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OPINION: Nigeria’s Shoes Of Trouble



•By Bagbansoro Uthman

Veteran writer and columnist whose Monday’s bylines, I am always forward to, narrates in his last week column ‘Igboho’s cat’ a television drama series with the title ‘Bata Wahala’ (Shoes of Trouble) shown in those days by the broadcasting corporation of Oyo state (BCOS).

The movie is the story of a polygamous house of commotion where every member keeps a pet as a weapon of domestic war.

Matter of factly, there’s trouble in Nigeria; Chaos, restlessness, insecurity, kidnapping, Agitations and trouble, yes, trouble!

I grew up to meet the extant calls for Republic of Biafra, I read about it, I have never for once took the recent agitation for a Yoruba Nation seriously, because I had a premonition that it won’t last and in our country everything is deemed political, including getting a plate of jollof rice at a wedding party.

Graeme Garrard and James Murphy, in their book: How to Think Politically, observed that “it is fashionable today to describe politics as a swamp. For many, it has become nothing more than a vulgar spectacle of deceit, ambition and opportunism.”

Last week, I was privileged to share a platform with some respected elder statemen from my homestead Ogun State, where we are to discuss plans about the development of our Local Government particularly.

To my surprise, somehow, the issue of secession begin to pop up, talks of Oduduwa republic rented the platform, with the supposed elders and youths agitating for a solidarity rally in our LGA, I was surprised when our very revvered leader began to highlight reasons why the republic must be birthed.

I had to remain elusive till the platform was eventually disbanded for what the admin tagged ‘Infiltration by some Left wing’, apparently referring to me and my friend who decidedly keep mum.

There’s trouble in Nigeria, the pepper seller in Mile 12, the Wara seller in Ilorin, the Akara seller in Ogbomosho, the bread seller in Ibadan, the goat meat seller in akoko, are talking about secession.

How did we get into this trouble, how? For all of these people, it’s the highest level of sacrilege to be against the realization of Yoruba Nation which Sunday Igboho is championing.

The Level of insecurity is troubling, citizens have lost interest in the state, they do not trust the Government anymore, despite the President’s affirmative words of being in charge.

The trouble we have at hand is not only about soro-soke youths indulging in child’s play, we are faced with a situation where the supposed responsible elites and adults are not living upto expectations.

Meanwhile, there is something we are also missing in this trouble. For Nigeria to develop and thrive, we must devolve powers across genders and age groups, mainstreaming their concerns while amplifying their voices. All the critical stakeholders must be brought to the table.

The government must act decisively on the issue of secession that has spiraled across the country, the state needs to act fast before it’s too late.

“When sorrows come, they come not in single spies, but in battalions” -Claudius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Perhaps no statement could have captured the current Nigerian situation better than the above Shakespearean dictum.


OPINION: Differentiating Crime From Free Speech



Debate is raging across the world on individual freedom, free speech, security, and taking responsibility. Nations — including older, liberal democracies like the United Kingdom and Canada — are taking firm steps to peg the boundaries between free speech, public order and national security. They are aggressively drawing the line that no one must cross in the name of free speech. This is understandably pitting governments against free speech advocates. This is a debate that will not go away. However, both sides will have to agree on something: our world is bleeding from unrestrained rights. We must also agree that rights without corresponding responsibilities ultimately lead to the Golgotha.

The rate at which people publish falsehood or malign other people’s character in the new media should bother every patriot who seeks an orderly society. And particularly worrisome is the attempt to give political cover to felons or people accused of defaming other people or destabilising the society. No society cowers in the face of irresponsible free speech. Nigeria should not; Kwara will not.

“Crime is crime. It is not political, it is crime,” iconic Margaret Thatcher had told reporters in Riyadh in 1981 when asked about the status of Bobby Sand, an IRA firebrand who was serving jail terms for his involvement in terrorism. In another of her stoic self, Thatcter declared that “there is no question of political status for someone serving a sentence for crime.”

People must have the right to express their views, including online, on air, and in publications. Freedom of association, except for that of secret cult, is also a right guaranteed under our laws. But people, by the same stroke, will also be responsible for what they say. And it will not be acceptable for anyone to shout blue murder if they are called to account. Even the Holy Books make it clear that every soul shall be accountable for what they do. It is an act of cowardice, and mischief, to not want to be called to account for our actions.

