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Professor Sotunsa Mobolanle: Breaking Down The Walls Of Patriarchy In African Scholarship



Professor Sotunsa Mobolanle: Breaking Down The Walls Of Patriarchy In African Scholarship
Professor Sotunsa Mobolanle


Toyin Falola

From the 21st to the 23rd of June 2021, Professor Mobolanle Sotunsa will be co-convening the 6th J. A. Atanda Lectures and Conference, which will bring 400 speakers to Babcock University, Nigeria. Her talent and managerial capability are the driving force behind this success. Prof. Sotunsa does not find this new, as she has achieved comparable feats in the past. She has stories to tell, with drums and songs to accompany them; however, she must first listen to us introduce her.

Prof. Mobolanle Sotunsa is one of the most versatile women breaking academic frontiers in Nigeria. Her place in the knowledge production sector of the country remains firmly sustained because of her rounds of stimulating academic engagements, which can be ascribed to her zeal, dedication, and hunger for success. The Nigerian, and then African, academic sector is dominated by males so much that women, in some settings, are almost synonymous with ignorance and docility, despite their impressive contributions in cognitively shaping and developing every child. Therefore, Sotunsa’s valiant academic feats are informed by the decision to showcase the deep-seated immersion of African women in knowledge production and how their efforts are worthy of intellectual recognition. Her fame as an academic leader is strengthened by the groundbreaking intellectual additions she has made to scholarship since her rise to academic recognition. Sotunsa has not only contributed to the education system through her wide-ranging research and knowledge, but she has also erected for herself a sturdy image whose foundation cannot be threatened by any factor.

Born when the country experienced unprecedented economic growth, the impact spread to her as she had access to valuable content during her formative years. Sotunsa started her academic journey as a child at Moremi Nursery and Primary School, where she acquired elementary education to guide her in her advancement. Her extraordinary performance as a pupil fast-tracked her journey and placed her on the right pedestal on which she built her career. After her secondary school education at Command Secondary School, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, Mobolanle proceeded to the premier university, the University of Ibadan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English within the stipulated time.

Her interest in education was cemented by her quest to immediately progress to graduate studies so that she can consolidate the already acquired knowledge with a more sophisticated academic engagement. But before this, she decided to sharpen her communications skills by gathering expert information in appropriate fields. This led to her enrollment into a journalism school, where she became a certified journalist within a year. More importantly, she continued with her pursuit of academic excellence at the University of Ibadan, where she obtained Masters of Arts in English Studies, before finally capping the whole engagements with a doctorate in the same school in 2005.

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One should be impressed by Sotunsa’s academic feat in earning her Ph.D. In that case, there is hardly anyone who can deny or resist her elegance when they are treated to the vast academic engagements she has pulled in the course of her teaching career. She has written books, made sound contributions to journals, edited books of enthusing contents, written articles in many publications, organized conferences, and offered many other impressive academic insights. Generally, she has made impressive contributions to academic discourse so much that one cannot contest that she is worthy of national and international accolades.

Although her Ph.D. was got in English (Literature), Sotunsa has not failed to address sociocultural, sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and cultural matters through the literary lens of which she is an expert. The scent of her academic beauty percolates different spheres of influence, which explains why she has been continually celebrated, respected, and revered in the academic circle and the general social network of powerful essence. She has proven herself to be versatile and has made contributions to gender issues. Her efforts to expand the frontiers of language education cannot also be sidelined.

As a marker of her academic journey, the professor’s inaugural lecture spotlights what she has been doing for many years as an academic. The lecture titled “Gender Matters and Cultural Dilemma in African Literature” dives into the politicization of gender roles in Africa, using African literature as her professional practice laboratory. She indicates that the excessive concentration on the contributions of the male folks in every human endeavor has uncharacteristically sidelined, if you will, silenced women’s voices. In most cases, it is not a deliberate act, but the proliferation of a single voice naturally eclipses the others. For instance, when one considers how roles are allocated to women in most of the works authored by African males, there is a glaring inequity perpetuated by the patriarchal system allowed to go on for so long without any recognizable impediment. This particularly works especially in the oversimplification of African women because the failure to report their contributions to the general development and advancement of the continent automatically positions them negatively where undue generalizations about them are excused. Perhaps Sotunsa’s diligent research is informed by the understanding that the continuation of such a trend would ineluctably downgrade women.

