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The Lies About NYSC

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Unsafe Schools Mean Failed State

By
Emmanuel Onwubiko

“Lies run sprint, but the truth runs marathons.”-Michael Jackson

No doubt, we are in moments of anxiety and national outrage, no thanks to the unprecedented anarchy, chaos and doom caused by insecurity.  In these moments of uncertainty even institutions that symbolise sublime goals of making Nigeria great are challenged by cocktails of externally generated speculative tails of fear, anxiety and apprehension.  The National Youth Service Corps Scheme is not an exception. The institution is battling cocktails of lies, half truths and speculations and these are sowing seeds of doubts and anxiety in the minds and hearts of Nigerians.  The good news is that the NYSC is under the tested and trusted leadership of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim who holds a doctorate in education. Before putting pen to paper, I read few books to understudy the different ramifications of anxiety and these were my findings and summaries in the following citations.

“There’s no getting over the fact that high anxiety can be brutal, which is why our natural reaction is to fight against it. This is how we become quickly disillusioned; because it’s a battle we’ll never win. More importantly, it’s a pointless battle we shouldn’t be fighting in the first place. Anxiety is not your enemy. It’s your life companion. It’s essential to your survival, and if you didn’t have it, you wouldn’t be here today. By learning to live comfortably with it, and accepting it as part of your life, you will win – every time.

I’m continually shocked by the number of individuals who claim to be experts offering a ‘cure’ and ‘elimination’ for anxiety. It’s difficult to understand how anybody with a true understanding of anxiety could make such false promises.

READ ALSO: Tokyo Olympics: Rethinking Sports Administration in Nigeria

“It’s no coincidence that I spent so many years looking for answers, and why people suffering from high anxiety are constantly seeking a ‘cure’. It’s because it doesn’t exist! Anxiety doesn’t have a switch that you can permanently turn off. It’s well and truly implanted in us and forms part of who we are, just like any other emotion. When we feel sad or angry, our natural reaction isn’t to completely eliminate the emotions of sadness and anger – we accept them as part of our lives. We accept that it’s healthy to get angry and upset. If we agree that it’s healthy to get angry and sad, why are we led to believe that we should ‘eliminate’ anxiety, when it’s just as healthy to be anxious? All of these emotions might come with unwanted and uncomfortable feelings, but that’s part of the human experience. We would live in a very strange world if we felt happy every time we got dumped or fired, for example.

” Anxiety is what gets you out of bed in the morning. It keeps you safe when you cross the road. It provides the motivation to find a loving partner and friends. It keeps your children fed and healthy. It makes your life possible. Save yourself a lot of grief and stop fighting it. Put your arm around it, and thank it for being a loyal companion.

“I now accept that anxiety will always be present in my life, and by changing its meaning, I completely change the way I deal with it. I understand that overcoming high anxiety is a life’s journey, not a quick fix, and it’s not something I can turn off, cure or eliminate.

“Accepting anxiety as part of your life doesn’t mean being ruled by it. The concept of rebalance means that once you’ve achieved normal anxiety levels you can live your life without having to make decisions based around it. You will regain control, and be free to live a happy, active and fulfilling life, doing what you want, when you want”. (Anxiety Rebalance: All The Answers You Need To Overcome Anxiety & Depression By Carl Vernon).”

READ ALSO: The Power Of Positive Difference: Dr. Obadiah Mailafia And His Nigeria

Another author says as follows: “Leaders show their mettle in many ways – setting strategy and motivating people, just to mention two – but above all else leaders are made or broken by the quality of their decisions. That’s a given, right? If you answered yes, then you would probably be surprised by how many executives approach decision making in a way that neither puts enough options on the table nor permits sufficient evaluation to ensure that they can make the best choice. Indeed, our research over the past several years strongly suggests that, simply put, most leaders get decision making all wrong.”

The author stated also that: “The reason: Most businesspeople treat decision making as an event-a discrete choice that takes place at a single point in time, whether they’re sitting at a desk, moderating a meeting, or staring at a spreadsheet. This classic view of decision making has a pronouncement popping out of a leader’s head, based on experience, gut, research, or all three. Say the matter at hand is whether to pull a product with weak sales off the market. An ‘event’ leader would mull in solitude, ask for advice, read reports, mull some more, then say yea or nay and send the organization off to make it happen. But to look at decision making that way is to overlook larger social and organizational contexts, which ultimately determine the success of any decision.

The fact is, decision making is not an event. It’s a process, one that unfolds over weeks, months, or even years; one that’s fraught with power plays and politics and is replete with personal nuances and institutional history; one that’s rife with discussion and debate; and one that requires support at all levels of the organization when it comes time for execution. Our research shows that the difference between leaders who make good decisions and those who make bad ones is striking. The former recognize that all decisions are processes, and they explicitly design and manage them as such. The latter persevere in the fantasy that decisions are events they alone control.

