Let me begin this piece with some form of syllogistic administrative argument. It has become axiomatic in the diagnosis of Nigeria’s post-independence predicament to point at the leadership lacuna in governance and policymaking. The need for a visionary and strategic leadership that will drive the whole development process cannot be overemphasized. In the whole of Nigeria, the example of Lagos State stands out firmly as the most exemplary in terms of the leadership succession that has impacted the culture of good governance. From Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Babatunde Fashola. And from Akinwunmi Ambode to the incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagosians have been blessed with a leadership trajectory that has kept building good policies on good policies in a continuity loop that has kept Lagos State on top of the democratic governance game, and has made the state the best example of good governance so far.
However, leadership needs a strong institutional and structural basis around which its vision could become concretized. It is around these structures and institutions that the weight of governance and service delivery is laid. This is where we arrive at the crucial point that leadership is bare without an accompanying complement of structural and institutional frameworks around which the vision and strategy of leadership can be articulated in concrete terms. With this point, we critically undermine the agency-structure argument in the social sciences. We also undermine the strong man/strong institution dichotomy. This is because there is no point to that dichotomy. One is incomplete without the other. The further point of the institutional argument is that the public service is the institution par excellence that carries the weight of democratic performance and productivity. Indeed, the public service is the necessary complement to a democratic government. In the literature on developmental states, there is a strong axiomatic consensus that we cannot even begin to think of such a state outside of the administrative coherence provided by the structural framework of the public service and its capability readiness to deliver on intelligent policymaking made possible by the state and its functionaries and politicians.
And the strength of the public service must derive from a measure of public-spiritedness and professionalism of the public servants that the state has recruited and had committed to working with. Public service is a vocation that is more of a calling than a mere profession. A proper understanding of the spirituality involved in the public service is derived from likening it to the Levitical Order of the Jewish priesthood. A public servant is called to a deep and spiritual service of the public to which she is expected to dedicate all her capabilities and focus to the exclusion of every contrary emotion and desire that might undermine that commitment. As an administrative virtue, public-spiritedness places the responsibility of the professional within the context of a personal and public accountability that motivates the professional to personally hold him/herself responsible for the discharge of his/her duties to the public. It is this public spirit or civil virtue that instigates the public servants to an efficient, effective and equitable management of the civil service system.
And of course, the quality of any public service at all, cannot be divorced from the professionalism and resilience of the Civil Service Commission (CSC). Given the spiritual significance of the professionalism and public-spiritedness of the public service, it becomes dangerous to leave the gateway into the profession unmanned. The danger of an over-bloated workforce is not only the lowering of the performance and productivity profile but much more the compromising of the professional remit of the public servants. The experience of Nigeria is telling. With independence, there was a dilemma with regard to the basis of recruitment into the public service. Representativeness was chosen over meritocracy due to Nigeria’s delicate multi-ethnic status. By the Second Republic, the public service was already so over-bloated as to be unable to achieve the capacity readiness to carry the weight of Nigeria’s development planning. In 1975, the hammer of brutal downsizing fell on the public service, and it crushed the system not just to size but with the professional confidence and esprit de corps which made it tick also lost.
Thus, the locus of the modernizing imperative and professionalism of the public service has remained the CSC. This is crucial because the CSC is the interface that mediates between the government and the public service system itself in ways that facilitate a synergy of performance and productivity the state can work with for democratic governance that positively affects citizens. In this sense, the CSC needs to keep reforming its gatekeeping dynamics to be able to also properly gatekeep the professional requirement for repositioning the public service as a profession. In 1954, the Nigerian Public Service Commission was established, and the 1979 Constitution enshrined and changed the name as the Federal Civil Service Commission. The FCSC has the vision to “To build a core of highly focused, disciplined, committed and patriotic Civil Service totally dedicated to supporting the Government in the development of a strong, united and virile Nigeria.”
