberations and policy articulation. Without knowledge production, we cannot be a worthy contemporary in the league of nations with high cerebral power. After all, only the deep can call to the deep.

Epilogue

Thomas Paine, the redoubtable campaigner against imperialism, in his treatise “Age of Reason” insisted that man should be the ultimate decider of his own fate since he has been empowered by God with the capacity for such assignment. Yours sincerely may not share in every piece of his stipulations but he undoubtedly was an enigma. As an ardent student of philosophy, history and an avid reader of Obafemi Awolowo’s philosophy, policies and postulations, I shall make concerted effort at critiquing Awo’s vision for national actualization and development. It is also important to see how Awo tried to establish a nexus between micro nationalism (tribe) and macro-nationalism (nation). We shall espouse Awo’s understanding of man and his roles and how this structured his policy formulation, articulation and implementation; his famous policy being the free education programme. It is an attempt to project his thoughts and not his person lest we engage in mindless ethnically induced polemics. Till then, adios!!!!!

 

Micah Stephen, combines his love for law with a deep appreciation of history and classical studies. He considers himself to be an admixture of a lawyer, classicist, historian and entrepreneur.

 

Micah Stephen: Africa and Knowledge Production

“for a mind that knows is a mind that is free………” Unibadan Anthem

Writing is such a costly and exerting endeavour. Out of the abundance of the mind, the hand writeth. The writer at crucial times faces the challenges of paucity of events that rightly catch his fancy or a ridiculous surplusage or torrents of issues to battle. He either sets at dawn or he gets smacked down. Cerebral Achebe felt that it is the job of a writer to engage in a bit of activism, not to just be there, to partake in his own little way as his nation battles with the crisis of self-actualization or self-immolation. He must be the gauge of a collective conscience. The writer must engage his reality head on, not just drag the audience along the road of fantastic presentation and representations, but he must address and redress the immediate concern of his environment. Writing is “righting”. In Africa, there are too many wrongs to right. This is why writing is writhing to the African writer.

Something is inherently different about Africa. If evolution were true, it is either the black man evolved prematurely or evolved differently. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution deserves a revisit. What is referred to as Africa must be recognized as a tapestry of European settlements. It is hardly an apt description of a group of people as they had always been. Africa is a product of alien bargaining not native consensus. It was first alienated, emasculated, mutilated and then delineated over bottles of scotch at the Berlin |Conference of 1885. Licenses and assignments were created in favour of interested merchants, hardly by any beneficial owner. It was the first classic case of giving what one does not have; mortgages were granted colonial slave holders to ingratiate economic rewards. Hitherto, the African had been a master of himself far before Europe’s incursion into its body polity, up till Arab incursion at least. The Kingdom of Songhai was established in 1350 Years AD and lasted until 1600 AD when the kingdom was invaded and ransacked by forces from Morocco with substantial financial and military support from the English Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth 1st.  There were two hundred English artillery mercenaries in the invading force. Arabs had rattled and decimated much of old Mali, Gao, Djenne and Timbuktu by the 12th century. Universities were established at Timbuktu and Sankore. After Arabian hegemony was toppled around the 14th century by transatlantic trade, the resulting carcass was to be the object of the frenetic carnivorous appetite of the marauding Europeans from the beginning of 14th century. The image Africa presently bears is the image of Europe. It may change tomorrow. There was no Nigeria, at the beginning of the 20th century. It can cease to exist before the end of the 21st century. States are made not divinely created. Humans nurture states; they hardly have the imprimatur of gods.

After the departure of the European imperialists from its colonial plantations, it has been a disaster for the infantile states to assume a different shade from what was its original design; a European banana plantation. Europeans did not owe their settlements the duty to look after their political wellbeing, once their economic interests were safe. After a night of amorous torrid passion, Frederick Luggard foisted more than 200 polities together to form Nigeria. He learned from the Bismark chaired conference in 1885. One of the participants even stated that they knew not what they were doing; they only drew straight lines across the map. Over 20, 000 different empires and tribes were coupled that day. What was birthed was a leprosed continent constantly battling with itself, a collage of ethnic chauvinism, acute human depravity, extreme corruption, animalistic pogroms of unimaginable scale and scope, exceptional level of bad governance, biting unemployment rate , all scattered and shattered along primordial ethnic  lines, combining to form human suffering of epic proportion.

