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Between Dysfunctional Education And Dysfunctional Society



BOOK REVIEW: Ayo Joan Olatoyosi's Thesis, Antithesis And Synthesis Of Life


Grace Ego Omoni

I have wondered why in our traditional system a man with any form of deformity is never qualified to be crowned a king! I am yet to see a king or traditional ruler with one eye or who is blind or deaf and dumb. This goes to point to the fact that disability is abhorred by the society. We also know that people who are suffering from other forms of medical dysfunctions such as kidney, heart or liver problems may probably put other parts of the body in jeopardy.

Education as is globally described is a social institution through which society’s children are taught to develop physically, intellectually, spiritually and economically to become useful citizens. Thus, education is the most powerful weapon used in changing the world, making people more knowledgeable. Education gives man opportunities to work out problems of life and a sense of responsibility. In school, children are taught basic academics, learning skills and cultural norms. Schools are indeed agents of change and conformity to law and order. Education is supposed to prepare the individual to positively integrate into the larger society after leaving the school environment.

However, what we are seeing and experiencing in contemporary Nigeria in particular and the outside world in general makes one to doubt whether indeed education is producing the desired result according to educational objectives. Social order is no longer compatible with the expectation of the aims and goals of education. Social stability is now a farce flawed with all manner of evil! Just as it is difficult for the human body to be functional as a result of the dysfunctional nature of the vital organs so has our present-day Nigeria become unstable because of the dysfunctional nature of our educational system. It has become necessary to look at the relationship between education and society to remedy abnormalities inherent in both systems. In this write- up, the following will be briefly explained:

The term “dysfunction” means a failure to function in an expected or complete manner or condition desirable by a system. It is the undesirable outcome of an individual’s behaviour or institution or a system as against the expected or intended goal. Dysfunction can be seen in terms of a system being abnormal or defective, ineffective, unworkable, unsatisfactory, deficient or inadequate from what is considered normal. Thus, if someone has a dysfunctional kidney or heart, it implies that such organs can no longer be congruent with the normal roles they have to perform in the human body and this might lead to catastrophe or at worse, death.

Types of dysfunctions include the following: Dysfunctional society; dysfunctional education or school system; dysfunctional family system; and dysfunctional behaviour.

However, for the purpose of this write- up, dysfunctional society and that of the schools or education will be explained because there is a strong correlation between the two.

READ ALSO: Na Scam: Why Young People Are Abandoning Religion In Nigeria

Dysfunctional Educational or School System.
Schools are supposed to be an enabling environment for the acquisition of knowledge and skills to prepare children socially, intellectually, spiritually and physically for integration into the society. Education as has been observed earlier is a weapon of positive change in the world. The national policy of education clearly spells out the aims of education which are:
respect for the worth and dignity of the individual groups;

  • Faith in man’s ability to make a rational decision;
  • Moral and spiritual values and interpersonal human relations;
  • Shared responsibility for the common good of society;
  • Respect for the dignity of labour;
  • Promotion of the emotional, physical and psychological health of all children;
  • Acquisition of competencies necessary for self-reliance.

Unfortunately, education in Nigeria has failed in achieving these, so what we see in the system is totally dysfunctional. Education which is supposed to be an important tool for positive social change is totally and conspicuously faulty. The school is no longer functional. Dysfunctional schools abound in every nook and cranny of the Nigerian society. There is a breakdown of law and order. What we find in most of the schools is an uncontrollable level of indiscipline such as cultism, vandalism, stealing, truancy, late coming, irregularity in the school, inappropriate dressing, fighting, gross disrespect and regard to constituted authority, examination malpractice and fraud of different shades at all levels of our educational strata among teachers and learners .

Other dysfunctional features are poor teaching, lack of infrastructure, inadequate curriculum content, outdated teaching methods non-commitment of teachers and educational managers including poor funding and unconducive school environment. These are the characteristics of 95% of schools in Nigeria. With the level of indiscipline and malpractices, students are no longer willing to burn midnight candles. All they need to do is to buy the scores and grades from their teachers in cash or kind.

