Connect with us


Army’s CSR: Examining Buratai/Farouk Yahaya



NYSC, Youth's Trust And Empowerment

Emmanuel Onwubiko

Few weeks back, I read in one of the obscure blogs about an event that ordinarily should have occupied the front pages of major newspapers in Nigeria because of the very rare and salutary nature of the scenario that took place in the centre of the war on terror in the North East of Nigeria.

I am talking about the very impressive act of human kindness that was done by some soldiers on the frontlines of the ongoing war on terror in which they were actually said to have assisted an internally displaced woman in the North East to deliver her of her baby.

The specific blog that carried this story did not actually explain to its audience that it was a routine charitable conduct of professional Nigerian soldiers which they are trained to do to benefit the civilian population around their zone of responsibility. Doing CSR is a universal practice especially in constitutional democracies.

Soldiers have also being seen administering medical assistance to the needy in the war-ravaged North East of Nigeria just as this kind of socially responsible duties were highly encouraged during the tenure of Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and he effectively left his footprints in this area on the sands of time which subsequent army chiefs have built upon.

The current Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya has started boldly in carrying out legendary corporate social responsibility tasks with his men and officers.

This writer is highly impressed and inspired to do this piece by that photograph of soldiers who are at the war fronts but still found time to deliver a woman of her baby in Borno State.

READ ALSO: A Courageous And Fearless Administrator: Tribute To Ahmed Joda

The reason for my repeated emphasis on this particular act of human kindness by soldiers is because even the United Nations has spoken so much about the plight of pregnant women in the different internally displaced people’s camps in the North East of Nigeria as can be seen from a report done few months back by UNICEF.

UNICEF wrote on the 17th October 2018 that Hauwa Bukhar and her newborn daughter, Aishat, sit quietly in a row of chairs at a health clinic in the Muna Garage displacement camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria. She is among a group of women waiting their turn to be seen. Many of them share the experience of being mothers, and all have endured the hardship of being forced to flee their homes.

The Muna Garage camp is home to over 35,000 residents. They are among at least 1.76 million people who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in north-east Nigeria – their villages ransacked, their property lost and their lives changed forever. The majority of people who have been displaced are living in Borno State, the epicentre of the crisis, which is where Muna Garage camp is located.

Hauwa and her family were displaced a year ago, after an armed group raided their village, taking with them cattle and villagers, mostly young women. Hauwa managed to escape, but lost everything, including four of her children after they got separated. After four long months, she was finally reunited with her children and husband and they settled in Muna Garage Camp.

“That was the worst four months of my life, I did not know whether my children had been abducted or had been killed,” she says through tears.

Giving birth in crowded camps says UNICEF is traumatic because life in the overcrowded camp is hard, but it is especially difficult for pregnant women.

“It is not easy for these women but we give them the best we can. Pregnant women need space, comfort and peace of mind, but the women in the camp have none of that. It is even worse for them when they have to deliver at night,” says Aisha Mustapha Kolo, a midwife at one of the clinics.

“That was the worst four months of my life, I did not know whether my children had been abducted or had been killed.

“At night, there are no health services available in the camp because it is too dangerous for health workers to travel after dark. Women who go into labour at night must therefore give birth at home. Others decide to give birth at home due to traditional beliefs. But for most people in the camp, home is just one grass hut with shared toilets. This means that many pregnant women are forced to deliver their babies in a communal bathroom.

“Aisha has worked at the clinic for over a year, and says there were 600 births in the camp and 10 under-five deaths in 2017. Although there were no recorded newborn deaths in 2017, most mothers whose babies die at home soon after birth rarely report the cases to the health facility.”

UNICEF wrote about a particular happy ending for the subject matter aforementioned and informed us that Aisha is checking up on Hauwa’s newborn baby, who is “in perfect health”, according to the midwife.

“This is my sixth baby. But this pregnancy was the hardest, I was not sure my baby was going to make it,” says Hauwa. “I was lucky, my baby was ready to come during the day and I was delivered of her here at the clinic.”

READ ALSO: The Flight Of ‘Common Sense’ In Afghanistan

Hauwa’s story is one of the few with a happy ending. So many others have sad stories to tell.