The transformation of Africa from colonial serfs into post-colonial modern states have been nigh improbable, if not impossible. The primordialism, archaism, obsoleteness of the mode of organization in most African states in the 21st century is befuddling, if not graphic. The challenge with Africa is knowledge. This is the reason for the adoption of the epigraph at the beginning of the article. It is the last verse of the University of Ibadan’s anthem. The challenge with Africa as a continent sequestered along alienating nation states is that of knowledge production i.e a continent midwifed by intellectual and philosophical exertion. I must state that most nations are hardly consummated with amicable resolutions. But they are ceaselessly and meticulously nurtured by deep philosophies that make them look immutable. To be precise, I do not mean that no form of knowledge has ever come out Africa. In fact, to the contrary, this piece is written to ensure that African states emphasize the need for production of autochthonous knowledge. Knowledge production sits at the base of any human advancement. By knowledge, we talk first about the mental agility by which the environment is explored, exploited by human reasoning. We are not talking about the collection of wise sayings, idioms; all strung together into a coherent cosmogony. To be exact we are talking about the need to build thoughts and philosophies as we engage our environment, battle savagery and barbarism in the production of a “native” civilization. After God created man, He left re-creation to him. Man therefore can only dominate his environment with the knowledge of his environment. The most advanced states are those who use knowledge of their world to better their lots. Civilization is simply the state in which a society is able to solve its problems with knowledge and scientific certitude. Civilization therefore has nothing to do with westernization. In Tataalo Alamu’s words, “we are talking of the capacity for conceptual formulation and rigorous abstractions; the ability for sustained intellection and paradigmatic speculation”. We are not talking about the echoing or regurgitation of knowledge from other centres of civilization. While that itself is not avoidable, it should not be the only consumable.

Nations with the greatest advancements are also the ones with the most developed means of knowledge production. There is nothing divinely orchestrated in western ascension to world dominance and its current and ongoing displacement by the Asians, it is conditioned by knowledge production. Japan negotiated its way to the top after Meiji Restoration of 1868 through a radical reform of its educational system and her political institutions. Lee Kwan Yew transformed Singapore by transforming the mind. You must know before you are known. Africa is still largely crude, absolutely unrefined. Recently, as the Fulani marauders unleashed mayhem on hapless compatriots across the nation, the reaction of the government to it showed a stark clarity regarding the dominant mode of mind-set that powers our polity. The orgy of bloodletting notwithstanding, the government opted to continue funding programmes that encourage herding as against the urbane method of ranching. A state government decided to pay thirsty murderers to placate them. At play was the interplay of ethnic loyalty, religious sentiments and intoxicating ignorance. Knowledge was entirely displaced in arriving at the conclusion. This was when Americans, having conquered the earth are conquering mars. Modern societies with pre modern mode of existence are ravaged by the conflict between knowledge and myth. The infestation and manifestation of myth and its superior logic is evident in Africa’s mode of grappling with realities. Subsistence mode of agriculture, evasive form of democratic bargaining, tired and wearied political institutions, crippled madrasahs, mangled understanding of religion, a total and shambled organization of geographical space. These are exactly what to expect from societies with the mind-set to dominate nature and reality with myth not knowledge. The current mode of reasoning is that of voracious consumption powered by myth. Reliance on brawn not brain, mediocrity is ahead of meritocracy. We feed on all, we produce nothing. Africa is Africans’ greatest inhibition. Indeed, our people perish because of lack of knowledge…

to be continued.

Micah Stephen, combines his love for law with a deep appreciation of history and classical studies. He considers himself to be an admixture of a lawyer, classicist, historian and entrepreneur.

Fadeke: Episode IX

Fadeke made it to final year of medical school with great effort. It was a busy year for her as she spent most of it working on her first studio produced solo album. By this time, she had won the hearts of many music lovers in Nigeria. Agreed that she was no party-crooner, her music could not fit into the average Nigerian party but it did fit into corporate events and that was her market and there she made waves. She appointed a manager to lessen her burden so she could worry less about scheduling and all whatnots. Throughout that year, she was very selective about the events she attended, she had learnt from the previous experience that she was not meant for every show, or concert or event. When she could no longer handle the requests, and due to Tade’s similarly busy schedule, she agreed to appoint Smart Ode as her manager.

