“Our Country is not Doomed” – Professor Niyi Osundare

Guest Post – by Femi Morgan

ARTMOSPHERE, a leading monthly platform for the revival of a vibrant reading culture and the promotion of creative expressions in literature and the arts hosted world renowned poet, scholar and social critic, Professor Niyi Osundare on Saturday June 20, 2015 at NuStreams Conference Centre, Ibadan.

The evening commenced at 3pm with readings from Professor Niyi Osundare’s numerous poetry collections. This was followed by an interactive session centred on the backstories behind his works, the creative process, literature and political as well as social issues confronting our nation and people today. Tade Ipadeola, author of the award winning poetry collection, The Sahara Testaments moderated the session. There was also music performances by D’Jazz Band as well as a book signing session.

11659479_1065971730097895_3082935478511806421_n

L-R: Femi Morgan, Professor Niyi Osundare and Tade Ipadeola

Poet, dramatist, critic, essayist, and media columnist, Niyi Osundare is a Professor of English at the University of New Orleans, USA. He has authored over ten volumes of poetry, two books of selected poems, four plays, a book of essays, and numerous articles on literature, language, culture, and society. His works of published poetry include Songs of the Marketplace (1983), Village Voices (1984), A Nib in the Pond (1986), The Eye of the Earth (1986), which won both the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize and The Commonwealth Poetry Prize in its year of publication. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Folon/Nichols Award for ‘excellence in literary creativity combined with significant contributions to Human Rights in Africa’. Other published volumes of poetry include Songs of the Season (1987), Moonsongs (1988) and Waiting Laughters which won the 1989 ANA/Cadbury Prize for Poetry. He is a literary figure per excellence and the sole recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) award in 2014.

Tade Ipadeola, award winning author of Sahara Testament, introduced Prof. Osundare describing him as a man of wisdom whose grey hair has been earned in every way. He also commends Osundare’s simplicity as well as his musical depth in conveying ideas in his poems. ‘Osundare’s poem has a concentrated musicality that I have not encountered elsewhere. His is the height of sophistication even in the height of simplicity’.

Femi Morgan, curator of Artmosphere said that WriteHouse Collective, the parent body of Artmosphere is involved in publishing, content management and arts events in the country. He noted that WriteHouse is interested in ‘pushing the boundaries of literature and arts in Nigeria beyond its present limitations’. He also acknowledged the presence of Servio Gbadamosi, co-managing of WriteHouse Collective and the team. Others who were the event were Prof. Hyginus Ekwauzi, Dr Yomi Ogunsanya, Peter Akinlabi, Temitayo Olofinlua, Nwachukwu Egbunike and others.

11403440_1065975626764172_1952421943962741714_n

In Prof Osundare’s Opening remarks, he thanks Pastor Francis Madojemu, CEO of the Nustreams Culture and Civic Centre, for making ‘this kind of garden of poetry and philosophy’ available for artistic and creative expressions in Ibadan. He described the work done by WriteHouse Collective as a renaissance of the Mbari spirit. ‘Ibadan has always been the capital of Nigeria’s literature, it is the city of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, JP Clark, Isidore Okpeho and Tade Ipadeola and with what I am witnessing today, the Mbari spirit is here’.

He admonished the audience that they should strive towards ideas and not financial gain. Here he described Nustreams Culture Centre as a place of ideas and in collaboration Artmophere he remarked that ‘what is happening here is a silent war against ignorance’.

11147160_1065976470097421_6494697475298217037_n

‘When I see Femi Morgan and the rest of the Artmosphere team making use of Nustreams I have an answer for many of my Nigerian students who come to me and say that Nigeria is a hopeless country. You said this country is doomed, yet you are trying to becoming a graduate in a field of study, you will get married and give birth to children. I believe somewhere along the line these children should take you to court for bringing them to a world that you knew was doomed ab initio. Our country is not doomed. We have all it takes to change this country, we have all it takes to resolve the terrible challenge between the vast millennial estuary, the resources and the human resources of the country. Everything we need is in this country. The Canadians built there country, the Americans built theirs, what are we doing to our country?

Osundare also said ‘It is good to write good poetry, short stories, speeches but it is important that we are conscious of our society. We must hold those who rule us to account-for you to write the best poem, if you are hungry you’re not likely to write the best poem, essays or creative writing piece.

‘I was talking to the publisher of  Sahara Reporters and I had to gush. It is important to gush. Critics should criticize when they see things going bad but to see things going the way it ought and not say anything is to relapse into a state of cynicism. What the Artmosphere team and Nustreams Centre is doing is laudable and we must encourage them to do more.’ He admonished that artmosphere and Nustreams involve secondary school students in their arts and culture projects.

10155995_1065976530097415_7709187875118009449_n

Servio Gbadamosi

Form
‘Form is extremely important to art else art disintegrates. Form is there, it should be there-We go back to rediscover it.  This is what Sahara Testament did so expertly. Free verse was championed by Walt Whitman who helped liberalize and democratize poetry, without deviating from the currency of poetry. This is similar to what the Beatles did in popular music-all these things are linked to America’s democratic experience.

Nevertheless, Osundare noted that a poem should find a balance between form and content. ‘ when form cheats content, it becomes a problem. It makes a poem simply formalistic and well put together-a pretty poem’. He noted that for a poem to be beautiful it must be a symbiotic relationship. Using the Yoruba indigenous motif, it has to be beautiful and useful. It is the two that makes the work of art thick.

10672277_1065977270097341_4353987641879960913_n

City Without People and The Katrina Experience
Femi Morgan asked on the occurrence of natural disasters linking it to the lack of capacity of governments to attend effectively to disasters.

Osundare noted ‘The first email sent to me after Katrina was from Wole Soyinka,where he called me ‘the-man-from-the-back-of-the-beyond’ . He had tried everything possible to make sure I was rehabilitated in another university, but because I was somebody without an address for about a week, I didn’t see it’.

“In that mail he said ‘I have just driven along Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos and I’m wondering when the Nigerian Katrina is going to happen’. The slightest shower, the lagoon rises and it is making for the land.” Some of the cities in Holland also have to grapple with this picture.  ‘Water is a friendly element but water has anger, it has memory-those parts of Lagos that were claimed from the sea, it would keep quiet but in its own time and tide it takes what was originally stolen from the sea’. New Orleans was stolen from the sea and the sea came came back to take its property’.

