Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The nauseating rot which has permeated the sociopolitical fabric of Nigeria has insidiously crept into the Nigerian university system with disastrous consequences. It is not a surprise because the universities are inhabited by Nigerians who cannot be extricated from the currents of their geographical environment. To be sure, it did not start today. It has simply reached an offensive crescendo, what with the fetish, absurd drama that took place at Obafemi Awolowo University Ife last week over the appointment of a Vice Chancellor. Not even our revered dramatist Professor Wole Soyinka could have crafted that negatively thrilling drama that shook genuine academics to their souls! Need we refer to the ugly fight in University of Lagos that compelled the exit of Professor Eni Njoku (Easterner) in 1962 and his replacement with Dr. Saburi Biobaku a Westerner?
As a young man I remember reading Chukwuemeka Ike’s novel The Naked Gods which is set in the 1960s where aspirants to Vice Chancellorship got involved in some fetish nonsense. The novel is about ‘a display of power and self-aggrandisement of academics in the quest for the position of the Vice Chancellor of the newly established Songhai University’. If literature is a mirror of life, I leave the rest to readers on what fed the writer’s imagination in producing The Naked Gods. Indeed, the naked, blemished gods of Ife descended from their pantheon to desecrate the academic walls of the Great Ife University last week.
Having been in the university system since 1978, I can with some authority comment on this gradual but sure descent into infamy, obsequiousness, and lust for power, especially in the appointment of principal officers in the universities. Juju, including burying live cows, fetish pots at junctions, and babalawos on campus have been part of the unhealthy game. It was the bloody fights that preceded second terms of VCs that made the government change tenures to a single five-year term. The VCs have become infinitely powerful, both administratively and in determining the future of the institutions. The average VC presides over funds’ disbursement at different levels. The fierce struggle for the position is not over who will do the utmost research or produce excellent students or attract funding to the university. It is about power. Power over their peers. Power over funds. Power to relate with the men in the corridors of power. And this is tragic. It is true that we have had and continue to have some excellent Vice Chancellors, men and women who run the system on Committee’s basis without trying to muscle their way against enemies, real or perceived. Such men are to be commended. We need more!
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Last week, the nation was shocked when videos of some persons dressed in fetish robes and carrying objects associated with ‘juju’ pranced about the premises of Obafemi Awolowo University to protest the emergence of a Vice Chancellor who they claim is not an indigene of Ife. How Chief Awolowo would have shed tears if he could see the nonsense that took place in an institution which he established following the egalitarian principles which still held sway in the 1960s! The people of Ibadan had also clamoured for an Ibadan indigene to be appointed Vice Chancellor of the national and international institution last year. The federal universities at Ilorin, Jos, and Benin among others are institutions which have cornered the Vice Chancellorship for indigenes of the community which hosts the university. This is a disgrace. Shame to academics who champion the ethnic card in appointing persons to office that require academic and research competences. The federal universities are in cities. But the ethnic groups which claim ownership of the cities under consideration do NOT own the universities.
Because the university is a place where truth, honesty, ideals, and learning are upheld, ought to be upheld, this town-gown incestuous relationship and influence is dangerous to the survival of university education. Often, when ASUU highlights the challenges of the educational system in the public space, it ignores the internal problems of the universities. If ethnicity becomes the most important factor for appointment to academic positions as we are told currently happens in some universities, then our universities are in trouble. The university idea accommodates all shades of competent persons irrespective of their beliefs, religion, orientation, and racial/ethnic background. In some universities except one is an indigene they cannot act as Head of Department despite being the most senior academic. This dangerous nonsense happened when Abia and Imo States were split and people from the other side could not enjoy the full benefits of the system! When Ekiti State was created out of Ondo State, academics of Ondo extraction were virtually thrown out of the campus!