Smart had worked his way up the ladder, having begun as a personal assistant to one of the greatest manager of human talent the country had ever seen, the legendary Martin Kay. Martin Kay during his active years managed about eight ‘A’ lists artists at different times in their careers, and they all agreed they could not have reached the heights they did without Martin Kay. Smart Ode learnt all he knew from Martin Kay, he learnt how to speak like a manager, dress like one and dish out instructions like one. Most importantly, Martin Kay taught Smart when and how to be humble when speaking to an artist. “That artiste is your employer, even if he or she is probably younger than you are. You are an employee, just a different kind and grade of employee. Never forget that my boy” Martin Kay would often say. Smart was smart enough to listen and follow the footsteps of his mentor, he  however went one step further by recognising talents in artistic fields other than the stage, this was the basis for his appointment as Tade’s manager.

“Fadeke, I honestly think that you need to attend more events, for two key reasons” Smart Ode knew his job really well and he tried to be as persuasive as he could “The first reason being that you need to stay in people’s consciousness, that is how you stay relevant. And the second reason is simply that you need the money for us to complete your studio release” Smart concluded

Fadeke wanted to laugh at Smart’s effort at persuading her, she knew though that he was merely doing his job, so instead she patted Smart on the shoulder and responded “No worries Smart, let me decide that. I have the final say on every invitation. Are we clear that?

“Loud and clear Ma’am, loud and clear” Smart responded and curtsied to lighten up the mood.

****

Fadeke’s first studio solo album was released in her final year; it was an instant hit as it rocked the airwaves and stayed on the top chart for weeks. The tune of her soul music captivated the hearts of many and soon, she was sought after by different individuals who wanted her to perform at their events. She had to turn down most of the offers as she needed to fully concentrate on completing medical school in good time and in style. She restricted her performances to one Saturday a month and carefully selected the events she accepted. Her practice time and performance time were the only time she spent outside studying and keeping it real with the love of her life, Tade. She was often embarrassed when even her classmates tried to mob her and ask for autographs. She had become a star but she felt she needed to complete it by concluding her medical education. She thought about the sacrifices of her mother and felt a tingle in her heart. She was finally going to reward Mrs. Onifade. She wrote her final exams with confidence and joy, she had an assurance that she had done all she needed to do. Her oral defence was also well received; her professors were particularly impressed at her self-taught knowledge of music therapy. She gave her a rousing applause.

“I understand you are musician too” a professor said and nodded his head as if saying ‘you have done well’.

“Yes o” another professor responded “my daughter would not let me rest. She wants an autograph”

Fadeke beamed “Thank you for your kind words Sirs and Ma’ams. And tell your daughter to come around whenever she is available ma, I will be glad to sign one. Though I’m trying to get used to all that” they all smiled at her and waved her off with admiration.

***

Fadeke was ready to pack out of her dorm room at school and move back home briefly before her induction into the medical profession. Tade and Mrs. Onifade came to assist her; she had officially introduced Tade to her mother earlier during the first semester of her final year. Both hit it off immediately, Mrs. Onifade became particularly fond of Tade. From the way she doted on him, any person who did not know otherwise would conclude that Tade was Mrs. Onifade’s only son. This made Fadeke jealous sometimes but she was also very happy, it was a happy jealousy.

They helped her pack her things and whilst they journeyed back home, Mrs. Onifade could not stop talking about how Tade had redesigned Fadeke’s room and how beautiful her room was. Whilst at Yaba Tech, Tade had garnered experience in interior graphics and designs, she had seen some of the works he did and they were breath-taking. Tade’s abilities were spectacular and she was so happy for him and at their future together.

“Mummy I don’t think it is as beautiful as you are painting it o” Tade laughed and tried to play down her mother’s ‘exaggerations’.

She snuggled close to him and whispered “I’m sure it is impressive”

“It is more than impressive o, o fine gan ni” her mother interrupted. Fadeke could not honestly understand why her mother was so excited, but she was happy to see her mother so happy and excited. She had not seen her in such high moods since her father left them, so she felt good.

She did not want her mother to continue her one-woman show so she quietly mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Tade. She closed her eyes and tried to picture what they would look like as a married couple and she felt herself blushing. She opened her eyes and caught Tade starring at her; there was some message in his eyes. The way he looked at her made her excited and she could not wait for them to have their alone time, without her mother’s excited Yoruba chatters.

