As a Deacon in his local church, Governor Udom Emmanuel loves to quote the Bible anytime he speaks. In almost all his public speeches, he makes references to God Almighty. He talks as someone who loves God. His administration is building a controversial worship centre in Uyo. I have also seen him dance gloriously in church. Without sounding judgemental or even patronising, Udom seems to love God—even if he is pretending.
As expected, most times, his Biblical quotations are used to justify his actions and condemn or warn those who engage in acts that are not in the interest of the people. In the speech he delivered on May 29, 2021, while trying to set the qualification benchmarks for his successor, Udom, in a short sermon, quoted a Bible passage, which he said aptly, captured what he started in May 2015 “and the direction of where we should be heading.”
But he committed a serious blooper—not deliberately though. His speech writers perpetrated the faux pas! They misled the governor into an embarrassing brain fart. In the speech, they cited Isaiah 43: 16. But what they quoted for the governor was Isaiah 43:19. That is the kind of gaffe you suffer when your speechwriters neither go to church nor read their Bibles. Using the New Living Translation, it reads,”Behold, I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create a river in the dry wasteland.”
In a short sermon which formed part of the broadcast, the governor explained that God has started doing a new thing in Akwa Ibom State. Waxing metaphorical, he said the Almighty, “has already made a pathway through the wilderness and has already created rivers in the dry land.” What he tried to force down our throats was that Akwa Ibom State has changed from an industrial desert to a well-watered garden of industries. In other words, hope has returned; industries are springing forth from all corners. Permit me not to comment on that, please.
Without mincing words, he said anyone waiting in the wings to succeed him must be someone who will not take the state back to the desert it is coming out of. He put it this way: “…mark my words, we will not return to the type of leadership that is big on noise and small in the execution of the big picture items. We will never go backward on the peace in our land, the steady and focused developments we have started. The line in our state anthem has made this faith manifestly clear: Forward ever and backward never!”
Udom seems to be afraid of what usually happens when a successor to an office is either incompetent or does not share in the vision of his predecessor. His fear is that whoever succeeds him would likely tear down what he has built. It is a natural fear. It’s the kind of fear that makes politicians and corporate organisation leaders to personally decide and choose who they believe would share in their vision; as successors.
By the way, Udom is in good company on the issue of who should not succeed him in 2023. A group, Fathers of Faith, comprising respected Christian leaders in Akwa Ibom State, has advised all politicians interested in the governorship election to purge themselves of secret cult membership. Prelate Sunday Mbang, who heads the group, says so far, 13 of the aspirants have approached him to confess their sins. No names were mentioned.
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He told a press conference, “As far as I’m concerned, let me tell you, about 13 of them have come to me and my attitude is that they must go and address a national press conference and deny being in cult. If they don’t, for us, we know that they are members of cults. We will not have anything to do with them. Anybody who wants to be governor, because of what cultism has done to our children, if he doesn’t go to the press and tell the press that he is not a member, Christians will not vote for him.”
The prelate believes that cultism is inarguably, one of the critical reasons our politics have become polluted, violent and very expensive. “We cannot, as Christian leaders, allow the continuous perversion of the characters and spirits of our citizens, hence our opposition to cultism, spreading its evil tentacles in our state and nation.” I completely agree with him.
He declared without any ambiguity that his group will not support the election of any known cultist into the political system and political offices. He urged the people that if the state must turn away from the insurrections, insecurities, conflicts, violence and evils that currently afflict the country and some sections of Akwa Ibom, everyone must join in the struggle and adopt the objectives of the group so that the state and the country will return to the paths of peace, morality, prosperity and good governance.
Recently, Akwa Ibom State has come under avoidable bloodshed and regrettable deaths caused by cultists. The most annoying part is that most of these cultists are secondary students. They are young, violently audacious, and almost morally irredeemable. All their sponsors do is to point at a target—which could either be a human being to be killed or maimed, or a shop to be robbed. Then consider it done. Fed with hard drugs, these youth are almost turning their parents into targets. They rob even at noon, maim at will, and kill rival gang members with brazen-face.
A few days ago, a former Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil, Udom Inoyo, added a voice to the struggle to end cultism in the state. He was speaking to journalists during the state congress of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Akwa Ibom State. His position was that people should not be talking about cultism merely for political gains; but that the negative manifestations of cultism should worry everyone. He cautioned: “We must not take the matter of cultism lightly. We must begin to find out what is driving cultism in our state and in Nigeria. We must take cultism out of the reach and realms of politics.”
