Connect with us

Opinion

Professor Akinjide Osuntokun At 80: The Tour De Force Life

Published

on

Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa
Professor Akinjide Osuntokun At 80: The Tour De Force Life

Professor Jide Osuntokun

By Toyin Falola

As I see it, the Nigerian dream is to rise (through hard work) against the backdrop of harsh social, economic, and financial circumstances and reach the pinnacle of whatever height we set our sights on. Across cultures, ages, and fields, history is replete with stories of many great men who started from humble backgrounds. However, in the case of Akinjide Osuntokun, the indigeneity – the recency, the similarity of background, challenges, and the stories – confers a sentimental value on his story for me and, I believe, many other Nigerians. It gives off a sense of relatability, belonging, and hope.

Osuntokun’s life is the ideal metaphor for what Nigeria and Nigerians dream of daily. It is a realisation of hope: a proof that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel that Nigerians and Nigeria are in. It is also a testimony to the existence of a few sane intellectuals, individuals who still care about the nation and are hopeful for the restoration of its polity. To put it into the context of Osuntokun’s origin, his life exemplifies Joyce Meyer’s quote about small beginnings being launching pads for remarkable things. This piece tells the story of a true son of Oduduwa, a compatriot and a leader, a man who has indelibly engraved his name on the sands of time through his dedication and commitment to excellence.

Unlike most elites who have influenced history, Osuntokun’s background alone may not mirror his current achievements or his illustrious siblings. Of course, I do not mean this in condescension to his community of origin. Rather, I mean it as another factor to consider in appreciation of the trajectory of his career and consequential contributions to the state of Nigeria. Like he is always proud to say, Osuntokun was born in an Ekiti town in 1942 – a period when western education was trying to gain ground in the country, and many thought it did not amount to much. He did not come from a family especially endowed with generational wealth and fancy inheritances, but his lineage had a reputation for their determination, willpower, and physical prowess. A sixth child in a polygamous home, he was privileged to have formal education. This, however, did not spare him the rigours of work after he started schooling. He worked the ground, did domestic chores, and contributed in his little way to the family economy – as customary for male children of his age group in those days.

READ ALSO: Alaafin Of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III: On History, His Kingdom, And The Yoruba

As a young boy, his formal education gave him cosmopolitan and political exposure, the bedrock for what later developed to be nationalism and an unwavering sense of patriotism. From Holy Trinity School, Ilawe, he switched to Emmanuel Primary School in Ado-Ekiti, where his socialisation evolved. Ado-Ekiti was bigger and more cosmopolitan, and this transition began his exposure to the real world of people and their differences. He left primary school for his secondary school education at Christ’s School, where what evolved to be his diligent academic career started. As a promising young man under the eagle eyes of his teachers and his brother, he completed this phase of his education with a record of the highest number of distinctions in the West African School Certificate Examination.

In the absence of the right facilities and structures to guide their decision, Osuntokun, like most of his other colleagues, proceeded to study History at the University of Ibadan, leaving the offer to study Law in Lagos hanging. The primary reason for this choice, according to him, was his mother’s sentiments towards the legal profession and the advice of an older colleague. Quite a lot happened during his studentship at the university. For instance, he and his friends founded what evolved into the Eiye Confraternity today. The group, which was formed just for lively conversations, parties, and sometimes philosophical discussions, was hijacked and made into a secret society that mirrored Ogboni tradition. During his days at the University of Ibadan, Osuntokun also met his wife, whom he revers and openly talks about whenever he gets the chance.

Success, sometimes, they say, can feel like a curse. Even for someone like Osuntokun, life was not always fair despite the knowledge he wields and the reputation that precedes him. By predisposition, the Osuntokuns are present across different spheres of public service, politics, and academics. For instance, Professor Kayode Osuntokun (of blessed memory) was a pioneer in neuro-medical research in Nigeria and throughout the globe. His eldest brother, Akin Osuntokun, was one of the pioneer legislators in the Western Region of post-independence Nigeria. Abiodun Osuntokun was another of Akinjide’s siblings who lived and died as a military officer in service to the national course.

Professor Akinjide Osuntokun experienced first-hand what it means to be a victim of a great name. His exposure to politics came quite early due to his brother’s affiliation with the political elites in the Western region at the time. Through his brother, he was indirectly involved in the consequences of complicated political schisms that heralded the 1960s when the country was trying to find its feet in the republic. Some deep-seated intra-ethnic schisms rocked the political atmosphere of the Western region during this period. In fact, in his accounts of his life, he described how he was exposed to taunting, verbal abuse, fear, and hatred due to his brother’s involvement in the Akintola and Awolowo saga.

Essentially, Akinjide Osuntokun is not just a professor of history; he has lived through some of the historical moments in western and national politics. Despite this rather rough introduction to politics and public service, he still took on the mantle of service to the country later in his career – a feat considered quite impressive. For instance, aside from its historical relevance, his academic work sometimes incorporates an objective critique of the Nigerian polity and nationally relevant past and present decisions. He has also served as a public commentator, addressing administrative flaws and policy deficiencies in the country while in service and after his formal exit from the national diplomatic service. His appointment was terminated because he was a threat to the indiscriminate governance and ruthless dictatorship perpetrated by the late General Sani Abacha. It did not stop there. He was arrested, detained, and treated like a criminal for speaking the truth to power and standing up for the commoner.

I particularly consider this phase of his life to hold significant lessons for Nigerians and posterity. For one, despite his appointment as a stakeholder in the diplomatic affairs of the Nigerian state, he did not allow himself to be leashed by the benefits attached to it. In his exact words, his story is that of “a boy whom through hard work and humble beginnings made it to Olympian heights, dined with Queens and Kings, Presidents and Prime ministers without getting carried away by all the glitter.” Also, the threshold of challenges he has pushed through is surprisingly high, considering the trajectory of his personal life and his life in public service.

READ ALSO: Alaafin Adeyemi III: The Throne Of Numerous Authorities

It would not have been surprising if, due to his initial experience with national politics and his detainment, he stopped contributing openly to policy and administration in Nigeria. However, he has persistently and continually contributed to matters of national importance with the subjectivity of a compatriot using the different tools available to him. This includes his investment in the fourth estate and the numerous columns he writes for media houses across the country. At different points in Professor Osuntokun’s life, he has shown exemplary willpower and persistence. This attribute to persevere despite all challenges and to always stick to the fair side of the moral spectrum inspires me, and I hope it inspires posterity in Nigeria and Africa collectively.

Before any serious nationalistic involvements, Osuntokun has been involved in political activism (for racial equality) and an organised demand for administrative accountability. As a transfer student during his undergraduate days, he experienced ridiculous acts of condescension by white people. Later during his post-graduate studies in Canada, he discovered the effect of propaganda, policies, and education on identity, racial ideology, and self-awareness. In his observation in his autobiography, the education of the Black community, coupled with the situation of policies, governance, and economics, restricted the Black Canadians at that time within the mental prison of inferiority. They were not overly ambitious about education, career, or even a structured life in their psychology. Bound by duty, Osuntokun – like other African intellectuals at that time – developed an interest in racial liberation politics and dedicated a substantial portion of his time to it. This is yet another lesson for the intelligentsia today that change does not come through armchair criticism and self-pity. It only does this through knowledge and applying it correctly to challenge the status quo and create a new and more convenient reality.

My favourite part of Osuntokun’s life is his body of academic work and, by extension, his lecturing. This is not because of a compulsive inclination as his student, fellow academic, and historian, but due to three major things. First is his publications’ sheer depth and relevance, especially as sources for historical research. Two, the brilliance of these academic compendia even though he started when relevant resources were not abundant. Three, the expanse of his experience is mirrored in his teaching resume, his writings (academic and otherwise), and how he articulates his words (in speech). The bulk of his works (even his autobiography) served as objective primary and secondary sources for vital pre-and post-independence historical research in Nigeria and, by extension, Africa. Quite impressively, he has dedicated an ample chunk of his life’s work to researching and documenting Yoruba history and the evolution of its preservation over time.

At this point, I will like to reference some of his works and their contents that I consider exceptional. First are the different biographies he authored – The Merchant Prince and the Monarch, J. F Ajayi: His Life and Career (co-edited with Michael Omolewa), Festus Samuel Okotie-Eboh: In Time and Space, and Abidakun, his autobiography. These were not just accounts of the lives of these individuals; they were written in the context of their historical relevance. For instance, The Merchant Prince and the Monarch is a biography of a Soun of Ogbomoso. However, the account references an objectively accurate background history of Ogbomoso, the kingship, and the families of prominent figures mentioned. This professional compulsion (I presume) and scholarly elegance are particularly evident even in his autobiography, Abidakun: An Autobiography of Professor Akinjide Osuntokun, which starts with a summary of the history of the Ekiti people, particularly the Ajapo Ise, and their evolution. There are very few well-articulated summaries of indigenous Yoruba history like that.

The last on this list is his extensive research and publication on Chief S. L. Akintola, the controversial political stakeholder of the Western Region in the 1960s. This particular work has a sentimental value for Osuntokun; after all, he was a victim of the Akintola/Awolowo political controversy in which he had no hand. However, the most important thing is the courage it must have taken to publish the work and the amount of effort that must have gone into it. During the time in question, historical research was not just limited by the unavailability of resources but also by a conspicuous lack of documentation and records. The few available records in the academic repositories were lost due to the nonchalance of custodians or irrelevant political pettiness. Despite these challenges, Osuntokun did an impressively thorough job of research and documentation. This publication has been helpful to me and other people in our evolution as academics in the field of political and historical research.

Additionally, Osuntokun’s intelligence covers a considerable expanse of spheres. Some of his books and scholarly publications were written in deference to specific national and international issues. He has done remarkable work in politics, diplomacy, foreign policy analysis, psychology, and even sustainable global development goals in Nigeria. His depth of knowledge, willingness to apply it and consistent demonstration of correct application are some of his most endearing attributes. It would be incomplete to reference Osuntokun’s academic achievements without properly recognising his contributions to consolidating African history as an academic interest in Nigeria and other parts of the world, especially the West Indies.

During his days outside the country’s shores, the icon pioneered structured teachings of African history at the University of West Indies. This act particularly kept the embers of the African cultural heritage burning among the Black community in the Caribbean. The foundation he laid through his peculiar style of imparting knowledge contributed immensely to the sustenance of a culturally conscious and self-appreciative diaspora. Outside of the classroom, Osuntokun was also instrumental in explaining the origins of some cultural practices of African origin widely practised in the West Indies. From that time in the 1970s till now, his influence on the African academic community is still recognised, especially in discourses spanning African history and cultural uniqueness. He was offered a long-term appointment because of his resourcefulness, teaching expertise, and overall warm disposition. However, he declined and returned home to contribute to the development of his own country, regardless of the surrounding circumstances. I consider this very thoughtful, especially since the country was just trying to recover from the civil war and evolve into a proper federation.

READ ALSO: Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

Osuntokun’s experience in teaching, administration, and international relations later got him an appointment as a director of the National University Commission on an academic mission to Canada. Through diplomacy and diligence, he contributed to paving the path for academics, many of whom I know. Despite the non-substantial benefits attached to his portfolio, he worked hard to secure the future of foreign scholarships for Nigerian students – something a host of people benefitted from. Portfolios like his drew bureaucratic complications and similar disturbances; however, given his previous knowledge of navigating workplace issues, he again set a stellar record of excellent performance, which I believe was instrumental in his subsequent appointment as a diplomat to Germany. He was helpful in locating institutions in Canada and liaising productive partnerships between them and Nigerian institutions. From his observations and research in Canada, he also contributed to some of the progressive policy recommendations for university administration.

It would be thoroughly exhaustive to discuss Professor Jide Osuntokun’s service and achievements. His several decades of service include lecturing positions, editorial portfolios, directorship, diplomatic positions, administrative roles (especially in universities in Nigeria), and many more. His personal life and career have spanned continents like Africa, Europe, and South and North America. He has a list of awards and symbols of recognition to commemorate his un-paralleled efforts in public service, administration, and academia. Some of these include being an Emeritus Professorship, Redeemer’s University; an Emeritus Professorship, University of Lagos; a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters; an Officer, Order of the Niger; a Fellow, Historical Society of Nigeria; a faculty role of honours awardee at the University of Ibadan; a Presidential Honour, Republic of Equatorial Guinea; an Irving and Bonar Graduate Prize awardee, and so on.

Nevertheless, this account would be grossly incomplete without reference to the professor’s family life, which he is especially proud of. Professor Osuntokun, despite the different demands of his occupation and travels, is a dedicated family man. In my little understanding of his personality, family is and will always be a core of Professor Osuntokun’s life. His family has been with him through the thick and thin of public and administrative life and after. Perhaps this was due to his upbringing; after all, people who grew up in stable families tend to value the sacredness of the institution. However, I believe the overall success of his family was also due to his late wife’s persona and the love they have for each other. Indeed, he who finds a wife finds a good life. After a series of not-so-successful attempts at dating, Akinjide met the bone of his bone, Dr. Abiodun Osuntokun, when she was a secondary school student in Saint Anne’s, Ibadan. Abiodun Osuntokun would later attend Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and another school in Canada.

Abiodun and Akinjide got married in Canada in 1969, and they had a mutually beneficial relationship that produced children – Fola, Seyi, Yewande, and Tosin Osuntokun – who are excelling in their respective careers. Fola Osuntokun is a finance professional in the United Kingdom; Seyi is a successful engineer in Canada; Tosin is a renowned physician and cardiology expert in Dublin; Yewande champions diversity and inclusion as a strategy director at Novartis in Toronto.

Finally, I would like to remark that Osuntokun’s life and the inherent lessons are materials for books and extensive studies; hence, I cannot capture everything. However, let me put things into perspective with a little summary. He stands as a house set upon a hill; he has built a legacy of hope and uprightness and has created many opportunities for others to take up the mantle. He stands resolute by the circumstances of his birth, the family name, and the big shadow of his sibling’s greatness. He carves a path for himself and posterity and leaves lessons for us on how to navigate life. Professor Akinjide Osuntokun’s name is material in the halls of fame. I am certain that history will continue to remember the intellect whose hands carved it even in the coming decades.

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.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Opinion

Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa

Published

on

Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa

By Toyin Falola
Undoubtedly, Africa has a persistent issue with insecurity. Terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabab have continued to endanger the security of people’s lives and property as well as the survival of democratic governance in Africa. Unsurprisingly, the threat of terrorism has put Africa’s collective development and growth in even greater jeopardy. Due to the fear of investing in countries affected by terrorism, economies have collapsed. As statehood in some of these impacted countries slowly deteriorates, political advancements have also been hampered. Lately, discussions have focused on how crucial it is for African governments to stop this threat and nip terrorism in the bud. Africa is experiencing a rise in terrorism, which in addition to other humanitarian disasters, has caused mass migration and the loss of lives and valuables.

One of the key factors contributing to the domination of insurgency is the frailty of political institutions in most African countries. The blunt truth is that terrorism grows when the government is unwilling to combat it. Take the case of Nigeria as an example, the government’s longstanding unwillingness to engage in tactical warfare with Boko Haram has blown the destructive activities of the terrorist group beyond proportion, creating fertile ground for other insurgents to rise, and daily, it becomes even more complex to eradicate them. Repeatedly, worries have been expressed about the predicament of African countries in the face of internal and international terrorist attacks, as well as concerning potential repercussions for African political states, most of which have been labelled as weak or failed states.

READ ALSO: Youths’re Energised To Choose Right Leaders In 2023 – Kukah

While different state actions have been carried out against terrorist groups, the lack of robust democratic institutions in Africa is a significant barrier to the success of counterinsurgency efforts across the continent. African nations have been unable to work together to combat insurgency due to acrimonious politics. A close examination of leadership structures in African nations reveals that most of them are unsuccessful. How would this lead to success against the rebels in nations where the state and the people are constantly at odds? Internal conflict hinders African democratization and fosters rebel domination in return. It is sadder that democratic leaders also take advantage of their nations’ security to run for political office. Regrettably, most African leaders now place fighting terrorism at the top of their list of political priorities just because it commands a lot of emotions that can sway elections in their favour and not because they genuinely want to tackle it. Most African states’ security structures are, in fact, relatively flimsy. In many nations, domestic conflict further expands security gaps and creates the conditions for the insurgency to flourish.

In debates about terrorism, technological progress is unavoidable. Terrorists in Africa are developing, thanks to technical advancements. Terrorism and counterterrorism rapidly assume a new shape in their operations and subject engagement due to the expanding global instrumentalization of technology. Although both countries and terrorist organizations are modernizing their operation methods, there is evidence that many terrorist organizations in Africa are rapidly creating technical solutions to enhance their lethal operations. The internet, especially, is one technical tool feared for its potential to significantly impact global security. Policymakers are concerned about how communication networks like the internet may be used to carry out terrorist activities. Internets, specialized websites and social media platforms are frequently used in conjunction with secured networks to set up chat rooms for talks and activity monitoring, produce disinformation that could incite panic and conduct recruitment in Africa. Today, terrorist organizations like Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, and others use untraceable video and audio recordings to broadcast attacks, demand ransom for hostages, and engage in other despicable activities.

 READ ALSO: Gunmen Kidnap Over Three Policemen

Terrorism in Africa has a detrimental effect on the socioeconomic and political developments of the region. However, it has been demonstrated that successful counterterrorism has benefited, or at the very least can improve, the socioeconomic and political environments on the continent. Like every other continent, Africa has experienced significant terrorist activity. The effects of terrorism, however, have affected Africa far more than other, more developed continents. Terrorism still exists on the continent of Africa despite the efforts of various African nations and regional and international organizations to combat it. The failure of the different counter-terrorist strategies launched to maintain long-lasting peace on the continent has exacerbated the continent’s underdevelopment. Despite security issues, Africa lags behind other continents in scientific, social, and political progress.

These reasons are why it has become paramount for African counterterrorism efforts to keep up with technological advancement. Due to the unique characteristics of each nation, the specific insurgent groups, and the nature of operations, counterterrorism battles in Africa assume diverse forms and employ varied techniques. Departments, institutions, and programs have been established in countries to address the crime afflicted by terrorism. In addition, several laws, regulations, and directives have been passed to guarantee the success of counterterrorism initiatives and tactics. Technology and new technologies are used to acquire additional intelligence and prepare for counter operations.

READ ALSO:  “Cut Soap For Me!”

Creating powerful political institutions is the first transition stage African nations must go through. A nation’s political structure has a significant role in determining its security architecture. Launching counterterrorism investigations and conflicts between the political class and those in important leadership positions with access to resources and intelligence that could jeopardize government efforts is the second transition stage. As a result, corruption and money laundering are curbed, closing doors to money that may be readily transferred to fund terrorists. Additionally, collaboration with the public is required to create a community policing operation. By acting as informants and providing the necessary information to security personnel, citizens would be involved in the security architecture of African states. African nations must also calm ethnic tensions that could lead to domestic conflict because internal weakness in a nation creates favourable conditions for insurgency growth. Insecurity in Africa stems from internal crises that aim to undermine people’s safety and the African state’s coherence. Therefore, individual African states must organize more effective counterterrorism policies.

For this to be accomplished, effective political leadership and corporate governance must be ingrained at the internal level of the African state. Each African state administration must understand that defeating terrorism requires teamwork and must demonstrate the capacity and willingness to achieve victory. This is because if internal conflicts are permitted to persist and damage the political structure, it will pave the way for external forces to invade. African nations must fortify political institutions in their particular domains to achieve a change in the security architecture. Also, African governments must work together with other nations to implement counterinsurgency strategies. The African Union and regional organizations like the ECOWAS must intervene to maintain Africa’s peace and security. African nations must cooperate on forward-thinking projects to reach a common goal.

READ ALSO: God When?

The trajectories of political and economic progress have been significantly impacted by security issues brought on by internal conflict, civil wars, and terrorist acts. In light of the continent’s security issues and other difficulties, and to address the problems that are slowly destroying the continent, African political leaders must use the opportunity to restructure the continent’s democratic system. The promises made by African leaders to develop counterterrorism technology development plans must also be reaffirmed. Establishing strong democratic and political institutions in each African state is crucial to transform Africa into a safe continent free from terrorist attacks and other types of danger. These institutions must be capable of using the military and diplomacy to combat terrorism.

Lastly, the effectiveness of the actions and policies put in place by the individual governments of African countries will significantly impact the future trajectories of counterterrorism and security in the continent. For African nations to effectively battle terrorism and firmly establish peace and security throughout the continent, better political institutions must be built, alliances with militarily stronger states must be formed, and counterterrorism policies and actions must be well coordinated. African nations must build strong political leadership and corporate governance in the battle against terrorism to overcome the insecurity dilemma brought about by terrorists in their continent. Only then can the fight against terrorism in Africa be won.

. Excerpt from a Keynote Address, International Conference on “Counterterrorism, Technology and Development in Africa”
September 22, 2022
Stellenbosch University and Obuda University.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Opinion

‘No Work, No Pay’: Oppressors’ Law

Published

on

'No Work, No Pay': Oppressors’ Law

By Tony Afejuku
“No work, no pay” has since gained currency as never before in a kind of obviously puzzling manner that has befuddled me as drink befuddles a drinker it makes stupid but I am not a drinker of drinks that should make me stupid. I am a drinker and eater of ideas, thoughts, notions, concepts, curiosities and more and more remedies, and conditions and desires that make it hard and impossible for me to bow the knee. Nothing befuddles me. Yet I must utter this confession: the “No work, no pay” remark that has protruded from the protruding tongues of the men and officials of protruding stomachs in government and outside government seems to perplex me. The phrase or remark has been particularly popularized in a very, very bastardized manner since ASUU has declared its popular strike of more than seven months now as “total, comprehensive and indefinite.” Of course, some television pundits, newspapers’ reviewers and anchors who have lately made remarks that mark them as our oppressors’ megaphones have reminded us that “No work, no pay” is an “extant law” – whatever they mean or meant by that. ASUU has rightly and correctly countered the oppressors by saying and insisting that “No pay, no work” is its members’ fundamental human right. This countering remark of ASUU’s supreme lords titillates me immeasurably. But this for now is foreign to my declaration here. And my autobiography hopefully anchors here.

What, indeed, I am challenging and will always join ASUU and the Nigerian worker to challenge is the declaration of our oppressors that “No work, no pay” is part of our law – extant or not extant. I don’t need to be a labour law lawyer or labour law expert to descend on the “formulators” or “champions” of “ No work, no pay” which did not emanate from collective bargaining in a formal meeting between ASUU and FGN’s representatives. All the utterers of the remark in the endeavour to threaten and cage ASUU members to submission are nothing but boon-dogglers. But much more seriously they are members of the mediocre, unimaginative, materialistic class exploiting and humiliating the working class. In this country in particular many of them who, as a matter of fact in Marxist terms and thought are bourgeois, prefer to close their eyes and ignore the reality of the circumstances of the Nigerian working class. The “No work, no pay” remark they have uttered and declared as an “extant law” is the “law” of the bourgeoisie which this class enacts or promulgates to make the worker perpetual and forever victim of its onslaught. The bourgeoisie class consists of capitalists, manufacturers, bankers, and other employers of labour within and outside our central and states’ governments. What I am saying or have said is the unholy relationship between the worker and his/her bourgeois exploiter and oppressor is not new.

READ ALSO: Reflections On ASUU And The Constrictors

What the many bourgeois in our central government in particular find strange is the tough and strange resistance that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has mounted against them. In fact, for a long period of seven months plus ASUU members have defied the oppressors who have deprived them of their salaries of serfs and slaves in their feverishly and wickedly pale wisdom of “No work, no pay.” The bourgeois government is taken aback by ASUU’s rare power, courage and consciousness of resistance. Indeed, this rare power, courage and consciousness of resistance that welds the members of the union together in a manner that suggests that they were prescribed a seasoned doctor’s effective medicine, has inflicted their oppressors, each one of them, with an unusual and spectacular borborygmus. What a constraining rumbling of each one’s stomach of cavalier discomfiture!

READ ALSO: NANS Rejects Court’s Ruling Against ASUU

And clearly for ASUU, hunger has turned out to be a tonic that is or that has become more than a curative tonic. It has become milk of resistance. It has imbued each typical member of the union with an anger, a desire, a wish, a joylessness, an un-happiness, an intolerance, in short a longing not to bow the knee. If Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), the “hugely influential French philosopher, novelist, and playwright” who in 1964 rejected the Nobel Prize in Literature was invoked and requested in his grave to say a word or two on the character of ASUU he would probably have said that “there’s gold not mud in your veins, pride not servitude.” My dear and very dear readers, ASUU, I must say is Nigeria’s King of Resistance. ASUU’s law promotes a supreme act of generosity towards every state and shade of colourful justice. ASUU’s reputation as a resister of fascism and the mind-set of the exploiter and oppressor has spread throughout the world. You better believe me!

It is important to stress time after time that ASUU is in the bad and black book of the ruling bourgeoisie because of the union’s quest for the absolute in terms of its purposes for our public universities. Primarily for this reason the lord-less lords of the manor have denied members of ASUU their richly and rightly deserved due. In fact, the hollow lord-less lords are determined to employ their possessed power of coercion which possesses them to turn our intellectuals into a class of classless workers to be continuously undermined. Through the payment of ASUU members “proletarian” wages regardless of their academic and intellectual worth, standing and solid degrees, the average politician in political power today wants our dons to understand that each one of them is now no more a don but a mere “worker” who is a “wage earner” to whom the ridiculous “law” of “No work, no pay”, must apply. All kinds of laughable excuses and reasons are being tendered to make this impossibility possible. Or am I building castles in Alor-land?

READ ALSO: UNIBEN VC Becomes Chairman Of Vice-chancellors’ Committee

Even assumed liberal journalists, and newspapers’ reviewers (who clearly are conservatives), especially in the electronic media are seemingly accepting the situation. I can vividly remember and recall two or so in our television houses. This past Tuesday, one of them whom I have nicknamed “Let-us-be-realistic” on account of his repeated use of the phrase to make pointless points about lack of resources to meet ASUU’s legitimate demands, had a field-less field-day because no one was in his almighty studios to counter him. Did ASUU steal Nigeria’s oil which on a daily basis many officials in and outside government steal? And why must we be devoting our sole attention to petroleum-and-gas to generate and re-generate our economy that corruption that is corruption has disabled? Is ASUU responsible for this? And why can we not pay real interest in agriculture to sustain our economic, educational and medical growth and advancement, for instance? And the wastages of the tax-payers’ monies on frivolities, did ASUU cause or inspire them? Journalist-and-newspapers’-reviewer “Let-us-be-realistic” would prefer to ignore the criminal and uneconomic reality that ASUU did not create. Perhaps I should here relate the news to all those who care to know that your country my country our country, the giant of Africa, is not “ranked among the top 10 countries with the best educational system in the Dark Continent,” as Biodun Busari recently reported in Vanguard Online. Are you surprised? You better don’t be – as I deliberately spare you sumptuous details of the report. We have seen nothing yet. The useless “No work, no pay” policy of this government that is killing and crushing the dream and future that are our dream and future will eventually crush the mode of action of the grand-off-springs of this deceitful divide-and-rude and rule-and-divide government’s dramatis personae. They are too dumb to know this fully because they think it won’t happen. How eyeless they are in their pompousness! But why do I speak where no one has my kind of eyes? Why do I speak where no one has my kind of ears? O Thot! O Nietzsche! I invoke you dear, dear, dear Masters as I am losing my cool! May ASUU reject and decline the enemies of the masses and of our tax-payers’ doctrine of coerced submission to a situation and reality of wretchedness! Let this sentence be a reminder that you are the real and authentic King of Resistance in the land. To death you won’t starve – despite your current kingly pain. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Thunder!!!

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Opinion

Police: Fear Of Witches And Law Enforcement In Benue

Published

on

Police: Fear Of Witches And Law Enforcement In Benue State
Dr Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe
On Saturday, September 17, 2022, officers from the state police command took over the premises of the Greenbelt Hotel, the venue of a seminar on witch persecution in Benue. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW), a non-governmental organization that works and campaigns to end witch persecution in Africa, organized the event. Witchcraft accusations and related attacks are pervasive in Benue. Recently, the mob attacked and almost killed a woman in the state, following an accusation of causing sickness and the eventual death of a young man through witchcraft. Some relatives rescued her and took her to a safe location. The police did not intervene. In parts of Benue state, a witch-finding group, Okinibi, attacks, strangles and stones to death suspected witches. AfAW organized the event to sensitize the Benue public, and draw attention to these human rights abuses.

Police officers were at the hotel premises as early as 8 am, before the organizers arrived. They said that the Commissioner of Police (CP) instructed them to stop the event. They ordered all participants to leave the premises. Efforts by the organizers to get the CP to allow the event go ahead were unsuccessful. One police officer from the state investigation bureau told the organizers that they got some intelligence that the seminar was a meeting of witches, and were instructed to stop it. A meeting of witches? An officer said that the police considered the meeting a security breach. The police officers could not disclose the source of their intelligence; they seized the conference banners and took away other event documents. The decision by the police to disrupt and stop a seminar on witch persecution under the pretext that it was a meeting of witches was unwarranted. It was a demonstration of fear and ignorance of the law and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

READ ALSO: People With Dementia Are Not Witches, They Need Care – AfAW

First, the CP and the police public relations officer were all duly informed about the event; they were in touch with the organizers before the program. The police could have called to seek clarifications if they had any concerns. But they did not. Again, there is nothing hidden about AfAW’s campaigns and activities. Information about the programs of AfAW, rescuing and rehabilitating victims of witch persecution, is out there online and offline, in print and electronic media, and can easily be accessed. Soft copies of the event banners, which they seized, are online, and contain telephone contacts that police authorities could reach for more information. Fear, prejudice, and willful ignorance motivated the actions of the police and their lack of diligence should be excused.

The police misdirected resources and intelligence, and ended up stopping an event that should have been held. The police equated a meeting to address human rights abuses in the name of witchcraft to a meeting of witches. Is that not absurd? Who should the police institution blame for their lack of proper understanding and their inability to distinguish a meeting of witches from a meeting to address abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs? One female police officer said that she swore not to step her foot at the venue where ‘witches’ were meeting. A senior police officer noted that he did not see the ‘alleged’ in the name of the organization until the day of the program. He claimed that once he saw the name ‘witches’ on the poster, he concluded that the event would not hold.

It is pertinent to remind the police that Nigerian law does not recognize witchcraft, and under the law, witchcraft accusations are criminal acts; identifying somebody as a witch is an offense. So by calling the AfAW event a meeting of witches and wizards, the police violated the law. They transgressed because they branded the organizers and participants at the event witches. By criminalizing witchcraft accusations, the law tries to forestall miscarriage of justice and other horrific abuses that result from allegations of witchcraft in societies like Nigeria, where witchcraft fears and anxieties are pervasive.

Now, let us address another pertinent issue. What if witches planned to meet in Benue, what if the AfAW event was indeed a meeting of witches and wizards as some imagined? Is it within the powers of the police to disrupt or stop such a gathering? The answer is: No. The police do not have such powers. And here are the reasons. The police are a constituted authority and should act in line with their mandate as prescribed by the law. The Nigerian constitution has outlined the functions of the police. So, police interventions should be guided by the provisions in the constitution, not by the religious or belief whims and caprices of police officers and politicians. The constitution recognizes the right of every Nigerian to meet, associate, and assemble. The police must act to protect, not deny these rights, including the rights and liberties of Nigerians who describe themselves as witches, Satanists, and occultists to meet and assemble. Yes, the police should act to protect the rights of witches.

READ ALSO: Witch Hunting: Torturers Should Not Get Away With Their Crimes – AfAW

Some people would argue that this is a contradiction, especially in a situation where identification of and as a witch is a crime under the law? No, it is not. Nigerian law is an evidence-based law. The law does not recognize witchcraft or witches because there is no evidence for witchcraft or witches. Witchcraft is not a justiciable crime; witches do not exist. Witches are not persons; they cannot be citizens, and cannot obey or break the law. The meeting of witches, which the police in Benue came to stop or disrupt last week, is not recognized in the constitution. There is no evidence that such meetings hold or are held anywhere. So, the police, by stopping – pretending to be stopping, or disrupting any real or imagined meeting of witches, act ultra vires, that means, beyond their powers. As shown by what happened at Green Belt Hotel on Saturday, witchcraft fears and anxieties are pervasive in the Nigerian police force, and these occult fears are hampering the ability of the police to effectively combat crimes and atrocities linked to witchcraft beliefs. Witchcraft fears cause the police to misinterpret the law and misapply the limited police resources. Witchcraft is superstition, and witches are imaginary entities. The police should learn to act in deference to the letters and spirit of the law and constitution of Nigeria, not based on fantasies and fears of witches and wizards.

Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, which campaigns to end witch persecution in Nigeria.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: