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OPINION: ASUU, Keyamo And Buhari’s Profligacy

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Suyi Ayodele

Former human rights activist, Mr. Festus Keyamo is from Effurun in Uwvie Local Government Area of Delta State. I passed through Effurun on Saturday, July 30, 2022, on my way to Omadino, an Itsekiri town. Keyamo has been in government for seven years. I did not see any positive impact of his being a minister of the Federal Republic in his hometown. The roads are still very deplorable. The traffic by the popular Effurun roundabout snarled as usual. So, I was not surprised, when I saw him on national television last Friday, approving the closure of our universities, since February 14; six months ago. You definitely cannot give what you don’t have. Someone who has no empathy at home, will likely not have sympathy for the weak outside. I will come back to what he said at the interview, presently.

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When the history of Nigeria is written from its contraption as a nation in 1914, to the end of this present pseudo-democratic dispensation, the government of General Muhammadu Buhari will go down in history as the most insensitive, incurably deaf, pathologically dumb and pitiably unexciting. I refused, deliberately, to add wickedness to the qualities of the over seven-year old government of the Daura-born retired General. Since a figurine was sold to us in 2015 as a Messianic meteor from the celestial realm, the nation has witnessed negative attributes that cast the present administration as a leadership that thrives in wickedness. And it will not matter how the promoters of the government and its Hallelujah orchestra would want us to see the Buhari government. In their sub-consciousness, the promoters and the man who heads the comatose government, know that their place in history is on the negative side. No amount of window- dressing, propaganda or advocacy, like the one marshaled by Festus Keyamo last Friday, can change the verdict of history.

Since February 14, 2022, till the moment you are reading this piece, a period of 176 days, ASUU has been on strike. That is half of a year. The strike action, as we all know, was called by the Union because the government refused to honour the valid agreement it willingly entered into with the university lecturers in 2009. From the time the agreement was signed some 13 years ago, only God Himself knows how many times ASUU had gone either on full strike, warning strike, or entered into negotiations with the government. While canvassing for votes in the build-up to the 2015 general election, one of the issues on the front burner, and which the then opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, and its candidate, General Buhari, used to de-market the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, was the issue of ASUU strike. From Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the one, who claimed to have single-handedly installed Buhari, to the very vuvuzela of the opposition party and now a minister in the badly-run government, Lai Mohammed, Nigerians were told once Buhari was sworn in as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, strike by university teachers and other unions in our tertiary institutions would be a thing of the past. Nigerians believed them and chased Jonathan back to his Otuoke, Bayelsa State country home. Now, the hoi polloi are wiser. Not only has the Buhari government failed to honour the 2009 agreement, it has reneged over and over again, on the new common fronts his government found with ASUU. The cerebral union has been raped over and over again by Buhari and his deceits, such that at a time in history, ASUU went on strike for nine full months. The sad implication of Buhari’s infidelity to ASUU struck me on Tuesday last week when some children returned from their school. One of them announced: “Daddy, I am now a 400 level student o”. I stole a glance at him as we meandered through the barricades mounted on the road by some aggrieved Nigerians, protesting one of the inhumane policies of the government, and asked him about his secondary school classmates, who opted for public universities. His answer got me thinking and I was very sad. Those poor students across the country, who gained admission to the university the same year, are still in their second semester of part one, or first semester of part two! That is what Buhari’s insensitivity has done to the Nigerian children.

