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NYSC And Suicidal Proposition



Savannah State As A Priority


Emmanuel Onwubiko

To desire and strive to be of some service to the world, to aim at doing something which shall really increase the happiness and welfare and virtue of mankind—this is a choice which is possible for all of us and surely it is good heaven to sail for”.
Henry Van Dyke

Ian Stewart, a professor of mathematics at the University of Warmck, England, is the author of concept of modern mathematics;
Does God play Dice, flatterland, from here to infinity and Nature’s numbers.

He once wrote on number symbolism, cultural association, including religious, philosophic and aesthetic with various numbers.
Professor Stewart wrote: Humanity has had a love-hate relationship with numbers from the earliest times. Bones dating from perhaps 30,000 years ago show scratch marks that possibly represent the phases of the Moon.

The ancient Babylonians observed the movements of the planets, recorded them as numbers, and used them to predict eclipses and other astronomical phenomena. The priesthood of ancient Egypt used numbers to predict the flooding of the Nile.

Pythagoreanism, a cult of ancient Greece, believed that numbers were the basis of the entire universe, which ran on numerical harmony.

The Pythagoreans’ ideas were a mixture of prescience (the numerical features of musical sounds) and mysticism (3 is male, 4 is female, and 10 is the most perfect number). Numbers were associated with names for magical purposes: the biblical “number of the beast.”

Speaking about numbers and their symbolism brings us to the reality that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) came into being on 22nd May 1973, thus making it 48 years since it was established. As it is generally said that ‘a fool at 40 is a fool forever,” the NYSC however is one institution that has never suffered foolery but rather is like that  typical old wine whose taste is the sweetest.

An irony, however, is that in Nigeria with a lot of dysfunctional institutions messed up by those put in charge of them over time, the NYSC has gone through a lot of attacks from a variety of adversaries for different reasons. One of such attacks exploded exactly on the day that the NYSC turned 48 when it was leaked by the media that someone in the Federal House of Representatives had hatched a plot to destroy NYSC and bring its existence to an unceremonious end.

Immediately this sad piece of information became notorious, a wide variety of Nigerians from all walks of life, kicked against any contemplation to destroy NYSC by any means.

One of such groups that immediately rejected the proposal and described it as a national suicidal proposition is the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria(HURIWA).

In its reaction, it stated that: “President Muhammadu Buhari should jealously guide against any attempt from whatever quarters to tinker negatively with the National Youths Service Corp Scheme (NYSC). As far as most civil rights practitioners in Abuja are concerned, this government has made remarkable milestones in the youth sector. The consistent strides made by President Buhari to sustain the only legacy that reminds us of our national unity which is the NYSC, have become a beacon of hope for generations yet unborn. On no account should any negative force be permitted to succeed in scuttling the NYSC. What we expect is for all hands to be on deck to consolidate on the gains made by NYSC and to strengthen its operational capacity.”

With the above, HURIWA and its continental arm – Association of African Writers on Human and Peoples Rights (AFRIRIGHTS) has appealed to speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Senate President Ahmed Lawan to throw away the reported proposal though a Constitutional alteration bill to abolish the NYSC scheme as moved by a member of parliament.

The House of Representatives is said to be considering the discontinuation of the National Youth Service Corps scheme.

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alteration Bill, 2020, which is seeking to repeal the NYSC Act, is billed for the second reading. The sponsor, Mr Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal, listed the various reasons why the NYSC should be scrapped.

It read in part, “This bill seeks to repeal Section 315(5)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) on the following grounds:

“Incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism, ethnic violence; and incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country; public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths, thus relying heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed; due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.”

The military regime of General Yakubu Gowon had established the NYSC on May 22, 1973, under Decree No. 24 of 1973 as a way of reconciling and reintegrating Nigerians after the civil war between July 6, 1967 and January 15, 1970.
However, HURIWA has threatened mass action should this negative piece of legislation be carried beyond its current status.

“We are very hopeful that both speaker of parliament and the Senate President are proud products of the Noble NYSC scheme and should ensure that no stone is left unturned to stop forth with the retrogressive March to infamy which is what the proposal to end the NYSC Scheme represents.The tepid excuse of insecurity as reason for contemplating such a national suicidal move, does not hold water.”

READ ALSO: Move To Scrap NYSC Unpatriotic – HURIWA

The rights group described the NYSC scheme as the most viable bridge to national unity even as the group said these trying times of divisions called for the separation of the country by mostly younger citizens is even the best time to consolidate on the gains made by NYSC.