“In … decision-making process – an approach we call inquiry-and outline a set of criteria for assessing the quality of the decision-making process.” (On Making Smart Decisions By Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo, and Olivier Sibony).
Another illustrious author wrote thus: “We all have a backstory. It explains why we behave as we do. OK, it doesn’t always justify it, but at least it’s a reason for our behaviour. Of course, no one else ever knows all the details and complexities of your backstory like you do, but lots of people get the gist.

” There’ll be a reason why certain things make you feel more anxious, stressed, excited, cynical, depressed, relaxed, angry confident than other people do. It might be genetic, it might be because of bad past experiences, or according to Freud it might all be down to your parents. Friends might say that you shouldn’t stress so much about this, or be so suspicious about that, or be too laid back, or shout so much. But they don’t understand – if they’d been to the same school as you, or lived through the poverty you have, or had siblings like yours, or worked for your last boss, they’d realise why you behave that way.

“Listen, this is true of everyone. There’s no one on the planet who isn’t shaped by their personal experiences. So, when your colleague snaps at you, or your friend lets you down, or your partner forgets your birthday, just remember there’s always a reason. It might be a rubbish reason, but there’s a reason.

“And I’m telling you this because if you can understand the reason, it makes it easier to deal with other people’s negative behaviour.
Even if you can’t change the way they act, you’ll find it slightly easier to take if you get the reasons behind it. And often simply because you are prepared to understand, they can let go of being defensive and decide to change their behaviour.”  (The Rule of People by Richard Templar).

READ ALSO: NYSC Not Death But Skills’ Sentence

We took a lot of time to cite authoritative submissions on anxiety because of the salient fact that due to the spread of fake news and rumors about one of the most successful public institutions, the National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC), a lot of people may have developed anxiety and some are already believing these lies deliberately told to muddy the facts.

The truth is that: “Rumors. Gossip. Fake news. We’ve all heard these terms. While most consider them harmless, they can affect your health. Learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction can be a real boost — both mentally and physically. What happens when rumors aren’t harmless? What if they damage someone’s reputation, livelihood, or personal life? If you’re on the receiving end of untrue gossip, what do you do?”

On Rumors vs. Gossip vs. ‘Fake News’, the writer says: “Rumors are defined as widely spread talk with no reliable source to back it up. They aren’t always bad. Some rumors can even seem positive, like promotions, engagements, or awards. But until proven otherwise, they are just that — rumors. Gossip is when you take rumors — those unconfirmed pieces of information — and pass them along, spreading what may be ‘fake news.’ What may be surprising is how difficult it can be to tell rumor and gossip from truth. Even people who are Internet-savvy can have trouble telling what’s real and what’s not. It can also be tough to tell the difference between news and advertisement. As a result, people sometimes give more weight to what they see in their social media feed than what they get from more credible news sources.”

The author then posed the question to know what’s the harm in rumours and responded thus: “When it comes to ‘ fake news,’ the effects can be both immediate and long-lasting. In most cases, a ‘fake news’ story can rile up your emotions and change your mood. Depending on the strength of your feelings, the story, and the reaction it gave you, can stick in your head, even after you find out it’s false. You may even remember those feelings if you see another story about the same subject. On their own, rumors and gossip seem harmless; almost a fun pastime. But there’s a point where they can become harmful to your health. There’s a great deal of information out there about bullying among teenagers and younger children. What’s sometimes overlooked is that adults can be bullied, too. It can come in the form of untrue rumors or gossip about them or a loved one. It can also come through reactions to words or an image that’s been posted. Physical appearance, politics, and financial issues can all become the subject of online bullying, too.”

The author asked to know what you can do. And then responds thus: “Rumors, gossip, and fake news can make you feel helpless, angry, and very anxious. There are steps you can take to regain your power and your health. To avoid fake news, you can:
Watch out for sites that end in “.com.co.” Often, these are bootleg versions of traditional news services.Try to find other articles on the same topic from other sites, especially if the first article you read makes you upset. It’s possible that the anger-inducing story was created in a way to rile you up.

“Check another source if an article you read uses all caps, either in headlines or in the article itself. Click the “About Us” tab for more information about the source.

“Poke around a little to see if other, more-known sites are reporting the story. If it’s legitimate, at least one other site would cover it. Be careful about blogs, even if they’re tied to well-known sites. In many cases, blogs aren’t held to the same editorial standard as regular news pieces.”

