Here, in this medium, using this platform, every fortnight, on Monday like this, I shall be sharing a little of my thoughts, as they bleed from my pen, as the haemorrhaging pressure up, without losing focus, with you. I promise you a most brutal, frank, but stoic and sarcastic recap of our collective failings in this clime. Nothing political, nothing personal, but satiric expositions of serial failings of our society, the mourning of the vainglory of men, and some other times, hyperbolically idealism. I do attend a lot of political meetings and have unfettered access to many political leaders of all the divides. Any information gotten from privileged sources shall not feature in any way here. But my personal thoughts, no matter how wild shall always appear here in simple prose, be it essay and other times in poems, as the mood swings.
WHEN MEN WERE MEN
Three men in one, was a popular saying amongst the Yoruba, South West, Nigeria, while eulogizing a brave man or of proven integrity. Those were days when men were men. Men that were full of honour, candour and bagful of integrity.
Men that took the reins in government in the old Western Region and transformed the Region to Britain of Africa. A few weeks ago, the first Television Station in the entire Black African continent marked its 70 years of first public broadcast with Anilke agbaje-williams anchoring the news broadcast. This is a legacy that has been abused and defiled beyond recognition. The visionary man who brought it after seeing a colour TV broadcast while in Italy to watch the 1958 Olympic Games, late Pa Obafemi Awolowo has no imprints in the edifice any longer. It has been taken over by the nebulous omnibus contraption called Nigeria. And like any other laudable legacies, moribund.
Awolowo and his men were men of little personal wants and sartorial taste. These men practically forced education and civilization on their people. Hitherto slaves were turned to captains of industry and top professionals. They derived so much joy in uplifting the standard of living of their people. Pa Awolowo never rode in an armoured vehicle. He had no hordes of Security details around him, no secret police to sniff around for intelligence reports. He operated freely from his Oke Bola, Ibadan, personal residence and impacted so much on the lives of the people of the West.
My first familiarity of a Governor’s House was the Bishop Street’s residence of the bohemian Second Republic Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande. A Spartan story building downtown Ilupeju. He rode in a Toyota Crown car, yet he superintended the affairs of the State like a Leviathan. He lived a basically simple life, yet he also impacted hugely on the lives of the people of the State. He even had the compassion to borrow a far Northern State, Bornu, money to pay her workers’ salaries.
Pa Jakande too did not ride an armoured car nor live in blinding opulence. He knew that human capital development is the surest means of achieving an everlasting joy. Today at a very advanced age, he still lives in the same downtown Ilupeju residence. Very happy and contended.
We daily lament the growing army of unemployed youths. We live in denial of the large problem of unemployable youths. Youths with various degrees, diplomas and certificates but are simply unfit for employment. Our tertiary institutions mass-produced them yearly. It has become a ritual. The educational sector, like the health counterparts in the larger social service sector, is fast collapsing. No one to rescue it. Those that have move-in into the sector are purely gold diggers, looking fortunes. The private individuals, the Churches, the Islamic groups, all are very unscrupulous. They have only keyed into the maddening sector only to rake in the free-flowing millions, and then watch over their healthy bank balances.
Pa Awolowo set the pace. He laid a wonderful foundation. Only we all fail to build on his foundations. Education was made the cornerstone of all his developmental plans. Subsequent governments abandoned that glorious path. They found it convenient to abandon because pursuing it would not allow them to build their personal empires. It would have been a common good for the greatest numbers.
Now, ex-Governors have 3, 4 private jets. They own estates. They own A-Grade schools. Some have delved into the health services, building Diagnostic Centres and Hospitals. All for the upper class. All these are up, while Primary Health Centres are failing, public schools, primary and secondary, are collapsing and roads, even to their hometowns are barely passable. I know some of them to have helipad in their backyards, they go to their hometowns in chartered helicopters.
Sadly, we watch all these shenanigans in dead silence, are we are tired? Are we weak? No! I refuse to believe we are tired or weak. Only that we have lost our sense of evaluation. We now celebrate low life; we now celebrate nonentities. And sadly, in this our part of the world today, we celebrate mediocrity in all spheres of our national life. A legislator is happy pauperizing the lives of his constituents, we raise our hands and clap for him. A Governor is plunging his State into damming indebtedness, no one, not one, is cautioning him, all we do is hail him on. Yes no one, not one is looking for the common good for the greatest numbers again. Few are stupendously wealthy, large, very large, yes very large number are very poor. This is the legacy being bequeathed to us.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria. Feferity (c) 2019