Unfortunately, it is the same government that Keyamo went on a national television to defend. For all he cares, ASUU can go on strike till the second coming of the Saviour because the Buhari government would not borrow money to pay them. The former “human rights activist” turned politician, asked Nigerian parents to go and beg ASUU instead of appealing to the government to fulfill its agreements with ASUU. Keyamo is not just a lawyer. He wears the Silk as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN. He was noisy in his days in the human rights community. I am sure those who mistook him as one of them and as a freedom fighter, are in pain now. I am not in the least disturbed because I can differentiate noise from real sound. As a SAN, Keyamo knows the sanctity of agreements. He knows that once you put pen to paper and sign the dotted line, going back on the terms, letters and spirits of the signed document is not only criminal, but equally immoral. But he is in government. And not just an ordinary government, the one that has no single blood of humanity flowing in its veins and those of its handlers. I knew almost immediately the Buhari administration began in May 2015 that nobody would be in the administration and retain his or sanity afterwards. If you ask me, I will tell you without blinking that the first thing anybody in the Buhari government traded off is his or her humanity. Check all of them out and tell me anyone in this government who will pass the test of humanity, compassion and kindness. Keyamo asked: “Should we go and borrow to pay N1.2trillion yearly? Terrible! What the Urhobo, Delta State -born lawyer asked us is if we expected the government to borrow to get our children back to school. But what he did not tell us or ask us is how much of our patrimony his principal, Buhari, has spent on his interminable medical trips to the United Kingdom. He failed to tell us how much a pint of blood costs in a London hospital, where Buhari once spent 104 days. I take a bet that Keyamo, in his wildest activism, will dare not ask his principal how much airport charges Nigeria paid to keep the Presidential Jet at Heathrow for months, while Buhari was hovering between heaven and earth. What percentage of N1.2 trillion would the Buhari hospital bills, estacodes, Basic Travel Allowances for aides and other ancillary expenditure be?

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Keyamo, again, did not take into cognizance that whenever his principal becomes invalid and hands over the nation to a cabal, the nation loses in trillions of hard currencies. He failed to recognise that our economy would have been a lot better had we been fortunate to have a president who is physically fit, mentally alert and psychologically sensitive. The SAN did not know, or ignored the fact, at that interview, that a town which makes the invalid its king does not prosper because the health of a king determines the prosperity of the town. He is also ignorant of the fact that if the Buhari administration, at its inception, had employed core economists to run the affairs of the nation, there wouldn’t have been need for Nigeria to borrow a dime. Had it been we have people, whose knowledge of basic economic theories is higher than that of a POS sales girl, our Naira would not have been left to be in its present free fall, thinking that things will sort themselves out. Keyamo, in his bid to defend the voodoo economic policies of the Buhari administration, failed to take into account that the N1.2 trillion he bandied as ASUU demand came to that figure because the administration he serves has spent the last seven years and three months blaming others for its lack of focus and directionless policies. He is deliberately ignorant of the fact that he, as a junior Minister of Labour and Employment, and his principal in the ministry, Chris Ngige, are misfits, whose trainings, dispositions and intellects have no bearing in dealing with a cerebral body like ASUU; hence they keep compounding the issues for an already apathetic government.

Again, Keyamo said: “You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion”. What a way to reason! Did it not occur to Keyamo, at that interview, that nobody has held the country “by the jugular” more than a president, who spends half of his days nursing his failing health?. Does the senior lawyer need us to tell him that by the lukewarm attitude to the issue of insecurity, banditry, Boko Haram, insurgency and killer herdsmen, the Buhari government under which he serves as a junior minister, has held and still holds Nigerians’ windpipes? If Keyamo thinks ASUU is the one trying to “blackmail you (Nigeria) to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads”, can we ask him who “blackmailed” this government to donate one million US dollars to Afghanistan? ASUU? Was it ASUU that “blackmailed” the Buhari government to lay standard gauge railway to Maradi, Niger Republic, while trains in Nigeria got stuck in the middle of nowhere because of lack of diesel? And if indeed, the government cannot pay ASUU because “you have roads to build, health centres to build, and other sectors to take care of” , as Keyamo argued, can we simply ask him how good is the road to his Effurun home town? How many Federal Government hospitals are in Effurun? Funny people!

