My Random Reflections @ 42
(Published originally in Nigeria Village Square on July 12, 2014)
This is the 7th edition of my random reflections on my birthday. It started in 2008 when I turned 36. One of my favourite Swedish expressions is livet går aldrig i repris. It means you cannot go back to live through life again. You may disagree if you believe in reincarnation.
Another one is tiden går fort. Time goes fast. That might be relative though depending on how you measure or spend your time and how fun or interesting your days and months are. Time goes fast especially when you are having fun or if you’re always on a busy schedule and still have to figure out the entry for a weekly column. Time can’t go fast for you if you are in jail or under oppression by government or other forces.
I thought about many things but these are some of my reflections @ 42.
In the last 12 months I have maintained my dedications to family, work, environment, exercise, friends, Yoruba Union in Stockholm, keeping a tab on Nigeria and daily acquisition of knowledge about things and global events in general.
During this period in review, I have also found out more about Oduduwa, Orunmila and Ifa than my previous 41 years on earth. It’s not the best of situation that we were shielded from the knowledge of our customs, traditions and indigenous religions as we grew up in Nigeria.
Children born in the cities almost exclusively are deprived of this fundamental right and knowledge by their parents and the society. They paint Ifa (the Yoruba religion) as evil and embraced Islam and Christianity on our behalves. Then they forced one or both of the foreign faiths down our throats!
All over the world Christianity and Islam have failed to erase or erode indigenous religions and beliefs. Many of those who brought Christianity to Nigeria have abandoned the faith. They are now free thinkers. Even those who brought Islam are trying to find true freedom. It’s cheerful news to see that some believers have made efforts to sustain and propagate the Yoruba traditional religions even in places like Lagos state.
I am happy about my present personal research on Yoruba traditional belief and understanding of it. It is better late than never I would add. It has been quite an experience to know more about Olodumare, Oduduwa and Orunmila. Orunmila gave to mankind the Ifa institution which deals with everything about life.
During the past few months I have delivered 2 lectures relating to Ancient Yoruba Arts and Ile-Ife as the ancestral home of the Yorubas. I did them on behalf of the Yoruba Union in Stockholm and in my capacity as the president of the union.
In the autumn of 2014 I will be speaking about Ifa and to ensure that my audience is carried along I have agreed to do the lecture in Swedish language, here in Stockholm city. I found great happiness rediscovering the traditions and belief of our forefathers in Yorubaland and I want to tell others about it.
In western Nigeria we must find ways to integrate the knowledge about Olodumare and the Ifa institution back into the curriculum. That much we owe our children and posterity.
My random reflections will be incomplete if some of the pressing issues in Nigeria are not included.
I am worried about the declining status of public education in Nigeria. I am sad that doctors went on strike when the public health system was already collapsed anyway. There is political instability in Nigeria and that is no news too. Terrorism is full blown and anyone can be bombed away at anytime, anywhere in Nigeria.
Education in Nigeria is now in the hands of very wrong people. The Nigerian government is ready to sell its birthright and those of the populace for a pot of porridge. How the education department went from a late Aliu Babs-Fafunwa leadership to one Ibrahim Shekarau-the book burner-leadership remain shocking.
According to the gangsters now ruling Nigeria, intellectualism can rest in pieces! This appointment in the education department is a wild slap on the faces of intellectuals who would be answerable to the man who hates western novels at the time that Boko Haram’s ideology was on the rise in Northern Nigeria showing conformity on the part of Ibrahim Shekarau at that time. There is no shame in Nigeria, only political strategies built on greediness and psycho-egocentrism.
The plights of Nigerian students attending public schools are sorrowful and regrettable. Who can forget what the UPN did in Western Nigeria in terms of providing free and qualitative education? Only those for forget the lessons of history and social development will forget.
The declining or worsening conditions of education in Nigeria is a major topic that many scholars need to address. I know that my friend here in Stockholm Charles Adagbon is really upset about the LASU imbroglio and he’s working on an essay.
By my count, 1695 students were admitted as new intakes for 2013 /2014 academic year at the Lagos State University. On another list there are 41336 students on full time and sandwich programs.
The average school fees expected from a fresher is N250 000. Arts and Education students are at the lower end of the ladder with N193 750 and the College Of Medicine students on the other end with N308 750. In my world this is simply insane!
In a country where the minimum wage is N18 000, where does Mr. Fashola expect poor parents to extract N250 000 from? Many people are even out of jobs having no means of livelihood.
Meanwhile Akpabio’s fraudulent pension in Akwa Ibom was an eye opener into the already existing pension laws of Lagos state and other states where tax payers money are now looted in the name of fraud called pensions.
The fraudulent pension that the Lagos state government is paying to Bola Tinubu is enough to cover the school fees of all LASU’s 100 level students probably 3 times over. By implication, one man’s unnecessary pension in Lagos state can send 1695 students to LASU for 3 years, or more. What manner of greedy people are running Western Nigeria these days? Is the situation the same at the remaining state universities across Nigeria?
In my recent essay (Rewards for political prostitution) I mentioned the failure of the judiciary in Nigeria as one of the principal factors in the endless story of corruption among nearly all Nigerian politicians. By implication the judiciary in Nigeria has ridiculed itself and rendered itself almost useless in the presence of the law system it was meant to tend and defend.
How the judiciary allowed the military and the executive arm of government under “democratic” dispensation to destroy the law system is unforgivable. The useless protective immunity clause does not cover crooks when they are out of office. How come the law failed to catch up with political criminals in Nigeria? Are they accomplices?
The urge to steal and loot would have been minimised or even zeroed if the culprits have been sent to the appropriate rooms in Kirikiri maximum prisons and other self-contained rooms meant for prisoners across Nigeria since 1960.
The smallest act of corruption adds to the misery of the common man. The tiniest of looting makes education expensive and unaffordable. 20 billion dollars is not missing but 927 million dollars is unaccounted for. That was the Nigerian sena-thieves and their outcome on one of the several complains of corruption rocking the scandal-full government of Nigeria. Birds of same feather, what do they do?
In 2013 more than 10 million children in Nigeria have no access to education. It will not be an exaggeration to state that the probable number today may be well over 15 million. The factors that may have led to the increase are: the continuous looting of the Nigerian treasury by Nigerian politicians clearly spearheaded by the corrupt presidency, the complete neglect of duty to humanity and country, the closure of hundreds of schools across Northern Nigeria due to terrorism, the burning down and destruction of hundreds of schools by Boko Haram, the continued rise in the cost of education in public schools and the non-affordability of private schools by children from poor and middle class homes.
My point on the LASU issue is that if Lagos state is prudent enough, the indigenes of Lagos State can receive free education at all levels. I think this is what Charles is trying to address in his unpublished essay. If Lagos State claims it has no money then they should stop the fraudulent pension of ex-governors and deputies gulping over a billion naira annually.
The amount lost to the pension loot is enough to cater for the education of the 1695 newly admitted students at LASU for 3 years. Invariably if other loopholes are blocked, more poor people can also get some education to prepare them for the challenges of the future.
The pension that former governors are allocating to themselves in Nigeria is executive recklessness and a breach of public confidence. It is open robbery of tax payers’ money. It does not matter that it was signed into law. It is still looting which is the specialisation of Nigerian politicians.
Across Nigeria, if corruption is terminated and punished, everybody should have access to free education, free health care, clean water and other basic infrastructure that make life worth living. Everybody can have a good life in Nigeria or in the different regions of Nigeria!
Unfortunately, Nigerians remain oppressed from all angles. Everyday the court of laws and the prosecution arm of the federal government like the EFCC continue to tell us that known criminals in politics are free of corruption charges? What are the consequences of social injustices? The implications are obvious for more than 90m Nigerians living from hand to mouth and in serious doubt about the next meal.
In the face of all the difficulties that Nigerians encounter daily, it is sad that the priorities of the rulers and politicians are different from the needs of the people. For example, Goodluck Jonathan would rather lay red rugs on muddy road to get to the forest where he can lay the foundations for a private university for his fair-weather friend Mr Oritsejafor rather can confront the complicated problems facing public education.
Mr. Jonathan is also now issuing out ministerial positions like a lottery pamphlet to various persons based essentially on patronage and ass kissing of the PDP. There are several Nigerian professors at home and abroad versed in educational policy and up to date research knowledge on how to move education forward. Look what the Nigerian ruler settled for! It shows his mindset and cognitive impairment.
But nature will always find a way to balance its own equations. If the roof of a house collapses, the greater casualties may likely happen to the people at the top floor. It’s all relative anyway. In Nigeria the poor and downtrodden have always outlived tyranny. The future looks set for the same pattern based on the sequences of parallel events that typically show the neglect of governance and the elevation of ego and tyranny.
There is a lot to be fixed in Nigeria, not least a functional system of governance that will remove the patronage at Abuja, the citadel of corruption. 2015 will redefine Nigeria in many ways. For the umpteenth time in 53 years of post independent Nigeria I see a people presented with similar options at each crossroad of their history.
Oh well, I have just opened my birthday present and it seems I’m going to get a new bicycle and be ready for work after the summer holidays. This evening, I’ll grill some lamb meat for my immediate family and we’ll share together like we always do. Birthday lunch, mainly grilled chicken is almost ready.
My hope and dreams for Nigerians remain alive. I wish that one day they’ll start on that road that leads to true emancipation and everlasting freedom. I hope that all Nigerians will come to realise the true meaning of life, while appreciating the transiency of it.
I hope that people will come to realise that the system can work again if everybody is doing the right thing in their own little ways. These are what great societies and the developed countries are built upon among other virtues: contentment, trust and civil dedication. They are not built on massive corruption, political instability, selfishness, greediness, religion and prayers of the wicked.