By Toyin Falola
The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.- Kailash Satyarthi
At the Lagos State University on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, as the visiting lecturer to speak on “History and the Nation,” my mind was tasked with understanding the contextualization of the statement “God When?” The students at the event had screamed in amazement, “God When!?” when my citation was read to them, and this caught my attention. I pondered this for a while, trying to get the message in the two-word question. I mean, is there a moment in Nigeria and amongst the youth when one would not get to send the mind on an errand or assimilate new ideas?
There is often a retorted but sarcastic “God When?” among the youth when someone makes an achievement, gets a partner, builds a house, buys a car, or receives some awards. It comes out sarcastic, not as a sign of jealousy, but as an exhibition of the youth’s hope, aspirations, and wishes to do better for themselves and achieve their dreams. The expression is not only directed to fellow youths but also to people outside the age bracket who have done one or two things for themselves. This explains why I was a subject of the expression and why it got my mind engaged. The two words unleashed a thinking process.
Needless to say, youths are known for aspirations, hopes and wishes, and just as Kailash Satyarthi said in the quotation above, they are full of enthusiasm and idiosyncrasies capable of changing the face of things and turning society around. When this retort is said about the state of Nigeria, they are not just “catching cruise;” they are waiting for the time things will get better without the need to seek greener pasture overseas. “God When?” fits into a proper expression to ponder when the social issues and vices that face the country will end and when the people’s standard of living will not keep sinking into bottomless pits. These expectations and prayers are not just youth-based questions; the whole nation is still expecting a better Nigeria.
Are we waiting for Godot? The wait seems to be endless: the youth do not know when and neither do the rest of us, as there are no pointers to when this great change would occur, so waiting for a deux ex machina from the endless wonders of the Almighty looks like a hopeless journey through the abyss. Talking about Nigerian deplorable situations appears to be a difficult discussion that is easy to express. It has become too easy to discuss the state of Nigeria because new facts and occurrences erupt every hour to confirm how badly the nation has degenerated. God When?
A recent survey by Aljazeera on the costs of things compared to 2016 has shown a regrettable increase in prices in the country. Prices of basic commodities like rice, beef, and other essential goods have increased by more than 100%, and petroleum products have become luxuries. For an average African nation, agriculture and its products should not be on the list of expensive commodities, and as a nation blessed with crude oil, about a 250% increase in the price of petrol should not be the case. So, if the country’s solution is supposed to largely be in its resources, yet the nation is where it is today, the hope is rather considered dashed; thus, waiting for God to intervene might not be totally out of the question. We do not say this because we are religious, but because things seem not to be working, and a miracle is obviously needed. But should we continue to wait for Godot? God When?
Clearly, something must be done about the issues affecting the nation; otherwise, there will be so little to salvage. Unfortunately, with a failed government and corruption-stricken systems and institutions, it is nearly impossible to talk of a change any time soon. Therefore, if there will be a solution to the problems affecting the country, the solution must come from us. If the “when” we ask God must materialize, we would be the messengers of that reformation. It must be believed that the solutions to society’s problems are in the people’s hands.
Can a country be better than its people? Every society, including Nigeria, is what the citizens make of it. Even if the country has all the needed resources to develop it overnight, without the will and readiness of the people to change, there will be no development. The French Revolution of 1789 and every other revolution would not have occurred with the resources scattered around the society; the people made that happen. They decided to take charge of the situation, and as they took action then, we must now. While we all are responsible for effecting societal change, the onus is more on the youth to strive for a better Nigeria.
Aristotle’s wisdom has taught us that the “fate of empires depends on the education of the youth,” sine qua non, the society will be reeling in ignorance and wretchedness. Nigeria has fulfilled this prophecy and has continued to do so. If the youth are the major solution to Nigeria’s problems, yet the nation does not see the need to invest in their education and endeavour, the country is driving brakeless on the express of doom. If the youth of yesterday were educated, the elders of today would be well informed, and if the youths of today are educated, one can sleep with two eyes closed; however, Nigeria has wasted the opportunities to educate yesterday, and it is currently throwing away those of today. The link between illiteracy and insecurity has a lot to explain for the predominance of terrorism and insecurity, especially in the north. This was confirmed by the former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani Yerima, in February 2021.
