Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Spirit of Naija...

Dear Professor, many regards to you. I must say that your transformation from an "anti-fake drug" advocate into a politician has done your hitherto 'awe inspiring' personality less favors. Without dwelling much on the previous events and happenings that had led to this, commencing from the superficial re-branding project, and spanning the continual goofs during the sad days of the penultimate Presidents health situation (RIP), a recent development which had been credited to you has brought to the fore your rather lack of comprehension of the issues which occupy the minds of young Nigerians in the 21st century.

Some few days ago, I came across an article where you continually lambasted and condemned in strong terms the use of the word "Naija" and from your summation, it would be best were this word to be completely deleted from the lips, mind and hearts of Nigerians. Although throughout the entire write up, you failed to show concrete reasons to back up this conviction, but I cannot claim to share this view, and neither I believe would millions of young Nigerians.However, Professor Adefuye, the Nigerian Ambassador to the US attempted to come to your defence, albeit noneffective as he neither condemned the "Naija" usage nor did he give concrete reasons to buttress your view (, thus I see no need for your position which is at least needless and at most ridiculous (absolutely no offence meant).

Thankfully, your position is not the official position of the Government of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.First of all, there is no confusion whatsoever between Naija and Nigeria. We must make that clear, and under no circumstances would any sane and rational Nigerian want to replace the name Nigeria with that of Naija. Like Professor Adefuye mentioned, if we want a change of name for the country, there is a laid down procedure for that. Naija is a contemporary concept in the annals of the history of Nigeria, it is a concept that captures the spirit of Nigeria, and one that young people are proud to associate themselves with. It is not a slang per se, as that would demean the real import of what the word connotes. Rather it encompasses the dreams, yearnings and aspirations of young Nigerians who have been denied the benefits and positive derivatives of a nation hijacked by successive generations of corrupt, inept and self serving (so called) leaders. It is a concept that renders the average Nigerian immune from the collosal wastage and corruption that has bedevilled the nation since independence and makes him/her ready to confront agents and forces of underdevelopment, poverty and bad governance.

We would not want to be drawn into sentimental discourse on the provenance or etymology of Nigeria, nor would we want to dwell on the fact that the name "Nigeria" is not of Nigerian origins (funny as that sounds); but even this does not make me any less Nigerian, even so my identification with the concept of Naija does not remove the Nigerianness in me. I am a Nigerian, and at the same time I am Naija. It is who I am at this point in time in the history of my nation, and my Naija identity is the brand that I choose under this season of anomie that we have been plunged into by the irresponsibility and callousness of the political and ruling elite since independence.

It is the Naijatitude in me that will make me stand against corruption at all levels and in all circumstances; it is my Naijatitude that will make me vote for credibility and integrity as leaders and defend my vote (even if it means sacrificing my life); it is my Naijatitude that will make me speak up in the face of oppression and wickedness; it is my Naijatitude that will define the Nigerian that I will become for me, for my society and for my world in the 21st century that is pregnant with possibilities and opportunities, and my patriotism to my nation should by no means be questioned on the way and manner in which I choose to show love for my nation.

I will not begrudge you for sharing your views, you have every right to, but we should see an element of consistency when such views are made. Dishing out encomiums for citizens participating in morally bankrupt reality television shows (alien to our culture) does far much worse to the image of the country than usage of a concept that does more in lifting up the spirits of the common Nigerian. And while the entire world is 'oohing and aahing' over the indigenous home video industry (called Nollywood), no one is saying that it does any sort of disservice to the image of the nation. Priorities should be set aright. We must avoid being seen to be deploying double standards in our assessment of issues? To whose end and for what purpose? Nigeria needs change, positive change; and the fundamental challenges of development, good governance, security etc. must and should be confronted instead of whipping up mundane and non-issues.

Those who oppose change would be swept away in it's wake, and the spirit of Naija is alive and rising irrespective of who or what.

Good bless Nigeria.

Response to the Honorable Minister For Information's remarks on the use of the term "Naija".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oba Ovoranmwen Nogbaisi Square, Benin City, Nigeria

On Friday the 12th of November 2010, the Square at the Ring Road area located at the heart of the City was renamed from Kings Square to Oba Ovoranmwen Nogbaisi Square. This action achieved two things; first, by the change of name, there was observed a deliberate attempt to remove the abstract but overbearing spectre of a neo-colonial dependency hitherto hanging over a people of an independent nation; and second, it represented the long overdue honour for the last Oba of an independent Edo nation, a man who became one of the last line of defence in the struggles of the African against an alien political-economic ideology that has foisted on the world the twisted and contradictory principles of contemporary capitalism.

It is an honour well bestowed for a King that is more than deserving. And for him that gave the honour, much honour awaits...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ruminations on underdevelopment

If we understand the concept of development as a state of individual and collective wellbeing, with individuals and society existing within sustainable means and mechanisms, then we can present an argument thus; that the pre-colonial peoples occupying the territories of what is presently the geographical delineation known as Nigeria, were at various levels of development prior to the abrupt intrusion of Europe, into the respective political and economic affairs of these sometimes large and often times small social formations domiciled within the region (Okoh, 2005: 191-192).

Among the major groups that had commenced defined developmental trajectories, were the Sokoto Caliphate, exercising loose control over the Zaria and Kano areas, the Yorubas to the western parts, the Igbo Republican societies, the Edos, Tivs, Jukuns, Nupe, Efik and Ibibio, Urhobo, and a plethora of other decentralized state like formations. There is as yet an authoritative computation on the precise number of ethnic groups domiciled in Nigeria, but many of these societies existed as individual and independent formations, centuries before modernization hit Africa, and in many respects, they were widely varied, and differed in culture, language, social norms, political and economic institutions etc.

With each of these formations existing within the parameters of their respective autonomy, they were destined on a collision course with the European explorers who initially promoted mercantilist relations. This dovetailed into the “trade in humans” which was an unfortunate episode in the history of Africa’s relations with the world, (Rodney, 1972:108-131). However, it was the imperialist conquest of Africa that proved to be the total deconstruction of the prevailing status quo that the various indigenous people existed within. According to Ikelegbe (2004:1), “it is necessary to demonstrate the achievements and contributions of Nigerian pre-colonial states in the device and utilization of different machineries to govern and sustain their states.” Ikelegbe also identified the presence of both centralized and decentralized authorities, applying sanctions and rewards within the acceptable framework of their unique cultures and values (Ikelegbe, 2007:141-147).

In terms of the practice and maintenance of an effective economic system, these formations making up pre-colonial Nigeria were actively engaged in productive economic activities based on householding, reciprocal and redistributive roles (Zwingina, 1992:31). Zwingina views the household to be the main unit of production, with it also doubling as the immediate unit of consumption. Accordingly, “while the fruits of land and labour belonged first to each individual , reciprocal privileges and duties within the family prescribed a mutual sharing that discouraged personal differences in material prosperity” (July, 1976:111). Untainted by colonial political and economic ideologies, these pre-colonial formations thrived in their unique economies, with a significant volume of surplus left over for the purpose of exchange. This unique exchange was based on the reciprocal needs of the various households, and oftentimes with other social formations, or for expropriation by a centralized formation (Zwingina, 1992: 31; Aderibigbe, 1962: 194).

July, (1976), douses the temptation to categorise pre-colonial African farming economies as subsistence in nature when he pointed that:The societies of pre-colonial Africa were geared to a subsistence agriculture, but traditional African economies were not in any literal sense subsistence economies, for they were quite capable of accumulating and utilizing small but measurable quantities of surplus wealth. The ancient farming communities of Africa organized their land occupation without reference to private ownership, but the principle of private ownership was understood and practiced full well (July, 1976: 117). The inference made from the above is that the social formations in pre-colonial Africa (including the ones domiciled within the boundaries of modern Nigeria) were at various levels of growth and development from the economic point of view. This inference is given more credence when we take into consideration that “the British administration in Nigeria between 1860 and 1960 was made relatively easy by the fact that it met with a philosophy of economic growth on which the modern system was built on” (Ekundare, 1973:383-384). However, while the desire for personal profit was powerful, accumulation in Europe was fuelled by economic principles; in Africa, it was social (July, 1976:117).

More so, the political structure on which the colonial administration was built upon, i.e. the indirect rule system, made effective use of the existing political institutions, proving extremely successful in many cases and only suffering limited friction in areas where the evolution of the socio-economic and political structure had reached levels of sophistication, arguably exceeding the practice in Europe at the time (Edigin and Osarhiemen, 1996 :45).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Edo, is this what we have become?

While the nation is yet grappling with the near constitutional crisis premeditated by the absence of the President, and all the other situations which have contributed to the complexity of the Nigerian project, events in the Homeland, Edo, have given rise to a feeling of solemn despondency and disillusion within the polity.

Some few weeks ago, the kidnapping of a high ranking religious figure threw the City into bewildered consternation, and the abduction of a school principal was enough to send the little ones pouring into the streets. Aside the fact that presumed individuals of high net worth have been victims, other cadre of citizens have not been immune from this unholy trade.

The clash between security agents of the State under different flags not too long ago remains fresh in our memory, as the family, friends and dependents of two officers that lost their lives are still in mourning. This is not mentioning the increasing rate of crime, ably reported by the state media houses, both print and electronic.

However, what perhaps may be the most unfortunate incident thus far should be the fracas that ensued in the State House of Assembly Complex upon the purported suspension of the incumbent Speaker of the House. The violence and aggressiveness of the Members was an embarrassing scene to behold, and I wonder how posterity will judge the individual actions of the respective participants.

Related to this is the case of a Local Government Chairman, suspended by the State Executive, but choosing to storm the Council Secretariat with a group of individuals who find nothing wrong in damaging public property. Where did all this violence come from? The politics of the State has indeed been one of intricacies, and sub-plots, but one wonders what motivation would be at the back of the minds of the various actors. It is any one's guess if the issue of development, and a sustainable one at that is ever considered.

We must ask ourselves a question; Can we continue like this? Can we continue to play ostritch and hope that all will be well? Can we maintain a stoic mien in the face of repressive stereotyped image of the Nigerian citizenry? Can we look the future in the eye and demand for a better life for ourselves and our offspring?

We must ask ourselves if this is what we have become, in a 21st century world. We must also ask ourselves if we are a part of the problem. It is a challenge to each and everyone to know who their true heroes are. The ones that would bind instead of causing injury; the ones that would suffer loss gladly for the good of their neighbour. We do not need thugs in governance anymore, we want those that would rather choose to fight poverty, and injustice, rather than engaging in physical combat among citizens of equal rights. The vision of the Edo people should be one of positive change from the decaying status quo towards an era of development in every sense of the word. It is a challenge that the true Edo citizen face, even in the face of seeming insurmountable obstacles.