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But while Keyamo was at it, dissipating energy to defend his principal, Buhari had a different game. To the shame of Keyamo, his ilk in government and “the-government-is-broke” orchestra, Buhari approved the sum of N1.141 billion for Niger Republic to purchase vehicles for its security personnel! That is a government that has kept our children at home for the last six months because it has no money to pay ASUU. Talk about insensitivity; think about Buhari! I will refer you, dear readers, to my March 8, 2022, piece on this page titled: “Nigeria: The Story Of A Squatter Who Nurses A Pet Dog”. That is what Buhari does. My people say “Eniyan ti a nbo kii bo aja” – he that is living on charity to feed does not rear a dog. Keyamo said Nigeria cannot afford to pay ASUU but his master doled out N1.141 billion of our patrimony to his brothers in Niger Republic. Nigerians daily live at the mercy of bandits and are killed like poultry products yet we are supporting another country to fight insecurity. Have you seen the rickety vehicles the Nigeria Police Force uses? You wish to puke when you read some of the things this administration does. Hours after bandits attacked Kuje Prison and set free felons, Buhari jetted out to Liberia to deliver a lecture on security. How many police stations have functional vehicles in Nigeria? How many patrol vans would Innoson Motors, for instance, have given us with the N1.141billion Buhari’s Father Christmas gift to Niger Republic? When you think of those things, you will come to one conclusion: This government is not just insensitive; it is congenitally wicked!

Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist South-South South-East Editor Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same paper

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Opinion

How The UN Aids The Powerful To Exploit Their Weak

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As Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari took the floor in the general debate of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (GA) last Wednesday, his family had a big personal celebration in mind.

Congratulations to Mrs. Zahra B Buhari on your graduation with First Class Honors in Architectural Science,” his wife, Aisha Buhari, had written of their daughter-in-law on Facebook the previous day.

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Such moments are of great joy to every family. But the lady was graduating from a university in the United Kingdom. In Nigeria, which Mr. Buhari has led for nearly eight years, universities have been shut down for seven months on account of a legitimate teachers’ strike for which he merely wants to punish the teachers.

Still, when he bellied up to the microphone, Buhari spoke curiously of “enduring values.”

“…If my years in public service have taught me anything, it is that we must keep faith with those values that endure. These include, but are not limited to such values as justice, honour, integrity, ceaseless endeavour, and partnership within and between nations.”

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It is in such moments that you realise just how much the United Nations institutionally betrays the world’s weakest. Yes, the general debate must have sounded like a wonderful idea four decades ago when the organisation was being set up: an opportunity for Member States to come together and reflect.

“Reflect on what?” someone in a committee must have asked.

“Emm…emm…on anything they please!”

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“Okay! Anything they please.”

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Officially, the organisation describes the debate as “an opportunity for Member States to raise any topic and statements often reflect issues of importance to the Member State.”

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If that sounded promising in 1946 when the thoughts of the founding fathers were lofty, it is now no less than the definition of smoke and mirrors, a device by which the organisation anoints the world’s most hypocritical leaders as they come to cast themselves as saints and heroes.

Remember: When Buhari spoke in his first general debate in 2015, it was the 70th GA, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, of which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a part, was being introduced.

Buhari identified the core objectives of poverty eradication and reducing inequalities as being “precisely at the centre of Nigeria’s new Administration’s agenda.” With the SDGs, he declared, “we have the opportunity to improve the lives of people not just in the developing world but in all nations.”

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He bragged that his government was “attacking the problems we inherited head-on,” including “inequalities arising from massive unemployment and previous government policies favouring a few people to the detriment of the many.”

The following year, he told the 71st Assembly, “Fighting corruption remains a cardinal pillar of our administration. Corruption freezes development, thereby undermining the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. I am pleased that our efforts in fighting corruption are yielding positive results including significant stolen assets recoveries…We are also strengthening our capacity of government entities to institutionalise reforms to ensure transparency and good governance.”