While the charade at Ife was playing out, news came that one Dr. Toyin Tofade, obviously a Nigerian of Yoruba ancestry, will from July 1, 2022, become the first Black woman to serve as president of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS), US, in the college’s 141-year history. Toyin, it is interesting to observe, took her first degree from Obafemi Awolowo University! A Nigerian who had her initial studies in Nigeria can head an institution in America, yet Ife indigenes and their counterparts in some other universities are clamouring for indigenous Vice Chancellors! Shame on such ethnic jingoists.
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Only academics can restore sanity to the university system in Nigeria. The universities in the big cities fare better than the provincial ones which seem to live like the ostrich. University of Lagos has a good mix in employment. Traditionally, University of Lagos has a Deputy Vice Chancellor among the three Deputy Vice Chancellors who is not Yoruba. Good for the image of the university. But can an Igbo man be appointed Vice Chancellor in Kano even if he spent all his years there? Will ethnic politics allow the emergence of a Deltan as VC of UNN? Can a Yoruba man be appointed Vice Chancellor in Makurdi? Can a non-Yoruba emerge as Vice Chancellor in Unilag? Can a northerner be VC in Delta State University? Can a Yoruba be appointed Vice Chancellor in Sokoto? Only the military governments achieved that through cross posting, a practice that was later jettisoned with the advent of democracy. These are disturbing questions that the universities need to interrogate and provide answers to if they must compete favourably in the global academy.
Finally, it is retrogressive to think ethnicity or ‘indigeneship’ in an academic institution where excellence should be the determinant of upward movement. The fetish monkeys at OAU should be fished out. The academics who encouraged them by default or design should be banned from heading the university. Except we remove the toga of ethnicity in running our universities, those centres of learning would remain clannish and glorified institutions of academic masturbation.
Prof. Eghagha writes from the English Department, University of Lagos
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Poisoning And Witchcraft Accusations In Africa
By Leo Igwe
Witchcraft accusation is a form of death sentence. The accused are often attacked and killed. As this case has illustrated, the accused poison themselves or are poisoned. Alleged witches are forced to drink poisonous concoctions, which lead to their death or health damage. The belief is that this concoction removes, or disables witchcraft powers. The concoction supposedly cleanses suspected witchcraft. The taking of this substance is an exoneration process to establish the guilt and innocence of the accused. Some local medicine men or women administer the concoctions. The recipe for preparing these concoctions is known in many communities. As in this case, alleged witches do not wait to be given the concoctions, they prepare and take the substance themselves.
In many cases, family members pressure the accused to take these substances, to cleanse themselves, to free and exonerate themselves. The belief is that if they took the concoction and died, then they were witches. The concoction could make them vomit, and the belief is that the vomiting helps expunge witchcraft particles and powers. Sometimes, the concoction makes suspected witches hallucinate and begin to make utterances often mistaken as confessions. Most often those forced to take this concoction are elderly women and men who can barely resist the process. Poor people in rural communities, widows, and aging persons living alone with limited social support are usually the target.
This form of witch-hunting is pervasive in the villages. It is difficult to know the number of alleged witches who poison themselves, or are poisoned each year. They would be in their tens of thousands because these poisonous concoctions form part of the witch-hunting accessories. In witch hunting, the motivation is to eliminate the suspected witches, to murder and get rid of them. Cases of alleged witches who were poisoned have been reported not only in Malawi but also in Nigeria, Liberia, and Gambia.
Self-esteem Of The Male Child, A Tool for Peaceful Marriage
By Hope Nwawolo
Self-esteem determines how much you value yourself and believe in your ability to succeed. If you feel confident in being yourself around others, then you likely have high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem is related to increased happiness, relationship satisfaction, and resilience in the face of adversity. Some men went through bullying in childhood or adolescence, grew into men with deflated self-esteem.
In more recent times, the society is veering off the mindset of training only the girl child. This is because the disturbing experiences of ladies, who were trained to be submissive to their untrained husbands, have changed the dynamics of child training. Eyes have opened to realize that if you train your girl child to be an angel in marriage, she might end up with a male child who grew into a monster in the same marriage because he was not trained.
