Connect with us

Opinion

Festus Iyayi To ASUU: The Strike Next Time

Published

on

The Menace Of Bullying In Hostels – The Sylvester Oromoni Tragedy

By

Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Dear Comrades-in-the-Struggle, from the depths of my celestial heart, I bring you spirit-felt greetings from the sweetness of the nether world where I have been along with some other spi-patriots since I was accidented in 2013 while on a mission for our great union! I look back with pride on the role which I played in the struggle to better the lot of the Nigerian university system. I also commend ASUU national on the way they have kept the nation on its toes to save university education. For, without ASUU, strikes or no, universities would have been long dead like public secondary schools in Nigeria, fit only for children of the poor. But let a new spirit arise henceforth.

Sadly, not much has changed since I left suddenly eight years ago. What are undergraduates doing these days with their degrees? What is the content of the curriculum like these days? Do you guys prepare your wards for 21st century challenges? I will leave that topic for another day. By the way, we are good here as good as good can be in the celestial world.

READ ALSO: Reflections On 61 Years Of U.S.-Nigerian Engagement

I guess you think it strange that I am writing to you from the celestial world to discuss mundane matters of bread and butter which concern mere mortals on the other side of the realm. But up here, comrades like Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, Bamidele Aturu, Dimowo, the irrepressible Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and many others are worried about the state of things in the universities in our former homeland. Aturu says universities cannot be insulated from the rot in the larger Nigerian society. That’s why, he says, most Vice Chancellors have become like PDP/APC politicians! Indeed, we could barely hold back Fela last week when in fury he said he wanted to descend to your plane and shake the university system to its foundations!

All the time we were meeting to Xray education, Abacha was looking at us with ‘corner eye! We simply ignored him because he is still highly mischievous though he lacks the capacity to bully anybody. Awolowo sends his greetings, deeply pained by the decrepit state of schools in some part of the country. That day when some schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, the grand old man could not sleep a wink. He kept writing furiously all night to some fellow in Abuja. I wonder if the letter has dropped into the ugly ostentation that is Aso Rock. Azikiwe is in perpetual mourning over events in the southeast, especially in Anambra and Imo states! But our concerns are paralyzing, even for spirits who are immune to inertia! Precisely, we are worried about the strike which the insensitive federal government is goading you into all too soon!

How are things? Perhaps I should not ask you such a question. I can see from here all the shenanigans from Abuja. Of course, we are insulated from the decimating atrophy which governance has become in Nigeria. We are also worried about the cavalier attitude of government to the high level of killings and kidnappings in the land. Kaduna is killing field yet that little fellow in Government House keeps posturing about other less important matters. The state governors seem to be happily helpless, supine in erotic languidness in the aftermath of a surfeit of assorted cuisines, heaping all the blame on the distant federal government. Why can’t governors do something for the citizens who elected them? The federal government carries on with criminal apathy, detached from the emotional trauma in the country. Death has become so common that everyday persons are routinely dispatched to us with reckless abandon. If I were to rewrite my novel Violence, it would be a different story kettle!

READ ALSO: Wado City, Warri City, And The Abatian Proxies

As I hinted in the first paragraph of this letter, our eyes are currently on the universities. The conclusion here is that the strike next time should be on just three demands – STAFF WELFARE! STAFF WELFARE!! STAFF WELFARE!!! And when we say staff welfare, we do not refer to anything ambiguous or abstract as revitalization of universities, constitution of visitation panels, salary payment platform (UTAS or IPPIS), salary arrears or earned allowance, or increase in budgetary allocation to education. Our collective advice is that the take home pay of the university teacher should be the focus of the next strike. Demand One! Demand Two!! Demand Three!!! should be a new salary package for university teachers.