When they got to the house, Fadeke rushed to her room. She was really excited and was so eager to see the magic Tade had performed on the outlook of her room. But she was not prepared for what she saw. Indeed her room looked more than perfect, everything were in the right place, her favourite art works were well hung and he had added a few portrait of some of her stage performances. Her room was a beauty but none caught her heart and made blood rush to her face like a beautiful inscription on the wall of the room, just above her reading table. She felt the tears rush to her eyes as she read the words

Fadekemi,

This wall is not big enough to show you how much I truly love and cherish you. Will you please marry me?

Signed

Tade

She turned with tears in her eyes; Tade was right at the door and on his knees holding a beautiful diamond ring. He looked at her and whispered “Fadeke, you came into my world and changed everything. You told me I could make it and you stood by me as I did. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without you. Please say yes”

Fadeke could only shake her head in confirmation as he slipped the ring into her finger. She embraced him, still teary.

She heard her mother sob behind the door. ‘this woman, such a drama queen! She thought and smiled, without letting go of Tade.

Postcript

Fadeke was inducted into the medical profession. At the induction, Fadeke received the award for the best result in Anatomy. Mrs. Onifade was so proud of her daughter.  She could now be famously referred to as “Mama Doctor”; her lifelong dreams were fulfilled not only because of Fadeke’s achievement, Mrs. Onifade made some giant strides of her own. With Fadeke out of school, Mrs. Onifade was going back to school. She had timidly applied for admission to the Lagos State School of Nursing and never thought she would get in but she did. The admission committee were particularly impressed that she refused to let go of her dreams despite her age and they gladly offered her in place. Her joy knew no limits as she accepted the offer, after-all, age is nothing but a number

As for Fadeke, she felt fulfilled and proud of the woman she had become. She would now focus on building a long career in music and as a music therapist; and off course try to out-love her lover boy!

 

I guess that is the end. I hope you enjoyed the series.

Oluwatosin

Fadeke – Episode VIII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

Fadeke was not happy with her performance at the event; she began to doubt her abilities and any future career in the entertainment industry. She felt that her path may not be music but medicine and that perhaps, that was the reason she had the fortune of studying medicine. She was disappointed with herself. Tade made concerted efforts to encourage and cheer her up but her mind seemed made up. She had resolved to channel all her energy into medicine. She studied hard for her test, became more serious with her course works and within a little space of time, she moved to the top five percentile of her class.

Fadeke totally withdrew from music, when she went back home Mrs Onifade noticed that the excitement Fadeke had for music had suddenly faded. She also noticed that Fadeke was withdrawn; she was no longer the excited little girl who giggled at every sound of music. She was both happy and sad about this new development, a part of her was happy and hoping that her indifference with music will help her focus better on her medical studies and in the long run, maybe she could fall in love with the idea of being a medical doctor. However, she was not happy with the lethargic Fadeke, music was a core part of her and the absence of music reminded Mrs. Onifade of the things she wished she had done rather than settled for the life she eventually settled for.  Mrs. Onifade decided to ask Fadeke why she had lost her love for music.

“Fadekemi, I hope all is fine. I noticed that you no longer sing as you used to, se ko si o? she asked, sincerely concerned.

“Mummy, there is no problem. I just think that music may not be the right career path for me” Fadeke responded.

“Ehn? How do you mean? Music makes you excited and very happy. I don’t like this new you o” Mrs. Onifade tried to look Fadeke in the eye, she knew if she could get Fadeke to look her in the eye, she would be able to tell for certain whether she was telling the truth or otherwise. She felt and knew that all was not well, but she could not exactly place her hand on what the issue was. “Fadekemi, so fun mi, kilo sele?

Fadeke began to cry when she saw that her mother was genuinely concerned. She realised that despite her many strange tendencies, her mother was truly interested in her overall state of affairs. She opened up to Mrs. Onifade and explained how she messed up at the biggest stage of her life and how there may never be a second chance. She explained all that Tade had done to encourage her and help her back to her feet, without much success. This was completely new to Mrs. Onifade, she was pleasantly happy that Fadeke had made such tremendous progress both in medical school and as a musician. She was also happy to hear about the young man Tade, whom her daughter was apparently very much in love with. She pulled Fadeke to herself, let her weep while telling her that she was good enough.

