Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB and the Igbos By Abimbola Lagunju

Nnamdi Kanu says he loves the Igbos. He loves them to death; he loves them so much that he wants to destroy them and their investments all over Nigeria. He loves them so much that he has, through his vitriol and irrational behavior brought the python to dance in their market place, and maybe ultimately on their graves. He loves them so much that he invited October 1deadline on the innocent ones going about their lawful businesses in Northern Nigeria. Thankfully October 1 deadline has been cancelled. But Romeo Kanu does not want the cancellation; he prefers a postponement of destruction of his kith and kin in the North. He loves his people to death.

Nnamdi Kanu read the story of Moses in the Bible. He sees himself as Moses that led the Israelites out of Egypt. He bought a shawl, a Jewish shawl to become Moses of the Igbos. He sees river Niger as the Red Sea to cross to freedom. Nnamdi Kanu, the Jew has strange visions of himself with a rod, beating the waters of River Niger to part for his children of Israel to cross. He sees manna falling from the palm trees of his native village. He sees himself climbing Udi Hill in Enugu to receive the Ten Commandments. Moses had Mount Sinai, Kanu has Udi Hills.

Kanu loves the Igbo so much that he hates every other person. He calls the Yorubas names; he calls the Hausas and the Fulani names. Only the Igbo are good. Four legs good, two legs bad..Napoleon of Orwellian Animal Farm said same. He loves the Igbo so much that he thinks only of himself as Imperial Majesty Moses Napoleon Nnamdi Kanu, the holder of power of life and death over Igbo Kingdom. He wants to leave what he calls the zoo to create his own Animal Farm. He wants the Igbos in an Animal Farm.

Kanu the Moses sees Buhari as the Pharaoh. He calls Buhari unprintable names. Buhari is his enemy, not the governors of his kingdom, not their senators, who fail their people on a daily basis like all Nigerian politicians do. In his vision, he does not see Buhari as the Head of a modern State called Nigeria; he sees Pharaoh Buharix I. Buharix wears a crown made of Igbo hide worked on by Yoruba artisans, the slaves of the Pharaoh.

Like all schizophrenics, Kanu the Moses sees all other tribes transmogrify into animals stalking the Igbos all over the country; he calls us animals in a zoo and sometimes he sees us as slaves building the pyramids for Pharaoh Buharix I . He does not want his Igbolites, the Israelites of his visions, the original people of Israel to build pyramids in Kano, Kaduna or in Daura. And he sees the Jews living in Israel today are impostors (forget that he flies their flag at his toxic meetings)….Moses Nnamdi Kanu has a plan for them. He will still take his people, the Igbos across the Mediterranean and chase out the people of Israel to the Golan Heights. He and his Igbos are the original Jews who missed their way to Nigeria’s South East. Their fatherland is across the sea, and Kanu has the rod to part the waters of the Mediterranean for his people to ultimately cross to the Promised Land. Their capital is Jerusalem.

But Reason says Nnamdi Kanu is a false irredentist. He does not love the Igbos. He hates them passionately. He is morbidly jealous of their economic success across Nigeria. His hatred is fuelled by his inability to create wealth to flaunt like his successful kin. Rather than learn from them, he wants to destroy them. In all his rantings, Nnamdi Kanu has not spoken of any vision for his Kingdom of Biafra. He has no idea. He wants to bring them economically to their knees by dangling the Biafra carrot. But they are wise; they are not biting his fake carrot. They may not understand his motive, but they understand that his rhetoric will bring ruin to them.

Nnamdi Kanu hates his Igbo brothers so much that he wants to render them economically unproductive like himself. He wants to see them scraping for a living. He wants to replace their wealth with hatred. He wants to see erstwhile rich and successful Igbos squirm in front of him. He wants to ruin his brothers and defeat their spirits forever.

His intentions are ominous for his Igbo kindred. When the Northern Youths annulled their October 1 deadline for the Igbos to leave Northern Nigeria, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, but not Kanu. He insisted that all Igbos in Northern Nigeria should return to the South-East before October 1! To do what? To worship him as their Moses!

Igbos do not only do business everywhere they are, but are also part and parcel of the landscape socially and culturally. They are settled. They are prosperous. They have numerous friends among other ethnic groups. They intermarry.  But Kanu wants to destroy all that. And what will he give in return? Nothing.

Nigeria is an environment of chronic need in terms of alimentation. It is normal that many who suffered chronic malnutrition in their childhood will have some deficits in their mental health like the shambolic followership of Kanu. It is surprising that those who have nothing to lose are calling the shots for those who have everything and their minds to lose. It is time for the Igbos to organize themselves against Kanu, the self-acclaimed Moses. He needs help. Where are the psychiatrists?