UNICEF is supporting the government of Borno State by providing primary health care services in the two clinics located in Muna Garage Camp, and in about 50 other camps in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe – the states most affected by violence. This support includes training for health workers; providing emergency medicines, supplies and equipment; and paying monthly stipends for volunteers working in camps and in newly liberated areas. It also includes treating common diseases, immunization services, antenatal care, delivery, post-natal care, vitamin A supplements, distributing deworming tablets, hygiene promotion, community mobilization, referral services including maintenance of ambulances.

Across the world, 7,000 newborns die every day. Raise your voice to demand affordable, quality health care for every mother and newborn, concludes the UNICEF report.

Before delving further to specifically list just a few of these CSR landmarks made by General Buratai and then how so well the current army chief has begun, let us read from a piece dated June 29th 2021 written by Gordon Scott titled “Why Social Responsibility Matters to Businesses”. In our own case we can as well substitute the term businesses with the term Nigerian Army.

The aforementioned author says that companies are increasingly ramping up their focus on social responsibility, whether in championing women’s rights, protecting the environment, or attempting to obliterate poverty, on local, national, or global levels. From an optics perspective, socially responsible companies project more attractive images to both consumers and shareholders alike, which serves to positively affect their bottom lines.

CSR is key because customers (citizens) matter says the author and argued thus: “Embracing socially responsible policies goes a long way towards attracting and retaining customers, which is essential to a company’s long-term success. Furthermore, many individuals will gladly pay a premium for goods, knowing that part of the profits will be channelled towards social causes near and dear to them.

“Companies can likewise witness increased foot traffic if they enhance the local community. For example, banks that dispense loans to low-income households are apt to see an uptick in business, as a direct result.

“Socially responsible companies tend to attract employees who are eager to make a difference in the world—in addition to simply collecting a paycheck. With large companies, there is strength in numbers, where collective employee efforts can achieve substantial results, which increases workplace morale and boosts productivity.

Community-oriented companies often enjoy a leg up on their competition, as well, thanks to superior brand imaging. Socially responsible companies cultivate positive brand recognition, increase customer loyalty, and attract top-tier employees. These elements among the keys to achieving increased profitability and long-term financial benefits, he concluded.

READ ALSO: Army: Examining The Buratai’s Paradox

The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) implies positive, as opposed to negative, influence and contribution of an organization to society and its environment. It is the way in which a corporate body, group or body impacts its milieu by providing basic amenities or contributing to its host community or society outside its strict legal bounds or contract with such a community, individuals or society.

According to Nigeria Social Enterprise Reports Vol.2, CSR is generally understood to be the way a company achieves a balance or integration of economic, environmental and social imperatives while at the same time addressing shareholders and stakeholders expectations. This stems from the fact that organizations like businesses owe the society beyond the production of goods and services and making of profit.

While it is not news that in May 2008 Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council approved the development of a CSR policy for the country, to instill ethical behavior in Nigerian businesses, words used by the then Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr Sanusi Daggash, make it clear that the policy includes “beyond law commitment” and activities that would necessitate an expectation to ‘give back’ to the society by groups existing in society not merely limited to “companies”.

The theory is rooted in the humanity of man and the need for everybody or organization to act in accordance with that humanity or respond to the same irrespective of their core traditional role for which they were primarily set up to achieve.  Thus the concept of corporate social responsibility extends to all organizations of human endeavor including such as the army. It is in this regard that the definition of the concept of CSR by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) is quite appreciable because of its broad base. EFQM, in its Framework for Social Responsibility, 2004, defines CSR as: “A whole range of fundamentals that organizations are expected to acknowledge and to reflect in their actions. It includes among other things respecting human rights, fair treatment of the workforce, customers and suppliers, being good corporate citizens in the communities in which they operate and the conservation of natural environment.”

On the other hand, the Nigerian Army is established under section 217(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which provides that there shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.

The functions of the armed forces are expressly provided in under section 217(2) thus: “The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of –
(a)  Defending Nigeria from external aggression;
(b)            Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea and air;
(c) Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and
(d)Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

The place of the army in society cannot be over-emphasized. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive principle of State Police makes a correlation between security and welfare of the people by stating under section 14(1)(b) that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. It must equally be noted that it is not out of place that the subject of security and welfare is immediately preceded by the sovereignty of the people under section 14(1)(a).

READ ALSO: Gender Matter: Prominent Activists To Speak On Women And Nigerian Politics

The point being made is that the sovereignty of the nation is only guaranteed and protected where the security and welfare of the people is prioritized.  A most functional institution of the state involved in protecting the sovereignty, security and welfare of the people is the military and especially the army. The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf is even called ‘Mr. Staff Welfare’ in his office because he is known for his passion for welfare of staff and services to the communities in form of CSR.

This role of the army in society is much more understandable in the light of section 218 (1) of the Constitution which confers on the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces with “power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.”

The functions and use of the army are therefore not confined to the ones mentioned under section 217 of the constitution and could go beyond as far as the president considers it necessary. This role will better be understood in the light of its corporate social responsibility.

First the army is neutral, non-partisan and peaceful. Section 55 of the Armed Forces Act says: A person subject to service law who-
(a) Fights, quarrels or behaves a disorderly manner with any other person, whether subject to service law under this Act or not; or
(b) Uses threatening, abusive, insulting or provocative words or behavior likely to cause disturbance, is guilty of an offence under this section and is liable, on conviction by a court martial, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or any less punishment provided by this Act.

The army authorities continue to ensure that the neutral, non-partisan and peaceful role of the army in society is observed, any breach of which immediately gets a reciprocal response by summons to a court martial in appropriate circumstances.

Second there is another part of the CSR which defines its ability and efficiency in other respects, it is in taking care of its own workforce. Although there is no specific legal provision regulating CSR in Nigeria, section 279 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) has a guiding principle to the effect that the director of a company is to have regard in the performance of his functions to the interest of the company’s employees in general as well as in the interests of its members.

The concept of CSR in this regard has thus been identified to entail: provision of a conducive working environment in making available modern working tools and equipment, ventilated offices, good infrastructure, decent and official cars, health and safety equipment at the workplace; payment of competitive salary remuneration commensurate with the level of commitment and offer of opportunities for training and career development; maintaining equal opportunities among members of workforce; involving members of the workforce in decisions affecting them; establishment of clear-cut bargaining and grievance procedures known to and followed by members of the workforce.

In the case of Lt. Col. MF Komonibo v. Nigerian Army (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt.762) 2, it was held that an accused about to be tried by a court martial shall be entitled to object in any reasonable grounds to any member of the court martial or the awaiting member whether appointed originally or in lieu of another officer. The court went further to affirm that “for the purpose enabling the accused to avail himself of the right.

READ ALSO: HURIWA Lashes Out At National Assembly Over Bill To Undermine Right To Protest

The names of the members of the court martial and the waiting members shall be read over in the presence of the accused before they are sworn in and the accused shall be asked whether he objects to any of those officers.”

The military have organized structures to assist civil authorities in emergency situations. For instance, “Operation Second Eleven”, is an aid to civil authority initiative aimed at complementing civil agencies in the maintenance of essential services like telecommunications, petroleum product distribution and medical services in the event of strike by the “first eleven” employees. The Nigerian Army Signals, Supply and Transport and Medical Corps all have operational structures that can be activated at short notice to become “second eleven”.

The Nigerian Medical and other Corps within the military have equally rendered valuable services that have contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the nation. Retired Brig. Gen Ovadje of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps, of a ‘Blood Transfusion Set’, earned Nigeria international recognition.

Similar intervention programmes have been in the six geopolitical zones of the country. Four solar-powered water projects were inaugurated in different settlements in Obeititu autonomous community of Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State by the Nigerian Army represented by General Officer Commanding of the division, Maj. Gen. Abubakar Maikobi in 2019.

Speaking on these interventions, the chief of army staff had said the projects were meant to strengthen the existing civil-military relations and turn the minds of Nigerians towards the positive actions of the Nigerian Army meant to provide security and development in the country. He said: “I want to believe that these water projects will serve the needs of this community and its environs. I wish to also appeal to us to see the projects as symbols of unity. Let these projects serve as symbols of peace, unity, tolerance and love to this community and the state at large….”

The Traditional Ruler of the Community, Eze Amadi Obo, in his response said:
“The entire community, which includes our children, youths, women and elders are very happy about the project coming from the Nigerian Army.”

It is reported that over ninety five percent (95%) of the Chief of Army Staff intervention projects has been successfully executed and inaugurated across the six geo-political.

