IN the frenzy for independence in the 50s, a woman named Adunni Oluwole emerged, a colourful politician and rights activist famous for her support for workers rights especially during the Nigerian general strike in 1945.
She was born in Ibadan but her mother took all the children from Ibadan to Lagos after some family squabbles. In Lagos, the transplants lived close to St John’s Church, Aroloya, Lagos where Adolphus Howells was the vicar. Howells later played an important role in the family’s life. At a certain period, Howells was looking for a servant boy, Olugbesan’s aunt thought it would be a great opportunity for him and proposed the opportunity to his mother, who agreed to it. Later, Adunni who was close to his brother and visited him frequently at the Howells place, said she too wanted to live with the Howells.
Adunni was helped by the Howells in her educational pursuit. She attended St John’s School, Aroloya, though by the end of her primary education, she had returned to her mother’s place. From 1925-1936, she was involved in leadership and dramatic roles at St John’s Church but in the mid 1930s, she soon became an itinerant preacher claiming to have seen a vision that God was the God of the living and not the dead and that she opposed to the dead being brought to St John’s Church for funeral services before burial.
As an itinerant preacher, she made use of her skill as a powerful speaker to enjoy immediate success.Her interest in social justice came to fore in 1945 during the general strike. She supported the workers and though not a rich woman donated monetary resources and gifts in kind to the striking workers while attending meetings and voicing her solidarity.
After the end of the strike, she became involved in politics and in May, 1954, she founded the Nigerian Commoners Liberal Party. She supported a stand opposing the call for independence in 1956 on the grounds that the then Nigerian political leaders had abused the responsibility they had already secured. She stated her views that the common man should choose between gradualism or immediate independence. Her party won a legislative seat in Ikirun,a town presently in Osun State.However, her political career ended abruptly in 1957, the year she died.
Her party was popularly known in the Yoruba speaking areas as “Egbe Koyinbo Mailo” (The white man should not go party). Her stance looked reactionary at the time but events in our country 57 years after the so-called independence show clearly that Adunni saw what this country would become in the hands of internal colonialists after the departure of the British. She was our own Nostradamus. She probably died before 1960 so that her eyes would not behold evil.
Just two years after independence and all the turbulence in the West started because of the unjust diktat of an overbearing centre started, the late Dr. Tunji Braithwaite told me his mother once asked him: “when will this independence end?” That was a tribute to Adunni.
The truth of the matter is that since the 1960 independence flag went up, Nigeria has not known real peace or seen development. The late Afro Beat King Fela Anikulapo in another seeming post-humus agreement with Adunni sang in “Just Like That”:
“White man rule us many years we get electricity constantly
Our people take over dem come build Kainji Dam
Since dem build the Dam no electricity for town”
We have just experienced a nationwide blackout occasioned by the collapse of the national grid in the midst of our national greed.The joke has been on Mr. Raji “Gbatueyo” Fashola.Yes,as Lagos Governor he said on only “Gbatueyo” (clueless ) people will be in office for six months and not be able to solve power problem.The way President Buhari was waxing eloquent in 2012 that “subsidy is corruption ” and he is paying “subsidy ” today as Petroleum Minister!
Adunni should be laughing at us hereafter as we queue,sweat and shuffle at filling stations 57 years after independence in a country that is the sixth largest exporter of crude but cannot refine petroleum products for her domestic consumption.It only has the capacity to destroy refineries being operated by militants in the creeks instead of asking them how they get the refineries to work. Gen. Olufemi Olutoye said to me few days ago that Biafra that was not a fully formed country did not experience fuel shortage or a scarity throughout the period of the civil war!
The greatest vindication of Adunni is the savagery and bestiality that have ravaged our land since the eve of Christmas in various parts of Middle Belt and Rivers State with several citizens being hacked to death in the most brutal fashion. It is as if there is no government in the land as life has become short,nasty and brutish in the hands of expansionists and terrorists/Jihadists misnamed “Fulani herdsmen”. The Colonial authorities would have stopped this madness.
The allegation of official complicity in the festival of death going on was betrayed by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris when he emerged from a meeting with Mr. President last Friday. Talking more like a Security Adviser to the killer herdsmen as against the Chief Law Officer of the country Mr. Idris said: “Obviously it is communal crisis, herdsmen are part of the community. They are Nigerians and are part of the community. Are they not?”
The Idris man should be looking for another job now if this were a country, for justifying that a group of Nigerians can go about killing people wantonly because they are “part of the community”.Do we now have to investigate further why these marauders go about the country with AK 47 unchallenged ?
As Idris assaulted the sensibilities of decent citizens of Nigeria,the Fulani Cattle breeders were rubbing it in through their socio-cultural association under the aegis of Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore, saying history showed that ranching was not practicable in Nigeria and to this end, urged the Federal Government to immediately stop state governments from enacting anti-open grazing laws.
National Secretary of Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, who read the association’s prepared speech to newsmen in Abuja called on the Federal Government to stop state governments, especially Benue and Taraba states, from going ahead with implementing the laws.
Alhassan said the purpose of the briefing, coming barely a week after the previous one, was to further reassert the position of the Fulani herdsmen on the anti-grazing laws enacted by state governors and their opposition to it.
He said: “ We view the anti-grazing law as an agenda to destroy our means of livelihood by visionless and desperate politicians.
“Anti-grazing laws are nothing but populist agenda designed by visionless and desperate politicians to destroy our means of livelihood.
“This dangerous gambit must be nib(sic) in the bud by the federal government through the security agencies as it portends great danger to the cooperate existence of the country.
“These laws are oppressive and negative and are fundamentally against our culture as Fulani pastoralists, against our economic interest and against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Are we seeing the use of violence to stop anti-grazing law before the authority of the Federal Government is invoked?
Has anybody heard a word directly from Mr President on this carnage ?Should there not have been an address to the country on this bloodletting if the Presidency were to be about protecting the lives of citizens in the order of “belonging to everybody ?”.
A young friend sent me a message two days ago which read thus: “Nigeria is heading to the last bus stop sir”. We have a duty to stop his prediction so he is not proved right down the line like Adunni Oluwole.When Macron won the French elections,the first group he appreciated were those who voted to “save the republic”.
Saving this Republic requires all men and women of goodwill from all corners of Nigeria to rise and contend for the soul of Nigeria with the pro-unitary forces that are bent on command, control and domination of our politics. This year and the next are very crucial in determining whether we will be able to save this country from disintegration .
It is time to fight for the real independence this country needs from internal colonialists who have taken meaning out of life.Only a federal Nigeria based on inclusivity can give us a united Nigeria.The last few days have shown us that security of lives and property would be better enhanced with state police, a critical ingredient of federalism. The pro-unitary forces must be defeated democratically.That is the urgent business of now. It is daunting but doable. And we must start now!
…Handshake across the Niger
AS the clash of civilisations manifest in Nigeria with descent into barbarism, Igbo and the Yoruba nations are opening a new vista in inter-ethnic harmony as the leadings lights of East and West converge under the banners of Afenifere and Ohanaeze through an initiative of Nzuko Umunna to celebrate the legacy of their two illustrious sons in Enugu on January 11,2018.
Former Military Head of State,Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi and former Military Governor of Western Nigeria,Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi will come alive at the Baze Event Centre Enugu as the bond that defined their last moments on earth when Fajuyi chose to lay down his life for Ironsi when mutineers stormed Government House in Ibadan on July 29,1966,becomes the new narrative of Igbo-Yoruba coexistence.
The event which brings together the cultural and political leaders of the two zones and friends of the two nations across Nigeria will have Oba(Gen) Olufemi Olutoye and Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe as co-Chairmen,the Ooni of Ife and Obi of Onitsha as Royal Fathers of the day with the Leader of Afenifere ,Chief Reuben Fasoranti and Ohanaeze President General,Chief John Nwodo as Chief Hosts.