Grace Ego Omoni
Nigeria is scaling up its response to the scourge of COVID-19 by adopting the multisectoral approach that involves sectors of the society – the public, the private and communities. This is in a bid to reduce the transmission and death toll of coronavirus pandemic among the citizens. To forestall the tragedy of the COVID – 19 syndrome in Nigeria like other nations, they introduced the vaccine. The government at all levels has been making frantic efforts to enforce immunizing her citizens against this airborne disease from the grassroots to the highest stratum in the nation. What baffles one is the enthusiasm with which it is being implemented as well as the colossal amount of money being expended. People have asked several questions on issues of the effectiveness of this coronavirus vaccine in terms of prevention and control as well as its usefulness to the mental health of the people. Answers have been unsatisfactory in that the vaccine does not prevent the vaccinated from being infected by the disease neither does it stop the spread.
Why this interest in coronavirus when there are so many killer diseases like cancer, diabetics, high blood pressure, liver, heart and kidney problems killing people every day in this country? Is the government aware that there is a much more serious disease or pandemic that needs an urgent “ Vaccination” intervention for the citizens? Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the anti-social malaise in this country, which is more destructive? Which of these two affects development? Between COVID-19 and the uncountable anti-social activities such as corruption, arson, yahoo syndrome insecurity, illiteracy, underdevelopment, mindless killings, destruction of property, unstable governance, kidnapping, food scarcity, ritual murder, religious conflicts in this country, which has caused greater damage and death toll? Each passing day, reports of this evil are seen in our dailies and social media, yet, the government pays deaf ears to the cries of the poor masses but are much interested in coronavirus vaccination while a more serious anti-social malaise “vaccination” is needed urgently in this country.
The article will mirror the following: meaning of vaccination; the government and COVID-19; antisocial behaviours or activities; effects of social malaise on national development; prioritizing the eradication and prevention of social malaise in Nigeria.
What is vaccination? According to the World Health Organization, vaccination is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come in contact with them. It is the use of vaccines to prevent and control infectious disease outbreaks.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, Nigeria has been at the forefront providing a high level strategic national response to the disease. For instance, NCDC has launched a campaign on the control of COVID-19 with the theme: Take-Responsibility. The government of the day has been pumping the nation’s money into purchasing large quantities of vaccines and compelling people to be vaccinated. As at the 10th of November 2021, Nigeria has recorded a total of 2914 deaths as a result of COVID-19. Till date, the total number of reported cases is 212,829 out of which 204,335 cases were discharged. The reader needs to compare this with the 350,000 deaths reported as a result of insurgency in only three states of the federation.
According to the Nigerian Security Tracker as at the end of August 2021, insurgency directly resulted in the death of 35,000 in the North East while 314,000 died from indirect causes. Dear reader, from these statistics, between COVID-19 and insecurity which of them needs urgent intervention or vaccination? By vaccination in this write-up, I mean prevention and control. The government seems to be leaving the substance to pursue the shadow. People are being slaughtered every day in the six geopolitical zones before the eyes of the government, yet nothing is being done. The killers are now moving from house to house to kill and those in governance close their eyes and ears to these atrocities. Is COVID-19 more dangerous than this insecurity Nigerians are facing presently? What the citizens need is “vaccination” that will prevent and control the social malaise in the society!
Incidence of Anti- Social Activities and the Effects on Man and National Development:
It is no longer news that anti-social activities are the order of the day in today’s Nigerian society. These anti-social malaises are so numerous. These include corruption, banditry, insecurity, insurgency, terrorism, ritual murder, kidnapping, rape, religious conflicts, communal clash, armed robbery, embezzlement, political thugs, sexual harassment, cruelty, inhumanity of man to man, drug addiction and trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, inappropriate dressing, inappropriate sexual behaviour and a host of others. These have eaten so deep into the fabrics of the society, yet the government is complacent. The consequences of these malaises are the concern of well-meaning Nigerians. The nonchalant attitude of the rulers by showing no interest or concern can only accelerate the dwindling of the economy and development of this country. One needs to ask again, between COVID-19 and these social vices, which is more destructive to the nation? Why the silence over putting an end to or at least reducing these major causes of insecurity, fear, hunger, death, underdevelopment and the poor economy in the nation?
Where do we start from concerning the crumbling situation in this country and the negative culture of silence being exhibited by the so-called powers that be? The youth, the adult, the literate, illiterate, the haves and the havenots are all suffering because those in government are just there with no solutions to the predicaments of the masses. Even when suggestions are proffered, those in governance are never ready to implement. Unemployment, disunity, immortality, heinous crimes, yahoo syndrome, arson and cannibalism, religious fanatics and arrogant adherents are boasting with live videos that they are jihadists and are out to annihilate Christendom and infidels. The so-called powers that be refuse to do the needful to save the citizens but they are there making propaganda about COVID- 19 whereas Nigerians need a more urgent intervention which the writer has termed “Social Malaise Vaccination”.
