NSA And Nigeria’s Security Missteps
There is a very commonly used catch phrase that goes thus: “Better soup na money kill am”, which means quality services take a whole lot of human and material resources. Another of such commonly used catch phrases also goes as follows: “Too many cooks spoil the soup”, meaning that for any endeavor to succeed, there ought to be respect for expertise.
These elementary wise sayings can be related to the general experiences of calamitous security issues that keep escalating by the day in Nigeria in spite of the fact that Nigeria runs a well-funded office of the National Security Adviser.
Besides, there is the unprecedented rise in insecurity around the country which has become much more troubling since the last batch of military chiefs embarked on voluntary retirements after putting in many years of illustrious and meritorious services and retired just when they were at the verge of a historic success against the terrorists.
A peculiar question that has lingered ever since the emergence of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government but has become much more nightmarish since the exit of the immediate past military chiefs is why President Muhammadu Buhari has not considered it imperative to rejig his office of the National Security Adviser in spite of the collosal security problems especially in the area of achieving unanimity, harmony and strategic implementation of national security goals. The fact is that even when the immediate past military chiefs did their utmost best, without a thoroughly bred national security strategy which ought to emanate from the office of NSA, the individual efforts of the service chiefs will mean a little.
A reputable scholar who is based in the United States of America was recently in Nigeria on a research tour and sought to know from me why the office of the National Security Adviser is not effective and efficient. The lady who is actually a Nigerian/American citizen asked the question when it emerged that the administration of President Buhari was blocked from accessing some of the bulk defence assets the administration had ordered from the United States.
The professor of politics with a vast interest in counter- terrorism was of the opinion that if Nigeria has an efficient and an effective national security adviser then that office could have adequately briefed the United States Congress on the necessity of those military assets vis-à-vis the need to deploy them specifically to battle the terrorists that are tearing Nigeria apart in the North East and a large portion of the North West of Nigeria including the terrorists who recently shot down a military jet in Zamfara State.
The professor became even much more confused when the Information Minister Lai Mohammed and the Nigerian Senate spoke at cross purposes and cancelled each other on the same issue of the blockade of arms supply to Nigeria by the Congress of the United States of America. This my scholarly friend then asked: “Please does Nigeria have a national security adviser?”
Before attempting a response to the tepid and weak nature of the office of NSA in Nigeria now, let us have a review of this major global development on Nigeria in the last one week.
The first was the shocking news reportage that Nigeria can’t get the supply of nearly a billion dollars arms and military assets it had since ordered and paid for.
On July 29 , Reuters reported: “U.S. lawmakers have put on hold a proposal to sell almost $1 billion of weapons to Nigeria over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the government, three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
“The proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters made by Bell (TXT.N) and related equipment worth $875 million is being delayed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, the sources told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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“Foreign Policy reported this week that the State Department had informally notified Congress of the proposed sale but that it was frozen in the Senate committee. The package includes the helicopters, spare engines, navigation systems and 2,000 precision-guided munitions, it said.
The hold could have an impact on Nigeria’s efforts to seek support to fight Islamic State West Africa Province and jihadist group Boko Haram in the northeast as well as armed bandits in the northwest of the country.
“However, the hold may not hinder Nigerian military capabilities on some missions.
“A U.S. government official said Nigeria recently took delivery of Embraer-made (EMBR3.SA) A-29 Super Tucanos, a slow-flying plane that can provide close air support to infantry much like a helicopter.
That deal, for a dozen of the turbo-prop planes, was notified under former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017, and had a value of up to $593 million, according to Pentagon documents. A handover ceremony for those planes is slated for August, the official said.
“Under normal practice, the State Department tells Congress of proposed arms sales informally in advance to give lawmakers the chance to put a hold on the proposals to raise concerns. If Congress opposes a sale after a formal notification, it can pass legislation to block it.
“A State Department spokesperson said: ‘As matter of policy, we will not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress.’
The Senate and House committees both declined to comment on the issue. A spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also declined to comment.
Nigeria, Reuters says is also battling rising armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom where thinly deployed security forces have struggled to contain the influence of armed gangs.