Since studying to pass an examination is done by just paying or giving something to the concerned teachers in the educational system, these students now have the time to engage in cybercrime, internet fraud, prostitution, night clubbing, drug and human trafficking, killing, kidnapping as well as the sales of human parts. These are evident in reports from various higher institutions across the country.

Last year, a final year female student was butchered by some students who connived with a security man in the higher institution; another was killed inside the church by some students. It has also been reported that these students engage in ritual activities, conjuring female wombs to make money under the pretence that they are doing online businesses. Get to the higher institutions and you will find students driving big cars on campuses, building mansions and hotels in big cities.

These are the crop of people who will be integrated into the society after school or after dropping out of school. They lack moral values, have no respect for lives. They lack respect for the dignity of labour. Many of them are drug and alcohol addicts. Many are cannibals, yes they engage in cannibalism. The females have chains of sugar daddies and can kill for money.

READ ALSO: Preparing African School Children For Future Jobs and Challenges

The recent story of a 21-year-old girl who murdered a billionaire is just a tip of the iceberg of numerous atrocities by learners in our educational system. These students are often employed by our politicians as thugs who kill without mercy, snatch ballot boxes during elections for the highest bidders and terrorize people all about.

Thus, the educational system is dysfunctional and the nation cannot but be dysfunctional too. Like begets like.

This has to do with an environment infested by social problems and where the individuals that make up the society exhibit anti-social behaviour. It is a society where there is no orderliness. Lawlessness is the other of the day. Nothing works. The administration is defective and those in leadership positions are ineffective and practise unsatisfactory leadership styles.

In a dysfunctional society, the government fails to engage in the development of the nation. There is anarchy, corruption at all levels, embezzlement of the treasury at the local, state and federal levels. It is a society where agitations from the grassroots to the top are the order of the day. Leadership is insensitive to the plight and complaints of the people. Protests from students, community members, workers both public and civil servants are everyday occurrences because of dissatisfaction within the system.

A dysfunctional society is characterized by insurmountable social evils such as nepotism, ethnic conflicts, banditry, terrorism, ritual murder, mindless killings, kidnapping, arson, corruption, oppression, godfatherism, favouritism, rape, incest, bigamy, homosexuality, prostitution, drug and human trafficking and a host of other heinous crimes and lawlessness. Bribery is now the order of the day on our roads by the police, in government offices, hospitals and by the high and low These have become endemic because the educational sector’s output is faulty or dysfunctional The consequences for the nation are grievous.

Since there is already a failure in meeting with the goals and philosophy of education as enumerated above, there will be social and economic crises. Insecurity of all kinds will surface. These include financial, food, peace and job securities. The so -called individuals of our dysfunctional educational system who are either dropouts or products without knowledgeable skills and competencies are virtually unemployable.

Many are unemployed not because there are no employment opportunities but for the fact that they do not possess the right qualifications. So they flood our streets and are ever ready to be engaged by politicians who freely distribute weapons of destruction to them to enable them to secure political and ministerial positions as governors, senators, councillors or ministers for which they are not even qualified. As they work with these politicians, they become experts in political fraudulence. In due time, they too vie for the posts through the dubious means of their masters. They become uncontrollable and the vicious cycle continues.

The dysfunctional administration cannot think of any national development. All they do is engage in disseminating bundles of lies, viciously victimise people who challenge their leadership incompetence, amassing wealth from the nation’s economy without any attempt to figure out how to bring sanity back to the system. A dysfunctional society has no vision because the main struggle will be on how to sustain their political image rather than handling the vices consuming the country. This is the state we are presently facing in this country.

Every day people like Lauretta Onochie, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina are always on the defensive to create an image of an existing functional administration whereas it is quite obvious that the system is dysfunctional and needs an urgent overhaul. People are now crying for a reform in our constitution which has become obsolete. The government needs to save the country from plunging into the dungeon of no return.