Its objective is four-fold: (a) To appoint qualified candidates to man the different Ministries/Extra-Ministerial Departments in the Federal Civil Service; (b) To ensure that such appointments maintain/represent the federal character of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; (c) To make recommendations to the Federal Government on personnel policies aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal Civil Service; and (d) To ensure that personnel decisions are taken objectively, promptly and competently in accordance with the policies and interest of the Federal Government. However, about six decades after its creation, we can legitimately worry whether the FCSC has put in place the necessary institutional mechanism to attract, retain and effectively utilize administrative skills and competencies on behalf of the Nigerian civil service. To what extent has the FCSC been able to protect the principle of merit in recruitment without buckling under political pressure, especially for representativeness? This is a good question to ask for one fundamental reason. There is a massive skill and competency flight away from the public service to the private sector or to other countries. The flight of Nigerian doctors to Saudi Arabia is a most recent and public instance.
Every CSC is confronted with the necessity of modernizing its structural, institutional, procedural and ethical frameworks. Reforming the civil service itself entails the reform of the CSC and its managerial dynamics and regulations. This derives from strategizing its own performance management system in ways that allow it to perform better at its gatekeeping responsibility. This is one of the imperatives of the managerial revolution that requires not only a technology-based public service, but also an efficient and effective workforce that is able to achieve a performance trajectory that services good governance. To grasp the importance of professionalism that undergirds the gatekeeping responsibility of the CSC, there is a need to situate that professionalism within the larger context of workforce dynamics and HR function in the twenty-first century.
Such a reform at a general level entails the following critical issues. First, there is policy advice and analysis. New technologies demand that the CSC must be on the lookout for global best practices on the relationship between these technologies and policy analysis and intelligence, and their relationship in informing policy research. The second issue is service delivery and citizen engagement. The CSC needs to monitor what new skills and competence are demanded in transiting the civil service into the period of open government that leads to the co-creating of better services and engagements with citizens as customers. The third issue has to do with commissioning and contracting. The CSC must also be on top of the contracting of non-core functions of the public service, and the commissioning of third parties who have the requisite competences that complement the core functions and efficiency of the public services. The fourth issue concerns managing networks. The CSC must be aware of the urgent needs for collaborative need that brings the public service into communication and strategic relationship with governmental and nongovernmental organisations in ways that generate trust and commitment that leads to efficiency. It is therefore the responsibility of the CSC to regulate skills that lead to mutual understanding.
The fifth critical issue is workforce and HR. The advancement in artificial intelligence and robotics speaks to the necessity of reconstructing our understanding of what work entails. Most fundamentally, the fourth industrial revolution makes it imperative that work would be attended by the urgency of changing skills and competences that have to keep pace with the changing dynamics of work itself and the administrative context within which work must take place. Once technological innovations have taken over the workplace work dynamics, then employers and employees have to come to terms with how the existing skills and competence framework address the new challenges that technology introduces. The last significant issue to address is the urgency of a change management strategy and model. This is required by the mandate and challenges of professionalization and re-professionalization. The first issue here is for the FCSC to reflect on what change management model to adopt that will enable it to adequately engage with the urgency of re-professionalizing the civil service system. This is not an easy issue as the commission must adopt and adapt a model that best suits the peculiar administrative environment and dynamics of the administrative context. Indeed, a best option, rather than reaching out to some pre-existing models, is for the FCSC to generate its own model that best suits its administrative realities.
At the specific levels, the FCSC of the future cannot overemphasize the significance of performance management in the determination of the staff appraisal and professional development of the public servants through the proactive activation of those dormant components of the APER, by deploying training- and activity-based assessment metrics. This would be determined around not just the idea of a performance-induced interviews like assessment center, but also the initiation of a performance-based contracting system backstopped by a commensurate pay and compensation incentive system that will ensure the attraction and retention of the brightest and the best into the public service. This will force the FCSC to begin to creatively juggle with some out-the-box leadership pipelining and talent management frameworks with strict guidelines that, first, enable the identification of star-performers within the system who, second, can be rewarded through special promotion that signals the system’s willingness to streamline creativity and innovation that push the public service into the dynamics of a state already moving into the technological and administrative frameworks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is important as a way of undermining the naturally occurring urge for institutional inbreeding.
