RESTRUCTURING: A QUINTESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF FEDERALISM

By Adedara S. Oduguwa (08/01/2017)
“… to achieve this laudable programme, APC government shall restructure the country, devolve power to the units, with the best practices of federalism and eliminate unintended paralysis of the centre (Source, APC constitution, 2015)”

dara

How are you today? I hope you are used and coping with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. Just last week, CNN queried about the whereabouts of our ageing and sick president, whose love for power is greater than his love for his health and performance as president of our recessed nation. Some of us are not perturbed, that is what you should expect from khakistocracy (government by the worst citizens). That is by the way. Today, I wish to talk about something that is no longer news for the past two months in Nigeria. In fact, it is trending in equal pedestal with the failing health of our ageing president, whom in recent times has become most expensive museum in the United Kingdom; ‘Restructuring’.
Restructuring has become the latest buzz word in Nigeria’s political landscape. We all talk about restructuring with many of us arguing for or against it without understanding what it connotes. A lot of us think restructuring means ‘suicide for the North and prosperity for the South or secession from united Nigeria and/or absolute control over the federal government ’- No. That’s not what restructuring is all about. In this article, I will take us through the meaning of restructuring, conditions under which a country should have unitary or federal constitution, historical antecedent of Nigeria’s federalism and elements of true federalism.

According to Oxford Dictionary (2017) restructuring is a noun which means ‘the process of organising differently: a plan to strengthen and reengineer a system’. Similarly, restructuring is the corporate management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its present needs (Norley, Swanson & Marshall, 2011). This last definition looks at restructuring from the business angle and not the political sphere in the context of our usage today. Hence, defining restructuring in the context of a country means ‘ resource control, local and state autonomy, a moderately less-powerful central and redistribution of responsibilities (from the lists-exclusive, concurrent and residual) in ways that more powers are delegated to the constituents units in a defined sovereign state (Oduguwa, 2017).

However, there are two groups of scholars on restructuring and federalism. While the first group supported the new buzz word, latter group argued such word is meaningless. Perhaps, it might be worthwhile for us to follow the debate in the following lines by asking what does restructuring mean to Nigerians?

During General Ibrahim Babangida’s 75th birthday (2016) in Minna, Niger State, he said “…devolution of powers…restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help to reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile. The talk to have the country restructured means that Nigerians are agreed on our unity in diversity; but that we should strengthen our structures to make the union more functional based on our comparative advantages.”

Similarly, former vice-president of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar describes restructuring as “There is no doubt that many of our states are not viable, and were not viable from the start once you take away the federal allocations from Abuja…we must devolve more powers and resources from the federal government and de-emphasise federal allocations as the source of sustenance of states…”

More so, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, former political adviser to former president Obasanjo describes restructuring as “restoration of federalism. The foundational constitution structure to which all Nigerians subscribed as encapsulated in the independent constitution of 1960. This constitution was violated in 1966 and the violation set in motion a chain of events that has culminated in the present abnegation of a 36 states structure against the four regional structures that emanated from the independent constitution.”

Further, my good uncle and friend, Chief Supo Shonibare argued “restructuring means independent self-sustaining federating units.” In the same vein, Chief Frank Kokori opined “In Nigerian terms when people talk about restructuring, they say they need true federalism. I don’t know what true federalism is because federalism is federalism… because of the military incursion into politics in 1966, Nigeria became a unitary government. So they were not following the tenets of the constitution that allows for devolution of powers to the federating units… If we had real federalism, there will not be agitations.”

Also, Chief Guy Ikokwu puts it straight “let’s return to regionalism with six zones as federating units.” In the words of Chief Edwin Clark “There is need for restructuring, there is need to go back to the kind of government we had before and after independence until the soldiers struck.” Addiitonally, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife said “If we don’t get Nigeria restructured between now and next year, we may lose this country… founding fathers agreed on… regionalism and true federating units…”

According to a PDP governor, Dr. Ayodele Fayose “The APC governors not just been saying it; Aregbesola said it; Ajimobi and a host of others in the APC have said it; and now they have it as a group and we support their call for restructuring. But the problem I have is that the presidency is deaf to the voice of reason.” Moreover, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed allegedly said “We can’t make progress under current structure. No progress can be made under the current political system, which operates like a military unitary system.”

According to Prof. Wole Soyinka “I don’t understand Obasanjo’s language and Buhari’s language-we cannot continue to allow a centralization policy which makes the constituent units of this nation resentful; they say monkey dey work, baboon dey chop. And the idea of centralizing revenues, allocation system, whereby you dole out; the thing is insulting and it is what I call anti-healthy rivalry. It is against the incentives to make states viable.”

More so, Chief Ayo Adebanjo in what he entitled as ‘no restructuring, no Nigeria’ said “we are going for disintegration. That is what I am sorry about. You cannot keep the country together like this. You would continually be suppressing there and suppressing there. The Southern Kaduna affair, the people there shouted against regionalism, because of the oppression there. They said the Fulani were oppressing them. If you look at the recommendations of the 2014 National Confab, we said any area that has economic interests are free to stay together after a referendum of 71 percent. That was how we brought in regionalism. We did all that to make sure we stay together. If you look at the agitation of the South South, South East, they are not even insisting on restructuring; it is restructuring within Nigeria or outside of it. We even understand that some radical Yoruba have drawn the map of Oduduwa Republic and all that but we are keeping them down.”

In what can be described as the most constructive argument in favour of restructuring, erudite Emir of Kano and former CBN Governor Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said “ If you really reflect on the problems of this country, it seems to turn common sense on its head. You sometimes wonder if anyone needs to tell any group of people that if you are a poor country, you do not need 36 governors, 36 deputy governors, with members of house of assembly, commissioners and advisers, special assistants, a president, a vice president , 36 ministers, special advisers, federal legislature and so on. Simple arithmetic will tell you that if you have that structure, you are first of all doomed to spending 80 or 90 percent of everything you earn maintaining public officers. It is really common sense but it seems to be a problem for us to understand it.”

In contrast, there are other people who believe that the word ‘restructuring’ is meaningless. The leader of this group is former President Olusegun Obasanjo who argued that“There is nothing wrong with Nigeria, but a lot wrong with Nigerians. The answer to most of our problems is mindset change and change of mentality. If we need any restructuring, it is the restructuring of our mindset and mentality.”

Similarly, APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi said restructuring is in the party’s manifesto but would be difficult to implement now. In his words “I don’t think it would be a wise move to add the challenges of restructuring if you have not dealt with the problems that affect the average Nigerian. So when people are hungry, when people are losing jobs, when people’s salaries are not being paid I think any responsible government would consider this to be a priority even while it still believes in the restructuring of the country. The issue of restructuring is never a gimmick. It is in the manifesto of our party.”

Similarly, Arewa Consultative Forum argued “Arewa Consultative Forum wish to lend its voice to the debate as to whether or not to restructure the Federation of Nigeria. However, ACF has observed with regret that in most cases, the discussions are taking place without regard to our present democratic structure, as the issues are in some cases presented as ‘demand’ by one group or the ‘other’. Unfortunately, in most cases they are followed up by some ultimatum to the government to accept of face deadly consequences. It should be clear to all the agitators that restructuring a complex, big and diverse country as Nigeria is a serious business that must take account of the views of all its citizens, and not just of those that shout the loudest. More so, such discussions must be free of threats, intimidation or blackmail from any group or individual. A genuine restructuring must therefore be just, fair and equitable to all. ACF therefore calls for a due process through our present democratic structure rather than just crass agitation, if we are to achieve true federalism.”