This is no time for idealistic nonsense. ASUU members are hungry and angry. They have suffered and endured enough. But for Cooperative Societies, the matter would have carried the face of a demented lion. ASUU members want a take-home pay that can take them home. Not the miserable change that they get and struggle to make extra money from sundry sources. So, when next you call out your members for a strike, a better salary package should be foremost on the demands’ list. If you leave that out, I will write another letter and direct them to ignore ASUU leadership. I’m serious. I am aware that the Professor Munzali Jibril Committee was set up last year to look at the FG-ASUU agreements which had led to incessant strikes in the last ten odd years. What has become of the new salary structure which was touted then? Why is that matter not in the public domain?

What is happening with ETF now TETFUND which we fought for? It has been hijacked by bureaucrats and the federal government uses it as a weapon of goodwill to good boys, dominated by a certain section of the country. Does ASUU have a say about its affairs? No. What about the hazard allowance that was painstakingly fought for?  Everybody in the university system now wants and gets hazard allowance. It is ridiculous though I agree that anybody who lives in Nigeria deserves a hazard allowance. The same applies to excess workload allowance which we gallantly fought for. Don’t stress earned allowances anymore. Any allowances which academics are entitled to should be built into the monthly take home.

READ ALSO: Murder Of Pastor Shuaibu: Will Justice Be Served?

Dear Comrades, do come off the high horse and meet your members at their point of need. Let the government fund and maintain its universities. Keep your members’ welfare in focus. No professor at bar should take home less than one million five hundred naira monthly. Not the miserable four hundred or four hundred and fifty thousand naira that a typical professor is insulted with monthly. Or a fresh PhD holder who goes home with one hundred and twenty thousand naira monthly! Teaching in the university should not be the equivalent of eternal poverty. Shine your eyes. You can only save the lives of academics; not the university system. It is partially because of the poor salary scale that every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to open a university. What do we need all those glorified secondary schools for which can hardly afford a decent library? If we must call a spade by its name, enough of the travesty that is called university education in Nigeria and the miserable salaries that hardworking academics are paid! A labourer deserves his wages!

We are well. You keep fit. I shall write again very soon. Till then remember as Marx said, ‘wages are determined through the antagonistic struggle between capitalist and worker. Victory goes necessarily to the capitalist. The capitalist can live longer without the worker than can the worker without the capitalist!

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Opinion

Four Kings And Three Nations In One Kingdom?: Warri City And The Wado-City Template For Equity, Justice And Fairness

Published

on

Four Kings And Three Nations In One Kingdom?: Warri City And The Wado-City Template For Equity, Justice And Fairness

  By

 John Uwa

 When the muse to write this essay came visiting, the plan was just to point to the counterproductivity of the presence of four kings in Warri without alluding to Chinua Achebe’s metaphor as I did in an earlier essay on the same subject. But how can one ignore the fictional metaphors of a man whose work provides an illuminating spectacle that alludes to territorial disquiet in Warri, and at the same, embodies a template for conflict resolution? In his communal novel, Arrow of God, Chinua Achebe mirrors the land dispute between two neighbouring communities—Umuaro and Okperi that claimed precious lives, the colonial politics of conflict resolution, divide-and-rule principle and indirect rule. Even more intriguing is the testimony of the Chief Priest of Ulu, named Ezeulu, who had to testify against his people before the colonial court hearing the case of the disputed land.

Situating the scenario of Achebe’s novel within the context of the colonial province of Warri, and the land disputes between the Urhobo of Okere, Agbassa and the Itsekiri, a certain controversial Chief, Dore Numa, comes to mind. Dore Numa was a British Warrant Chief from Benin River appointed as the Paramount Chief of Warri Province; like Ezeulu he became like a demigod who wields enormous power over the people of the colonial conurbation called Warri. The enormity of his power manifests in his leasing of such lands like Agbassa, Ogbe-Ijho, Ogidigben, Sapele, Oghara; not as an Itsekiri man or representative of the Olu of Itsekiri, since there was no king at the time in Itsekiri land, but as a warrant chief. This leasing would be the basis for the overlordship claims of the Itsekiri kingdom over Warri Province—a province so named by the colonial master, which extended to Ukwani land at the time. This arbitrary leasing of ancestral land would result in litigations in court where Dore Numa himself was Chief Judge. While Dore Numa was notorious for edging out the Urhobo on the ground of legal technicalities in the land cases he sat upon, he gave an amazing judgement that would alter the course of the history of the overlordship of Warri.