Training has different dimensions and the common one being offered the male child is that of having a caring heart and respect for his wife in future. This is highly commendable but not all encompassing. One aspect of training that is silently being ignored is that of development of self-esteem in the male child.
Nowadays, the girl child is encouraged to look at herself as one who is wonderfully made and should not be trampled by anyone, particularly, the opposite sex. This is helping to build the confidence and self-esteem of many girls who can now stand their ground on who they want to be as they grow older. These girls grow into ladies with confidence, taking on different challenges they come across as they aspire to reach the zenith of their careers. Observably, many successful ladies are able to balance their careers with demands of the home, and succeed. Now, women have their voices and demand to be heard, instead of only being seen as it was the case in the past.
Unfortunately this new trend seems to be breeding a counter reaction in some men. There is the growing tendency for these men to become uncomfortable in the face of the obvious confidence of their wives. Unknowingly, some of the men sabotage their marriages because they fail to value themselves as persons to match their wives’ self-esteem. This is the crux of the article, and for the need to inculcate high self-esteem in the male child to balance the training of the girl child, if and when they come together for marriage, instead of seeing her as a threat because of her self-esteem.
Expectedly, a woman with dignity and high self-esteem, will stand out anywhere and anytime. This has nothing to do with pride and does not even give the woman the right to attempt to usurp authority from the man. In fact, such a woman may go an extra mile to clothe herself with humility, particularly, in the presence of her husband, at home or functions. Unfortunately, many men cannot just manage the success of their wives. They would rather see them as threats. Some expect the women to be seen and not heard, forgetting that silence in dignity can attract attention from those around. Of course, men with high self-esteem, are proud to have such women as their wives.
Furthermore, it is unnecessary, particularly in the present economic hardship where the woman is almost sharing responsibilities with the man. For such a woman with financial independence, the man must be ready to witness some temper flings. And if the general admonition to women is that they should study the men and know when to talk to them, the man should also understand that the woman might be on the wrong side of her temper, due to pressure at home or work, sometimes, rather than seeing her when she is in a bad mood, as insulting him, because of his low self-esteem.
A man with low-esteem, often finds it hard to believe that he is lovable or worthy of being respected, particularly, if he sees the woman as one who is independent to some extent and capable of taking care of herself, and sometimes, the children . Such mindset can suffocate a relationship, as it may become almost impossible to please him. Understandably, the behaviour may not even be reflective of his character but symptoms of an internal struggle, and can indeed be a cause for concern, if left unaddressed. Unfortunately, there are cases of such marriages that went sour.
However, this can be checked in adolescence or teenage years before it gets full-blown in adulthood, especially in marriage. It takes an intentional stance by parents to ensure regular self-expression by the male child, as a way of building his self-esteem to go through the rigours of life. He needs to understand that marriage should be that of partnership and not absolute subjugation of the woman, no matter her level in career and society. The man remains the head of the woman, and the home!
Nwawolo, PhD, writes via
Mohbad: When Love And Light Are Not Enough
By Toyin Falola
I did not want to write about Mohbad until a student of the University of Babcock contacted me, asking me to lend my voice to it. The seventeen-year-old student emailed me in sentences that come with anguish and pain. I was moved by them. Nothing I write can restore the damaged emotions of this teenager, but I am glad to run this errand. The purpose of old age is to restore the broken fabric of society.
A sea of shimmering lights dotting the darkness of an evening sky is not a common sight anywhere in the world. In Lagos, Nigeria, it holds even more significance. It seems only a few months since a peaceful demonstration of young Nigerians was interrupted at the Lekki Tollgate in October 2020. As though the tragedy that would follow was scripted, solemn protesters who held out candlelights in their numbers in memory of fallen comrades were dispersed by live rounds and coercive military actions.