In what may be described as the most inflammatory statement of all time, Coalition of Arewa Youth said “The Yoruba are the most ungrateful stock in Nigeria. Having given them power on a platter of Gold in 1999 as a way of compensating them for the June 12 Saga, it is quite worrisome and unfortunate that they have lived up to their legendary reputation of backstabbing and betrayal by supporting divisive calls for restructuring or dismemberment of the nation against the will and desire of the north (The Trent, June, 27: 2017).”
In what looks like the position of Buhari led administration, Acting President and Senior Advocate of Nigeria , Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had argued “ …even if states are given half of the resources of the federal government, the situation will not change. The only change is to diversify the economy… it is a false narrative that nations formed the way ours was formed is bound to fail. Term mere geographic expression is not original to Nigeria. It is also false narrative that we are better off when ethnic groups are on their own. While different groups have strength we are better united. It is also not true that those who make marginalization charges are altruistic. Often what they are saying is ‘I am marginalized, appoint me’.”

However, from logs of definitions given to restructuring, one could clearly see the quintessential elements in these descriptions; “devolution of power, fairness, constituents units autonomy, resource control, regionalism, state police, de-emphasise federal allocations and true or real federalism.” These elements, no doubt are subset of the set federalism. In other words, Nigerians talk of restructuring as a result of an adulterated federalism. Hence, next section of the article would do justice to historical antecedents of Nigeria’s federalism and conditions under which unitary and federalism are suitable.

Literarily, federalism is a system of government in which government have powers to delegates the power to other elected member of the states (Gauge, 2014). In federal system of government, constituent units enjoy some rights as are available to the independent states. Also, power is jointly shared between the state and federal governments. Unitary system of government on the other hand is that form of government in which power is vested in one single central authority (as found in military government) and where there is no devolution or delegation of power to the constituent units (Oduguwa,2017). However, of the UN 192 member states, 165 are governed as unitary state (UN, 2017).

Examples of countries that presently practicing federalism include; Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Comoros, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Venezuela (Aberdeen Business School, 2014).

While countries that practices unitary system of government includes; Abkhazia, Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Donetsk People’s Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luhansk People’s Republic, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Namibia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Northern Cyprus, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somaliland, South Korea, South Ossetia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Transnistria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Also unitary monarch states include; Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, United kingdom and Vatican City (Aberdeen Business School, 2014).
However, what is obvious is the fact that more than three quarter of the world operates unitary system of government. What is vital to understand is the reason of adopting unitary or federal in these countries. In the book entitled ‘Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution’ (1966), Chief Obafemi Awolowo listed conditions under which unitary and federal constitution are suitable. What we must know is that there is no good or bad system of government depending on the circumstances of the people in terms of culture, diversity, boundary, size, religion and other socio-economic factors. In stating his argument, Chief Awolowo argued;

“… in any country where there are divergences of language and of nationality-particularly of language- a unitary constitution is always a source of bitterness and hostility on the part of linguistic or national minority groups. On the other hand, as soon as a federal constitution is introduced in which each linguistic or national group is recognized and accorded regional autonomy, any bitterness and hostility against the constitutional arrangements as such, disappear. If the linguistic or national groups concerned are backward or too weak vis-à-vis the majority group or groups, their bitterness or hostility may be dormant or suppressed. But as soon as they become enlightened and politically conscious, and/or courageous leadership emerges amongst them, the bitterness and hostility come into the open, and remain sustained with all possible venom and rancour, until home rule is achieved. Also, a federal constitution is usually a more or less dead letter in any country which lacks any of the factors conducive to federalism.

Hence, the following conclusions can be deduced;
1. If a country is unilingual and uni-national , the constitution must be unitary;
2. If a country is unilingual or bilingual or multilingual, and also consists of communities which, over a period of years, have developed divergent nationalities, the constitution must be federal, and the constituent states must be organized on the dual basis of language and nationality;
3. If a country is bilingual or multilingual, the constitution must be federal, and the constituent-states must be organized on a linguistic basis;
4. Any experiment with a unitary constitution in a bilingual or multilingual or multinational country must fail in the long run.
We are now in a position to asseverate , categorically and with all the emphasis at our command, that, since Nigeria is a multi-lingual and multinational country par excellence, the only constitution that is suitable for its peculiar circumstances is a federal constitution.” p49.

However, argument of Chief Awolowo in Calabar Prison in 1966, remain the contention today. The Nigerian nation has failed tremendously in horizontal and diagonal directions and actors have not only exhausted their talents and strengths but are as well confused. It is not for the president or any of his agents to tell us what is right in the midst of wrongs. We are no nonentities! If call for federalism should fail, what alternative is in place? This concern leads us to the vital elements of federalism as agreed by the founding fathers in October 1st, 1960:

(1) Head of State: There should be only one head of State for the whole of the federation, whose office should be purely ceremonial
(2) Head of Government: The Head of Government in the Federation or in a constituent state should be directly elected by the registered electors in the Federation or State.
(3) Appointment of Ministers: Ministers may be appointed from outside, or from among the Members of Parliament.
(4) Entry into the Civil Service: The Civil Service should be divided into classes –such as Professional Scientific, Technical, Administrative, Executive and Clerical; and entry into each class, other than the Professional, Scientific, and Technical classes, should be competitive examination… Promotion within each class should be by merit. All employees of statutory boards, corporations, commissions, or bodies, shall be deemed to be members of the Civil Service for purposes of first appointments and promotions.
(5) Constituent States: The organisation of the country into constituent states should be on linguistic basis; provided however, that:
(i) No one or two states shall be so large in size and population as to be able to overrule the other states and bend the will of the federal government to its own; and
(ii) No state shall be so small as to be unable to maintain its independence within the sphere of functions allotted to it.
(6) Human Rights: Fundamental human rights should be entrenched in the constitution ; and there should be provisions to the effect that nothing in the constitution or in any law should derogate from such entrenched human rights, except in time of war and emergency, and in so far as is necessary to secure respect for the rights of others.
(7) Normative Social Objectives: The constitution should declare and entrench normative social objectives which the Federation should pursue in the fields of economic, politics, education and health.
(8) Separation of Powers: There should be separation of powers amongst the three organs of state, namely: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
(9) Organic Laws: As far as possible, provisions should be made in the constitution concerning the detailed structure of each of the three organs of the state.
(10) Division of Functions: The constitution should make express provisions for:
(i) Exclusive Federal Legislature functions;
(ii) Concurrent legislative functions; and
(iii) Residual functions to be vested in the state legislature.
(11) Jurisdiction of Federal Commissions: The following bodies should , in the discharge of their respective functions, have jurisdiction in all parts of the Federation:
(i) The Public Service Commission;
(ii) The Judicial Service Commission; and
(iii) The Electoral Commission.
(12) Code of Conduct: A code of conduct should embodied in the constitution which shall prescribe Rules of Discipline by which ministers and other specified functionaries , in all the branches of each of the organs of the State , shall be bound and guided. Appropriate sanction against any violation of the code should also be provided for in the constitution.
(13) Qualifications of Judges: Only a barrister or solicitor who possesses one or more recognized university degrees with at least second-class honours in one, and has at least 10 years’ practice at the bar, or in the alternative , 5 years’ practice at the bar plus 5 years’ experience as a magistrate or court official, should be appointed as a judge.
(14) Franchise: Electoral franchise throughout the federation should be based on universal adult suffrage.
(15) Common Roll of Voters: There should be one common roll or register of voters for all elections in all parts of the federation.
(16) Structure of parliaments: The federal Parliament should be bi-cameral; whilst the state legislatures should be uni-cameral.
(17) General Elections: General elections to the federal and state legislatures as well as the elections of the Heads of Federal and State Governments should be held every Five Years on the same day throughout the federation.
(18) Registration of Political Parties: Political parties should be registered with the Federal Electoral Commission (Now Independent National Electoral Commission); but only a political party which is national both in character and operation and whose membership is open to all Nigerian citizens should be so registered.
(19) Election of Candidates: Every candidate for election, whether or not he is opposed by any other candidate or candidates at such election, shall be voted for.
(20) Membership of Legislature: Every member of the Federal or State Legislature should be directly elected by the electors in the constituency which he represents.
(21) Automatic Loss of Seat: A member of parliament who resigns his membership of, or is expelled from, the political party on whose platform he was elected into Parliament shall automatically lose his seat in Parliament.
(22) Unrestricted Eligibility: Every Nigerian citizen should be qualified to stand for election in every part of the Federation.
(23) Dissolution of Legislatures: All Federal and State Legislatures should stand automatically dissolved Thirty Days before the expiration of Five years from the date on which the immediately preceding General Elections were held into the said Legislatures. No legislature shall be dissolved otherwise.
(24) Equal Legislative Powers: The two Federal Houses of Parliament should have equal legislative powers.
(25) Secularity of State Legislature: The Federal Parliament or Government should not have the power to suspend or perform the functions of a regional legislature or Government in any circumstances, save when the Federation is at war.
(26) Dissolution of Local Government Council: The State Legislature or Government should not have the power to suspend or dissolve a local government council in any circumstances, during the council’s statutory term in office.
(27) Local Government Councils: Elections to local government councils should be conducted every three years, and at least three-fourths of the members of any such council should be directly elected by the registered voters in the area of the council.
(28) Alteration of the Constitution: Any provision of the constitution, made in pursuance of this and the forgoing twenty-eight basic principles, should be entrenched, and should be altered only by the people in a referendum (Awolowo, 1966).

