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A search for the Nigerian hero as patriot

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A search for the Nigerian hero as patriot

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It is easy to be a “patriot” mouthing silly slogans of national unity. Being patriotic does not arise from benefiting unjustly from the common weal.

Tunji Olaopa

The search for a Nigerian hero or heroine has remained one of the few significant planks in my understanding of the Nigerian national project. I have argued that it deserved to be considered as a serious variable in the academic and intellectual interrogation of the postcolonial realities in Nigeria. In this sense, I am only just attempting to domesticate to Nigerian postcolonial realities the historical theory of Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish philosopher and historian, who propounded the idea of heroic leadership and the Great Man theory of history. This theory simply states that rather than viewing history as a compilation of minor and major events, we should see it as ‘the biography of great men.’ In other words, the twists and turns of historical dynamics can be directly or indirectly attributed to influential and world-historical individuals who have the capacity to impact historical trajectory through their wisdom, notoriety, political abilities, and charisma. Napoleon, Lenin, Hitler, Karl Marx, Genghis Khan, Stalin, Einstein, Julius Caesar, Newton, Robespierre, St. Augustine, Plato, Gandhi, Martin Luther, Darwin, Buddha, Abraham Lincoln, Attila the Hun, Gutenberg, Galileo, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Muhammad, Winston Churchill, Justinian, etc. are world-historical figures in this regard.

READ ALSO: Did past Nigerian heroes labour in vain? MKO Abiola as case study

There are two points from which I would differ from Carlyle. The first is that I am not ready to go too far in arguing that Nigerian history is just simply the “biography of great men.” On the one hand, my own search for heroes is not a masculine project. There are heroines too whose activities influence the direction of nations. On the other hand, however, I will insist that the trajectory of a nation’s development cannot be summed up essentially as just the biographies of great men or women. The second point is to differentiate between Carlyle’s “great man theory of history” and my own understanding of political

heroism. For instance, within my own context, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin will not be considered to be politically heroic. This is simply to say that political heroism connects directly to acts that move a nation forward. In other words, there must be a strict relationship between heroism and patriotism.

What is the relationship between patriotism and heroism? We can clarify this question with two statements. First, those whom we consider as patriotic may actually not be those who are capable of any heroic acts. In this sense, I am referring to those who, like politicians, unjustly benefit from a state without adding anything to it in return. It is so easy to be a “patriot” in this regard, mouthing silly slogans of national unity and the oneness of Nigeria. Being heroic or even patriotic does not arise from benefiting unjustly from the common weal. However, it is most likely that those who are truly heroic would not be considered as patriotic. This is because heroism stands at the border of perception between the patriotic and the unpatriotic. In other words, being heroic sometimes means speaking uncomfortable truths to one’s state, power and its leadership in a way that undermine the leadership’s complacence and legitimacy. A patriotic hero or heroine would not be one who cheers his or her nation or state whatever the state or nation is. Within Nigeria’s postcolonial and development realities, I know heroism and patriotism are two fundamental

concepts that have become nearly compromised. No one can be patriotic who cannot relate with the Nigerian state in terms of infrastructural development. An average Nigerian is not patriotic because the state has refused to fulfill its own part of the social contract, which involves empowering Nigerians and making their lives meaningful.

Heroes and heroines are also Nigerians who have been struggling to make sense of Nigeria’s frustrating infrastructural deficit. And yet, they hold their vision of a better Nigeria. They are usually and always at loggerheads and constant bickering as to what to make of their visions and the incumbent leadership’s understanding of that vision. However, when these individuals hold their nations to a sense of responsibility, there is the tendency for that nation to see them as dissidents, traitors and sabo- teurs. This is why those like Stalin and Hitler will fail the test of political heroism. It is also in this sense that Nigeria has remained in constant conflicts with those who have the interest of Nigeria at heart. Heroes cannot be expected to support a status quo that is antithetical to the dream of what a nation ought to be. In most cases, heroes and heroines see farther than what the political class sees at any point in time. And this is all the more so to the extent that corruption beclouds the perspective of the corrupt.

Heroism is fundamental because it has a leadership capability. Political heroism challenges the decisional capacity of any incumbent leadership at any time. This is because whether in po- litical position or outside of it, heroes see differently. And this leads to the second reason heroism is significant: heroes constitute a source of potential decisions and insights for resolving a nation’s pre- dicament. Heroism comes with its own unique moral dynamics and dilemmas. Heroes and heroines are members of the same society as we all are, yet they must hold themselves to higher moral standards if their voices are to be heard, their views and perspectives considered, and their recommendations and suggestions approved. So, most times, they have to struggle against the current. And most time, they fail. Yet they press on with a vision of the nation which others find strange and which they oppose fiercely. As I have written before, the Nigerian state is not hero-friendly. Yet, we have produced countless of them. But it does not seem that we have made sense of their significance in the collective act of re-imagining the Nigerian nation. On the contrary, Nigeria ignores, maligns, disgraces, represses, jails, and even kills her heroes and heroines. And when they die, the leadership writes glowing eulogies to their memories, and then they are promptly forgotten!

How do we get the patriotic Nigerian heroes and heroines? My answer is that we start searching for them by first identifying those who, in my assessment, qualifies already. Those we are classifying as heroes are Nigerians

(a) who, either directly through their careers or professions or outside of it, have engaged critically with the Nigerian predicament, sometimes to the detriment of their lives; and/or (b) whose ideas and perceptions have achieved a timeless relevance, especially to the urgent task of rebuilding a drowning nation. I know my choice of heroes and heroines would not go without a vociferous intellectual challenge, but I am not afraid to name a few—Herbert Macaulay, Queen Amina of Zaria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano, Anthony Enahoro, Adekunle Fajuyi, Moshood Kasimawo Abiola, Chief Simeon Adebo, Chief Jerome Udoji, Bolanle Awe, Chinua Achebe, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Gani Fawehinmi, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, Gambo Sawaba, Wole Soyinka, Billy Dudley, Ayodele Awojobi, Eni Njoku, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Hubert Ogunde, Amos Tutuola, Ben Nwabueze, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Asa Bukola Elemide, Dele Giwa, Ebenezer Obey, Tai Solarin, Margaret Ekpo, Chike Obi, and so on.

There are so many names in my abbreviated list (included and not included) that will lead to dissent. I know, for instance, that Igbo scholars would not agree with my perception of Awolowo as a Nigerian hero. Several Nigerians, and especially Yoruba, will think the same about Achebe. It is almost certain that the name of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will shake the confidence of many Nigerians. While no one will quarrel with the heroic intervention of Soyinka, Dele Giwa or Udoji, many will wonder why Obasanjo would make the revised version of such a distinguished list. My answer is that in his person, OBJ represents the very essence of heroism— an unpopular vision of nationhood, an acerbic personality that does not suffer fools lightly, and an unceasing energy that is directed at rethinking Nigeria. A hero is always in the eye of the storm.

READ ALSO: Obasanjo, Jonathan, governors, converge in Yola for Atiku’s turbanning

The post A search for the Nigerian hero as patriot appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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