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Never again – Will I sit on the fence And I wish I could also March with Tu-face Idibia

I wrote this post on Saturday before I read the protest had been called off by Tuface himself. It is not my place to judge Tuface given that I am writing this post thousands of miles away from Nigeria. It is what it is. I believe that the protest is still going to happen but I’m not sure if it would be as effective. Today, I salute those who gave everything including their lives for our freedom, no be beans.

Please read!

I am just a man who was lucky enough to be born into a middle-class Nigerian family somewhere in Osun-State, so I doubt if I would have been able to swing votes or any of that stuff during the 2015 presidential election; not even that of my siblings who were old enough to cast votes. However, one of my deepest personal regrets in the past few years has been my fencist position during the last election. My position during the 2015 election was more nuanced than those who outrightly supported Buhari and presented him as the best thing since sliced bread.

I was utterly disgusted with the ineptness of Jonathan’s administration like a lot of Nigerians that I did not consider a fact — now known — that we could have it worse and not necessarily better. I was faced with a conundrum of desperately wanting the Jonathan led administration to go and a Buhari I knew had nothing to offer Nigeria. I knew that the iniquitous APC leaders were just opportunists who were ready to do whatever it took to get into power — even if it meant merging and repackaging one of the old clueless relics from Nigeria’s past, wear a makeup for him and present him to Nigerians as a messiah. But my desperation for the former outweighed the latter and I kept quiet; I secretly wanted Buhari to nick the election. In hindsight, this decision of mine was vapid and immature and time has kicked my butts for it.

I am happy that Tuface Idibia will be marching on Monday and I wish more than anything that I could be there in Nigeria marching with him straight into the heart of the Nigerian Federal Government until they understand the hardship they have plagued the Nigerian masses with. I expect a huge turnout on Monday. Nigerians don’t need an expert to tell them they are hungry. My only fear Is that the uproar and the anger brewing up in the Nigerian youths would — on this day or — some other day turn into a paroxysm of rage that would be too late to curtail. I say this because I know that the orientation of the Nigerian Police force — just like the colonial days — is to protect the Government and the elites, and not the Nigerian masses.

So please, for those who will be marching on Monday, let us try and make it a peaceful and an effective protest. #ISTANDWITHNIGERIA

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Buhari was the wake-up call the Nigerian middle-class needed

This is a threnody; one with a topic.

Nigeria has always been saddled with the litany of bad leaderships since 1960 and the middle-class has always been silent or at worst — they somehow justify the incompetence of the Nigerian government even when they should know better. The middle-class are either silent or making faint noises as long as they are able to pay their rents, eat three square meal, switch on their generators, and take a once-in-a year trip to Dubai. They have enjoyed their heaven until Buhari came with his half-baked policies which are now making sure that the numbers of middle-class are fast diminishing while being left in state of impecuniousness.

The Nigerian politicians built a system that favors them. A system where they strategically position themselves and their friends to attract wealth for themselves and their generations to come. If the policy doesn’t favor the rich, it dies while it’s still in its gestation period.
The middle-class are only vociferous when the government denies them of their ‘heaven’. When people are being killed in Southern Kaduna, they won’t say anything. When the blood-sucking-horse-climbing demons called herdsmen go on a killing rampage, you won’t hear anything from the Nigerian intellectuals and middle-class. If it doesn’t affect their finances or loved ones, they are fine. But the incompetency — a type that hasn’t been seen for some time now — of the recent occupant of Aso-rock has brought the hypocrisy of the Nigerian middle class to the fore.

Yesterday, a Nigerian military jet mistakenly dropped a bomb on one of the IDP camps in Borno; leaving some people dead and many injured, and the president is yet to visit them. It seems the president is allergic to domestic trips. Where is the outcry? The Nigerian middle-class do not care about the danger that comes with their silence, or the damage it leaves in its wake. When are we going to start valuing the life of a Nigerian?

One would think the middle-class and the intellectuals should be the voice of the poor but this is obviously not the case in Nigeria.