READ ALSO: Wado City, Warri City, And The Abatian Proxies

In his submission on the disputed Okere Urhobo land in 1927 Dore Numa, aggrieved by the ingratitude of his kinsmen for cases he fraudulently decided in their favour, held that “the Urhobos and Jikiris have been living together for centuries, without one paying rent to the other… and I cannot hold so now…” (Nikoro vs Okumagbe: 1927). The judgement implies that, whatever leases he made as Warrant Chief on behalf of the colonial masters, in the Urhobo enclave of Warri Province falls short of equity, justice and fairness; because such leases, as Warrant Chief, translate to robbing Peter to pay Paul.  And with just a little strategic thinking, even a man of average intellect could see that Dore Numa’s judgement, knowingly or unknowingly, sets a template for conflict resolution in Warri, and nullifies the whole idea of the overlordship of Warri by one ethnic group over the other. Time will fail me to dwell on the colonial history of the name ‘Warri’, how Warri Province changed to Delta Province, and how predatory names and titles emerged through some obnoxious political manoeuvrings to give the Itsekiri advantage over the Ijaw and Urhobo ethnicities in Warri; a tragic political move that has since triggered the ethnic disquiet in Warri till date.

The verifiable historical facts highlighted above are not intended to stir up the hornet’s nest, but to have a clear sense of history in the advocacy for peaceful coexistence between the ethnic nationalities occupying the ‘Warri space’. More so, when an idol, becomes too powerful and arrogant, we often remind him of the wood whence it was carved. Fortunately, the colonial era of overlordship has since been rendered redundant and repugnant by the 1979 constitution and Bendel State (now Edo and Delta State) Land Use Act which lodges the power to own all lands in a state in the hands of the governor. And with this residual power, the state government has had to set up different panels, commissions and bodies to proffer lasting solutions to the Warri crisis. The most progressive step made so far is the institutionalisation of four kings of equal status—the Orosuen Okere Urhobo, the Ovie of Agbassa, the Pere of Ogbi-Ijoh and the Olu of Warri (originally Olu of Itsekiri). The move appears to release some light and freshness into the hanging cloud of darkness that was enveloping the Warri city at the time. However, with the constant claim of ownership over Warri by the Itsekiri and the refusal of the other ethnicities to accept such an ambitious claim, this palliative move by the government would before long be interpreted as treating the symptoms rather than the disease. I say this because the move raises a fundamental question vital to the resolution of the Warri conflict; so, considering that there are four kings in Warri, can there be such a thing as ‘Warri kingdom”?

READ ALSO: Reflections On 61 Years Of U.S.-Nigerian Engagement

When I first asked the above question on my Facebook page sometime in April, even before seeing Wado City ‘fever’, I received all kinds of batching from my Itsekiri friends and apologists for asking such a question. While I understood their sentiments, I also knew that it is a question that appeals to the collective conception of peace in Warri. Even our children will ask “why are there four kings in a space where one ethnic group is claiming overlordship, and others are identifying their primordial boundaries and occupation?” if we truly want to prevent further disquiet and future crisis, then we must answer this fundamental question. The government must provide the political will to show the world that it is not applying the doctrine of divide and rule in the oil-rich city of Warri. Fortunately, Wado City provides the template for lasting peace by advocating for the naming of Urhobo enclave, no more no less, of Warri as Wado City. This would mean that the Itsekiri can keep the name Warri, even if it is a colonial coinage; the Ijaw can have their Ogbi-Ijoh, and the Urhobo can have their Wado City. And this is where Dr Ejiro Umuero, the mastermind behind the Wado City initiative should be celebrated for providing light even in thick darkness. Alternatively, the government can establish three Local Government Councils for each of the ethnic nationalities in Warri. And unless we are set out to promote the primitive narrative of the feudal system in Warri, the Wado City template provides a perfect solution to the present and future unity of the ancestral ethnicities in Warri City.

