Saturday, August 27, 2016 5:29 pm
By Gbenro Adesina/ Ibadan
A High Chief of Idaseland in Owo Kingdom, Professor Nelson Olabanji Fashina of the Department of English, University of Ibadan, UI, is relatively a household name in the institution. Several reasons could be adduced for his popularity. First, he is an eloquent and outspoken scholar who is also versatile in his academic field. He relates well with both students and staff, yet he is principled and very ideologically radical. A former coordinator, Use of English under the General Studies Programme, and a Sub-Dean Postgraduate, he was the Chairman/Convener, UI Community Forum for public interaction with the aspirants to the position of Vice-Chancellor, in 2015.
Secondly, he is a tri-career individual: a professor of Literature in English who specializes in African Literature, literary theory and text stylistics, a Prophet in an Ibadan branch of Celestial Church of Christ, CCC. he is also a herbal medical doctor, “Onisegun”, who shares affiliation of traditional knowledge of Ifa corpus, and claims to have cure for all manner of ailments and deceases including; Human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, thrombotic stroke, male and female infertility, madness, cancer, fibroid and others.
Fasina, a literary icon and creative writer is currently the occupant of No. 8, Ebrohime Close, the former official residence of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka which is noted for housing literary and arts giants and great scholars including the former Head of Department, Theatre Arts, Dr. Remi Ademola Adedokun who converted the residence’s boys’ quarters to a museum of arts and culture. The house is in the midst of a fairy forest with different types of trees including male and female Baobab “Ose” trees, Milicia excelsa, “Iroko” tree, palm trees, different kind of medicinal trees and leaves including: Ocinum gratissumum, “Efinrin”, Neem, “Dongoyaro” tree, mango tree, tea leaves, Aloe Vera, is equally surrounded by rocks, forming different shapes, and well spread at the backyard. The compound has the smell of vegetation, and rocks. It was found out that photographers and theatre artists use the place for motion picture, video, and films while students of theatre arts equally use the place for rehearsals.
Baring his mind on various issues affecting the nation, ranging from education to politics, Fasina, in a chat, condemned the Federal Government for cancelling the Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, Post-UTME, as it would create an avenue for lopsidedness in the university admission.
Calling on the government to have a rethink and allow each institution to validate the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, scores awarded to candidates seeking admission, the scholar disclosed that most students with high scores, 270 and above in JAMB always score low in Post-UTME while candidates with low marks from 200 to 240 end up having high scores in Post-UTME, a mystery difficult to explain. “Are you not surprised that candidates who score between 200 and 240 end up being the best students in Post-UTME, which is based on JAMB standard and come out with First Class and Second Class Upper Division while those with high scores, 270 and above in JAMB perform poorly in Post-UTME and if eventually given the admission, their performance in the class is ridiculously poor and they manage to graduate with lower credit. This is the reason why we, in UI, base our admission on the performance in Post-UTME. With Post-UTME, we have been able to select the best of the best among the students without compromising the processes in favour of anybody”.
On solution to Nigeria’s myriad of problems, the scholar noted that the nation’s problem is associated with the method of federating which is based on imposed and forced unity rather than voluntary unity. Stressing that the nation lacks unity because of considerable difference in religion, culture, tradition and customs, he stated that the Nigerian government is not based on patriotism but exploitation, mutual disrespect and suspicion.
According to him, “Nigerian system of government takes after America’s system. America has a seeming unitary culture. Though, there are several races in USA, they speak the same language in terms of a defined American culture to which every Jewish American, African American, Asian American, Filipino American, and Latin American will fit. This is not the case with Nigeria because culturally, the different geo-political zones are diametrically opposed in terms of religion, culture, custom and tradition. As a result of these differences, there is no sense of nationalism in whatever form, which we need for Nigeria to move forward”.
He said further, “Nigerian leaders go to the seat of government with the mind of satisfying themselves and their people because there is no common ground for unity. What is the unity in each tribe when they engage derogative reference to other tribes? A Yoruba man calling a Hausa man “Ajegoro”, the Hausa man calling a Yoruba “Yarubawa”, the Igbo man calling Yoruba man “Ofeimanu”, and Yoruba man calling an Igbo man, “Ajokutamamumi”. We have this kind of institutionalised hatred in Nigeria’s strange sociological system”.
Fasina who advocated for regional government for the nation stressed, “The solution is that each state of the federation should be independent economically. We can still exist as relatively independent economic state within the general matrix called Nigeria federation. I am actually asking for regionalism. Let each state or region manage their economy and security. Nigeria will be gone completely, and collapse economically if nothing is done in the next one year and if we fail to come for a referendum to determine how to run the country. Let us negotiate the unity of Nigeria”.
As regards corruption, the creative writer pointed out that Nigerian legal system and the laws of the federation encourage corruption, asking, “Is it not illegal that governors spend money in millions and billions which they call security vote without accounting for it, while several millions of Nigerians have nothing to eat? They also get salaries and allowances after leaving offices.
After finishing the chunk of the allocation, they subject their citizens to all forms of illegal multiple taxation: property tax, individual tax, occupancy tax, gas emission tax for schools as if it is a manufacturing company, and no one cares to check them. The lawyers, who are supposed to help the vulnerable, challenging all these illegalities in the court of law, fold their arms. Corruption is part of the integral nature of Nigerian government. What is the justification of government using touts and members of NURTW as either council contract workers or under private partnership to harass people and collect money from them? What happens to the state workers?”
Speaking further, “After a year of Buhari’s administration, we now know that his goodwill alone can’t bring the desired magic. Can you imagine the effect of high level corruption in the National Assembly? Under the watch of Buhari, legislators padded the first budget Buhari presented and the government is justifying the illegal action rather than prosecuting them. Almost all the people that migrated to APC are products of corruption. They are corrupt. So, who is probing who? The government of Nigeria should be closed down. State of emergency should be declared on the government. We must come to a referendum table and decide on how this country will be run”.