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Death, Otunba Dipo Dina

*Exploiting on the national scene this past week was the news about the death of Otunba Dipo Dina who was shot dead in Ota, Ogun State. Unimaginable, but true.

We could have sworn that such a thing was in our past. But it would appear that our “re-branding” agents still have a lot of image laundering to accomplish. Someone who seems to take a dim view of the “re-branding” exercise in futility would be Pastor Tunde Bakare, the lawyer turned cleric.

He was on the street recently among other activists who were making a call for change in the land. Pastor Bakare has been saying that much on the pulpit of late, but has now decided to go on the public rostrum to spread his message of good government. And also, this matter of the neglect of our history still rankles and may not be very far from what is happening to our society now.

*Death came swiftly and suddenly to Otunba Dipo Dina, and it must have been a surprise even to him, as the news of his ghastly murder is to many Nigerians. That was the way it happened to Funsho Williams, and we are no wiser as to those who were responsible till this day. That kind of horror would, in fact, summon a long list today. There is no need to mention more names. That would only recall the sorrow of the black catalogue of irreparable loss.

Because Dina was a politician, his homicidal demise may be looked at against the backdrop of that pastime, in which case it would be termed an assassination. Were the gruesome deed linked to any other source or cause, it could then be referred to as murder, plain and simple. It would appear that no other classification would fit, apart from this two, for it was homicide, without a doubt. The official statements in the first three days after the incident afford little assurance that there is a clue near at hand. And that is a pity. We thought we had left such gruesome acts behind us.

We were beginning to feel that even if politics might not yet be all that clean, but it was no longer that dirty – and bloody. So what is ahead as we now move closer to 2011, when security could be stretched to the full length? It is a shame.

Dina seemed to enjoy the cut and parry of politics, as he savoured various several aspects of life. He could never have thought that it would all be so short; that sunset would come at high noon; that he would be cut down so brutally in the prime of his beautiful life. God rest him. Now, we wait for more from the police – in action

*Here now is view which calls for a serious response about deregulation:
“All YOU, not we, are saying is, let them increase fuel price for you alone. Government is all about the well-being of the populace, and not hardship for them, or an agreement with petrol dealers. Let them resuscitate our refineries, so that we can have peace that is not transient or ephemera”. (08059295847)

Indeed, government really is all about “the well-being of the populace, and not hardship for them etc…” as an ideal of governance. Government is the embodiment of administrative authority; governance is the manner in which that authority is expressed. It may be even through an “agreement with petrol dealers” or fish sellers, or whatever. The two words are usually interchangeable. We are talking about “governance” when we are considering the way in which the “authority” is administered.

The resuscitation of our refineries, for instance, may not be ideal for the situation, or interests, of the governance inflicted on the populace. We may therefore appreciate that it would not be in the interest of “government” to reactivate them. Have I made myself obscure enough, sir?

Anyway, deregulation and rumours of deregulation must be part of the uncertainty that was predicted for “the last days.” The suspense has been such that one could cut with a knife, on top of the stress to obtain the fuel both for household use and motorized transportation. And, as sure as God made little green apples, the increase in fuel price is bound to come; there is no wishing it away.

In fact, the Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, in November last year, had announced that deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector would be a done deed by the end of the year. A month has come and gone in the New Year, and yet there are those who take refuge in the delay to grab at the wind of an idea that reprieve might still surface from somewhere. No sir. The sooner those in charge did their worst, the earlier we can all go back to sleep.

*Someone here remembers Professor Eskor Toyo

Professor Eskor Toyo will be remembered, not only for his anti-capitalist stance, but also for his very entertaining press writings. How I wish he could come out of his forced press retirement. (08034966746)

Perhaps if some of those scintillating pieces were to be published again, the reprise might trigger off the enthusiasm to roar again, one way or the other, don’t you think? In any case, and please pardon the feeling, but will Professor Eskor Toyo will be remembered to any appreciable extent in this our wilderness of massive amnesia?

*Now we are back to our neglected history. We hold the strong view that it must be taught in our schools as, indeed, it was vigorously taught before. The neglect has been mostly caused by nothing more than our pre-occupation with the politics of self, and self, and self again. Here is a good old friend.

Uncle Law, who will teach this history? Sebi you know our leaders.. Comrade Abdulrazak
Haba, Comrade, are you not one of them? Anyway, there was a time when our history – the history indigenous to the various sections of this country, was taught in school. We knew about Othman dan Fodio, Jaja of Opobo, Nanna of Warri, Ogedemgbe of llesha, even about that doughty group of women in Eastern Nigeria who stood firm against women taxation in 1929 .And we must not forget the warrior King, Kosoko of Lagos.

Some of the history was written from the perspective of the colonial masters, though we must still appreciate that they caused the story to be told even if it was in their own way. But that was no matter; we would have set the facts right today.