The FCSC, finally, must also not foreclose the possibility of staff exchange with industries and even the diaspora. This also involves the possibility of staff sabbatical leave that allows staff to strengthen their professional horizons through sharing and learning from other professional spaces. A proper recruitment framework must enable the effective involvement of the MDA line and personnel managers so as to be able to achieve a fit between skill and competency gaps and recruitment into the public service. This is one irreducible imperative of the Decree No. 43 of 1988 which failed in its professionalization remit, but provided a significantly understanding of a decentralized understanding of HR function for efficiency. Within the Nigerian public service system, these skills are mostly missing in the constitution of the senior executive service. This means that the office of the head of service would be required to revise the skills domains required to constituting the SES, while also collaborating with management development institutes (MDIs) and government training/tertiary institutions to mounting courses and designing curricula that speak to this skill sets. In all of this, CSCs will never be able to make significant impact unless the chairmen and commissioners are professionals and knowledge workers who could deploy the strategic advantage of the multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary to harness the strength of a professionalized high-end specialists’ strategic HR expertise of service commissions’ secretariat to change-manage the public service into a capability-enabled track, towards desired world-class status.
Excerpt from a lecture delivered by Prof. Tunji Olaopa, retired Federal Permanent Secretary and Professor of public administration/Directing Staff, NIPSS, Kuru, Plateau State (firstname.lastname@example.org) as Guest Speaker at the Lagos State Civil Service Commission 2021 Annual Retreat on the theme ‘Changing the Narrative: The Civil Service Commission’s Role in Repositioning the Public Service’ held on 15-16 October, 2021 in Ikeja. Lagos State.
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Self-esteem Of The Male Child, A Tool for Peaceful Marriage
By Hope Nwawolo
Self-esteem determines how much you value yourself and believe in your ability to succeed. If you feel confident in being yourself around others, then you likely have high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem is related to increased happiness, relationship satisfaction, and resilience in the face of adversity. Some men went through bullying in childhood or adolescence, grew into men with deflated self-esteem.
In more recent times, the society is veering off the mindset of training only the girl child. This is because the disturbing experiences of ladies, who were trained to be submissive to their untrained husbands, have changed the dynamics of child training. Eyes have opened to realize that if you train your girl child to be an angel in marriage, she might end up with a male child who grew into a monster in the same marriage because he was not trained.
Training has different dimensions and the common one being offered the male child is that of having a caring heart and respect for his wife in future. This is highly commendable but not all encompassing. One aspect of training that is silently being ignored is that of development of self-esteem in the male child.
Nowadays, the girl child is encouraged to look at herself as one who is wonderfully made and should not be trampled by anyone, particularly, the opposite sex. This is helping to build the confidence and self-esteem of many girls who can now stand their ground on who they want to be as they grow older. These girls grow into ladies with confidence, taking on different challenges they come across as they aspire to reach the zenith of their careers. Observably, many successful ladies are able to balance their careers with demands of the home, and succeed. Now, women have their voices and demand to be heard, instead of only being seen as it was the case in the past.
Unfortunately this new trend seems to be breeding a counter reaction in some men. There is the growing tendency for these men to become uncomfortable in the face of the obvious confidence of their wives. Unknowingly, some of the men sabotage their marriages because they fail to value themselves as persons to match their wives’ self-esteem. This is the crux of the article, and for the need to inculcate high self-esteem in the male child to balance the training of the girl child, if and when they come together for marriage, instead of seeing her as a threat because of her self-esteem.
Expectedly, a woman with dignity and high self-esteem, will stand out anywhere and anytime. This has nothing to do with pride and does not even give the woman the right to attempt to usurp authority from the man. In fact, such a woman may go an extra mile to clothe herself with humility, particularly, in the presence of her husband, at home or functions. Unfortunately, many men cannot just manage the success of their wives. They would rather see them as threats. Some expect the women to be seen and not heard, forgetting that silence in dignity can attract attention from those around. Of course, men with high self-esteem, are proud to have such women as their wives.
Furthermore, it is unnecessary, particularly in the present economic hardship where the woman is almost sharing responsibilities with the man. For such a woman with financial independence, the man must be ready to witness some temper flings. And if the general admonition to women is that they should study the men and know when to talk to them, the man should also understand that the woman might be on the wrong side of her temper, due to pressure at home or work, sometimes, rather than seeing her when she is in a bad mood, as insulting him, because of his low self-esteem.
