Battle for space: The Nigerian context

Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu

By Abiodun Komolafe

Birthdays come with their own adequate burdens of celebrations which the celebrants may not get out of, even after the celebrations may have ended. After the dance in the marketplace, in the forest, and, finally, at the power centre, what remains? Well, it is a question of the buoyancy or otherwise of one’s protocols. The list could be endless! But the expression is the same!

On the flipside, the party has taken off in earnest and the rhythm has also reached the climax of its crescendo; then the mournful dirge surges into the atmospheric attributes of moderation. After that come discussions among party attendees about what’s ongoing in the society. Take, for instance, men who might have had the privilege of biting more than they could chew would also want to vex their muscles; and that might lead to unmanageable mayhem, especially if the excesses become too difficult for the handlers to curtail. Once that kind of situation occurs, damage control becomes the inevitable starboy. After all, ‘what has happened has happened!’

Well, one may not be blessed with the luxury of finding out whether the solution one is devising will work or not. One just applies it, by the instant dictates of ‘life first’ – just to know whether one survives or not.

In real life situations, when one has everybody who wants to be in control, at the end of the day, there will be nobody in control! Consider a birthday party for the late Obafemi Awolowo. Yes, Awolowo is no longer here but, if Lateef Jakande were to be alive, he would smugly say: ‘Emi lo kan’ (It’s my turn); that, since ‘Papa’ has gone to sleep, only ‘Baba Kekere’ has the Elisha-like mantle strong enough to facilitate a trip to the leader’s heart. Even President Bola Tinubu, who was a young man when ‘Baba Olayinka’ died, would also claim that, since he has read so much about the man; and, having been a keen student of his philosophy, he, too, should have a piece of the cake.

Remember Bola Ige and Joseph Olawoyin! They, too, might want to try their luck. Thank God Olabisi Onabanjo, aka Ayekooto, is gone; otherwise, he might also say: ‘e gbe kini yii wa’ (bring this thing). This may make Anthony Enahoro very angry. After all, they were comrades in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence. The duo put the country ahead of their respective families while fighting for its rescue from the jugular of the colonizers. Immediately that happens, it might be difficult to predict the reaction of Adekunle Ajasin, whose fidelity to the progressive bent never encountered a trace of doubt! There and then, one could guess the reactions of other inveterate, even accidental Action Groupers.

But there’s the other side of the memorial! For instance, what happened to the dream of education and employment in the Western Region where Awo was once premier? To put the question differently, what happened to the philosophy of ‘Free Education’ in the Southwest? If the answer to that was in a flux, then progress as a task for the zone was a pipe dream, more so as all previous efforts would appear dawned in the dark. And that’s a shame!

When people talk about Cuba, or Moscow, even Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela, the common denominator is that they sustained the crucible of evolution. In other words, when the universe is looking for the philosophy of what works, those are good examples. Remember Venezuela was almost crushed by the United States of America. At a time in the country’s chequered history, the corrupt comrades joined forces with the West, thinking that the West would help them build their country. But their wishes remained only what they were! Third world countries should not turn to victims, because other people can’t love you more than yourself. That’s the dangling macaroni for neocolonialism. It has to look tough and real; and economic disadvantages are always very real.

Imagine if the bandits had gone ahead to fight the Venezuelan regular soldiers and got them defeated, the central world news would make mincemeat of Maduro and his people. As a matter of fact, they would have already started explaining why Venezuela had to lose even before it would be officially declared that she lost. It is a matter of little conspiracy as America as world police would look away while the armed Venezuelan dissidents and their American collaborators attacked the Venezuelan National Guard. ‘God’s own country’ would feign ignorance. At the end of the day, it would aid the bandits; even proclaim them as the winner, just to humiliate Venezuela, as if the country can’t do anything right.

Obviously, the scenarios above do not differ markedly from what obtains in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, it is the same old tune! The international development institutions will do everything within their powers to please their interest. And their interest is that the country remains in debt so that they can have control and source of free financial reinforcements as long as it takes. For the developed economies, woe betides any third world country that attempts to be in charge of its resources. Why? There’s a typical belief that the people don’t really know the worth of their revenue. Therefore, they can’t know how to spend it judiciously. But when it is put under their care, they feign ignorance and make decisions that are in the objective interest of only the Bretton Woods institutions. They would never force anybody or any country – in the face of international law – to hand over its resources but they can apply pressure and diplomacy, until such a country comes to them with its resources, cap-in-hand, to beg for survival.

In this instance, sustained resistance is an invitation to war. The first step is to create in-house, homegrown war, through native intelligence. Unfortunately, though a leader may be in a position of power, the security of the state may not be under his control; and nothing frustrates a leadership more than a frustrated society. That’s what’s still going on globally! Thankfully, Ukraine is an exception, as Geography has naturally put her in a very wonderful position. So, she knows who she is and where to seek succour.

In Nigeria, the new market structure may soon destabilize the West African base. All things are not always equal! Unfortunately, too, there’s so much unrighteousness in the land! For example, when the World Bank alerted Nigeria that her graduates were unemployable, we all thought it was a joke; and the government of the day heard but did nothing about it, until Nigerian graduates in their millions could not be truly unemployed. Only recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also regaled Nigerians with fascinating tales about the financial implications of printing new naira notes during the ill-fated naira redesign exercise. Well, admitted that the apex bank wanted to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses by reflating the economy with the old naira notes, what happened to the new naira notes it said it has printed?

Any lessons? If one is calculating in politics, one should remain so till the very end. Even when one loses, one will know that one has a solid arrangement; only that it didn’t work. In like manner, if one is not strategic, it is advisable that one becomes strategically non-strategic. After all, one needs a tidy and workable explanation for failure.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria! *KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (

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Written by Tom Chiahemen

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