READ ALSO: Neither Ethnicity Nor Religion Is Our Problem – Buhari

The religious organisations are part of this dysfunctional society. Religious houses today have become commercial centres. Gullible members are defrauded of their hard-earned money. Again, advanced free fraud abounds in both urban and rural areas. Parents and children engage in Yahoo syndrome in a bid to make money.

Adults who are supposed to be custodians of our core values are at the forefront of indiscipline. Parents sleep with their daughters and sons shamelessly and our girls practise other forms of inappropriate sexual behaviours that ought not to be mentioned in a any decent functional society. In fact, the moral situation of Nigeria is despicable.

The nation can really be compared to the organs of the body that have become dysfunctional. The society needs an immediate treatment for it to become functional just like the dysfunctional kidney or heart needs a transplant if the affected individual is to survive.

Suggestions for Improvement:
The following tips are necessary:

  1. Educational reform/ change is a must;
  2. Obsolete curriculum content should be discarded but should be based on the needs of the citizens;
  3. Religious and moral instructions should be enforced;
  4. Teachers should go for self-development and from time to time, seminars and workshops on modern teaching methods should be given;
  5. School management should devise new ways of instilling discipline in the school;
  6. Cultural values and norms should be taught, practised and advocated for in our society;
  7. Culture of worshipping money should be scrapped;
  8. There should be a regular Parent/ Teacher’s forum;
  9. Authoritative and godly parenting should be encouraged. Parents whose children are caught engaging in acts of indiscipline should be sanctioned;
  10. Schools should be made interesting by providing the needed facilities and funding;
  11. The teaching and learning processes should be made interesting using modern educational materials;
  12. Government should provide an enabling environment for job opportunities for the teeming population;
  13. There should be sanctions for defaulters of the law. Mobile courts for instant justice should be in operation against corrupt officers;
  14. Political favouritism and godfatherism must be stopped;
  15. Capital punishment with no option of fine or incarceration should be enforced for all categories of killing;
  16. Incest, rape, homosexuality, prostitution culprits should be given long-term incarceration;
  17. Obscene films and books with pornographic expressions should be banned;
  18. Institutions with corrupt managers must be made to face disciplinary actions;
  19. Religious leaders should stop seeking self-aggrandizement and fighting but face reality by teaching their members good lifestyles;
  20. Sexuality education and dignity of labour should be taught in our schools;

The suggestions for returning the society to the path of moral rectitude and functionality may seem burdensome or unattainable but know that Rome was not built in a day. A journey of a thousand years starts with a step. All hands should be on deck to salvage this country from total collapse. All stakeholders – teachers, learners, parents, workers, leaders in government and various religious groups – owe it a duty to make the society functional.


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Who Needs Counseling In Nigeria?



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

By Leo Igwe

In January, I registered for a professional course in counseling at the Attitude Development Institute (ADI) in Lagos. After my doctoral program in religious studies, I thought I was done doing any other academic course. But I was mistaken. I recently noticed that something was missing in my academic and learning accessories. And I needed to rectify it. So I started this professional diploma program. I embarked on this course in my quest for a more competent way to assist people who contact me for help and support. Many contact me saying that they are tired of life and could not find anything meaningful to do or to earn a living. Many attribute their problems to ‘village people’, witches and wizards, generational curses, evil spirits, jinns, demonic attacks, etc. Many attribute their failures, setbacks and misfortunes to juju or harmful magic. I decided to do this diploma in counseling because I felt that something was lacking in my knowledge and understanding of human beings and human problems.

Last year, a lecturer on guidance and counseling at a college of agriculture in Ebonyi state invited me to come and talk to some of his students. Some of the students wanted to do money rituals and he was worried. This lecturer asked me to come and persuade them against engaging in this futile and criminal venture. But how could I do this professionally and effectively?