The effects of anti-social activities cannot be overemphasized. The death toll since the activities of Boko Haram , killer Fulani herdsmen, yahoo plus syndrome, armed robbers, political thugs, religious bigots, community boundary and land defenders, drug-taking/ trafficking, human trafficking, different shades of violence, sexual, child and domestic abuse and a host of others cannot be quantified. Arsonists and other destructive elements have destroyed farmlands, government/ individual’s owned property, educational institutions, mosques and uncountable Christian worship centres. Millions are displaced with no place of abode not to talk of engaging in any ymeans of livelihood to keep body and soul together. The popular axiom is that education is the key to national development and the right of a nation’s citizens is no longer a priority to the government. Millions of school-age children and teens are out of school not because they do not want to but due to the inevitable situations the country is facing, unaddressed by different levels of government.
Ethnicity syndrome is another plague. So many people have lost their lives in this country as a result of ethnic conflicts and the death toll is far greater than this Coronavirus pandemic that is so much of a concern to the government! Again go through the length and breadth of this nation, East to West and North to South and see the deplorable state of the roads. The so-called Federal and State government roads are better to be described as gullies, dirty streams and death traps which are used most often by disgruntled elements ( kidnappers, armed robbers, rapists and murderers) to waylay, rob and kill their victims. These are never the priority of the people in government but are going about shouting COVID- 19 vaccination! The masses are in need of a new “vaccine” that will prevent and control the ugly situations in this nation. The populace is tired of this government who have failed to set their priorities right…
Get the writer right. The mental health of any nation is crucial and the COVID – 19 vaccination agenda is a welcome project. However, this government should as a matter of urgency pay greater attention to those areas beguiling the sanctity and safety of the people. There is a need for better and more proactive ways of eradicating, eliminating, controlling and preventing the incidence of the social malaises destroying the people, education, the economy, peace, national development and the unity of Nigeria! The Sexual Harassment Act Bill is commendable but what the country needs now is how to curb insecurity, insurgency, untimely deaths and destruction of lives and property.
Approaches to the Prevention and Eradication of Social Malaises.
Here are some suggestions for interventions in relation to the social malaises destroying and ravaging the nation:
1) Government should enhance the provision of Education and Literacy Programmes especially for the millions of children out of school. Children of internally displaced parents have the right to qualitative education. Therefore, schools with adequate educational facilities, qualified teachers competent enough to interpret and implement the curriculum should be posted to the schools. Old dilapidated school structures should be repaired and rehabilitated for conducive learning environment. Therefore, adequate fund which will not be squandered by greedy elements should be made available and supervised by credible officials.
2) Developmental efforts that focus on the stabilization of affected areas through a community level approach should be encouraged by the government. This is to boost the activities of the law enforcement agencies. For some time now, several state governments have been clamouring for state police to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police Force but the Federal Government has been dragging its feet as to its coming into practice. It is recommended that the community level approach has become inevitable and should be embraced for physical security purposes since the onslaught of these kidnappers, murderers, armed robbers and traffickers have become more deadly and are littered in every corner of the society.
3)Long-term development practices should be beefed up in our societies; building and revitalization of the local economy through the rehabilitation of essential infrastructures and basic service delivery must be encouraged. Market stalls, police stations, hospitals, schools, good roads especially those connecting the cities to the hinterland must be the interest of all levels of the government. International, non-governmental agencies as well as philanthropists need to partner with other stakeholders to fund and invest in lives of the citizens and national development.
4) There should be improvement in the anti-corruption campaign. Thus, institutions, professionals and non-governmental organizations can design and deliver robust programmes for the masses to discourage them from anti-social behaviours which are pushing the country into destruction. Seminars and workshops should be periodically organized by educational institutions, the police and the church for the implementation of effective reorientation programs.
5) There is no doubt that these anti-social activities do affect the mental health of the masses. It is thus recommended that health facilities, health orientation interventions such as seminars and health talks should be organized from time to time to intimate citizens on the hazards of engaging in such vices. This will help to stabilize their emotional and psychological imbalance being experienced as a result of the problems.
6) Government should find ways to improve on the poverty level of its citizens. Many graduates and able-bodied youths are left roaming about without employment or means of livelihood. These are energetic individuals who need to exercise not only their brains and their physical abilities. Failure to provide avenues to do these will invariably result in participation in anti social activities. Government, private organizations and individuals should make provisions for wealth creation by their citizens. Establishment of industries, farms and places for the youth to learn trades and become financially independent ought to be put in place where they can channel their energy.
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7) Promotion of peace education on the dangers of abduction, suicide bombing and attacks on innocent civilians targets, inter-communal violence, arson, sexual orientation, public sector corruption and gender identity is necessary and paramount for the nation’s citizens.
8) Government should be impartial in dealing with issues of insecurity. The culture of negative silence where things are deteriorating and giving more attention to a preferred ethnic or political group while others are being tortured and destroyed should not be welcomed by any government. Impartial treatment should be free and fair to all. Let equity be maintained If security is to be set right. The law enforcing agents should also show a high level of decorum in their duty posts. The menace of their activities has heightened the level of indiscipline, corruption and insecurity. Go to checkpoints and see the transactions going on there. People call these checkpoints “Police Station Markets”. Here the police extort money from passengers flagrantly without any iota of shame. Checks and balances should be put in place. Many who refuse to tango with this evil have been maimed, killed or arbitrarily locked up in police custody.
9)Freedom of Expression is one of our basic rights but this is fast becoming a farce. The gagging of the press, arresting and killing of innocent citizens because they are protesting against the ills in governance is demonic and would further plunge the nation into greater trouble. Allow freedom of expression. It is part of development.
10) Promulgation of laws against these social vices is most welcome. The Senate has just done one on Sexual Harassment which is commendable. There is a need for more of that.
11) The borders are too porous and it is obvious that millions of foreign nationals are part of Nigeria’s predicament. The security in this area must be beefed up.
Nigeria is under fire because of the problems of the social malaise. The government needs to set her priority right for this is of greater danger than COVID-19. Dear reader compare a death toll of 350,000 in only three states of the Federation to that of 2914 for the entire nation! Which of these two needs urgent attention? COVID-19 vaccination is good but the writer is advocating for “Social Malaise Vaccination”( practical interventions to prevent, control and eradicate the most dangerous “disease” plaguing present-day Nigeria.)
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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.
Soyinka And The Gbajue Metaphor
By Promise Adiele
Akin Akingbesote was my roommate at Q107 Eni-Njoku Hall, University of Lagos. Akin was in 200 level studying Mass Communication while I was in 100 level studying English. Given the large number of Igbo and Yoruba students on campus then, the general lingo was dominated by code-switching straddling pidgin English, Yoruba, Igbo and other forms of slang. My knowledge of Yoruba was poor, Akin’s knowledge of Igbo was abysmal. So, we struck a deal to teach each other our mother tongue at least, to retain a faint knowledge of all linguistic strategies and slang on campus. Akin, a good-natured guy from Ondo State, suggested that the best method would be for us to come up with expressions in the opposite language and bring them to the table while the other person interpreted and analysed them. I agreed. Every day, I came with different Yoruba expressions and Akin interpreted them. He also came with different Igbo expressions and I interpreted them. Both of us sometimes played pranks and were mischievous with the interpretations. However, we managed the situation and it was fun.
One day, I returned to campus from town and asked Akin to explain the meaning of lo toju eru e! I had seen the expression boldly written inside a bus. He explained that it means keep your load safe. Also, I asked him to explain the meaning of owo da! He said it means where is your money? I disagreed with Akin’s interpretation of owo da!. I argued that the bus conductors were wrong to use Owo da as where is your money? I told Akin that owo da could mean where is the money which I thought was arrogant and rude. I further argued that Owo da sounded like a thief demanding money from a helpless victim. Pay your transport fair in Yoruba should mean something else, more peaceful and respectful, something like san owo re. Akin laughed at me and said, “When they ask you owo da, don’t give them your money and see what will happen to you”. I told him that in Igbo, pay your money could be translated as kwuo ugwo gi, or nye m ego gi. Although kedu ego gi could be interpreted as pay your money, it didn’t quite capture the accurate linguistic potential of the expression.
One day, I returned to the room and asked Akin, “what is the meaning of gbajue”? He looked at me intently, smiled and asked, “Why do you want to know the meaning of gbajue , abi you don join them”? His response did not make meaning to me. “Akin, please tell me the meaning of gbajue”, I insisted. Well, it means 419, he laughed as he explained. I noticed that Akin was not serious with the gbajue lecture, so I decided to contact a course mate the next day, concluding that to get the best answer, I would approach an Igbo student who also spoke Yoruba fluently, as well as any Yoruba person. So I went to George Nkwocha, the ever-smiling, peacefully disposed guy in my class. Georgie, as we called him, gave me different meanings of gbajue depending on the context. At last, I concluded that gbajue means deception, dubiety, and all forms of criminal tendencies that are meant to mislead, confuse, and lead astray. End of story. Armed with my knowledge of gbajue, I moved on. No one would bamboozle me with the word again.