Finally, we often talk about pace in Warri, but we fail to understand that peace is an end in itself and not a means. If we continue to seek peace as an end, and not through the means, then we can only guarantee peace in the short run; and before long, we will be faced with begging questions from a new generation that can only relate with peace from the purview of equity, justice and fairness. Therefore, if we want lasting peace, then we must build it on a tripartite stand of justice, equity and fairness; once we can establish this tripartite stand, then peace will settle in very naturally. To that extent, if the Wado City proposal, which is basically about naming the Urhobo enclave of Warri as Wado City, falls within the ambit of equity, justice and fairness, as I would think it is, then the Delta State government should take one final step in the conflict resolution by adopting the Wado City template and simply gazetting the Urhobo space in Warri as Wado City.

John Uwa (uwa.jmo@gmail.com 08038815379)

Writes from the University of Lagos                             

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Opinion

The Menace Of Bullying In Hostels – The Sylvester Oromoni Tragedy

Published

on

The Menace Of Bullying In Hostels – The Sylvester Oromoni Tragedy

By

Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Anyone who went through secondary school hostel/boarding house life knows that often, some seniors or some of the bigger boys or girls often bully the juniors. Yes, girls bully the junior girls too. Bullying comes in the different forms- in form of depriving the junior ones of their own ‘provision’, extortion, psychological torture, and/or physical beating. There  used to be the formal bullying, where all Form One students in the hostel went through what was dubiously called ‘fagging. On that day, often at night, all the kids in Form One would be assembled in a hall and subjected to all forms of indignities, from bathing them with cold water in a cold weather, pouring food remnants on them, and beating them. After that ritual, they would now say ‘Your tail has been cut off.  Sometimes, the young and the vulnerable ones continue to be bullied till they get to a senior class or till their tormentors leave the school. I don’t remember now whether that was how the notion of school father started, a senior student who would be one’s protector.

Bullying does not always cause death. But death sometimes occurs. And covered up by the school authorities. The trauma of bullying often lasts forever. Sadly, bullying continues every year even when the hostel authorities try to put a stop to it. Bullies thrive on fear, the fear of their victim. Often the victims tragically believe that silence and cooperation would save them from the evil hands of their predators or oppressors or extortioners. Sadly, some bullies are also victims of previous trauma or bullying.

READ ALSO: Nembe Oil Spill: Let’s End This Affliction Now

The sad and tragic death of Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr) last week, a student of Dowen College Lekki Lagos has once again brought the menace of bullying to the fore. Dowen College is a ‘co-educational and boarding school with over twenty years record of excellence’, according to a statement on its website. But with the death and the spilled blood of Sylvester, I have no doubt that that claim to excellence is gone forever. When I watched the video of the poor boy moaning in what turned out to be the throes of death, I could not stop the tears in my eyes. I wept for the boy. I wept for his parents. No parent should lose a child; no parent should watch their child go through the circumstances that led to Sylvester’s death.

The father of the deceased Mr. Sylvester Oromoni’s narrative is a serious indictment of the management style of Dowen College. I will produce a summary of Mr. Oromoni’s narrative. According to him, the events which culminated in the painful death of Sylvester started in October when it came to light through the 12year old’s elder sister that some bullies wanted to know if he had seen the nakedness of his elder sister. The same boy who had bullied Sylvester into admitting that he had seen his sister’s nakedness reported to her that the latter claimed to have seen her nakedness. This ought to have been a strong alarm bell for all involved. Then a week before the calamity, a call from the school summoned the father to Lagos from his Warri home because, according to the school, his son fell while playing football and was sick. Mr. Oromoni took his son home for special care. At death point Sylvester revealed that he did not play football and could not have sustained any injury while playing football. He then narrated how he was tortured and beaten up by five senior boys because he refused to join their cult. He named the murderers as Benjamin Favour, Anselm Temile, and Michael Kasamu. Tragic. Wicked.

