By Toyin Falola
Samson, the sun-child, is a biblical character with rich moral, spiritual and ideological meanings. Around Samson, the champion, is an interesting story of honour and grace. Whether in everyday conversation or important heart-to-heart engagements, anyone who mentions Samson among Christians understands the name’s biblical and moral significance. A warrior who served for twenty years without defeat. The great judge.
To that category of Christian users, two things are common: first, their association of strength and quality mental energy to the character, and second, the allusion to its resilience despite the dangerous or unpredictable natural circumstances that sometimes threaten to bring mortal danger to him. In essence, when referring to the name Samson, we are often not concerned about anything other than his discipline and dedication to his goals. Despite all circumstances, Samson always produced results up till the end of his life when, through death, he recorded his greatest success.
We know that challenges, temptations, trials and tribulations visit everything and everyone, but Samson had a way of defying the pressure to triumph. That, therefore, attests to the understanding that Samson throve not only because he was a special human, per se, but somehow, he survived because, through the Lord he served, he came to the awareness that toughness was an indispensable ingredient to survive in the dangerous jungle that circumstances placed us in.
Professor Babalola, the new Vice Chancellor who resumed at Bowen University last August, is our Samson. As such, Samson, as far as Christian spirituality is concerned, cannot be seen as unproductive, and you, dear Professor Babalola, it is not in the stars of people like you to die unfulfilled. You are a glory. The Samson at Bowen will work hard and produce great results.
But that is not everything it is to learn about the Christian and Samson story. Christians are a people with deep-thinking capabilities. They understand that Samson might have experienced a setback because he reposed his confidence in an intimately close individual, but that revealed his strength and not necessarily his weakness. This perspective is informed by the awareness that only strong people confide in others, for it takes courage to let others into one’s inner realities. Professor Babalola, like Samson, is trustworthy and understands life’s challenges. He has been tested, and he passed.
Knowing that Samson survives trepidations and accomplishes a lot, they allude to him as resilient and enduring. This is indicated in the attention on Samson in the Bible as an important character. Of course, it is not that Christians are unaware that Samson was betrayed, which, by implication, his mission was cut short. But added in that implication also is a testable and tenable assumption that Samson, as well, was a straightforward and reliable human for a very long time, for that is the inevitable condition of courageous beings, the reality of which determined his resilience. For our Professor, Oyebamiji Babalola, his success and progress are a profound result of his prodigious and influential career built upon years of toil, dedication, determination and dexterity.
Professor Babalola is the Samson of Chemistry whose dedication and curiosity have inspired his accomplishments in that field with various results for his creative input and innovative responses. As an expert in the field, it is not hyperbole to conclude that he has motivated many research engagements with impressive discoveries at the end, all of which motivate the fledgling researchers in that field and also a reliable source of solutions to a myriad of problems confronting humanity. It was one of the occasions of his collaboration with similar eggheads in the discipline that produced the work “Activated Carbon from Naucleadiderrichi Agricultural Waste―A Promising Absorbent for Ibuprofen, Methylene Blue and CO2” that we understand how agricultural disposable waste can produce carbon which can be harnessed to prevent various forms of pains that humans encounter. How would someone like me have ever imagined that there could be some connections between what farmers do in their farms through their disposed waste and the human inner conditions? Of course, without persistent and determined scholars like him, the possibility of knowing that solutions abound everywhere if we look very carefully and creatively. Such intellectual engagement and eventual findings would not have happened without the dedication of the mental, financial and even social resources to the course. These are the instances of the rain beating an igúnugún for a very long time. But then, he remains unscathed, unruffled and uncompromising. Babalola is like Samson.
The thrust of his scholarship is illustrated by the consistency he has demonstrated in his research involvement and the results generated from them. From the beginning of his career, he has remained active and produced impressive academic findings that hold people spellbound. Not only is he respected among his peers, he has also won the hearts of many who find inspiring his intellectual disposition. All his academic engagements have been built on finding scientific solutions to many challenges we face as a human family.