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That was 2016, coincidentally the year Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world. Not only did Buhari also stop mentioning the SDGs by name, his government has yet to address poverty and inequality in any structured or serious sense. So much for “the opportunity to improve the lives of people…”

As for corruption, the Buhari era has become Nigeria’s worst, with such countries as the US writing warnings against re-looting into MoUs for repatriating funds.

More debilitating has been corruption in the desecration of values and institution, and abandonment of accountability and common decency.

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Consider: when Buhari arrived for the GA in 2018, First Lady Aisha had just ordered the arrest of her aide-de-camp, alleging that he had failed to deliver to her large “donations” of about N2.5billion received as gifts for her. That was the corrupt and crooked being made to sound respectable.

Consider also that in September 2018, Buhari’s APC re-election forms of N45million were bought for him by an unknown group called the Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network. That was a gift the “anti-corruption” leader was happy to collect, in violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in Part 1 of Schedule V of the constitution.

And consider that in January 2020, Buhari gave use of the presidential jet to his daughter for a class assignment. In the US, President Barack Obama would have been impeached had he authorised one of his daughters to use The Beast as an Uber. President Joe Biden would be impeached were one of his children to use Air Force One on a personal trip. It is corruption.

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The point is that away from the podium of the GA, Buhari has superintended an administration that is contrary to what he advertises. It is one of contradiction, vacillation, duplicity, and political infidelity. The government refuses to be held accountable, as demonstrated by the scandalous annual reports of the Auditor-General since 2015.

It is why Nigeria is no less than a failed state. It is now one of the world’s most insecure countries (partly arising from Buhari’s refusal to confront and disarm the rampaging Fulani herdsmen); bandits and kidnappers menace and kill everywhere; corruption thrives because Buhari’s APC seduces and rewards the nation’s biggest crooks, and never identifies those from whom it has recovered public assets. In an administration which proclaims itself to be fighting corruption, it is the corrupt who dominate the land.

In Buhari’s Nigeria, it does not matter that the universities are closed; there is an abundance of excuses and grievances but neither electricity nor jobs; manufacturing has stalled; the naira is on its deathbed; air and road travel have almost collapsed; following an attack on a commuter train on the Abuja-Kaduna line last March, the government cannot even operate any service.

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In Buhari’s Nigeria, inflation is the champion; poverty is deepening; his nepotism has divided Nigerians broadly and diminished society deeply.

READ ALSO: UNGA 77: Nigeria Hijacked By Cabal-backed Terrorists, Groups Reply Buhari

To hear Buhari at the general debate on Tuesday, however, and to see how slavishly his aides were quoting him on social media, none of these has happened. There is “Justice, Honour, Integrity, and Ceaseless endeavour.” Where and how?

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If Buhari thinks indebtedness is wrong, why does he borrow recklessly only to beg for debt cancellation? For a government which has shown such disdain for the separation of powers, how has it “promoted the rule of law”?

By the time Buhari leaves in 2023, there will only be seven years left of the 2030 Agenda and that “opportunity to improve the lives of people.” When will he tell us what he has achieved?

These contradictions are possible because the UN has—in practice but contrary to The Charter—taken sides. In effect the general debate provides that if you are powerful enough, you do not have to be held accountable. That makes the UN as dubious as the leaders for which it covers up and guarantees perpetual conflict in the developing world.

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I charge the UN with connivance and complicity. It must write accountability, particularly for leaders in their final appearance or facing re-election, into a new game plan.

 

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OPINION: The Skeleton In Ibadan

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Suyi Ayodele

And who is my neighbour”? This interrogation came from a lawyer, who came to tempt the wisdom of Jesus Christ on the issue of love. The entire encounter is recorded in the Gospel according to Saint Luke 10: 25-37. We shall come to that story later. But now, let me tell you a personal story that gave me a very pragmatic definition of neighbourliness. Some years ago, I was in my hotel room in one of the states in the South-East on an official assignment. My mobile phone rang around 2.00 a.m. I struggled out of sleep to check who the caller was. Alas! It was my elderly neighbour, Reverend Amadin Obakpolor. What? Reverend? 2.00 a.m? Jesus! I was alarmed. I picked the call, my heart palpitating, I waited. The old man, who happens to be the Odionwere of my street, said he heard some noise in my compound, and knowing that I had travelled, he decided to call me to find out what was amiss since he did not have my wife’s number. I was a bit relaxed and thanked him. I immediately put a call across to my wife and I asked her what was happening. Her response was that the baby of the neighbour at the boys’ quarters had convulsion and only the two of them were at home, the young father of the baby too having travelled. She assured me that the baby had stabilised and that he would be taken to the hospital at daybreak. I called the Odionwere back and thanked him for his concern. By 5.30 am, my wife called back to say: “Daddy (the Odionwere) is here”. The old man woke up that early to check on them before dashing out to pursue the day’s assignments. I will never forget that act of friendliness and commitment to good neighbourliness. That incident brought back my Anglican rhymes of “whosoever you have the capacity to help is your neighbour” (Eni kéni tí’wo bá Nipa láto se ìrànlówó fún o, òhun na lenìkejì re, tójú rè). The rhyme is encapsulated in the Bible passage above, which our children’s teachers at the All Saints Anglican Church, Oke-Bola, Ikole Ekiti, tagged: “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”.

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African culture is built around the family system. African traditional sociology holds that a man’s family members are not necessarily people he shares blood affinity with. For instance, a Yoruba man and an Ebira man living in Australia will naturally consider themselves as brothers because they are Nigerians. My Yoruba culture teaches that you roll over in your sleep on whoever sleeps close to you. That, in essence, means that when the need arises for urgent help, you call on those living in your neighbourhood. They are not necessarily going to be your blood relations. Brotherliness is a universal concept in Africa and the underlying factor is undiluted love. But things are changing nowadays. “Civilisation” has caught up with us and we have lost the bond of unity that was once the fulcrum of our daily life. Lagosians are the worst hit. Neighbours in the same house don’t see one another for days. In some extreme cases, most parents hardly see their children before bedtime as they are caught up every single day of the week in traffic, and are forced to leave home in the wee hours before the children wake up. Maids, in some homes, have replaced mothers. Little wonder that the spirit of Agape Love is fast receding. We are losing our humanity, we are losing our compassion. Our society is gradually refraining from the homogeneity that Africans were noted for. We have taken the new concept of “mind-your-own-business” to a ridiculous level.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Buhari, Monkeys, Snakes And Termites

This is why it is for a man to die and his skeleton was not discovered until after four years! I read the story over and over again in the Nigerian Tribune of Friday, September 9, 2022, on pages 21 and 22. The headline: “Community In Shock As Landlord’s Skeleton Is Found In His Room 4 Years After Last Seen”, was promo on the front page of the paper. I read the story with disbelief. It happened in Apete area of Ibadan. The story, which is very bogus on the paper’s online as https://tribuneonlineng.com/community-in-shock-as-landlords-skeleton-is-found-in-his-room-4-years-after-last-seen/, tells a gory account of how humanity has lost its form. The skeleton of the deceased, John Aderemi Abiola, could be seen on his bed. Terrible. His neighbour (are they neighbours?) said he was last seen in December 2018. They only cared to check up on him after snakes started crawling from his bushy compound to a neighbour’s house. The narratives from Abiola’s “neighbours” are out of this world. What type of neighbours would keep silent when they discovered that one of them was not seen for years? Excuses! The chairman of the deceased’s Adeosun/Idi Orogbo Landlords’ Association, Mr. Oluwafemi Omilana, explained that while Abiola would always pay his dues, “we noticed that he didn’t associate with others and he came to landlords’ meetings just once. His house has a high fence and was constructed at the back with a big space in front to the gate. We started noticing his absence in the community, although he didn’t mostly stay at home. He used to travel to Port Harcourt in Rivers State”. So for four good years, that is some 48 months, the “neighbours” assumed that Abiola had travelled. Yet he told them he would be back for the 2018 Ileya festival!