However, the forgoing highlights are basic elements that must be present in our Federalism. More so, what Nigerians should understand is that federalism (restructuring) is not injurious to any of the federating units. In other words, true federalism means prosperity, equality, fairness, development and transparency for all the regions, religions, clans and people in the union or boundary of a nation. Many people kick against federalism because of greed and ignorance. Nevertheless, a true patriotic Nigerian should not hesitate to ask;
Why are some people afraid of federalism? Why is President Buhari, Acting President Osinbajo, Obasanjo and others against true federalism? What are we going to lose if we have federalism? Why is APC not ready to implement its manifesto on federalism as written in the party’s constitution? If the present system (unitary in practical terms) would work, when will that be? If we duly reject federalism (since national assembly and presidency have rejected it), what alternative do we have? Is federalism same as secession? These are vital questions we should ask ourselves before we start to make unholy comments on restructuring.
Before I go, it is necessary to link what is happening presently to views of the founding fathers on the entity called Nigeria:
Sir Ahmadu Bello once said “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great-grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us, and never allow them to have control over their future.”

Similarly, Chief Awolowo in a speech he delivered in London, November 3, 1961 said “If rapid political progress is to be made in Nigeria, it is high time we were realistic in tackling its constitutional problems. Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English’, ‘Welsh’, or ‘French’. The word ‘Nigerian’ is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not.”

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe once said “My parents are natives of Eastern Nigeria, the arsenal of republicanism in Nigeria. Although I am Ibo, yet I speak Yoruba and I have a smattering of Hausa. I am now Premier of Eastern Nigeria, the land of my fathers, which lies five hundred miles from the place of my birth in Zungeru, in Northern Nigeria… Each of our three Regions is vastly different in many respects, but each has this in common: that, despite variety of languages and custom or difference in climate, all form part of one country which has existed as a political and social entity for fifty years. That is why we believe that political union of Nigeria is destined to be perpetual and indestructible.”
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, speaking at the Legislative Council in 1948 said “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite, Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country.”

In contrast, by 1957 (three years to Nigeria’s independence) Sir Balewa made a U-turn “I am pleased to see that we are now all agreed that the Federal system is, under present conditions, the only sure basis on which Nigeria will remain united. We must recognize our diversity and the peculiar conditions under which the different tribal communities live in this country.”
Chief Alex Ekwueme said in 1992 “Ours is hardly a Federation except in name.”
Chief Adekunle Ajasin was reported to have said “Our Federalism is upside down. We are not practicing Federalism in Nigeria.”

Therefore, all over the world, views and aspirations of any group of people who felt marginalized is heard through referendum. This should be same with Nigeria. Unity or union is negotiable. I urge our learned Prof. of law and Acting President of Nigeria to be civic and put sentiment or personal interest aside, on issue of federalism. In practical terms, what we practice today is not federalism and whether we like it or not, if we continue to live under this structure, failure is inevitable. Also, I urge all Nigerians to seek knowledge, and rise up to their responsibilities and civic obligations. You don’t need to be a lawyer before you know and understand the Nigerian constitution. It is your civic right!

Finally, we should stop spreading hate speeches about restructuring, even if you are benefiting from the present government. Whether you are APC or PDP or private person, it is imperative for all of us to work very hard in unison to push Nigeria to higher grounds, where prosperity, fairness, equity, social justice is not only possible but the only option available among alternatives. That is only possible through federalism!

Integrity: Mother of Goodwill, Father of Immortality

By Adedara Oduguwa
(04/15/2017)
If there is any message I will like to pass today, then the message would be: integrity mother of goodwill, father of immortality. Integrity is not having less or more of the purchasing power. It is not a state of controlling both human and material resources neither a state of affluence or influence (power or authority), far from it. According to Anderson (2012) success will come and go, but integrity is forever. This statement completes the witty saying that to have integrity is to live forever. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is characterised by being rectitude, honourable, trustworthy, morally upright, sincere and noble. Further, men of integrity keep their promises, maintain societal values, and are protected by God and honoured by immortality. A man of integrity is unreasonably reliable and dependable. You can live for as long as you can, without integrity the future is dashed.
Biblically, Daniel, Joseph, Peter and Abraham were described as great men of integrity. They lived a life not only exemplary but honourable, rooted on moral grounds, positive, temptation resisted , determination to put others first, partner with progressive minds, value other’s opinion, thankful to God, accountable, incorporate other’s idea to give meaningful result and acknowledge other’s contributions.

On the 3rd of July, 2016, a case of integrity was reported in the media about Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim Ogbanago, a security guard who works at Nigeria’s top financial company, United Bank for Africa (UBA), has received recognition for returning a sum of $10,000 to the bank. On twitter that same day, several people called him names such as fool, the boy is too good, were (mad- man) and so on. In relative line, the CEO of the bank Mr Tony Elumelu wrote:
“When I heard about this story, I knew I had to meet the man who despite facing rising petrol & transportation prices and “tomato ebola” returned such a huge sum of money without recourse to himself.”
“It was a pleasant surprise to hear him tell this story and about how he came to be in the board room with us. Even more surprising was hearing him speak about his passion for governance and integrity in leadership.”
“Mohammed Ibrahim Ogbanago is an exemplary ambassador of the UBA spirit and it was fulfilling to meet and reward him for his conduct.” (Source Pulse,2016).
Consequently, at the 2017 UBA CEO Awards, Mohammed Ibrahim Ogbanago was given a cash prize of $5,000 by the Governor of Adamawa State; $10,000 by the Governor of Bauchi State; a promise of N5,000,000 by the Deputy Senate President, and this was topped off with an award of excellence by the bank. This made him to earn trust and recognition for himself, his family and his well wishers. Mr. Ogbanago is today richer than his HOD as a security officer. That is the reward of integrity. Ironically, for the past months, the Nigeria’s legislature, executive and judiciary have failed this same integrity test repeatedly. Just yesterday, an heroic welcome was given to an high profile international criminal and ex-convict, when he was conferred a Chieftaincy title of “Ezi-Oyi Anioma”, Meaning “a good friend of Anioma nation’ (Leadership, 2017).” This act is not only shameful but demeaning on our ethos and value system.

Integrity is often not celebrated in this part of the world. Dishonesty, deceitfulness, duplicity, untruthfulness and deception remain our pride. It is electrifying how many young Nigerians are prepared to steal from the national treasury if opportune in protest against yester-night generation who they claim mortgaged their destiny for worldly diadem. I want to tell you friends, two wrong does not make a right. Certainly, this older generation has failed us! We cannot afford to fail the coming generation. What we therefore need is determination, sacrifice, can do and faith in a fruitful effort. The future is not doleful but bright!

On daily basis, thought of my dream Nigeria continuously flash into my subconscious mind. A Nigeria where sale of generator-set is impossible. A Nigeria where the poor and the rich will seat together in equal parity. A Nigeria where meritocracy not democracy rules. A Nigeria where budget paddling is not attractive. A Nigeria where life is meaningful and abundant. A Nigeria where Nigerians are the most respected people of the World. A Nigeria where freedom of speech is priceless. A Nigeria where judiciary and legislature are not instrument in the hand of the executive. A Nigeria where education is freedom from mental slavery. A Nigeria where policemen and teachers are honoured and well paid. A Nigeria where integrity is all that matters. A Nigeria where mediocre (a Billionaire without pedigree) cannot be voted for as local government councilor. A Nigeria where power truly resides with the people. A Nigeria where soldiers are not life-abusers but its protector. A Nigeria where capital punishment is a reward for public theft and rehabilitation a reward for petty-stealing. A Nigeria where SMEs contribute 70% to the GDP and foreign exchange earnings. A Nigeria where a minute darkness due to electricity is not only impossible but a taboo. A Nigeria where British and American will come to work in other to earn a living. A Nigeria where N1 is equal to $400. A Nigeria where corrupt public officers enthroned their family name into eternal damnation from public offices. A Nigeria where public hospitals have over 200 Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and 20 patients to a medical doctor. A Nigeria where politicians do not tell us what they want to do during campaigns but what they do daily before it. A Nigeria where integrity not money wins elections. A Nigeria where neither APC nor PDP can survive as political party. A Nigeria where the youth are more important than the aged. A Nigeria where the road are free of potholes and dungeon holes. A Nigeria where there is optimum employment. A Nigeria where graduates are respected and employable. A Nigeria where the president do not selection INEC chairman, Inspector general of police, Antony General of the Federation, EFFC/ICPC chairmen and so on (to allow for true independence of these bodies). A Nigeria where food, health and education are subsidized for all. A Nigeria where social amenities are priority of our capital expenditure. A Nigeria where the president is truly for all and not for selected few. That is my Nigerian dream.

Did I hear ‘impossible?’ It is, through integrity! I will define integrity as ‘audacity of purpose’. It is the ability to remain firm, strong, trustworthy and do only what is ‘right for the people’ not what is mandatory. Further, I see integrity as a path to eternal prosperity, triggered by passion and unreasonable faith in God and not man, to cut any finger disrupting collective progress and roast it in the prison of justice. It is the ability to stand outside the fence of norm, the confidence to say No! No!! No!!! To anomalies irrespective of who the culprits are. Integrity is a death warrant! The will to die physically for immortality! Integrity is sacrifice! The strength to give all to nobody but everybody! Integrity is contentment! High probabilistic tendency to say no to financial, emotional, physical, mental, academical, political and economical temptation. Integrity is not a state of perfection! But a path to it. Integrity is not power! But the route to affluence. If you want to live forever choose integrity!

It is sad that after approximately 57years of her independence, Nigeria remain a shadow of her reality. Family background contributes immensely to present societal loss of value. A child in his/her teen now thinks of owing a luxury car and not the future. The church talk only of offering and tithe (usually ill-gotten monies) forgetting salvation and corporate social responsibility (CSR), setting new scriptural standards. Schools have become name centers with teachers who are themselves pupils in developed economies. The nucleus home environment is characterized by mothers who curse their children anytime they break a plate. Children choose their bosom friends based on bohemia and delinquency statures. This frustration becomes multiplied when the society now writes wrong as right and right as wrong.
Where is the future? Becomes a rhetorical question only to be answered by INTEGRITY! Let’s ask ourselves, what do we gain from insincerity?

OLAOLUWA

An untold story of a determined Carrier (Kaya)
By Adedara Oduguwa
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Today, I wish to talk about someone whose story and history should be added to the subject-History (hard work), which should be taught in homes and schools. This story is important today especially at a time when young people in Sagamu, Ogun State, Western Nigeria and Nigeria continually vote bohemia, delinquency and short-cuts as the only route to financial liberty and prosperity. More so, the societal value is increasingly depleting as what is used to be ‘culture and family home training’ which provides for ‘native intelligence’ in the growing youths is swiftly replaced by ‘hastiness of result’ exhibited by modern day parents.
 
Modern day parents were children of those days, who choose completely to bohemia, delinquency and corruption themselves but only to be cornered by the reality of life. These breed of parents felt their mission statement ‘getting rich quickly without consequence’ was not achieved due to their own parents who were absolutely not in support of such devilish way of getting wealthy. Little do such parents (modern parents) know they have failed the society for importing such holocaust into our community sphere.
 
Besides, when parents refuse to be responsible at the home front, after given birth to mushroom of kwashiorkor, haggard looking children and introducing them to life-destructive hazards (prostitution, fraud or stealing) due to fending for themselves, then it becomes expected for such to think of it ‘getting rich quickly without consequence’.
 
But then, a young man in the early 90s proved such thinking wrong by gallantly walking the work into his destiny and speaking from the dark of his existence that ‘ Life and determination is all that is needed to make a difference’ , not money nor fame! By name, he is Olaoluwa, born in the early 1980s, into the family of a great hunter father and mother who was a fufu (cassava flour) trader.
 
Olaoluwa attended St. Paul Primary School Sagamu and passed out with a very good grade even though he was the main hawker of his mother’s cassava flour (fufu). Around Sagamu, especially in Makun area, the name Olaoluwa was household name throughout the early 90s. Among the young people of his time, Olaoluwa was a Yoruba story teller. He would sit the young ones down and fed them with tales of Tortoise and its wife (Ijapa and Iyanibo), Yoruba history and more. One surprising thing about Olaoluwa was his prowess in Yoruba literature i.e Alawiye. His dream was to become a broadcaster. He could read any Yoruba literature fluently without mincing words. His use of antonomasia and onomatopoeia was excellent. As a lover of history, I remember how this young man who was some 5-8 years older than me reads Yoruba story to us. His voice in reading was as candy-coated as that of nightingale. He reads with patience and push. One could guess what motivated him at the time. He wanted to make a difference through making others happy, fulfilling and proud.
 
The society saw Olaoluwa as something close to useless due to his clothe which was as neat as rag and a body-odour unable to be condoled by Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien perfume (most expensive world perfume). Another feature of this great man was how he could walk throughout the street of Sagamu bare-footed. Olaoluwa was strong, physically powerful, fiercely dogged, modest and enterprising. He was such a workaholic that knew what he wanted. And everyone around him knew he was specially made brand.
 
How did I see him? I never felt uncomfortable around him. He was an idea of what suffering could be without parental upbringing. I saw the intellect and determination that pushes this less-privileged young man. I learnt the act of humility, determination, enterprise and service from him. Although, apart from the Yoruba storytelling act, which Olaoluwa would give for free anytime, everything or anything was for a price. He was more of an entrepreneur than a cheerful giver.
 
However, immediately after leaving St. Paul Primary School, his parents called him and told him he could not further due to lackry of fund. Um, he felt so bad and some of us (his history student) felt that would be the end of his journey. Sooner, he recovered from such unpleasant shock, and forged ahead. He worked at Olowo-Ake bakery for a while before delving into business. He started selling bamboo for TV antenna. In those days, there was nothing like DSTV or anything cable but local antenna for Black & White and coloured TV sets. Many houses in Sagamu cannot even be proud of owing a TV set being it coloured or black and white. Modernization was slow but gradual. In 1994, when father was installed as Lisa of Ibido, one could see the transition. I could remember vividly how everyone in Sagamu streets wore buba and sokoto (traditional shirt and rapper) with no single shirt and trouser. Today the story is completely different. Sagamu is today a second Lagos.
 
Back to my Olaoluwa’s story, I remembered how a rich man wanted to send Olaoluwa to school but one of his wives objected to the act. She argued ‘how can you send him to school and sooner, he would be competing with our children’. That’s not so disappointing today. How many of our men of honour or philanthropists can boast of sending orphans and less-privileged to school without a price? We are bad Samaritans.
 
However, after a while in the bamboo (Oparun) business, Olaoluwa felt he could diversify in order to make more money. He must have been inspired by log of the tortoise tales. He was a wise man. Sooner, he had become a major carrier (kaya) at the Awolowo market. In those days, kaya is a work that is reserved for the Hausas. No single Sagamu indigene could be so loose-fitting with such occupation. Olaoluwa, the dogged and focused entrepreneur didn’t think of what people would say. He carried out his job with due diligence and became an expat in that line. He got himself a wheel barrow, later added two and three wheel barrows. He started hiring two out and he was using one by himself. This was within a space of few years. At this point, his weekly income was more than what a secondary school teacher could earn in a month. He came back in one evening and told me he wish to get himself a motorcycle and later a car (taxi). That he would soon retire from being a carrier but would buy more wheel barrows which he intends to give out on rent. His ideas were novel and out of our world. He was so futuristic and determined than many graduates today.
 
Few weeks after this time, he was getting lot of issues with his elder brother Kusimo on rooms. Olaoluwa used to sleep in the passage of their house. So, end come to this on the day he felt he could build himself a house. He talked to Ajingolo (hunter title of his father) about building on the free land at his backyard. His father approved of his quest. In less than a month, Olaoluwa had erected a room and parlour (big enough to be two bedrooms flat in today’s measurement). Wow! This feat got many by shock. I was not surprised because I knew his financial worth. Meanwhile, it was this building that made many to start respecting this great entrepreneur. He was only about 20 years old at the time. He believed he can, and yes, he achieved it. The process of greatness for everyman remains the same. Every great man in history was once a wonderer. Most great people migrated from one occupation to another and eventually get to their destination (destiny).
 
What is more, few weeks after this time, I heard an outcry which made everyone to rush out of their respective homes. Like others, I traced the voice to the street. I saw a mob of people sobbing, jumping up and down. As young man, I was meddlesome to understand what transpired. I asked someone beside me and she said it’s like Olaoluwa is dead! What? I cannot comprehend this until I saw the hearse and his motionless body been whisked out. For few minutes I was emotionally aphonic. That would be the first juvenile’s death experience I had witnessed. I was shocked and disillusioned with nature, the society and his parents. Truly, Olaoluwa our Yoruba Story teller is dead. We were told he died of an internal disease. He was buried and from that point nobody remembers him.
 
Year in and out, Olaoluwa story kept flashing my thoughts. At times, I could feel him and even see him in my psychological mind. What made this man thick? What if he lived for 40, 50 or 70 years? His story was really touching and interesting. More interesting it becomes when many young people of my generation with similar background would argue that they are unfortunate because their parents cannot send them to school or support them in trade. Today, Olaoluwa’s brother after over 20 years of his death remains the landlord of his father’s house and that of his brother. He is in his late 40s or early 50s, yet cannot boast of owing a room of his own. That is life’s irony.
 
Consequently, I extracted the following lessons from Olaoluwa’s reminiscence.
1. No one can kill your dream without your permission. Although, Olaoluwa’s specific dream was to become a broadcaster, his general dream was to be successful in life. He achieved it even at a tender age before death came.
2. Determination is a better weapon than inheritance. Yes, Olaoluwa would have inherited only a room from his father’s four-face-me & face –u room house, but he built his own through hard work.
3. You can change your story without stealing and fraud. The shame in been labelled a fraudster or ritualist is more than been called a carrier (kaya). Dignity and honour is all that matters. At least for your children, if not for you.
4. Handwork is the only solution to financial wretchedness. Being hardworking is all that’s vital. No food for a lazy man. Move with responsible, progressive and honest people. The future belongs to only those who prepare for it.
5. Erase the thought ‘what will people say’ and face your life. Because if you fail or die poor, people will still say you have failed.
Why a story on Olaoluwa?
 
Few days ago, I was in contact with an old secondary school mate. He was now driving a porch car. He was only a secondary school grandaunt who never went further or work with any reputable company. A friend sitted beside me in the car said ‘are you surprised?’ ‘Yes’ I replied. He laughed and said ‘that is just one of his cars he is such a wealthy man now. I like him because he is smart.’ I asked him again, where is he getting this money from in this time of Buhari?’ He smiled and said ‘baba, I know Phd is good o, but don’t get it twisted, you don’t need a Phd to get money. That guy na internet wizard (yahoo yahoo)’. This time I smiled and asked ‘do you envy him? Because I don’t’, I only wish it won’t get late before he realizes it. Then he chuckled and said ‘ko kan aye’ meaning ‘who cares’. He added ‘the only thing I don’t like is the fact that some of them eat faeces from babies diapers with bread. Baba, it is so common now. In fact, they even build houses and buy cars for their parents with that money. Do you know there are lots of secondary school students (fraudsters) who have built houses in GRA?” He submitted.
 
Although it is not my first time of hearing such. I blame parents and the society for accepting such gluttony. More importantly, young ladies who should be in school for purposes of scholastic endeavour or learning a trade are deeply into prostitution due to receiving such support from parents and the society. Well, ignorance cannot positively change a society. Get busy and prove so many wrong. You don’t need to go wrong to get right!
 
What about the Nigerian police? The purpose of establishing it is to help in maintaining laws and orders but in reality, they are themselves law breakers or law breakers protector. They run after the most treacherous in the society and woo them on only for buyoff. Some collects such money they can’t earn as officers in a lifetime. At times, they even sought for parcels of land in the GRA. All criminals are well known to them but only few innocent or deviants (who refuse to pay them) are harassed and arrested.
It is somber how the future bleaks. Olaoluwa, keep resting in peace. We are so proud of you! It is left for you to leave good legacy behind. I will like to leave good legacy as well.
 
God bless the area called Nigeria.
 
Adedara writes from Sagamu, Ogun State.

WHEN YOU SERVES GOD WHAT HAPPENS TO MEN?

By Adedara S. Oduguwa (1/11/2017)

Compliment of the new season. Yesterday as I was preparing for a business meeting, this topic came to mind “When You Serves God What Happens To Men?” I called my beautiful wife to discuss it. As usual, she gave very intelligent contributions and asked as usual what inspires my interest in going religious rather than my usual political or economical literary direction. Then, I replied “from my personal experience and scientific (observational) approach to life, masses of our people prefer to depend on wealthy men or others more advantaged than God. This partly accounts for why many cannot become whatever they choose to become. Since no man can make a fellow man richer, wealthier, popular, powerful and more respected than himself. Should such happens, it is often a sheer process of mistake and not genuine willingness.”- I said in retaliation to her question.

My wife smiled, chuckled and said “ Poet what you just said is evident in the book of Jeremiah 11:9 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Most people don’t believe in God’s plan. They rather believe in what they can see (since they cannot see God physically) than what they cannot see.” She submitted.

Then, I look at how many people have self-limited themselves from true success for ephemeral success, temporal happiness for lasting peace and little growth for everlasting wealth. Then, it was done on me that this piece when written will help 100s of people who are presently suffering from self-limitation as a result of over dependent on men and not God.

Many years ago, I was only a 200 level Business Administration student in the University. I desired a laptop but couldn’t open my mouth to ask my dad since he has too many responsibilities on his neck. My perception of my dad in those days was a very broke man who have more expenditure than revenue. So I spoke to God silently since it was not in my tradition to share my problem with anyone except my immediate younger brother Gbuyi and my friend Mayowa.  Around that time, I had some N4500 with me in my World Bank account. I have deep faith in God as a child (even more than ever now). I believe sowing a seed into a needy’s life could get me a laptop. But then, the money must be giving to a needy and not someone who is desperately in need of cash for some bottles of beer or probably to buy clothing for his girl friend. Yes, this is a meager amount but that was all in my World Bank account. Few days later (can’t be précised on whether two or three days), someone came to my mum (for financial assistance). One thing must be said about Mama Dara (as mother was fondly called), she could give her eye to anyone so far she has it. We learnt the act of giving from her. She gives without consequence. Unlike my dad, who is more calculative and economizing. This act of my mum has put the family into unwarranted wants many times. Well, story about the duo is for another day.

Back to my story. Mama Dara couldn’t help at this time. She was broke but promised the woman to come back in few days. I eavesdropped their conversation from my room, and saw it as opportunity for me. Immediately the woman left our sitting room, I rushed out to the back gate. Mum already left to see her husband. I called the woman and asked, “How much did you asked her?” “I need 3500 to start slippers hawking business because of my kids. Their father is irresponsible”- She submitted. I was not concerned about what she wanted to use the money for. Rather, I was interested only in meeting her needs and whether what I have would meet her need. So I pushed out my meager N4500 naira and gave to her. And said to her “Please take this, its N4500, don’t see me and thank me for this so that nobody (my mum inclusive) would ask me questions.” She almost wept to tears in appreciation but I told her it’s ok. I had peace within me. Immediately I gave her that money, I became a zeronaire (my word for being broke to nothing). But was happier than before.

Surprisingly, some two days later, a brother of mine brought two new Acer laptops for sale to my dad. The laptop originally worth 120,000 naira each at the time but sold at 150,000 naira. Father called me and transferred ownership. He added this token of words:

 “I know you will need a laptop as a university student. It was your brother that brought it for sale and I have paid him N300,000 for the two laptops. One for Sola and the other for you.  You are a responsible child, keep it up.” I was so elated and thanked him. Of course any child would be happy for such gift especially in a polygamous setting where fingers are not equal. But then, I was more thankful to God than to my biological father. God did it as usual! He made my dad to spend outside his budget. That experience still rings bell and this is not the first time I will be sharing this particular story with friends.

When you serves God, he will work for you same way an employee works for his employer. God is capable of meeting all your needs than the richest man in your town or in the world. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).” Like magic, everything will work. As a young man, I have tested and tasted God more than any and I thank Him for the privileges. The shocking thing is that, He has never failed me even for once. I have never depended on anyone but God. Whenever I need anything, I asked God quietly and He often use any man for me even the most foolish, wicked and irresponsible of all.

Serving God is a process. Which include:

  1. Going to Church and or becoming a worker in church
  2. Preaching to others about salvation and doing good
  3. Giving to the needy
  4. Putting all your faith in Him
  5. Serving God with clean conscience.

However, out of the aforementioned ways of serving God, I have combined 3, 4, and 5 as a tool for serving God. For instance, when I was in SS 2 at Remo Divisional High School Sagamu, I was not anything close to brilliance. I often pray to have 2 Credits and 3Passes in order to pass to the next class. My examination results were nothing to write home about. I was happy the day my dad gave all my primary and secondary school report cards to the woman selling ojojo (Yoruba name for water yam cake).

 So, at this particular year, it was promotion exam term. I was privileged to see my scores before the final broadsheets submission. I must pass 5 courses at Cs and Ps level if I must promote to the next class. I already passed 4 courses with F9 in Math and C6 in English. Then I was hopeful on Yoruba. At this period , students usually assist teachers with marking (don’t know if it is still the same today) , I remember my friends Sanya Akinyemi and Olamide Alonge (both are men today) were parts of the markers. They showed me my script and I got 21. With 14 in the test that is 35. I broke down. And was preparing to repeat that class. When I got home that day, I couldn’t eat. Mama Dara asked what the problem was, but I said I was feeling sick.

Later, in my room, I spoke to God about it “God, I know you are bigger than my problem and capable than anyone including my teachers. I don’t know how you will do it, I must not fail. In Jesus name I prayed (Amen).” That was on Wednesday or so. Friday was the last working day in school, followed by the reports’ card week. I was in school and it was time for collection of our Yoruba script. My friend Taiwo Oloyede (popularly known as TJ Lion) picked mine for me. I was not interested since I have seen the score before. He gave me my script and for the second time I looked at the score. This time, surprisingly, the score was different. I got 38 in that exam not 21. Wow! I was so happy. I later learnt that the teacher discovered some irregularities in marking and decided to re-mark. I smiled and my faith in God became firm and increased.

Also, when I entered the University, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB) now Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), this time my faith was greater in God and my determination was bigger than my age. My story changed from worse student performance to the best or one of the top 3 positions in class. I have kept 4points from that time to date. At a time, everyone in my class failed a course in UNAAB, I got 43. Out of about 600 students. It was a GNS course. Then I concluded that faith in God is greater than faith in men.

When you have faith in God, God will be at peace with you and the glory of God will shine over you always. Your achievements will be permanent and everything will turn out well for good for you. Men will envy, hate and jealous you. In addition, men will start investigative journalism on what make you thick and how you are this great. In fact, they will be so busy monitoring your little achievement thereby ignoring their much needed opportunities. You will be emotionally and physically contented and stable with whatever you have while men will be emotionally barren and physically lackry even in surplus. But never be dismayed. Faith in God comes with many other value added benefits (VABs):

  1. You will eat food prepared by others for others;
  2. You will be more proactive than those who plan the plan;
  3. You will have everything whenever the need arises;
  4. No man will have the power to mock or disgrace you;
  5. You will have power over disappointments;
  6. And you will never be genuinely loved by your wealthy, older and much influential contemporaries, friends, close or extended family members and neighbours.

However, I am sure not many would agree with me on the sixth point. But in truth, human nature is full of ego and deceit. We love to be hailed, respected and served. From my little experience in life, I have not seen such man that wants you to be richer, intelligent and fortunate than himself.  Not even a wish from anyone. Most people prefer to give you plates of meal every day than teaching you how to farm. Since they know that once you can farm there won’t be reason for you coming back to them. Men like you so that you can always depend on them, serve them and remain their errand boy. Yet, the little they have is beyond their control (since only God can determine the next minute). But the irony, only very few people serves God. Many prefer to serve men.

When You Serve Men

Why do men serve men? This is the first question that comes to mind. A simple answer to this is that, men by nature believe in what they can see than what they cannot see. We all know how wealthy Dangote and Otedola are. So why should we serve God who we can’t see His houses or cars. This is foolish reasoning. Arguably, wealthy men have more faith in God than the poorest among us. That is why the poor keep going to the wealthy while they (wealthy men) go to God.

When you serve men, men will like you, feed you and can attempt to make you better than they met you. But not richer than themselves. The best any man can give would be 10-15% of his wealth in the project you. Then you will be happy and satisfy with such. With utterances like “If not for Mr Bell, I can never build a house”. Foolish you! You have just missed God’s promises for you. Because God might have promised to give you 100 houses in order to have more houses than 5 of Mr. Bell , but instead for you to go to God , you went to Mr. Bell. Have we ever wonder why such people are often celebrated by wealthy men? Because wealthy and men of affluence are comfortable that such men can never challenge their authority. Not because they love such men (men that worships men), but because wealthy men like power and authority to controls others’ obedience. From observation, at least 90% of our people fall within this bracket and only some 10% truly believe in God.

About 18years ago, I was then in JSS 2, I was in the car with my dad to the Palace. And one man shouted from nowhere “Lisa Ajua Barego. Kofoworola Omo Oduguwa!” father horned and drove off. I asked my dad what was that for and he said “Dara, Olola ni wa, o n ki wa ni” (meaning: we are wealthy people, he was just greeting us). Then I replied “That is nonsense, because we don’t feed him.” I can’t remember if my dad said anything thereafter. I was down in spirit and it really baffled me that I still keep that memory till date. Then at age 14, I have developed zero tolerance for men of affluence who want to be served than to be respected. I choose it as point of duty that when I am of age, I will serve the poor than to become servant tools in the hand of the oligarchies and aristocrats.

Besides, the wealthiest man in the world today cannot buy good health and do not have control over his own property when natural disaster beseech such (God forbid). But God has control over the waters, seas, lives, the earth and everything thereon it. In addition, a case in reference was when a General in the 1990s was on death row as ordered by the then Nigerian born Adolf Hitler. God in His power took the Generalissimo’s life and the captive General was released. This made him to quit politics and public life till date. God is everything that we need not man. When you go to God, he will speak through the heart of any man to do whatever you have asked of him.

How to know you are worshiping men and not God?

  • When you discover that you are dependent on someone or some people for everything
  • When your faith in God is shaking
  • When you think you are unlucky
  • When you have failed more times than you have excelled.
  • When wealthy men will always say very good things about your loyalty.

The above are few symptoms of serving men not God. And are also symptoms of penury (physical or mental). You need God at this point!

When You Are Serving God?

Wealthy men won’t like you. Even with little pretence of likeness. This is because they are always afraid of anyone who might question their authority. All they know and have is power to control others through poverty. They might start calling you names like “Proud , stupid , useless etc”. More so, the rage of envy, hatred and jealousy they have for you can only be controlled by your failure or death and nothing else. Remember the Yoruba adage “Inu ni bini ko ko aimo iwa wu” (meaning: those who hate you will hate you, no matter how good or not good your behaviour can be).

The Good news is that, never be disturbed, face God and be happy that you are not one of the fools that beg for bread from men rather than going to God for bakery. The irony is that, the oppressors themselves know who their captives are and who will never be a captive. God is all that matters! According to the book of John 15: 7-8‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you …’ Trust Him and for sure you will have many testimonies than mine.

Adedara is a Christian and writer from Sagamu, who is inspired by his personal life experiences.

 

THE ROLE OF YOUTHS AS AGENT OF PRESERVING, PROMOTING AND DEVELOPING CULTURE & TRADITION IN REMOLAND

TEXT OF A SPEECH  BY POET ADEDARA ODUGUWA, AT THE ESOE REMO YOUTH CANNIVAL ON DEC 15TH, 2013.

daraa

Let me first of all; thank the conveners and organizers of this historic epoch- making event for the rare privilege bestowed on me as active participant in this memorable maiden public outing. The criterion for chosen me was quite not patent. Nonetheless, I am confident that this is not owing to my religion, academic prowess, sex or family background. But an occasion that evolves as a result of my age bracket “Odo or Ewe”   Yoruba words that designates “Youth or young people” which qualifies me to rise as a participant in today’s occasion.   I salute you further because in making this, history is concomitantly being made and I count myself blessed to be part of the pages of history.

Having said that, I want to believe the topic before me cautions the entire “Youth Community” of Remoland (Remo Metaalelogbon) and Nigeria as a whole to consciously sit focused and unanimously reason together toward what are the roles of the Youths in preserving, promoting & developing culture/tradition of Remoland and how over the years these roles have been shaped through the trio agents of political socialization (religion, family & the school) and advent of modern science & technology.  In this fashion, this paper is sub-divided into three themes:

  • What were the roles of young people?
  • What are the roles of young people?
  • How do we seek a balance between what were and what are?

Before I probe into the discourse, let me quickly invigorates our minds with definitions of certain quintessential words (Youth, Culture/tradition and Remoland) that are found in the topic of our interest.

In recent time, the term “Youth”, “adolescent”,teenager”,kid”, and “young person” are interchanged, often meaning the same thing, but occasionally differentiated (Dosumu, 2012). Generally speaking, “Youth” is a period of time that is neither childhood nor adulthood but somewhere in-between.  For reference purposes, the following definitions were extracted and reproduced:

  • Youth “Ewe or Odo” (in Yoruba): Comprises of any person found in the age bracket 15-24 (UN, 2010).
  • Youth: Comprises of those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years (UN General Assembly, 2010).
  • Youth: Comprises persons between the age of 15 and 24 (World Bank, 2009).
  • Youth are young people aged 15-29 (Commonwealth Youth Programme, 2010).
  • Youth is defined as any member of society between the ages of 15 and 34 (WHO, 2012).
  • Youth comprises of people between the age of 15 and 24 (UNDP, 2013).

In addition, the Nigerian National Youth Policy (2001) classifies youth as those between the ages of 18 and 35 years.  Going by the literature, there is concord in terms of age brackets, almost all the definitions concurred that “Youth” title begins at age “15” and ends at age “34/35”. Therefore, I will describe   “Youth” as a set of young persons found between age 15 and 40 who are the most energetic, inspiring, educative, innovative and inventive in any organised society. Youth are the most enterprising and productive segment of the economy. They are to cogitate, formulate and implement policies for the community while the aged are to supports them with advices achieved through many years of experience.

What then is Culture/Tradition?

 According to a Yoruba Dictionary, “Asa” (Culture/Tradition) are people’s custom or way of life that is passed from one generation to the other (Fakinlede, 2011). Similarly, a tradition is a belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past (Green, 1997).  Thus, I see culture/tradition as the beliefs, customs, norms, mores, heritages, principles and values that distinguished a group of people, tribe, religion, society, community, nation, organisation or club from one another as a symbol of uniqueness which are traced from the ancestors to great- grand –father, great-grand-father to the grand-father, the grand-father to the father and father to the children. In other words, this value is passed from one generation to the other. The “Remo people” prided themselves in Cultures such as; taste, traditional dressing and symbols, marriage ceremony rites, burial ceremony and other festivals (Oro, Agemo, Eleku and Agbodu).

Remoland” or “Remo Metaalelogbon” comprises of thirty-three villiages and kings which are headed by a paramount ruler, the Akarigbo of Remoland.  The list of Remo towns includes: Makun,Isara,Ake,Akaka,Ilara,Egudu,Ogunmogbo,Eposo,Are,Emuren,Iraye,Ode-Remo,Ogere,Idena,Idarika,Iperu,Ilishan,Irolu,Idotun,Ikenne,Oko,Ado,Ipoji,Batoro,Ijoku,Latawa,Ijagba,Igbepa,Ipara,Ibido,Soyindo,Epe and Ofin (Ogun State Database,2008). Remo is one of the richest tribe in Nigeria; with a rich annual cultural pageantry commonly display in the market place during any of the attention-grabbing fiesta inter alia: the balufon, the oro, the eluku, the agemo, the yemoja (goddess of the river) and the egungun (masquerade)  (Ayodele,2008). All having their respective Kings ‘obas’ and Chiefs ‘oloyes’. Like every other tribes and nations in the defunct Yoruba empire, Remo or Iremo people find solace in a uniform ‘oriki’ or ‘praise’, which acts as a symbol of unity and togetherness. Additionally, apart from the cultural pageantry and oriki, the Remo Metaalelogbon are known for other cultural values which mold their sedentary way of life. To mention a few, Iremo people are very respective, with different greetings for each season in the day, dedicated traders/farmers, highly intelligent, god-fearing, accommodating and enterprising people. For instance, a Hausa man can secure a plot of land for a house project in Sagamu without being rejected. This may not be possible in some towns, where there is a stringent discrimination against an alien.

Moreover, this paper will further concentrate on answering the three identified questions in previous sections.

What were the roles of young people?

Before the emergence of colonial masters, young people in Remoland and it environ helped to demonstrate the rich culture/tradition, enforcement of laws and orders, facilitate progressive community policies, educate themselves on the norms and mores of their ancestors, perform various ceremonial rites and the protection of their geographical boundary. Through cultural displays/dance, the vigilante, taste, sense of dressing and various age-groups “egbe”. The Remo people were happy with their language, ruler and way of life. The aforementioned were the acceptable morals of our people. More so, any deviance against the norms and mores of the people was labelled a “taboo/ forbidden” “eewo” which attracts penalty.

I will like to share some of these norms with you. It is forbidden for a man to fling his wife’s delicacies from the cooking gas on the platform of angry. If that happens, the King would send the “olumale” (A position reserved for head of oro diety) to such house to perform their rite and certain fine was occasionally levied against the culprit (the man). Similarly, it is forbidden to disobey king’s order, if that occurred, at liberty, the king can order his aides to lock-up the house and clothe the entrance with palm fronds “mariwo-ope” until such time he is appeased. Furthermore, in Remoland, In-laws are kings to the bridegroom. He must prostrate to them at his wedding three times or more with his friends and family (all in their traditional attire-“aso ofi” with cap “fila”). Then, he saw his wife’s family as his while his in-laws were deemed to reciprocate. In addition, prior to his wedding-in courtship, he is not allowed to see his in-laws directly but indirectly through an intermediary called “Alarena”. Moreover, like many other Yoruba quarters, royalty comes with symbols. A royal blood is symbolised through dressing, particularly the use of beads “iyu” both as necklace and hand-chain.