U.S. officials last October complained of “excessive force” by Nigerian military forces on unarmed civilians and called for restraint after soldiers opened fire on protesters demonstrating against police brutality in Lagos.
The well articulated news coverage by Reuters then set out confusion within Nigeria’s official quarters because of the failing of the office of the national security adviser to effectively brief Nigerians on the official stand point.
Rather the minister of information unleashed torrents of confusion and conjectures when he denied a matter that had already become so notorious.
According to Lai Mohammed, the government was unaware of the development reported aforementioned.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports thus: “The Federal Government says it is not aware of any $875 million ammunition deal with the US which is being purportedly blocked by some lawmakers in that country.
“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the purported ammunition deal reported in some sections of the media as ‘fake news.’
“Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, the minister said there was no contract of such nature and sum between Nigeria and the US
“There is no contract of arms between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States of America today apart from the 12 Super Tucano Attack Helicopters of which six had been delivered.
“We are quite satisfied with the progress and cooperation that we received from the government of the US on this issue.
“As a matter of fact, six of the Tucano helicopter will be launched on Aug. 3, this year.
“We are not aware of the so-called 875million USD arms contract or some helicopters which they said some lawmakers in the US are trying to persuade the president of the US not to honour
”The relationship between Nigeria and the US is smooth and waxing stronger,’ ” he said.
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The reports in some sections of the media had claimed that influential U.S. lawmakers were masterminding a hold on a proposed sale of ammunition and attack helicopters to Nigeria over allegations of human rights abuses and anti-democratic actions of the present administration.
The report listed the blocked proposed sale to include 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters accompanied by defence systems, 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation and 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell.
However, the embarrassment became apparent when the Nigerian Senate confirmed the development from the U.S congress.
On 31st July 2021 the National Assembly said it was billed to hold talks with the United States Congress over the stoppage of weapons sale to Nigeria, Saturday PUNCH reliably learnt.
“The Senate and the House of Representatives may be sending different delegations to meet with their American counterparts on how to successfully procure attack helicopters and other arms and ammunition in a deal valued at $875m (N360bn).
“The Chairmen of different security committees in the National Assembly, in separate interviews with one of our correspondents between Wednesday and Friday, confirmed knowledge of the deal’s stoppage and their readiness to seek legislative and diplomatic interventions.
“The US lawmakers are holding down a proposed sale of warplanes to Nigeria amid mounting concerns over the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s (retd), human rights record as the country grapples with multiple security crises.
“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the Congress has reportedly delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra fighter jets and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military.The proposed sale also includes 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems – laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy Magazine.A report by the magazine on Tuesday said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrated a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
The hold on the sale also showcases how powerful US lawmakers want to push the Joe Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria amid overarching concerns that Buhari is drifting toward authoritarianism as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including the Boko Haram insurgency.
Western governments and international human rights organisations have ramped up their criticisms of the Buhari regime, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in crackdowns on #EndSARS protesters last October.”
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria recently took delivery of six out of the 12 Super Tucano fighter jets purchased from the US government.
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The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, noted that the US lawmakers had expressed concerns over rights abuses in Nigeria.
He recalled that the American government raised similar concerns when Nigeria ordered 12 Super Tucano aircraft, part of which had been delivered.
Ndume said: “When we resume at the National Assembly, after consultations, we will know what to appropriately also do as the Nigerian National Assembly that appropriated such amount of money for those purposes…even if it requires our intervention… Definitely, this is based on information that was given (to the US) by one side.”
Asked if the National Assembly would engage the US Congress on the matter, the lawmaker said, “Yes, that is possible. That is what is right. If it requires that, we would do it.”
Ndume added :“What is going on (in Nigeria) and what the arms are needed for, every Nigerian knows. We are not acquiring arms in order to abuse human rights; we are acquiring so the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies can be armed because of the security challenges we are facing. These are two different things. Human rights and the fight against terrorism, banditry and other forms of criminality are different things entirely.
“So, I am surprised that the US Congress is mixing up the things. If it requires that they should hear from the side of the Nigerian Government – not even the executive because the Nigerian Government which we are in collectively is fighting against banditry, insurgency, which is terrorism, and which the American Government has even placed bounty on some of their (insurgents’) heads – they will.”