Chukwuka Okonkwo with Prof Osundare

Chukwuka Okonkwo with Prof Osundare

According to Osundare, the Hurricane Katrina is 10 years and two months short of the day it happened. He said that the effects of the Katrina experience lingers on ‘You grab the pen and you sit, ready to pen your inspiration down and then it evaporates’. It also prevents you from writing new ones. Osundare said he had turned down the idea of hypnosis to regain the memory of his lost manuscripts. Yet he notes that there are gains ‘ everything we posses, possess us. My father used to say ‘ People who don’t have money have problems but it those who have money’ have to grapple with the challenges of ownership because they subconsciously link their personality to their wealth.  For Osundare it dawned on him when he found himself and his wife in the ‘elemental stage’ after Katrina. He also said he was grateful for the assistance he received from friends, family and other people from all over the world.

Pastor Francis, CEO of Nustream Culture Centre thanked Prof Niyi Osundare and praised WriteHouse Collective for their tenacity in organizing the event for five years.

[Guest Blog Post – Akinyode Soyoye] Governance in the Old Oyo Empire

By Akinyode Soyoye

At the apex of the administration of the government was the king who was known as Alaafin. He was usually referred to by his subjects as Kabiesi – Alaseikeji Orisa meaning one who no one dare questioned – authority next to the gods. Despite this divine tag, the Alaafins were not autocratic. This was because their position and activities as king was checked by some council of chiefs known as the Oyomessi.

The principle of checks and balances is not alien to African culture and tradition. Available historical evidences abound on societies in Nigeria that had maintained a sophisticated government with the adherent pecks of principle of checks and balances before the emergence of the colonial era. Ignorance and insolence (or both), that must be responsible for the much trumpeted ‘homegrown democracy’ by Nigerian politicians.  Most times these politicians give impression that Africans are modeled to be tyrants. History shows that we are no strangers to checks and balances; it is ingrained in our political-social system of governance.

Now the question; are these measures still alive in African societies? Do African societies still have some measures they respect and that makes them accountable, just and fair in administering their people and society? Is it a “taboo” if we go back to the root and revive some measures which are part of our culture and tradition that can bring development to our societies in Nigeria and Africa at large? Let us go back to the roots, by peering at the system of government of some societies in Yoruba-land.

HRM Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III,  Alaafin of Oyo

HRM Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo

Historically speaking, old Oyo Empire grew to be the dominant power and a wealthy kingdom among other kingdoms in the Yoruba-land in the 16th century. The principal factor that made Oyo supreme was its centralized system of government. One of its paramount features was the “principle of checks and balances”. This made old Oyo empire to be referred to in history as one of the centers of African civilization in the 15th and 16th century A.D.

At the apex of the administration of the government was the king who was known as Alaafin. He was usually referred to by his subjects as Kabiesi –Alaseikeji Orisa meaning one who no one dare questioned – authority next to the gods. This impression given to the king by his subjects made the position of the king divinely. Despite this divine tag, the Alaafins were not autocratic. This was because their position and activities as king was checked by some council of chiefs known as the Oyomessi.

The Oyomessi were saddled with the responsibility of enthroning a king after the demise of the incumbent and also, dethroning any king that was not responsible and violated the regulations attached to his position as king of empire. Also the Oyomessi had the authority to dethrone any king that reneges on the being of his sovereignty which included peaceful co-existence in his realm and defending the empire from within and without. Any breech in these sacred functions by the Alaafin signifies the beginning of the end of his reign.

The Oyomessi dethroned the kings by sending an empty calabash to the king, with some incantation that “the people reject you, the earth reject you.” On receipt of this gift, the king is expected to commit suicide. This was the case of Alaafin Odarawu and Alaafin Jayin in the 17th century when they violated the regulations attached to their positions as kings. They took their rejection mildly and committed suicide. The council of the Oyomessi was headed by Bashorun.

The Oyomessi on the other hand were not unchecked or arbitrary. They dethrone kings based on concrete reasons and were no slave to whims. They had too as their heads could be called for by a council of chiefs known as Ogboni. The Ogboni was a cult saddled with the responsibility of performing rituals to the gods and checking the activities of the Oyomessi. If the Oyomessis erred, they were sanctioned by the council of the Ogbonis. In this view, the Ogboni served as a watchdog to the Oyomessi. As a result of the strong measure of checks and balances that was present in the system of government of Old Oyo empire made the activities of the people in governing council to be just and fair which brought development of the kingdom and made it grew large to become an empire and a dominant power in the Yoruba land in 17th century A.D.

With the knowledge of the role the principle of checks and balances played in the development and growth of Old Oyo Empire, why can we not learn from history? Why can’t we go back to the root and revive some dead principles that brought growth and development to our societies in the past?  This principle served as a watchdog that checked the activities of the people in the governing council of these societies. People in the governing council been aware of this measure and the penalty they will face if they violate the regulations attached to their positions as members of governing council made them to be just, fair, and accountable to their subjects and also engaged in any activities that will bring satisfaction to the interest of their subjects.

Taking a cursory look at the situation of leadership and act of governance in Africa and Nigeria to be specific, could it be said that there are measures that check the activities of our leaders in Nigeria? The absence of institutional lids on governance in our democracy is certainly unAfrican. Never has power revolved around one person or a group of vested interest.  Who are the ‘Bashoruns’ in our government today? Who are the ‘Oyomessi’? Who plays the role of ‘Oluwo’ in the process of checks and balances in our government today?

If Nigeria will be a nation bound with freedom peace and unity as postulated by our past heroes, if we do not want the labour of our past heroes to be in vain, then we need to go back to the root, we need to revive our past and learn from history.

 

 

Ethics of Justice, the Responsibility of the Fresh Executives of the Nigerian Bar

By Ikechukwu Onuoma and Joshua Nwachukwu

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Mazi Afam Osigwe (Secretary General of the NBA)

Mazi Afam Osigwe (Secretary General of the NBA)

The Nigerian Bar Association has elected a new executive to pilot its affair. The fresh mint chariot riders of the Nigerian Bar have our warmest felicitations, especially Mazi Afam Osigwe (the recently elected Secretary General of the NBA). However, a call to service in any association necessarily entails grave responsibilities. Nonetheless, without an ethical compass, it can be rather difficult to navigate the complexities that necessarily come with leadership. This is the price of greatness that currently faces the new executive members of the NBA.

In every democratic system – of which Nigeria claims to be one – a vital aspect of its governmental system is doctrine of the rule of law. With this doctrine comes the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, through which the rule of law is upheld and sustained. These two principles are not only intrinsically united but their union can be referred to as a Catholic marriage, which is they cannot be divorced.

In this process of dispensing justice, there is an indispensable role, which is left to the lawyer, who acts as a representative or advocate for clients. Going down the lane of history, it would be discovered that the lawyers in England acted as intermediaries between the adverse parties and the royal family, which formed members of the judiciary, and their services were rendered pro bono. In Nigeria, the constitution by virtue of S.6 (6), has opened its doors wide for the disputants to bring their case rather than result to self-help, and this has to be done either by the aggrieved party or with the assistance of a legal practitioner, which is a fundamental human right provided for in S. 36(6)(c) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

The legal profession just like every other profession has its code of conduct, which regulates and controls the affairs of its members. These codes express, in the broadest of terms, the standards of professional conduct expected of lawyers in their relationship with the public, the legal system, and the legal profession. In Nigeria, the particular legislation in question is the “Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession”.

In the wave of corruption and financial difficulty, there has been an upsurge of degradation of work values and ethics by lawyers: vigorous advertising. Some have done this through the print and visual media; online advertising, while others send letters to organisations and clients, offering their services. Most of these acts are not in keeping with the rules of professional conduct.

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, there is an apparent reason to seemingly overlook the real reason for our trade. The real question that begs an answer is; what is the reason for this condescending act? Would it be wrong to infer and conclude that the legal profession is not only losing its ethics and values but also needs to double its effort in affording legal practitioners with the adequate preparation and continuous legal education.

In relation to the legal profession, legal ethics is defined as “the minimum standards of appropriate conduct within the legal profession, involving the duties that its members owe one another, their clients and the courts[1]”. Values on the other hand refers to moral principles, standards, ethics, ideals, traditions, code of conduct, norms, etiquette etc. that need be observed. In a sense, ethics and values may be used interchangeably.

It is our humble but firm view that, the drafters limited the advertisement as provided in S.34, for some specific reasons. One of such reasons is to instill and imprint on the mind of legal practitioners that the profession is essentially a call to duty and service. Though concerning the need for financial remuneration, our duty to do justice, amid balancing the duty they owe to the court, to the client, and to the public cannot be underestimated. By limiting this act of advertising, the drafters in their natural wisdom did not want the legal profession to condescend to a modernized or ‘learned’ market where counsels fight and struggle for clients. Legal practitioners earn their clients based on how they had exercised their legal skills in previous cases. This new trend leads legal practitioners to be obsessed about winning cases at all cost, with dire consequences to the bar and the bench. With this, not only will the sanctity of the legal profession be defiled, but also the average Nigerian citizen, who looks up to legal practitioners with the potentials to repositioning , the justice system will be disappointed.

Some lawyers may try to legalize this illegality by attributing this frenzy to the need to satiate their financial obligations, and as such have to reach out to clients as their counterparts do in other jurisdictions such as United States of America. A comparative analysis of different legal jurisprudence show how this ethical decline, even in these jurisdictions has affected their laws. Lawyers should lay more emphasis on working hard, if this condition is met, then naturally other things like prestige and money will follow, in fact, a good lawyer would be overburdened with cases.

It goes without saying that the corruption of the best is the worst. Over the years in choosing leaders who will be custodians of the Bar (Nigerian Bar Association) we have always conducted the elections with some degree of decorum worthy of emulation by other professional bodies. In recent times any delegate can agree that, this hallowed system is gradually condescending to a war, not of superior reasoning but bello ad hominem-war against persons. This to our mind shows the degradation of ethical values.

Unfortunately this mentality of making money is gradually creeping into the thoughts of law students in the university, who do not see the act of advocacy as participating in the temple of justice in order to see that justice and equity are enshrined deeply in the territorial entity of Nigeria, but see this profession as an avenue of enrichment only. This line of thought will occasion more violations of professional ethics in future.

We assert that the enforcement of this act should be taken with a renewed energy and avenues where educating lawyers and aspiring lawyers on this ethics should be utilized. As the scope, of legal practice changes and as new situations create new ethical challenges, both the senior members of the  bar and bench ought to be proactive in giving guidance to practitioners and offer a high profile example of the optimal standard.

Finally though acquisition of values pertains in a very high degree to several extrinsic factors rooted in nurture and nature, very senior lawyers may have to double their effort in training lawyers attached to their law firm as these qualities apply both to office practice and to litigation. A lawyer should be mindful of the need to protect the judicial system and the legal profession. This is fundamentally so when we keep in mind that our profession is one of the few practiced in public glare. Again, members of the disciplinary committee have a duty to show good example and bring these principles to the attention of other lawyers when appropriate.

Ikechukwu Onuoma Esq., is a legal practitioner in A. J. Offiah & Co Enugu while Joshua Nwachukwu is a law student in the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus.

Parts of this post was originally published here

[1] See Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., p.913

 

Adewale Akande: My One-Man-On-The-Spot-Peaceful-Protest in Ibadan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo credits: Adewale T. Akande

Idi Ape-Akobo Ojurin-Olorunda road is known to me as a resident for the past ten years now. The road is known for the horrible traffic hold-ups due to spontaneous increase in the population of the residents with corresponding increase in the volume of motorists. The last time the road was rehabilitated; it did not last for two years: after two or three rainfalls destroyed the drainage and increased the pot-holes in every-five meters of the road. This could be as a result of shabby and inferior materials used by the contractors who I suspect were not properly contracted with the necessary bidding and procurement principles of international best standards. Most of these road contractors are mostly party loyalists or relations of the people in government and what we end up getting are low quality roads.

This idea of one-man-protest came immediately when I got back to the country almost after three years for a World Bank project with the Federal Ministry of Works on Governance and Accountability Action Plan (GAAP) concerning federal government roads. The traffic situation in Akobo still remains the same as I left it four years ago. It is always a great battle from Akobo Ojurin axis to get to General Gas Bridge in order to link anywhere you may be heading to. It takes nothing less than two hours forty-five minutes to get through the traffic jam that under normal circumstances should take any motorist only ten minutes. This same case repeated itself on a particular Monday morning when I was going to board an early morning flight to Abuja from Ibadan airport for the project meeting but got stocked in this horrible traffic which made me settled for an afternoon flight that almost cost me double the price I should have paid for the morning flight. Only God’s know how many innocent children and adults that get stock regularly in this traffic jam that have made them to continued to get late to their schools, working places, and appointments due to the negligence of those representatives voted that refused to take urgent action.