On her part, Mrs. Onifade began to appreciate Fadeke’s strength of character and became encouraged to push herself; maybe, just maybe she could still become a trained nurse.

***

Tade thought that Fadeke would eventually come around and that she only needed time and constant reassurance. However, months after months, Fadeke’s enthusiasm remained at ground zero. She told Tade of the conversation she had with her mum and how Mrs. Onifade had not stopped to talk about reigniting a career in nursing despite her age. Tade was happy that Mrs. Onifade was encouraged but was sad that Fadeke remained disinterested in her music career. He called Phebean and told her about the concert and Fadeke’s lack of interest in music thereafter. Phebean had a strong influence on Fadeke and because she had also experienced failure at different points in her career, she knew the right motivation Fadeke needed to get back on her feet. She paid Fadeke a visit; consoled her and told her to research on great legends in the music industry. She asked Fadeke to read their stories and how they also had bumpy rides in their early days but succeeded against all odds. Fadeke confided in her that she still loved music, only that she could not get over the fact that she failed in the spotlight.

Phebean insisted that all she needed to do was read about music icons, their epic failures and how they overcame such failures. Fadeke read about music greats who failed at first but picked up themselves. She was particularly impressed by the story of Elvis Presley who as a young singer was kicked out of the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country-music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee. He was told to stick to his day job of driving trucks but he did not allow that deter him, he continued until he made it big.  She realised that she must not let rejection and criticism get in her way as it was merely a part of the music business which must be handled positively. She began to understand she must learn from a “bad” situation and move on and that the only positive way to silence critics is to prove them wrong but first she needed to prove to herself that she was good enough.

Fadeke was inspired, she started to dream again, she resolved that the world was her oyster and she was going to write beautiful stories in the chapters of her life. From then onward, there was a drastic change in her outlook to life, she became aware that there was more to her, she activated this consciousness and continued to ace her exams.

In her 5th year in medical school, Fadeke started researching on musical therapy once again and thought to work on same as it fascinated her. She started to dream big and plan her life. One of the best decisions she made was leaving 360 degrees. When she left 360 degrees, she had more time to write more songs, do solo videos and she learn to play the guitar. Tade enjoyed watching her sing and play the guitar. He made a portrait of her playing the guitar which she loved very much and hung same proudly in her room.

Tade resumed posting clips of Fadeke’s solo songs on Instagram and the feedback was phenomenal. Her fans were still very much in love with her. This was a confidence booster; this time, she knew she was ready to take on the world.

 

Interpretations

se ko si o? – I hope all is well

so fun mi, kilo sele? – tell me, what the matter is

Fadeke: Episode VII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it.

In her first year at Medilag, Fadeke found music and medicine to be overwhelming and was smart enough to know that her grades may suffer if she didn’t focus on medicine; consequently, she decided to reduce her participation in 360 degrees. She limited her involvement to only participating in rehearsals twice a week but attending just one show in a month. She learnt how to manage her time better and limited the activities she participated in. She also realised that her workload as a medical student would only intensify. She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it. Her grades were impressive that first year and she was proud of herself. She stepped out of her comfort zone and understood what her limits were. Indeed, her first and second year in medical school was a learning curve for her, she became smarter and wiser. She felt at some point that perhaps she was giving up on her dreams, perhaps she ought to spend more time doing music than medicine, maybe she would have got her big break in music if she devoted more attention to music. Phebean had graduated and was among the rising artist in some Nigerian ‘Broadway styled’ shows. She kept in touch with Fadeke and often encouraged her that she was on track. Tade often reassured her that she was making progress. She had not missed her weekly rehearsals in two years and she remained the crowd’s favourite on campus and at shows outside the campus. The only snag was that she did not know how to grow her social media followership, as she had no time to play with.

During her third year, one of her professors spoke in passing about music therapy and she was fascinated by it, thus she became interested in it. Using the internet, she read all she could on music therapy and felt she had found the right combination for music and medicine. She was going to pursue knowledge in the field of music therapy. She considered that it should not be difficult for her to do so in view of her good background in music. She determined that she would carve a niche for herself as the first musician and music therapist in Nigeria.