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Continued Inoyo, “It is important to ask questions like: what are we not getting right that is driving these children into cultism? Are we providing adequate education? Are we providing adequate employment opportunities? Are we engaging these youths to avoid their minds to become the devil’s workshop? Are we doing enough sensitization and attitudinal reorientation? Are the parents, schools, communities, government at all levels doing enough? We should be more concerned in addressing the problems from the roots.”
In my last contribution to the debate on 2023 governorship, I did mention that Governor Udom already has in mind whom he wants to succeed him but is bidding his time before making the declaration. The question however is: does he possess such goatish stubbornness required in picking and sponsoring a successor despite envisaged public outcry by the professional politicians?
On face value, he does not seem to have such swaggering defiance. But when one considers how he dealt a dizzying blow on Godswill Akpabio, his former boss, in the last general elections to the point of successfully voting him out of the Senate, then it would be risky to doubt his ability to manoeuvre the state political machinery in his favour.
Besides using cultism as a qualifying tool, Udom has other yardsticks. He says the people must desire a successor with the capacity and the discipline to build a state where everyone will live in peace and strive to excel; a successor who will not turn back the clock of developmental strides initiated and sustained by him; a successor who will bring out the best in the youths by galvanizing their energies and challenging them to be the best they can be.
On the other hand, he advised that “if you desire a leader, who would not efficiently utilize the resources of this state on projects that have redeeming value, then I am sorry to disappoint you, God will not give us such a successor.”
READ ALSO: Udom Emmanuel And Politics 2023
He continued: “We have gone too far ahead to retreat backward (sic). So, as you are engaging in prognostications, creating camps of loyalty and getting consumed by who you think my successor would be, always bear these thoughts in your mind. God is doing great things in our state and that invisible Hand will continue to steer the ship of this state and will not bring anyone who will negate our gains.”
Without doubt, it is the wish of every right-thinking person that Udom’s wishes come to pass. Everyone is tired and fed up with old school politics. We need a change. We need someone who will do what Udom himself has not been able to do – someone who will continue and build upon what he has done. His successor must think differently and act differently for the good of the people. But let such a leader emerge through an acceptable democratic process.
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Abiodun Seeks US Partnership In Developing Critical Sectors
The Ogun State government has solicited for partnership with the United States of America in developing the critical sectors of the State’s economy.
The State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who stated this when he received the American Consul General to Nigeria, Mr. Will Stevens, who led a 5-man delegation on a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan Abeokuta on Wednesday, noted that the State considers the United States as a progressive partner in the areas of economy, good governance, security, climate change and human capital development around the world.
Governor Abiodun posited that the State apart from the sophistication of its people and their cognitive political culture, is unanimously and popularly adjudged as the New Jersey of Nigeria and the leading industrial hub in the West Africa Sub-region, hence the need to tap from the American experience to further its developmental stride.
The governor said his administration at inception in 2019, assembled a team made up of highly resourceful technocrats and cerebral policy architects and conceptualized a transformational philosophy coined ISEYA, which is an acronym for Infrastructural Development, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education and Human Capital Development, Youth Empowerment and lastly, Agriculture and Food Security.
He said: “Through this concept, we have strategically transformed the state with modern infrastructure, deliberate policy steps to attract businesses and moving the economy from being federal allocation-focused to becoming the state with the third largest Internally Generated Revenue in the country.
“The State’s strategic location as the primary gateway to Lagos State – the largest market with the busiest ports in Nigeria has contributed to its status as the Industrial Hub of Nigeria.
“Our State is home to one of the largest industrial zones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 8,000 hectares OPIC-owned Agbara Industrial Estate, which accommodates the Federal Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ), with forty-four (44) operational companies, factory tenants from across the world, with over 6,000 Nigerian employees and an estimated 100,000 metric tons of freight moving in and out daily.”
Prince Abiodun noted that in its quest to make Ogun State the first destination for investors in Nigeria, his administration is currently constructing an Agro Cargo International Airport at Iperu-Ilishan road in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State, adding that the project is strategically designed to create the needed infrastructure to boost the exportation of agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
“By its structure and business plan, the Cargo Airport remains a game-changer in our import and export promotion efforts, as it was specifically constructed to be an aerotropolis (Airport City) equipped with components such as a special agro-processing zone to process raw agricultural materials for exports, an international testing centre to certify that agro-produce complies with international standards before it is exported, and facility for passenger operations as well as facilities to receive parcels coming into Nigeria that are to be redistributed to other parts of the country.