It is tragic for any rational being to even contemplate scrapping the only institution that unify the youths of all ethnicities.

“Can we once more remind the National Assembly that NYSC is meeting the legal obligations for which it was set up? Indeed NYSC is one institution that it helping to douse tension and check insecurity because it is such a watershed platform that keeps thousands of youths busy all year round.

The objectives of the National Youth Service Corps scheme are clearly spelt out in Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993 as follows:

“To inculcate discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves;

To raise the moral tone of the Nigerian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement;

To develop in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilisation in the national interest;

To enable Nigerian youths to acquire the spirit of self reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self employment;

To contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy;

To develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration;

To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups;

To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria;

The equitable distribution of members of the service corps and the effective utilisation of their skills in area of national needs ; That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in states other than their states of origin;

That such group of youths assigned to work together is as representative of Nigeria as far as possible;

That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of Nigeria;

That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences;

That members of the service corps are encouraged to seek at the end of their one-year national service, career employment all over Nigeria, thus promoting the free movement of labour;

That employers are induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ more readily and on a permanent basis, qualified Nigerians, irrespective of their states of origin.”

Luckily, the appointment of Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim, PhD, as the 18th Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in May 2019, couldn’t have come at a better time. He mounted the saddle when the scheme had become despondent with existential threats. His timely arrival has rejuvenated and repositioned the scheme and rekindled public interest in its relevance as originally conceived.

Until recently, there have been calls for the scrapping of the NYSC scheme. The arguments of the proponents centre on the position that the scheme has outlived its usefulness. The call for the scrapping of the NYSC reached a crescendo at a point, forcing the  Nigerian government to publicly announce, through the then Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalong, that it would not be swayed by agitations from some quarters to scrap the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

The NYSC was established in 1973 by the General Yakubu Gowon regime as a response to the disunity faced by the country following the Nigeria-Biafra Civil war. The purpose of the scheme is primarily to inculcate in Nigerian youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background. Necessarily therefore the benefits  and objectives are to enable Nigerian youths to acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment; to contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy and to develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration. All these noble values were well eroded by the time Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim took over.

Though the Federal Government had stated that it would not scrap the scheme then, without addressing the reasons that prompted and even justified the calls, the agitations against the scheme would have continued. Part of the measures taken by the Federal Government to revamp the scheme and restore public confidence was appointing Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim to head it and carry out comprehensive reforms. Within two years, the NYSC scheme has reemerged well rebranded after the rediscovery with the far-reaching reforms introduced by the intellectual soldier, administrator and reformer.

Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim is a typical  modern-day chief executive. They know how to keep abreast with changing times and often engage in what behavioural psychologists call organizational redesign, which was what the NYSC urgently needed before his assumption of office. Organizational redesign involves the integration of structure, processes, and people to support the implementation of strategy and therefore goes beyond the traditional tinkering with “lines and boxes.”

Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim knows that, today, when organizational redesign of a place matches its strategic intentions, everyone will be primed to execute and deliver them. He therefore focused on the workability of the NYSC’s structure, processes, and securing the buy-in of the workers and corps members in order to make his deep reforms possible.

READ ALSO: Reps Consider Scrapping NYSC Over Killing Of Corps’ Members, Others

As stated earlier, the National Youth Service Corps was founded to heal the wound that the Nigerian Civil War which lasted between 1967–1970 inflicted on the nation’s psyche. It was initiated to foster unity among Nigerians and to promote service to the nation. The conception and founding of the corps was essentially for unity.

In his inaugural address as the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy spoke his famous words, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This use of chiasmus can be seen even as a call to action for the citizens to do what is right for the greater good of America and Americans. The Gowon regime smarting from a debilitating civil war was determined to rouse Nigerian youths to the urgent task of nation building and national unity.

Despite its nobility,  after existing for more than forty years, some stakeholders began to call for the scrapping of the scheme due to its dwindling performance. Brig-Gen Shuaibu however has been able to prove that the nation cannot dismiss the gains of the NYSC scheme in integrating Nigerians and stands firmly, through his landmark star achievements, for the sustenance of the scheme to continue in its capacity-building of Nigeria citizens and as an indispensable aspect of integrating the nation’s over 250 ethnic groups and cultures.

To achieve the total turnaround of the scheme in such record time, this ‘philosopher king’ and soldier promptly came up with a five-point policy thrusts, namely:
·        Sustain effective utilisation of the potential of corps members for optimal benefit;
·        Strengthen existing collaborations with critical stakeholders;
·        Improve on the welfare and security of corps members and staff;
·        Pursue a technologically driven organisation to deepen effective service delivery;
·        Reinvigorate the NYSC Ventures and SAED in line with the NYSC Act for greater impact.

In his dogged pursuit of effective utilisation of the potential of corps members for optimal benefit; and strengthen existing collaborations with critical stakeholders  corps members are fully deployed to help the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for credible elections. The members of the scheme are reoriented to remain impartial, intellectually equipped to consolidate and extend the Nigerian democratic frontiers, which they have done credibly well since 2011.

Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim has ensured that corps members remain purveyor belt for development, behavioral change and nation – building and found in the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria where they are serving the nation in all the sectors of the economy.

They drive the economy through their unquantifiable contributions to the small and medium scale enterprises.

Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim has also ensured that corps members remain the major force in manpower supply in the education sector.

Apart from election duties, the corps members help in the administration of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam, where they see to the successful conduct of examinations. They have also augmented the dwindling number of teachers nationwide where the profession is seen as not lucrative. This is aside from the health sector, where the consultants are being harvested by foreign countries where they are paid heavily. Corps members are standing in the gap.

In a sense the scheme has ensured a reduction in unemployment. While in service, the government pays corps members a sum of N33,000 monthly as stipend. This is aside from the money being paid to some by the organization they work for. Though, this money is small in comparison to the service they are expected to render as graduates, it goes a long way to keep youths from societal vices by keeping them busy hence, the government spends less on security unlike when such doesn’t exist, the government will have to spend three times the money they are spending now on NYSC to combat crime.

As the Nigerian population is growing geometrically, the NYSC smothers the harm that usually befalls a population that’s not planned for by giving the Nigerian youths a respite and nurse them to discover themselves on time before they could think of going criminal.

Brig Gen Ibrahim has ensured that corps members continue to receive the  exposure as envisaged by the scheme. He ensures that corps members are posted to the states of the federation other than their own states of origin and exposed to the diversities and cultural differences that abound in the country in the promotion of unity and respect for other ethnic groups and cultures.

Other achievements of this exceptional leader as the Director General of the NYSC are: the production of an NYSC movie titled “A Call to Service” currently in its post-production. Apart from its entertainment value, the movie is being packaged as an enabler of a better understanding and healthy perception of the scheme by the general public.

The Director General has also established the NYSC National Cultural Troupe to provide an avenue  for corps members to hone their talents in drama and cultural dance, with the potential of shoring up the revenue base of the scheme through its activities when commercialized. This will add to the over two hundred and eighty million naira ( N280, 000,000.00) which the scheme has unprecedentedly paid into the national coffers under him as internally generated revenue for the first time in the annals of its history.

Corruption, which has been ravaging the nation’s public service, has also engaged the attention of the NYSC director general. His concern for a corruption-free Nigeria prompted him to organise a National Anti-Corruption Walk as the NYSC’s contributions to the fight against corruption. The programme involved thousands of corps members in the nationwide rally/road walk , which the scheme organised in collaboration with  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and carried out on 14th February, 2020. The director-general personally joined the corps members and officials in Kano State Secretariat for the rally, which was tagged “Nigerian Youths March Against Corruption.”

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a global socio-economic crisis, which could have more adversely affected the activities of the NYSC were it not for the creativity and ingenuity of the director general. He prompted corps members to rise patriotically to the challenge and they produced  non-pharmaceutical intervention materials such as face-mask, liquid soap, alcohol – based hand sanitisers and distributed them to the less privileged Nigerians round the country, gratis. This included  foot-operated water, liquid soap and hand sanitiser dispensers, which were fabricated by individual corps members in several states  aside from the scheme’s vigorous public enlightenment campaign against the deadly virus.

READ ALSO: Buhari Appoints New Chief Of Army Staff

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the NYSC under Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim pioneered the interfacing and abridging of the disruptive gaps caused by the COVID-19 imposed protocols by relying on ICT-mediated methods. Thus the NYSC director general was able to hold  virtual meetings with serving corps members, as well as NYSC state coordinators across the country, a practice that has continued and has helped the NYSC to improve on its service delivery and keep abreast with current realities and global best practices.

Over the years, the NYSC has been enmeshed in all manner of practices that are less than noble, which included age falsification. The chief executive introduced the inscription of date of birth on the Certificate of National Service and Exclusion Letter, beginning with the 2019 Batch “A” Corps Members and 2019 Batch “C” respectively in  an effective way of  checking the manipulation of date of birth by ineligible persons seeking mobilisation for the national service. Apart from helping in sanitizing the scheme, this measure also bears out in checkmating the falsification of records for employment, visa, and political appointments, among others.

Worthy of mention also is the Five-Year Strategic Development Plan for the scheme, review of the NYSC Composite  Policy Document and documentation of the activities of the scheme  that have all repositioned the scheme. Furthermore, the regained impetus of the scheme under Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim has led to the inclusion of the NYSC into the Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme and the Mambilla Hydro Power Project by the Federal Government. These inclusions are testimonials to the fresh impetus and recognition the scheme has gained its exceptional leader.

Welfare of corps members and staff is uppermost on the director general’s mind. The director general secured the approval of the review of the corps members monthly allowance from nineteen thousand, eight hundred naira ( N19800.00) to thirty-three thousand naira (N33,000.00), which made the elated director general and the honourable minister of youth and sports development and some representatives of corps members to pay a “Thank-you” visit to His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on 6th February, 2020 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The director general has also paid condolence and reassuring visits to the families of deceased and missing corps members in Plateau, Kaduna and Edo States as a mark of solidarity. Such gestures have increased the confidence of corps members and their families in the scheme, and have also engendered more zeal for patriotic service by the members of the corps.

Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim is an intellectual, an academic and an administrator who has risen to the status of an associate professor. Born 54 years ago, Ibrahim hails from Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. He attended the s University of Jos where he bagged  Bachelor’s and  Master’s Degrees in History (1989 and 1992 respectively). He later obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim capped his quest for higher certificates with a Ph.D. in History from the University of Abuja in 2007.

His appointments and postings in the army have also reflected his great academic attainments: The Institute of Army Education (Research Officer), where he researched and produced Nigerian Army Journals and Briefs for the Nigerian Army in particular, and the Military in general; NYSC (Military Assistant to the Director General) 1997-1999; Nigerian Defence Academy (2000-2004; National Defence College (Staff Officer I Military History 2004-2009; Headquarters Nigerian Army School of Education (Senior Instructor) 2009-2011; Commandant Command Secondary School, Suleja 2012-2014; Nigerian Defence Academy (Head of Department, History and War Studies), 2015-2018; and Registrar, Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State(2018-2019) and currently, the Director General, National Youth Service Corps .

Like the great philosopher Plato argued,  philosopher kings should be leaders, so that  their leadership may depend on knowledge, as Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim has unsurprisingly proved as the Director General of the NYSC.

 Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.


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Religious Mumu



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

By Toyin Falola

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

Religion remains a much-debated issue, especially in Africa. It is one of the determining factors of our identity. It determines who we are, our beliefs, actions and reactions, and even our thought processes. Africans had their own culture and traditional religion until the advent of western civilization, which brought with it the ‘gift’ of Abrahamic religions—,Christianity and Islam—and judged African traditional religious practices as evil, pagan practice and witchcraft. The missionaries did a thorough job of making people believe that their religion was superior and righteous. Africans accepted these imported religions, and their traditional beliefs began to fade. Christianity and Islam are now the new order, and people are extremely devoted to these newly found Gods. 

The Toyin Falola Interviews recently played host to music composer and songwriter, Beautiful Nubia. The question of Beautiful Nubia’s stance on religion pops up during the interview. He is known to promote African spirituality but has also defended foreign religions as advantageous. In response, he talks about his ancestral line: his paternal family were Olu Orogbo devotees (the Yoruba god of letters), and his maternal family were Ifa priests and Esu devotees. He said, “religion has always fascinated me like it gets people’s minds.”  He opines that spirituality ties into what gets people so much into religion. Although he no longer practices religion, he affirms that these religions have positively influenced people to do good and show kindness to their fellow human beings.

He states, “Any organized religion has a set of dogma or doctrines they use to guide you to put you in there. You are there; it is like a strait jacket to keep you on the straight and narrow. Why I said religion is a good thing is because the purpose of this is to ensure that you stay on the straight and narrow, that you do good things.” We can agree that religion has contributed to the rise of morals to a certain extent, as the fear of God keeps many people from doing evil. It has curbed wickedness and negative traits inherent in humans and made many people see the world in a new light. Religion has spread the message of doing good and becoming a better human being.

                                        Beautiful  Nubia

The issue, however, is not the practice of these religions but the ability of leaders to sway people easily. Although imported religions have helped to stop the extremities of African religious practices, it has only accentuated people’s gullibility. Beautiful Nubia further states, “What is wrong with religion is that it gives certain people the power to use their followers. It is not the religion itself; it is the human beings who run these religious organizations who use their power to extract money from them and push them in the wrong direction.” Owning a church is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get rich, particularly in Nigeria. All that is needed to succeed in this business is to be a good actor, have nice clothes (suits, particularly), can win people over with words and give yourself an extraordinary title such as Rabbi

It is common knowledge that the major reason why people attend church and Jumat services religiously are that they seek solutions to their problems. As much bad governance is enough to seek God’s intervention for various human issues ranging from terminal illnesses, protection, promotion, unhappiness, barrenness, unemployment, and marital problems, to poverty, which is an average African’s motivation to seek God’s face, also cause people to become staunch believers. To get swift, miraculous answers to these problems, many people fall prey to the traps of “men of God”, who only look to fill their pockets and bellies. This explains why a “pastor” would shut down his church after winning a 100 million Naira bet.

Pastors and Muslim clerics are considered mini gods who can do no wrong. The Bible verse, “touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm,” is an ever-ready response by Christians in defense of their highly revered pastors who would not think twice before taking advantage of their desperation to get their problems solved. They forget that a “man of God” is first a man. Religion has rendered humans gullible to the extent that they excuse things their religious leaders do that are not even in tune with what is written in the Holy books. How do you explain a pastor who sleeps with a woman looking for the fruit of the womb and says his sperm is the anointing that will cause her to have her child? What do we say to a pastor who instructs his congregation to bring a greater percentage of their salaries to him so that God can answer their prayers? Should the man who claims to be an alfa but has exploited so many people in the name of being a ‘wonder healer’ be left alone? Churches and mosques nowadays see the desperation of people and feed off it. Many people come to church for prosperity and get ripped off the little they have, all in the name of miracles, signs and wonders. You could be in a church service and then suddenly hear the pastor say, “I see seven stars. I need seven people who will give the Lord Seven Hundred Thousand to come out now at the count of seven. One, Two…Seven!” You will be amazed at the number of people who will run to the altar to give the ‘Lord’ that amount of money in this present economy. Unsurprisingly, some borrow money to give to their pastors to receive blessings, then struggle to pay back the borrowed money. Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop.

These men of God add false doctrines to their fraudulent, shady activities. Beautiful Nubia quotes his mother, a Christian singer, as saying, ” any church where they are a lot of people there, you know there are telling them lies there.” He made an example of a Muslim cleric who tells his followers that every other person is evil, an infidel and a pastor who tells his congregation that their Jesus is not a Jesus of poverty, that He died for them to be wealthy. It is now rare to find churches that preach about the kingdom of God and how to live a life that pleases God. Churches today entice and then mislead people.

Sometimes, people realize all these things are wrong but lack the courage to question these atrocities. According to Beautiful Nubia, “…as a child, you are fully indoctrinated, and as an adult, you are scared to question these beliefs.” Asking a pastor why he preaches only prosperity and how to get rich as a Christian would be considered as seeking the wrath of God because the pastor can call down fire to consume his ‘enemy’. Questioning an Imam on why he sleeps with young girls will only attract curses from the Quran on such a person, followed by “who are you to question God’s prophet? The ways and dealings of God are mysterious”. Really, who dares question these men of God? The fear that has been unconsciously programmed into your mind from a very young age holds your voice and makes you look away from the evils of these religious leaders.

This is not to say that there are no genuine men of God, but there is a plague of greedy religious leaders who, because of their power over their members, influence them to bend to their will while satisfying their greed and lust. “We should not focus too much on religion being our enemy. We need to focus more on ourselves, fix ourselves, and we can use traditional wisdom to do that”, says Nubia. The way we question and demand accountability from the government should be the same way we question our religious leaders. Not every “God says” is true. The Bible in 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved , believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Many religious leaders are gods of their bellies and are only out to exploit people to put food in their fat stomachs and live expensive lifestyles with their poor congregation’s money. Child of God, shine ya eye!

This is Part 1 of the report on the interview with Beautiful on March 19, 2023. The extensive interview, which has received millions of views across different platforms, talks about the role of music in society. For the transcripts, see:




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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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