By this time, Tade was already a big deal on social media and had received an offer to study Fine Art (Painting Major) at the Yaba College of Technology. Fadeke was very excited at the fact that he had progressed and found his way out of the dump under the Lende Bridge. He was an example of persistence and resilience. Yes, he had a little bit of luck to aid him but his talent created the path. They were both excited at the prospect of being close to each other. Tade was very popular both on campus and on the ‘Gram’ with many folks using his works as their display pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger. Although, he felt it was not necessary, Mr. Jimi encouraged him and insisted that he paid some tokens for the promotion of his pages on social media. It worked and his popularity continued to soar.

Fadeke and Tade were in love; they could not and did not hide it. It was evident to everyone who knew them. Their love was young and innocent. Fadeke was not so much into social media but she often heard what sounded like jealous whispers from her female classmates, she would hear them talk about his Instagram posts. Tade was a lover boy and would often write beautiful words, often described in millennial lingo as ‘mushy’ on Instagram or post some interesting picture of her with the caption “She brought light into my dark world”. His posts about her always had that statement; a mantra it was.

Tade decided to take over Fadeke’s social media accounts; he knew he had enough content to grow her social media accounts and felt bad he had not thought to do that all the while. He had several video recordings. The videos were mostly when she sang with only him as her audience. He noticed there was usually a confident edge in her voice whenever she sang to him. She was at ease with him and he needed to let the world see the beauty he was blessed with. So he began to post the videos on Instagram and Facebook. It was an instant success, people loved the videos and the invitation started coming in their trickles. Tade had on Mr. Jimi’s recommendation, appointed one of his friends as his manager. This again, proved to be a smart decision, as Smart Odey took charge of the promotion of Tade’s works. He was able to secure more corporate endorsement deals for Tade within two months of taking over management of Tade’s talent promotion.

****

With Smart Odey in charge, Tade had more time and he dedicated it to growing Fadeke’s social media platforms. He got one of his friends who was studying Industrial Graphics at Yabatech to edit most of Fadeke’s videos. He had learnt that with Instagram, when you are trying to grow a followership, good contents and consistency were keys to unlock the door. He consistently posted videos of Fadeke from his archives and gradually she began to garner followers and people started talking about her. The beauty of social media is in its cross-boundary propensities. People from all around the world saw the videos and commented on how good she was and why she needed to perform at the biggest concert in their area. Tade would respond on her behalf, thanking each person who commented. The picture that generated the most conversation was a picture of Fadeke in her laboratory coat detailing how much work she has to put into medicine and music. Many commented to say they were inspired, some congratulated her and others encouraged her. When Tade showed her the comments, she could not hold back her tears; there was just too much positive vibes from those comments. She was inspired and all fired up to make her dreams come true.

***

About two days later, Fadeke received an email inviting her for a show at the Tafewa Balewa Square, Lagos. The email listed several ‘A’ list artistes scheduled to perform, but the organisers wanted to also give young talents the opportunity to perform to a bigger audience. Tade was excited and encouraged Fadeke to accept the invite. The event was just three days away, when they checked their calendars, Fadeke had a test the next Monday whilst Tade was expected at an exhibition in Abuja. They had mixed feelings about it but Tade insisted that he would try to get back into Lagos as early as possible on the Saturday of the event. Tade responded to the email on her behalf and accepted the invite.

***

The show was the biggest live event Fadeke had ever attended. The Tafewa Balewa Square was occupied with thousands of music fans, all screaming and shouting at every turn. As the time inched closer to Fadeke’s performance, she became scared; she seemed to always have stage fright when she is performing at events that were like milestones in her career. It was similar to the fear she had at the restaurant at Victoria Island, she needed her friends. The only familiar face at the backstage was Jim, who was one time a member of 360 degrees.

Unfortunately, Tade arrived at the Muritala Mohammed Airport very late as his flight was delayed for hours. For some reason, there was a serious traffic at Ikeja which further delayed him. Phebean was in Warri for another event so she could not come to lend her support to Fadeke. She wished she appointed a manager as Tade had once suggested. At the time, she felt it was not yet time but at that moment, she wished there was someone around who could give her a hug and tell she could do it.

