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A Vote For Home Pilgrimages



NYSC: A Tool For Unity


Emmanuel Onwubiko

Religious pilgrimage is one of the earliest forms of tourism that was practised by people travelling to holy sites. This form of tourism could be traced way back to the dawn of humanity.

According to accounts, sacred religious sites were visited by admirers or people who shared the same faith and fellowship while exploring the holy sites.

Today, these religious sites have become part of the cultural landscape within their environs and now constitute major players in the tourism market; thus, improving the economy of host communities. Cities like Mecca, Rome, Jerusalem etc continue to attract millions of visitors on a yearly basis.

Nigeria is a country with many different religions. Thus, religious pilgrimages and travels are significant motivations today.

Although many Nigerians profess either Christianity or Islam, they have continued to practise some of the older religious traditions like ancestor worship and the belief in deities as adherents of African Traditional Religion (ATR). ATR is the oldest religion in Africa and it is the indigenous religion of Africans.

In this vein, Kitause and Achunike (2013) point out that, “this indigenous religion is what Nigerians have been practising before the advent of Christianity and Islam” in Nigeria. Like Christianity and Islam, ATR fosters tourism.

In traditional society, religion permeated every part of the culture such that it was difficult to dissociate one from the other. Nigeria possesses numerous worship sites that attract admirers and adherents.

This essay shall emphasise significant places of pilgrims in Nigeria with a view to examining their tourism potential.

It argues for emphasis to be shifted to homegrown pilgrimage sites of significant ATR to be upgraded as world tourism sites in addition to why traditional religious monuments and sites in Nigeria should be recognized and for a Pilgrims Commission for ATR to be constituted by government so as to remove the discrimination against ATR.

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The Highlights Of Major Religious Monuments And Sites In Nigeria:

Nigeria is a culturally diverse country, with over 250 local languages. These various cultures have very rich histories and backgrounds and the local people are incredibly proud of their heritage. The heritage comes in the form of ancient places of worship, artifacts, old towns and monuments, to mention a few.

In ATR there is the belief in a supreme being. This is variously named according to the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. For instance, the Yoruba call on the name of Oluwa or Olorun; the Hausa call on Ubangiji, while the Igbo call on the name of  Chukwu Okike or Chineke. Traditional religion also acknowledges the existence of priesthood, oracles, divination, spirits (gods), ancestors, medicine, medicine- persons, magic or sorcery. In traditional religion, the Supreme Being does not communicate. He communicates through deities or oracles.

The oracle, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, is the medium by which deities were consulted like in ancient Greek and Roman kingdoms. However, this explanation is silent about some other elements that can be essential for oracle. For this reason this writer presents an oracle as a deity with a shrine and also a priest or priestess who ministers to it and plays the intermediary between it and human beings who come to consult it.

Okafor (1989) has identified notable oracles in Nigeria such as Ifa (in Yorubaland) and Chukwu (in Igboland). In Igboland, the Chukwu oracle is found at Arochukwu and it is called Ebini Ukpabi. It was the colonial masters who named it “Long Juju.”

According to the information from Okafor, Ebini Ukpabi was destroyed by the British in 1902 because of their belief that the Igbo derived power from it that made them to resist colonial subjugation. Today, international tourists still visit it. However, much is not known about domestic tourists who go there.

Nri (in Anambra State) which is believed to be the ancestral homeland of the Igbo people does not have any shrine that could provoke faith visits to it.

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Instead, for inquiries, the people of Nri go to Aguleri (Anambra State). At the extreme south of Nri town is found Agulu, both in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State. It is the Agulu lake that has a popular shrine attached to it and a priest who ministers to it.

Some popular oracles included the Okija Shrine, Ala Ogbaga and Amadioha Ozuzu. Others are the Osun Oshogbo Sacred Groove and the Omo-Ukwu temple (Okpoko and Okpoko, 2002:40).