Recently, as part of efforts to enhance civil-military relations, the Armed Forces often carry out free medical advocacy campaigns in their host communities.

A reporter with Thisday newspaper reports that for the military, they would often want the society to understand that they are more than their guns and that’s why they are often engaged in community services to the respective communities in their Areas of Responsibility (AOR).

While some might see such moves as corporate social responsibility (CSR), the underlying factor is that they help to enhance Civil-Military Relations (CMR). In essence, what this does is to strengthen the ties binding the military and civil populace.

So, for the armed forces, it’s become an act entrenched in tradition to regularly conduct medical outreach and grassroots social services for their host communities

The civil-military cooperation primarily serves as an interface between the Nigerian Army and the civil populace. For the Nigerian Army, the import of civil-military relations cannot be overemphasised. In fact, the army established the Department of Civil-Military Affairs (DCMA) in December 2010. Set up by the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General OA Ihejirika, it was positioned to serve primarily as an interface between the Nigerian Army and the civil populace and was also charged with the responsibility of underscoring the fundamentals of Civil Military Affairs as a strategic national institution The department is also charged with the introducing and transmitting of the core elements of effective civil-military relations in areas of human rights, rule of law, negotiations liaison and conflict management. All these are binding on all divisions and units of the army.

At the 81 Division Headquarters, it was in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya to provide a platform to further strengthen relationship between the NA and civilian populace at the grassroots, that they recently held several medical outreaches in Ijebu North Local Government Area of Ogun State and Ajah- Ilaje Community in Lagos.

The first medical outreach took place at Ijebu North Local Government Area (LGA) of Ogun State where the General Officer Commanding, (GOC) 81 Division, Major General Lawrence Fejokwu, also assured the community of adequate security.

At the free medical outreach conducted by 35 Artillery Brigade Alamala as part of the formation’s Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities, the GOC said the CIMIC was in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff to provide a platform to further strengthen relationship between the NA and civilian populace at the grassroots.He further enjoined the communities to be alert and report any breach of security within their vicinity immediately, while he charged personnel that the use of force should always be the last resort to solving issues.

Earlier, the Commander 35 Artillery Brigade Alamala, Brigadier General Adewale Adekoya during the flag off, noted that the CIMIC exercise was an integral part of 35 Artillery Brigade efforts to enhance civil/military relations and NA’s corporate social responsibility, adding that it was a tradition for the NA to regularly conduct medical outreach and grassroots social services for rural communities.

He further disclosed that the exercise provided an avenue to enlighten the communities on the implications of drug abuse, render free medical consultations and services and enlightenment on recruitment into the NA.

The 35 Brigade CIMIC exercise was extended to traditional rulers, staff of Ijebu North LGA, market women, less privileged, members of Community Development Association and students. The medical services included blood pressure check, eye examination and medication for malaria and fever.

Commemorating NADCEL in Ajah-Ilaje, the division also in commemoration of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2021, last weekend offered free medical outreach to Ajah-Ilaje community in Lagos.

At the flag-off, the GOC 81 Division reiterated that the NA has a tradition of regularly reaching out to host communities as part of measures towards enhanced Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC).

Stating that the exercise was part of the activities lined up for NADCEL 2021 with the theme “A professional and ready Nigerian Army: A prerequisite for successful operations in a Joint Environment”, he further explained that the exercise was meant to offer public health services to the Ajah-Ilaje community.

The GOC also used the occasion to implore the community not to relent in offering assistance to the army by providing timely information on the activities of criminal elements within their communities. He further urged the people present to take their medications as prescribed by the doctors and ensure routine medical checkups as a follow up to the exercise.

He disclosed that the areas being covered by the medical outreach include blood test, blood pressure screening, voluntary HIV counseling and dental consultations, deworming and general treatment.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson, Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA), Mrs. Oghenerukevwe Fejokwu and members of the excos donated a truck load of rice on behalf of the division to the community.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Baale of Ajah Ilaje land, His Royal Highness Murisiku Alani Oseni Ojupon ably represented by Honourable Chief Wasiu Olaosebikan Eshinlokun stated that the people of the community were delighted to have the NA in their midst to provide medical services and distribute palliatives.

At the 9 Brigade Army Cantonment, Ikeja, the Brigade Commander, Brigadier General MLD Saraso, also conducted a medical outreach at its host community, the Onigbongbo Kingdom. The commander said the outreach further strengthened the existing relationship between the army and the host community.

The Oba of Onigbongbo kingdom, Oba Oluwasegun Adeyemi Ajasa also commended the army for the outreach, as well as ensuring security of life and property in the area. His sentiments were echoed by Alhaji Tajudeen Irawo, the Jagunmolu of Onigbongbo Kingdom.

This is to encourage the Chief of Army Staff to maintain the tempo of CSR such as assisting communities with roads construction making use of the Army Corps of engineers. This can be done by mutual partnerships with state administration because the Nigerian Army has a good name in the area of building solid and sustainable road infrastructures if given the right support by the civil authorities.

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.


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment


Toyin Falola And The October Harvest



Prof. Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti .Photo by ‘Gbile Oshadipe (2023) ©

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.


Continue Reading


Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

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.

Continue Reading


Nigerian Elections: A Democracy In The Hands Of A Judiciary 



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

To run for an election in Nigeria, as you raise the money you need, now in billions of naira, remember one thing: divide the money into two—one for the elections and the other for legal matters. If you win, the loser will take you to court. If you lose, take the winner to court. If the winner had the money for the election and no money for the legal matters, his fortune would be reversed. Three sets of people now decide for us: the voters, the lawyers, and the judges. Democracy is no longer solely about the legitimacy of votes but also the legality of how those votes are obtained and counted. Legality is now above legitimacy. Please allow me to explain.

The history of elections in Nigeria has always been of interest, but that of its aftermaths creates crescendos of the former, far more important sometimes and far more disappointing most times. In several instances, a party’s candidate would be elected with some level of presumed or deductible public support, and when the lens or the “VAR” of the judiciary looks at it, the people’s results get dashed. Sometimes, the supposed winner could be one that does not have the people’s approval, and after much process of vetting, the judiciary installs who they want or think to have fulfilled the law the most. Some other times, there is not much difference.

The roles of the judiciary in pre- and post-election matters will never stop to beg the question of what should be held supreme: legality or legitimacy. Of course, both the two concepts semantically cross each other’s borders, but to what extent should the extremes of each be tolerated? What should decide legitimacy? Is it the quantum of legal compliance and due processes or the invested aggregated public interests? And should election results be held within the bustles of Electoral Acts, Constitutional Provisions, Court Rules, Practice Directions, and other legal reality checks? This dilemma has been a perennial occurrence and has severally and severely brought the people to some antagonistic vantage points, pitted  against the Milord’s Temples of Justice.

For instance, it is close to a month since the results of the petition at the Court of Appeal against the supposed victory of the APC at the 2023 Nigerian elections, and the people of Nigeria are nowhere near satisfied. It is incredible how a country with a unique history of repeated final determination of election results at the courts, as opposed to the polls, still keeps getting it wrong. The situation is evidence that the people take the judiciary as a betting house and take the chaos of doubts to its temple, as this has run throughout the history of Nigerian democracy.

Take also, for instance, the notorious case of the 2019 Imo State Gubernatorial elections, where the Supreme Court annulled the victory of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, and installed the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma as governor; a candidate who did not just lose to Ihedioha in the initial race but finished a distant fourth position and the reaction of the people to the situation. What about the Adeleke election saga in Osun State in recent history? This, however, seems to be an accepted decision by the people because of the supposed popularity of the candidate and the finesse of his dancing steps.

Another very controversial case was the court’s decision in the Bayelsa State elections, where the Supreme Court also annulled the victory of the winner of the elections because it was discovered that his running mate had presented some fake documents. He was, therefore, disqualified, and his opponent was installed as governor.

This history of judicial intervention in elections is no short one. Since the petition originating from the election between Shehu Shagari and Obafemi Awolowo in 1979, Nigerians have had to severally vest their hopes in the judiciary and watch as they act as umpires in matters that are originally designed to be settled by public vote.

There is a cross-road between legality that informs the court’s decision to the extent that irregularity would amount to fundamental decisions that would affect the fate of the people and aid an illegitimate and unpopular government. The people would then be left to struggle with a largely unwanted government or such that could not be ascertained to have won the popular confidence of the generality of the electorate. The court is the home of determining matters based on some objective parameters, explaining why laws are set to guide every matter brought before the court.

From history, it is quite clear that many decisions made on election and election-related matters are either won or dismissed based on irregularities, technicalities, and procedural errors that would deny justice on substantive matters. Of what benefit would a suit that was dismissed based on its lack of conformity with an established form or because it was instituted by a writ of summons rather than being brought by way of a petition? When a matter is determined based on this and other preliminary fulfillments or procedures, the substance, which goes to the root of the legitimacy and desires of the people, is buried or forgotten.

The Constitution and the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules have established that fundamental rights issues should not be discountenanced based on mere irregularities and that as sui generis issues, the standard of expectation should be brought lower compared to other matters before any court. Fundamental rights issues in Nigeria can be brought before the State High Court, Federal High Court, or National Industrial Court. It could also be brought by any means, making it quite easy for a person whose right has been trampled upon to seek justice.

But is a fraudulent election and mandates conferred on people unjustly not worth the similar care given to human rights issues? Where legality and procedures are reconsidered on cases from Chapter IV of the constitution, how many more issues are traced back to legitimacy, the people’s future, and the nation’s progressive projections? Isn’t an election fraud injustice to the generality of people and a collective breach of the collective rights of the people?  

The consequence of elections to the sociopolitical consciousness of a people must not be taken lightly. Not just because elections are the system through which the next leader of a democratic nation is decided but because that system is in and of itself the embodiment or the defining expression of the democratic soul of the society. The iconic 16th president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, famously defined Democracy as the “rule of the people, by the people and for the people”; a concise yet comprehensive capturing of the essence of the ideology. 

No society can claim to be democratic in principle without having its people come together to decide who its leaders are. Because those elected are not just “leaders,” but in a more honest sense, are representatives of the people. And since they are representatives of the people, it would be an undeniable logical inconsistency, as well as a great political absurdity, if the people’s will were to be ignored in the selection of their next leader, no matter how legal, constitutional or judicially viable, that process of selection is. It is this understanding that should primarily guide the decision-making of the judiciary that elections are an expression of the will of the people, and so in their decisions, their foremost objective must be the protection and enforcement of that will.

When you see that the entire nation is not only interested but has a stake in the matter, one would expect that the judiciary takes a decision that is the most accurate reflection of the will of the people. Instead, we saw the judiciary dismissing what seemed to be worthy petitions because one preliminary matter was not filed or one issue arising from the whole pool of matters was supposed to be decided by another court. This system and mentality is an outright mockery of the people’s desires. They ignore important, weighty arguments on the grounds of minor, less significant matters of procedure, sacrificing Justice on the altar of technicalities.

My question to the Justices who sacrificed justice for technicality is this: was the law made for man, or man made for the law? The obvious answer to this question is a foundational concept of law, which ought to guide their reasoning. Law is very important to ensuring order and progress in society. But when that law is exalted at the expense of the best interests of the men it was created to serve, then that law is pointless and nothing more than a stumbling block to the progress of society. Law is good because it ensures legality. But man is ultimate because it is man that gives legitimacy. Legitimacy to other men, legitimacy to a government, and legitimacy to even the law itself. So, to all those who view the judiciary’s actions through the mediocre lens of legality, here is a better question: it may be legal, but is it legitimate? Do not get me wrong; I do not mean that the law should be thrown into the winds and disregarded at every instance; of course, “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands,” and “he who wants equity must do equity.” However, there should be a relaxed line so as not to run into the dangers of positivism.

The court must be able to see that what is more important at every point before making its decisions is the importance of legitimacy and popularity. The political and social consequences decisions of the court can cause. This is because every institution is established in the back of the people, and since people are the law themselves, the law should never be clogged to their wheel. The law should be for the men and not men for the law. 

When questions like this are taken more seriously, we will begin to see changes in this country. Our democratic institutions need to be recalibrated and strengthened. Judicial recourse is useful, but when it becomes repeated, it insults and nullifies the point of the precious will of the people. Going forward, we must ensure that we fight to protect that will. All involved from the government to INEC, to the courts, must do better. To close, the preamble of the Nigerian constitution opens with “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…Do hereby make, enact, and give to ourselves the following constitution”. If it is we, the people, who give ourselves the law, then it must be we, the people, who give ourselves our government. We must defend that right, always.


Continue Reading

Top Stories