Over the past few days, I have not stopped thinking about Professor Pius Adesanmi, the witty professor of English and African studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, who was involved in a car accident while returning to Lagos from Ilorin and was virtually left for dead.
Gracefully, the professor and king of boys survived this one, and he can say like our fathers, eni nreti iseju akan, iru won ma nku s’eti odo ni — those waiting to see the crab blink an eye, will die by the riverside. Baba outsmarts death again, and those waiting for his crab to blink can wait forever.
The past two weeks have been full of the usual Nigerian drama, but this time, fast-paced. Omo Baba Oloye has suddenly become the king of the game. Baba, on the other hand, has been one step behind on virtually every move in the polity — as always, a little too late.
So why is this Prof’s business? Well, as a life-long critic of Nigerian politicians, Prof. Adesanmi always has a new story to tell in his interventions in the communal insanity of the Nigerian elite. From stories told by Mama Adesanmi to stories from African folklore, to the beautiful anecdotes of life in Yagba, to Greek mythology, to God knows what next. I have followed prof’s writings and speeches for at least seven years, and I have never been able to predict the next one.
By 2013/2014, many people at the University of Ibadan were already calling my a satirist, I was not trying to be one, the professor just happened to have influenced my thoughts and writings immensely. Though I tried my hands on satire in the Leaked conversations from Aso Rock Demons, I am nowhere worthy of the title, satirist. From Bode, tibi nko to Dimeji’s Yams, I read every of his intervention in Nigeria’s political life. In the last two week, I have thought of what could be his thoughts about his “statesman”, Dino Melaye, who hid his juvenile-trapped-in-old-man-suit body on a tree while running away from his “kidnappers”. What would the King of boys say about the Maradona of the Nigerian senate, Omo Baba Oloye, who is returning to his old party — old wine in a recycled bottle.
For years, Pius Adesanmi has criticised the Nigerian government and called for civilisation in every facet of the country. While in that business, many people have said “what is his business, he’s far away in the United States”. Later, it became, “what is his business, he is far away in Canada”.
My kinsmen would say; “arun ti nse ogoji ni nse odunrun, ohun ti nse Aboyade gbogbo oloya ni nse” — literally translated as “the problem with 40 is the problem 300, what is wrong with the one who comes with the goddess is wrong with all who worship the goddess”. While I ask that my interpretation be pardoned, I am just saying, what is wrong with Nigeria is a problem for every Nigerian — home and abroad.
If my kinsmen do not impress you, let science impress you. Research has shown that plastics dumped in the Atlantic ocean in Europe today, finds its way to Lagos (Africa) in 14 days. So the problem with the ocean in London, becomes a Lagos problem in two weeks.
What am I saying; when Prof. is speaking to Nigeria’s governance demons, he is protecting our collective humanity. And as we protect our collective humanity, we protect our own individual humanity. If the Nigerian government had in the least heed numerous calls to fix roads, fix road users, fix traffic rules and driving issues, we won’t lose as many lives as we do to road accidents every year. If Nigeria was working, we would not have as much as 17 million Nigerians living in diaspora. For us, for our children, for the world, Nigeria has to be better, and everyone has to keep intervening, no matter where you are.
In the spirit of protecting our collective humanity, I am concerned. Concerned about the recent election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). As the biggest member of the ECOWAS, Nigeria is highly revered in the community and has been made to lead the states for more times than any other country in the Union.
However, the recent election of Muhammadu Buhari worried me a bit — until I found out that Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida were also chairmen of ECOWAS, at one time or the other. So why am I concerned about the democratically elected Muhammadu Buhari?
Since Buhari took office in 2015, Nigeria has blatantly ignored rulings from the ECOWAS court of justice, reinforcing Nigeria’s disregard for the rule of law. In 2016, the court ordered the release of Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser, after bail conditions were met, But Buhari’s men — in the ministry of justice and DSS — insist that the law must not be obeyed.
In 2017, the same ECOWAS court ruled that the Nigerian government should “commence clearing and evacuation of the aftermath of the civil war within 45 days”, with N88 billion in damages. What happened after? Your guess is as good as mine.
After disobedience of the ECOWAS court, the community thought it right to reward Buhari’s “good” behaviour with an even “juicier” office — make him the chairman of ECOWAS. This just goes to say, we, members of the western Africa region, really don’t care about the laws and our courts. So lawlessness is not a Nigerian thing, after all, it is a west African curse.
As a fluent speaker of political French and English, Prof. Pius will give context to Buhari’s return as ECOWAS chair after his 1980 days, and what the rubberstamping lawlessness means for our collective future.
Get well soon, Professor. Que la force soit avec toi — may the force be with you.
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