The Osun Oshogbo Sacred Groves of Osun; the goddess of fertility and one of the most popular deities in Yorubaland, are located on the outskirts of Osogbo, which is about 230 kilometers from Lagos. The groves, which are dotted by shrines, sculptures, and artworks, represent a time when people dedicated areas outside their settlements to deities, areas which are regarded as sacred. The Osun-Osogbo grove itself is located in a dense forest that is one of the primary high forests in southern Nigeria.

Apart from shrines and temples, in Nigeria, caves and rock shelters are considered to be repositories for Chukwu. According to Ibeanu (2006), caves are formed “as a result of the differential erosion of the sand stone cuesta” (p. 323). They were believed to be the house of the Supreme Being (Chukwu).

Ibeanu argues that it is possible that caves were places of worship and sacrifices in ancient times. According to him, the names given to some caves such as Okpuchukwu, Uhuchukwu, or Nnemchukwu suggest that ancient people believed that God lived in the caves and so had recourse to them by offering sacrifices there.

Ibeanu therefore saw as his aim in the study, to project the role of the caves in Okigwi (Okigwe) in cultural tourism shown in the people’s oral tradition and how they can be made to play a role today as a way of developing tourism in Okigwi area and its surroundings (p.324). The caves he was referring to are Okpuchukwu in Otamkpa, Uhuchukwu in Ahaba Imenyi and Isi-Ume cave in Uturu, all in Okigwi surroundings.

A notable cave in Igboland which captures the admiration of tourists is the Ogbunike caves, found in a valley in the tropical forest of southeast Nigeria, in Anambra State.  Several streams flow into the caves, and another stream within flows out into river Nkissa. The caves are believed to have a spiritual significance for the local people, and a festival is celebrated to commemorate the discovery of the caves.

Also, the Ogbaukwu Caves, located in Anambra State in the southeastern part of Nigeria are said to be the largest in West Africa and have enough roomy compartments to accommodate an entire village. Not much is known about the caves as they are largely unexplored, but local legend tells a story of a brave warrior who defeated lions that lived in the caves. The waterfalls are an aesthetic beauty and attract many tourists.

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The Sukur Cultural Landscape, which is located in Madagali area of Adamawa State in northeastern Nigeria has terraces on farmlands, stone-paved walkways, and dry-stone structures. On the landscape is the palace of the chief and other sacred remains that express the spiritual and material culture of an ancient society, and it is also representative of a former flourishing iron industry.

A lot of domestic tourisms flourish in the above-named few places of faith and often people who visit those places are people who are in search of justice.

Okpoko (2013: 11) rightly points out that in ATR, God is conceived as a judge, as the God of justice. From the earliest time, as King (2003:32) observed, “people believed that they were governed by the gods, represented by their priests.” The shrines and oracles that have been mentioned here so far have almost developed into myths and from generation to generation people keep on talking about them. In this way King is right in contending that it is worshippers who created myths, stories about the gods so as to explain things that happen in the world. This writer asserts that it is those myths and stories that continue to evoke the need for emphasis to be shifted to homegrown pilgrimage sites of significant African Traditional Religion to be upgraded as world tourism sites.

The Call For Justice And Fair-Play:

Nguvugher remarks that the history of pilgrimages in Nigeria dates back to the arrival of Islam in Nigeria. If individuals travelled on their own means, there would be no problems. Today government’s association with and government sponsoring of religious pilgrimage has become an issue that gives concern to patriotic Nigerians.

More and more Nigerians are worried about government sponsoring of Muslim and Christian pilgrims to their holy places. Enwerem (1995) remarked that even though government established a pilgrim board for Christians, the latter were not enthused by that, acting “on the principle of the constitutional provision for the government’s non-interference in religion” (p. 140). Today, Christians as well as Muslims go on pilgrimage every year to the holy lands. However, the discrimination and unfair play involved in the whole affair intrigues everyone.