I wondered what else to tell these students apart from what I had repeatedly said in the past. That money ritual was a superstition, and the belief had no basis in reason or reality. But will that help? Will that be enough? Will the students be persuaded by that proposition? I asked. I felt that telling them that ritual money was a myth would likely be an exercise in futility. It would likely be inadequate and would not yield effective results. I felt that young people needed a more structured way to get them to change these thoughts and behavior. Anyway, I went to that college of education and met with some students and spent time talking to them, advising and persuading them not to indulge in money rituals. I urged them to try and complete their education and then seek out other evidence-based ways of making money. I do not know if my talk yielded any positive results.

Before and after this incident I encountered many who strongly believed in ritual money, and who, given the opportunity could kill, or use human body parts for rituals. Last year, someone contacted me from Kwara state. He inquired how he could do money rituals. I offered similar advice. Some people have contacted me seeking some other forms of help and support. Someone called from Imo state asking how he could stop gambling. That it was ruining his business and that his friends were pointing accusing fingers at his landlady. They said the woman was a witch and was responsible for his dwindling fortune. I offered him some words of advice. Also, in advocating against witch persecution, I have come across people who had anxiety, and mental and emotional disorders but who attribute these psychological problems and other existential challenges to witchcraft. I have been looking for competent ways to manage witchcraft believers and suspecters. I have been searching for more professional ways to support traumatized victims and survivors. I have been seeking a skillful mechanism to empower, guide and enable entertainers of witchcraft fears and sufferers of witch persecution to heal, recover and take control of their lives.

Beyond that, there are personal reasons. I am the first son in my family. I started dealing with family issues at a very young age without any knowledge of human psychology. I was socialized to help my younger brothers and lead even when I barely knew my left from my right. I was made to manage and resolve family-related issues even when I was a child with barely an understanding of how life worked. I was not self-aware or socially aware. I did not know human personalities and temperaments. I was not allowed to grow like every other child. I was pressured to behave like the first son, the deputy head of the family, and to intervene in family issues including my parents’ marital issues. Even now my father has passed away, I manage family issues and deal with members with personality disorders and untreated traumas, including my siblings who engage in micro/transferred aggressions and other negative behaviors rooted in childhood experiences. They intentionally make life miserable for me; they complicate matters to settle childhood scores, to punish or deal with me for some real or imagined privilege that they thought I had enjoyed as a first son.

In addition, I started teaching at 17 years, I taught at a local seminary and helped in nurturing children. I did not know children and educational psychology. It was like a child teaching children. It was while studying for my bachelor’s in philosophy that I did some psychology courses. I learned about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Ivan Pavlov and their explanations of human behavior. But it was all theory. Then my focus was on getting good grades and passing examinations, not applying the knowledge to real life and issues. In the course of my humanist work and campaign, I have come across people suffering from religious trauma, and victims of religious oppression and persecution.

I would like to offer them effective help and support. As a humanist celebrant, I help families that are grieving, couples who are getting married, or those celebrating the arrival of a new baby. To provide effective help and services, I realized that I needed some professional training in counseling. I searched online and got some information about one Counseling Association of Nigeria. I contacted them and registered. But I realized that the focus was mainly on guidance and counseling in schools. That is important. But that was not what I wanted. My impression was that the association was mainly for teachers and lecturers. I needed some training that could qualify me as a professional counselor. I went online and saw some information about two counseling institutes in Lagos. They offer professional training.

One is in Ikeja, which is the ADI, and the other is in Victoria Island. I spoke to some counselors and one recommended ADI. After some telephone conversations and WhatsApp exchanges with the director of the Institute, I enrolled in its diploma class. The classes are held once every week. I joined the second week. After my first class, I realized that I was in the right place and that the program that they offered was what I was looking for. It was a twelve-week program, very intense. The courses included the foundations of counseling, counseling theories, and skills, children/teenage counseling, marriage/family counseling, and crisis/trauma counseling. Some of the courses focused on Christian counseling, grief counseling, sex therapy, and mental health. When I started I was worried that the lectures would be bland, another monotonous exercise in issuing handouts, but they were not. The lectures were interesting. And the lecturers were engaging and entertaining. They were very articulate and used so many examples to illustrate their points. The program occasioned some intellectual shocks and dissonance. It has helped me to correct some misconceptions about counseling and counselors. First I realized the importance of counseling and counselors. Look, human beings suffer both physical and emotional injuries. Both injuries are treatable. While medical doctors help treat physical wounds, counselors as therapists help treat emotional and psychological injuries. Again, counseling is widely understood to mean advice. We were told several times that counselors were not advisers. They do not advise their clients. A foremost counselor, Irvin Yalom whose book, Love’s Executioner, we reviewed throughout the course said the task of a counselor was to make himself or herself obsolete. Yes, it is tacitly saying that for the counselee to live, the counselor must die. He noted that the counselor’s role was to help the client take responsibility for making himself or herself better. Instead of advising, counselors support counselees to take control of their healing and living.