This time around, on the evening of September 21, 2023, the collegiate crowd, candle lights, and stars you saw were not to mourn the youths who had fallen to SARS’ brute force. This was the candlelight procession in honour of Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, a young Afrobeat singer in his prime whose death and the events leading up to it have been controversial.
But these two nights have more than one thing in common. Just like in 2020, the concerned fans of the late music artiste had chosen Muri Okunola as their rendezvous, a park along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos, which is only a few minutes from the venue of the 2020 #EndSARS demonstration. Also, the candlelight procession featured youths, some with their placards with the inscription: “JusticeforMohbad,” bringing back memories from that fateful night. Just like three years ago, the candlelight procession for Mohbad ended with police action, the police dispersing “unruly protesters” off the scene. At least, the singular observation that some ill-trained, trigger-happy policemen did not kill Mohbad brings some solace. Nevertheless, murder is murder regardless of who pulls the trigger is an aphorism that admits very few exceptions.
At this point, one would imagine how a solemn event like a candlelight procession could have transformed into a protest that would warrant a dispersal of the “unruly crowd” by men of the Nigeria Police. In the defence of the Police Force, dispersing the procession was in the interest of ensuring the safety of lives and properties. For one thing, an exodus of young people with dread, tattoos, exuding palpable deviance is enough danger to the lives and properties in the surrounding communities; talk more of a rampant exodus of youths bearing weapons of mass destruction like naked fire and placards.
This is why the police had to think up their best initiative to nip the danger in the bud—quench the fire, whether candle lights or flickers of agitation. This is not unusual, especially in a country like ours where the primary security company has an unyielding aversion to demonstrations and an uncanny penchant for forceful responses to demonstrations, no matter how peaceful. Pardon me for this segue; it was necessary.
But will the young, towering late musician ever get justice? Would the enemies, frenemies, and evil conspirators he talked about before his death be brought to book? If anything, Ilerioluwa would take solace in the candlelight procession organized to send his soul home to his maker, as this symbolizes what he stood for. Shortly after announcing his departure from his former record label, Marlian Music, Mohbad announced his label titled “Imolenization.” In the Yoruba language, Imole means light or illumination. So, despite having had his light snuffed out in his prime, his soul would journey to the heavens buoyed on by an array of lights and love.
To many young Nigerians, Mohbad was a leading voice on the street. His songs, K.P.K., Feel Good, Peace, and Ronaldo
(https://www.google.com/search?q=K.P.K.%2C+Feel+Good%2C+Peace%2C+and+Ronaldo&rlz=1C5GCEM_enUS1077&oq=K.P.K.%2C+Feel+Good%2C+Peace%2C+and+Ronaldo&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIHCAEQIRigATIHCAIQIRigATIHCAMQIRigAdIBCDE4MDhqMGo3qAIAsAIA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:1c3f2f36,vid:wB9Vym8SWmU,st:0), are not merely hits but have become street anthems. For many whose lives revolved around the trenches and suburbs of Lagos, Mohbad was also an emblem of hope. Like most of his contemporaries, Mohbad’s discography showcases deviance, survival, internet fraud, high life, and the never-say-die hustling spirit of the average Nigerian youth.
Mohbad’s music career took a different turn when he joined his former record label, Marlian Music. On the back of the label’s popularity, Mohbad’s stock rose exponentially, even attaining stardom with two successful albums and an E.P. Without dwelling much on what may have gone wrong between the musical art and his label, it was clear that his departure was not well received. In most departures of this kind, bad blood and legal skirmishes are not uncommon.
However, when bad blood brews into assaults and unending threats to life, and parties take laws into their hands rather than ply the legal route, the assailing party would be said to have crossed the line. As the elders would say, a fight is already set in motion when the handshake goes beyond the elbow. Mohbad, upon leaving Marlian Music in 2022, premised his departure on the failure of the label management to remit his music royalties and other entitlements. Months later, the late musician had severally released materials on how his ex-boss, Afeez Fashola, had been after his life. This leads to the question, what more would tilt the suspicion of the police towards a suspect than the declaration of a deceased person before his death?