The marginalization of women creates a cultural quandary that becomes an impediment to the true emancipation of the people. We should be attentive to the avant-garde piece by Sotunsa and not allow something remarkable about her research to evade us. Considering that the scope of her work is African literature, one would see the basic association of social and gender stratification that emerged in Africa as a brainchild of the colonial relationship. This, for one reason, is occasioned by the understanding that the conversion of the African experiences into orthographical narrative coincided with the emergence of colonialism in the continent. The cultural difficulty that emerged comes because of how gender is favored while the other is disrespected in the same medium of information sharing–the literature. Africa thus came to the level of a cultural dilemma because the narratological style offered in the creative engagement does not conform with the existing socio-cultural arrangement. In other words, promoting one-sided narratives in African texts creates a gap that cannot be immediately covered in the social environment. While they take their actual role in the development of African children, women are underrepresented in the novels written about them. Sotunsa’s input became known by her ability to establish a connection between these experiences.

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There is the likelihood of making ideologically inaccurate generalizations about Sotunsa if you are not familiar with her intellectualism. But as you get closer to her works, there will be a change of mindset. Would it not be impressive to understand her incredible role in diaspora politics and how it is evolving? In one of the books Sotunsa jointly edited with Akinloye Ojo, Expressions of Indigenous and Local Knowledge in Africa and its Diaspora, we are treated to the diaporization of knowledge that has been historically linked to Africa from time immemorial. Africans, wherever they are in the world, confidently express their indigenous knowledge, which helps to indicate the fluidity of knowledge production in general terms. The awareness that people move with their knowledge epistemologies discountenances the general egoistic charade of Eurocentric narratives laying claims to universal knowledge-making as if Africans are passive and inordinate in generating knowledge to better themselves and improve their human conditions. The fact that recent and contemporary Africans demonstrate their indigenous knowledge wherever they are and whenever possible gives substantial evidence about the transportation of knowledge with individuals to places they migrate.

In essence, Africans have benefited through the generation of knowledge that is done to improve their sociopolitical and sociocultural conditions in the continent, and they have also corroborated this by transforming other places where they find themselves with the knowledge that is indigenous to them. To a degree, this corroborates what Lawrence Barham and Peter Mitchel stand on in their very stimulating academic work, The First Africans: Archaeology from the Earliest Toolmakers to Most Recent Foragers. As a result, one understands very pointedly that the association of knowledge and human experience, expertise, and excellence to Africans, as indicated in Sotunsa’s work, is born from the understanding that Africans are a continually impactful people with a record of influence and contributions made in the course of migration and movement. Apart from this underlying implication of her work, it cools the spirit to know again that the place of the diaspora in the facilitation of knowledge expansion is sacrosanct. While the cross-border relationship and intermingling help provide the atmosphere for the display of cultural knowledge and framework, it also allows expanding one’s information horizon. This confirms the mutuality and duality of importance and purpose ascribed to the said diaspora environment.

Contrary to the wrong assumption about the supposed homogeneous nature of African culture, there are many cultures in the continent, each with its distinctive oral legacies. Generally, Africans have been said to document their history and experience in oral archives from where everyone or succeeding generations draw knowledge to continue in a predicted fashion. However, an outsider would be weaned off the knowledge that the African oral traditions and cultures are almost limitless or interminable. The vastness of this oral tradition places limitations on what a researcher can cover at a stretch in an academic engagement. However, it is documented that very many African scholars have made strenuous efforts to record impressive feats in this regard. Fortunately, Professor Sotunsa is grounded in African oral legacies and remains one of the credible researchers who have done extensive and impressive research in this trajectory.

