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Nigeria And The Multiplication Of Chaos



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola


Toyin Falola

Though the common assertion that “we live in unprecedented times” may be ambiguous, it has come to have a definite meaning for Nigerians in recent times. And no, the statement is not synonymous with the attainment of some scientific breakthrough or any positive achievement; rather it has come to be associated with a period of unprecedented chaos, pain and uncertainty in the nation. With us, in the last decade or so, everyday seems to be like a step further down into chaos. Public universities are closed with no real commitment from the government to have them open again anytime soon. Elections are coming! The lights are on today and who knows what tomorrow may bring. It could be long queues at the filling stations, or another one hundred naira on the dollar. But maybe we shouldn’t care much about the inflation, the rising cost of everything, especially if we can go about our day, minding our businesses without fear of being whisked away by unknown gunmen or even known ones in black uniforms for frivolous charges. Did anyone say twenty naira?

It is far from funny, this life we live as Nigerians. About forty-eight hours ago, on 28/3/2022, our day was ruined by some terrible news from Kaduna, and no, not the attempt by unknown gunmen on the plane bound for Lagos. That was about a week ago—old news, considering Nigeria’s standards. I am referring to the train attack, which according to the BBC, claimed the lives of no less than seven people, with twenty-two more injured and an unknown number kidnapped. Yes, an unknown number. Because, apparently the train-station cannot produce a passenger manifest, if you can believe it! If the attackers were unknown and the victims cannot be identified, then what do we know? You might wonder.

Well, it is common knowledge that the Abuja-Kaduna Road has been an active theatre of kidnapping and banditry for a number of years now, the reason a lot of passengers—including some elements of the high and mighty—have opted to use the train as a safer option. This transfer of traffic to the train route was sure to attract the attention of the nefarious elements involved in this dastardly act of kidnap for ransom and murder. The passengers knew this and so did the government, at least that was what most people thought, especially after two other relatively unsuccessful attempts. So, why were no pre-emptive measures taken, even after the current lacklustre, “rubber-stamp”senate had allegedly called on the federal government to beef up security along that axis?

READ ALSO: Communique Issued  At The End Of The Presentation Of Understanding Modern Nigeria

Before we go about cracking our heads trying to understand why the current leadership of Nigeria is so careless—to put it nicely—about its duties, let’s carry out some deductions from what we’ve observed so far about its handling of terrorists. To those who might not be aware, the Nigerian government is one of the first anywhere to release terrorists back into society—in the midst of an active terrorism crisis—with claims that the criminals have repented and been rehabilitated! Well, as citizens, who are we to doubt our government when it says it has rehabilitated terrorists, when, under its watch, the national petroleum management body (NNPC) sold adulterated fuel to Nigerians! After all, where were you when a sitting governor, somewhere in the north, climbed a podium to take smiling photos with leaders of bandit groups with whom he alleged his government had reached an agreement, only for him to turn around about a year or more later to publicly lament his decision to trust them. Certainly, you heard of the one in Kaduna who said he paid terrorists an undisclosed sum to desist from attacking the people of southern Kaduna. Does it not make you wonder then, why a government that can be so reasonable with the handling of murdering bandits be so violent with youths protesting the injustices of the police? If these issues do not quiz you, then you won’t be surprised either with the fact that security agents were not stationed at intervals along the train route to deter attacks, or carry out reconnaissance so as to be able to warn of impending attacks and save lives.

No doubt, the frequency of these attacks threatens to numb the public to the pain of their victims–fellow citizens. Many do their best to put it out of their minds and go about their day as normally as they can, even if it is there on the news, every day, in constant rotation. What can we do? This is the unspoken question, especially if those who tried to call attention to police brutality were shot down by the army while the government was more interested in proving there were no casualties than it was in finding out who gave the order to fire live ammunition on unarmed protesters expressing a civil right. Have the people simply lost their will to fight for Nigeria, or has it been beaten out of them by poverty, hunger, and systemic violence? One thing remains sacrosanct: the government must be held to account, especially where it is clearly failing to live up to its duties, which includes securing the lives and property of citizens.

READ ALSO: Ibadan: My City of Fame – Toyin Falola

Now if the courts and the national assembly cannot deliver their mandate to provide equity and accountability, then the citizens’ only recourse are the polls. General elections are around the corner. And, as it is the tradition every four years, Nigerians will once again choose from a list of candidates to build on the legacy—more like fix the problems —left behind by the exiting leadership. But as we all know, a forty-million-naira ticket for a chance to serve your country will not fetch you the best intentions. So, citizens are convinced that the choice is in finding the lesser evil. But in the course of selecting this “lesser evil,” they also have to navigate through a tendency that has always stood in the way of Nigeria and the hope of a competent leader, and that is the tendency for people to vote their region, religion, or ethnicity. And if, by chance, the consensus “lesser evil” emerges from the ethnicity or religion with the highest voting power, there is still the question of the umpire colluding with the incumbent or the highest bidder to influence election outcomes. So where do citizens turn for competent leadership, even as they face a daily threat of being the victims of kidnaping, banditry, or insurgency after surviving inflation, scarcity, and hunger?

Where do Nigerians find succour? Maybe we have not prayed enough, or God has simply decided to ignore us for our hypocrisy of praying and having faith without working to support it. Maybe it is a thing of luck and we have just been unlucky, and our luck might soon turn for the better. But just before we make our appeal at the altar of luck, we must find out how many well-off nations built their foundations on such rationale. We look to China—not the usual suspect America celebrated as the ideal success story—which is, in some ways, similar to Nigeria. As a nation—with an “intimidating” population such as Nigeria’s—China, in less than a century, has been able to turn its fortunes around to a position where it is the biggest lender to Africa. Yes, it might not be as culturally diverse as Nigeria and share in all the challenges that come with that, or have a history of slavery and colonialism like ours. But the Chinese are not also known to shut the doors of their nation’s educational institutions for months on end, or have known looters of state treasury occupy public office in perpetuity, only changing titles intermittently to avoid infighting. Rather, they developed a vision, not just to become regional or continental giants, but also to stake their claim at the world table. And to achieve this, they invested in their population by equipping them with the scientific and technical knowledge to compete and excel at any level. Today, China has come a long way away from its title as the “sick man of Asia”.

READ ALSO: Is Nigeria On The Brink?

As we commiserate with the families of the victims of this dastardly attack and pray for the quick recovery of the injured and freedom for the kidnapped, we must also call out this government for failing to prevent what was an avoidable event. It is our duty as Nigerians to ensure that such occurrences become a thing of the past by speaking up after such attacks and finding a way to ensure that only the best of us end up in the pilot seat to steer this great nation to a destination of peace and progress. Until then, these deaths remain a stain on our collective humanity, especially if we do not contribute our individual quotas in a united effort to redeem Nigeria from the precipice of anarchy. We must halt this development of chaos immediately or lose our home forever!

 Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.


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Death At Dawn, Rebirth At Dusk 



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola




Twilight-zone, Afterlife, What-Mays, and Whatnots;

Questions that transcend mortal thoughts.

Uncertainties plucked by the hands of certainty

pondering life beyond the galaxy.


Philosophies, religions, and sciences; 

Ancient lenses to dissect and ponder.

Beliefs, opinions, and standpoints in their multiplicities;

Scalpels that open the heart of certain death

Blazing free the skins of uncertainty.


Science, a nobility I revere,

But it stammers answering to the afterlife.

For science is knowledge and knowledge from experience 

But the dead neither speak, nor take records.


Their journeys, ordeals, triumphs or woes?

No one bears witness.

But as dead, we must all be witnesses;

witnesses that testify not.

So, for now, we survive the knowledge of death.



On my Agbàlàgbà head lies my Ọ́kpụ́ Ágwụ́

With eagle feathers, rare and honorable

Adorning it for three scores, a decade, and some more days.