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Grasses began to grow in Abiola’s compound and it turned out to be another forest of, possibly, a thousand demons, inhabited by reptiles. When the crawling animals would not allow Abiola’s next-door neighbour to enjoy the peace of his home (and he too moved in two years ago), the landlords association decided to do something. They hired some labourers to clear the bush and then they made the discovery! You are wondering why it took the association that long before they decided to do something. You don’t have to be an agriculturist to know what it looks like for bushes to grow in a compound for four years. The deceased’s car was said to have been covered up! Granted: Abiola was a recluse. Granted, again, his fence is also high, such that nobody would know what was going on in the compound. But ask, when the occupant died on his bed, was there no offensive smell coming out of the compound? Or is everybody in the neighbourhood hyposmia or anosmia? The secretary of the association, Pastor Olusola Bobade, affirmed that Abiola was paying his monthly dues regularly and even paid for the rest of 2018 in October and from January 2019 through September 2022, when the skeleton was discovered, the deceased did not pay again. That should raise curiosity. The excuse that the association reported to the police and was advised to hold on till “his return so that it would not lead to litigation on trespassing”, does not speak to our humanity. How long did they have to wait? Goodness! By the time the Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” game of the Apete residents was over, this is what they discovered of their once regular-dues-paying member: “his skull, showing that he was gap-toothed in front”. Abiola’s skeleton was discovered on his bed, every part of his figure detached, with his boxers around his waist. He rotted away in that position the way humanity rotted away on those who avoided, what my late father would call “sobolation”- busybody.

But Abiola’s case is not the only evidence of lost humanity in our dear nation in the last few weeks. Just this last Friday, September 9, 2022, a member of staff of the University of Benin, UNIBEN, Prince Carter Oshodin, committed suicide at his Umelu Community in the Upper Sokponba area of Benin City because he could not pay his bills. Due to the strike action by university workers across the country (academic and non-academic), their employer, the Federal Government, withholds their salaries. In the last seven months, this set of Nigerians have not earned a dime. Some of them are couples, with children, working in the same setting. Schools resumed in Edo State and other states of the federation on Monday. Oshodin had two lovely daughters. He knew that without a salary, the lovely girls would not go to school. He could not bear the sight of his children staying at home while their mates are in school. He decided to end it. That was an extreme decision, no doubt. Killing himself has also not put his daughters back to school. Why would a man not face his challenges and opt for suicide?

Émile Durkheim, a French sociologist, who was regarded as the father of sociology, wrote “Le Suicide: Étude de sociologie” (Suicide: A Study in Sociology) in 1897. He identifies four types of suicide: egoistic suicide, altruistic suicide, anomic suicide and fatalistic suicide. The scholar posits that “the structure of suicide rates is a positive function of the structure of a group or class of people’s social relationships and those social relationships vary according to their level of integration and (moral) regulation” and that the term suicide relates to all cases of death “resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result”. Of the four types, anomic suicide is most relevant t Oshodn’s case. Anomic suicide, the French scholar opines, occurs as a result of lack of social direction and individual’s moral confusion. These, Durkheim says, happen as a result of failure of economic development. In a simple sense, anomic suicide is a by-product of a society without orderliness; “a state of moral disorder where people do not know the limits on their desires and are constantly in a state of disappointment”, especially when people go through extreme changes in wealth and economic ruins.

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Oshodin belonged to the category of anomic suiciders. Oshodin’s union, the Non Academic Staff Union, NASU, called off its strike three weeks ago. But the inhuman and draconian policy of no-work-no-pay of the government caught up with him. Because humanity is lost in the government; because the government seeks to throttle everything and everyone that objects to its poor treatment of the citizenry, a promising life was cut short and two lovely daughters left fatherless and a young lady became a widow. Before Oshodin died, he was said to have approached some friends for help and nothing came. Probably, everyone is also affected by the economic strangulation of the present government.

