FEATURE ARTICLE


Hillary OkoronkwoTuesday, October 7, 2003
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Forwarded by: REMI OYEYEMI


THE STATE OF THE NATION


'I fight with an indomitable spirit, my back to the wall, defeat is for those who accept it' 'The greatest strands of affection are woven in adversity. Leadership means suffering. The Leader, who has no marks, indelible marks to show either on his physical body or in his mind have never led'. 'How many Socrates did Greece breed? How many Negro's did India breed? They have one each but they all had one thing in common, sense of mission. An unquenchable thirst to get things done. We need as in this instance only one courageous Nigerian to take a stand. But no Nigerian wants to offer his head to break a coconut'.
-- Dr. Tai Solarin

Those are my favorite quotes from my hero. A man I was honored and privileged to have met in my lifetime. He is one of the best known citizens of Nigeria. A social critic, educator and husband of Sheila. His belief to man is total service. His names are Dr. Tai Solarin.

riends, today I take yet another step in my search for a better Nigeria. This step is by far bolder than most endeavors I have undertaken in recent times. Henceforth, I will be writing under the title, 'The State of the Nation". This title is 'borrowed' and inspired by one of the top ten great Nigerians of all time. I am neither a biological relation of Dr. Solarin, nor one of the numerous classroom students of his. I am however, one proud citizen that he influenced through his various speeches, writings and benevolence. My heroes are the ordinary people and men of ideals. I am detribalized Nigerian and a civilian citizen of the world. My belief is that the best way to build a society is to free the human spirit and not to imprison it. My preferred democratic Nigeria is one where majority rules through a free and fair election and not selections as was recently the case in Nigeria and the rights of minority recognized. I will write with the confidence of a man with matured, settled and convinced views. My style will be simple and the presentation very informed.

As a student of 'Uni-home' Ibadan campus, waiting to graduate eventually to one of the world's most beautiful university, the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, I read Dr. Tai Solarin's writings 'The state of the nation' in Sunday Tribune religiously. I also read the 'Lam Adesina column' on Saturday Tribune, and the late Dele Giwa's editorials on Sunday Concord the same way.

Tai Solarin was the soul of political purity and probity in Nigeria when he was alive. It is normal at this point that I would have prayed to God to grant his soul eternal rest. This giant will not take this kindly because he never believed we have souls and so I will not pray for what he never acknowledged to have existed. He was the quintessential conscience of Nigeria polity. He worked tirelessly, crusaded assiduously like no other, and lived faultlessly for a greater Nigeria of his dream. A fair, honest, and just society without poverty.

I read every of Dr. Solarin's weekly writings several times. I believed in what he stood for because it made all the sense in the world and therefore I became by default one of his many students that he taught and educated in his life time. I listened and followed his teachings from the Freedom square in Lagos religiously, whenever Inspector General Sunday Adewusi's men would allow him to hold a rally. Dr. Tai Solarin criticized every move and policies the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari made to the point where I concluded that he had personal hatred for him but I was wrong. In 1985 former President Alhaji Shehu Shagari lost four of his children in a motor accident. I stumbled on the story in the Concord newspapers where it was reported that Chief Moshood Abiola accompanied by Dr. Tai Solarin was in Sokoto to condole him. It was very shocking to me to learn that Dr. Solarin went to Sokoto to see Shagari no matter what the circumstances was. It was even suprising to know that he flew on MKO's private jet.

If you read Dr. Solarin's article during and after the charade called the second republic, you would know exactly why I felt the way I did. I immediately sent a letter of protest to him in which I accused him of betraying and fooling the masses. To me at the time, it was a perfect case of how the rich would abuse each other publicly and then join hands privately in sharing the nation's resources. I could not imagine Dr. Tai Solarin in the same room with MKO and Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

Dr. Tai Solarin once said that a letter mailed to him from any part of the world addressed to him, as living in Nigeria without any street address will ultimately make its way to his hands. It turned out to be true when I sent the letter to him in Ikenne, Ogun State without a street address. I threatened to stop his reading his weekly writings if I did not get a quick response with detailed and convincing explanations! Imagine that! Dr. Tai Solarin replied immediately inviting me to his house in Ikenne offering to use the opportunity of our meeting to explain the circumstances surrounding his visit to me! I took him up and on the offer and went to see him.