“In addition to that, it is an important component of Ogun State’s transportation master plan expected not only to connect rail, road and water transportation but also to decongest the Lagos Airport,” the governor added.
Governor Abiodun appreciated the American government for her firm stance on democratic governance, specifically on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as supporting different reforms in the electoral process and taking an uncompromising position on electoral offenders.
In an interview after a closed-door meeting with the governor, the Consul General said their discussions centred on security and health.
He noted that health remains the number one investment in Nigeria as the US government is in the health sector to help Nigeria to reach the 95 95 95 goals of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.
“It is my job to promote US trade and investment here in certain parts of Nigeria. I had a great conversation with the governor about the incredible investment the US companies are already making in the state as well as opportunities for more increased US trade and investment.
“We also talked about the tax sector, I think there are incredible opportunities right now to find jobs and opportunities for Nigerian youths to participate in the tax sector.
“We’ve seen the explosion of growth and investment in that sector throughout Nigeria, particularly in the South West,” the Consul General added.
Toyin Falola And The October Harvest
By Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti
In the annals of academic and societal change, few luminaries shine as brightly as Professor Toyin Falola. As autumn leaves drifted in October, the literary world was astir from the changing seasons and the relentless enthusiasm of a septuagenarian scholar making waves across lecture halls and public platforms. In many cultures and traditions, October is a month of harvest – a time to reap the fruits of labour sown in prior months. Fittingly, for Professor Falola, this October truly lived up to that essence, bearing witness to an intellectual harvest that few could parallel.
Prof. Toyin Falola at the second Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History & International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria on August 10, 2022. Photo by “Gbile Oshadipe (2022) ©
In many ways, the achievements of this month were a microcosm of Falola’s broader career: a testament to the confluence of hard work, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to societal advancement.
Within 31 days, Falola graced the podium for 3 public lectures, imparted wisdom in 2 university lectures, and was the beacon of 3 convocation lectures. Each of these engagements wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; they were conduits for sparking change, challenging established norms, and inspiring the next generation. However, to truly grasp the magnitude of Falola’s October endeavours, one must delve deeper into the essence of the man himself. At an age when many of his peers are retreating into the tranquillity of retirement, Falola’s spirit remains undiminished, if not encouraged. It’s not just the number of lectures or the honorary doctorates he received – which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat – but the zeal with which he approaches each endeavour. His lectures, for instance, are not mere recitations of historical facts or academic theories. They are vibrant tapestries woven with threads of history, contemporary societal issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They challenge, they provoke, and most importantly, they inspire. But what drives a man of over 70 years to such relentless pursuit? To find the answer, one need not look further than his past works and the themes that permeate them. For Falola, academia isn’t a secluded ivory tower but a platform to engage with the real world. His research, extensive and varied as it is, always circles back to the core of societal problems. From the intricacies of Yoruba history to the broader strokes of African colonial and post-colonial narratives, Falola’s work sheds light on the issues that matter. These are issues that, in many ways, continue to shape societies today.
In this context, October wasn’t just another month in the calendar but a manifestation of Falola’s lifelong commitment to societal change. A promise that has seen him transcend the traditional confines of academia to engage with the broader public. His public lectures resonate with many audiences, often interspersed with anecdotes, real-life examples, and a touch of humour. From the eager university student to the curious layman, Falola’s words strike a chord, reminding everyone of the transformative power of knowledge and its role in sculpting a better future. In delving deeper into the man behind the October Harvest, one quickly realizes that Professor Falola’s achievements are not a product of overnight success but the culmination of decades of unwavering dedication. It’s a journey that’s seen him navigate the tumultuous waters of academia, societal challenges, and personal hurdles, emerging each time with a renewed sense of purpose. More than anything, this tenacity has been the cornerstone of his October endeavours and his broader career. One might wonder, what is the essence of these lectures and engagements? Why do they matter? The answer lies in the content and context of each meeting. Take, for instance, one of his public lectures from October. While the topic might have revolved around historical narratives, Falola deftly intertwined it with contemporary issues, drawing parallels and highlighting lessons. His ability to bridge the past with the present, to draw lessons from history and apply them to current challenges, is what sets him apart. In doing so, he educates and empowers his audience to view issues through a multifaceted lens, promoting critical thinking and proactive engagement.