Just last week, precisely on the 18th of August, 2021, the prominent and leading civil rights advocacy group in Nigeria, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to set up a Pilgrims Commission for the African Traditional Religion Worshippers so as to make the many ancient shrines and landmark institutions of African worship attractive to international pilgrims and thus, energize the local economies of those places and states in Nigeria while ensuring equity and equality of rights.

The rights group, in a statement, wants the Federal Government to set up such a pilgrim’s commission for ATR, similar to the institutions that care for the pilgrimages of Christians and Muslims at public expenses or else it will challenge the discrimination by the government against millions of practitioners of the respected African traditional religion in court.

Furthermore, HURIWA wondered how Nigeria, which brags to be the nation with the largest black people globally, has continued to marginalize the segment of the population that adhere to their authentic and distinctive ancestral African traditional way of worship whereas it keeps spending humongous tax payers resources to sponsor foreign pilgrimages to Middle East, Jordan, Italy amongst other foreign jurisdictions but failed to introduce a mechanism to organize pilgrimages to ancient shrines and iconic ATR centres in Nigeria such as the ones highlighted above.

HURIWA said: “Our prayer for indigenous religions to have their pilgrimages and to have a publicly funded body to organise these spiritual exercises is because the federal and states governments are still making plans to fund the agencies responsible for Islamic and Christian pilgrimages”.

As the right group revealed, in the proposal, the government said it has set aside a total of N2.6 billion it plans to spend on the programmes and activities of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission for the year.

“The two agencies are responsible for the religious interests of the Muslims and Christians, including the facilitation of annual pilgrimages by adherents of the two religions to Mecca and Jerusalem respectively”, HURIWA had lamented.

HURIWA also recalled that reportedly, the budget to fund the agencies responsible for the travels by both Muslim and Christian faithful during the year is humongous. “While the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria was allocated about N1.39 billion, the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission was allocated about N1.38 billion.

“Apart from overhead costs totalling over N617.4 million, the National Hajj Commission is to spend a total of N130 million on general travels and transportation, including N20 million for local travel and transport for training, in addition to N50million for other similar trips during the year.

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“Besides, about N10 million has been set aside for international travels and transport for training and N50 million for other overseas travels and transport during the year. Other allocations to the hajj commission are N25 million for consulting and professional services, in addition to N15 million for financial consulting, apart from another N25.4 million for general financial charges, including insurance premium.

“About N10 million has been budgeted for refreshment and meals for the commission; N15 million for honorarium and sitting allowances; publicity and advertisements (N20 million); welfare packages N70 million; monitoring activities and follow-up (N30 million).

“Although the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission does not have a provision in the budget for foreign travels and transport, about N71.3 million has been budgeted for allowances and social contributions during the year, while overhead costs, including general local travel and transport, would gulp N586.5 million. Also, the commission plans to spend about N42.3 million on general furniture, building and residential quarters and equipment maintenance; N25.1 million for training as well as N181.6 million for other services, like consulting and general professional services.”

What is so troubling is that in all this, African traditional religionists are being left on their own when they go for their own religious activities. This is against section 42(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended), which is about right to freedom from discrimination.

Nigeria is a secular state; Iran can afford to sponsor its citizens on pilgrimage because it is an Islamic State by definition. When government begins to sponsor one group or some groups for faith-based travels while leaving others, it is a show of injustice. This impression makes it pertinent to proffer recommendations in this essay as follows:
a.       State governments should help to develop places of tourism that enhance the growth of religious tourism in relation to ATR. Such places speak a lot about a people, their origin and their worldview than Christianity and Islam.
b.      Nigerians who intend to go on pilgrimage to holy places outside Nigeria should be given a good orientation as to what the aim of their journey is.
c.       Considering the fact that Nigeria is a secular state, government should put a stop to the sponsoring of people to pilgrimages whether to Christian or to Muslim holy cities.
d.      Justice and fair play should be the watch word of the Nigerian government when handling issues that concern the three major religions in Nigeria.