“When you come across a piece of gossip, a juicy rumor, or an unflattering photo that clearly is aimed at hurting the subject, don’t share it, don’t comment, and don’t engage. You might be able to help someone who doesn’t know how to combat the problem by simply reporting it for them. If you’re the subject of a rumor, gossip, or bullying, it’s important to remember that not every bit of teasing is bullying. But when it escalates to that point, don’t respond. Cut them off — block the calls and texts, and block them on social media. Get in touch with your Internet service provider if the abuse is coming through a website or your smartphone. Chances are the bully is violating their terms of service. If so, the offensive posts will disappear. You can also contact the police. There are laws against harassment, stalking, and threatening behavior. Don’t engage with them. Don’t forward the messages to friends.

READ ALSO: Why Govt Shouldn’t Scrap NYSC – HURIWA

Most of all, don’t believe whatever is being said about you”( www.webmd.com).  Here are some of the rumors so far spread about the NYSC. Luckily, the proactive managers of the NYSC have also ably provided the responses to these rumours and as someone writing from the background of an independent observer, I can confirm that what the management of NYSC have adduced as their responses are accurate.

Around July 31st 2021, the  National Youth Service Corps, asserted that the reported story that 544 corps members were killed in the Northeast and Northwest in 2021 was nothing but junk journalism and blackmail by a section of the media.

In the report, the NYSC was also accused of risking the lives of 9,100 corps members deployed to the seven states in the North-West region; where at least, 189 persons have been killed and 376 persons were abducted in Zamfara and Kaduna states alone.

Reacting to two reports by a national daily, the scheme said the medium was losing grip on “balanced reportage, which is the hallmark of good journalism.”

A statement signed by the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi (Mrs), alleged that the unsubstantiated reports were published to create apprehension in the minds of parents, guardians and other stakeholders.

The statement reads in part, “No corps member deployed to the North-East and North-West geopolitical zones of the country was killed, neither was any abducted by bandits in July 2021, as reported.

“Management would have ignored these stories, but had to issue this rebuttal for the sake of undiscerning minds who may swallow the fake news, hook, line and sinker. Nonetheless, discerning minds know that they are a figment of the writer’s imagination, as nothing of such happened.

“However, it is imperative to restate that balanced reportage is the hallmark of good journalism. The integrity of information pushed into the public domain should never be in doubt.

“Management hereby passionately appeals to both the mainstream and new media, as opinion moulders and critical stakeholders in the polity to always place national interest above every other consideration in their reportage, as anything contrary has the propensity to create apprehension in the minds of parents, guardians and other stakeholders.

“The scheme is always open to enquiries, in order to guard against feeding the public with inaccurate, or completely false information.

“NYSC shall continue to prioritise the security and welfare of corps members which is the cardinal policy thrust of the scheme.

READ ALSO: NYSC To Add New Features On Certificate

“The scheme hereby reassures the general public that it will continue to work in concert with security agencies in order to ensure the safety of corps members across the nation.”

Around August 5th 2021, the National Youth Service Corps described as untrue claims of COVID-19 positive corps members.
The organisation said there were no COVID-19 positive corps members in any of the 37 NYSC orientation camps nationwide.
The NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, made the clarification in a statement in Abuja.

She said, “Please note that before any prospective corps member is admitted into the 37 camps, they must undergo COVID-19 test. Only those that test negative are admitted; the same rule applies to camp officials.

“Those that test positive are handed over to the NCDC for treatment and management. It is pertinent to state
that there is a gulf of difference between a corps member and a prospective corps member.

“One becomes a corps member after admittance to the camp, registration and administration of the oath of national allegiance.

“Anyone mobilised for service that has not gone through the aforesaid process is not a corps member.

“In view of the foregoing explanation, there is no red alert in NYSC orientation camps, as all corps members, as well as camp officials admitted in the camps are COVID-19 negative.”

In not too distant past, there was also a certain sinister effort to spread some toxic rumours that the DG of NYSC was against Christian worships within the NYSC camps. But ironically, the director general though a sound and good Moslem incidentally is married to a Roman Catholic Christian adherent and so cannot possibly be categorized as a hater of Christians.

I do think that this regime of rumours targeted at the NYSC which are meant to sow a sort of anxiety in the minds and hearts of Nigerians are really not strange. This is because of the recent move by a member of the Federal House of Representative to get the National Assembly to abolish the NYSC due to the unprecedented rate of insecurity in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Governor Wants NYSC Extended To Two Years

The bill on the discontinuation of the National Youth Service Corps has reached the second reading in the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by the lawmaker representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal, the bill listed various reasons why the NYSC should be scrapped. It said the NYSC had led to the “incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism and ethnic violence; incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country.

“Public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths, thus relying heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed.

“Due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promoting national unity and integration.”

The bill is seeking the alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alteration Bill, 2020.

The youth service, which started on May 22, 1973, was established during the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon under Decree No. 24 of 1973. The whole truth is that the NYSC was established to reconcile and reintegrate Nigerians after the Nigerian civil war; traditions and customs of their host communities; providing the forum for corps members to experiment with ideas and translate them into concrete achievements thereby relying less on foreign technology and encouraging the use of local raw materials in the execution of projects; harnessing the enormous energy, talents and skills of corps members into an effective machinery or change in our rural communities; providing on-the job-training, skill sets and experience for corps members; providing complementary service in our national development activities, by ensuring that our underprivileged population learn basic techniques for self-help through the appropriate technology concept being promoted by NYSC; to instill in corps members the tradition of dignity of labour and productivity; to complement the activities of government at all levels in the stride towards national development.
So, do not believe the lies about NYSC!

Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

 

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Opinion

Prof Ibrahim Bello-Kano On Wiseman Festus Keyamo

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Prof Ibrahim Bello-Kano On Wiseman Festus Keyamo

By Tony Afejuku
I present today two out of the numerous responses that found me after the essay on Festus Keyamo appeared here last Friday. The responses are particularly electrifying in different ways as you shortly shall find out – dear, dear readers. The first response gracing the column now is from a reader in the South East geo-political territory who wishes to remain anonymous. I endorse the code of anonymity which I hereby oblige him – even though his account is in no way irritating. The second reader I am also quoting word-for-word has appeared here in the past. He is a highly radical Professor of Bayero University, Kano, who suffers no fools gladly – and treats no one he disagrees with strongly with kid gloves. I hope Minister Festus Keyamo, the junior minister of our central labour ministry, and you my readers, our ever-watchful compatriots, will find today’s contributions positive. Of course, you will find interesting why Professor IBK’s stands as it stands in the title. His sharp submission is a certain and surely useful shorthand for what many patriotic compatriots will call Fine man and Boy Fine Festus Keyamo’s new identity as the column adumbrated last Friday. We hope Festus Keyamo will soon become Wiseman Festus Keyamo after reading us today. I say: easy, helpful and happy reading.

Reader Anonymous: Sir Afejuku, a very good day to you. I wish I could control my emotions to avoid expressing how deeply I was touched emotionally by your words of wisdom and piece of advice of naked truth undiluted to Festus Keyamo in your “Festus Keyamo: A hole of an argument.” I wish Keyamo has the wisdom and ability to understand what you meant and mean still by that, not just literally.

My brother, I did not know you before now, and I still don’t know you, but I call you a brother because you have what it takes to be called a brother and that is “wisdom and passion for truth that bears integrity.”

Can you see the reason we are where we are today as a nation? This is just how Nigeria is being run by the government and virtually everybody in it. Personal interest matters and nothing else is to the government and those in it. Our problems are not natural because the country is naturally blessed. Sometimes, yes, sometimes …. I cry for Nigeria. It’s very unfortunate what we are doing to ourselves in the name of politics.

Truth is sweet and heavier than any object, and anywhere it drops darkness shakes uncontrollably and in disarray… I want this country to work for all of us the people as we have no other one to call our own. Nigeria is our home, and no one else can build this country for us if we the people don’t build it and make it work for us. Keep speaking the objective truth. Only the truth shall set us free, my brother.

Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano: Thank you for your masterly demolition job of Festus Keyamo’s petty and infantile attacks on ASUU members and the Nigerian lecturership. Keyamo, the ex-radical activist, the guy from a back-water village in Delta State, a village which, I read somewhere, still doesn’t have a decent main street, a modern drainage or sewage system. Keyamo is just one out of many fine radicals who, once they joined the state machine, became servile functionaries of it. The academic psychological literature is full of “analyses” of hitherto radical activists who are now willing tools of the corrupt and unaccountable state machine or an insensitive political administration. If he ever went to university and got a first law degree and still found it expedient to denigrate his former lecturers, one would wonder how he could so easily forget that he was the product of the university system. Little wonder that he could or did, in fact, forget that he would never have held a high office in or been functionally useful to, the Buhari Administration or the APC itself had he never attended a university or had never got an academic degree. Thus people like Keyamo are the typical infantile state-idol worshippers, the willing tools of mischief against good or noble causes once those causes threaten state privilege or those of its parasitic officials who routinely and conveniently forget their humble origins.

READ ALSO: Festus Keyamo: A Hole Of An Argument

The historical literature is full of the tragic stories of old state psychophants who ended up either being ditched by the very state machinery they served or were swept away by their own very hubris. As Henry Thoreau once said, an intelligent and independent-minded person does not willingly do the bidding of a corrupt Prince. Keyamo has sold his soul to the Devil, the one at the head of a lazy, unwilling, incompetent, and insensitive Dinner Table. Of course, Keyamo hopes to keep his subordinate seat at that Table come June 2023. But he’s yet to learn the tragic lesson of betrayal from an un-impressed state machine which has no logic other than that of its own self-aggrandizement. Hubris, arrogant over-simplification, infantile political bootlicking and selective amnesia have not yet helped anyone (in the long run). Nor would all this help Mr. Fetus Keyamo, the ridiculous petty official who hopes to keep his allegedly cool corrupt privileges induced by malignantly decent men and women, the hypocritical, debased and devilish cream of Nigeria’s intellectual resources.

Now the columnist cannot but appreciate IBK, an unblemished ultra-radical critic and commentator of Kano, and Mr. Anonymous of “Biafra” who believes in one Nigeria. If Disputant Festus Kayamo wants us to label or re-label him as Wiseman Festus Keyamo he should retrace his steps and re-learn to walk, fly, glide and travel with us as you my good readers “catch the pulse of wisdom that flows around you and it becomes a part of your consciousness like a dance of perfection.” Festus Keyamo should become a wise man by jettisoning now this regime of darkness in your country my country our country where Alas! wings of birds are powerless and dead. But the chopping minister will not hearken to any wise counsel. He will not. He is too far gone. Yes, he is too far gone. He is no more a masses-man. But that is not my problem or yours. His new cross is his new cross. Let him carry it as he chooses. Thunder!!!
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

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Opinion

“Cut Soap For Me!”

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"Cut Soap For Me!"

By Toyin Falola

Yams do not sprout in amulets.
                                                 Wole  Soyinka

It is important to foreground that Nigerian society is still widely laced with traditional beliefs, practices, and other locally influenced religious practices like those seen in churches that use religious paraphernalia in their worship system. Spiritual symbolism and materials cannot be entirely separated from these practices, as different items are often administered to serve certain purposes. When one understands this, the genesis of the statement “Cut Soap for Me” becomes clear. There is a practice of voodoo baptism or head washing in traditional and other religious circles to either attract good tidings to a person or shield them from evil spirits and attacks.

In Nigeria, juju baptism became prominent among the supposed “modern youths” to attract luck. However, it became a practice among Yahoo Boys who defraud Nigerians and foreigners, especially through social media platforms. The average aspiring Yahoo Boy patronizes religious institutions to get “soap” for voodoo baptism, with the intent to hypnotize or curse victims into doing their biddings. This is one of the many spiritual steps they take to progress from “Yahoo Yahoo” to “Yahoo Plus.”

Defrauding strangers of their hard-earned money is fast becoming a culture and a normalized trade in society. There is evidence of some security personnel corroborating these practices in the name of hunting down “scammers,” as these fraudsters are locally called. In 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ranked Nigeria as the 16th affected by the menace of cybercrime. The international community was thrown into the pool of surprise when the case of Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi, dominated the public discussion. Hushpuppi was accused of defrauding his ignorant victims of about $24 million. Unfortunately, Nigeria is fast becoming a discothèque of thousands of Hushpuppies flaunting their ill-fated wealth at every instance they get and buying items at outrageous prices.

 READ ALSO: God When?

Without effective measures to curb it, the public display of unexplained wealth has become normalized. Sadly, instead of condemning this act, the public applauds it, creating a euphoria that drives the perpetrators to progress in their malicious acts and advance their manner of display. To cause “oppression,” they intentionally take up their “E Choke” and “Who Dey Breathe” behaviours and rub their regrettable idiosyncrasies on the face of all that form the fabric of Nigerian society, subjecting young and hardworking citizens to self-doubt. The matter is made worse by uncensored musical and video content that glorify fraudulent activities by proliferating the usage of their registers.

“Cut Soap for Me” has literally become a slang to request that these perpetrators share their diabolic magic. However, the statement has progressed from requests for the secrets to voodoo to the general space whereby people jokingly ask to be taught the process or secret of one’s success. A Nigerian professor has accused me of using juju to write, begging me to lead him to my so-called voodoo man at Iwo to make the same potent magic. Eighteen hours of work a day was reduced to juju power! “Cut Soap for Me” could be an honest expression, sarcasm, or a retort to one’s failure and attempt to find a lasting solution. Whichever way, the underlying factor is that there is a representation that some have and some do not.

Despite knowing the criminality of an act, what would make a person resort to it? If a fraudulent act is criminal and socially unwelcomed, what would make one ask another, “Cut Soap for Me?” Greed, failure, and the realization of the impossibility of fruitful efforts are tormentors that plague the mind and push people to seek a way out. They are the demons capable of fraying social norms indoctrinated in the consciousness of an average person through their process of maturity. Unfortunately, no one needs a hunt to find where the nation has failed its citizens and sentenced its youth to the valley of helplessness.