Having learned and understood the meaning of gbajue in school, I was therefore irked when Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka used it in faraway South Africa as a metaphor to describe the activities of Africa’s most avant-garde political group, Labour Party under the aegis of Obidient movement. According to Soyinka, the Labour Party employed gbajue tactics to befuddle Nigerians, claiming that they won the last presidential elections. The accomplished man of letters avowed that he “can categorically state that Labour Party did not win the election, they came third, not even second”. Let me quickly admit that I am not fit to untie Soyinka’s shoe lace. He is a great man revered and respected across the world. I teach Soyinka’s texts every year. But I am not one of his disciples. I subscribe to Femi Osofisan’s Brecht, Marxist, dialectical leaning more than Soyinka’s ritual cleansing, tragic world view illustrated through his appropriation of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron and the subterranean agent of self-examination. Soyinka is entitled to his explication of gbajue, although many people think he erred. Many people think he is gradually losing that invincible, iconoclastic portrait of his by consistently aligning with bourgeois, upper-class echelon against the masses. Many people also think that he is gradually eroding all the virtues and principles he stood and fought for as a young man. His “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” has morphed into an ideology with which he is appraised and found wanting because he continues to maintain grave silence in the face of tyranny pro max. Like Soyinka, let me also exercise my intellectual prerogative by offering a personal, surgical dismembering of gbajue, at least within Nigeria’s evanescing, socio-political environment.
Gbajue means to insidiously submit fake academic credentials to the electoral body, serve eight years in an executive capacity and recruit foot soldiers to drum support for you. It is the indoctrination of school children who grow up knowing and answering that someone was this and that, a position attained through deception and beguiling posturing for gain. Gbajue also includes benefitting from the commonwealth having attained a glorious political position riding at the back of fraudulent academic and genealogical claims. All the wealth amassed in that process, all the people who benefitted from that deception are indebted to the gbajue phenomenon and must be made to pay restitution.
Gbajue means when the electoral umpire promises to follow a particular pattern in an election and even goes ahead to publish these regulations in national dailies and the internet. Then, suddenly, like real gbajue-seared beings, make a complete turnaround and abandon the patterns and devices already scheduled for the elections. Then the electoral umpire reverts to its invidious, treacherous, double-dealing methods to conclude the election. The real gbajue element is when the people trooped out in millions based on the promises and assurance of the electoral umpire but only to be deceived, cheated, and abused.
Gbajue means when, during an election, the security apparatus in the country assures people to come out and vote, guaranteeing them ultimate protection and safety. Then, when the people came out, a particular ethnic group is harmed, maimed and dehumanized yet, the same security apparatus connives and looks away from these incidents even with incontrovertible video evidence. Gbajue is when some disoriented people make open threats towards an ethnic group and go on to carry out these threats while the government lapses into hypnotic paralysis only to use media outlets, radio, tv and newspaper to release sterile, hackneyed statements, “we are on top of the situation”.
Gbajue means when in a particular state in the South-South of the country, elections were openly rigged and electoral officers glaringly harassed and threatened by the governor. Yet security personnel looked away and the results were finally admitted by the national electoral body, blurred results. Gbajue is when the electoral umpire, while people of good conscience slept, announced the results of the presidential elections in the wee hours of the night. It is when a group of people representing the judiciary set aside loads of electoral malpractice evidence, chide and rebuke election petitioners as if the judiciary is an arm of the electoral body. Yet, gbajue is surely involved when Abuja is ingeniously stripped of its status as the federal capital territory but does not have a governor as a state, therefore, 25% votes there are inconsequential. Gbajue is big.
Gbajue is when a new government announces the removal of fuel subsidy upon assumption of office without any corresponding, well-thought-out plans to mitigate the excruciating effects of such a knee-jerk decision. Petrol now sells for N620. Pure horror. Gbajue is when a new government titillates the populace with a spurious student loan scheme which lacks any fundamental base and, therefore, crashes as soon as it is announced. Gbajue could be more. It is when a government inaugurates a falsehood industry primarily to hoodwink the people daily with unsubstantiated, misleading tales – UAE lifts visa ban on Nigeria, Mr President is the first to ring the NASDAQ bell, Mr President is the only African leader Biden accepted to meet after UNGA. Gbajue could also mean distributing five billion naira to the states for palliatives when the people received disgraceful, next-to-nothing food items, when, unexpectedly 1$ exchanges for 1,000 naira. Gbajue could be more.
The gbajue culture is maintained and desperately sustained by a coterie of desperate felons whose motives are glaringly tied to gain and the protection of the same. Thus, Nigeria is caught in a whirlwind of different gbajue metaphors. The result of the growth of gbajue in the land is the international embarrassment the country is currently facing regarding the inconsistent academic records of the number one chief executive officer in the land. But gbajue’s comeuppance could be summarized in these words by former US president Abraham Lincoln “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. I hope the majestic Kongi agrees with my definitions of gbajue.
Adiele, PhD, Mountain Top University.
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