Speaking on funding for the Armed Forces, the lawmaker said it “is adequate for now, based on the resources at the disposal of the Nigerian Government.”
The lawmaker, however, stated that the country had serious challenges in terms of adequate equipment and platforms for the forces “while the government has appropriately responded.”
He also noted that the American Government had offered to assist Nigeria in the fight against insecurity.
“That is what the arms are meant for,” he stated.
Ndume added, “If you say you want to help somebody, it means that you have identified that they have a problem. So, when they want to solve the problem, they cannot do it with their hands. And then, when they want to use arms, they have to get them because Nigeria does not have the capacity to manufacture those things.”
Also, the Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, said the lawmakers would deploy diplomatic means to resolve the issue.
Benson said, “There is what we call parliamentary diplomacy or advocacy. The US parliament is very strong and determines a lot of things. Plans have been in the works – not because of this – to visit the US parliament and explore ways of military cooperation and so on.
“Recently, we visited the base where the Super Tucano aircraft were manufactured and what we all agreed was to cut out human rights abuses; that we needed to be more precise and ensure precision in whatever inventory or equipment we use so that we don’t hit collateral targets or innocent citizens unnecessarily.
“If they don’t give us those armaments, it means that the human rights thing may worsen because there won’t be precision. One of the good things we got with the A-29 (Tucano) is that it is guided. But now, if they (US) are withdrawing, they are not helping us with reducing civilian mortality and building our human rights records.”
Asked if the executive in charge of the Armed Forces should be more concerned about the records of human rights abuses than the legislature, Benson noted that it was still the same government and “there is no difference in Nigeria’s reputation and security that is at stake now.”
The lawmaker added, “We as the people’s parliament need to ensure that when those in the executive go out defending the territorial integrity and internal security, they are more guided, and they need weapons to be well guided. And who produces the best weapons that can guide in this regard? It is them (US).
“As a matter of fact, they have also trained our forces on how to minimise collateral damage and ensure civilian protection. There is ongoing training on that. If they now deny us, they are creating a bigger problem, not solving it.”
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Responding to a question of America wanting to see Nigeria walking the talk on human rights protection, Benson noted that the Lagos State Government “is doing a fantastic job” towards bringing closure to extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses by officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force.
Where then is the national security adviser of President Buhari? Mr. President Sir, where is your national security adviser?
To understand why Nigeria has faced several missteps in the strategy adopted to secure Nigeria, a reading of the piece on the qualities of a good national security adviser will suffice.This professional friend of mine then pointed my attention to the scholarly piece titled:
“What is the role of the National Security Adviser? And the following is his exact presentation: “The National Security Advisor, officially known as the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, serves as a chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. The National Security Advisor serves on the National Security Council and is assisted by staff that produces research, briefings, and intelligence reports.
The National Security Advisor’s office is in the White House, near the office of the President, and during a crisis operates from the White House Situation Room updating the President on the latest events.
“The National Security Advisor is appointed by the President but not confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which protects the position to some degree from political controversy and partisanship. The role is not connected administratively to the Departments of State or Defense but offers independent advice, effectively creating a policy triad that the President may rely upon for advice. The National Security Advisor’s role and relative influence varies from administration to administration, and from advisor to advisor.
“The National Security Advisor plays a critical role in administration of the National Security Council (NSC), which advises and assists the President on national security and foreign policy issues. The Council also serves as the President’s principal arm for coordinating national security and foreign policies among various government agencies. The NSC is composed of the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Advisor; the Council is chaired by the President.
“The NSC is also advised by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of National Intelligence, the White House Chief of Staff, the Counsel to the President, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. The Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget may be invited to NSC meetings pertaining to their responsibilities.
“The first National Security Advisor was Robert Cutler under President Eisenhower in 1953, and 20 different advisors have served every President since that time. Zbigniew Brzezinski, under President Carter, was the first National Security advisor to be elevated to cabinet-level status in 1977. President Reagan demoted the National Security Advisor from cabinet-level status and subordinated the role to the Secretary of State. Six National Security Advisors served under President Reagan, representing the highest turnover in the position in history.