The nation has failed in almost all ramifications, leaving the people’s hope bare in the cold of poverty, insecurity, and a corrupt system. When the child of a supposed affluent father begs to join the mendicant’s trail, it means that either the father is no longer in affluence or the child has been abandoned. Regretfully, Nigerians are in the two situations; therefore, they must find escape routes. In a nation with only a 33 percent employment rate and only 40 percent employed youths, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank, one should not be surprised at the increasing number of “soap” users and those aspiring to do the same. It is pitiful, but it should be expected from a failing system that has refused to “cut soap” for its citizens, leaving both old and young in despair.

Expectedly, there will be consequences in the face of all the social imbalance and hardship citizens face, social decadence, including fraudulent festivals of fraud that have gained international notoriety. Where there are discouraging situations like those faced by the Nigerian youth, there is a need to reenact social values to keep them in place. Unfortunately, the institutions in the best position to reenact these values are struggling to survive. The family institutions, which should serve as the primary forte of social values, are crumbling either in the face of modernity, distractions from the need for survival, or marital dissolutions, leaving children to make early adult decisions. Religious institutions auction God’s works and miracles, celebrating the rich without minding the source of their wealth. Institutions have been stricken by bribery and corruption, producing kleptomaniac politicians who become role models for potential fraudsters. The systems have refused to “cut soap,” and it is only logical that one looks elsewhere.

READ ALSO: APC Convention: Mutiny By Yahoo Yahoo Politicians

In a situation where it seems like the nation and social institutions gang against people’s success, one cannot help but become desperate. When desperation is the case, discretionary approaches potentially take three natures: legal, illegal, or both. For those taking a legitimate approach to success, the statement “cut soap for me” is an expression of amazement at how others have succeeded despite discouraging odds, and also serves as a request for pointers on how to successfully climb the ladder of progress. The illegal approach makes one ask to be trained in the trade of unscrupulousness to either succeed or remain uncaught or affected by the authorities and society.

Credence must be given to the culture of “we rise by lifting others” that is fast becoming the reasonable response to the honest requests of “cut soap for me.” Nigerian youths might be many things, but they value connectivity and spread the ropes of opportunities to one another. There is evidence that the youths have been able to project one another, especially when they are in need. A common example is the intentional creation of trends and crowdfunding for individuals who announce their talents, trade, or unemployment on social media and other means. The statement thus becomes a positive confession of readiness for honest toil projected at bringing good tidings.

It is important to know that despite the odds, the conditions of the nation, and the delay in results, there is dignity in labour. Spiced with consistency, the right strategies, and the creation and maintenance of connectivity, it is not rocket science that a developmental process would materialize, and when the world throws lemons, the youth must learn to turn them into lemonades. While “we rise by lifting others” has been a positive response to positive intentions, it is also a positive response to negative intentions. From the “cut soap for me” of fraudulent Yahoo Yahoo to that of Yahoo Plus, extending the circle of menace, cyber-fraud or whatever appellation used to describe it, is a mere pronouncement that one has lost faith in a possible future, escaping into an illusion of success without process. This explains the increasing rate of ritual killings in the country in an attempt to sacrifice one for the progress of others. These individuals have forgotten that “yams do not sprout in amulets,” thus no matter the soap or a bath serious enough to turn black to white, the strokes of luck would end, nemesis would catch up, and the pods of reality would soon be ripe to show helplessness and gnashing of teeth.

VIDEO: Teenagers From Delta State In Edo Seeking Where To Learn Yahoo

Like Wole Soyinka had stated, “Don’t take shadows too seriously. Reality is your only safety. Continue to reject illusion.” To say that the Nigerian government has been totally quiet about the predominance of cyber fraud that is taking notable international reputation is to subject oneself to unnecessary oblivion. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) arrests and activities of these perpetrators get reported, with a surprising number of suspects reported almost every week. On June 9, 2022, the EFCC was reported to have arrested 140 suspected Yahoo Boys in Ikorodu, Lagos. On August 14, 2022, two clerics were arrested alongside the fraudsters who had employed their services.

Despite these reports, the problem has not subsided. The best explanation for this is that either there is a wrong approach to solving it, or there is no full understanding of the situation.

The Nigerian government’s approach to this problem is like cutting the branches of an intruding tree; they will keep growing. Either the tree is cut off with its roots, or one settles for recurring growth that robs one of peace. Arresting perpetrators is attacking the problem from the surface; it only makes them smarter and more cautious. The Nigerian government and society must attack the issue from the source. The government must be ready to tackle social issues capable of neutralizing and frustrating the honest efforts of individuals, provide a friendly environment for small and medium-sized businesses to grow, reform government institutions that discourage attempts to succeed, salvage dwindling standards of living, and increase the nation’s employment rate. At this point, there will be enough “soap” to go around in society.