For instance, the first time I ever came across the word, “Usurper”, was in reference to Kosoko who was a veritable “rebel king”. The truth was that he was not really a usurper. He was a prince of the blood who rightfully claimed the throne of his forefathers. But before then, he had been engaged in slave trading along the West African coast and had become very wealthy.

He was a fearless warrior who personally led his soldiers to war, thus earning their undying loyalty. But that was considered in other quarters as an extravagant display of boldness abutting on sheer recklessness, and they made a song about it:

“Ma  tun ja’gun bee mo
Omo’ba kii ja ‘gun bi eru.”

It was a song that remonstrated with him to desist from fighting in that manner, for it was a way in which slaves, and not a prince, should fight. But Morounfolu, which was one of his cognomens, knew no other way to fight, or do anything else, than without fear. As a young man, he had boldly, bodily, carried the young wife of a highly placed chief into his house and made her his own bride. That was the way a prince should acquire a wife, he said in defence of his action – by literally lifting her and carrying her away.

That chief, who happened to be one of the king-makers, was waiting to oppose his accession to the throne in due time. But Kosoko brought in his army and took the throne by sheer force. He was only dislodged later with the help of the British Navy who stepped in on the pretence that they were that much against slave trade, but used that to annex Lagos.

The ranking officer was very impressed with the arrangement of the defence strategy displayed by Kosoko, and could not help mentioning his admiration in his report. Kosoko was defeated but did not flee. He surrendered and was moved into exile in Lekta, which was again to play host to another brave Nigerian, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, just over a century later.

I must be boring you, so I’d better stop mere and touch upon more current issues. But, oh yes, I learnt all that, and more inspiring stories about other great Nigerians, in school. I doubt if any of my children, let alone their children, ever came across anything like that. Among those early eminent Nigerians was a certain gentleman called Otunba Payne, the man who made that chieftaincy title popular..

Pastor Tunde Bakare took a break from the pulpit, this past week, and sought for the grander view of a wider horizon. He unleashed all the power of his fiery oratory on the subject of President Umar Yar’Adua’s prolonged absence from Aso Rock, and he was in good company. It did not call for any particular boldness to pontificate in public over the issue since it had become a public hobbyhorse.

But even if it had demanded a measure of considerable audacity, Pastor Bakare would not have been found wanting. From the time when his kinsman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was on seat, he had acquired a penchant for baiting the presidency now and then. He had been on a short leash for quite a  while, bating like an impatient falcon eager to be airborne. Yar’Adua has given him the entire fillip he needs.

Of course, he performed like the star that he is, and put several seasoned public speakers through their paces. He seemed very much at home on the rostrum as he is on the pulpit, and looked as if enjoyed himself immensely. He appears too much of a maverick to be an out-and-out politician, but he will be out there in the lead among the activists any day.

He also seems too much committed to dispensing the “good news”, and it would only be fair to view his incursion into the sphere of public protests as an extension of his zeal for the redemption of humanity in a world that we have, for ourselves, turned upside-down.

On the heels of the pastor’s outing came a conference of Pentecostal Churches which declared the intention to join the fray for the improvement of the masses. The grouping of churches in Christendom now appears to be three-headed – The Roman Catholic, the Anglican Catholic and the Pentecostal.

It might be a bit difficult to reconcile that with the initial principle of “One Church, One Faith, One Lord”, which should be the mainstay of Christ’s church on earth. But several “stakeholders” – I almost said “shareholders” – would insist that it is still one church. But we have a school of thought that is totally against the broad participation of the church and clerics in politics, while others believe in “the freer step, the fuller breath; the wide horizon’s grander view”. And by that, they involve themselves happily in areas of human life beyond the immediate concerns of the pulpit.

There was a time when theocracy held sway. But with the rise of powerful kingdoms exemplified by the Roman Empire, the world order underwent a turnaround, to the extent that the Head of the Church was only slightly more than a vassal to the imperial authority.

The English monarchy went a step further: it became the Head of the Church. Bishops were included in the peerage of the realm, which made them elements of the political power.

And why not? The clergy was by far the best-educated and most knowledgeable segment of the populace for a long time, from the Middle Ages. As the scholars of their age, their were highly respected and they commanded streams of followers from all parts of the society and beyond.

It is not really entirely different even today. Pastors and priests have been in politics and government. I remember Rev. T.A.J. Ogunbiyi, (founder of the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity), and Rev. M Adeyemi, founder of the Ondo Boys’ High School who were both members of the old Legislative Council, and one cannot forget Rev. Moses Adasu who became the Governor of Benue State.

If Pastor Tunde Bakare decides to throw all his charisma into the ring for a contest of preferment in the political arena, I see nothing wrong with it. I would even vote for him. But he had better not.
Time out.


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