A man with low-esteem, often finds it hard to believe that he is lovable or worthy of being respected, particularly, if he sees the woman as one who is independent to some extent and capable of taking care of herself, and sometimes, the children . Such mindset can suffocate a relationship, as it may become almost impossible to please him. Understandably, the behaviour may not even be reflective of his character but symptoms of an internal struggle, and can indeed be a cause for concern, if left unaddressed. Unfortunately, there are cases of such marriages that went sour.
However, this can be checked in adolescence or teenage years before it gets full-blown in adulthood, especially in marriage. It takes an intentional stance by parents to ensure regular self-expression by the male child, as a way of building his self-esteem to go through the rigours of life. He needs to understand that marriage should be that of partnership and not absolute subjugation of the woman, no matter her level in career and society. The man remains the head of the woman, and the home!
Nwawolo, PhD, writes via
Mohbad: When Love And Light Are Not Enough
By Toyin Falola
I did not want to write about Mohbad until a student of the University of Babcock contacted me, asking me to lend my voice to it. The seventeen-year-old student emailed me in sentences that come with anguish and pain. I was moved by them. Nothing I write can restore the damaged emotions of this teenager, but I am glad to run this errand. The purpose of old age is to restore the broken fabric of society.
A sea of shimmering lights dotting the darkness of an evening sky is not a common sight anywhere in the world. In Lagos, Nigeria, it holds even more significance. It seems only a few months since a peaceful demonstration of young Nigerians was interrupted at the Lekki Tollgate in October 2020. As though the tragedy that would follow was scripted, solemn protesters who held out candlelights in their numbers in memory of fallen comrades were dispersed by live rounds and coercive military actions.
This time around, on the evening of September 21, 2023, the collegiate crowd, candle lights, and stars you saw were not to mourn the youths who had fallen to SARS’ brute force. This was the candlelight procession in honour of Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, a young Afrobeat singer in his prime whose death and the events leading up to it have been controversial.
But these two nights have more than one thing in common. Just like in 2020, the concerned fans of the late music artiste had chosen Muri Okunola as their rendezvous, a park along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos, which is only a few minutes from the venue of the 2020 #EndSARS demonstration. Also, the candlelight procession featured youths, some with their placards with the inscription: “JusticeforMohbad,” bringing back memories from that fateful night. Just like three years ago, the candlelight procession for Mohbad ended with police action, the police dispersing “unruly protesters” off the scene. At least, the singular observation that some ill-trained, trigger-happy policemen did not kill Mohbad brings some solace. Nevertheless, murder is murder regardless of who pulls the trigger is an aphorism that admits very few exceptions.
At this point, one would imagine how a solemn event like a candlelight procession could have transformed into a protest that would warrant a dispersal of the “unruly crowd” by men of the Nigeria Police. In the defence of the Police Force, dispersing the procession was in the interest of ensuring the safety of lives and properties. For one thing, an exodus of young people with dread, tattoos, exuding palpable deviance is enough danger to the lives and properties in the surrounding communities; talk more of a rampant exodus of youths bearing weapons of mass destruction like naked fire and placards.
This is why the police had to think up their best initiative to nip the danger in the bud—quench the fire, whether candle lights or flickers of agitation. This is not unusual, especially in a country like ours where the primary security company has an unyielding aversion to demonstrations and an uncanny penchant for forceful responses to demonstrations, no matter how peaceful. Pardon me for this segue; it was necessary.
But will the young, towering late musician ever get justice? Would the enemies, frenemies, and evil conspirators he talked about before his death be brought to book? If anything, Ilerioluwa would take solace in the candlelight procession organized to send his soul home to his maker, as this symbolizes what he stood for. Shortly after announcing his departure from his former record label, Marlian Music, Mohbad announced his label titled “Imolenization.” In the Yoruba language, Imole means light or illumination. So, despite having had his light snuffed out in his prime, his soul would journey to the heavens buoyed on by an array of lights and love.
To many young Nigerians, Mohbad was a leading voice on the street. His songs, K.P.K., Feel Good, Peace, and Ronaldo
(https://www.google.com/search?q=K.P.K.%2C+Feel+Good%2C+Peace%2C+and+Ronaldo&rlz=1C5GCEM_enUS1077&oq=K.P.K.%2C+Feel+Good%2C+Peace%2C+and+Ronaldo&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIHCAEQIRigATIHCAIQIRigATIHCAMQIRigAdIBCDE4MDhqMGo3qAIAsAIA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:1c3f2f36,vid:wB9Vym8SWmU,st:0), are not merely hits but have become street anthems. For many whose lives revolved around the trenches and suburbs of Lagos, Mohbad was also an emblem of hope. Like most of his contemporaries, Mohbad’s discography showcases deviance, survival, internet fraud, high life, and the never-say-die hustling spirit of the average Nigerian youth.