Jesus Christ, in the passage earlier quoted above told the lawyer the following story of a man from Jerusalem, who was robbed and injured by his attackers, who left him half dead. A priest passed by the way and did nothing to help the victim. Ditto a Levit, the very elect of the Lord into priesthood. Later, a Samaritan came by the way, picked up the robbery victim, dressed up his wounds and lodged him in a safe place with deposit for further upkeep. Jesus then asked the lawyer: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers”? The interrogating lawyer answered: “The one who had mercy on him”. Jesus replied: “Go and do likewise”. How many John Aderemi Abiolas do we have in our neigbourhoods? How many Prince Carter Oshodins are looking for the next meal for their families in our immediate environment? Can I impose on you, dear readers, the injunction of my Lord Jesus: “Go and do likewise”? Know that every act of kindness withheld is an indication of dead humanity. Let my pastor note: this is my evangelism for the week! Permission to be absent on Saturday, sir!

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Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist South-South South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same paper.

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Opinion

Queen Elizabeth: Saint Or Satan? [OPINION]

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Tunde Odesola

When two horses gallop without the clippity-clop sound of thudding hooves, chances are they are floating. Yes, the two white stallions charioting Queen Elizabeth floated towards Heaven’s Gate in a cloud of fire amid the evergreen Christian song, “Across the Bridge,” made popular by the late American country music singer, Jim Reeves.

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Clad in her trademark hat, diamond-embedded suit, and gold-encrusted white gloves, she waved her right hand slowly as the chariot wafted through white and blue clouds while the song, “Across the Bridge, there’s no more sorrow…,” played in the background.

The Pearly Gates came into full sight after the giant bell chimed 96 times and the dirge, “Where We’ll never Grow Old,” began in a slow-pitch instrumental, “…Never grow old, never grow old/In the land where we’ll never grow old/Never grow old, never grow old/In the land where we’ll never grow old…”

The serene ambience of Heaven’s Gate was rowdy this morning. It’s true the dead don’t bite. But they do protest, just like they are doing this morning. Dead citizens from almost all the 56 countries making up the Commonwealth of Nations, which the Queen headed while alive, had stormed Heaven’s Gate, bearing placards with various inscriptions, urging the banishment of Elizabeth to hell.

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Some of the placards read, “Here comes the Queen of Slavery,” “Elizabeth lineage disrupted God’s earthly order, she doesn’t deserve paradise,” “Elizabeth’s Britain: The most corrupt empire ever,” “Elizabeth, Hypocrisy Queen,” “The world would’ve been better without Elizabeth’s bloodline.”

The angels had a tough time controlling the surging protesters, especially those from Nigeria, where hate had replaced national conscience, and pessimism had pummelled patriotism into submission, leaving ethnicity, intolerance, nepotism and treachery as enduring branches on the tree of corruption.

“We no go gree o, we no go gree…,” the Nigerian protesters chorused, looking for discarded tyres, matches and fuel, but Queen Elizabeth was calm and unmoved, stern and unblinking in her bulletproof chariot.

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When they couldn’t get anything to burn, the protesters later changed their song to, “Water run away my eyes,” mentioning epochs like colonisation, the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria, the looting of Nigeria’s artefacts and resources by Britain, among others.

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Also, the protesters shouted ‘Three gbosa’ as they mentioned the names of some departed activists such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Mallam Aminu Kano, Chinua Achebe, Gani Fawehinmi, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Tai Solarin, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose pictures they held high up.

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Simultaneously, many deceased Caucasians rose from the back of beyond and rallied to the defence of the Queen, chanting and spoiling for a free-for-all – all floating at Heaven’s Gate.