The events surrounding the death of Mohbad raise many questions. First, could there be any connection between the frenemies he lamented and his death? Why was his burial hurried, even by his kin? Are the police doing a good job of arresting and interrogating prime and remote suspects? Was the government of Lagos right to have exhumed his remains to conduct an autopsy? Going by the Coroner’s System Law of Lagos State, “a report of death shall be made to the office of the Coroner and be subject to post-mortem examination where there is reasonable cause to believe that the cause of death was violent, unnatural, or suspicious”.
Matter-of-factly, even in this cruel world, the death of a 27-year-old is presumably unnatural except where the circumstances reveal otherwise. In Mohbad’s case, the circumstances seem to agree that a post-mortem examination is more than necessary. It becomes even more suspicious when the allegations of hostility, threats to his life, trespass on his person, and unending battles, as lamented by the late musician, are put into context.
Admittedly, the law books teach that suspicion and subjective opinion are not a sufficient basis for proof of facts. Hence, the need for empirical examination will further drive us to the point of certainty, at least for the sake of the deceased, whose life may have been cut short by unnatural forces. Maybe this would also provide context or answers as to why his burial was hurried.
When an unnatural or suspicious death occurs, the police ordinarily conduct a post-mortem examination, interrogate close associates, and scour through correspondence, recent contacts, and perceived enemies. This information becomes even more relevant if the deceased claims to have been bullied, threatened, or attacked.
Mohbad’s death has provoked commentaries and opinions from different quarters. While some have been more cautious in pointing fingers, others have thrown caution to the wind and have demanded the arrest of individuals like Afeez Fashola and Samuel Balogun. One salient issue that must be addressed before this momentum dies down is the need to redefine lost values in light of the infiltration of foreign values. In foreign climes like the United States, it is not unusual for bad blood of this kind to brew into assassinations. A case in mind is that of Tupac Shakur, who was murdered exactly 27 years ago in Nevada, United States 1996. Six months later, Christopher Wallace, Notorious B.I.G., was murdered similarly.
While Mohbad may not have died from gun violence, his death was no less violent, given the circumstances that culminated in his untimely demise. When viewed in light of his industry, we begin to see the impact of foreign elements in the Nigerian music world. A look through the boards shows artists with criminal histories ranging from assault, internet fraud, marijuana abuse, and sexual violence to homicide. It would seem that Nigerian pop artists have not only taken music inspiration from the West but have also taught their dark penchant for vices.
The cause of death might have been speculative, and the range of agitation could also have been built on unsubstantiated emotional outbursts on circumstantial evidence, a little bit shy of mathematical accuracy. Even at that, they have established the undisputed need to chase the issue to the root and also raised a disturbing concern that a lot has been overlooked in our complacency. Unfortunately, the police, in their usual brutes, have dispersed away such voices that would keep them on their toes like in the EndSARS period.
It begs the question that the current continuous show of love and a thousand sessions of candlelight will not fill the societal lacuna that might have occasioned his death or brought about the ugly incidences that built momentum before it. An enabling system has nourished the powers that have pressured Mohbad for months before his death and have continuously caused the demise of many of our fallen heroes, even if they are social stimulators like Mohbad.
To the young Babcock student, let me close as an elder: When someone else dies with similar circumstances, the same love and light will fall along with them. We have seen it continuously in recent history. We have seen brutality on helpless individuals and the government being continuously inconsiderate, but we have not seen an end to the circle. The love and lights are insufficient, but the nation has been too sleepy to fill the void they could not cover. May your fate be different, and may you live past 100 years. Amen. I will come to your campus and speak with you in person, sharing my story of survival as a teenager in the bush.
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