Mohbad’s music career took a different turn when he joined his former record label, Marlian Music. On the back of the label’s popularity, Mohbad’s stock rose exponentially, even attaining stardom with two successful albums and an E.P. Without dwelling much on what may have gone wrong between the musical art and his label, it was clear that his departure was not well received. In most departures of this kind, bad blood and legal skirmishes are not uncommon.
However, when bad blood brews into assaults and unending threats to life, and parties take laws into their hands rather than ply the legal route, the assailing party would be said to have crossed the line. As the elders would say, a fight is already set in motion when the handshake goes beyond the elbow. Mohbad, upon leaving Marlian Music in 2022, premised his departure on the failure of the label management to remit his music royalties and other entitlements. Months later, the late musician had severally released materials on how his ex-boss, Afeez Fashola, had been after his life. This leads to the question, what more would tilt the suspicion of the police towards a suspect than the declaration of a deceased person before his death?
The events surrounding the death of Mohbad raise many questions. First, could there be any connection between the frenemies he lamented and his death? Why was his burial hurried, even by his kin? Are the police doing a good job of arresting and interrogating prime and remote suspects? Was the government of Lagos right to have exhumed his remains to conduct an autopsy? Going by the Coroner’s System Law of Lagos State, “a report of death shall be made to the office of the Coroner and be subject to post-mortem examination where there is reasonable cause to believe that the cause of death was violent, unnatural, or suspicious”.
Matter-of-factly, even in this cruel world, the death of a 27-year-old is presumably unnatural except where the circumstances reveal otherwise. In Mohbad’s case, the circumstances seem to agree that a post-mortem examination is more than necessary. It becomes even more suspicious when the allegations of hostility, threats to his life, trespass on his person, and unending battles, as lamented by the late musician, are put into context.
Admittedly, the law books teach that suspicion and subjective opinion are not a sufficient basis for proof of facts. Hence, the need for empirical examination will further drive us to the point of certainty, at least for the sake of the deceased, whose life may have been cut short by unnatural forces. Maybe this would also provide context or answers as to why his burial was hurried.
When an unnatural or suspicious death occurs, the police ordinarily conduct a post-mortem examination, interrogate close associates, and scour through correspondence, recent contacts, and perceived enemies. This information becomes even more relevant if the deceased claims to have been bullied, threatened, or attacked.
Mohbad’s death has provoked commentaries and opinions from different quarters. While some have been more cautious in pointing fingers, others have thrown caution to the wind and have demanded the arrest of individuals like Afeez Fashola and Samuel Balogun. One salient issue that must be addressed before this momentum dies down is the need to redefine lost values in light of the infiltration of foreign values. In foreign climes like the United States, it is not unusual for bad blood of this kind to brew into assassinations. A case in mind is that of Tupac Shakur, who was murdered exactly 27 years ago in Nevada, United States 1996. Six months later, Christopher Wallace, Notorious B.I.G., was murdered similarly.
While Mohbad may not have died from gun violence, his death was no less violent, given the circumstances that culminated in his untimely demise. When viewed in light of his industry, we begin to see the impact of foreign elements in the Nigerian music world. A look through the boards shows artists with criminal histories ranging from assault, internet fraud, marijuana abuse, and sexual violence to homicide. It would seem that Nigerian pop artists have not only taken music inspiration from the West but have also taught their dark penchant for vices.
The cause of death might have been speculative, and the range of agitation could also have been built on unsubstantiated emotional outbursts on circumstantial evidence, a little bit shy of mathematical accuracy. Even at that, they have established the undisputed need to chase the issue to the root and also raised a disturbing concern that a lot has been overlooked in our complacency. Unfortunately, the police, in their usual brutes, have dispersed away such voices that would keep them on their toes like in the EndSARS period.