Meanwhile, I decided that something have to be done before going back to Spain. I picked the Christmas and New Year holidays to take a decisive action. I wrote and submitted an application letter to stage a one-man-on-the-spot-peaceful-protest on Friday, December 27, 2013 to the Oyo State Police Commissioner and copied the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Akobo, the FRSC office at Eleyele and my lawyer. I was sent back to go and make three copies of the application letter when I got to the Police Commissioner’s office as this was said to be the normal procedure. In less than ten minutes I came back with three copies of my appeal letter. The officer-in-charge took the copies and returned a stamped copy to me a copy as evidence that the application was received. I went with a friend back to the Police Headquarters at Eleyele again on Tuesday December 31, 2013 for the approval; my lawyer also met us there. After some questions and answers section with the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), he directed me to the protocol sections where I was told that they are aware of the protest and will send some Police escort to take care of my protection as earlier before 6 am.  The protest is arranged to start by 6am and end by 12mid-day to match to the Governor’s officer and deliver my appeal letter and have a press conference with the media. It was indeed another argument section when a written approval was not issued and the police officer -in-charge refused to give me his telephone number so as to call to remind them again, a least a day before the protest.

On Thursday, January 2, 2014, I went back to the Police Headquarters at Eleyele to remind them personally but the same Officer-in -charge made me to believe with another officer that just came to his office that all arrangement had being made for the protest the following day. It is my belief that the Nigerian Police is an important institution that cares for citizen welfare and protection, thus I didn’t have any reason to doubt them, I believed the fact that they said they had made necessary arrangements for the protest.

On the protest day Friday, December 3, I got to the venue at General Gas by few minutes past six o’clock in the morning and to my greatest surprise, I did not meet any police escort/vehicle detached or sent from Eleyele Police headquarter as promised.  Many questions came to my mind: Is it true that the Mission of the Nigerian Police is “to deliver qualitative and efficient security and law enforcement services to the citizens of Nigeria”? What is going to be my plight if some hoodlums come in large number to hijack this protest and start looting shops and destroying government property? Do I need to hire private security personnel for protection if there is Police? Is this the reason why I was not given a written approval and so that they can deny given me any approval if an ugly scene developed? Is this the reason why the Officer-in-charge refused to give me his telephone number? Why can’t the Officer that got my application letter with my telephone number boldly written on this paper call me to explain the situation?  Do I need to give money to police to protect me as a citizen? Did my going to police headquarters a day before the protest to remind the authority count? What kind of policing are we running in Nigeria for God’s sake? Can’t our leaders do things with integrity and responsibility in this country after 54 years of Independence and 100 years of the country existence/amalgamation? This system can get somebody mad-that is the reason why people are over-stressed everywhere. I was fuming with anger while at the same time pasting the placards. I said to myself that I have all right as a citizen of this country to stage a protest.  I then called my lawyer to inform him about this shocking and embarrassing development. I refused to let this lapses disturb my voluntary protest to represent the voices of my co-residents. I knew that I am fighting a right case to save my people from the horrible traffic hold-ups and pot-holes.

Meanwhile, I had my protest with large numbers of residents and motorists given their consent and support for the protest. I heard the saying that dualization of the road has been over-due. Some were even asking thanking me and asking when and which day are we starting the dualization of the road. Few hoodlums passed by and made some unprintable words. Few of government officers and politicians were cornered by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) for interview on the Akobo road issue. Despite a traffic warden presence at the same junction I was staging my peaceful protest, the traffic was almost the same-slow-pace since around 6:30am that eventually start the protest till 12 noon when leaving for Governor’s office.

Moreover, by the time I got to the Governor’s office, the number one citizen of Oyo State was about going out for Jumat service and was told to drop my appeal letter at room No 37 and that the issue will be looked into as soon as possible. The letter also appeal to Governor Abiola Ajimobi to take urgent action on Akobo road dualization, to rehabilitate the joining roads, and make provision for Side-Walks (Foot-path for pedestrians), Bus-Stop and drainage mechanism. I later addressed the media that include NTA, BCOS, FRSC, NANS, Punch Newspaper reporter and other new generation FM radio reporters. The protest was indeed successful as the State Commissioner responsible for the construction of roads was interviewed that very day and he promised that the road will be dualized this year and that the Budget has taken care of the road.

Adewale T Akande, a resident of Akobo, Ibadan, is also a road traffic safety consultant based in Spain.

???????????????????????????????

Photo credits: Adewale T. Akande

???????????????????????????????

Photo credits: Adewale T. Akande

???????????????????????????????

Idi Ape-Akobo Ojurin-Olorunda Road, Ibadan.
Photo credits: Adewale T. Akande

 

Health Workers Strike: Nigerians Are Dying by Fejiro Oliver

By Fejiro Oliver

That a department of radiology, medical laboratory sciences (which the media erroneously refer to as medical laboratory technology), optometry etc., is headed by a doctor is an aberration, a misdemeanour and oddity. What then is the use of studying such course when the practitioner cannot get to the peak of his career? 

train_health_workers_malawi

Just when I was about getting ready for my afternoon games; an SMS rushed in, which got me thinking that the medical war will go on non-stop until the citizen and the president do something about it by laying off the minister of Health, Mr. Chukwu Onyebuchi or acceding to JOHESU request. I was not thinking because it was the first SMS of the day over my last write up on the medical strike. As a matter of fact, it was not among the first 100 SMS and definitely not among the over 480 mails received at that moment, but because I concluded that I have finally known the reason for the power tussle in the volatile health sector.

The message came thus: “Doctors are the academics in the health sector, while your so called health workers-many of them-semi-educated are the non academic staff. In all jobs, only certain cadre of workers become CEO. For instance, the academics in the university, the engineers in NNPC, judges in judiciary. That is why doctors are CMD in hospitals. You claimed you are a journalist. Perhaps a secretary is the EDITOR of your newspaper! You are one of those jealous of doctors. Your article revealed that.” He ended. This is definitely what they are made to believe during their housemanship and internship.  If this is so; the medical sector is dead. With supposed physicians that think like this, the medical profession is in peril. Let’s analyse.

All over the world, there are only three group of medical profession (I stand to be corrected) that are ascribed the title ‘doctor’ namely; doctor of medicine, doctor of physiotherapy and doctor of dentistry, but this piece is narrowed down to doctor of medicine. When I set out to write ‘Nigeria Medical Workers strike; let us all die’, I was not expecting the kind of controversy and buzz as it has generated home and abroad. Certainly I was threading where angels fear to tread as revealed by Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) members who have called and sent mails. Their various comment suggested that I was threading on a dangerous path and should not be the one to open the public eye to the politicking in the health. Sorry my dear family members who are part of NMA; the truth must be told.

