By Promise Adiele
The innocuous word ‘endorsement’ presently enjoys celebrity status in Nigerian politics. ‘Endorsement’, hitherto prevalent in the register of advertisement where persons of appreciable popularity approve of a product, has surreptitiously crept into Nigeria’s political lexicon. Unlike in advertisement where ‘endorsement’ maintains an unruffled facade, its identity in politics connotes blessing and support, but sometimes betrayal, deceit, and a tragic presage. While in advertisement ‘endorsement’ simply means approval, in politics, it maintains a positive affirmation but also adorns a sinister complexion. When in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Decius, one of the conspirators came to cajole Caesar to the Capitol, he preyed on Caesar’s longing for flattering by informing him that the Senators had endorsed him to be crowned the same day. That was a lie. The Senators who purportedly endorsed Caesar were vicious conspirators that eventually murdered him in the most barbaric manner. A misplaced, irrational political endorsement can, in all its gratifying potential, lead to tragic consequences, especially for those intoxicated with the lure of power. Caesar believed the deceit of endorsement, ignored his wife’s warnings and the entire soothsayer’s prognosis about the Ides of March. He met his waterloo.
Nigeria’s political canvas is never short of inscrutable, recondite preoccupation which challenges the people’s claim to intelligence and independence. The originators of these preoccupations summarily mystify the entire process to satisfy a yawning, inordinate appetite. They do not care for a second if they look stupid as long as they mislead the people, violate public peace, and cause confusion in the body politic. According to Nigeria’s political jobbers, the air we breathe must be politicised. The flight of birds in the air must be given political interpretation. Arsenal vs Chelsea must be analysed and understood along the lines of Nigerian politics. The taste of bitter kola against the sound of it in the mouth must certainly not escape Nigeria’s political exegeses. All of these must in one way or another provide a peep into how the people will vote as if the electorate are zombies from another planet.
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The newfound love for political jobbers in Nigeria now is the politics of endorsement. I have been intrigued no end as to how Nigeria’s current political discourse has recently centred on the endorsement of various political office seekers, especially presidential candidates. From the North to the South, East to the West, the current political champion right now is an endorsement. It appears anyone endorsed by any group in the country has won the election rendering the efforts and posturing of the electorate inconsequential. In 2015, Nigerians endorsed the current government and did so again in 2019. Towards the 2023 elections, Nigerians must be wary not to redefine endorsement as a systemic enthronement of handicapped leadership which inevitably leads to the imposition of hardship and suffering. It is obvious that the collective endorsements of 2015 and 2019 were huge mistakes but the continuous pleading of ‘it is well’ in the face of harsh living conditions has proved to be a genuine extenuating gesture. Now, it is time to set aside the “it is well” cold refrain – that unction of uncommon hypnosis fawned by the timid and their defeated consciences. It cannot be well when people consciously endorse a pathetic candidate in an election.
With endorsement dominating Nigeria’s political discourse, one’s intellect is inundated by different ideological pressures to rationalise what seems an odious reality. But rationalization must be informed by reason to save one from sliding into mental abstraction. Let’s face the truth – in real politics, the ultimate endorsers are the people, the electorate with valid voter cards to do the needful. It is laughable, in fact, ridiculous that Nigerians should worry about what group has endorsed a candidate and what other group has not endorsed another candidate. I am aware of the influence groups and sundry elements can wield in politics when they privately endorse a candidate. But that is applicable under normal circumstances. The Nigerian circumstance is not normal therefore, endorsement of any kind has lost all the glory and relevance associated with modern-day politicking. In Nigeria today, those who endorse privately belong to the upper-class echelon and therefore are immune from the harsh socio-economic realities in the country.
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Look at Ohaneze, Afenifere, Arewa, and other notable groups across the country. Their chairmen and spokespersons wine and dine with the high and mighty, they are big men and women all of them. It is therefore an existential delusion to imagine that these people, by their private endorsement of any candidate speak for the impoverished, hunger-ravaged masses. Some of these people promoting endorsement as if it is the real election conceive Nigerians as idiots. Well, I believe Nigerians are not stupid or are they? Political office seekers in Nigeria now, especially the presidential candidates should be circumspect about those they visit for endorsement. Julius Caesar was endorsed by the Senators to be crowned but it was a different type of endorsement. Macbeth was endorsed by the witches to become a king but was afflicted with a morbid desire for power which led to his downfall. Endorsement seekers beware. This warning does not require any mental elaboration, it is simple and straight to the point.