Again, disobedience against the King “Oba” or the throne “Ilu”, youths were at liberty to execute the king’s order (locking of the culprit’s house), perform the “oro” rituals (under supervision of onimale) against the man who flings his wife’s soup, supports the bridegroom at his wedding ceremony and cultural displays; the balufon, Agemo and egungun among others. All these were immediately switched when the colonial masters set the stage with indirect rule (Oduguwa, 2012). Our culture, like bata, was in exchange for modern science & technology, foreign religion, language, education and modern wears. As if these were not enough, we were cunningly deceived to completely reject our taste, fashion, religion and morals. These lines extracted from the poem ‘Lamentation of our brain’ (Oduguwa, 2004) explains further:

“…They came, exploited and went.

Leaving rotten meat with microwave their land

They press homewards with key belonging us

…Blacks, our time rouse!

 What are the roles of young people?

In today’s world, young people position in cultural values and heritages are completely spectatorship. Modern African youths are drowned in the deep-sea of civilization, religion and technology at the detriment of our rich culture. Leaving our culture /tradition to plummet. An example in point is the role to demonstrate and educate others about our cultural heritages. If I may ask, how many member of ESOE Remo group dressed in traditional attire on his/her facebook profile page? How many bother, at least occasionally, to speak and be identified with our ear-friendly Ijebu dialect? How many of us spread the news of cultural festivals like Agemo, Agbodu day, Balufon and Egungun on our facebook page? How many of us call their children with powerful Yoruba names like Adedara, Ibunkunoluwa, Itunuade, Abimbola, Ige and not David, Joseph or Jack? And finally, if we have the whole resources in the world, how many of us are happy to invest a billion naira on our culture and tradition?

Seeking a balance

I am of the opinion that we cannot preserve, develop and or precisely promote any idea if we are not first proud of it.  Let me add this experience of mine, about two years back, I was in a tete-a-tete  with a female friend from Zimbabwe and she said“ Dara, I think you should stop wearing your traditional cap, you can still do with the bead because I think a lot of white people around may take you for a terrorist. You see, many Africans adopt English names in order to have friends and job here.” My response was that “will any Englishman buries his/her culture for mine?” Although, I later realised what she was talking about, nonetheless, I remained firm and proud of what it is to be an African and Remo person in particular.

I am thankful to the organisers for being able to demonstrate our rich culture, promote our heritage and on their way to preserving it through the formation of this highly welcomed organisation. It is therefore of utmost importance for all of us; young, old, male and female to respect our cultural values, promote, preserve and help in the development of our cultural heritages, at any place and anytime, through our fashion, taste and dealings.

Long live ESOE REMO Group!

Long live Remo Metaalelogbon!

Long live Ogun State!

Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

(YORUBA THINK!)

By Hubert Ogunde

English Translation by Adedara OduguwaOgunde and Chief Awolowo

Once upon a time, during the primordial age, there lived a king in Yoruba land named Fiwajoye. This king was so powerful and popular that the people of his kingdom loved him so much. During his time as king, the Yorubas had wealth and riches. There was money, pedigree, jobs for all and sundry. Crops bear good fruits for harvest and plants’ leafs were green. Pets like goat, ships, hen were in surplus .Traders were making profit. Wealth and power were so much for the Yorubas to the extent that they almost forget God.

There was a Staff in the primordial period called Opa-Ase (Staff of Authority or Staff of Oduduwa). This Staff was a thing of utmost secrecy to the extent that no eyes can see it except Iya-Agba, Yeye-Oloye and few elders. This staff is the secret of power of the Yorubas. Because, it is often used to pray for the king and his subjects (the masses) in Yoruba kingdom for promotion, riches, prosperity, honour and power. Indeed. It was truly a Staff of Authority.

Mass of the people loved Oba Fiwajoye to the extent that Yeye-Oloye brought the Staff of Authority to him so that he can always pray with it.

Then, there was a Chief in the land, who is next in command to Oba Fiwajoye. He is popularly referred to as ‘Ekeji-Oye’ (Second in Command). This Chief was not happy with the peaceful state of affairs enjoyed by the Yorubas. He wants the king to be dethroned and be made his replacement.

According to him “You called me Second in Command! You called me with empty mouth. If they bring yam, it’s the king they will give it to. If they bring Corn, it’s the king they will give it to. If they bring money, it’s the king they will give it to. The king is getting fatter, I am getting thinner! I am not contented with this. I will go and dominate over other land.”

And so, Ekeji-Oye (Second in Command) became an enemy of the Yorubas. He lied and deceived the Yorubas and he succeeded by changing their minds against Oba Fiwajoye. The kingdom turned into disarray and the land was in deep chaos. Not long from this period, Ekeji-Oye trickily took the Staff of Oduduwa from the palace where it was kept.

During the same period, there lived a Queen in a kingdom not far from Yoruba Kingdom. Her name was Yeye-Iloba. This Yeye-Iloba happened to be one of the greatest enemies of the Yorubas. She was so fearless and powerful. She was not happy with the development going on in Yoruba kingdom. Because in Iloba, there was no money, no jobs, no peace and sicknesses and diseases almost reduced the kingdom to nothing.

Yeye-Iloba was looking for means to fight the Yorubas in order to take them captives. But she doesn’t have hint as several efforts were in futility.

Ekeji-Oye went to the kingdom of Yeye-Iloba and told the Queen that if she can give him a huge amount of money, he is going to sell the Yorubas and delivers them to her. This was a great news and deal for Yeye-Iloba.

Consequently, this was how Ekeji-Oye (Second in Command) collected a huge amount of money from her and delivered the Staff of Authority or literarily puts ‘ Staff of Oduduwa’ to Yeye-Iloba, so that she can be using it to pray for her kingdom. Thereby selling the Yorubas into the hands of their enemies. If there is no river behind fish, it’s only a river. Without the Staff of Authority, there is no Yoruba Kingdom.

However, not long from this period, Yeye-Iloba waged war against Yoruba people and she gallantly won them since they have previously lost the Staff of Authority to her.

Oba Fiwajoye and a few of his people were whisked off Yoruba land under captive of Yeye-Iloba. They were used, maltreated and beaten as slaves. They were turned into messengers and gardeners in the palace of Yeye-Iloba. They were handcuffed and ruthlessly dealt with. House chores like sweeping, washing and cleaning of the palace was a daily routine for the Yorubas under their new foreman (Oba Fiwajoye) in the palace of Yeye-Iloba.

Oba Fiwajoye and his people were engulfed with sadness and humiliation. It was so shameful, disgraceful and slave-like that the people of Iloba monger their mockery like hawking pepper.

More so, since the king was taken into captive, the land was in disarray and almost completely destroyed. There was no money, no jobs and the once green leafs were now gray and dark. Corn refused to germinates, traders became debtors and the Yorubas were absolutely in a melancholy state while their prosperity diminishes.

The Yorubas were in the state of sadness and hopelessness. They were on the verge of repentance. They called upon themselves in a united front. They became so united to the extent that they forced Yeye-Iloba to free their king and the other captives. This was successfully achieved. Oba Fiwajoye returned to his stool and things changed completely for good as the Staff of Authority was recouped.

Consequently, Ekeji-Oye (Second in Command) was arrested and banished for the act of betrayal. Yorubas also returned to their joyous and peaceful life. Just like what was experienced in the past. Corn starts to grow, traders start to make profit. Wealth, prosperity and power returned to the land and Oba Fiwajoye became wealthier than before.

YORUBA RONU!

YORUBA THINKS!