Our dear friend called other medical graduates “semi-educated’, a pitiable summary of their reason for going on strike, so he sees it. Can a pharmacist who manufactures the drugs which they in the doctor category prescribe be a semi illiterate, and yet they ask the public to take the drugs? Can a radiographer who do all the scan work in the hospital be an illiterate and yet they the so called ‘doctors’ begin treatment, while dependant on the scan produced by the radiographer? Is the medical laboratory scientist an illiterate when he diagnosis the cause of an ailment through his series of test carried out by him that the physicians used in working? Is the nurse truly semi- literate when a patient hope of recovery depends on him/her? Bring them on; is the optometrist a semi illiterate when patients with various eye problems seek his medical solution? Who then is the semi illiterate; the man who calls himself a doctor but cannot begin treatment until a test is carried out, or the man who diagnoses and refers the patient to any of the three doctors? Is it the man who forgets a scissors or cotton wool inside a patient body, stitch it up only for the patient to die later? Let the public judge.

I don’t know the school our doctors went to but the schools in Nigeria and abroad that I have been to bears school of health sciences, faculty of health sciences or college of medicine and all the various medical departments are in these departments. It’s befuddling to say that an insignificant department that cannot operate alone be allowed to be a CMD.

A professor of medicine who called from the USA to lend his voice aptly noted that hospitals are left in the hands of health administrators not clinicians. Can someone sing to the heavens to this ‘doctors’ that they have no business heading a hospital and if they should head, that any of the medical profession who is most qualified should head.

That a department of radiology, medical laboratory scientist (which the media erroneously refer to as medical laboratory technologist), optometry etc., is headed by a doctor is an aberration, a misdemeanor and oddity. What then is the use of studying such course when the practitioner cannot get to the peak of his career? Let all medical departments be headed by a graduate of such; not a fellow who did only few months of residency in it. You don’t force leadership when a people reject it. The various departments have refused to have MBBS graduate as their heads. Must they shed blood or keep this strike going for all our loved ones to die before their call is heeded?

In the college of engineering, there exist various departments, but the civil engineers have never laid claim that they alone be allowed to head the ministry of works, neither has the building engineers say to the structural engineer that it is their prerogative to head ministry of housing. The petrochemical engineer has not told the chemical engineer or petroleum engineer that they alone be allowed to head NNPC. The land surveyor has not told the estate surveyor that they alone be made minister for land survey? Has the quantity surveyor told the land surveyor that they should be allowed to be made surveyor general of the federation? NO! They all know that they are all engineers and surveyors, but designated differently for the smooth operation of the job. Where therein lies this show of pomposity by a minute member of the medical profession that they are the owners of medicine.

The public may not know it, but now they must! The three profession bearing ‘doctors’ constitute only 30 percent of the entire clinical staff in the hospital with doctor of medicine producing a paltry 12 percent. That a group of 12 percent be allowed to Lord over 70 percent qualified and worthy medical workers is an unforgivable sin and injustice to mankind. The academics which are the brain behind the country do not have only graduates of educational degrees as Vice Chancellors, but anybody who is a lecturer no matter the field of study can be appointed. The judiciary which the doctors of medicine want to emulate is the most professional field in the world, where universities operate a department as a faculty. Yet they have never fought each other that an international law and jurisprudence judge should not be made a minister of justice. They have never asked the President to allow only law school graduates of criminal laws to be made an attorney general, neither have they argued that only civil law graduate be made a chief judge. Anyone of the law profession is allowed to aspire to be a judge without hindrances. What then is wrong with our MBBS doctors?

No medical profession is entirely independent; all of them are allied to one another; support staff to each other. Let me tell you an experience. Five years ago, my cousin who is a doctor of medicine took me to see his friend who is a doctor of physiotherapy and was about to wed in two weeks time. There in the hospital, I heard his patient, an elderly man telling him that if he can make him walk before his wedding day; he, the patient will surprise him. I don’t know how he did it, but before the end of the two weeks, the man was hale and hearty, walking very well. I bet you can never guess this, but the patient was a consultant cardiologist! Yes, a consultant cardiologist who has given hope on life brought back to ‘life’ by another field of medicine. He did make good his promise as he was a major sponsor of the wedding.

As I write, in Ahmadu Bello University in a unit (which I won’t disclose) lies a consultant pediatrician who has been sustained on physiotherapy for the past ten years, after a successful surgery, with many more in the cue daily for treatment and yet his NMA colleagues will want the world to believe that they are indispensable, when actually they contribute the lowest of medical delivery. I know of hundreds NMA members whose hope of living lies in the nurses, DPT and optometrist; yet they refuse to allow professionalism reign in the health sector.

When doctors of medicine go on strike, they want my likes to pen reports that will cause government to hear and attract public sympathy, yet when other medical unions go on same strike; their national president term it sabotage, urging her members to be on duty. They want the media to be silent about it, forgetting that NMA strike does not affect every patient as there are always skeletal works going on by consultants and house officers. But how wrong he is. In the field of medicine; you are a clinical staff, non clinical staff or administrative staff. If this is so, what manner of argument are they propounding that medicine practice is akin to a house being built, where other staff are laborers’ while they are the engineers. It doesn’t just blend.

Fejiro Oliver is always paid by agents, so they shout. When I wrote advocating for fair trial to Ibori, they shouted to high heavens that I was paid millions by Ibori hatchet men; when I wrote the APC story; APC chieftains screamed that PDP is using me as their new media man. When I wrote against my own constituency, NUJ, for engaging in unprofessional conduct; they say Fejiro was being used by disgruntled elements and when I broke the Dafinone’s secret daughter reports, his hangers-on raised the roof that the secret daughter, Elizabeth Dafinone has paid me in pounds since she resides in London. And now that I have written on the JOHESU/NUPTAM strike, NMA members allege that I have been paid and being used by Medical Lab Scientists and Nurses to heat the polity and cause the sack of Minister Onyebuchi. If truly I’m being paid for all the countless reports and stories I have written for over a decade; I should be flying in my own private jet, chartering private planes whenever I go travelling, not boarding a business class.

Reports emanating from various newspaper reports, says that patients are already dying, with many more being evacuated to private hospitals; yet the doctors are there, helpless with no solution to the cure as they are handicapped. Will a doctor of medicine go to the physiotherapy department to treat a case he has never seen all his life apart from reading about them (that is if he has ever heard about it). I write with the spirit of truth and the various media publishers in Nigeria, London, USA, Ghana, Vienna, Netherlands, etc., publish in the spirit of truth. Nigerians have personally asked that I express their gratitude to them for being a vessel of information and making open what the ordinary masses never knew. I do not just write as a journalist, but also an activist, who advocates for the right things to be done and workers given their due benefits.