Moreover, the venues of these lectures—from universities to public platforms—underscore his commitment to inclusive education. Universities, the traditional bastions of knowledge, are just one part of the equation for Falola. By stepping out and engaging with the broader public, he’s democratizing knowledge, making it accessible to all, irrespective of their academic or socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a move that challenges the status quo, emphasizing that learning shouldn’t be confined to ivory towers but should permeate every stratum of society. However, it’s not just the lectures that stood out in October. The two honorary doctorates he received are symbolic of his contributions to academia and society at large. Such accolades, while celebratory, are also reflective. They compel us to examine the body of work that merits such recognition. For Falola, it’s a vast tapestry of research, publications, mentorship, and public engagement. Each strand, be it a book, an article, or a lecture, is imbued with a purpose: to enlighten, challenge, and change. Yet, amidst all the accolades and achievements, what’s truly remarkable is Falola’s humility. Interact with him, and you’re not met with the airs of a celebrated academician but the warmth of a mentor, the curiosity of a lifelong learner, and the passion of a societal changemaker. This unique blend of excellence and humility makes his October Harvest not just an academic feat but a life lesson for many. It serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t just about personal milestones but about the impact one leaves on society and the legacy one creates for future generations.
Reflecting on the October Harvest and the man at its epicentre, we must contextualize Professor Falola’s achievements within a broader societal framework. At a time when the world grapples with myriad challenges – from socio-political upheavals to environmental crises – the role of intellectuals and academicians becomes ever more crucial. And Falola, with his October engagements and lifelong commitment, epitomizes the potential of scholarly intervention in driving societal change. But why is this important? In an era dominated by bite-sized information and fleeting trends, the depth and breadth of academic research provide a counterbalance. Falola’s lectures, rich in historical context and analytical depth, offer a respite from the cacophony of superficial narratives. They remind us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and shape the future. Every lecture and engagement is a clarion call for introspection, urging society to delve deeper, question more, and strive for a holistic understanding. This is not to say that academia is the sole bastion of truth or the only path to societal change. But scholars like Falola, who bridge the gap between the academic and public spheres, play a pivotal role in grounding discussions in research, evidence, and historical context. They serve as beacons, illuminating the path forward with the torch of knowledge.
Furthermore, Falola’s October engagements underscore the timeless essence of commitment and passion. His journey is a testament to perseverance, dedication, and lifelong learning in a world that often prioritizes instant gratification. It’s a narrative that resonates beyond the confines of academia, inspiring professionals, creatives, and changemakers across various fields. The underlying message? Age is but a number; passion and commitment are timeless. As we draw the curtains on the October Harvest, carrying forward the lessons it offers is essential. It’s a month that celebrates Professor Falola’s achievements, the ethos of scholarly engagement, and its potential impact on society. It’s a call to action for scholars, students, and the general public to engage, question, learn, and drive change.
In conclusion, Professor Toyin Falola’s October Harvest is more than a chronicle of a month’s achievements. It’s a celebration of a lifetime of dedication, a tribute to the transformative power of knowledge, and a reminder of the potential each one of us holds. As the leaves of October give way to the chill of November, the echoes of Falola’s lectures, the wisdom of his words, and the passion of his commitment continue to inspire, urging us all to sow the seeds of change, knowledge, and progress. For in every seed lies the promise of a harvest, and in every effort, the potential for impact.
Prof. Adeoti wrote from the Department of History & International Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria.
Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles
By Leo Igwe
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the government of Sychelles to keep charges linked to witchcraft beliefs out of politics in the country because they make no legal and political sense. This call became necessary following a report that the country’s main opposition leader, Peter Herminie has been charged with witchcraft. Charged with witchcraft in this 21st century? He was accused along with seven other persons including a Tanzanian. According to the report, Herminie and other persons have been charged with “possessing items intended for use in witchcraft, conspiracy to perform witchcraft and procuring services related to witchcraft”. It was stated that the name of this key politician was allegedly mentioned in a whatsapp message between a local and the person from Tanzania, who was arrested at the main international airport on September 21, 2023. The report says that “Items related to witchcraft, including stones, black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid, a collection of powders, and documents with strange language and “demonic and satanic” symbols” were found in the possession of this Tanzanian.
State prosecutors are of the notion that the documents might be some vandalised materials from the local churches. Mr. Herminie has denied the charges, and dismissed the allegation that items linked to witchcraft including bones, body parts, and objects associated with Christianity” were found in his office or in his possession.
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Sychelles to drop these charges, because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should has no place in 21st century politics in Sychelles.
Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artefacts, and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic?
Has the government the facility or expertise to prove beyond reasonable doubt what is witchcraft and what is not witchcraft, what is demonic or satanic and what is not? How will the government prosecute this case without flagrantly violating the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Sychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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