The Nigerian middle-class must wake up and lend a collective voice to every ill of the government; and not only when their master card is blocked and they cannot use it outside the country. It is time to stop cherry picking on issues. Every issue must matter; every life must matter.
And to those youths who write potboiler articles to justify the actions and inactions of the government, I hope the brown envelope is fat enough, you will answer to posterity. Those who dish out amphigories for the glory of clicks, I hope the traffic is worth it. And the town criers who get hired to cloak a blatant ineffective government with palliatives and give them a tap on the back, you will all get your reward.

I will end my rant here by taking one from the smorgasbord of Soyinka: The man dies in everyone who keeps quiet in the face of tyranny!

Manuscript: Education ~ the most Potent weapon (The roles of Nigerians in Diaspora) as delivered by Olusegun Tinubu

1) How many of us really care about Nigeria? For those who do not care, who do not consider Nigeria home anymore, it’s okay. I also believe Geography should not define or decide where a man calls his home. So if you have your whole family here and decide America is home, it is totally fine. Who even says one cannot have more than 1 home? Even if your green passport was replaced with a blue passport, your identity as a Nigerian is still there. What earns you the right to call Nigeria home? The traditions, the modus operandi, the experiences, your Nigerian-ness—cannot be taken away by the blue passport. Only if you lose them completely can you severe ties with Nigeria.

2) What is the essence of our education? The essence of education is not only to get jobs and create a better life solely for yourselves but also to impact lives and give back to the society that made you.

There’s no point going into the obvious quagmires that plague the educational system of Nigeria (as seen in the lack of equipment, corruption, poor educational standards, exploitation, overcrowding in classrooms, inadequate funding, poor parenting, examination malpractices and so on) or lament at the obliviousness of our rapacious leaders to these problems.

The purpose of this lecture is to challenge you and I (Nigerians in Diaspora) to give back to the Nigerian society—either from here or when we go back, by applying our western education.

According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the literacy survey conducted by National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria in 2010 estimates the literacy rate in Nigeria at 56.9%, While the Central intelligence agency (CIA) facts book in 2015, shows an estimate of 59.6% of literacy rate (15 and above that can read and write). I don’t need to stress how poorly educated we are as a nation as it is evident in these stats and the backwardness of our society today. I do not think the problem is from the inception. The education being offered at the primary school level is decent. The collapse, however, starts at the secondary level. It is also important to note that, out of the 59.6% literates in Nigeria, some passed through the public schools at the secondary school level which means their education is at best mediocre, at worst nonsensical. One could argue that, most of those who passed through the so called best schools cannot compete at the international level.

Taking a wild guess, I believe majority of the literates go to the public schools. It should also be noted that, it is the children of the rich who attend the private schools while the poor has no choice than to settle for public schools or no education at all. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider as years go by. So, putting all the aforementioned into perspectives, less than 20% of Nigerians can compete globally—sad! But it’s our reality.

Education is one of the most potent weapons that can be used to drive societal reform; an inadequacy of it would spell the doom of any nation sooner or later. You and I are the privileged ones who are able to get good education from developed nations and I believe we must wield this weapon (good education) and effectively use it to resuscitate our dying nation.

Now let’s take few steps into the past. There was a time when the children of both rich and poor got quality education to lay solid foundation for the life ahead and the story of our incumbent President, M. Buhari and late President Musa Yar’adua (RIP) is a testament to this fact. They both went to the same school, and while Buhari was the son of a peasant, Musa’s father was a minister, but they both got the same quality of education. Again, between 1954 and 1959 when Chief Awolowo was the western premiere, he gave free and quality primary education to people who were residing in the western part of Nigeria, who were interested in going to school, regardless of their background. Some were also able to get scholarships to further their educations thereafter. This is one of the reasons why some of us are here today because our parents were born in that generation and they enjoyed this benefits. In our present society, the rich and the poor no longer get the same kind of education.

Unfortunately, what was quality then is not quality now, the world is evolving but we are still lagging behind as we slowly find our way to extinction. We have decided not to invest in the educational sector.

What should we do or what can we do? How can we chip in our 2%?