Again, throughout the program, the lecturers made it clear that one of the characteristics of a good counselor was listening. A counselor must be a good listener. He or she must have good listening skills. Also, counseling was not meant for some people, some psychologically troubled and maladjusted people. Instead, the lecturers made it clear that counseling was for everyone, for both the counselors and the counselees. In the course of the lectures I kept flashing back and recalling so many people that I have met in life who needed counseling. Everyone is grappling with some trauma or emotional issue at one time or the other. They encouraged the trainees to go for counseling. Each class was indirectly an exercise in group counseling and therapy because the classes provided opportunities for members to pour it out, to draw from their life, work, and family experiences in discussing the topics.

Yes, I realized that everybody needed counseling. And nothing illustrated the need better than a particular incident that happened during the program. Due to some miscommunication, one of the counselors managing the program communicated the wrong date for the class graduation to the management. When she came and informed the class, she was told that she communicated the wrong date. And this counselor became furious(meanwhile her name is also Fu…something). Discussions became quite heated and tense because she continued to insist that she communicated the correct date. The room became very noisy and rowdy because some people were trying to correct her but she refused. At some point, a member of this class set that calls itself, Ignite, raised her voice. She is in this class of women with a huge and imposing stature, looked quiet from the outside, and could be mistaken as phlegmatic. She said emphatically while pointing her five fingers at this counselor and swinging the hand up and down: “You are not listening”, “You are not listening”. At that point, the counselor tried to calm down. A senior management colleague intervened and urged the counselor to leave the room. As soon as she left, another class member said: “She needs counseling”. And some class members chuckled.

So, everybody needs counseling in Nigeria.

Igwe,PhD, is a trainee counselor at the Attitude Development Institute, Lagos.

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Professors On INEC’s Will (4)



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

    These past three weeks have been three supreme weeks of supreme value to all of us who have been gluing ourselves to this column for the right reasons: No room for lying; no room for deceits; no room for propaganda; no room for vanity. No room, no room, no room for what should not be here. Thoughts of the streams, thoughts of the spheres, music of the streams, music of the spheres enhance the column in diverse ways. 

    Our debaters for the past three weeks have demonstrated this. Each of the professors (all of them, in fact) has demonstrated this in the geometry of their presentations, in the minds of their geo-biographies, in the arithmetic of their convictions and persuasions. They in varying degrees did not support the will of INEC in the presidential election, even though the INEC chair is one of them, a fellow professor in the sphere of the humanities. In going over the longitude and latitude of the flow of our professors, of our debating professors, in their authentic and responsible sphere of spheres the clarity and precision of the geo-biography and nature of patience moved towards me. This may not be the right way of putting it, but I found and still find each debater to be a patient debater. Goodness! How a patiently patient listener and presider over the debate Professor Olu Obafemi was/is! The rhetoric of his ears or of his eyes or of his tongue was/is the rhetoric of the sage. If I imagined this, I imagined it well. His rhetoric was/is not the creation of this recorder, but it is the rhetoric of the music of the shaping of the debate and the words of the debaters who like him are fellow writers and creators. 

