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we, the people

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We are at the mercy of the politicians who rule us as masters rule slaves. They do not have any consideration for our needs and desires. They do not care to honour even their word to us. They care less still for the pride of the nation, or her progress. They hold us in utter contempt.

But should they not hold us in some kind of esteem, no matter how little —some respect, some regard at least? After all, we put them there, didn’t we? It was our votes that helped to elect them into the House of Assembly, the House of Representatives, or the Senate. We were even responsible for the occupant of Aso Rock himself being there. We are important.

We should enjoy a modicum of honour as citizens, at least. I mean, we are worthy, or are we? Or why are we not respected by people whom we boast of choosing to represent us, and who should return to us the dividend of the investment we made in them in choosing them?

His Majesty Ogiame Atuwatse II The Olu of Warri Photo by George Osodi
His Majesty Ogiame Atuwatse II The Olu of Warri Photo by
George Osodi

But let us examine our relationship with them more closely — did we really choose them ourselves in a “free and fair” manner? Think back on the conduct of elections even in the recent past. As if “free and fair” would not suffice, we appended the additional merit of “transparent” in our categorization of them.

How far did that take us? We went through a spate of elections in which Chief Executives elected in no less than four states were disqualified in the law courts. Of course, we cannot then absolutely claim that we really “voted” the final victor into office by ourselves.

Even then, both the winners and the losers would be hard put to claim that their dealings with us, the electorate, were strictly kosher. And neither were ours totally above board with them either; for we were ready to sell our votes during the election time, and so many of us did. That is definitely not a respectable action, and definitely not one that would have elevated us in the esteem of people on behalf, and for the benefit, of whom we clearly cheated.

, We might have even committed those inappropriate actions at the behest of the so-called “godfathers” who would have furnished the grimy rewards we may have received for selling ourselves so cheap, having played a losing game with our destiny.

That in itself would: have also put us a step back from the line of uprightness. It would have made several of us to fade into the crowd of thugs and hired ruffians who snatch ballot boxes, and disrupt the law and order in polling booths — hoodlums that do not in any way qualify for any regard.

All the same, a number of so-called voters go further to settle for their own “dividends of democracy” by retaining the role of perennial thugs and grant the member of the National Assembly, or House of Assembly, or even the State Governor after the choice has been made, as their principals.

So here we find ourselves. We wail that no more than six nations in the whole world produce petroleum products more than our country, yet we cannot establish the facilities to refine them but have to ship them out and then bring them back at exorbitant costs; we cannot generate an adequate supply of electricity for our own use, and yet other countries depend on what we are able to grant them for their sufficiency; we cannot produce our own food in a sufficient quantity and must buy from other lands whereas we are generously blessed with fertile soil; we are unable to provide proper educational development for our children within their own country and we are constrained to scatter them into good quality schools around the world.

And so we cry out in protest against our sorry lot. We come out to demonstrate against the rejection of our woeful estate. We go out on strike — for a short while — and ‘then crawl back into our shell like a frightened snail, because no one else but those very legislators at all levels for whom we stole votes are now the only people who can help us. But no one is listening.

They cannot hear us. Their ears are stuffed with the swift, sweet, ingress of lucre proceeding from the jam pot our stolen votes had handed them. They will not hear us because they can now really have no regard for ballot thieves, vote purloiners, disreputable elements that foul the stream from which we would have been refreshed. Why should the man or woman who knows you to be a despicable rascal respect you? No one is listening to you, my friend. No one is listening to me, either.

We may accuse the politicians of all sorts of inadequacies and insufficiencies headed by our usual hobby-horse, corruption. But we cannot really “come to equity” as we are with our hands soiled. There is no crime for which we could accuse them of which we have not been first guilty ourselves.

Devoid of a firm moral ground on which to stand, we lack the will to confront the evils, that surround and confound us daily. There is nothing very much wrong with the land. We, the people are our own problem. We, the people must solve it for ourselves. We have only one power — the power of the people, the power of the vote.

This then is to the people of Offa; it is also for the people of any area where decisions are being made, and must be made about the direction of the future. Defend the only power you have got. Defend your vote.

 born again

Almost overwhelmed with the profusion of political confusion spilling over all manner of discussion and even ordinary conversation these days, religion offered itself this past week as a

relief in the choice of subjects in an interaction among friends …. or even enemies. The incident which has somewhat brought the issue to the fore, as they say, was the edict published by His Highness Atuwatse II,  the Olu of Warri, proscribing his title of Ogiame, reputed to be more than 500 years old, and the Warri national anthem. The Olu’s reason abutted on his aversion to fetishism with which he alleged both the title and anthem were connected. As a Born Again Christian, he did not wish to have any part of them.

Those who disagree with His Highness were quick to point out that he had embraced Christianity to that intensity for many years before now. They are miffed about the timing, apart from the connotation. Not one Itsekiri man of note has come out to support him. Not even the well-known President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who is of Itsekiri stock, has said a word one way or the other. But one hardly’need surmise on what side of the road he would firmly plant his feet in the matter. It is probably not to confound the confusion of the Olu that he has kept mute about the issue. However, faced with the massive protest, the traditional ruler has recanted.

 

This came at a time when peo
ple in Oyo are celebrating the second Oranyan festival. It is in honour of one of the most illustrious names in Yoruba history, reputed to be the first Alaafin (King) of Oyo. His exploits were legendary, both as a warrior and administrator. Though he was not actually deified, the invocation of his spirit may be repudiated by other people as being too close to fetishism. Not so in Oyo and its environs. Many of those who are involved profess to be Christians, but they hold fervently to what they consider to be purely a matter of “tradition”. In fact, one of the chief celebrants is a “prince of the blood”. His name like that of Pastor Oritsejafor, is also Ayo, and he is also a high cleric but of the Methodist Church of Nigeria— Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu.

A conflict of conscience and faith is rampant in the lives of many Christians who have been steeped in the traditional beliefs and mores of their birth by circumstances”over which· they had no power of choice. They are then faced with repudiation or dumb acquiescence. But could  they, in a manner of speaking, roll to both sides of the bed?

The God whom we Christians serve makes no bones about being a jealous God. He only must be served and He alone, without any other. “I am the Lord, “ He says, “that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images … “ (Isaiah 42:8.)

The Ogiame has all of my sympathy.

Time out

 

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