“Brent Scowcroft is the only person to serve as National Security Advisor in two different administrations, under President Ford and President George H.W. Bush. General Colin Powell became the first African-American to serve as National Security Advisor, under President Reagan; and Condoleezza Rice the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor, under President George W. Bush.”
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President Muhammadu Buhari stands on the threshold of history to make or mar his legacy for life. He has just two years to end the vicious circles of threats to national security.
He already has set the tone by publicising his targets that are deliverables by his new service chiefs. But these deliverables to secure Nigeria would not materialize if the president fails to reorganize the much important office of his national security adviser.
The ball is in the court of President Buhari to rescue Nigeria and reassure the global leaders that it is determined to wage law-based counter-terror war.
Mr. President let me drop some legal points I got from a well authored book by a military general. These are legal thresholds the NSA ought to monitor and then defend the administration in the area of adherence to human rights standards. The law expert and general of the Nigerian Army wrote thus: “The basic tenets of the rule of law are unequivocal as to the fact that calling out members of the Nigerian Armed Forces on an internal operation, does not confer on them more powers than those prescribed under the law of the country. Consequently, compliance with the rule of law demands that the rules should be adhered to by troops on all issues during the operations. Some of these issues and the rules applicable to them are addressed as follows:
“a. The Use of Minimum Force. The first thing troops have to bear in mind when engaged in internal operations is that force should only be used when absolutely necessary. Even then, the rule is that troops on such operations may only use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances.
There is no hard and fast rule to determine whether a particular degree of force is reasonable in any circumstances. The relevant and widely accepted objective test in determining the use of force is the popular saying that you ‘do not kill a fly with a sledge hammer’ or conversely, ‘you do not attack a lion with a pen knife’.
“Arrests. During an internal operation, it is usual for troops involved in that operation to carry out arrests. The suspects may include rioters or even more serious offenders like murderers, armed bandits or looters who are merely taking advantage of an upheaval or mishap. Whatever the circumstances, arrests are either conducted with a warrant of arrest, or without such a warrant. In practice, a warrant usually contains the following: The date of issue; a concise statement of the offence or matter for which it was issued; the name of the person to be arrested; an order to a law enforcement officer to apprehend the named person and bring him before the law; the signature of the magistrate or judge.” (Military Law in Nigeria Under Democratic Rule by Brigadier General T.E.C. Chiefe (Rtd) Ph.D).
Onwubiko is the leader of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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TB Joshua: Remembering Exit Of A World Changer
By Dare Adejumo
The month of June is a significant month in the annals of Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). It is the month of the birth and passing of its founder, Prophet TB Joshua, that great world changer.
Its fifth day makes the second year of his glorious exit from earth and on the twelfth, the great man of God who cherished marking his birthdays would have been 60 years old.
Nations across the world would have been agog for an extraordinary prophet of God whose footprints of wonderful deeds touching the lives of millions across the globe remain in the sand of time. TB Joshua came to revitalize the face of Christianity and made the physiognomy of practical Christian living as given by Jesus Christ already in abeyance real to mankind once again.
There’s no hide and seek in his life. He was love personified. The humbliest human being I have ever come across. Firm and stern, even in his moment of severity, you would still find love encapsulated. You could not offend him. He’s extra sensitive with propulsively radiating wisdom, unfathomable knowledge of life, charming and a paragon of magnetically illuminating character. He was completely acidic to vanity, envy, jealousy, human comparison, imitation, vulgarity and wonton desires. He described them as some of those “foolish things” not to be entertained for a moment in one’s life.
Pastor TB Joshua
TB Joshua was a divinely self-made man. Here was a man with little elementary education. Yet with your degrees, erudition and western exposure, you would be humbled by the self-discovery of your personal hollowness or quasi- emptiness when you sat to discuss or share a view with TB Joshua, a shy village man. TB Joshua was an attestation to God’s omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence and greatness that lay in simplicity.
I personally witnessed several cases of some other so-called men of God who out of ignorance and envy were once persecuting him but after receiving the touch of God in different dimensions including mere touching of EMMANUEL TV while praying came to weep before God for forgiveness. Joshua would only say to them: ” I didn’t fire one single arrow back from all your arrows against me; otherwise you won’t be here today to talk. One thing we should always know is this: I did not choose myself to do God’s work. He in His wisdom just chose me and I know He is with me. God would never give anybody this kind of power He gave me if the person would use it for selfish purposes or against his perceived enemies. No!”
TB Joshua was a puzzle, an enigma. He was the light shining in darkness that many couldn’t comprehend. He looked too simple and ordinary having not been commissioned by the earthly papacy or religious authorities of the day and for him to be performing miracles of diverse kinds like breathing. This was clearly indescribable, incomprehensible, a mystery and shocker to the spiritual ignoramuses and empty flamboyant oratorical, motivational preachers with big congregations.
That great English thinker and philosopher John Locke once said: “New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed without any other reason but because they are not already common”. In God’s adamantine and inscrutable will, TB Joshua came to the scene when the acts of Christianity seen in Jesus Christ and His early desciples and apostles as captured in the Bible were gradually becoming moonlight tales to this generation. Religious leaders had already metamorphosed to careerism and polarised with pervasive unhealthy cacophonous standards. It was obvious that these religious leaders no longer knew what they were doing then even till today in several quarters without any tangible impacts in the lives of atrophied worshippers!
That was the turning point.There was no way TB Joshua could have had it easier. He faced satanic conspiracies and persecution galore, but the man remained focused with unmitigated perseverance, vision and mission of his divine assignments which he tenaciously upheld victoriously till the last.
He took his persecution joyfully and that conspiracy against him at home launched him to the outside world in God’s agenda and design for his mission on earth.
Hear him: “I began discovering the good life when I was only 15 years. My objectives and motives were determined at once. I wanted what God wanted and I wanted it for the reason God wanted it”. That’s prophet TB Joshua for you. Till the end he carried his childhood with him, with malice to no one but love, charity and firmness to all in God’s righteousness. To him love is pure. Take good care of your heart because that is your communicating point with God and must ever remain pure to know and flow with Him. You can never love God if you don’t love your neighbours and your neighbours include your percieved enemies, those not in the same faith with you, the poor and those in need who you must give love unconditionally.
This Godly character often made TB Joshua to be misrepresented by low spiritual human beings whenever they saw him attend to other people who were not Christians just as his Master, Jesus was accused of dining with republicans and sinners which made the religious authorities persecute Him.
The truth of humanity as once put by that foremost existentialist Italian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard is that history would always repeat itself because man would never learn from history. Many never discovered Joshua not until he had departed! What a painful loss.
You could never find TB Joshua criticizing or talking about other men of God. He moved on quietly on his own even though he lamented the pervasive discrimination and disunity in Christendom.
Several people from other churches who received healings and miracles in his church, Synagogue Church Of All Nations SCOAN wanted to come and do thanksgiving in his church but Joshua would not allow them. “Go back to you church and do your thanksgiving and give your offering there. We are the same. God had already answered your prayers there before you came here” for you to see how selfless he was in all his dealings.
TB Joshua was more interested in the quality of your Christian life and character. He would ask you: “Do you hear from God? Do you listen to Him? Does He speak with you? Do you know how much you need Him? Do you have a relationship with Him?” The God’s general believed that your highest achievement on earth was to hear from God.
To TB Joshua, Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God. If you don’t have that relationship with Him you have missed it and you are worshipping in vain. “How can you be worshipping God you don’t know?” He would jerk up his congregants to move away from spiritual docility, complacency and indolence.
TB Joshua was never an academic preacher. He spoke words of life that transformed lives of ardent and fervent seekers of God and salvation.
I remember a female nurse I once encountered when she came to treat a patient as she stood looking at EMMANUEL TV. On enquiries whether she knew of the television station, she said that she used to attend SCOAN. “I was a nurse and member of the church’s medical team. Then the church was not rich, just managing to survive. It was what happened during the man of God’s birthday that made me stop going and besides I had relocated to a farther distance. We all on our own contributed money to give TB Joshua as a present. When we got there to present it, the man just asked us to put all the money in one sack. He asked us to choose some people among us to take the whole money to the disabled people’s home at Oko Baba. He instructed that one of us should just dip his or her hand in the sack and be distributing the money to them one by one with whatever the hand could gather at once like that to the less privileged living there and nothing should be left in the sack. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked that the man could take everything there like that not minding that the church itself was very poor”. This woman completely missed the beauty of life and essence of humanity the prophet symbolized. TB Joshua believed your giving is only meaningful when you give what you cherish most. He would never give in half measures. He was extraordinarily generous and at home in humility with all categories of people as a friend however commonised other people may look at them. Every human being is unique and important to TB Joshua and must be treated with dignity.