She explained her predicament to Jim and he suggested that there was a fix, a very quick fix for the problem. When she asked what the fix was, he gave her a small nylon foil containing some white substances. Fadeke immediately knew what it was and her mind told her otherwise, but something else told her she needed it if she hoped to perform to the billing that night. Her mind went quickly to many of the stories she had heard from Tade about the wreck that the white substance and Indian hemp had done to the boys under the Lende Bridge. She saw his eyes of disapproval and then handed the foil back to Jim. No, she was better than that, she told him.  Instead, she called Tade and his voice was the calm she needed. Tade told her she had just won another battle and that she was ready. By this time, he was on the third mainland bridge in a moving traffic.

****

Fadeke took the big stage, she sang with all her energy but the reaction of the audience was cold. Disappointment was written all over their faces. She had flopped! Tade got to TBS just as the next artiste was introduced. Fadeke was given two VIP tickets, one of which was with him, so he got in very quickly. He ran to the backstage and after some hassle with the bouncers, he was allowed in. He found Fadeke in a corner, he eyes were blood stain from tears, he pulled her to himself without saying any word; he knew that was all she needed!

The City Circle – Much Ado About Jollof

MUCH ADO ABOUT JOLLOF….

I spent the festive period in the kitchen. And we did not travel to the village o! Anyways, my mom who sat and watched while I cooked most of the time tried to engage me in the usual marriage conversation (single ladies, raise your hand if you had this conversation during the holidays)

She started. “We need to teach you how to cook other delicacies apart from Jollof rice, you know what they say about the way to a man’s heart, how are you going to find a man with only jollo…”

“Mom, abeg abeg we? Who is “we”? ….”I didn’t let her finish.

I had a mental picture of me on the mainroad with a bowl of Jollof rice in hand, searching for a man and it made me hiss. You see, my mom does not cook. That chore has been shared unequally between my dad and I since I can remember. He likes to cook and I have to cook when he is not around. I am only happy to cook when I am called upon to make Jollof rice which I think sums up enough culinary prowess to grant me passage into any man’s heart. (Yes I said it. My Jollof rice is badt like that).

I found my talent for Jollof rice in 2010 but quickly abandoned it in favour of vegetable soup. Now that I think of it, I don’t know what my mom was talking about. I can cook other things too… anyways, back to Jollof. With the media frenzy and constant hype of the staple food, I had to tap back into my Jollof talent and our love affair’s waxing stronger every day. There are so many hush hush secrets and methods to the art of Jollof rice preparation. And there is the constant pressure to surpass the success of your previous pot of rice. So most days, ladies (and gentlemen like my dad) are on the internet, Tv, searching for ways to enhance our Jollof cooking skills. Because you cannot carry last in this Jollof race. If you sleep on the bicycle for too long, you’ll find yourself making Ghanaian Jollof (no shade intended) in a Lagos home. One day you will wake up and the Jollof ship has sailed….it is that serious. The number of brands churning out “Jollof rice spice” nowadays… because once the shopper passes by a shelf and sees “spice for Jol…” gold niyen.

Wherever you find a pot (or plate) of orange rice, there’s a hash tag for husband/wife material (mostly 100 yards) beside it. So many memes for “when bae makes Jollof rice” and there’s the ongoing battle between two countries over this rice.

Jollof is the cheat in this “way to a man’s heart” struggle. If it comes down to “the cooking skills or no husband”, do not even fret. Just take a crash course on Jollof and you’re in… Jollof to the rescue!  There is no inappropriate occasion to cook and eat Jollof Rice.

She is economically friendly. Jollof does not discriminate. Snails, chicken, panla and sardine can play together with Jollof. She can sit with you at Iya Ijebu and Radisson Blu. Jollof has friends in high places.She is popular with Tech entrepreneurs, world class billionaires, (ask Mark Zuckerberg), oil tycoons…nobody is immune or allergic to Jollof rice (I dare you!)  Jollof has class and standards. You cannot treat her anyhow or she will tarnish your culinary image. Jollof is the mistress that has turned to family. She has her own day (August 22). She is the queen of rice. Period.

I wonder who told this Orange rice that she can be / cause all these things. Who elevated Jollof Rice? (Taste buds. duh!). Who is attaching all this importance to Jollof? How can we just let Jollof waltz into our lives and take over like this? Where did this Jollof craze start from?

Fadeke: Episode VI

Fadeke resumed at the University of Lagos. She introduced Phebean to her mother during her matriculation ceremony. Mrs. Onifade noticed that Phebean paid particular attention to Fadeke so she pleaded with Phebean to help keep an eye on her. She told Phebean about the challenges she had with Fadeke regarding her choice of career. Phebean responded that it was important that Fadeke does what she loves, she however promised to keep an eye on Fadeke.

The first few weeks were totally exciting for Fadeke. It was fun exploring campus and meeting new people. She was also officially inducted into the 360 Degrees music group. She was surprised to find out that 360 degrees was very popular on campus. She performed with the group at different ‘fresher’s welcome’ events on campus, she soon became the crowd’s favourite and the name Fadeke became a so popular on campus within two weeks. Phebean noticed that Fadeke was getting carried away by her rapid rise to fame and she took it upon herself to ensure that Fadeke had her head in the right place.

Phebean had grown very fond of Fadeke and had nicknamed her ‘Queen F’. “Queen F, sit down and let me tell you somethings that will help you get out of this place alive” Phebean said. “I know that you want to be a big star but right now you need to set your priorities right okay?”

“Ok. Is there something I’m doing wrong” Fadeke honestly asked.

“No, but you are young and full of energy which must be properly channelled so that you don’t derail. I’m taking personal responsibility for you because I was the one that introduced you to this group and your mother instructed me to keep an eye on you. You have a lot of prospect but you need to know how to manage this new found life. Medical school is not a joke. So you will need to channel all your energies into both music and medicine. I don’t want you to lose sight of the reason you are here, your academics should be your top priority. That is why your mother sent you here and nothing less than excellent grades will do” Phebean advised.

“Medicine is not really my thing. This is just for my mum, you know. All I want to do is Music” Fadeke responded.

“I know and you have said that to me several times. But, listen girl, life can sometimes be funny such that the thing you are pursuing may not happen. I know it’s good to have positive vibes always but have you ever asked yourself what you will do if music fails? Phebean asked.

“Not really. I always think that music will happen” Fadeke said.

Phebean gave Fadeke a long look and asked “So what if it does not happen as you expected?

“Errm…. I don’t know. I have never thought about it” Fadeke responded.

“You should think about it. Take medicine very seriously. Try and surprise yourself. Break new barriers, you can succeed in medicine and in music. But I would not watch you play away your time here on campus. I’ve got my eyes on you”

“Thank you Phebean. I’m very grateful”

****

Acting on the advice he got from Phebean, Tade quickly became serious with his Facebook account. He also opened Twitter and Instagram accounts. His followership on Facebook began to increase at a fast rate, people liked and commented on pictures of his artworks and he began to receive instructions from people to make one artwork or the other for them. He also met with the curator of a popular art exhibition in Lagos who encouraged him to bring his art works to the exhibitions.  Mr. Jimi, a senior management staff of one of the telecommunications giants who attended the exhibitions saw Tade’s works and was very impressed with the quality of his works. He asked to speak with the artist and was surprised at his age.

“Your works are beautiful. Where did you learn to paint so beautifully? Mr. Jimi asked him.

“Thank you Sir” Tade beamed and then continued “I grew up in Ogbomosho. We had a neighbour who was an artist and painter. I would often go to his workshop after school and watch him as he painted or drew. He encouraged me and that was how I started. But I have learnt most of the things I know on my own”.

“That is quite impressive. Your future is bright!  Mr. Jimi said cheerfully.

“Thank you” Tade responded beaming with pride.

The telecommunications company where Mr. Jimi worked had some advert series which promoted young people with talents in music, entertainment, arts and culture. The adverts typically ran on television, radio, newspaper. The adverts series was loved by customers and often trend on social media for days. Mr. Jimi arranged for Tade to feature in the next series of the adverts. Within a short while, Tade’s popularity began to soar, with his Twitter and Instagram accounts receiving several followers on daily basis.

Tade and Fadeke were constantly speaking throughout her first semester, she was excited at the progress Tade was making and insisted that if he continued that way, he would be able to sponsor himself or even receive a scholarship for his university education. She also encouraged Tade to buckle up on physics so he could make good grades in his senior secondary school examination, which was just a term away.

They still kept their friendship away from Mrs. Onifade. They knew she would not approve because of Tade’s background. Against their initial fears, distance was not stopping them; they were quietly growing together, as best buddies, cheering each other on.

 

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