I had flipped my Kente given by the Gaa

And danced to crescendos from Gàngàn drums


I have been celebrated and celebrating 

For the miracles, I have worked with pen, paper, keyboard, and brain

I have taken the tales we tell in my village square beyond the Atlantic

Changed the songs that disdain us into appraisals

I have called my brothers not to point to our fathers’ house with their left hands


I have honed Africa and beyond

To answer the calls of the people’s need

I have reached the thinkable and done the unthinkable

So, I danced and keep dancing. 


Suddenly, I felt a touch on my host?

Electrifying my hand, leg, brain, and my whole

Telling me that my jur from the Dinka people awaits me.

That my hourglass tells of crossing the bar.


I thought I knew what it was like,

But my grasping convictions of approaching jur were perceptions

Just surviving the death of the knowledge of death

So, arms wide open ready to abound


What was there to fear?

No catacomb of secrets

No palm oil-drenched white garments

I have taken many to my gourmet

To feast and to see.


What was there not to fear?

With medicine men and women,

Syringes, lights, water, ECG, Oximeters, voices, and touches

Hovering around me like a sacred etutu

Making conversations with me and beyond


I was thrown into a pool of reminiscence

one leg and a part of me were already in the boat

It beckoned but I heard another. 


A loud voice like my mother’s.

Who takes a journey without locking his home?

Who takes the jur with unpatched palm fronds on his hut?

While the thunder rages up the sky?

The walls are broken and Balogun journeys?

So, I left the sea to clear the cobwebs and light up the night lamb.


The past few weeks have opened new lights of understanding to me. I now see the world from different hills and have helped to reach new resolutions. I know I have written about “transitioning to nothingness,” but my emphasis was on the “nothingness” with lesser attention on “transitioning.” I think we need to continue to ask questions. Philosophies, religion, sociology, psychology, science, and other ramifications are mere perceptions and we are uncertain. The transitioning occurs when death becomes an angel to hug not a beast to fear. We do not know what it entails but one must always endeavor to go with clean hands. 

My recovery from an illness may have offered me a fresh opportunity to shout some more, point to societal needs, and settle unfinished businesses. No, not those caused by my personal undoing, but rather those of the people who would be left unguided, and for matters untold about life, society, and individuals. I can say I have passed through the lessons of tantra transfiguration, to use an elegant phrase that I recently came across, to move from secular to sacred activism. No one survives death because of its finality, but when it seems that you did, it is a renewed quest, offering a new purpose.

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Professors On INEC’s Will (3)



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

The debate has progressed well so far. Our professors, whose strokes have centred on their fellow professor’s manned INEC have tried as best as they could not to confine their impressions solely to the prism of subjectivity. Even when their impressions seem to be subjective, they still make allowance for contrary views, for opposing views. This obviously gives clarity, objectivity and logic to the subject at hand. Is the will of INEC of a professor minder and mincer of words’ control the will of the people or of the masses? On whose side are the Professors who are as concerned as almost everybody is with what is going – or with what has gone on – primarily about our Presidential 2023 elections? Our Professors who are debating the subject constitute the courageous and prophetic Nigerian voices of our day. Their authentic and responsible thoughts are not restricted to the local or regional. They are also not confined to electoral duties and responsibilities expected of the umpire and the will that belongs elsewhere. The truth about the quality of leadership about our country and elsewhere is also told in the debate of the literati.

Professor (Mrs.) Razinatu Mohamed in her submission, in her salvo-cum-explosion actually, drew attention to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s explosive explosion in the presidency. If Professor Osinbajo had provided the right vice-presidential leadership there would not have been the need for him to explode as he did as per a viral video Professor Razinatu Mohamed referred her fellow debaters to. “What has he been doing in the eight years of their administration? Irritated my foot; he is complicit.” Not done, Professor Razinatu drew attention to the kind of leaders that Nigeria and Africa need: “Leaders that understand the rudiments of modern socio-economic development and systems; Leaders that understand the crux of requirements for economic growth. Leaders that could demonstrate to the rest of the world that just as the world needs Africa, African countries need the world in a symbiotic relationship and partnership context where assistance becomes a dual role…..” 

Razinata’s concern is clear. Nothing in Nigeria will climb out of its hollow hole. In fact, the will of the people will remain hollow so long as a hollow mincer and minder is in charge of its electoral affairs. 

Professor Da Sylva perhaps responds better to Professor Razinatu Mohamed’s algebraic stroke. “Unfortunately, Nigeria’s democracy is trapped in its primordial self-made ethnic and religious sentiments and so, standards, merit, competence and pedigrees are measured by their curious divides of religion and ethnic inclinations. Until we all come to realize that heavens help those who help themselves, Nigeria ain’t going no-where – meeen!” 

    But below is Professor Da Sylva’s sledge hammer response to Professor Razinatu Mohamed’s Osinbajo hammer blow:

“Prof Osinbajo’s office demands he does what he did. Besides, it shows maturity and spirit of sportsmanship on his part. Every loser in a game “healthily” contested, is naturally expected to do the same. The only difference which again shows Osinbajo’s magnanimity is that in this context, the contest under reference was neither healthy nor just. The umpire seemed compromised and merely worked to a prepared answer. Yet the gentleman did the needful. I guess, brothers and sisters, that we should put all that behind us, and work for our common good, and the wellbeing of the country, provided the mythical Aso cabal will let the President-elect be, and let the masses be, and as such, they should not create any cause for us to think otherwise, lest they provoke our sense of patriotism to take appropriate action! I guess that those were the reading or feelings of the dirty-minded Aso Villa cabal. People that kill with sword never wish that any folk should pass a sword over their heads, a wise saying goes in Yoruba. The human principalities simply suspected that should they allow PMB to give the VP the intended latitude, they might not be able to control him. I remember on his return from London, he commended the efforts of his VP while he was away. He said he would still continue acting while he would still have some more rest at home. The following day everything changed, PMB decided to take charge as the President. I suspected some back door politics was playing out. My co-debaters, quite naturally, you’ll agree with me that, it is not over-ambition or sheer opportunism as you might insinuate for any deputy in an office to aspire to the next higher office, in a legitimate manner, there is nothing really unusual about it, and it would amount to killing a mosquito with a sledge hammer, should Oshinbajo be crucified for that, if at all. And as for his wishing Buhari’s non-recovery, I think that, again, like my Sister R, is a little unkind and not fair to the gentleman who I know to be a servant of God. He knows as much as I do, by our true Christian orientation and Biblical injunctions that, should he ever wish Buhari’s death or wish him any form of misfortune in those trying periods of the President, God Almighty who we serve would deal mercilessly and ruthlessly with him. That is what Psalm 41:1-13 is all about. So rule that out, because it is not, and could never be in his character. I can vouch for him. Rather, I saw him in those times that he acted for his principal, as someone zealous and appreciative of the trust his principal invested in him, and as such he tried to do his very best to merit the trust and the opportunity! I know and I am also sure that this is what an IBK, or a Razinat, would have done too had they found themselves in a similar situation! It does not amount to wishing one’s principal any evil, not at all. Not everyone can be like Chief Obafemi Awolowo who resigned his position under Gowon when the regime became financially reckless shortly after the civil war. Awolowo also gave very profound argumentation to justify convincingly his actions. He also turned down some other appointments including the “49 Wise Men of the Constitution Drafting Committee.” Oshinbajo couldn’t have resigned, normally, and naturally his principal, PMB should have supported him as a capable successor, but again, the President’s ethnic and religious bigotry took the better part of the President. Besides, PMB’s mind was long poisoned against his VP, a clean job by the Aso Villa cabal. IBK, Lady R, until the faceless cabal is permanently silenced the wheel of Nigeria might continue to go round in a circle, and to nowhere in particular”.

And Professor IBK takes the floor: “Prof. DAO, yours is a powerfully convincing submission, at least in a large measure. Now I am willing to hold a slightly different opinion about Osinbajo. Yet, I cannot fathom why he chose to run against Tinubu, days or weeks after the latter had begun his campaign in the party primaries. There’s much we don’t know about why OSBJ decided to run against BAT. Nothing is wrong with that politically but a little problematic from an Ethical or, at least Moral, point of view. Osinbajo did a poor job of it and came out a distant 4th in the primaries. I think he didn’t read the situation correctly and was probably misled by some cabal of sorts. Either way Osinbajo made a politically fatal error in this regard. Perhaps he must have sensed, or was told, that BAT was not the anointed candidate, or that BAT would be crippled by some ill-health or a medical condition. I remember the party’s screening committee publicly recommending that only younger contestants would be recommended to the NWC or such. Clearly there was an attempt to sideline BAT. Whatever the explanation, Osinbajo make the error in his campaign of promising to be more Buhari than Buhari. A man despised by whole sections of the northern population, a man whose reputation for laziness and incompetence was on the ascendant. Anyway, all is now history and Osinbajo has not given a good account of himself in this particular case. Prof DAO, I think your concept of the Trickster should account for Osinbajo’s situation here. FULL DISCLOSURE: a very close family member of mine was drafted to head Osinbajo’s campaign effort in Kano. We discussed extensively about Osinbajo’s pledge to carry on with Buhari’s policies. There was bewilderment and shock within the members. A week later half of the membership resigned on account of Osinbajo’s increasing identification with Buhari’s policies. Many mistakenly thought that Osinbajo was Buhari’s anointed one! I could go on…”

Interestingly interesting and intriguingly intriguing, dear, dearly dear readers: this debate.

To be terminated by the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist next week after Professor Olu Obafemi’s summation of the debate he presided over.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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With Us, Not For US



Barrister Ijeoma Fynecountry

By Ijeoma Fynecountry

The 21st of March of every year is international day for the celebration of persons living with down syndrome. The advocacy and push for communal and political recognition of the basic fundamental rights for persons living with various types of disabilities, particularly intellectual disability, just as enjoyed by their peers who do not have any form of challenge – physical or intellectual has recorded a substantial success around the globe, especially in more developed climes. 

While the same cannot be said of the situation in Africa and Nigeria in particular, scanty breakthroughs have also been seen over the years, with the consistent and dogged efforts by some specialized organizations such as Down syndrome Foundation, Nigeria (DSFN).

The theme for this year’s celebration is “With us, Not for us”. This theme is apt particularly in the current era where the push for inclusion has taken a center stage in the campaign worldwide. While it is comforting to know that people, government and communities alike are now becoming more empathetic to the plight of persons living with disability, it is also necessary and most important that their rights as human beings deserving of not just empathy but actual concrete benefits accruable to other citizens without disability, is massively taken into consideration and actually provided for.

Therefore, it is not enough for the government to map out and create as in Lagos state and few other states, sections in the public schools to admit children or persons with intellectual disability, it is necessary to adequately equip these special schools with the needed “specialized” manpower, infrastructural and educational aids to attain the targeted educational goals for these persons. Likewise in the provision of better healthcare, economic, social needs of persons with disability etc.

Persons with intellectual disability do not just need to be specifically educated in accordance with his or her type of disability, but MUST also necessarily be able to aspire to or expect to be employed according to his or her learned ability. That way, a full right, befitting of a person, be him a person with disability or not, is assured. For what is the need of going through a learning process, acquiring a specialized knowledge about a craft or handiwork and eventually still not being given the opportunity of gaining employment as supposed, not due to lack of knowledge but for having a disability? No human being should be subjected to such. Our government should do better. The society at large should do better.

The theme for this year is enjoining all stakeholders – the government, communities, corporate organizations, religious bodies/organizations, individuals to open up their hearts, and recognize the very urgent and important need to help in the actualization of these basic human needs, rights of persons living with intellectual disability as we are all human. No human rights or needs should be prioritized over the other no matter the state of their health, mental and physical capacity. Stand with us by taking actual intentional steps towards uplifting and elevating the humanness of persons living with disability. It is not enough to say that you are for persons living with disability, your specific, intentional, targeted actions toward ensuring the practical applicability of these rights matters.

Fynecontryis a Lagos-based legal practitioner and the legal resource person for the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria.


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