TB Joshua was never a burden to anyone but carried all human burdens that crossed his paths. He was the only man of God holding crusade abroad without asking for any donations or collecting offering from worshippers. He would rather go there with loads of charity works for people and the country. There was a time in Cameroon when the airwave was jammed with announcements that TB Joshua would be coming to hold a crusade in Yaounde, asking for people to donate money. This was a scam because the scammers were capitalizing on Joshua’s popularity and the perceived pressure of the country’s request for his crusade program in Cameroon. TB Joshua in holy anger countered the announcements saying: ” That cannot be my TB Joshua of Synagogue Church Of All Nations SCOAN. I have no plan to go to Cameroon. God has not directed me to go there. Have you ever seen my pictures or envelopes asking for donation of money from anyone or anywhere? Please disregard this announcement. When God gives you an assignment He would also send to you what you would need through His chosen vessels”. This is a symbolic message for you to differentiate the chalk from the cheese in the religiously distorted world. He never allowed himself for a moment to be carried away by anything.
The lofty principles and legacies of TB Joshua remain enduring and a high watershed in Christendom. The joy today is that SCOAN is in the capable hand of a down-to-earth and visionary successor, Pastor Evelyn Joshua, a woman who had gone through the spiritual mills and rigorous discipline of TB Joshua the spiritual mentor extraordinaire who strongly believed that life’s biggest decision is what you do with Jesus.
Toyin Falola: A Lifetime Achievement Honour For A Colossus
By Temitope Oriola
The Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) has awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to Toyin Falola, a professor of History, University Distinguished Teaching Professor and the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas, Austin. CAAS is the preeminent association of Canadian scholars studying Africa. The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honour of CAAS. Therefore, it is rarely bestowed.
For context, no scholar received this honour in my three years on the board of CAAS as vice president, president and past president (2019-2022). The latest in Professor Falola’s constellation of global awards represents another acknowledgment of the worldwide status of the Bobapitan of Ibadanland. As a former president of CAAS, I know the painstaking process involved in the adjudication of CAAS awards. I am particularly delighted that Baba Falola, as we all call him, is recognised in this manner.
It was unusually fitting that York University, Toronto, was the venue of the conferment. Falola was a professor at York University between 1990 and 1991. He had also previously delivered keynote addresses at the CAAS signature annual gatherings and helped to organise the conference in 1991. The president of CAAS, Nduka Otiono, a professor and director of the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, noted that the “esteemed accolade recognises (Falola’s) exceptional contributions, unwavering dedication, and profound impact on the field of African Studies in Canada and beyond.”
The United States took Falola from Canada but his influence is very much like he never left. The University of Texas, Austin has somehow managed to hold on to Professor Falola. I am curious about how Texas has done that since 1991.
I met Professor Falola at the 2016 Africa conference at the University of Texas, Austin. I was immediately struck by his fine magnetic personality. You immediately felt an instant connection as you would a family member. The annual conference convened by Falola is an excellent gathering and for some young scholars, their first international conference outside Africa. The conference also attracts senior scholars and university administrators across Africa and the diaspora.
Toyin Falola received his B. A. (Honours) in History in 1976 from the University of Ife (later renamed Obafemi Awolowo University). His PhD in history was awarded by the same university in 1981. Falola wrote his doctoral dissertation on “The Political Economy of Ibadan, c.1830-1900.” Always on a quest to learn and chart new grounds, Falola received his D. Litt. in African Studies from the University of Ibadan in 2020 (i.e. 42 years after his first doctorate). This is the stuff of extraordinariness.