For those who are literate or skilful, poverty and other factors lay ambush for them, draining their blood and tormenting their souls. Much should not be expected of immediate transformation for a country that ranks 26th among the poorest countries in the world. The frustration and hindrance caused by these torments have shown that there is little difference between a poor man and an ignoramus: both are hopeless and challenged. Unfortunately, many citizens are getting classified as either one or both. Currently, the World Bank states that about 40% of the Nigerian population is poor, and as of September 2021, there are at least 78 million Nigerians considered illiterates. As sad as it is to reiterate the obvious, Nigeria is on the path of perdition if nothing is done urgently. God When?
No one should tell us that we can no longer wait for Godot or sleep; instead of waiting for the “when” to arrive, we must act now and act fast. I have not lost faith in Nigeria because I believe in the assertions made by Kailash Satyarthi and Aristotle, and I also believe that both the youth and the old can impact the needed reformation, but it must follow a process. Nigerians, particularly the youth, must progress from the point of “s’oro s’oke” to taking specific actions.
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Nigeria has governmental and institutional problems. It is either the government officials do not understand how best to govern the country, or the entire institutions in the country frustrate their efforts. According to a ranking system where nations with similar rankings are regarded as one, Nigeria, Lebanon, and the Central African Republic ranked as the 154th least corrupt countries in the world, making them the 11th most corrupt countries in the world. Coupled with other problems, Nigeria throws punches at its citizens from all angles. A majority of the citizens have lost hope in the country and government. An example of this built momentum was the 2020 #EndSARS protest that showed the citizens’ anger and frustration, not only about police brutality but also about the failure of the entire system.
If we want to control our “God When?” or at least be certain about how soon the time will be, Nigerians must not stop criticizing the government and its policies but must increase their level of political participation. Out of a population of more than 200 million citizens, only 28,614,190 people voted in the 2019 general election. If the citizens want political control of the nation, the 2023 election must not be a repeat of what has been happening in time past. Citizens, especially the youth, must troop out in their numbers to cast their votes.
Aside from the low turnout of voters during general elections in Nigeria, the jamboree of Garri and selling their future for N5000 must be stopped. It is not the number of people who vote during an election that matters, but the percentage of people who vote for a particular person determines the winning vote. This factor is affected by recurring challenges of vote buying and snatching ballot boxes at polling units. If the citizens can voluntarily sell their votes for what-nots, we have shaken hands with poverty, corruption, bad governance, and all society’s fathomable and unfathomable problems from the start. We have said to ourselves that the suffering continues.
For development to occur in any nation, the citizens must act independently of the government. Considering the government’s antecedent in responding to the country’s challenges, expecting them to do anything will be counterproductive. Nigerians have proven to be brilliant in all they do. In April 2022, Yusuf Shamsudeen, a 30-year-old Kano State University of Science and Technology graduate, invented a water-powered stove. Recently, Hadi Usman, a 67-year-old man, repeated this technique. Nigerians worldwide have made many other discoveries, innovations, and ideas, which indicates that the country is not deprived of people with ideas and brilliant minds who can set the pace in technology, finance, and other sectors of society. Given the ineffectiveness of the Nigerian system, realizing their dreams and fulfilling their potential may be tough; however, the people, especially the youth, must keep developing and assisting themselves through NGOs and other sources that can finance their ideas.
Importantly, Nigerians cannot find a government-independent solution until they have accepted the ideas behind good citizenship. To face the common enemies of the country, every Nigerian must drop the cloaks of ethnicity, discrimination, and subscription to social vices. This will create an encouraging atmosphere for ideas, business, and developmental activities to thrive, and from there, we can look the government in the face for accountability and control.
As we ask “God When?” we must also understand that God has answered us and has provided us with all the resources we need to be great as individuals and collectively as a nation. The “when” is now and with us, but if we do not act fast and do what is right, then “when” is the new Godot.
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Abiodun Seeks US Partnership In Developing Critical Sectors
The Ogun State government has solicited for partnership with the United States of America in developing the critical sectors of the State’s economy.
The State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who stated this when he received the American Consul General to Nigeria, Mr. Will Stevens, who led a 5-man delegation on a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan Abeokuta on Wednesday, noted that the State considers the United States as a progressive partner in the areas of economy, good governance, security, climate change and human capital development around the world.
Governor Abiodun posited that the State apart from the sophistication of its people and their cognitive political culture, is unanimously and popularly adjudged as the New Jersey of Nigeria and the leading industrial hub in the West Africa Sub-region, hence the need to tap from the American experience to further its developmental stride.
The governor said his administration at inception in 2019, assembled a team made up of highly resourceful technocrats and cerebral policy architects and conceptualized a transformational philosophy coined ISEYA, which is an acronym for Infrastructural Development, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education and Human Capital Development, Youth Empowerment and lastly, Agriculture and Food Security.
He said: “Through this concept, we have strategically transformed the state with modern infrastructure, deliberate policy steps to attract businesses and moving the economy from being federal allocation-focused to becoming the state with the third largest Internally Generated Revenue in the country.
“The State’s strategic location as the primary gateway to Lagos State – the largest market with the busiest ports in Nigeria has contributed to its status as the Industrial Hub of Nigeria.
“Our State is home to one of the largest industrial zones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 8,000 hectares OPIC-owned Agbara Industrial Estate, which accommodates the Federal Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ), with forty-four (44) operational companies, factory tenants from across the world, with over 6,000 Nigerian employees and an estimated 100,000 metric tons of freight moving in and out daily.”
Prince Abiodun noted that in its quest to make Ogun State the first destination for investors in Nigeria, his administration is currently constructing an Agro Cargo International Airport at Iperu-Ilishan road in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State, adding that the project is strategically designed to create the needed infrastructure to boost the exportation of agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
“By its structure and business plan, the Cargo Airport remains a game-changer in our import and export promotion efforts, as it was specifically constructed to be an aerotropolis (Airport City) equipped with components such as a special agro-processing zone to process raw agricultural materials for exports, an international testing centre to certify that agro-produce complies with international standards before it is exported, and facility for passenger operations as well as facilities to receive parcels coming into Nigeria that are to be redistributed to other parts of the country.
“In addition to that, it is an important component of Ogun State’s transportation master plan expected not only to connect rail, road and water transportation but also to decongest the Lagos Airport,” the governor added.
Governor Abiodun appreciated the American government for her firm stance on democratic governance, specifically on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as supporting different reforms in the electoral process and taking an uncompromising position on electoral offenders.
In an interview after a closed-door meeting with the governor, the Consul General said their discussions centred on security and health.
He noted that health remains the number one investment in Nigeria as the US government is in the health sector to help Nigeria to reach the 95 95 95 goals of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.
“It is my job to promote US trade and investment here in certain parts of Nigeria. I had a great conversation with the governor about the incredible investment the US companies are already making in the state as well as opportunities for more increased US trade and investment.
“We also talked about the tax sector, I think there are incredible opportunities right now to find jobs and opportunities for Nigerian youths to participate in the tax sector.
“We’ve seen the explosion of growth and investment in that sector throughout Nigeria, particularly in the South West,” the Consul General added.
Toyin Falola And The October Harvest
By Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti
In the annals of academic and societal change, few luminaries shine as brightly as Professor Toyin Falola. As autumn leaves drifted in October, the literary world was astir from the changing seasons and the relentless enthusiasm of a septuagenarian scholar making waves across lecture halls and public platforms. In many cultures and traditions, October is a month of harvest – a time to reap the fruits of labour sown in prior months. Fittingly, for Professor Falola, this October truly lived up to that essence, bearing witness to an intellectual harvest that few could parallel.
Prof. Toyin Falola at the second Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History & International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria on August 10, 2022. Photo by “Gbile Oshadipe (2022) ©
In many ways, the achievements of this month were a microcosm of Falola’s broader career: a testament to the confluence of hard work, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to societal advancement.
Within 31 days, Falola graced the podium for 3 public lectures, imparted wisdom in 2 university lectures, and was the beacon of 3 convocation lectures. Each of these engagements wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; they were conduits for sparking change, challenging established norms, and inspiring the next generation. However, to truly grasp the magnitude of Falola’s October endeavours, one must delve deeper into the essence of the man himself. At an age when many of his peers are retreating into the tranquillity of retirement, Falola’s spirit remains undiminished, if not encouraged. It’s not just the number of lectures or the honorary doctorates he received – which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat – but the zeal with which he approaches each endeavour. His lectures, for instance, are not mere recitations of historical facts or academic theories. They are vibrant tapestries woven with threads of history, contemporary societal issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They challenge, they provoke, and most importantly, they inspire. But what drives a man of over 70 years to such relentless pursuit? To find the answer, one need not look further than his past works and the themes that permeate them. For Falola, academia isn’t a secluded ivory tower but a platform to engage with the real world. His research, extensive and varied as it is, always circles back to the core of societal problems. From the intricacies of Yoruba history to the broader strokes of African colonial and post-colonial narratives, Falola’s work sheds light on the issues that matter. These are issues that, in many ways, continue to shape societies today.
In this context, October wasn’t just another month in the calendar but a manifestation of Falola’s lifelong commitment to societal change. A promise that has seen him transcend the traditional confines of academia to engage with the broader public. His public lectures resonate with many audiences, often interspersed with anecdotes, real-life examples, and a touch of humour. From the eager university student to the curious layman, Falola’s words strike a chord, reminding everyone of the transformative power of knowledge and its role in sculpting a better future. In delving deeper into the man behind the October Harvest, one quickly realizes that Professor Falola’s achievements are not a product of overnight success but the culmination of decades of unwavering dedication. It’s a journey that’s seen him navigate the tumultuous waters of academia, societal challenges, and personal hurdles, emerging each time with a renewed sense of purpose. More than anything, this tenacity has been the cornerstone of his October endeavours and his broader career. One might wonder, what is the essence of these lectures and engagements? Why do they matter? The answer lies in the content and context of each meeting. Take, for instance, one of his public lectures from October. While the topic might have revolved around historical narratives, Falola deftly intertwined it with contemporary issues, drawing parallels and highlighting lessons. His ability to bridge the past with the present, to draw lessons from history and apply them to current challenges, is what sets him apart. In doing so, he educates and empowers his audience to view issues through a multifaceted lens, promoting critical thinking and proactive engagement.
Moreover, the venues of these lectures—from universities to public platforms—underscore his commitment to inclusive education. Universities, the traditional bastions of knowledge, are just one part of the equation for Falola. By stepping out and engaging with the broader public, he’s democratizing knowledge, making it accessible to all, irrespective of their academic or socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a move that challenges the status quo, emphasizing that learning shouldn’t be confined to ivory towers but should permeate every stratum of society. However, it’s not just the lectures that stood out in October. The two honorary doctorates he received are symbolic of his contributions to academia and society at large. Such accolades, while celebratory, are also reflective. They compel us to examine the body of work that merits such recognition. For Falola, it’s a vast tapestry of research, publications, mentorship, and public engagement. Each strand, be it a book, an article, or a lecture, is imbued with a purpose: to enlighten, challenge, and change. Yet, amidst all the accolades and achievements, what’s truly remarkable is Falola’s humility. Interact with him, and you’re not met with the airs of a celebrated academician but the warmth of a mentor, the curiosity of a lifelong learner, and the passion of a societal changemaker. This unique blend of excellence and humility makes his October Harvest not just an academic feat but a life lesson for many. It serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t just about personal milestones but about the impact one leaves on society and the legacy one creates for future generations.
Reflecting on the October Harvest and the man at its epicentre, we must contextualize Professor Falola’s achievements within a broader societal framework. At a time when the world grapples with myriad challenges – from socio-political upheavals to environmental crises – the role of intellectuals and academicians becomes ever more crucial. And Falola, with his October engagements and lifelong commitment, epitomizes the potential of scholarly intervention in driving societal change. But why is this important? In an era dominated by bite-sized information and fleeting trends, the depth and breadth of academic research provide a counterbalance. Falola’s lectures, rich in historical context and analytical depth, offer a respite from the cacophony of superficial narratives. They remind us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and shape the future. Every lecture and engagement is a clarion call for introspection, urging society to delve deeper, question more, and strive for a holistic understanding. This is not to say that academia is the sole bastion of truth or the only path to societal change. But scholars like Falola, who bridge the gap between the academic and public spheres, play a pivotal role in grounding discussions in research, evidence, and historical context. They serve as beacons, illuminating the path forward with the torch of knowledge.
Furthermore, Falola’s October engagements underscore the timeless essence of commitment and passion. His journey is a testament to perseverance, dedication, and lifelong learning in a world that often prioritizes instant gratification. It’s a narrative that resonates beyond the confines of academia, inspiring professionals, creatives, and changemakers across various fields. The underlying message? Age is but a number; passion and commitment are timeless. As we draw the curtains on the October Harvest, carrying forward the lessons it offers is essential. It’s a month that celebrates Professor Falola’s achievements, the ethos of scholarly engagement, and its potential impact on society. It’s a call to action for scholars, students, and the general public to engage, question, learn, and drive change.
In conclusion, Professor Toyin Falola’s October Harvest is more than a chronicle of a month’s achievements. It’s a celebration of a lifetime of dedication, a tribute to the transformative power of knowledge, and a reminder of the potential each one of us holds. As the leaves of October give way to the chill of November, the echoes of Falola’s lectures, the wisdom of his words, and the passion of his commitment continue to inspire, urging us all to sow the seeds of change, knowledge, and progress. For in every seed lies the promise of a harvest, and in every effort, the potential for impact.
Prof. Adeoti wrote from the Department of History & International Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria.
Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles
By Leo Igwe
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the government of Sychelles to keep charges linked to witchcraft beliefs out of politics in the country because they make no legal and political sense. This call became necessary following a report that the country’s main opposition leader, Peter Herminie has been charged with witchcraft. Charged with witchcraft in this 21st century? He was accused along with seven other persons including a Tanzanian. According to the report, Herminie and other persons have been charged with “possessing items intended for use in witchcraft, conspiracy to perform witchcraft and procuring services related to witchcraft”. It was stated that the name of this key politician was allegedly mentioned in a whatsapp message between a local and the person from Tanzania, who was arrested at the main international airport on September 21, 2023. The report says that “Items related to witchcraft, including stones, black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid, a collection of powders, and documents with strange language and “demonic and satanic” symbols” were found in the possession of this Tanzanian.
State prosecutors are of the notion that the documents might be some vandalised materials from the local churches. Mr. Herminie has denied the charges, and dismissed the allegation that items linked to witchcraft including bones, body parts, and objects associated with Christianity” were found in his office or in his possession.
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Sychelles to drop these charges, because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should has no place in 21st century politics in Sychelles.
Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artefacts, and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic?
Has the government the facility or expertise to prove beyond reasonable doubt what is witchcraft and what is not witchcraft, what is demonic or satanic and what is not? How will the government prosecute this case without flagrantly violating the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Sychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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