The long walk from the Mayflower school to his residence was enough lonely space for today's politicians to kill and hide my body without trace and yet offer a ten million dollars reward to anyone with good information on my whereabouts. Upon entering his house he quickly went into action explaining why he went to Sokoto. He said it was Chief Abiola who came personally and persuaded him to make the trip. He explained to me that it was also an opportunity to show Shagari that his criticisms were not personal. He took me upstairs and showed me around his house. As I 'demolished' a plate of eba served with okro soup by his dear wife Sheila we discussed a whole range of other issues going on in the country. I was very 'satisfied' with his explanations. His presence and the attention he gave me was humbling. I told him I was going back to resume reading his articles and pursue my life's dreams with even greater vigor.

I left Ikenne very excited having just met with one the greatest Nigerians that ever lived, but also satisfied that there is indeed hope for Nigeria. Lest I forget, he directed the bursar of the Mayflower school to write a check in the amount of five hundred naira to help with my educational expenses in school. I was overwhelmed by his benevolence and above all his total dedication to the pursuit of a better Nigeria From that day forward, I had the double honors of combining being a public student of Dr. Tai Solarin with being a member of his family. He told me I was welcomed to his house any time. I made two more visits to his house before leaving the country in 1989. On one of the two occasions, he was not home but I could not tell by the reception I was accorded. I had the opportunity of meeting his son, my other brother Tunde who had just relocated from overseas. I do however regret that I am not directly in touch with his immediate family or in the minimum helping to support any one of the numerous organizations or schools that he spent his entire life fighting for. I do plan to get involved and to make up for the lost time.

Today, the State of the Nation makes a return. It has been 10 years since Dr. Solarin died, the Nigerian project of his dreams still remains elusive. A civilian government that he always fought for has been in power for over 4 years and all we have succeeded in doing according to Emperor Aremu Obasanjo has been 'digging' for a position. We just had a 'selection' process known to other lesser humans, the PDP, as elections. Garri and even water continues to be essential commodities. The Nigeria police have 'improved' their reputation as killers. The chief of police formerly known as IG now called IGP, is running a force that is more lethal and brutal than the Ogbomosho high chief, Sunday Adewusi's police. This man, Tafa Balogun and his men have gotten even bolder. They tear gas and shoot ordinary citizens at will. The other day, Dr. Okadigbo's family were at the police headquarters in Abuja to obtain permission to take possession of his body after it was alleged that they tear gassed him to death! Education of our youths in particular and the entire citizenry in general that was very dear to your heart is so bastardized it is almost beyond redemption. More than half of 'Okada' operators are university graduates and a sizable number of the men of the underworld are also university graduates. 43 years into the life of the nation, the only political ideology remains the 'Naira'.

Ninety percent or more of the opposition are those who are not allowed to 'come and chop'. Nigeria's economic mainstay, the OIL continues to sell at high prices in the world market and even higher at home. We have a Finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Iweala-Okonjo who is on loan from the world bank. This lady whom I understand have a deck of degrees and books to her credit is for lack of better words to describe her 'Clue less'. Her focus is on ridding the permanent secretaries and ministers of their domestic servants, as a way to conserve our financial resources is laughable. She goes to meetings and honors invitations in one car with a driver and a security man to save us money. Why she cannot drive and protect herself to save even more money is still beyond me. I am yet to find any country that the World Bank has succeeded in helping fix the problems in their economy. It is an outdated institution that must be done away with. State Chief executives can be kidnapped at will if they fall out of favor with their godfathers. Almost all of them are out of their 'gaddem' minds. Excuse my French!

In my next article, I will take a deeper dive into the presidency o f Emperor Aremu Obasanjo. I will attempt to explain why he is acting as if he is intoxicated. In my desire to offer a balanced opinion, I will call his daughter in North Carolina to get a first family view for you. I bet that she will hang up on me and may inform the authorities that I am harassing her. But what she does not know is that her father who has arrogated to himself, the title of the custodian of modern wisdom is not only wasting our nation and its peoples' time as long as he is power but also multiplying their sufferings exponentially. The Majority of our people have become innocent, abused and casual observers on all issues directly affecting them. In some of the countries that have found reasons to isolate themselves from the comity of modern nations, there is one thing about their leaders that is admirable. They appear to love their people. They also appear intelligent but they simply do not encourage exchange of ideas. Cuba and Libya are very good examples. OBJ is not smart, even though he thinks he is, he does not love Nigeria, he may 'love' as many of our women as possible and he does not encourage any exchange of ideas. This is by far the worst combination. A few months ago, the Emperor, I bet acting on the advice of the Finance minister of all times donated ten percent of his salary to the nations treasury. Last week Nigeria conducted a satellite test with Russian engineers supervising! I hope to find the right words to describe this combination in the future. In the meantime, my only question is why Russia?