A man standing in the middle of a cinema yelling ‘fire, fire’ when there is none and causing pandemonium that causes deaths to innocent people has broken the law, and will be found guilty in a competent court of law for public incitement or worst murder charges. Freedom of speech means you are free to say what you want, but you are equally responsible for the fallouts of what you say.

Tomorrow is in the womb of time. But if some happenings now are anything to go by, the next 24 months in Kwara will be decisive for its people and their future — perhaps more decisive than 2019 when political myths and facts known to generations were demystified. The 2023 polls in Kwara look certain to confirm whether the people were indeed tired of the old ways, the annual mysterious deaths, the political monopoly, and lack of inclusive growth, or they were railroaded to ease out the old order.  Many have called it a rematch, and I agree it is something to look forward to.

Before then, however, it is important to put a few things on record. Foot soldiers of the old order insist they were victims of propaganda and lies, although facts, figures, lived realities of the people in the north, south, and central of the state, and confessions of some of their own the great and the good do not support such claim. Nonetheless, they promise to do everything to regain power using propaganda and lies deployed through radio and the ubiquitous social media. In other words, the next 24 months will see the incumbent Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, and his team, subjected to the most horrendous propaganda in the recent history not only by those who feel it is their birthright to own and govern the state as they wish but also by their closet allies masquerading as nonstate actors, latter-day democracy activists, and estranged Otoge commanders and foot soldiers whose idea of ‘good governance’ is same as the old order.

The argument in the next 24 months will not be that the Governor has not taken care of the poor. The Governor’s social safety programme, by far the largest and most transparent by any subnational government in the country, will shut down that claim. It will not be lack of impactful or inclusive governance across the state, for his projects are scattered across various electoral districts while his non-discriminatory programmes target every demography, particularly youths and women. Indeed by 2023, with the innovation hub, garment factory, the visual arts centre, and a lot more, likely to have been completed and his agricultural transformation plan at full throttle, the state would be on the map as one of Nigeria’s best in the 21st century economy. The argument will be built on pettiness and around issues that do not productively shape the future of Kwara and its people.

There will be unceasing attempts by the old order and their allies to manipulate the populace in the coming months. Fake news, doctored videos and audios — such as were released following some recent Eid outings during which Kwarans showed their affection to their Governor — sexed up figures, forged documents, and jaundiced online media analysis will be rampant. All will be designed to instigate the people against the government and gain unfair political advantage. The government will as a duty operate by the law while these last; it will not be stampeded into taking rash decisions or trampling on rights. But security agencies will, in the interest of our society and sanity of all, act decisively against anything that threatens public peace while officials targeted in fake news will also have the right to invoke their rights as the law permits without being blackmailed into silence. After all justice is a three-way traffic: justice for the accused, justice for the accuser, and justice for the state.

• Rafiu is CPS to the Governor of Kwara State

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OPINION: Wahab Oba And The Saraki Agenda To Set Ilorin Emirate Aflame



By Ibraheem Abdullateef

Now, let’s come back to them, the politicians, who obviously would love to set the Ilorin emirate in flames just to prove a point. One of them is Mr Wahab Oba, the spokesman to ex-governor AbdulFatah Ahmed. We need to beg him to spare our beloved emirate from their macabre politics.

This treatise becomes apposite, after he released the latest of his dolorous articles on Sunday, and he passed all the lines of decency. It is such that can undermine the peace and unity of the Ilorin emirate and throw the city down the dark, gloomy days of the _Gbosa_ era, if care is not taken.

We have been there before. The politics of propaganda. And we can not afford to fall for it again. So, when Oba came out to parrot that Governor AbdulRazaq is fighting the emir, citing the cancellation of Durbar 2021, he is not only being mischievous, but preparing us for what to come. They will soon be coming out firing on all cylinders to cause division between the emir and the governor; people and the government; turning the city into a theatre of violence and unrest.

I am sure we all remember the pattern vividly. To oust late Governor Lawal from power, the deluge of strategies they used. The first was propaganda. The second, violence. The reasons for this are simple. On number one, they wove a narrative that he hated and wanted to remove the emir and return Afonja kingship using one of his brothers. The people, out of love for custom and heritage, bought the lies and turned against him, the misrepresented hero. For the other, they armed a retinue of thugs and unleashed them on his followers. Whenever there were incidents of this kind, they’d drop cutlass, cap, or vest inscribed with ‘Up Lawal’ to deceive the public into believing that his people were causing unrest. Ilorin people loved peace to a fault, they could not stand a government supposedly promoting unrest. And that was it. The people, with a mind that they were defending their emirate and seeking unity in the city, revolted against the messiah and installed the dealers as their Lords and Saviours. I am sure everyone remembers where it led us before O’to ge came in 2019.

So, if anyone disagrees with the decision of the Governor to cancel Durbar 2021, after all, this is New Kwara where criticism is not a death wish, it must not be on the most unpatriotic ground to relegate peace and unity of the Ilorin emirate just to advance Saraki’s political agenda, by planting discord between the royal family and the ruling governor. This is what Wahab Oba sought to do with his article ‘AA and the assault on the Emirate.’ And this is what every Kwaran of conscience must resist.

Wasn’t that how they did in 2003?

In a bid to shove the narrative down the people’s throats, he started with a blatant lie on the state of COVID-19 in the state. Mr Oba said that the Governor should have cited COVID-19 related issues, Instead of security concerns, as grounds for cancellation of Durbar. This is an expose on his intention to accentuate a political point, instead of agitating for the happiness and safety of the emirate and the people as he postured. Contrary to Oba’s claim, in a bid to outsmart himself and teach the Governor how to lie like his master, Kwara has never been a ‘state of interest’ in the resurgence of the virus in Nigeria. Before Sallah, the six states put on the red line by the FG were Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Kano, and the nation’s capital, FCT. Where did Oba see Kwara and why did he want the Governor to lie? It is the insensitivity of privileged people like Oba, the fight against COVID-19 has been terribly difficult, due to their fake news and misinformation.

He feigned ignorance of the fact that Kwara Government was the biggest financial contributor to the event with the sum of 35m. He recoiled from reality that neither the emir nor other well-meaning contributors can pay the price of a single life if lost. But for Oba, the points that lives and properties were at risk do not matter as the money petty traders could make. He’d rather want them to die or lose loved ones in front of the emir’s palace than not attending Durbar. I am sure he is not speaking their minds. The people will appreciate the one who didn’t put them in the jaws of death to score political points. We should understand if Mr Wahab Oba doesn’t understand this. He served in a government which didn’t not know how to take responsibility and a leopard can never change its spot. When he was the CPS to Maigida, they exposed Kwarans to death on many occasions including the incidents at Ile loke and robbery in Offa town where many women and young people died. If it were in a country where people do not forget, the man who was commandeering the media to kill the reports of their hardship will not have the effrontery to interfere in public discourse due to shame. But was he not just telling AbdulRazaq to expose Kwarans to death again?! Shior!

Seeking to launder Senator Saraki’s image and parrot his political resurgence on a fabled show of love for him at eid praying ground, he authored a piece Kwarans will reference a lot going into the 2023 elections. How? Oba attempted to stand the truth on its head and they shall resist him. He is taking the people for a ride with the insipid comparison of the Maigida-Saraki era to the one they struggled to make. He claimed that they are regretting that decision today. That is vintage Oba insulting the people, warts and all, to put to fore his rabid indignity of their plights during their helm.

If they were not in exile, I am sure both Maigida and Saraki would be aware that water runs in this city today. The pensioners, who were perpetually on the streets, are now receiving their entitlement and allowances with ease. The youths they turned to urchins, instead of making into leaders, are becoming sustainably empowered through Kwapreneurs. Indigenous contractors are being given a lifeline with state projects. The elites Saraki always wanted to prostrate before him to get favours are getting appointed nationally and globally without bowing to subjugation. And how dearly I feel that a sensitive writer would not have invoked the spirits of the sunset teachers in that article. Or how best could he remind the people of his government’s acute incompetence and balkanization of basic education? The sunset teachers debacle signposted the era of impunity. The peace that Oba desperately wants to undermine with that article, just returned to AA’s credit. It was their government that incentivised thuggery and hooliganism in Kwara. One is beginning to see clearly that may be what they want back when they wanted Durbar to hold by all means. They failed.

The allegation that Emir of Ilorin Dr Ibrahim Sulu Gambari is fighting with Governor AbdulRazaq is dangerous and grossly irresponsible. That is Oba politicising the stool of royalty. Wahab Oba is claiming that the emir of Ilorin doesn’t support the Governor but someone else. It doesn’t matter if the emir just bestowed on his brother, Dr Alimi AbdulRazaq, the prestigious title of Mutawalle of Ilorin. Oba is telling the public that the Governor and the emir don’t see eye to eye. Even if the emir publicly praised him at Bareke two days ago. Is that true?