In her work, “Fieldwork in Nigerian Oral Literature,” Sotunsa made very impressive efforts to understand some oral traditions in Nigeria. Her findings reveal that there are many people and identities that have beautiful oral legacies that can be looked into for professional purposes. There is “Ijala” among the hunters in Yorubaland. This oral tradition is performed as acts of celebration and adoration of their profession. The hunters take pride in the job because they are logically one of the earliest cognitively evolved beings who make available the materials needed to navigate their human environment. Therefore, to understand them and their songs is to understand the history and also to be able to trace the historical trajectory of Yoruba people along the lines of their technological development and their scientific skills and contributions that can be linked to the globalization age.

There is also “Ekun Iyawo” among the Yoruba, which is done specifically to welcome the bride to adulthood and tell a story of the cultural conception of marriage. Human society evolved from the individual to social arrangements, and the marriage institution is one of the methods devised to keep this social bonding going. Marriage is encouraged among individuals with no immediate familial ties and affiliation so that the grouping of the society would be kept intact and rotating. Therefore, “Ekun Iyawo” provides the social opportunity to recount the experiences and relationship of the parents with the would-be bride. There are many other oral traditions explored in this work too.

Meanwhile, in all of Professor Sotunsa’s engagements, she has not for a bit forgotten her academic first love, literature, as her continuous academic researches are a romanticization of the subject. For example, in one of her papers titled “From Theory to Practice: Advanced Literary Text Analysis,” the professor opens up the discourse around literary theories and their place when interrogating texts. Ordinarily, the average individual goes about reading texts without being aware of the socio-historical and socio-temporal issues that have necessitated and mandated their emergence. In the most basic form, the non-theorist reader evaluates literary productions based on their aesthetic importance alone, whereas several things are unknown to this type of reader, and they would have evaded important information in the course of their reading. To educate such innocent readers who read without the proper systems of theories to understand the work, Sotunsa has bridged the gap between the theories and the texts in the highlighted paper. We are extensively educated on the cardinality of the theories to the evaluation, interpretations, and interrogation of literary materials. The knowledge of each theory gives the direction to follow when reading the texts and, as a result, brings out the beauty of the work.

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During the textual analysis undertaken by the scholar, we understand the pretext of the materials in most cases. In other words, readers are usually unfamiliar with the economic, psychological, social, and political circumstances that give birth to the work they read. In essence, when conflict or struggle arises between two or more characters in the text, we are unaware that they are perhaps reacting or responding to the country’s economic system that the elites of such an environment have configured. Without appropriating the Marxist theory for reading such a text, one would not understand why people’s frustrations triggered the conflict. On some other occasions, we come across characters who are not stable and who refuse to settle within themselves. At one point or the other, they are usually fazed by the external challenges that confront them to the level that they are unsettled internally. Unless one brings up the psychoanalytical theory that provides the basis for understanding this form of literature, one obviously would not be kept abreast of the appropriate information that pushes characters to act in certain ways.

It is important to know that Sotunsa’s versatility does not end with discussing intellectually exclusive topics that thrust into the professional trajectory she has taken. Instead, she touches on areas that have continental and global imports. For example, in one of her collaborations with other good minds, she produced one significant knowledge content in the book, Emerging Discourses on the Future of Higher Education in Africa, where they address issues around the transformation of the African educational system. Despite having strong human resources, the continent is lagging in the speed of academic productions they have made in recent history. Members of the African political elite refuse to merge their energy with what those in intellectual circles have done through their energetic zeal and mental investment to move the continent forward. The political system’s failure is observed in its inability to provide the necessary facilities in African schools to enhance learning.

As a result, the future of the African educational system is clouded not because the people lack intellectual capacity but rather because they have not been properly equipped with the necessary instruments that can drive knowledge into them. This action has systematically hindered them, and the absence of facilities in the contemporary world, in particular, means that people suffering from this lack would have predictable progress. However, the degree of knowledge production in any clime cannot be used as a factor to predict their intellectuality and versatility. This is underscored by the awareness that immediately they set their feet on other civilizations, swelling numbers of Africans do academically fine in international communities. Therefore, we are safe to say that the despoliation of African intellectualism is deliberate because nothing can absolve a government who fails to invest brilliantly in their education from the blame and embarrassment resulting from their inactions. As such, the works by these brilliant minds x-ray the African present to predict their future academic trajectory.