For those Yorubas who have openly supported Kanu, they share his vision of destruction of the Igbos – pull them down. They suffer from pathological envy of the success of the Igbos. They want to see the Igbos cut to size – to a very small and insignificant size. Their support is not altruistic; they are goading Kanu to bring down his own brothers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

From ECOWAS to MECOWAS: Morocco joins ECOWAS By Abimbola Lagunju

It sounds like a bad joke. Morocco has successfully applied to join the ECOWAS, that is, the Economic Community of West African States! Morocco formally applied in February 2017 to join the regional body. At the Heads of States Summit held in Monrovia in June 2017, just four months after, the Authority of Heads of States announced that it had agreed to consider the application in principle! It is now in the news that the official admission of Morocco into ECOWAs has been fixed for 16th December 2017!

Morocco in Ecowas? Just look at the map. In the ECOWAS Treaty of May 1975 and its revised version of July 1993, Ecowas "Region" means the geographical zone known as West Africa as defined by Resolution CM/Res.464 (XXVI) of the OAU Council of Ministers. Where does Morocco fit into this? Are our leaders trying to create their own Berlin conference? Look again at the map.

What is the problem with our leaders?  What kind of absurdity is this?  What does Morocco want in ECOWAS?  Is this a case of one head (Morocco) better than fifteen heads? Why are our leaders consciously allowing whatever peanuts Morocco is secretly offering some of them to manipulate their minds as was the case with mirrors, guns, trinkets and alcoholic drinks during the slavery period? What is their vision of the regional body if they have any? Have our leaders really thought about the medium and long-term implication of admitting Morocco into ECOWAS or are they simply satisfied with their individual short term gains? African history appears to be going round in circles. The age-old vulnerability of the trusting African is still the same, only the price with which he sells changes with times.

In the absence of vision and ideas, our leaders have specialized in development of long umbilical cords with other cultures at our detriment; see the way they hold dearly to their colonial legacy; and have indeed transformed it into a status symbol. It is a mental re-engineering process begun in the 8th century by Arabs and perfected through the period of slavery into colonialism. This umbilical connection otherwise known as “historical ties” of the oppressed to his oppressor is a self-abasing algophilic hedonism that not only deludes the oppressed into a false sense of common identity with his oppressor, but also serves as the Grail of discrimination against other Africans of different mental re-engineering and color of umbilical cords. Thus, African francophones see themselves as having more in common with the French than with their African anglophone “brothers”, who also see themselves as kin of English speaking Western countries with nothing in common with their francophone neighbors. The lusophones stand world apart too, their brothers being the Portuguese. These leaders or rulers ignore their umbilical ties to us, the governed and abandon us to our fate.

The primordial connection of traditions, culture and color, the common history of injustice, subjugation and humiliation of West Africans by people from other cultures appear not to be of importance to our present crop of leaders. They do not know or have forgotten that Africans have always been victims of incursions of other cultures in our midst. They are inviting trouble again into our midst. Now, they want Morocco, a country with which the region does not have any geographical or cultural or historical link, save the story of the Gnawas (former slaves).! They want to develop another long umbilical connection that will bring pains and regret in the future.

And if their acceptance of Morocco is to get at Nigeria for whatever reasons as is being bandied in some quarters, then they have really missed it. Morocco can never geographically be in West Africa, just like their bosses at the other end of their other umbilical cords can never be here, no matter how much our leaders dream. Whoever is behind this should wake up. Nigeria is, and will always part and parcel of West Africa and they have to live with that. They should ask Morgan Tsvangirai, who at a time thought Britain was the immediate neighbor of Zimbabwe.

But our regional leaders should hear this: if the plight and the humiliation of the West African in the world is not understood because it becomes formless in the smoke of political discourse between our leaders and foreign leaders; if our leaders fail to see that our condition rubs off on them and says a lot about them and their manipulable minds despite red-carpet receptions which they receive in foreign countries; if they fail to see that  dignity is not bestowed by photo sessions with their foreign counterparts, but by their recognized collective effort to redeem West African peoples from the humiliation of their conditions; if they fail to understand that normal political leaders fight for the interest of their people and nations, not their personal interests, common sense dictates that, at least they should understand the enormity of history on their shoulders and not ruin what was created by more visionary leaders than them in 1975.

If they fail to see this, ECOWAS will ultimately disintegrate and history won’t judge anyone of them kindly.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Ibadan Obaship Confusion: Saying It As It Is By Abimbola Lagunju

The political underpinnings and the inevitable consequences of the introduction of a new chapter in Ibadan traditional system through the installation of some 22 kings by Governor Ajimobi have been generating a wide range of emotions from outright incredulity and anger at the audacity of the action by many to chest-pumping, victory songs and satisfaction of the proponents. The governor and his aides, as well as Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) have tried unsuccessfully to explain the rationale for this unprecedented-in-the-history of Ibadanland action. 22 kings at one blow! It looks like material for Guinness Book of Records. The rationale appears to be as difficult to explain as it is difficult to understand. There are many guesses and rumours about the political motive, they may or may not be true, but these guesses and rumours have some factual foundation. Nobody can however articulate the medium and long-term consequences.

Many are mad at Governor Ajimobi for throwing the spanners into the works of an otherwise well-structured and peaceful Olubadan ascension system. They ask, “What was the problem that necessitated the reform?” “Who complained about it?”, “Who asked for reform?” Governor Ajimobi and his aides may have answers to these questions, but they have not shared it with the public. One major reason that they have shared is that they will like to see the Olubadan surrounded by crowned kings when the aged monarch goes out on the occasional meeting with fellow Obas like Ooni, Awujale and the rest. The faults in this reasoning are multiple. Firstly, the political, social and economic importance of a city is not measured by the retinue of lesser kings that follows a paramount king to a meeting. Ibadan is such a city that does not need such glorification for its institutions. Ibadan is Ibadan, not Ijebu, not Ife, not Abeokuta; Olubadan is Olubadan, a tiger does not need to announce its tigritude, Wole Soyinka says. Secondly, each patch of Yorubaland has its publicly accepted traditions and to base decisions on others’ tradition to change Ibadan’s enviable system is tantamount to a disregard for its founding principles and an attempt to dim its prestige. Thirdly, what added value does Ibadan get from the Olubadan being accompanied by a retinue of kings to the occasional outing? Reason says this flaunted excuse is not sufficient to justify an action of this magnitude.

Some claim that the gerontocracy inherent in the Olubadan ascendancy system is a concern that warrants a reform. They will like to see a young, i-pad wielding, smart and articulate Ibadan son ascend the throne. They conveniently forget that if perchance this should happen, those in line of succession will be very old men when the king departs to join his ancestors. The question of what added value does a young king bring to Ibadan people then arises. The ascendancy system has an in-built natural, democratic, albeit morbid mechanism of change of batons between individuals in line to the throne. This system suits the temperament of Ibadan people.

In order to understand how Ibadan arrived at this quagmire, there is a need to look at the profile of some of the actors involved. What do they have in common and what divides them? Firstly, all the High Chiefs in ascendancy to the throne line as well as the Governor are all from Ibadan, and given the way all founding Ibadan families know and are linked to each other, we can assume that the Chiefs and the Governor have known each other from childhood days. Secondly, Governor Ajimobi is also a High Chief like any of the High Chiefs. He may not be in line to the throne, but he is the Aare of Ibadan. Thirdly, some of the High Chiefs and the Governor are politicians. So what brought division between them? Partisan politics! Democracy divided them! Partisan politics of democracy! And they were warned about politics!

Daily Champion of 24th July 2007 under the headline Nigeria: Adedibu, Ladoja, Others Banned From Politics” reported that “The Olubadan-designate of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1 has barred 13 traditional high chiefs constituting the Olubadan-in-council from partisan politics while tasking them to choose between their traditional offices or partisan politics.” If the members of the Olubadan-in-council had heeded this warning, removed themselves from politics and assumed the role of non-partisan elders in a democracy-induced divided populace, maybe Ibadanland would have been spared this potentially flammable face-off.

Governor Ajimobi is right to have used his political office and authority to his advantage in a political turf war. Any other person would have done the same or maybe worse. Ibadan High Chiefs prepared the ground for this by ignoring the charge of the late Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1. The Yorubas say, “oro agba ti o ba se ni owuro, a se ni ojo ale” (the prophesy of elders will come to pass sooner or later).
Ibadan is in a situation of absence of peace. This situation will remain so, not because of Governor Ajimobi, but for as long as Olubadan as well as the High Chiefs of Ibadanland who are supposed to be unbiased fathers of all involve themselves in divisive partisan politics. Democracy is about division along party lines where the winner takes all. Our fathers should not be part of anything that divides their people.

And while at copying others, Ibadan, and by extension Oyo State will do itself a lot of good by banning Obas and High Chiefs from partisan politics just like Ghana has done. Oyo State may still earn its epithet of Pace Setter…..!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Bigmanism is an Existential Attitude of All Nigerians By Abimbola Lagunju

 Nigeria is a country of Big Men sporting big mouths and small minds. Everyone wants to play a big man – a local celebrity without brains but with raw violent power. Everyone wants to be a Big Man with loud mouth. Bigmanism is an attitude, a way of life where real or assumed power is worn at all times as a cloak of authority to intimidate and oppress others for ego satisfaction. It is an obsession for recognition, ego-boosting and demand for respect from the immediate surroundings. A Nigerian Big Man sees himself as a hero, a celebrity and an achiever with brutish destructive powers over others. Bigmanism is not linked to doing good; it is a tool of oppression and punishment. It does not require intellect; it thrives on ability to deploy violence against individuals and groups.

Nigerian Bigmanism becomes toxic and very dangerous when the innate mixes with politically or professionally acquired Bigmanism. This is constituted Bigmanism, where absolute raw power to inflict pain and death or break and destroy is on display. The toxic Big Man does not hesitate to remind everyone of his readiness to deploy these powers. Nigerian politicians, policemen of all ranks, military men of all ranks, immigration and customs officers of all ranks and civil servants of all ranks, retired or active, are our constituted Big Men. We are captives of Big Men with Big Powers. The notion of Human Rights is an aberration in the mind of a constituted Nigerian Big Man. A Big Man does not understand what obligations and responsibilities are. He can only condescend to give favours with public money. A constituted Big Man owns the people, the land and all that is therein.

In order to attract attention and announce Bigmanism merited and unmerited, bought and stolen titles are waved as symbols of authority from a long distance. Everyone adopts and uses any title that he fancies and it is even more attractive when it comes as a long chain with more letters than names that look like sentences. Bigmanism traverses ethno-religious lines. A Big Man is a Big Man. Sometimes, a high number of Big Men in a given area may engender the feeling of superiority over other areas. Yes! Geographical areas may also exhibit Bigmanism ! In such areas, the local Government or State Cabinets, staffed only with Chiefs, Chief (Dr)s, Chief (Pastors) and other combinations of titles rail against other areas with less number or no chiefs at all in the most offensive terms.

 When recognition of a Big Man is delayed or not forthcoming or when recognized, but due obeisance according to the dictates of the mind of the big man is not paid, then, you hear the ubiquitous phrase in Nigerianese “You don’t know me? I will deal wit you”. This implies that the offended Big Man believes he has all the rights to deploy violent physical or verbal strategies to administer punishment to the small man and confirm his status as a Big Man, not only to his victim, but also to others who may be nursing Human Rights insolence. If the small man cowers and performs rituals of appeasement he can escape intact depending on how much the Big Man feels offended. However, if the small man wants to assert his fundamental human rights, then he gets it. The Big Man reminds the small man that nothing will happen, even if he dies in the process of being punished. And nothing really happens!

Living in Nigeria is a balancing act. Nigerians learn from early childhood how to tread carefully within the maze of Big Men that surround them while also looking for ways to become Big Men. Every Nigerian needs someone to subdue and oppress in order to feel good with himself. It is a country of dangerous and unproductive, corrupt and murderous alpha males and females with obsession to cause harm to individuals and the society.

Our brothers and sisters in diaspora who had also played Big Men in Nigeria before changing address quickly unlearn their lessons in Bigmanism on other shores. They run into big troubles for three reasons when they visit Nigeria. Firstly, they think they can usurp the Bigmanism of our local Big Men because they are armed with dollars and a foreign accent. They miss it by a wide margin. Secondly, they forget that Nigeria, their country of birth does not recognize any form of social equality. There are as many as 180 million Big Men and Women of all age groups. To assert or demand any form of equality is to ask for big troubles. And these guys do get into big troubles here. Thirdly, intoxicated by accent and Human Rights doctrine which they have heard of, but never enjoyed in their adopted country, they seek to assume the role of social critics and misplaced activists when visiting. Naturally, they run into conflicts with our own local Big Men activists who have already marked out their terrains. Those who quickly relearn what they unlearnt about Nigeria make Nigeria their home and they thrive. The stubborn ones among them soon dust up their non-green passports and scrape money together to buy air tickets to leave. They dust their shoes and take off, accent and all. From the safety of their new address far away from our local Big Men, they become Facebook activists and Whatsapp warriors.

What kind of society is Nigeria that runs like a gangland with Big Men run amok? Is this a democracy?

PS: In writing this piece, I could not bring myself to write the first letters of Big Men in small letters. They loom large even in the privacy of my thoughts.