Professor Falola has received 16 honorary doctorates from universities across the globe. The roll call includes the University of Jos; Lincoln University; Olabisi Onabanjo University; Monmouth University; Federal University, Lokoja; and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
A Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), Falola has held fellowships, professorships and distinguished scholar status at various universities and other institutions globally. For example, he was visiting professor at the Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, National Open University, Abuja (2019-2021) and honorary professor, Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa, from 2018 to 2022. Professor Falola was also Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South, Library of Congress in 2016; visiting professor, Pontifícia Universidade Católica De São Paulo, Brazil in 2007; and fellow at the Humanities Research Council, Australian National University in 1995. He is a life member at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.
Traditional institutions have also bestowed high honours on Professor Falola. He is Nii Kpani Ashaabla 1, Adabraka Otukpai Palace, Accra, Ghana; the Agbakin of Kusela-Ibadan; the Bobagbimo of Ugboland; and the Mayegun of Auga, Akoko.
Being a globally recognised scholar and an excellent human being are not necessarily mutually inclusive. Falola is an iconic scholar, a mentor to generations of scholars and a humane person. His devotion to the success of others is astonishing and uncommon. Falola is intentional about creating opportunities for others. He derives great satisfaction in seeing others thrive. Falola’s accomplishments require a truly exceptional intellect, fine analytical mind, perspicacity and a strong work ethic. His long list of accomplishments speaks to a lifetime of devotion to investing in others and expecting nothing in return: World class brilliance meets humaneness.
.Oriola is professor of criminology and associate dean at the University of Alberta. He is president-elect of the Canadian Sociological Association and former special adviser to the Government of Alberta on Police Act Review.
10th National Assembly: Nigeria’s Last Chance
By Mon-Charles Egbo
In a few days, the presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives would be elected upon the inauguration of the 10th national assembly. This event, typical of every contest, would throw up two categories of people: those who are pleased with the outcome and the ones who feel otherwise.
Understandably, the wishes of both sides are interests-driven though it cannot be immediately established whether the interests are about the country or individuals.
But on the belief that it is about nationalism, then head or tail, it is a win-win for Nigeria. This is because logically, both divides mean well for the nation only that their perceptions differ. And again, while spirited attempts, largely motivated by multi-dimensional sentiments, are made to externally influence the choices of the legislators-elect, the decision as to who would become their presiding officers begins and ends with them. Whether by consensus or merit, they are the ones that make the choices in the final analysis. It is within their exclusive rights and privileges and also, the election is a process that has strict conventions. So the outcome, like the two sides of a coin, coincides or is at variance with the wishes of the outsiders, once again, depending on whether their interests are broad or narrow.
Therefore as the 10th national assembly comes on stream, the basic public expectation is a sustainable dispensation of good governance delivered by a legislature that is people-oriented and under a leadership that is defined by dexterity, creativity and absolute loyalty to the people. For emphasis, Nigerians today deserve a responsive parliament driven by a deliberate commitment to regular citizens’ engagement.
Granted, these aspirations are as non-negotiable as they are core dividends of democracy. Yet, they are not automatic. They can only happen with the active involvement of a vigilant citizenry as researches show that strong democracies the world over are characterized by robust citizen participation. In other words, there can never be effective leadership without effective followership. This is the reason every well-meaning Nigerian should urgently pause and ponder on the prevailing sorry state of the country.
This is imperative because except for ignorance or mischief, it is glaring that we cannot hand over to our children, the same country that we inherited from our fathers. The signs are there yet we seem indifferent. Or, are we not alarmed by the grim prospects of losing things and persons very dear to us, including innocent children, if Nigeria fails? What about the mental agony of losing personal liberties and becoming captives in our own land, irrespective of status? Are the masses not yet seeing the damning consequences of their age-long prejudice and hostility towards the national assembly? Are we not yet persuaded that certain things should either not have happened in the first place or should have happened differently if only we were actively involved in the goings-on in the national assembly since 1999? Could we have been this mercilessly impoverished and short-changed sequel to leadership deficit? Truly, every heart should bleed over Nigeria’s precarious situation because when it rains, no roof is spared.
However, there is good news. There is a ray of hope. A new beginning is possible. Nigeria can still work. But once again, it is a function of our actions now. Yes, our future is in our hands. Before us right now is an opportunity, possibly the last, to act, lest Nigeria slides into absolute failure.
So, if what informs our concerns and interests regarding the choice of the presiding officers are really borne out of patriotic and nationalistic ideals, despite the eventual outcomes, then we are morally liable for the success or failure of the 10th national assembly. Yes, what it becomes depends on what we do or fail to do now.
Hence if we wish not to bungle this last chance, then we should right away stand up and be counted. We must embrace this 10th national assembly as truly our own. We should seek to be fully abreast of its scheme of things. We have to accord it all the necessary support and cooperation for it to excel. It is no longer about short-term benefits but about what unites us and aids our journey to nationhood. Everyone should immediately remove their togas of ethnicity, religion and partisanship and think Nigeria first! The media, civil society organizations, professional bodies, labour unions, youth, women and community-based groups, the political class, as well as the clergy, should put on garments of activism in championing a legislature that derives its legitimacy and relevance from the people. Every mouth should loudly speak against bad governance whenever and wherever it occurs.
With an open mind, we should pay attention to how the legislature supervises the other arms, especially the executive. Specifically, we should demand explanations from the 10th national assembly as to why the country’s refineries are not operational and what they hope to achieve in the face of Nigeria’s dire situations, particularly the raging petroleum subsidy questions, poverty index, youth unemployment, insecurity, rising debt profile, health, education and power sectors, budget performance, federal character principle and then, why the federal executive council is awarding contracts without the public procurement council in place. We should clamour for legislative agenda with timelines and whose deliverables can translate to tangibles in the immediate, instead of high-sounding achievements that would exist only on paper and make no meaningful impacts in the lives of the people in the long run.
Then dispassionately, in pursuing these programmes of action, we should be seen to be fair, right and just always. We should be considerably articulate, skilful, objective and law-abiding. We should be alert, probing and listening and then be guided by reciprocal respect for these leaders. We should reject every form of confrontation, rumour-mongering, mutual suspicion and hate.
Equally, we should vehemently resist the divisive instrumentalities of religion, tribe and politics. We should seek to build social bridges always by being at the right places, saying the right things and then doing the right things at all times. We should commend and condemn when necessary. Where we stood before the election and subsequent inauguration of the assembly should not matter to us again. Rather, we should be anxious to see the 10th national assembly succeed by working through our representatives for issue-based engagements with the institution towards the attainment of a Nigeria where democracy and good governance reign supreme.
Using our periodic interactive sessions or town hall meetings with them, and their feedback channels, we should consistently demand accountability from the individual representatives while also availing them of useful information. Any lawmaker that is not accessible, principally through their functional constituency offices, should be called out respectfully. And while we keep records of our engagements with them for future reference, we must not distract or blackmail them with self-serving burdens of demand.
For the umpteenth time, if we live above board in our conduct this national assembly would always reflect the truism that “to whom much is given, much is expected” and also that as leaders, they are merely fellow citizens elected by loyal citizens and entrusted with the popular mandate. Also, the legislators would demonstrate indeed that they are agents and trustees of the people, and as such should always embody our wishes and desires. Furthermore, through our sustained advocacy, they would always draw a line between politics and governance in their actions.
Then above all and because equity demands clean hands, the first step in achieving all these is to have a fair knowledge of the workings and core mandates of the legislature. It is important also that we understand some operational challenges being faced by the national assembly. For instance, the 1999 constitution is not reasonably protective of the legislature, especially in its supervisory roles on the executive. Serially, there are no definite consequences for acts of disregard for the powers of the legislature by the executive. The former apparently exists at the mercy of the latter. Even more pathetic is the case of the state governors. But in the interim, it is only when we operate from an informed perspective that we can be factual and objective in our expectations and engagements with lawmakers.
And so in conclusion, this is just an early warning! The occasion calls for rapid and decisive actions. This is the last chance to redirect the ship of the country from the brink of collapse following the failure of governance, insecurity, corruption, unemployment and poverty.
As such, we the people, as the ultimate owners should immediately rise and take back the legislature. And in this, we have to let enthusiasm, patriotism, resilience and diligence guide us, so that “the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain”.
Egbo is a public relations practitioner and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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