You can tell a rabid liar yourself. This is why every Ilorin son and daughter need to rise in unity and call him to order. While it is their right to love Saraki and want him in power, they must never be allowed to use the respected tool as bait of politics or else they will put everyone at the mercy of unrest again. Do we have another home to call our own? The emir and the Ilorin emirate is bigger than any agenda and Wahab Oba and his fellow conflictpreneurs should take caution.

The whole saga has taught two practical lessons about democracy and governance. One, democracy is ruling in the interest of the majority. Two, a good government must be able to make hard and unpopular decisions when necessary for the love and safety of the people.

This is where AbdulRazaq has proven a difference again. He made a clear decision to avert death; avert national disgrace to the emirate if calamity had happened; protecting lives and property. Nobility is truly beyond holding a title, it is in the blood.

Going into 2023, people must be on the lookout for and resist politicians who will betray our rich history and prestige for peace and unity for mileage. They are desperate. They are capable of throwing the emirate into fear, chaos, and unrest thereby endangering peaceful coexistence. They did it in 2003. They can do it again.

The good thing is Oba just bell the cat. Thank you, Oba. Kwarans shall be watching you.

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OPINION: Learn How To Conceal Your Plans



     I find it difficult sharing my plans with people who are not going the same path as I am. It has become a part of me such that I have a checklist for those I tell my plans. You must meet a certain standard to even hear about my plans and projects before they materialise.

     This has helped me in the long run to avert making the same mistake I made in 2016. That was when I had the yearn to write a book. I shared it with a colleague of mine who looked me in the eyes and told me that I was wasting my time.

True to his words, I was wasting my time. I was wasting my time talking to someone who was not on the same path with me. I was wasting my time talking to someone who was not thinking like me; who was comfortable in the position he was. I was speaking to someone who wasn’t going the same destination as I was.

That was a huge mistake which I resolved never to make again even at my worst.

I see a lot of people who share their plans and projects with everyone who is willing to hear. The bad part of this is that they share these plans with people who are not qualified to hear them. What do you expect from someone who don’t understand why you are doing what you are doing in the first place?

I have a small circle I share my plans with; very small that I only go to them with an idea that I have done due research on. They are very busy professionals who wouldn’t waste their time running around an idea that I haven’t prepared my mind for.

This way, I know what I want and I follow their advice each time they give me any. Our discussions are intellectually filled and they know how to scatter the table with deep rhema. Mehn! You need to check your circle if you are not getting value each time you share ideas with those in it.

For me, I am blessed to have these people on the same journey as I am.

You cannot grow if you jump at every piece of advice you get from random persons. You cannot grow beyond the quality of advice you receive.

I have said this often.
That person you listen to is speaking from the level of information, knowledge, and experience they have and you don’t expect something better than what they know to come from them.

This is why you must check who you submit to. Not everyone is supposed to hear your plans. Not everyone is supposed to be your mentor. Not everyone should know those secrets about you.

Stop boxing yourself into accepting anything you hear. You do not need to follow that piece of advice especially if it is coming from an ‘unexposed authority’. By this, I mean those who claim to know something about your journey but clearly don’t.

As a rule of thumb, I don’t give my words on some issues that I clearly do not have deep knowledge about. I would rather refer you to someone who knows his/her onion and have proved to be an expert in that niche.

This way, I save you the time and stress of trying out pieces of advice I would have given from a place of guess work. It also saves me the time of giving admonitions that won’t produce results.

But when it comes to book publishing, writing and content management, online business models and strategies, platform growth and management, and personal development, I bring my A-game to the stage. You cannot go wrong listening to me talk and train on these areas because I have done due diligence of testing my models and having practicable results to show for it, I have work on journals and publications from international community as a young Nigerian trying to survive.

Stop jumping on every piece of advice you get and be sure to prune whomever you listen to before implementing their advice. For me, you must have done something and gotten results in it for me to come to you for advice.

I don’t accept just any ride because you are on the road. You might not be going my destination, so why follow you?

My point?
Be careful about taking any ride because they might not be going your way. Do not allow someone’s thought about your plans make you give up. Stay away from people who lack knowledge and experience about your projects. Talk to people who have treaded the path and have results to show.

You cannot get to your desired destination if you keep following every vehicle that pulls up. Discern rightly and follow only people who know what they are doing.

Remember, the quality of information you are exposed to depends on the source from which you get them. Seek quality sources and your destination is sure. Make you plan your guard and guide.

O. T. Muhideen is a member of Greenfield Library Limited, Atlanta Georgia, USA.

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