A couple of months ago, an Igbo group branded me an 'efulefu' I honestly do not know the meaning even though I can read the Igbo bible. In their opinion I am not sensitive enough to the 'Igbo agenda'. Igbo agenda, what the hell is that? One of them wrote urging all Igbo people to sensitize Igbo leaders in order to restrain Emperor OBJ from abolishing the local government system. I wrote the group asking them for the list of Igbo leaders and what qualifies them to be leaders. I wondered if they are mistakenly calling all the emergency contractors who collected mobilization fees to fix the eastern roads and disappeared. I challenged them to show me groups or organizations where principled men like Ebittu Ukiwe and Ndubuisi Kanu are leaders and I will become a lifetime fully paid membership. The most vocal of this group called on Igbo youths to take up arms and fight the government to finish. Meanwhile this great 'Igbo leader' of our time was and still is in the ssafe confines of his home here in the US. I am a Dr. Tai Solarin and Chief Gani Fawehinmi Nigerian from Amaba Isuikwuato in Abia State and I will like to leave it at that. The only Igbo agenda that sounds very enticing at this time is the 'contractors club' and I do not mind Chief the Rt. Honorable Dr. Chris Uba as the president. Just Kidding!

IBB's plan to return to Aso Rock has to be seen by any right thinking Nigerian as an assault on our nation's intelligence. Those who are canvassing for his return to power are all shameless criminals who are no longer relevant in the scheme things even as bad as it is. This man will take us back several more years and we do not need him. All political calculations suggest that except through a 'moon slide' or a 'selection' process, IBB cannot win an election in his own ward. As I conclude this piece, the Swiss government is giving Ngozi and OBJ conditions to return money looted from our nation's treasury! This story is similar to the story of a group of armed robbers who found money hidden in their host's shoes after he repeatedly told them he had no money in the house. After pocketing his money, they then asked him why he has problems telling simply and ordinary truth! The Nigerian Labor Congress has given a government that does not give a hoot about its people a strike deadline. The government did not give any advance notice to the union and the people. The 'market forces' took over the night before the prices went up. What they should have done was let the labor market reactionary forces kick in at the same time. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala you are wrong side of history again. The bane of the Nigerian economy is the delivery system which is broken down. It is almost criminal to hand over the fate of our people to such a system. The energy market forces is made up of a few multinationals oil firms and some of your and OBJ's friends. You are 'serving' a government that was not put in place by the real 'market forces', they are called the electorates and yet your government is using this shameful excuse to punish the Nigerian people.

A few days before 'Kongi' declared a holy war with the Emperor, I had called a friend in England to complain that the masses have lost an ally in him. I wondered why all of a sudden he has kept quiet and what worried me the most was that he seemed to have become a spokesperson for some of the newly selected PDP governors in the southwest. A tiger they say finds it very hard to loose it color and behavior. Soyinka by all means has to be way smarter than the Emperor. Raw and God given intelligence will always have its way over crookedness any day. Upon realizing that the Emperor was beginning to run rings around him, he suddenly woke up and fired back. The main product of that encounter was the revelation of the contents of Chief Bola Ige's letter to OBJ. I was very proud of myself for having been a Bola Ige fan when I read the letter he wrote to the Emperor. The Emperor ignorantly, without understanding the contents, released the letter to the public. Finally I have made up my mind as to why he was killed and no one can change it. May his soul rest in peace.

Finally, the Queen, yes the one and only Queen of Elizabeth of England is coming to Nigeria! Please help, write me to tell me what she is looking for in Nigeria. Ngoo if you are reading, I suggest that her food be made light with very little 'oyinbo' stuff in it. Those can be very expensive and we need to save all the money we can. BIKO!

Good night friends. I will stay in touch.