The school Principal Mrs. Adebisi Layiwola issued a statement and stated among other things that ‘we immediately commenced investigations and invited the students allegedly mentioned for an interview. His guardian was also present during the interviews, which revealed that nothing of such happened’. The State government through the Ministry of Education has responded by shutting down Dowen College till further notice. Obviously, the school did not do a thorough investigation and the State Ministry of Education headed by a former school Principal, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo must have smelt a rat. Sylvester Oromoni was killed while pursuing the harmless dream of educating himself in an expensive private school in Lagos. WHO KILLED SYLVESTER OROMONI JUNIOR? The public demands an answer. The family demands an answer. Every parent who watched the video or who has heard the story demands an answer to all the questions. What transpired in the hostel that night that made Sylvester ill? Have the boys whose names were mentioned been invited by the police? Would there by high-powered connections to try and kill the case? The blood of Sylvester demands justice. May Heaven visit anyone who tries to kill the case with raging fury!

READ ALSO: Nigeria As A Movie

I have shed tears for Sylvester. I didn’t know him. I don’t know his father. I have connected with the story as a father, grandfather, and a human being. He could have been anybody’s child, anybody’s nephew or cousin or grandson. A grieving mother told me after reading the story that she would not allow her only daughter go to the boarding house!

Schools need to do more on stopping bullying and molestation. As we write, bullying is ongoing in some schools. It is not only students in the hostel that are bullied. Day students are also exposed to bullying. Does your child look sad every time he returns from school? Does he look thin? Does he refuse to eat? Have nightmares? Listen to your child. Insist. If a child as much as suggests that they should be taken to another school, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY UNTIL YOU FIND THE TRUTH EVEN IF THE CHILD SAYS NEVER MIND DADDY!

Schools need to do more to protect kids in their custody. There is need for intelligence gathering in schools, both at night and in the day. As Senior Prefect of Baptist High School Port Harcourt in the late 70s, I had some junior students who fed me information routinely. I protected their identity. Let there be a specially selected teacher or teachers who all exploited students can confide in. My mental health NGO Mind and Soul Helpers Initiative (MASHI) once visited some schools to educate them on mental health. When it was question time, we received a few innocuous questions. But from the notes they sent anonymously, a postgraduate student could do a project on the trauma which some of our children go through while going through secondary education.

All reports/complaints by our children, wards must be taken seriously by parents, guardians, and school management. Managers of schools should realise that the life of one student is more important than the reputation of the school. As parents in loco, Heaven will ask them to account for the death of any child who dies in their care!

Finally, I commiserate with the Oromonis. Sylvester was a hero, a strong character for refusing to join a cult despite threats and intimidation. His death must not be in vain. There must be justice to reassure victims of bullying that all bullies will ultimately face the law. If it is true that the culprits have been flown abroad by their parents, such parents must be compelled with the force of law to produce them for proper interrogation and punishment if found culpable. Shutting down the school should be temporary because the careers of innocent children in the school are in jeopardy. Open the school and punish the guilty.

READ ALSO: NADECO’S Under-ground And Open-ground Patriots (1)

What words can one tell the Oromonis that could reduce the trauma of a painful but avoidable death? No words! No words! No words!  Yet, condolences we have, and condolences we must give. I hope to meet the parents personally and let them know that we all stand by them in their moment of grief.

Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Opinion

NADECO’S Under-ground And Open-ground Patriots (1)

Published

on

NADECO’S Under-ground And Open-ground Patriots (1)

By

Tony Afejuku

As I write this, I look forward to the day, the beautiful day, the historic day and historic time and historic prospect which we shall hail with fitness and firm firmness of joyful coo of patriotic liberty of NADECO and of poetry as conceived by the originators and all sincere joiners of the movement. Now why am I still dwelling on the subject I sincerely meant not to hurl furthermore into the magnificent river of our public opinion after the hint I gave last Friday? Several communications, verbal and written, I got have compelled me to say one or two or three or four things I deliberately allowed my reticence to keep in check. But rather than the full consciousness of my pen to do so, I am yielding for now the column to two readers from across the Atlantic.

