Monday, April 2, 2018 1:09 pm
By Bolanle Bolawole
In his student days at Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede (not Ogunmodede), current vice-chancellor of the inimitable University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), would support a worthy cause any day, regardless whose ox is gored. Articulate and informed, he was not dogmatic but a “little to the Right” or “a little to the Left” – depending. In this wise, Tope, as his friends fondly call him, is a fitting successor to acting Vice-Chancellor Prof. Anthony Adebolu Elujoba, whose mantra was “doing things right” It is most likely Ogunbodede will take Ife to greater heights – but it will come with a price. There is a cost to every achievement; no one makes an omelette who is not ready to break eggs. What many always overlook, however, is that honest, forthright, and competent leaders usually are a two-edged sword. When we take up arms against the excesses of one leader, yelling for a righteous person to take over, we often forget that the forthright man will not only stop the rot but also frown on our own excesses. That is the dilemma at OAU right now; such that those who cried “Hosanna’ yesterday are shouting “Crucify him” today. But permit me to digress a little!
Bill Gates’ rebuke of the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress could not have come at a better time. He said not only have Buhari’s policies made Nigerians poorer, deepening the suffering in the land, but also that the policies stand no chance of success in the final analysis. Gates bearded the lion right in its lair, confronting the Buhari administration right in the Presidential Villa; in fact, at an expanded National Economic Council meeting attended by state governors and other top brass – with the VP presiding. It doesn’t get worse than that. Yet, he merely told a simple truth: Human beings are the building blocks of every society. Investing in infrastructure without commensurate investment in human beings authenticates the Yoruba adage that the child you failed to train is the one that will auction the structures you invested your life savings on. African-American politician, Jesse Jackson, said a bird needs two wings to fly. Investment in infrastructure and a concomitant investment in human capital are two sides of the same coin. A related issue is the alarming manner this government amasses debts – and is still unrelenting! Books have been written on the debt trap. In case Western education is “haram” to this government, how about the age-old wisdom of our own people, to wit, “He who goes a-borrowing always goes a-sorrowing”? We learnt that in elementary school. In less than three years, Buhari has borrowed twice as much as the PDP did in 16 years! Aligned to the debt trap is what is now known as the aid trap. Beware of foreign aid, not just of the Chinese but also of the American, European and, now we are told, Bill Gates’, if what is trending on social media about the hidden evils behind the polio eradication campaign is anything to go by. Ultimately, there is no free lunch and, again as our people put it, eni n wa ifa n wa ofo. Awoof get bone, as they say. It then boils down to one point – there is no alternative to self-reliance.
Gen. TY Danjuma’s outburst on the killing fields that the Middle Belt has become courtesy of Fulani herdsmen is a chart-buster. Danjuma, from Takum in Taraba State, accuses the military and, by extension, the Buhari administration of duplicity and complicity in the killings before making a call to arms on victims of what he called “ethnic cleansing” Very volatile speech! I said that and much more in my “Treasures” column in the New Telegraph newspaper of Wednesday, 28th March at page 14. Danjuma, when he was in the Army, helped to create the Frankenstein monster called feudal and conservative North; retributive justice and the Law of Karma have only returned to haunt him. That is not to say, however, that he did not speak very well. He is like ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo; they and others sharpened the North’s teeth and are now faced with the monster they helped to create. In their characteristic manner, the powers-that-be have launched a campaign of calumny against Danjuma. It is this kind of blackmail that does not allow many to speak out. There is hardly a big man without skeletons in the cupboard. If we wait until we find a “clean” person to speak up for us, we are not likely to find any with the right leverage and enough weighty voice. That is why I have always insisted we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. A trick of our oppressors is to blackmail and rubbish any member of the ruling class breaking ranks by challenging their moral justification. This is a device from the pit of hell.
Someone said all those still aiding and abetting the oppressors will one day come to grief and regret their actions one after the other; they cite the examples of OBJ, Danjuma, Christian leaders who cajoled their flock to vote Buhari, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, etc. Even the PDP are full of regrets. Its chairman, Uche Secondus, came into the open to admit that the party disappointed Nigerians, for which he offered profuse apology. We are getting somewhere. Apology accepted, if it is not a ruse or vote-chasing gimmick, like APC’s lies that it now accepts restructuring. The next step, then, is restitution. Return all ill-gotten wealth, if any. Buhari stopped short of following in PDP’s footsteps in his admission that the past three years of his administration have been turbulent. He should simply have said that in three years, he failed woefully. A man who truncated the Lagos metro-line project in 1984 returned to the same city last week to commission a “Danfo” and “Molue” bus stop. How the cruel joke was lost on him beggars belief.
We return to Ife. The sore point on campus last week was the five “Leftist” students who, finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, ended up in prison. As a leftist, my soft spot should be for my Comrades but discreet investigation conducted on campus yielded the fact that the students acted abysmally below par. Impunity and brigandage must not be confused with activism or “aluta”, as we call it. Students’ unionism has been suspended at OAU and the Students Union Government disbanded. As Chairman, Adekunle Fajuyi Hall and Member of the Students’ Representative Council, 1981/82, I should naturally kick against this but I found, to my chagrin, that students themselves admitted that the suspended SUG was an embarrassment. Students are not above the law and a citadel of learning and culture like Great Ife must not be reduced to the den of robbers and headquarters of yahoo-yahoo boys and cultists. Students beating up Hall wardens, professors, and terrorising the law-abiding with impunity must be resisted by all lawful means. The Ogunbodede-led management team at OAU is bent on arresting this unacceptable decline into anarchy – and it should receive the support of all. Ogunbodede has great ideas and lofty goals for Ife. His plans, if they mature, will take the University to the next level. He, however, needs peace on campus to achieve his goals. In private discussions, I believe he has a perfect understanding that the goal is to reform and re-mould errant students into better citizens. Genuine remorse on the part of offenders could thus yield soft landing. Students must learn the difference between sheer thuggery and purposeful students’ activism and stop misconstruing good behaviour as docility. That said, it is a minus where University authorities fail to master the delicate act of walking the tight rope of accommodating and effectively managing robust Students’ Unionism.
A sore point in all public Universities is the acute shortage of accommodation and the attendant vexed issue of squatting. Like Bill Gates noted, enough funds are not allocated to education by the authorities. Elementary law of supply and demand takes over where demand over-strips supply. I have seen some of the efforts by the Ogunbodede-led management to improve both the quality and quantity of accommodation available at OAU. Laudable as this it, the problem will not be solved overnight. In the interim, the authorities must find an ingenious way of tip-toeing around the sensitive issue of squatting. Prof. Ogunbodede should know. As a student, he squatted at Awo Hall. Till date, we still refer to Taiwo, his “landlord” at Awo, as “Tope’s landlord”! But I understand squatting at Ife these days is a different kettle of fish from what it was in our days; that Ajegunle, Makoko, and Maroko are paradise compared to the halls of residence nowadays. This is simply unacceptable. Bed bugs ravage students in halls of residence. That is shameful. When students fight with rats for breathing space; how will Lassa fever outbreak be put at bay? Effective communication between the management and its various publics; even-handedness in conflict resolution; discipline and good behaviour on the part of students while workers and lecturers eschew politics of bitterness – these are sure recipe for lasting peace and progress at Ife.
Knocking Ewi and Fayose’s heads a second time?
The video making the rounds of the so-called “fight” or “rudeness” of Ekiti State’s Gov. Ayo Fayose to the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti is storm in a tea cup; it is politics of upcoming Ekiti governorship election at play. Anyone familiar with Fayose’s passionate way of making his points will better understand his comportment at Ewi’s palace but those concerned should be wiser this time around; this was how a wedge was maliciously driven between Fayose on the one hand and the Ewi and others on the other to truncate the governor’s first tenure in 2006. As they say, once bitten, twice shy. George Santayana admonishes us to learn from history if we are not to repeat its mistakes. As Ado-Ekiti wears a new look befitting a capital, many cannot hide their joy. Law-abiding citizens are not only happy that the hide-outs of criminal elements are being demolished; they are also urging Fayose to go the whole hog. Those afraid that old, decrepit buildings could collapse on their head nudge government to pull them down and still pay compensation! Family members quarrelling over how the inheritance is administered have suddenly found a messiah in Fayose’s demolition exercise. Government officials usually ensure compensation is paid equitably while intractable cases are settled at the Palace. At some demolished structures, fetish substances were exhumed and destroyed. Destinies and glories long buried were thus set free. Until you get behind the story, you hardly get to see the true picture.
LAST WORD: Why should Buhari be chairman of the all-important National Food Security Council and another Northerner, Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, is deputy chairman? Is it because there are no worthy persons from the South? Even Benue, famous as the nation’s “food basket”, is not on the council. Food is a critical element in ongoing re-colonization agenda and only those sold to the project can be allowed anywhere near the Food council’s driver’s seat. A people that cannot feed themselves are condemned to being the slaves of others. Is the South listening?