In the midst of the cacophony, the Queen calmly stepped out of the chariot, and walked towards Heaven’s Gate, her pedicured feet fleeting on the wavy clouds. But the Nigerian protesters rushed to the gate, their hands interlocking to form a barricade of bodies.

With the fire in her eyes protesting the unheard-of affront, the Queen, in a controlled tone, said under her breath, “Blimey! To what do I ascribe this crackbrained display of irritability? Is this the reward for civilising a backward people without history?

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The Nigerian protesters roared in unison, calling attention to the Queen’s use of hate speech: “Did you hear that, Angels Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel!? She thinks she’s still in her empire built with the sweat and blood of blacks.

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Queen: Blast and fog! The earlier you know enemies aren’t permanent, only interests are, the better your understanding of global politics and power, and the more profitable it’s for you.

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Protesters: Shame! Britain undermined Nigeria!

Queen: Lie! Britain saved Nigerian masses from the feudal oppression of greedy leaders who sold fellow Nigerians into slavery for mirror, gin, gunpowder and foreign food.

Protesters: If Britain didn’t colonise us, we would’ve been a superpower today?

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Queen: On my life, Nigeria would have remained a merciless jungle dominated by wife-snatching and land-grabbing feudal lords, where only the rich and powerful thrive. Britain couldn’t colonise Ethiopia, though we tried. We couldn’t break their unity. Mark you, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, India, and New Zealand were former British colonies doing wonders today.

Protesters: You bequeathed a terrible political heritage to us, forcing the weak and unenthusiastic North on the strong and progressive South.

Queen: You allowed that preferential sleight to become an albatross when the South-East sought to upturn the political order by killing military leaders mainly from the North.

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Protesters: Stop that divisive rhetoric! The South-East didn’t set out to annihilate military officers from other regions, it was a military coup in which logistics and plans went awry.

Queen: Tell that to the marines!

Protesters: Every country you set foot in becomes a story of pilferage, pillage and plunder.

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Queen: I colonised Ghana, too. See what Ghanaian leaders have made of their country, see what Nigerian leaders have turned Nigeria into. Why did former Prime Minister David Cameron describe Nigeria as fantastically corrupt? It’s because billions of Nigerian dollars are stacked in foreign banks.

Protesters: Britain is also guilty; it colludes with Nigerian leaders to syphon Nigerian funds abroad…

Queen: Shut that latrine you call a mouth! Did Britain collude with Abacha to relocate the Central Bank of Nigeria abroad? By Jove, you have no idea how much other leaders stole from 1976 till date. When I administered your country, electricity was constant, roads were good, hospitals were functional, there was no ASUU strike, there was employment, life had meaning. It’s my bet that Nigeria of the slave trade era was better than Nigeria of today because life had a price tag then, it wasn’t as brutish and valueless as it is today.

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(The protesters began to break off gradually, slinking back to the underworld one by one)

Queen: Did Britain also induce your prodigal leaders to jump on planes to London for mere meetings they can hold in the excellent Nigerian weather? Does that singular act not show that shame is a scarce commodity among your political elite? I’m very proud to lead a small country in population and landmass into the realm of global power. Love, kindness and patriotism are key components lacking in your country’s leadership.

Few remaining protesters: You’re the poisonous contaminant that polluted the confluences of our separate rivers, and made us sick, cancerous and vulnerable till date…

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Queen: She ignores the few remaining protesters, peacocks majestically to the gate and asks Angel Michael who sits before the Book of Life if her name is in there.

Angel Michael: I have searched the Book of Life seven times, not once did I find your name therein.

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Transfixed, the Queen goes pale, then red, and blank, sweat oozes from every pore on her body. The cool, heavenly clouds gradually turn into harsh, dry wind, becoming hotter by each passing second.

Tunde Odesola is a senior journalist columnist with The PUNCH newspaper and a guest writer here in INFO DAILY.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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