Mr. Minister, Nigerians are the ones dying not your children, they are the ones suffering, not your immediate relatives. These medical workers you know as I know do not truly feel the pains as the electorate, but must they all die before you tender your resignation honorably? To you Mr. President, we know you don’t give a damn, but don’t you also care that mothers will be made widows, husbands made widowers and parents who probably have their only child in the hospital now will become childless? Dear Jonathan, don’t you care for the loss of loved ones that will occur as you dance etighi with lives of Nigerians who you swore to protect? Is the continuous stay of your Minister of Health more important than the hundreds of lives of Nigerians that are already dying? The court appeal made by the Minister is uncalled for, wicked and delay tactics, aimed at crucifying the citizenry. By the way, what were you thinking when you appointed the minister of health and minister of health (state) from the same NMA? Were you thinking the medical workers are fools who you can ride on and get away with? No, dear President! These are professionals who spent years in the university more than you; these are the men when my grandma had back pain that the Onyebuchi group referred us to, these are the men who without them, my late grand dad would have being buried as a blind man. It is these men who I rush to for test and diagnosis when I feel uneasy.  Oh Jona; these are the very people who when our relations have gone to sleep, leaving the sick in the ward; they in their glowing white uniforms take care of them while the NMA members go to the call room, sit on the sofa, crossing their legs, sipping tea and watching DSTV.

They have not asked for much but harmonization in the health sector as is done all over the world. Nigerians are saying, ‘grant them their prayers that we may not die’. Or have they not elected you and should be able to tell you what to do? If you could sack the defence minister and national security adviser, despite the days of Boko Haram insurgence, who then is the minister of health that you cannot show the way out, due to his nepotism, favouritism, high handedness and incompetence.

No, I refuse to be part of a cheated generation a decayed history and a partaker of oppression. I refuse to be tagged a failure by my unborn generation, who will question my role in this moment of history, such as this. Tomorrow, it just may be my great grandchild fighting this; it might even be yours. Mr. President, this azonto dance with the medical profession is enough; this etighi dance has gone on too long. There is blood on the dance floor already and the cries of the innocent patient who may have been saved by your quick action is ascending and your name is being mentioned. When the day of reckoning comes; what would you answer for these blood?

These little things matter…

Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and +2348026797588 (sms only please). You can now follow on twitter  @fejirooliver86 and Facebook  fejirooliver86

Nigerian Health Workers: “Break your Chains and Demand your Rights” by Fejiro Oliver

Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressure from below – Roger Baldwin
I have tried very hard to restrain myself from writing on this tragic strike embarked on by the medical and health workers union in Nigeria, but I can no longer hold myself from writing this short piece, not after what one of the health practitioners ( who prefers to be called doctors ) said in a gathering of intellectuals, that it is the prerogative of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) members to be appointed as commissioners or ministers of health. Then I knew that he and his colleagues need to have their heads examined. My assertion was later justified when I learnt that he is a psychiatrist specialist who haven mingled with mad men for years have lost his sense of reasoning. Call it pride or being boastful, but I can humbly say that I have travelled and interacted with men of various professions including foreign health workers who are renowned surgeons, experts who at their magical touch, celebral palsy is gone, but I am yet to come across any who is as pompous as Nigerian graduates of medicine.
Let no one say I have been paid for putting up this reports or that I am one of the other health practitioners; far from it. As I matter of fact, I am married to a member of this arrogant profession. I have two female cousins who are surgeons and graduates of Harvard, not these mushroom universities that the so called medical ‘doctors’ in Nigeria attended, yet go about with shoulders highly lifted. So you see, when I write with this amount of hurting truth, I am directly talking to my families. So let it be.
I have always been an advocate that the term ‘doctor’ be reserved for the academics that go the extra mile to obtain the highest educational degree, not a bunch of opportunists who dumped the appellation of physician for a more worthy title. For all the years that I have read my bible, Christ or any of the leaders there always addressed health workers as physicians while he refers to the highly educated ones as ‘doctors of law’. What then is this craze by these general body physicians that they control the health sector? What gave the NMA president, Mr. Osahon Enabulele the impetus to tell his colleagues to stand by even as the other medical workers go striking? My visit to a hospital today in Lagos made a mess of ‘General’ Osahon order who feel that they can do the work they are not trained for. Various calls made to my colleagues in other states to confirm the state of the hospitals where they reside confirm that the entire hospital has been grounded.
I have never had a cause to be treated by any of the general body physician in my life and will never be, but I have had reasons to see a medical laboratory scientist; yes, I have lost count of reasons where nurses who do all the dirty jobs have attended to me. I have seen a family friend died when a physician who cannot carry out a test asked him to go out of the hospital gate to do a test before treatment could be carried out, but died on the way, holding the test result. I have visited a hospital where a physician was truthful enough to tell a stroke patient that they are not trained to handle such cases, telling him bluntly that his hope of walking lie with a doctor of physiotherapy (DPT). I am reliably informed by one of the NMA executive that the only medical profession that they don’t have the faintest idea of how they work is the DPT, and yet one still ask, why the discrepancy among them.
Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health

Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health

That only NMA members should be appointed as CMDs leaving other medical professions out amounts to saying only graduates of banking/finance should head the Central Bank of Nigeria, when there are graduates of accountancy and economics in the profession, or succinctly put; that only graduates of political science should hold political positions when they have partners in graduates of government and public administration. The position of a CMD is equivalent to chief executive officer and should be filled by any qualified medical practitioners, ditto commissioners and ministers of health.

It is only in Nigeria that a common appointed minister is above the court of law. If it were not so, who is Mr. Onyebuchi Chukwu to disobey a court order, asking him to effect all the demands of NUMPTAM/JOHESU. Let the truth be told, their demand is just, fair and worthy. Why must other government workers skip grade level 11 and the minister gives autocratic orders that all other medical workers apart from physicians must not skip it? What manner of working practice is it that clinical specialist are not paid specialist allowance, when NMA members enjoy such? What outdated manner of man is the minister of health to give a directive that Chief Medical Directors of hospitals should be only from NMA, when DPT, Optometry and pharmacists are leading players in the field of medicine? While I do not make claims for the medical practitioners, I advocate for their rights been given to them. That only NMA members should be appointed as CMDs leaving other medical professions out amounts to saying only graduates of banking/finance should head the Central Bank of Nigeria, when there are graduates of accountancy and economics in the profession, or succinctly put; that only graduates of political science should hold political positions when they have partners in graduates of government and public administration. The position of a CMD is equivalent to chief executive officer and should be filled by any qualified medical practitioners, ditto commissioners and ministers of health.
For a minister to flagrantly disobey a court order and gets away with it is another dent of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration. It goes to show that Mr. Jonathan day as a vice president were simply wasted years, since he could not learn the “rule of law” from President Musa Yaradua, which was the bench mark of that administration. For Christ sake, what manner of ministers do we have? Let someone tell Onyebuchi that we don’t have a minister of NMA but health. Can Mr. Jonathan be bold enough to sack this man who the medical workers have recommended his sack since last year? Can this man resign his position as a minister to allow a true health expert take over? With this medical strike and ASUU strike, a serious president would have asked both ministers to submit their resignation letters, but not Nigeria president. This is the price a leader pay when he leaves experts and technocrats to appoint political thieves in office.
It is time Nigerians call the bluff off these physicians once and for all the way Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State did last year. It is time Nigerians tell them that they are like the gatemen in the various government ministries and should not use their pride to cause innocent Nigerians to die in the hospitals with no medical officer to attend to them. I feel their pains as they lie down in their various wards, praying for the strike to be called off. I have been in their shoes losing loved ones not because there are no physicians, but there was no medical lab scientist to carry out a test. I have been to the physiotherapist department in various Nigerian hospitals and see people wriggling in pains, mothers crying to have their husbands treated of strokes, children treated of ebbs palsy, facial nerve and numerous medical conditions, yet there was no hope as the DPTs are on strike. I have known an operation successfully carried out, but because of the absence of a nurse to take care of the patient; we lost him. This is the pain I feel. Pains that the medical workers don’t feel, as they forget the Hippocratic Oath the very minute they leave the medical college.
The minister of health is not fit for such a sensitive position and while his cronies in NMA who his presence is shielding will not agree to his sack, let the ears of the president listen to his medical colleagues who know his ineptitude and have called for his removal. It is not too late to bring back Mrs. Dora Akunyili who I reliably gathered was pencilled as health minister, during the Olusegun Obasanjo regime, before the NMA politics went through the back door to stop it. If this strike will claim the lives of all Nigerians before the minister of health will be removed; so be it. An African proverb says, “Until you lose a loved one before you realize that other dead bodies are not sticks”.
To you striking medical practitioners; today I say to you: remember you are fighting more than your own fight, you are fighting for the future of your profession and you must stand together. Break your chains and demand your rights, for united you bargain but divided you beg. If there is no struggle, progress is stagnated.
Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and +2348026797588 (sms only please)

Femi Fani-Kayode and his Severely Ignorant Lies by Dr Samuel Okafor

FFK

Femi Fani-Kayode

From his myopic bubble Femi Fani-Kayode claims the Yoruba were the first to acquire Western education; the first ever known record of a literate Nigerian in the English Language is the narrative of an Ibo slave who regained his freedom and documented his life history as a slave from the time he was 11 years old in present day Ibo land till the time when he gained his freedom in the middle of the 18th century. He later married an English woman and had 3 children. He died in 1795.

Femi, a basic Google-research will do you good here; check out the name, Equanoh OLAODAH. Further Femi claims that the Yoruba were the first lawyers and doctors in Nigeria. This is again a big falsehood. The first Nigeria doctor was an Effik man Silas G. Dove who obtained a medical degree from France and returned to practise medicine in 1840 in Calabar. This fact can also be verified from historical medical records in Paris.

I would also ask that you Google the name BLYDEN – Edward Wilmot BLYDEN – an educated son of free Ibo slaves who by the mid-19th century had acquired sound theological education. He was born in Saint Thomas in 1832. He is one of the founding missionaries that established the Archbishop Vining church in Ikeja. Before the next time you succumb to your long-running battle with logorrhoea, Femi please do some research.

What about the third president of a free Liberia – President J JRoyle – again, a man of Ibo descent. Please take some time to do some research so that we can discuss constructively. It is wrong to peddle lies to your people. It is academic fraud to knowingly misrepresent facts just to score cheap points with people who do not have the discipline to do research and accept anything you pour out simply because they say you are well educated. To again quote the great Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Joseph Stiglitz; Femi fits into the category of third rate students from first rate universities with an inflated sense of self-importance. Let’s go on!

Who was the first Nigerian Professor of Mathematics – an Ibo man – Professor Chike Obi – the man who solved Fermat’s Last Theorem. He was followed by another Ibo man, Professor James Ezeilo, Professor of Differentail Calculus and the founder of the Ezeilo Constant. Please do some research on this great Ibo man. He later became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka and one of the founders of the Nigerian Mathematical Centre.

Who was Nigeria’s first Professor of Histroy – Professor Kenneth Dike who published the first account of trade in Nigeria in pre-colonial times. He was also the first African Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. Who was the first Professor of Microbiology – Professor Eni Njoku; he was also the first African Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos. Anatomy and Physiology – Professor Chike Edozien is an Asaba man and current Obi of Asaba.

Who was the first Professor of Anatomy at the University College Ibadan? Who was the first Professor of Physics? Professor Okoye, who became a Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960. He was followed by the likes of Professor Alexander Anumalu who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physics three times for his research in Intermediate Quantum Physics. He was also a founding member of the Nigerian Mathematical Centre. Nuclear Physics and Chemistry – again another Ibo man – Professor Frank Ndili who gained a Ph.D in his early ’20s at Cambridge University in Nuclear Physics and Chemistry in the early ’60s. This young Asaba man had made a First Class in Physics and Mathematics at the then University College Ibadan in the early ’50s. First Professor of Statistics – Professor Adichie who’s research on Non-Parametric Statistics led to new areas in statistical research.

What about the first Nigerian Professor of Medicine – Professor Kodilinye – he was appointed a Professor of Medicine at the University of London in 1952. He later became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka after the war. What about Astronomy – again another Ibo man was the first Professor of Astronomy – please, look up Professor Ntukoju – he was the first to earn a double Ph.D in Astronomy and Mathematics.

Let’s go to the Social Sciences – Demography and statistical research into population studies – again another Ibo man – Professor Okonjo who set up the first Centre for Population Research in Ibadan in the early ’60s. A double Ph.D in Mathematics and Economics. Philosophy – Professor G D Okafor, who became a Professor of Philosophy at the Amherst College USA in 1953. Economics – Dr. Pius Okigbo who became a visiting scholar and Professor of Economics at the University of London in 1954. He is also the first Nigerian Ph.D in Economics. Theology and theological research – Professor Njoku who became the first Nigerian to earn a Ph.D in Theology from Queens University Belfast in Ireland. He was appointed a Professor of Theology at the University College Zambia in 1952.

I am still conducting research in areas such as Geography where it seems a Yoruba man, Professor Mabogunje, was the first Professor. I also am conducting research into who was the first Nigerian Professor of English, Theatre Arts, Languages, Business and Education, Law and Engineering, Computer Technology, etc. Nigerians need to be told the truth and not let the lies that Femi Fani-Kayode has been selling to some ignorant Yoruba who feel that to be the first to see the white man and interact with him means that you are way ahead of other groups. The Ibo as The great Achebe said had within a span of 40 years bridged the gap and even surpassed the Yoruba in education by the ’60s. Many a Yoruba people perpetually indulge in self-deceit: that they were the first to go to school; to be exposed to Western education; that they are academically ahead of other Nigerian cultures of peoples. Another ignorant lie.

As far back as 1495 the Benin Empire maintained a diplomatic presence in Portugal. This strategic relationship did not just stop at a mere mission but extended to areas such as education. Scores of young Benin men were sent out to Portugal to study and lots of them came back with advanced degrees in Medicine, Law and Portuguese Language, to name a few.

Indeed, some went with their Yoruba and Ibo slaves who served the sons of the Benin nobility while they studied in Portugal. These are facts that can be verified by the logs kept by ship owners in Portugal from 1494 to 1830. It is kept at the Portuguese Museum of Geographic History in Lisbon.

Why then would several Yoruba people peddle all these falsehoods to show that they are ahead educationally in Nigeria? The true facts from the Federal Office of Statistics on education tell otherwise, showing that 3 Ibo states for the past 12 years have constantly had the largest number of graduates in the country, producing more graduates than Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and Oyo states. These eastern states are Imo, Anambra and Abia. Yet he calls Ibos traders. Indeed, the Igbos dominate because excellence dominates mediocrity – truth.

Let me enlighten this falsehood’s mouthpiece even further: before the civil war Ibos controlled and dominated all institutions in the formal sector in Nigeria from the universities to the police to the military to politics:

The first Black Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan was an Ibo man

The first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos was an Ibo man

The first Nigerian Rector of the then Yaba College of Technology was also an Ibo man

The police was run by an Ibo IG

The military as a professional institution was also run by elite-ilk Ibos.

Facts can never be hidden. To be first does not mean you would win the race; let us open up all our institutions and may the best man win. Let us not depend on handouts or privileges but on heard work. Let us compete and give the best positions to our brightest – be it Ibo, Yourba or Fulani, and then we shall see who is the most successful Nigerian.

I find it difficult not to respond to some of these long-held lies that are constantly being peddled by Yorubas. One is that the Yoruba have the largest number of professors in the country. I would again ask that we stick to facts and statistical records. The Nigerian Universities Commission has a record of the state with the largest number of professors on their records and as at 2010 that state is Imo State followed by Ondo State and then Anambra State; the next state is Ekiti and then Delta before Kwara State. I am sure you Yorubas are surprised. When you sit in the South-West do not think others are sleeping but I wish to address another historical fact and that is who were the first Nigerians to receive Western education. It is important that these issues be examined in their historical context and evidence through research be presented for all to examine.

I have continued my research for as the great sociologist and father of modern sociology – Emile Durkheim – put it, the definition of a situation is real in its consequence . What this simply means is that one must never allow a perceived falsehood to become one’s reality and by extension individuals who accept a defined position act as though the situation is real and apply themselves in that narrowly defined perspective.

Why is this important to state it is because for long the Yoruba have peddled lies that have almost become accepted as the truth by other Nigerians but it is important that we lay down the facts for others to examine and come to their own conclusion for facts are facts. Let’s go back to education. Historically, Western education resulted as a product of indigenous ethnic groups interacting with the whites through trade. The dominant groups sold slaves, ivory gold and a host of other products to their European counterparts in exchange for finished goods – wine, tobacco, mirrors, etc.

The Bini who were the dominant military force from the 15th to the 19th century raided and sold other ethnicities to the Europeans. Top on the list of those they sold were the Yoruba, Ibo and Igala. Various other ethnicities suffered as a result of the Bini military expansion. And the Benin Kingdom stretched from present-day Benin up to what is now geographically referred to as Republic of Togo. Indeed, the influence of the Benin Empire extended to the banks of the river Niger to present-day Onistha. There are huge Yoruba settlements in the Anioma part of Delta State who fled Yoruba land as a result of these attacks and constant raids. Yes, there are Yoruba people who are currently living with Ibos in the Ibo-speaking part of Delta and they are full citizens of the place no one refers to them as strangers and there is no talk about the Ibos being the host community like we hear from the Governor of Lagos State. But let me return to research. Slaves were moved from the hinterland to the coast and many were sold through Eko to the New World. These slaves were the first to encounter the Europeans and by extension their way of life – this included education in a Western sense. The Bini King had taken pains to establish a diplomatic presence in Portugal and the relationship developed into areas that extended beyond trade in the late 15th century and lasted well into the early 19th century. Scores of young Bpni youth were sent to Portugal and studied there, coming back with advanced degrees in various disciplines. The next set of people to receive Western education were the slaves themselves. Some of them managed to buy their freedom and develop themselves further.

For the Ibo it does not matter who your father is; the question is: Who are you? Who was Obasanjo’s father? Was he the most educated Nigerian? I am sure the answer is no. Yet this Great Nigeria led this nation two times as a military Head of State and as a civilian President. What about GEJ? Who was his own father? Was he the first Nigerian to go to London? The answer is no. In fact, he had no shoes, yet he is fully in charge. So it does not matter if your father was the first Lawyer or first Doctor in Nigeria but rather what matters is what an individual does with the talents the Almighty has given to him. Let us open up Nigeria for competition. That is the solution to our problems. Those who want privileges keep reminding us that their fathers were the first to go to school in London. Every generation produces its own leaders and champions. Like Dangote who is the biggest employer of labour in Nigeria today and the richest man in Africa. Was his father the first to go to study in London? Yet he is the master of people whose parents gave them the best. My brothers, the answer to the Nigerian problem is that we should establish a merit-driven society. “I get am before” no be property.

 

Source:  News Express