This writer thinks that some of our indigenous African Religious Practices have suffered neglect due largely to the fact that mass communicators from our jurisdiction and even authors have deliberately undermined these African Traditional Religions because of their adherence to foreign religions. The suggestion one prominent Catholic cleric  made that ATR is dead and buried is not totally accurate. Today, more youngsters are converting to their ancient religious practices and it is only wise if the government will invest substantially  to preserve these heritages of our ancient religions by establishing a Pilgrims Commission for ATR.

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One of the most prominent Christian leaders from Nigeria, his eminence John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, recently authored a book in which he too alluded to the active sabotage of ATR. In his own calculation, ATR is dead and buried in Nigeria from his statements in the book ‘Let the truth prevail’ which he wrote in 2021.

Hear His eminence: “If we take Nigeria as example, we must not forget that it is not likely that the rate of church growth that we have been seeing in the past 50 years or so will continue. In fact, it seems we have actually reached a stage now where there is not much room for major changes in the balance of figures between Christianity and Islam. My reading of the situation is that, for a long time, both Christianity and Islam have been growing at the expense of the African traditional religions. We have now reached a stage where every Nigerian has practically made up their mind to be either Christian or Muslim. What this means is that if Islam is to grow, it has to be at the expense of Christianity, and if Christianity is to grow, it will have to be at the expense of Islam. Perhaps this is one reason why our relationship has become more contentious.

“Until recently, both Christianity and Islam were able to continue with their divine mandate to keep preaching and making converts without hitting each other. We’ve reached a stage now where we are looking at each other face to face, and if we don’t handle our divine mandate carefully, it will only lead to clashes. This means even these figures that we are looking at are not the kind of figures that are going to be permanent. We do not know how far we are going to keep growing apart from natural reproduction” (Let the Truth Prevail by John Cardinal Onaiyekan with Emmanuel Ojeifo ).

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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Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

If I am asked to give a succinct and apt summary of the entire challenge faced by the Nigerian state in terms of her policy architecture and development management, in spite of contestation in the development literature, I will not hesitate in stating clearly and unambiguously that it is the challenge of policy implementation; the whole dynamics of getting things done. By elimination, the implication is that the challenge cannot be located as that of the dearth of development ideas, insights, models and paradigms. Right from her independence, Nigeria has been inundated with several ideas, both local and global, about development policy and frameworks. And yet, policy outcomes keep getting bogged down in the murky waters of political shenanigans. This means that the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu has its challenge mapped out, in red, for it.

There is no shying away from this postcolonial predicament that has limited and kept limiting Nigeria’s capacity to honour the terms of her social contract with Nigerians. Hence, the Tinubu government will soon be inundated with the impatient agitations of Nigerians for a quick and tangible fix that will address their sufferings. And they are justified since they have not been given any real deal for the past sixty-three years of sovereign independence. And the new administration is obligated because that is the reason for seeking office in the first place.

Prof. Olaopa’s new book on public policy and development challenges

How then can we begin to understand this policy execution challenge? It is simple: how can an administration in Nigeria transition from governance vision and policy intention to policy outcomes that elevate and transform the quality of life of its citizens? Failure to understand and give critical and political attention to this question lies at the heart of the governance failures of successive Nigerian administrations. The new Tinubu administration cannot afford such a glaring mistake. And so, a fundamental case must be made out of the question of how policy intentions get circumscribed in the dynamics of policy execution that occasions policy failures in past administrations.

Modern states all across the world are distinguished by the traditional four functions they discharge as part of their administrative responsibilities—security i.e. securing the sovereign territory against lawlessness, policy formulation and implementation, governance regulation and service delivery.The capacity to perform each and all of these functions very well within an integrated framework in the governance context is what delivers the dividends of democratic governance to the citizens, and it enhances the state’s competitive and human development rating in global reckoning. With these functions, we have the metrics to differentiate between high-performing states like China, India, the United States,Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate, Germany, Rwanda and the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea), and low- or even under-performing countries like Nigeria that is still cluelessly stuck within a dysfunctional vicious cycle within her arrested development.

From the perspective of governance, there must be something these states are getting right in the connection between leadership, politics, and policy articulation. For instance, there is a trajectory of relationship that links elite bargains to development bargains. In other words, development is a
function of elite nationalism and the extent to which the political class of a state can commit elite suicide and gamble on development on behalf of the people they are leading. In Nigeria, low
manifestation of elite nationalism has made it really difficult for the political class to set aside their personal and egoistic class interests in ways that enable them to clearly and ideologically discern and navigate the deadly developmental landmines strewn all over our governance landscape by the
neoliberal implication of ideological apparatuses and frameworks to which Nigeria is beholden. And here, the factor of development gamble of the Asian Tigers’ elites comes into bold relief. From within the ideological ambit of the developmental state, the leadership of the Asian Tigers were able to define a policy space that consciously and critically weighed the benefits and shortfalls of external influences, especially the type that came from the World Bank, IMF and the other cohorts of the neoliberal policy dynamics. Their developmental circumspection paid off!

Since we cannot argue that Nigeria has been stumped by the lack of vision documents, development plans and blueprints, or even policy expertise, the locus of the new administration’s focus  must be directed at the possibility of mustering the political will to undermine the mystified Nigerian Factor, and face the global neoliberal consensus in order to begin the crafting of an enabling policy architecture to drive development. And to achieve this translates to creating the delicate balance between ‘doing the right things’ (a function of decision making quotient) and ‘doing it right’(project and change management effectiveness), and overcoming the various political, cultural, structural and systemic constraints that trapped past well-meaning policies and intentions of Nigerian leaders in the dynamics of implementation.

There is first the conspiracy of elitist interest that ensures there is a poor resource allocation that focuses on elite bargain than development calculations and taking care of the national interest. Other constraints follow: (a) the disconnect between policy design and implementation due to  weak  implementation planning, risk assessment and incompetent change management strategies; (b) unstable and poorly managed macroeconomic policies; (c) policy and project discontinuity; (d) public service low capability readiness; (e) political interference; and finally (f) deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption. In essence, development has failed not because Nigeria lacks the blueprint or paradigms to make it happen, but due to the dynamics of the politics that the political elite plays with Nigeria’s development potential.

Let me outline what we can regard as the “politics of policy implementation” that Nigeria has played for many years, a politics the new administration must take into serious consideration if it
does not want to fall into the category of failed administration right before it commences. This politics throws Nigeria’s development and policy non-performance right into the frame of the 2005 World Bank review findings about policy and development projects in Africa. According to the finding, 29% of development projects ever get completed, 45% of on-going projects are rated as satisfactory, while 26% of such projects invariably get cancelled. Such a review can never backstop a solid development project of a developmental state.

The politics of policy implementation in
Nigeria is founded on the following assumptions and practices. One: there is that dangerous presumption, that the new administration must resist, that once policies and development plan are designed, they are automatically implemented by the public service. And such a presumption is against the background of a scant investment in implementation analysis and planning, as well as the failure to facilitate the capability review, determine public
administration system’s capability readiness, and strengthening of the MDAs as the powerhouse of government administrative functionality. The MDAs, that is, are not working according to any
specific theories or praxis of change that can guide the functional integration of blueprints or paradigms. This kind of policy inattention draws attention to the policy contradiction: launching a
national development plan and strategy that are not implementation- ready in terms of adequate capability review of the MDAs integral to ensuring implementation success. Two: this
presumption is compounded by the uncritical reliance of past governments on policy experts and consulting firms who are tasked with designing high-end policies that are then dumped on MDAs whose capability reviews and implementation readiness have been neglected in the first place. The
extroversion of the policy design is then compromised by poor functional integration. The truth is that most of these consulting firms lack the appropriate deep content and solution frameworks that are in tandem with the context of policy dysfunction they are supposed to work with. Three: governance policy or project are hardly subjected to feasibility test determined in terms of scope and expectation that are captured by their framework of time, cost and risk assessments before
they are pushed into implementation. This makes it very difficult to benchmark funding projections for these policies and projects against revenue estimations, as well as facilitating in-built flexibilities that enable the policies and projects to adjust to volatilities and contingencies.

All the issues raised above constitute binding constraint that will undermine any governance possibilities the new administration requires to make a success of democratic governance. Undermining the binding constraints demands returning to the fundamentals. The first and most significant is that the new administration needs to interrogate the framework of how government business is currently being conducted. Governance successes are necessarily a function of how government business engages the complexities of the policy design and execution processes within a results-oriented frame. And that entails undermining the structural gaps between policy objectives, development strategies and policy outcomes. This demands second, setting the public service on a performance curve with the institution of a performance management system. This means that the public service must, for example, unfailingly now deploy KPI-based metrics to replace the cumbersome annual performance evaluation report (APER). And at the backend, it becomes imperative to have a monitoring and evaluation system supported by databases that enable staff and program continuous assessment, human resource development rooted in iterativep performance gap identification, supervisors-staff dialogue and multisource feedback mechanismsf for overall national development policy tracking and reporting.

The governance mantra must be on getting the balance between doing the right things and doing it right. And this cannot be achieved through the wanton multiplication or even duplication of
governance plans, programs and blueprints. What is needed is sequencing the blueprints into a coherent and feasible implementation programme, with the right amount of political will behind it. This gives the success of democratic governance a 95% chance of succeeding. The new administration  needs that fighting chance!

. Olaopa, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor of Public Administration .

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Rigged Elections And The Moral Burden Of Illegitimacy



Prof. Hope Eghagha

By  Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Adamu: A man who rigs his way to power carries a moral burden!

Orezime: A moral what?

Adamu: You heard me, didn’t you?

Orezime: I’m not sure I heard you right. Moral what you said?

Adamu: A moral burden, I said!

Orezime: Hahahahahahaha! You make me laugh! Are you from the moon?

Gani: Or Mars?

Emeka: In which country? In Nigeria? That principle does not apply in Nigeria! There is no moral burden on anybody in this country! The election which produced Bubu in 2015 was rigged. Where are the two million voters from Kano State who voted in 2015? Was an INEC official not burnt alive after that election? The one which brought Obj to power was also rigged by the forces which wanted him to ease the tension of the Abiola tragedy on the Yoruba people. Yet those men had the temerity to preach against corruption!

Orezime: The international community winked at the whole exercise.

Gani: Yes! That’s why those two could only preach; they couldn’t really act decisively. A moral burden? They spoke from both sides of their mouths on the issue of corruption. The late President Yar Adua confessed that the election which produced him was compromised. An honest man, he didn’t live long enough to right the wrong of the period!

Orezime: That’s why I laughed when Adamu talked about a moral burden arising from rigged elections.

Bankole: In the ideal world, any power that is stolen and acquired through a dubious means imposes a moral burden on the power holder. No matter what the person does, that power remains stained.

Orezime: What does that amount to in our country? Even the brigands who shot their way to power in the notorious days of military misadventure in Nigeria soon became legitimate.

Emeka: You are going too far in our history. See what happened in Lagos State in the governorship elections of March 18. Ethnic jingoists went about preaching hatred against Igbo people and warned them against coming out to exercise their constitutional rights. Security officials looked the other way when ballot boxes were snatched in broad daylight in places where the opposition was leading.

Gani: A serving state governor personally went about snatching ballot boxes and threatened to shoot whoever got in his way. The same governor declared somebody wanted without recourse to the Inspector General of Police! He worked against the party on which platform he won the seat to spite the party hierarchy!

Adamu: And to think that this is the President-elect’s state. He kept mute through the horrendous attacks on Igbo people in Lagos State just the way the incumbent president has looked the other way when herdsmen went on the loose!

Bankole: Rigged elections are so familiar yet notorious in our land. It was the main trigger to the crisis in the Western Region in the First Republic because the people reacted when they saw a rape of their rights and wishes! It soon snowballed into a conflagration that consumed the nation in the late 1960s. Already, the youths are talking about a protest in the ENDSARSNOW# manner. I hope it doesn’t result in disaster. We have lost too many lives already!

Orezime: What I fear is the rise of ethnic profiling in a supposedly democratic society. To be sure, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the party hierarchy did not single out any ethnic group for verbal attacks. They even courted them. Yet they didn’t caution their followers to stop the degeneration into ethnic hatred. It is a dangerous curve what is happening in Lagos. I don’t subscribe to the Lagos is no man’s land nonsense which some misguided fellows are spewing, but threatening anybody not to vote their candidate is a new low! Can a Sanwo-Olu victory be said to be legitimate if a significant percentage of the electorate is disenfranchised?

Emeka: Good question. They did not stop there. They rolled out the culturally dreaded Oro rituals on election night. Come on! Who is fooling who? The Oro festival was designed to drive fear into non-Yoruba in Lagos. In the 21st Century?

Gani: I am sure the reports from election observers will be damning.

Bankole: I don’t care about those biased observers.

Adamu: Where are we headed in this country?

Orezime: We are on the road to Kigali!

Bankole: May we not travel that route!

Orezime: It’s a good prayer. But what are we doing to avoid the descent into anarchy? Nothing. Those monkeys are simply interested in acquiring power.

Gani: The Obedient Movement seems to have lost steam once it was misbranded as an ethnic agenda to grab power at the national level. Peter Obi needs to tread carefully so he doesn’t become another June 12! Some people are egging him on to challenge INEC through protests.

Orezime: If he decides to lead a protest, it would be within his constitutional right to do so, especially as INEC is stalling on the issue of inspecting elections materials despite an order from the courts. Peaceful protests are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Adamu: No one can be sure whether a peaceful protest will remain peaceful after it starts. That’s the experience the ENDSARS people had.

Gani: It’s not enough to stop people from taking to the streets. Protests are fundamental to democracy.

Adamu: We do not want dead heroes! Mark my words.

Bankole: That’s ominous!

Emeka: It means nothing. Nigeria must change. We cannot go on like this forever! Things are just going down. No cash. No fuel. No power supply. No security. No nothing.  Peter Obi gave a glimmer of hope. Now that has been dashed to the ground.

Adamu: Rigging will remain a moral burden each time our President-elect travels outside the country, each time he meets foreign observers, especially those ones who have a dossier on him. History will also judge him and assess how he came to power. This applies to all the states as well where some politicians have turned themselves into demigods and have compromised poor INEC officials with mouthwatering sums. This is not how to build a democracy. The votes must be counted and must count. Seventeen people have their lives during the governorship and House of Assembly elections. We are supposed to count ballot papers, not bodies. Sad!

Bankole: The moral burden of rigged elections is on all of us. Without our connivance there would be no rigging. We can only hope that this will end some day!

Emeka: Tough luck!


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Professors On INEC’s Will (2)



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

On Thursday, 2 March, 2023, the Financial Times based in London, England published a blistering editorial on the February 25, 2023 Presidential election which up to now is the talk of everywhere beyond our shores. The said Financial Times editorial was entitled “Nigerians badly flawed election fails to set an example.”  Indeed, it was a positively blistering presentation as any positively blistering presentation can be. Professor Olu Obafemi FNAL; NNOM drew the attention of the literati to the editorial that argued succinctly that “If Tinubu’s victory is challenged the courts should take a hard` look.”  In his summation of the editorial Professor Olu Obafemi, who headed the debating literati, said he had nothing to add to the efficacious editorial but he would be happy – by my inference – to have the viewpoints of others. Thereafter the debate began. The arguments and counter-arguments began. Whose will was INEC propagating:  Was it its will or the will of the cabal in the presidency or the will of the Nigerian people?

    By the way, be it noted here and now that the Financial Times, though headquartered in London as already indicated, is owned by Japanese, by Nikkei, a Japanese holding company with “core editorial offices across Britain, the United States and continental Europe.” Why this point is necessary here will reveal itself in the debate I hereby tender to fit my creative and journalistic purpose. But you will notice that there is a shift in focus from the substance of the editorial to the question of anti-black or anti-African Western propaganda.

This is how Professor Ademola Da Sylva, FNAL puts it:

    “The Western media are so powerful that they have their ways of turning non-Western genuine patriots and revolutionaries to look like some nameless demons all because they failed to toe servile line as underdogs! Idi Amin, for example, might not get it right in his choice of modus operandi, but he knew what he wanted for his Uganda people. His successful ejection of the British Asians was one of his policies that did not go down well with the hegemons because it devastated the British economy. So the Western media descended on him and painted him as a blood-sucking Dracula! Of course, there were Uganda compradors and cronies of multinationals from within who tried to undermine Amin’s revolution, too. Dedan Kimathi was also considered a “terrorist and a bandit” by the British imperialists; they got him arrested and hanged him, but we know he wasn’t a demon they tried to make us believe he was! Furthermore, no matter what we may think of Mugabe, the immediate past Zimbabwe President, he meant well for his country, he revoked the licences of large parcels of fertile lands, and also a large chunk of the lands from the White occupants and re-distributed the lands among the black peasants. That was ordinarily unthinkable in Africa by an African leader who wanted justice and equity for his people, but he did it and called the bluff of the West. Again, the Western media took over from there, painted a devil of him, and many Africans uncritically swallowed the gambit, too!  The first accusation of the West against these patriotic leaders has always been that they were antidemocrats! Democracy is anti-African governance principles. It is the primary reasons why we never get it right, but it has always paid the West because it keeps Africa underdeveloped to the advantage of the West. The truth is: Why would you want to change a leadership that is up and doing, responsible and responsive, and doing very well, why? That principle foregrounds our sense of monarchy. A king remains on the throne for as long as his reign brings progress and security. Where a king fails, as in the cases of the indigenous Yoruba Obas, he is made to commit a voluntary suicide, and another Oba replaces him. Anyway, let me pause here.”

    Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano’s stroke goes thus: “My view is that if humans have (or bear) an original sin, according to Christian eschatology, and if humans need to pray and carry out religious duties to be worthy of divine grace, and if secular education requires progressive edification of humans, and if humans are brutes unless they are inserted into a humane culture complete in all its sides (as Matthew Arnold has argued), and if the classical calculators looked forward not to human nature, with its brutal immersion in self-interest and wars and strife, and if humans have repeatedly to struggle to rise above their petty narrowness, then how can their voting behaviour or action be perfect, pristine or excellent? Those who expect a perfect electoral behaviour or outcome in a country brutalized by a savage economic policy and an insensitive and thieving cast of state officials, and the electors riven by religious and ethnic divisions are expecting a miracle. Yet at the local level, the electors did succeed in electing a new set of people to represent them. The problem with macro analysis is that it is positivism at its worst. At the micro level, the elections were expressive of the will of the people. In Kano State, for example, the newly formed NNPP swept the board with more than 18 out of the available 22 seats for the House of Reps and 2 out of the 3 Senate seats.  Thousands turned out to vote. Finally, why should we believe anything the Western press says about us? Look at their reporting of the war in Ukraine. They keep saying, against the evidence and the facts, that Ukraine is winning the war with Russia, despite the former being slaughtered on the battlefield and having lost a staggering number of soldiers.

    “Humour comes from the ridiculous and the ridiculous from the comical. Here is an example of a statement that is hilarious because it is ridiculous and ridiculous because it is comical: “Ladies and gentlemen, meet the newly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Reverend Mullah Professor Mr. Mallam IBK of Madagascar!”

 Do I have any doubt that our readers will find it hard and uneasy to follow the mind patterns and strokes of the debaters who are trying in their peculiar ways to say something tangibly tangible about our will as voters and INEC’s will as electoral umpire? Not at all!

To be continued.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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