Before I do so, however, let me divulge this pertinent information. It was the late Chief Michael Imoudu our country’s universally acknowledged foremost Labour Leader, who asked MKO Abiola to go to Comrade Jonathan Ihonde to request him to plead his case and cause before Chief Tony Enahoro (and other patriots awaiting the historic opportunity we are still waiting to hail). The late Festus Iyayi also played his own dazzlingly revolutionary part as an under-ground patriot of the movement. The late Abubakar Rimi and Balarabe Musa (both of the Aminu Kano school of politics) were top guns who similarly played their parts of positive dialectical patriotism in the Nigerian project and vision as conceived by the original NADECO.

READ ALSO: NADECO’s Bliss That’s No More

As is well known, both of them were respective governors of Kano and Kaduna States under Aminu Kano’s People Redemption Party (PRP). Zamani Lekwot, an ex-military governor of Rivers State, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, the late General MusaYar’Adua, Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe and several others were lights of the movement. And I must underscore this point: M.K.O. Abiola became an authentic comrade who sacrificed his life for the NADECO cause – meaning that created situations can always alienate one from a reactionary pattern of life and turn him or her in the richest moments of his or her life to be a patriotic rebel and revolutionary. MKO Abiola’s open rejection by his former fellow reactionaries turned him into a comrade and rebel positively in the house of patriotic thunder.

Let me now open the minds of some NADECOists still on voluntarily patriotic exile.

“Good day, my dear Brother. Your piece on NADECO resuscitates memories of past opportunities and possibilities. NADECO was, as you correctly observed, a movement.  But it was a movement of a special type peopled mostly by several left-wing leaning political activists. The intent in certain constituencies was for NADECO to metamorphose into a political party housing the Awoists and the talakawas of Aminu Kano, etc., into a new progressive entity.  As is known in Political Science, a political party is a party when it survives its leader. Unfortunately, after the demise of Chief Obafemi Awolowo on May 9, 1987 (you and I stopped at Ikenne to pay our last respects to him on our way to Ibadan to watch Flash Flamingoes versus Leventis), his political party began to disintegrate systematically.

“ ‘Pro-democracy’ is an elastic conglomerate of competing ideological prisms. I recall meeting with Chief Tony Enahoro and Mr. Mike Ehimah in his hotel in Hull (now Gatineau) across the River Ottawa from the city of Ottawa. I accepted the invitation to accompany him to the Canadian House of Commons where he addressed members of Parliament on the atrocities of the Abacha regime. Several NADECO stalwarts, including Senators Cornelius Adebayo and Femi Ojudu, sought refuge in Canada during this period.

“That NADECO was conceived as a movement to restore the victory of MKO at the June 1993 Presidential Elections fostered an internal contradiction of political philosophies. Thus, NADECO was born prematurely by the need to honour the results of June 12 and not to propagate the ideals of left-wing or progressive politics epitomized by Awolowo. This, in my view, explained why Chief Tony Enahoro got involved in NADECO.

Viewed from this perspective, therefore, NADECO was a consortium of anti-military and pro-democracy activists. Chief Enahoro’s decision to establish the Movement for National Reform (MNR) was a product of the internal ideological contradictions in NADECO.”

READ ALSO: Nembe Oil Spill: Let’s End This Affliction Now

These are pleasant words on NADECO that any investigator or researcher on the movement will or may find intelligently and persuasively instructive. They are theoretically and critically honey words – “sweet to the taste” and good for the well-being of all who want this country to always be blessed with the odour of all genuine activists and patriots like wine that sparkles.

Professor Igho Natufe’s words as quoted at length above are those of one under-ground NADECO patriot and good weigher of the movement’s weighable divinable morning and midnight dreams. And be it known that Professor Igho Natufe is a first-rate Political Scientist and a staunch Awoist. He has been under-ground in exile for centuries. Pardon my hyperbole. We share the same outlook about your country my country our country. But I have always insisted that I will never go on exile.

The words of another NADECO exile are particularly intriguing.

To be continued.

 Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: