By Akhigbe Samson
A ki n fi oju boro gbomo lowo ekuro (a Yoruba proverb which translates “retrieving the fruit of a palm kernel is not an easy feat).
The translation above is not sufficient, I want to translate it in my own understanding, especially in the light of our social milieu. I remember a time in university when we complained about hike in school fees. As one of the departmental reps, I, along with some Marxists (I’m a Capitalist by the way) put forward a case for “intellectual aluta” a situation whereby we engage the school management reasonably, we send letters and delegates to meet and try to talk. Those who had experience with these kinds of things mocked us and showed us how stupid and naive our ideas were, but we stood our grounds.
The leader of the student body then was an intellectual, so he acceded to our “intellectual aluta” moves. We began to craft letters. Our use of vocabulary would make Professor Wole Soyinka jealous. We used words like “causation, vituperative and hullabaloo”. After three weeks of letter writing and consultation, we didn’t even gain the audience of our Head of Department.
Another meeting was convened. At this meeting, while we continued to debate or argue as the case may be, someone (one of the intellectuals) used the word “Umkhonto we Sizwe”. At the mention of that word, the meeting was calm. I was calmer. The speaker had used a word that we couldn’t dispute.
“Umkhonto we Sizwe” is a political thought developed and promoted by the legendary Nelson Mandela, one of the pioneers of contemporary violent aluta. The word is a Zulu word which translates to mean “spear of the nation”. It was promoted by Mandela as a violent movement to challenge apartheid in South Africa in the early 1960s. The moment the word entered our deliberations, the spirit of aluta descended and possessed us all. The matter was settled, we had to resort to violence.
Initially, our intention was to get the school to reason with us. Just the school management. We weren’t even interested in meeting the VC, a Dean or Director would have sufficed, but at the “Umkhonto” meeting, we decided to gain the attention of the Governor of Lagos State. Thus, on a certain Wednesday morning in 2009, the students of Lagos State University (all External Campuses) staged a football match on the BRT Lane right in front of LASU Campus at Anthony Village in Lagos. To make the football match more interesting, we invited TV stations to cover the event live. 5 minutes into the match, Governor Fashola knew Lagos was “burning”. He had received calls and had began to make calls. By 10am, Channels TV aired the legendary football match thus making it a national event.
Our leaders continue to jeopardize the growth of this nation. Many of our leaders are products of unionism, they have led student Unions, trade unions, coup d’etat and understand the role of violence as a means of systematic change. It is therefore befuddling when these same leaders neglect their primary responsibilities and wait for followers to resort to violence just to make their demands. We have continually shown that as a nation, the word change is not synonymous with peace, we have foolishly entrenched a system whereby change – positive or negative – has to be violent. Virtually all elections are preceded and succeeded by violence either by commission or omission. The only reason ASUU has not achieved any meaningful stride in the past 2 decades is because they are writing letters and going on holidays that they call “strike”. Even when the school calendar is followed strictly, our public schools are not bastions of academic excellence, how much more when the management decides to go on sabbatical strike. Wasteful exercises. Our leaders are evil. Superior madness is the cure for chronic madness.
Mahatma Gandhi was also one of the leaders of political thought in the 20th century. He developed the doctrine of “satyagraha”. A doctrine that supposedly promotes nonviolent resistance to change. It became a powerful political thought that shaped the struggles of Martin Luther King Jr, Elijah Moses and Nelson Mandela later in his life. If only Ghandi had lived in Nigeria, and met Abacha, IBB, OBJ, NEPA, NNPC and the other abbreviations that exists in Nigeria.
Read carefully this paragraph to avoid misinterpretation. The very gentleman Wole Soyinka (who happens to be one of my inspirations as a Nigerian Youth) has been following the tenets of Ghandi’s Satyagraha for more than three decades and nothing seem to change. The students of LASU (External Campuses) played football for 5 minutes on BRT Lane and the Governor “ordered” his lieutenants to see that their demands were met. As a concession, the school fees of the old students were reverted while the increased fees was transferred to the jambites pending such a time they will be wise enough to play football on 3rd Mainland Bridge.
Ken Saro Wiwa (of blessed memory) whose pen shaped the Niger Delta struggles was slaughtered for following Satyagraha. Asari Dokubo and Jomo Tompolo went into the creeks with arms and in one year, gained the attention of the world. Read my lips, I’m not encouraging you to carry arms, neither am I encouraging you to “reason” with evil leaders. The difference between a warder and a prisoner is the colour of their uniforms (both wear uniforms), the same way a psychiatrist and a mad patient are differentiated by their uniforms.
Nigerian leaders are sending wrong messages to the citizens. Former Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun was indicted for stealing.
According to Wikipedia; “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission under Nuhu Ribadu brought 70 charges against Tafa Balogun covering the period from 2002 to 2004. He made a plea bargain with the court in exchange for returning much of the property and money. He was sentenced to six months in jail. He was released on 9 February 2006 after serving his sentence, part of it in Abuja National Hospital”.
The last part is interesting, part of his sentence was spent in a spa. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha became a woman and fled to Nigeria where he was given a national welcome. There are thousands of Nigerians who have spent more than 10years in prison awaiting trials for “wandering” and “petty theft”.
Fellow Nigerians keep “reasoning” with our leaders in the name of national unity.
God bless Nigeria.