There is an emergency in Nigeria under the APC-led administration. Every right-thinking person is aware of this reality. The real endorsement will be done at the polls next year and it will be carried out by the victims of serial economic plundering, insecurity, inflation, corruption, non-existing medicare and a somnolent educational system. Towards the 2023 elections, I am a bit worried that of Nigeria’s estimated population of 200 million people, less than 100 million people registered to vote. In Brazil during the just-concluded general elections, 154.4 million voters participated out of a population of 214 million people. In the 2018 elections in that country, 147 million people voted. In Nigeria, less than 100 million people do not represent the suffering, vanquished masses. Everyone registered to vote should be ready to participate in the elections in Nigeria. Effective, valid endorsement is carried out by the direct recipients of government policies and not by those whose bread is buttered irrespective of the character in power.
The all-important question is – when Nigerians go to the polls next year, what will they be endorsing? Will they endorse a fraudulent change mantra conceived and packaged in 2015 which has led Nigerians to the precipice? Indeed, will Nigerians be endorsing broken promises which have destroyed the family unit due to the high cost of living? While at endorsement, Nigerians must remember that a bag of rice now costs N45,000 and the price per litre of petrol is N200. All Nigerian public university lecturers and students must surely have something to endorse. Nigerians should decide whether to endorse the monumental stealing of their crude oil through which the country bleeds excessively. Till today, no one has been arrested. Life goes on. Certainly, Nigerians must decide whether to endorse backwardness, polarized polity, expensive cost of governance, broad daylight robbery by former governors in the guise of pensions and other entrenched absurdities. Please, kindly decide whether to endorse Aso Rock as a convalescent home for old, infirm people who should be recuperating and enjoying their retirement.
At this time, Nigerians must decide what they want. Brazil just endorsed a new beginning by voting out an anti-people, corrupt, wasteful government. Indeed, the supreme endorsement resides with the people. The Nigerian political endorsement resides with Nigerians and not some bourgeois, aristocratic class that is not affected by the vagaries of government policies. Will Nigerians, in all their glory and famed sophistication endorse candidates with fraudulent academic records, indeterminate age, mysterious genealogy, uncertain health conditions, and a damning verdict by former President Obasanjo and another elder statesman Bode George – those who know better. It is only a tragic generation that will endorse affliction for the third time. Let 2023 come quickly. Authentic endorsement beckons.
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Abiodun Seeks US Partnership In Developing Critical Sectors
The Ogun State government has solicited for partnership with the United States of America in developing the critical sectors of the State’s economy.
The State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who stated this when he received the American Consul General to Nigeria, Mr. Will Stevens, who led a 5-man delegation on a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan Abeokuta on Wednesday, noted that the State considers the United States as a progressive partner in the areas of economy, good governance, security, climate change and human capital development around the world.
Governor Abiodun posited that the State apart from the sophistication of its people and their cognitive political culture, is unanimously and popularly adjudged as the New Jersey of Nigeria and the leading industrial hub in the West Africa Sub-region, hence the need to tap from the American experience to further its developmental stride.
The governor said his administration at inception in 2019, assembled a team made up of highly resourceful technocrats and cerebral policy architects and conceptualized a transformational philosophy coined ISEYA, which is an acronym for Infrastructural Development, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education and Human Capital Development, Youth Empowerment and lastly, Agriculture and Food Security.
He said: “Through this concept, we have strategically transformed the state with modern infrastructure, deliberate policy steps to attract businesses and moving the economy from being federal allocation-focused to becoming the state with the third largest Internally Generated Revenue in the country.
“The State’s strategic location as the primary gateway to Lagos State – the largest market with the busiest ports in Nigeria has contributed to its status as the Industrial Hub of Nigeria.
“Our State is home to one of the largest industrial zones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 8,000 hectares OPIC-owned Agbara Industrial Estate, which accommodates the Federal Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ), with forty-four (44) operational companies, factory tenants from across the world, with over 6,000 Nigerian employees and an estimated 100,000 metric tons of freight moving in and out daily.”
Prince Abiodun noted that in its quest to make Ogun State the first destination for investors in Nigeria, his administration is currently constructing an Agro Cargo International Airport at Iperu-Ilishan road in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State, adding that the project is strategically designed to create the needed infrastructure to boost the exportation of agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
“By its structure and business plan, the Cargo Airport remains a game-changer in our import and export promotion efforts, as it was specifically constructed to be an aerotropolis (Airport City) equipped with components such as a special agro-processing zone to process raw agricultural materials for exports, an international testing centre to certify that agro-produce complies with international standards before it is exported, and facility for passenger operations as well as facilities to receive parcels coming into Nigeria that are to be redistributed to other parts of the country.
“In addition to that, it is an important component of Ogun State’s transportation master plan expected not only to connect rail, road and water transportation but also to decongest the Lagos Airport,” the governor added.
Governor Abiodun appreciated the American government for her firm stance on democratic governance, specifically on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as supporting different reforms in the electoral process and taking an uncompromising position on electoral offenders.
In an interview after a closed-door meeting with the governor, the Consul General said their discussions centred on security and health.
He noted that health remains the number one investment in Nigeria as the US government is in the health sector to help Nigeria to reach the 95 95 95 goals of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.
“It is my job to promote US trade and investment here in certain parts of Nigeria. I had a great conversation with the governor about the incredible investment the US companies are already making in the state as well as opportunities for more increased US trade and investment.
“We also talked about the tax sector, I think there are incredible opportunities right now to find jobs and opportunities for Nigerian youths to participate in the tax sector.
“We’ve seen the explosion of growth and investment in that sector throughout Nigeria, particularly in the South West,” the Consul General added.
Toyin Falola And The October Harvest
By Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti
In the annals of academic and societal change, few luminaries shine as brightly as Professor Toyin Falola. As autumn leaves drifted in October, the literary world was astir from the changing seasons and the relentless enthusiasm of a septuagenarian scholar making waves across lecture halls and public platforms. In many cultures and traditions, October is a month of harvest – a time to reap the fruits of labour sown in prior months. Fittingly, for Professor Falola, this October truly lived up to that essence, bearing witness to an intellectual harvest that few could parallel.
Prof. Toyin Falola at the second Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History & International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria on August 10, 2022. Photo by “Gbile Oshadipe (2022) ©
In many ways, the achievements of this month were a microcosm of Falola’s broader career: a testament to the confluence of hard work, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to societal advancement.
Within 31 days, Falola graced the podium for 3 public lectures, imparted wisdom in 2 university lectures, and was the beacon of 3 convocation lectures. Each of these engagements wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; they were conduits for sparking change, challenging established norms, and inspiring the next generation. However, to truly grasp the magnitude of Falola’s October endeavours, one must delve deeper into the essence of the man himself. At an age when many of his peers are retreating into the tranquillity of retirement, Falola’s spirit remains undiminished, if not encouraged. It’s not just the number of lectures or the honorary doctorates he received – which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat – but the zeal with which he approaches each endeavour. His lectures, for instance, are not mere recitations of historical facts or academic theories. They are vibrant tapestries woven with threads of history, contemporary societal issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They challenge, they provoke, and most importantly, they inspire. But what drives a man of over 70 years to such relentless pursuit? To find the answer, one need not look further than his past works and the themes that permeate them. For Falola, academia isn’t a secluded ivory tower but a platform to engage with the real world. His research, extensive and varied as it is, always circles back to the core of societal problems. From the intricacies of Yoruba history to the broader strokes of African colonial and post-colonial narratives, Falola’s work sheds light on the issues that matter. These are issues that, in many ways, continue to shape societies today.
In this context, October wasn’t just another month in the calendar but a manifestation of Falola’s lifelong commitment to societal change. A promise that has seen him transcend the traditional confines of academia to engage with the broader public. His public lectures resonate with many audiences, often interspersed with anecdotes, real-life examples, and a touch of humour. From the eager university student to the curious layman, Falola’s words strike a chord, reminding everyone of the transformative power of knowledge and its role in sculpting a better future. In delving deeper into the man behind the October Harvest, one quickly realizes that Professor Falola’s achievements are not a product of overnight success but the culmination of decades of unwavering dedication. It’s a journey that’s seen him navigate the tumultuous waters of academia, societal challenges, and personal hurdles, emerging each time with a renewed sense of purpose. More than anything, this tenacity has been the cornerstone of his October endeavours and his broader career. One might wonder, what is the essence of these lectures and engagements? Why do they matter? The answer lies in the content and context of each meeting. Take, for instance, one of his public lectures from October. While the topic might have revolved around historical narratives, Falola deftly intertwined it with contemporary issues, drawing parallels and highlighting lessons. His ability to bridge the past with the present, to draw lessons from history and apply them to current challenges, is what sets him apart. In doing so, he educates and empowers his audience to view issues through a multifaceted lens, promoting critical thinking and proactive engagement.
Moreover, the venues of these lectures—from universities to public platforms—underscore his commitment to inclusive education. Universities, the traditional bastions of knowledge, are just one part of the equation for Falola. By stepping out and engaging with the broader public, he’s democratizing knowledge, making it accessible to all, irrespective of their academic or socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a move that challenges the status quo, emphasizing that learning shouldn’t be confined to ivory towers but should permeate every stratum of society. However, it’s not just the lectures that stood out in October. The two honorary doctorates he received are symbolic of his contributions to academia and society at large. Such accolades, while celebratory, are also reflective. They compel us to examine the body of work that merits such recognition. For Falola, it’s a vast tapestry of research, publications, mentorship, and public engagement. Each strand, be it a book, an article, or a lecture, is imbued with a purpose: to enlighten, challenge, and change. Yet, amidst all the accolades and achievements, what’s truly remarkable is Falola’s humility. Interact with him, and you’re not met with the airs of a celebrated academician but the warmth of a mentor, the curiosity of a lifelong learner, and the passion of a societal changemaker. This unique blend of excellence and humility makes his October Harvest not just an academic feat but a life lesson for many. It serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t just about personal milestones but about the impact one leaves on society and the legacy one creates for future generations.
Reflecting on the October Harvest and the man at its epicentre, we must contextualize Professor Falola’s achievements within a broader societal framework. At a time when the world grapples with myriad challenges – from socio-political upheavals to environmental crises – the role of intellectuals and academicians becomes ever more crucial. And Falola, with his October engagements and lifelong commitment, epitomizes the potential of scholarly intervention in driving societal change. But why is this important? In an era dominated by bite-sized information and fleeting trends, the depth and breadth of academic research provide a counterbalance. Falola’s lectures, rich in historical context and analytical depth, offer a respite from the cacophony of superficial narratives. They remind us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and shape the future. Every lecture and engagement is a clarion call for introspection, urging society to delve deeper, question more, and strive for a holistic understanding. This is not to say that academia is the sole bastion of truth or the only path to societal change. But scholars like Falola, who bridge the gap between the academic and public spheres, play a pivotal role in grounding discussions in research, evidence, and historical context. They serve as beacons, illuminating the path forward with the torch of knowledge.
Furthermore, Falola’s October engagements underscore the timeless essence of commitment and passion. His journey is a testament to perseverance, dedication, and lifelong learning in a world that often prioritizes instant gratification. It’s a narrative that resonates beyond the confines of academia, inspiring professionals, creatives, and changemakers across various fields. The underlying message? Age is but a number; passion and commitment are timeless. As we draw the curtains on the October Harvest, carrying forward the lessons it offers is essential. It’s a month that celebrates Professor Falola’s achievements, the ethos of scholarly engagement, and its potential impact on society. It’s a call to action for scholars, students, and the general public to engage, question, learn, and drive change.
In conclusion, Professor Toyin Falola’s October Harvest is more than a chronicle of a month’s achievements. It’s a celebration of a lifetime of dedication, a tribute to the transformative power of knowledge, and a reminder of the potential each one of us holds. As the leaves of October give way to the chill of November, the echoes of Falola’s lectures, the wisdom of his words, and the passion of his commitment continue to inspire, urging us all to sow the seeds of change, knowledge, and progress. For in every seed lies the promise of a harvest, and in every effort, the potential for impact.
Prof. Adeoti wrote from the Department of History & International Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria.
Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles
By Leo Igwe
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the government of Sychelles to keep charges linked to witchcraft beliefs out of politics in the country because they make no legal and political sense. This call became necessary following a report that the country’s main opposition leader, Peter Herminie has been charged with witchcraft. Charged with witchcraft in this 21st century? He was accused along with seven other persons including a Tanzanian. According to the report, Herminie and other persons have been charged with “possessing items intended for use in witchcraft, conspiracy to perform witchcraft and procuring services related to witchcraft”. It was stated that the name of this key politician was allegedly mentioned in a whatsapp message between a local and the person from Tanzania, who was arrested at the main international airport on September 21, 2023. The report says that “Items related to witchcraft, including stones, black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid, a collection of powders, and documents with strange language and “demonic and satanic” symbols” were found in the possession of this Tanzanian.
State prosecutors are of the notion that the documents might be some vandalised materials from the local churches. Mr. Herminie has denied the charges, and dismissed the allegation that items linked to witchcraft including bones, body parts, and objects associated with Christianity” were found in his office or in his possession.
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Sychelles to drop these charges, because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should has no place in 21st century politics in Sychelles.
Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artefacts, and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic?
Has the government the facility or expertise to prove beyond reasonable doubt what is witchcraft and what is not witchcraft, what is demonic or satanic and what is not? How will the government prosecute this case without flagrantly violating the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Sychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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