 

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Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje: Man, Mentor, Monument

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Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje: Man, Mentor, Monument
Prof. Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

This is my fourth essay on Prof. Akin Mabogunje. And it is the only one to be written posthumously. When he became a nonagenarian ten months ago in October 2021, I published the last celebratory article to honor his birthday. After a long trajectory of relating with this larger-than-life personality, this is how I prefigured that birthday celebration: “It is better to celebrate life than death. Life, for me, does not consist in the length of existence but in the depth of the life’s worth measured in other-regarding capacities. In other words, it is better to celebrate the lives of those whose very existence constitutes a symbolic stretch of significant influences that a person has exerted on the collectivity. A hero is one whose life transformed the way we see life itself, and makes indelible contributions to our conceptual, intellectual and national infrastructures. This is the essential way in which I conceive of the fulsome life of Prof. Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje, the grandfather of disciplinary geography in Africa, an intellectual, global scholar and patriotic exemplar extraordinaire.”

Now, the man and patriot has joined the ancestors. He lived for nine solid decades, more than seven of which have been spent serving in various capacities, from the personal and the state to the national and international. Now, he has been translated. And contrary to the Yoruba adage that we become deified after death, Mabogunje was revered when he was alive; he was a colossus. And now in death, he has become a monument.

READ ALSO: Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje At 90: A Measure of Grace Indeed

It is ever so difficult to quantify the measure of any life; and definitely not a life that carried a full measure of providential grace, as Mabogunje’s autobiography proclaimed. “The purpose of life,” according to Robert Byrne, “is a life of purpose.” Martin Luther King, Jr. caps it: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Prof. Mabogunje surpassed this question with his devotion not only to others but also to his family. I am one of the few, I think, that straddled family and others. And that long relationship I had with him speaks a lot about the passion that defined his entire life of achievement, from scholarship to public life. My mentor-mentee relationship with Papa began many years ago when, with his late friend, Ojetunji Aboyade, they made a conceptual and practical success of reengineering thoughts about grassroots development with the optimum community – OPTICOM experiment, that exploits the principle of social capital and subsidiarity in the rural areas, especially at Aáwé, my home town. My mentorship at the feet of Prof. Mabogunje had started as shared responsibility with Prof. Ojetunji Aboyade as at late 1993 when the latter passed on. As part of Aboyade’s programme for my induction into policy professionalism which was perhaps the most rigorous mentor-mentee learning arrangement anyone could imagine, I would also consult Prof. Mabogunje on those issues of policies that touched on his expertise. I was animated with his indescribable capacity to unravel the stories behind the stories and their philosophical underpinnings as education to embellish the policy analytics dimensions. So, I developed the practice of approaching him as sounding board cum unofficial source of knowledge and teacher, and he gladly obliged throughout my career years in the Federal service and after. In the process, I got enlisted into some of his networks. This, apart from his introducing me to distinguished statesmen like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (as president, which grace brought my public administration scholarship to bear on the national public service reform process); Chief Emeka Anyaoku (who delivered the keynote at the inaugural conference of the ISGPP); to dozens of global scholars and personalities around the world, and to many development projects like the Ijebu Development Initiative on Poverty Reduction (IDIPR), championed by the Awujale of Ijebuland, HRM Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, to name just a few.

READ ALSO: Tale Of Visions: A Tribute To Professor Akin Mabogunje (1931–2022)

But my most significant learning experience came with the conceptual and administrative trajectories that led to the establishment of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP). Throughout all the brainstorming sessions in that experiment in institution building, Prof. Mabogunje would patiently hear you out. And you will know he is very interested in your most earnest ideas and arguments. And like a modern-day Socrates, when he noticed the gap or limitations, as your knowledge of issues played out, he would stretch the necessity of closing that gap by recommending available materials and authorities. And only then would you begin to enjoy the moments of critical engagement with him. Some of those moments led to the sharpening of the ISGPP. Indeed, over many review meetings and technical sessions, Mummy, Justice Titilola Mabogunje, would call to say, “Akin, it is enough. Do you think you are still a young man?” And then, he would check his wrist watch and exclaim, “Do you mean I have been sitting here for these many hours?” That was how dedicated he was to the matters of the mind.

That unflinching discipline is what led from the providential love for geography to an even more uncanny love for Nigeria. This is not a trajectory that anyone can claim to understand; how Mabogunje came to love Nigeria and dedicated himself to her national development and search for greatness. From transforming the study of an “arid” discipline like geography into a truly developmental one, to making Nigeria the centerpiece of his globally sound and locally relevant scholarship, Akinlawon Mabogunje defined the template of patriotic scholarship and socially relevant intellectualism. So, for Mabogunje, geography was not just a discipline, human or physical. It was essentially national—a theoretical articulation of cartographic manipulation to the understanding of Nigerian spaces and places. This becomes even more cogent within the context of Nigeria’s colonial and postcolonial dynamics. As a colonial creation, Nigeria’s amalgamation was an oddity that required postcolonial unraveling. And Mabogunje was right on hand. From his assignment with the 1962 census to the survey of the Kainji region to the delineation and mapping of Abuja as Nigeria Federal Capital Territory, Prof. Mabogunje’s ingenious understanding of geographical dimensions came to the fore in charting a path of development for Nigeria.

His expertise became especially significant with regard to what he called “realistic urban planning” that could lead to regional and national development, and the land tenure predicament in Nigeria. Land reform was especially constrained by the pre-capitalist elements of primogeniture and kinship. Mabogunje’s understanding of the significance of land speaks immediately to Hernando de Soto’s question of why capitalism has not led to the generation of wealth in third world countries, the same way it did in western society. Soto’s answer is that these developing countries, like Nigeria, hold the crucial factors of production, especially land, in “defective forms”: “houses built on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them.” This tallies with Mabogunje’s belief that true development can only come when access to the factors of production is transformed into modern dynamics, for instance, the security of tenure and the property rights of citizens. Land use in Nigeria demands engaging with the deficiencies in the Land Use Act of 1978.

READ ALSO: Chika Okeke-Agulu: Shining The Spotlight On A True ‘Son of the Soil’

The land reform assignment eventually and inevitably devolved into a fundamental concern with grassroots and rural development. For a plural country like Nigeria, focus on the grassroots is a significant dimension of the federal imperative. And Mabogunje saw it immediately. His argument, contrary to the efforts at capacitating individuals, is to strengthen the community cooperative structures that transform the entire grassroots on the basis of subsidiarity. The principle insists that the rural areas have the potential to not only transform its own developmental initiatives, but to also enhance Nigeria’s federal strength. And indeed, he insisted, there are four internal elements that are critical for transforming the rural areas: organization, technological innovations, credit institution and market access. And it should not be difficult to see why I read providential assistance to the choice of geography as the discipline that would make Akinlawon Mabogunje—from mapping to rural infrastructure to national development.

Unfortunately, the genius of Akinlawon Mabogunje was critically restricted by the formidable retrogressive forces in Nigerian politics. The bad politics that the Nigerian political class plays has a lot to do with how and why heroic patriotism in Nigeria is essentially crippled. There is a fundamental disjuncture between patriotism and development in Nigeria. Those who have the critical expertise, especially the non-politicians, like Prof. Mabogunje and a host of others, from Wole Soyinka to the Nigerian youths, do not have the means to break into the corridors where the core policies are made to affect Nigeria positively and transformation-ally. Mabogunje served his country to the best of his abilities and capacities. But he simply kept coming short against all the factors that have been restricting Nigeria’s growth and progress since independence. And he never relented, despite his advancing age. Now he has done his bit and has gone to the great beyond. He left his intellectual and scholarly footprints all over Nigeria’s policy mechanisms. He left his ideas and ideals all scattered deeply within the context of making Nigeria a great place; the context within which he maturated, and would want others to also benefit. But most significantly, he left his imprints on the many minds that he mentored in several ways.

READ ALSO: Truth Spoken Before Its Time: Professor Bolaji Akinyemi At 80!

Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje was not just another Nigerian. In his autobiography, he narrated how he met the late Umaru Yar’Adua who asked that he be a part of his resolve to achieve a land reform. This invitation came at a point when Mabogunje, at 75, was determined to take a much-deserved rest for his aging body. And yet he accepted to serve. For all his adult life, he could not resist serving and deploying his humongous intellect and capacities to thinking and rethinking possible resolutions of the Nigerian predicament. While still alive, Mabogunje was a deeply entrenched monument that reaches deep into the intellectual, administrative and political sides of Nigerian postcolonial life. And now in death, Professor Mabogunje has now transited into a monument that reminds us all, and the political class, about what is possible when realistic policy ideas and frames of actions meet undaunting and focused political resolve in making Nigeria better. Mabogunje, like so many other patriots, believed in Nigeria. The last chapter of his massive autobiography is dedicated to an alternative set of perspectives of what he called an “emerging vision” of Nigeria. Indeed, his last sentence in the narrative of his life declared that he had lived a most fulfilling life in being allowed to play a “modest part” in the emergence of that vision. Only a patriot, who loved and lived for Nigeria, could say that. And may the soul of this giant Iroko, emeritus professor Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje, NNOM, CFR, CON, rest in peace.

.Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies
(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .
tolaopa2003@gmail.com

 

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