All these contributions, regardless, Professor Sotunsa has made additional important input in the development of academics generally. This explains the recognition she has been accorded in the time past. Without a doubt, she has been identified as one of the most successful Nigerian women who thrive exceptionally in areas that have hitherto been delineated as men’s terrain. She has been honored with different awards of excellence and has been designated to function in different socio-academic capacities–Travel Grant by the University of Birmingham in 2018; Scholar in Residence by the University of Georgia in 2013; and Visiting Scholar by the School of Oriental African and Studies (SOAS) in 2009. All of these have consolidated the vibrant and energetic works that she has put in place.

Beyond this, Professor Sotunsa has been given recognition in different places as an appreciation of what she has grown to become as an academic in this part of the divide. The number of Ph.D. and Masters graduates that she has seen to their development is a testament to one of her achievements as an academic. Undeniably, Professor Sotunsa has established herself in Nigerian scholarship because of the outstanding contributions credited to her name. All these can only corroborate the conclusion that she has singled herself out among the class of scholars who have made commendable efforts to transform themselves and the people around them.

Toyin Falola is Professor of History, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Humanity Chair, the University of Texas at Austin

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The 2023  Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr. Hope Nwawolo

By Hope Nwawolo   

Despite the hues and cries that greeted the results of the 2023 elections, what if the court’s pendulum stays or swings otherwise in the expected litigations?

What will it teach our inquisitive young children?

What will it do to the hopes and dreams of the youths?

What will it do to the mind set of those in diaspora, waiting and hoping to return?

How will it affect our heroes still alive and yearning for the good old times?

One basic fact is that no matter where the pendulum swings, something new has started in the political sphere of Nigeria. And because it was unexpected, it has become almost impossible to strangulate it.  

In every competition, there is an expectation that the best man will win. That may not always be in politics, particularly, in Nigeria…where the winner may not be the best man or even the better man. And when it is said that politics is a game of numbers, sometimes, the actual numbers may not be visible to determine the end result. It becomes a case of the more you look the less you see; until interpreted by respected learned men with high integrity.

Politics, they say is a dirty game, where money speaks and promises made are broken without an iota of guilt. Where the gullible minds of the masses are deceived, with as little as a box of indomie. Where some vibrant but jobless youths are brainwashed to risk their lives to snatch ballot boxes for the politicians who do not know them beyond giving them stipends through some third parties. Where market women are forced to come out for rallies and campaigns because they cannot afford the fine that will be imposed on them if they failed to participate. They also do not want the harassment of the market leaders. 

In politics, fear is palpable in the air, before, during and after elections. The 2023 elections recently carried out, depicted these more than expected in both the politicians and electorate. What started like the usual political pattern took a drastic turn about nine months to the first elections and though it was said to be only a social media affair, it got everyone sitting upright and tightening his seat belt, particularly after the first elections.

Now, there is a generational shift, a new awakening, a new dawn and a new political birth, waiting to happen. To wherever the pendulum turns; where the court stands, it will make a turnaround in Nigeria. It may be turbulent at the beginning, it may be emotionally draining and psychologically traumatizing, but it will point to light at the end of the tunnel.

There is a new hope backed by a high spirit of determination. An unexplainable faith in many people for that newness of existence and purpose. An unprecedented emotional and psychological strength in the youths not to give up on their dreams. An unquenchable desire to keep praying. Soon a newness will break forth to calm all nerves and dry all tears.

A newness that will permeate conflicts and hatred,

A newness that will dissipate unnecessary anger,

A newness that will usher in unquestionable and transparent political systems in future elections,

A newness of freedom to choose a candidate without coercion or molestation

A newness of jubilation after the announcement of election results.

This is the new Nigeria that is awaiting delivery…

Nwawolo, PhD, writes from Lagos.




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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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