  • Elucidate: This is the age of technology and we must use it to our advantage. (Internet-writing, and debates) Our social media accounts should not only be used to trumpet the supposed comfortable life we live in diaspora. We should try to educate people using our social media, let them understand the need to be politically informed and how their political decisions can increase their chances of a better life. Basic and clear explanations like this can stop someone from selling his or her vote.

I have read several articles where people were lamenting at the death of books and libraries and their cause for lamentation befuddles me. Like Pa Ikhide said, the death of libraries and books should not be mourned, what we should do is meet the African youths at the points of their availability—the internet. The internet is the book of choice for many Nigerian readers. We must elucidate by making things clear, engage in healthy debates-and everyone can learn from each other through this.

  • Fit in: This is also very important, especially for those who plan on moving back to Nigeria after some time. You must consciously strive not to lose your Nigerian-ness. Don’t go back speaking with your nose or playing the “do you know who I am” card at every chance you get. While I agree that integrity is an expensive virtue for people in Nigeria because of the hardship, we must not dump our integrity while attempting to fit in. The moment you left the shores of Nigeria, she moved on—for good or for bad. You have to be patient, to understand this new Nigeria, and only then can you make tangible difference.
  • Modified Solutions: We must present our western oriented solutions in a local context; a context which our people can understand. We tend to just go back to Nigeria to literally present western oriented solutions to African problems, forgetting they are two different societies, failing to account for the differential in human thinking. The problem with our leaders is that they want to transform the country overnight without putting the basics in place. There are some of these abracadabra we are not ready for, some levels we are yet to attain, some developments that won’t work in our context. They want to make Nigeria a mimicry of the west overnight without undergoing the required process and patience. An example is the Governors who claim to invest in the Airport business when they are yet to tackle roads and rail system issues. What percentage of the masses use to air? (bar our Benin people) Why embark on big things when you don’t have the basics in place?

I remember having a discussion about the ethnicity and religious card being played by the political parties during this past election with a friend. For example, APC chose a Muslim northerner and a Christian from the west as Presidential candidates to have a better chance at winning the election. My friend was quick to point out that Jeb Bush could leave Texas to be the governor of Florida. I told him, that cannot work in Nigeria, at least not now and that is our reality. While I also hope for a Nigeria where a southerner can vie for a prominent post in the north and vice-versa, I do not think we are there yet or the ethnicity disease has eaten so deep that we can’t recover from this disease. I believe Azikwe was the western premiere sometimes along the corridor of history.

Also, we need to encourage more women to go to school and reach the zenith of education if they wish to. We need to allow them to elevate to more prominent positions. I believe we are getting better in that regards albeit slowly. Babangida ran Nigeria for 7yrs without a single female minister in the 80s. But currently, we have 8 female senators out of 109 present senators. In the House of Representatives, only 18 of 360 representatives are women. Definitely not good enough in a nation where half of the population are women. [Source: Tolu Ogunlesi]

In conclusion, most or some of us here would be presented a chance to make changes in Nigeria in the nearest future. It is no secret that most of this prominent positions back home are reserved for people with western education. A number of these positions in the country are filled with people like ourselves who schooled in west but unfortunately, they are making little or no impact. It is not because they have no knowledge but because they are applying it wrongly. While the approach of elevating people with western education (people like you and I) into prominent positions is supposed to be productive, it could also be counterproductive if not properly harnessed. As Nigerians, when we go back home to make changes, we must understand that we can’t be a mimicry of the west overnight, we must understand that we need to crawl before we walk,  and we must walk before we dare to run. We cannot offset the law of nature. We need to keep in touch with Nigeria, we need to understand her basic needs so we just don’t go there to run around in circles making little or no impact.

I would like to thank those who have contributed to this work one way or the other; either directly or indirectly. I appreciate my friends- Tega Agbogidi, Dayo Anipole, Bisola Odebunmi, Jimi Buraimoh, and Oreoluwa Ayeni for all the healthy debates we had on this topic.

As delivered by Olusegun Tinubu at the Nigerian Independence Day Banquet; organized by Nigeria Student Organization,

Carrolton, Texas. 10-02-15