    Now I present to our readers the summation of Professor Olu Obafemi who presided over the reported affairs of the literati:

“This debate has gone on very well and quite enlightening. I have learnt quite a lot from the various positions eloquently proffered here. I like to chip in this bit: (1) there will not be much ideological departure from PMB to BAT. We will still operate a neoliberal economy, fraught largely with parasitism and consumerism. It is very likely, from his experience in investment, creative commercialism/commodity consciousness and cosmopolitanism in governance, Tinubu will be a lot more distribution-prone, more productive, and more people friendly than his predecessor; (2) having operated in comprador praxis in the US, Tinubu will engage globalization with discretionary envisioning (these are loaded, unconventional concepts that may require greater elucidation in future; (3) having not operated unitarist governance strategy that we have had since Ironsi till date, and with his governance experience in Lagos, including standing up to OBJ to run a well-structured State in Lagos, BAT will be more of his own man who will surround himself with talent rather than a cabalistic instinct (I am talking here about power delegation as opposed to power relegation); (4) we have good reason to believe that Tinubu will not go for a winner-take-all, conclave-prone governance and will strive to deliver goods and services— democracy dividends more generously/humanely. May the future be better and more tolerable for our people and all of us in this country, and all our fellows and compatriots in foreign lands, that is, the diaspora.”

But the pastor-spirit as well as the track of traditional culture in him elicited from Professor Ademola Da Sylva what amounted to a kind of vote of thanks to Professor Olu Obafemi and the co-debaters in the literati.

“Many thanks, Baba O.O., for your thoughtful, clinical and lucid interventions; and IBK’s, (and others’) too! So palpable and infectious are the feelings of hope, and delight of the innocent, that you have demonstrated in your concluding postings, and my silent response was a loud A-m-e-n! Then I turned to God the Almighty, and said, “Baba-God, these genuine feelings expressed by these great minds, aggregate what is uppermost in the mind of the Nigerian people at this point of our history. Can you, please, do this one last favour for the masses of this country? I believe it is not beyond what you as the Almighty can do for an otherwise potentially great country like Nigeria! Simply protect BAT, from the powers that have constituted themselves into human principalities in the corridor of power; completely and permanently seal the mouths of those demonic lions labelled as Cabals in Aso Rock that have, thus far, truncated Nigeria’s destiny! AMEN!” Perhaps we should remind ourselves that our hope was this high when many Nigerian voters, including yours truly, trouped out to vote in Buhari as President! Now, I remember, “demonic forces” written about by Reuben Abati during the Presidency of GEJ, unfortunately, like some nameless hydra monsters they always rear their ugly heads with every new administration, these Aso Rock principalities. PMB has his good share of them in the Abakyaris, and very familiar ones, for obvious reasons, like the Ngiges, et al, never for once did they allow PMB to be! They took advantage of his visibly infirm state, to take over the reins of governance in what could be described as a “civilian coup” and ran-over the ship of the country crashing against the Aso rock! The reason we are where we are, right now! BAT like PMB, also has a visibly infirm visage/characteristic unless we pretend to not acknowledge it, a new set of cabalistic demons would join forces with the existing ones, after all, it is still the same Political Party, to take advantage of BAT’s current clinical status! BAT of 20 or 10 years ago, isn’t the same BAT today on account of age and health. Yes, unless God Almighty does something about these principalities through His human agents, they might yet soon take over the affairs of Nigeria under BAT too, to do what they know best: to steal, to kill and to destroy, and ensure that the status quo remains as it has always been, in the spirit of Ted Hughe’s very famous poem, ‘The Eagle’!”

Well, well said, O debaters. But let the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist have the last word. The time won’t be long to ask INEC this simple question: Did INEC lavish allegedly over three hundred billion naira to register the paltry figure or number of voters for the 2023 elections? Did the very small number (below ninety or so million) match the more than very huge sum of money that INEC got for registration of voters and for other election related matters, duties and responsibilities? How much money in millions upon millions did not allegedly go under and distributed to “principalities” and “demonic forces” hovering over Aso Rock and the Presidency of the presidencynologists? Any clear or unclear answers to these questions cannot or may not but tell us that the presidential election in particular was INEC’s will. Our debating Professors will not say on oath that they did not know. Did the presidential and other elections meet the expectations, wishes and will of the people generally? INEC has the answer. And our debating professors will bluntly tell the chairman of INEC this.                                                   

    Because our professors are fellow writers, I must terminate the discourse by drawing their attention to the following poem “For the Consideration of Poets” by Haki R. Madhubuti (original name Don Luther Lee), the 81 years old African-American poet, author and publisher, and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas:

where is the poetry of resistance, 

the poetry of honorable defiance 

unafraid of lies from career 

politicians and business men, 

not respectful of journalists who write 

official speak void of educated thought 

without double search or sub surface questions 

that war talk demands? 

where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion 

not in the service of the state, bishops 

and priests, 

not in the service of beautiful people 

and late night promises, 

not in the service of influence, 

incompetence and academic 

clown talk?

The above lines speak volumes. Let them stay glued to our memories day by day. And may INEC’s chairman become the poet and historian of resistance after finding time to read this!

Terminated for now.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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Iwuanyanwu And The ‘Political Rascals’ Rhetoric 



Nigerian Destiny: In The Hands Of The People
Dr. Promise Adiele

By Promise Adiele

Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play Waiting for Godot avails itself of multiple interpretative tools with a compelling grip on the moral imagination of the audience. As a timeless drama, it thrives on the hopelessness of the human condition dramatized by two vagabonds, Estragon and Vladimir who waited for a mysterious, titular Godot that never came. One of the features of the absurdist literary tradition portrayed in the play is the failure of language in the verbal context as a means of communication. The verbal exchange between the two vagabonds is evident of misinterpretation. One says one thing, the other interprets it differently. Thus, it calls to question the potency of language in the verbal medium as a means of communication. The preceding analogy reminds me of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and his purported insult to the good people of the Yoruba ethnic group. Perhaps, misinterpretation currently manifests as an inexorable content of Nigeria’s absurd credentials.

Last week, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, philanthropist, accomplished businessman, the Balogun Babaguwan of Yorubaland, Ahaejiejemba of Igboland and elder-statesman, while reacting to events that happened in Lagos during the last election when many Igbo people were bloodied and harassed, assured the world that “the Igbo and Yoruba are not at war”. On the heels of that statement came another one “they are Yoruba political rascals”. A syntactic analysis of the two sentences affirms that the Chief never meant to insult the entire Yoruba ethnic group. Rather, he was referring to rascals in Lagos who maimed, killed, and vanquished Igbos, non-Yorubas, and even some Yorubas with Igbo semblance, stopping them from exercising their voting rights during the election. He also said “we know them and we will deal with them”. Language scholars know that Chief Iwuanyanwu did not mean to insult the Yoruba. Sadly, some social nitwits, victims of acute cognitive impairment, went on a rampage to misinterpret and manipulate his statement to suit their treacherous, mischievous purposes. It is absurd. 

 Anyone who knows Chief Iwuaynanwu’s antecedent will never ascribe offensive rhetoric to him. He is soft-spoken, conciliatory and peace-loving. Like every sensible person around the world, not just the Igbo, he was aghast with lurid photos and video evidence of harm against the Igbo in Lagos during the last election. Unfortunately, people who ordinarily frolic in the whirlwind of ethnic hate have seized the opportunity to insult the Igbo ethnic group while using acerbic words on the revered Chief. These people, in their degenerate and diseased mentality, are trying to install a wall of hate between the Igbo and Yoruba. Let me state categorically that the Yorubas are wonderful people whose spirit of brotherliness, conviviality, and tolerance speaks volumes across the world. I have maintained over time that the Igbo and Yoruba share a cordial, interwoven relationship in marriage, business, friendship, association and neighbourliness. The two ethnic groups can never be involved in a conflict. Many Yoruba people have helped many Igbo people to their destinies and many Igbo people have helped many Yoruba people to their destinies too. An attempt for one ethnic group to harm the other will result in serious harm for the two. It is as implicating as that. 