To a considerable extent, these academic products have been nothing short of excellent and exceptional, for they have inspired solutions to issues which have become problematic for us all. Consider, for example, that on one occasion of his chapter contribution to a book in 2020, he gave us great ideas about how to deal with otherwise intractable problems that we face together. Titled “Disruptions and eruptions: Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on higher education in Nigeria,” through this educative elucidation, we come to the awareness that there are ways by which we can confront the realities of life which COVID-19 has brought us. Giving us his invaluable contribution shows the propensity of the applicability of his ideas because with what he raised there, nations and organizations can extract ideas on the best ways to face problems.
The selflessness of Professor Babalola can be spotted in how he responds to issues that have great potential to change people’s lives and the community generally. On countless occasions, this sound mind has honoured numerous invitations to share his knowledge and ideas on a national and international stage where ideas are desperately needed to advance people’s socioeconomic, medical, moral and even professional paths. Just in 2023, Professor Babalola was invited as a Guest Speaker in Kenya at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, where he engaged the topic “Leveraging Higher Education, Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development.” While this case was not the first of his many engagements, it was absolutely a place where his respect in the academic community increased substantially. For one, the ability to bring together the potentiality in harnessing the power of education and achieving the objective of the United Nations on Sustainable Development agenda appeases not only the fears of naysayers but also rekindle people’s interest in research undertaking. Generally, we are aware that the prospect of moving collectively relies on how interested we are in undertaking research engagements. But then, not everyone understands the strategies we can use to set research development in motion. Listening to him on occasions such as the one provided in Kenya recently gives an impressive overview.
As if all these are not enough, I am sometimes astounded about how he can understand the nitty-gritty of the administrative labyrinths. One would be surprised that irrespective of his dedication to research in chemistry, an engagement which is capable of taking away one’s attention from other equally important aspects of existence, this scholar understands what it takes to become successful in leadership. When you are accorded the opportunity to share your idea on a topic, you could marshal good points on the best way by which some activities should be done, with so much confidence that one would think you have some magic wand that you can wage and make everything go back to the appropriate conditions. But not many good talkers are usually good executors when given the opportunity. But, amazingly, Babalola performs great in the two aspects. When he spoke at UNIOSUN in 2021 on the topic, “Running an Efficient Postgraduate College: A Critical Look at the Administrative Structure and Operations Guiding the College,” I was enthused by the perspective he was coming from and the alternative propositions he made. Anyone who has undertaken such responsibilities before would understand the critical importance of strategic actions and decision-making, as these are crucial to their eventual results.
But the most interesting thing is that I am usually not a man who gets conned by what a man says. After all, experience has taught us enough why there is a wide difference between what a man says and what they do when faced with reality. Therefore, I have kept tabs on his administrative acumen as he demonstrates flexibility and creativity in handling situations without compromising standards. As the pioneer Provost of the Post-Graduate College at the University of Ibadan, no one would deny that this great man brought outstanding contributions to the administration by introducing friendly ideas to transform the system. His stellar success at that level is the reason for attracting as many opportunities as possible associated with him today.
As the newly appointed Vice Chancellor at Bowen University, the confidence reposed in him by the Council that makes the recommendation and appointment is influenced by their examination of his growth trajectory and how promising he is in facilitating new development in their great campus.
Professor Jonathan Babalola, on your assumption of office as the new Vice Chancellor, I wish you a successful tenure to meet the best needs of the students and staff. I know that you will attain the trust of the stakeholders. I am certain that you will demonstrate the indispensability of academics in moving society forward. I am positive of your dignity. Samson can be betrayed, but Samson does not betray others: your opportunity to serve will produce evidence of clinical success. Professor Babalola, service to Bowen is a covenant. Like Samson, as long as you obey the Lord, you will succeed. As a VC, you are strong before men but weak before God. God will keep His promise to Babalola and Bowen. Babalola, you will never break your vow.
The chemistry is already at work:Jonathan is re-baptized as The Samson of Bowen!
Moral Values In A Changing World
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
JUSTICE: This world has degenerated into abysmal filth, immoral ungodly concupiscence, infantile greed, atavistic, primitive acquisition of property, and satanic hopelessness! The judiciary, the political class, the church, our royal fathers, and most other socio-cultural institutions have fallen into the cesspit of indiscipline and lack of respect for ethics! The Labour movement that used to be in the forefront of discipline cannot be trusted anymore!
MARIAM: Hehehehehehe! Okpoyibo! Big grammar is talking. I must invite Hon Patrick Obahiagbon to compete with you on explosive vocabulary.
PROFESSOR: That’s an old song. Our parents said the same thing some forty odd years ago.
UMUKORO: You are right; it is the way of the old to berate the world and say the past was better!
JUSTICE: Kindly don’t reduce the profundity of my introspective submission to the jejune level of the banal as has been the hallmark of pseudo-intellectuals in the polity!
MARIAM: I am going to get a new and bigger dictionary. I can’t find Michael West anymore!
JUSTICE: If you still restrict yourself to the archaic confines of Michael West, then you are a victim of historical detention, arrested development, and exploration of the brave new world!
MARIAM: I give up!
UMUKORO: Who still uses a dictionary in the 21st century? Ask Google my dear, ask Google!
JUSTICE: Your infantile and rudimentary knowledge of homonyms limits your capacity to process thoughts of the new century. Away with you, thou physically beautiful body without an intellectual soul. I take exception to people denigrating my exceptionally brilliant exegesis on the state of Homo sapiens!
PASTOR: ‘And in the last days, iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold’, so said the Master. The time is here!
PROFESSOR: A broken record! A broken record waxed hundreds of years ago!
PASTOR: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved!
PROFESSOR: Saved from what? Another holocaust? Another atomic bomb dumped on humanity?
PASTOR: Do you spurn sacred and biblical prophecies?
PROFESSOR: General prophecies mean nothing to me. Look here Mr Pastor. For all the false prophecies which members of your infernal gang of profiteering pastors gave before the last general elections, you should be behind the bars of God!
JUSTICE: It is not late, not too late at all. The hounds of heaven are waiting for all the false pastors, especially those who have commercialized the Lord’s work! A wonderful and abominable thing is happening in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the people love it so!
PROFESSOR: One preacher I knew used to say that one false prophet was more dangerous than 100 armed robbers. Now I understand why!
UMUKORO: Armed robbery is no longer fashionable. Pen robbery fetches millions of naira with one stroke. Just add two zeros to the figure or transfer public funds to a private account.
PROFESSOR: I spoke metaphorically!
PASTOR: When it is becoming fashionable for persons of the same gender to marry and be recognized by the state, then the world is coming to an end.
UMUKORO: Sodom and Gomorrah incurred God’s wrath with that abomination!
MARIAM: When Supreme Court judges dispense political justice, then the end of the state as we knew it, has come.
UMUKORO: Even in America! Democratic judges give judgment guided by the so-called liberal values of the democrats while republican judges give conservative verdicts like abolishing the right to having an abortion!
JUSTICE: What then is justice?
MARIAM: Self solution! Your name is justice!
PROFESSOR: Aren’t we mixing oranges and apples in the same basket?
PASTOR: Let the tares and the wheat grow. At the harvest the Lord shall do the separation of sheep from goats!
JUSTICE: Eschatological metaphors can be used to rationalize and explain currents and undercurrents of contemporary events. It is very convenient to do so!
PROFESSOR: I am disappointed that our Nobel laureate could make such a one-sided pronouncement on the 2023 general elections. Unlike him, he didn’t speak like a man who comprehends the totality of our traumatic experience in February 2023!
MARIAM: But he spoke his mind. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression!
JUSTICE: He spoke with the finality of a judge. I respect him for that. But he should also like an elder have acknowledged the level of rigging and violence which marred the exercise. The general thinking is that he is silent on that aspect because a friend of his now occupies Aso Rock!
MARIAM: That is a most uncharitable thing to say about a man of such intellectual distinction and moral probity!
JUSTICE: Excuse me! Has he occupied any public office in the country to enable you to arrive at that conclusion? Has he been tested?
MARIAM: His name is a shield. His name travels before him.
JUSTICE: Why did he wait for the PEPT to make a pronouncement before proclaiming his tigritude?
PROFESSOR: Let’s leave that old man alone jor! I’m more interested in the shuffling feet at the CBN. What exactly is going on? Was there no due diligence before Shonubi was asked to act as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria? Didn’t they know, couldn’t they have suspected that he was part of the rot that ran that institution aground in the dying days of the former president?
PASTOR: Alas, it has given the president the opportunity to appoint his own man as governor. The new man by all account is competent and exposed in the financial world!
PROFESSOR: My only worry is whether he will have the gumption to say no if he receives obnoxious directives from his boss.
JUSTICE: How many appointees in our country have the liver to say no to the indiscretion of their bosses? It is not in our DNA!
MARIAM: In Lagos state, the Speaker of House said no to the governor on the appointment of some commissioners! The heavens did not fall.
PROFESSOR: The heavens almost fell. But that speaker is arrogant. No big man can trust him. Or was he dancing to music being played in higher quarters to spite the governor?
MARIAM: Who knows! It is possible. The ways of politicians are not straightforward. How could he say that he and the governor are colleagues! He has no respect for the office!
UMUKORO: I felt sorry for the governor! This attempt to humiliate him all in the name of politics.
JUSTICE: I hear it is all about 2024. If he is thinking of becoming governor, that statement will return to haunt him in future!
PASTOR: Now! Now! Now! Is the Dubai visa ban still hanging over us or Mr. President got the desert kings to lift the embargo?
JUSTICE: Is there any ‘gbajue’ going on?
PROFESSOR: Hahahahahaha! The more you look, the less you see. Proverbs to bones and silence!
UMUKORO: I don’t think it is ‘gbajue! It is possible that there was an agreement in principle which would require Nigeria to finetune certain details before going public. A federal government cannot tell lies about such public matters!
PASTOR: When the saviour comes, let him that be on the rooftop not come down to be saved. You will run to the mountain and the mountain will be melting!
MARIAM: And the sea will be boiling!
PROFESSOR: Who will save us? Who can take the nation back to factory reset? Shall we invite Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, and Ahmadu Bello to rescue us?
PASTOR: Perish such thoughts please! Those men have not been able to save themselves. How can they save anybody? Jesus Christ is the answer!
A Response To Toyin Falola’s Obasanjo, Obadide And Obajoko
By Yinka Agbetuyi
Toyin Falola’s “Obasanjo, Obadide and Obajoko” is a timely article that captures the complexities and contradictions of a Yoruba (even Nigerian) in transition. It reframes the questions: ‘transition to where?’ How will this transition be better managed? Until these two questions are adequately resolved Yorubaland (and Nigeria) will always be in constant crises.
It is very important that the essay brings out the fact of extant kingships alongside modern polities in Europe like the UK and Belgium, (there are still twelve extant monarchies in Europe) where the monarchs are not subordinated to modern politicians and humiliated thereby. So which West are the Yoruba (and Nigerians) copying? Newfound lands, mainly the US – as well as Australia and Canada- stolen from the aborigines.
Yoruba people and fellow Nigerians must constantly be reminded that the success of the anticolonial struggles was about stopping such occurrence in Africa. Perhaps Yoruba Nation advocacy was geared toward the same goal, but lacked effective strategies. At the last stop before Tinubu’s unexpected victory, the groundswell was for Yoruba Nation advocates to go into partnership with other Nigerian ethnic nationalities and evolve a workable blueprint that takes into consideration each group’s preference and the rate of and speed of integration into the totality – the North’s preference at independence, and Awo’s true federalism- supplanted unfortunately by the adoption of an American presidential federalist model, hook line and sinker! My reaction over the decades is that Nigeria is not necessarily vying with others for the position of the 51st state of the US.
In my own summation in diverse forums, as it exists now in Europe, the royal houses should be clearly delimited and given definite CONSTITUTIONAL roles and worthy remuneration. First Class traditional rulers should earn the same salaries as sitting governors (Nigeria can afford this option many times over from a mere fraction of its stolen wealth if recovered). Monarchs will in turn underwrite the integrity of the polity by being constitutionally tasked with the appointment of auditors who will scrutinise State spending (states and federal) and projects in their domains and report directly back to such MONARCHS for onward transmission to state chief executives and the presidency.
Traditional rulers should be elected and appointed only by traditional councils and their appointment signed into law (but not subject to nor subordinated to) the state governors. After all the days of crass illiterate caricature of traditional rulers is long gone. Traditional rulers should therefore be structured as parallel instruments of and facilitators of governance in a check and balance structuration of governance, in a carefully integrated whole to achieve total governance – the transient and the permanent. Lesser traditional rulers should be administered by the First-Class rulers (in council) who will recommend their emoluments, (and functions) subject to rankings to state governments.
Only First-Class rulers (in council) should be able to recommend the creation and elevation of lower ranked rulers to the states according to the existing norms of such communities, (they did this well enough in the precolonial days) and the state government should only administratively approve or reject such recommendations based on financial contingencies. This formulation should neutralise party politicking in the creation and maintenance of traditional rulership.
Yes, traditional rulers must be constitutionally barred from seeking and accepting contracts from their states of origin and from the federal government, the same way a governor is not notionally entitled to be awarded a contract by their own government. In the British system, this is called declaration of interests by parliamentarians (whether in government or not) in the register of interest book. This is to prevent conflict of interests of the person in government (and their associates) and their official duties. This provision demonstrates that greed is a universal phenomenon unless and until checked by relevant laws (witness the UK Parliament’s expenses claim scandal in 2010.)
Now that the Tinubu struggle has been fought and won, the Yoruba Nation advocates, must in continuation of their activities not rest their oars on the ship of State, but intensify such by taking the lead in the quest for this new reality, by reaching out to like minded nationalities across the country to achieve the constitutional change for a better, stable and prosperous tomorrow for Nigerians.
Prince Agbetuyi is a Professor of Comparative Arts & World History at the Edutronix Institute, London.
Use Your Penis: Hopes, Expectations And Realities Of African Migrants In Europe
By Leo Igwe
The issue of migration to Europe has been in the news. There has been intense discussion on how to tackle the flow of migrants to, not from, Europe. There have been reports of boats carrying migrants capsizing or missing on the Mediterranean Sea. Many Africans have died trying to enter Europe via the Sahara desert. North African and European countries have taken measures to curb illegal migration and human trafficking. Still, the migration flow out of Africa continues and shows no signs of abating. Why has the migration of Africans or migration from Africa become such a huge problem? What are the hopes, experiences and realities of these migrants?
In August I was invited to speak at a seminar on migration. The focus was on the migration of Africans to Europe. The event took place in Bergen, Norway. As a doctoral student, I lived in Germany for six years. I was invited to speak at programs on migration. Governmental and nongovernmental agencies in Denmark and Germany organized the events. I did not find these events interesting because the focus was on human trafficking and the role of African juju and witchcraft. Do not get me wrong. Human trafficking is a huge problem and needs to be addressed. But we have to tackle the problem from the root. These events were by my estimate a complete waste of time and money because organizers and participants were not ready to tell themselves the truth, face the facts and address the real issue. They want to make themselves feel good and privileged while talking about these helpless Africans streaming to their shores. Organizers were more interested in marginal voodoo, and oath-taking issues. They made it seem as if there was something unusual about African migration. But there was not. Migration is as old as human beings. Humans from all races and regions have been migrating from one region to another, from one country or continent to another. Before this recent wave of migration out of Africa, people from Europe, America, and Asia have been migrating to Africa. They are still migrating for business, social, economic, religious, and political reasons.
Contemporary African migration is mainly economic. It is driven by poverty, miserable living conditions, and the devastation of African economies by European, Asian, and American companies. To tackle the problem of migration, African economies must be fixed. The continent must realize an economic leap. Now instead of focusing on the economic roots of the problem and how to address them, many Europeans and Americans expend energy discussing trivialities, such as the role of voodoo and so-called powerful witch doctors in Nigeria. Well, at these events, I told the organizers the bitter truth. I told them to forget this juju or voodoo talk and face the reality: the destruction and revival of African economies. I told the organizers what they did not want to hear. And they never invited me back.
But this time around it was different. The organizers were not Europeans or Americans. A Nigerian student at the University of Bergen staged the event. He contacted me some months ago, drawing my attention to the plight of African migrants in Norway. He explained how many who travel to Norway and other European countries had their hopes and expectations dashed. Many who migrate to this country or other European countries end up entrapped. They are compelled to go into things they did not plan to do. Many migrants end up in a new form of slavery, in a marriage to a European citizen. Left with the option of going back to Africa at the end of their study or marrying to get the documents to stay, many end up contracting a marriage, in many cases a paper or document marriage. These marriages entrap them, they turn these migrants into errand boys and girls. Many of them are mistreated. They suffer silently. If they misbehaved, their partners would threaten to report them to the authorities and get them deported. I was told that many in the African migrant communities were not helping matters. Someone told me that he approached some migrants seeking and wanting to know how he could navigate migration issues. But the person told him: “Use your penis”. I guess for a female it would have been a case of: Use your vagina. While studying in Germany, some African migrants told me how they were sexually exploited, and dehumanized before they could get legal documents to stay in the country. One woman told me that everyman who wanted to help her wanted to sleep with her.
So, the program was cathartic. It provided a space to let out these pains, sufferings, disappointments, and frustrations.
The event brought together ‘free-will’ migrants and Norwegians. The panelists were from Ghana, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Belarus. I was the only international guest on the panel. Other panelists discussed the hurdles that they have faced, and the challenges that they confronted trying to live and integrate in Norway. As one panelist noted, many who come to study were unable to find a job at the end of their program. In many cases, they graduated and found out that there was no job for them, or they were unable to speak the local language, which was a requirement for many jobs. Another panelist from Ghana, married to a Norwegian, discussed her challenges as a migrant parent in Norway. She recounted how her child had suffered racism in the school. She narrated an experience where the child did a group assignment with four other white Norwegian children. And the teacher gave her child four marks for the assignment and other group members five marks.
There was some discussion on illegal migration and the risks involved. Some Norwegians in the audience noted that many African migrants knew about the risks they could face migrating to Europe. And still, they decided to embark on the risky journey. There was a lot of focus on migrants and their experiences traveling from Africa. However, little or no attention was paid to the European connection with the problem, the fact that western foreign economic policies have devastating effects on African economies. Africa is a market for Western goods including Norwegian stockfish. Apparently Europe needs African markets not African migrants. Western multinationals are relentlessly plowing and plundering the resources of Africa in ways that have displaced the local populations. African professionals are leaving in droves. They are migrating to work in the West and the Middle East. So, Western economies profit from the migration flow and the cheap labor it provides. Western countries benefit from the economic status quo that has turned Africans into migrants and refugees in Europe and America. To contain the flow of migrants to Europe, the situation in Africa must change. African economies must begin to grow and improve. Western governments must end the economic exploitation of Africa.
Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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