It begs the question that the current continuous show of love and a thousand sessions of candlelight will not fill the societal lacuna that might have occasioned his death or brought about the ugly incidences that built momentum before it. An enabling system has nourished the powers that have pressured Mohbad for months before his death and have continuously caused the demise of many of our fallen heroes, even if they are social stimulators like Mohbad.
To the young Babcock student, let me close as an elder: When someone else dies with similar circumstances, the same love and light will fall along with them. We have seen it continuously in recent history. We have seen brutality on helpless individuals and the government being continuously inconsiderate, but we have not seen an end to the circle. The love and lights are insufficient, but the nation has been too sleepy to fill the void they could not cover. May your fate be different, and may you live past 100 years. Amen. I will come to your campus and speak with you in person, sharing my story of survival as a teenager in the bush.
Soyinka And The Gbajue Metaphor
By Promise Adiele
Akin Akingbesote was my roommate at Q107 Eni-Njoku Hall, University of Lagos. Akin was in 200 level studying Mass Communication while I was in 100 level studying English. Given the large number of Igbo and Yoruba students on campus then, the general lingo was dominated by code-switching straddling pidgin English, Yoruba, Igbo and other forms of slang. My knowledge of Yoruba was poor, Akin’s knowledge of Igbo was abysmal. So, we struck a deal to teach each other our mother tongue at least, to retain a faint knowledge of all linguistic strategies and slang on campus. Akin, a good-natured guy from Ondo State, suggested that the best method would be for us to come up with expressions in the opposite language and bring them to the table while the other person interpreted and analysed them. I agreed. Every day, I came with different Yoruba expressions and Akin interpreted them. He also came with different Igbo expressions and I interpreted them. Both of us sometimes played pranks and were mischievous with the interpretations. However, we managed the situation and it was fun.
One day, I returned to campus from town and asked Akin to explain the meaning of lo toju eru e! I had seen the expression boldly written inside a bus. He explained that it means keep your load safe. Also, I asked him to explain the meaning of owo da! He said it means where is your money? I disagreed with Akin’s interpretation of owo da!. I argued that the bus conductors were wrong to use Owo da as where is your money? I told Akin that owo da could mean where is the money which I thought was arrogant and rude. I further argued that Owo da sounded like a thief demanding money from a helpless victim. Pay your transport fair in Yoruba should mean something else, more peaceful and respectful, something like san owo re. Akin laughed at me and said, “When they ask you owo da, don’t give them your money and see what will happen to you”. I told him that in Igbo, pay your money could be translated as kwuo ugwo gi, or nye m ego gi. Although kedu ego gi could be interpreted as pay your money, it didn’t quite capture the accurate linguistic potential of the expression.
One day, I returned to the room and asked Akin, “what is the meaning of gbajue”? He looked at me intently, smiled and asked, “Why do you want to know the meaning of gbajue , abi you don join them”? His response did not make meaning to me. “Akin, please tell me the meaning of gbajue”, I insisted. Well, it means 419, he laughed as he explained. I noticed that Akin was not serious with the gbajue lecture, so I decided to contact a course mate the next day, concluding that to get the best answer, I would approach an Igbo student who also spoke Yoruba fluently, as well as any Yoruba person. So I went to George Nkwocha, the ever-smiling, peacefully disposed guy in my class. Georgie, as we called him, gave me different meanings of gbajue depending on the context. At last, I concluded that gbajue means deception, dubiety, and all forms of criminal tendencies that are meant to mislead, confuse, and lead astray. End of story. Armed with my knowledge of gbajue, I moved on. No one would bamboozle me with the word again.
Having learned and understood the meaning of gbajue in school, I was therefore irked when Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka used it in faraway South Africa as a metaphor to describe the activities of Africa’s most avant-garde political group, Labour Party under the aegis of Obidient movement. According to Soyinka, the Labour Party employed gbajue tactics to befuddle Nigerians, claiming that they won the last presidential elections. The accomplished man of letters avowed that he “can categorically state that Labour Party did not win the election, they came third, not even second”. Let me quickly admit that I am not fit to untie Soyinka’s shoe lace. He is a great man revered and respected across the world. I teach Soyinka’s texts every year. But I am not one of his disciples. I subscribe to Femi Osofisan’s Brecht, Marxist, dialectical leaning more than Soyinka’s ritual cleansing, tragic world view illustrated through his appropriation of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron and the subterranean agent of self-examination. Soyinka is entitled to his explication of gbajue, although many people think he erred. Many people think he is gradually losing that invincible, iconoclastic portrait of his by consistently aligning with bourgeois, upper-class echelon against the masses. Many people also think that he is gradually eroding all the virtues and principles he stood and fought for as a young man. His “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” has morphed into an ideology with which he is appraised and found wanting because he continues to maintain grave silence in the face of tyranny pro max. Like Soyinka, let me also exercise my intellectual prerogative by offering a personal, surgical dismembering of gbajue, at least within Nigeria’s evanescing, socio-political environment.
Gbajue means to insidiously submit fake academic credentials to the electoral body, serve eight years in an executive capacity and recruit foot soldiers to drum support for you. It is the indoctrination of school children who grow up knowing and answering that someone was this and that, a position attained through deception and beguiling posturing for gain. Gbajue also includes benefitting from the commonwealth having attained a glorious political position riding at the back of fraudulent academic and genealogical claims. All the wealth amassed in that process, all the people who benefitted from that deception are indebted to the gbajue phenomenon and must be made to pay restitution.
Gbajue means when the electoral umpire promises to follow a particular pattern in an election and even goes ahead to publish these regulations in national dailies and the internet. Then, suddenly, like real gbajue-seared beings, make a complete turnaround and abandon the patterns and devices already scheduled for the elections. Then the electoral umpire reverts to its invidious, treacherous, double-dealing methods to conclude the election. The real gbajue element is when the people trooped out in millions based on the promises and assurance of the electoral umpire but only to be deceived, cheated, and abused.
Gbajue means when, during an election, the security apparatus in the country assures people to come out and vote, guaranteeing them ultimate protection and safety. Then, when the people came out, a particular ethnic group is harmed, maimed and dehumanized yet, the same security apparatus connives and looks away from these incidents even with incontrovertible video evidence. Gbajue is when some disoriented people make open threats towards an ethnic group and go on to carry out these threats while the government lapses into hypnotic paralysis only to use media outlets, radio, tv and newspaper to release sterile, hackneyed statements, “we are on top of the situation”.
Gbajue means when in a particular state in the South-South of the country, elections were openly rigged and electoral officers glaringly harassed and threatened by the governor. Yet security personnel looked away and the results were finally admitted by the national electoral body, blurred results. Gbajue is when the electoral umpire, while people of good conscience slept, announced the results of the presidential elections in the wee hours of the night. It is when a group of people representing the judiciary set aside loads of electoral malpractice evidence, chide and rebuke election petitioners as if the judiciary is an arm of the electoral body. Yet, gbajue is surely involved when Abuja is ingeniously stripped of its status as the federal capital territory but does not have a governor as a state, therefore, 25% votes there are inconsequential. Gbajue is big.
Gbajue is when a new government announces the removal of fuel subsidy upon assumption of office without any corresponding, well-thought-out plans to mitigate the excruciating effects of such a knee-jerk decision. Petrol now sells for N620. Pure horror. Gbajue is when a new government titillates the populace with a spurious student loan scheme which lacks any fundamental base and, therefore, crashes as soon as it is announced. Gbajue could be more. It is when a government inaugurates a falsehood industry primarily to hoodwink the people daily with unsubstantiated, misleading tales – UAE lifts visa ban on Nigeria, Mr President is the first to ring the NASDAQ bell, Mr President is the only African leader Biden accepted to meet after UNGA. Gbajue could also mean distributing five billion naira to the states for palliatives when the people received disgraceful, next-to-nothing food items, when, unexpectedly 1$ exchanges for 1,000 naira. Gbajue could be more.
The gbajue culture is maintained and desperately sustained by a coterie of desperate felons whose motives are glaringly tied to gain and the protection of the same. Thus, Nigeria is caught in a whirlwind of different gbajue metaphors. The result of the growth of gbajue in the land is the international embarrassment the country is currently facing regarding the inconsistent academic records of the number one chief executive officer in the land. But gbajue’s comeuppance could be summarized in these words by former US president Abraham Lincoln “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. I hope the majestic Kongi agrees with my definitions of gbajue.
Adiele, PhD, Mountain Top University.
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