Since the presidential elections, keenly contested by different candidates from different ethnic groups in Nigeria, some people have desperately sought to reduce the entire development to an ethnic affair. It is myopic and at once condescending. Does Peter Obi represent the Igbo? Does Bola Tinubu represent the Yoruba? Does Atiku Abubakar represent the Hausa/Fulani?  These candidates all have supporters across the country. Of course, they will have a preponderance of support from their ethnic base. That is the way of politics. Unfortunately, ethnic jingoists have, in the inerrancy of their bleak convictions, reduced the entire political discourse to an ethnic affair especially Yoruba vs Igbo. These people, stranded in the realm of ethnic hate and communal intolerance, have done everything within their powers to inflame ethnic tension to crucible dimensions. It is wrong for anyone to insult a whole ethnic group in whatever guise. In Chief Iwuanyanwu’s case, he has put the records straight by clarifying what he meant, insisting that he was quoted out of context. But the morbid and decadent will not hear of it. They insist that Iwuanyanwu and all Igbo should be roasted alive. As far as these simpletons are concerned, the Chief spoke the mind of all Igbos. How idiotic and harebrained can anybody be? 

Recently, some people have also indulged in ethnic slurs. Unlike Chief Iwuanyanwu that clarified himself, Bayo Onanuga offered no apology and insisted on standing by his words. Onanuga spoke for himself and couldn’t have insulted the Igbo on behalf of the Yoruba. MC Oluomo, while registering his socio-political disorientation, spoke for himself when he threatened the Igbo on an  election day and went on to make good his threat which the police shamelessly called a joke. FFK has also made inflammatory remarks which were his personal opinion and not the opinion of Yoruba. It is therefore, a function of disabled, primitive awareness for anyone to insult an ethnic group based on the comment of one person. Such insults and abuses expose the quiddity of phenomenal foolishness which, hitherto, was concealed in some people by the façade of education. No, these hate mongers belong to the stone age. Nobody should be deceived by their pretentious liberalism. 

The question is, are there political rascals in Nigeria? Definitely yes! These are the particular people Chief Iwuanyanwu referred to concerning what happened in Lagos during the last elections. Of course, all parts of the country have their share of political rascals. It is not peculiar to one ethnicity. Political rascals are those who walk the streets, snatch ballot boxes, stab people due to their ethnic origin and prevent them from exercising their civic rights. They are not educated. They are thugs, street urchins and never-do-wells employed by politicians to advance nefarious objectives. There are also some educated political rascals. They don’t walk the streets, but demonstrate humane deficiency of unimaginable proportions using social media and sundry news outlets. They spread hate, provoke enmity and fan the embers of war. They incite the uneducated, urging them to bay for the blood of ordinary citizens. Their social media handles are replete with expletives and insults. Abusive engagement allows them to flourish. Another category of political rascals populate government establishments like INEC, the Police and different security agencies. These people compromise the electoral process in exchange for financial inducement and material gains. They are unconscionable, desperate and invidious. Are these people from another planet? No, they are among us. We know them. 

The ethnic hate narrative is a device enunciated by the political class to keep the people divided, breaking their rank and file to unite and fight a common enemy. The opposition LP and PDP are convinced that the election was marred by sharp, underhand practices and therefore have gone to court. Is going to court to challenge the outcome of an election a legitimate practice? If it is, why can’t detractors of equitable process allow the law to run smoothly? The call by some decidedly frustrated fellows in search of relevance and pecuniary patronage for the arrest of the opposition presidential candidates is from the pit of purgatory. The propaganda that there is a plan to disrupt the handover ceremony is a bundle of falsehood from the depths of Hades. Although many Nigerians regard the judiciary with a pinch of salt, people of goodwill should advocate for a peaceful resolution of Nigeria’s political challenges. Ethnic rhetoric should stop immediately. People should sheath their swords. Let us all close the road to Rwanda. 

Adiele, PhD, writes from Mountain Top University.


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