POETRY: Black Caucasian

black caucasian

In me flows the blood of slaves
In me flows the blood of slave-owners
United they flow like water to a cave
Black blood, Caucasian blood
Agreeing to flow in one direction
Cooperating to give me life
It is time for the world to ponder
So what is the blame game for?
Blame game
Generation to generation
Till now and that is the shame
It is time we snap from our confusion
Accepting one another as one and the same
Together we stand United
Divided we fall defeated
White, that’s wrong
Humans, that’s right
Black is lack, wrong
Humans, that’s right
Black Caucasian is just a label
Civilization is what to blame?
Black or white, we are all the same
I am not Black, I am not white
I am WE

Composed by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

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SPECIAL FEATURE: “I will always remain an advocate for the indigenous…” – Tosinger

HIGHFLYERS ARENA

tosinger

Atlanta-based Nigerian Afrosoul/Folk/Jazz singer, Songwriter and Storyteller has been singing for more than two decades at festivals, intimate music spaces, concerts, churches, events and in theater, during her years in London, as a member of the vocal ensemble of select Broadway shows including ‘GodSpell’ and ‘Rent’. Tosinger comes with a musical flow that’s as soulful and ethnic as it is a sheer loveliness of heavenly inspiration. Her vocal essence and sound has been described as soothing and uplifting and her voice displays a simple conveyance of heartfelt richness. An eclectic artist with a warm personality and matchless passion, she names her African heritage, Ambient, Worship Music, World Music, Folk, Soul & Jazz as influencing her musical creativity. She also mentions legendary artistes such as Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Angelique Kidjo, Sade Adu and Tracy Chapman among others as influences. Tosinger is unique in her compositions as she occasionally incorporates her…

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AMAZING REASONS PEOPLE LOVE THEIR FAVOURITE COLOUR

colours

Colours are important features in our daily lives and they mean different things to different people, colours also reflect situations and may serve as an indicator to a person’s mood or state of mind. Many times, we seem to take colours for granted maybe because we see them so often; nevertheless, we need to sometimes appreciate the beauty colours add to life. Substantial credits to The Literary Cafe crew, below are some of the reasons why people love their favourite colour.

Tosin:
“I like green because it represents nature, more like earthy sage green. Sometimes yellow, because it looks happy, I don’t have a favourite but I like earth tones.”

Fifi (Age 3):
“My favourite colour is Pink because that is princess colour.”

Tawakalitu:
“My favourite colour is ‘nude’ and it is my favourite because it’s Kim Kardashian’s signature and it looks so good on her.”

Maestro:
“White, because it represents purity and peace.”

Desmond I:
“Yellow, because I admire traffic warden people.”

Oversize:
“Red, because it is Izakaba people colour (laughing).”

Bade:
“White, because it is Real Madrid’s colour.”

Enobong:
“Black, because it looks nice on me and it makes me look slimmer.”

Lota:
“Magnolian Violane with a touch of cockroach brown. Cockroach brown is bae.”

Tobi:
“White, not because I love it but I noticed I have a lot of white shirts and when I shop, na white I dey always find.”

Muna:
“But for what it’s worth, mine is Red because it reminds me of the Blood of Jesus.”

Esther:
“Black is my favourite colour. People say black is no colour but the absence of all colours and that it connotes negativity or a negative personality. For me and to me, black indicates dignity, respectability, serenity and elegance. It matches any and every colour. You can never go wrong with black. It is sleek, it just shows that independence and power. Black is serious and dynamic, it is just different, it hides a lot of things and it is very simple. Lastly, because of my skin colour, a black attire makes me look attractive.”

Aisha:
“Purple, its a calm colour and not girly like pink.”

Tammy:
“My favourite colour would be black. Basically, everything I own comes in black and I can’t really place a reason. Well, with clothes, it goes with everything. I think the colour is just cool and sleek, especially jet black.”

Wura:
“My best colour is purple because it reminds me that I am royalty.”

Akachukwu:
“Best colour is white because it is true, pure and presents things the way they are.”

Anu:
“Purple, the richness and its depth, gives me magnitude. Black too, the dare that comes with it makes me feel I can be just me regardless of what people think.”

Ifeoma:
“I love orange. No particular reason.”

Dami:
“Purple, it’s royal. Turquoise, it’s pretty and distinctive.”

Kemi:
“I don’t have any favourite as I enjoy different colours based on my mood.”

Olaolu:
“Black. Invisibility.”

Amaka:
“Blue because it is bright.”

Tosin F:
“Burgundy, because it is fly; and black.”

Ephraim:
“Mustard because I just fell in love with how cool it is.”

Tracy:
“I love red because I have a feeling it brings out my confidence each time I wear it on.”

KayCee:
“Navy blue, it looks good on me and it goes well with black.”

Priscilla:
“Teal. The sight alone makes me so happy.”

Tije:
“Fuchsia Pink because I love the class it gives to anything.”

Steve:
“Blue, works well with my complexion.”

Seun:
“Black. Wearing black or even using an item that is black represents me as having a serious, confident personality.”

Ife:
“I don’t really have any but if I’m to choose one, it would be ‘nude’ because it is versatile and goes with a lot of things.”

Airat:
“Purple because back in the days only royals could wear purple so it makes it a special colour and it is a fun and pretty colour.”

Obiora:
“Blue. Confidence when worn.”

Sophie:
“Blue, because it is cool and calm.”

David:
“Blue, it’s cool and appeals to me gracefully.”

Molade:
“Red, because it is sharp.”

Tobi:
“Pink, because it is pretty.”

Pexxie:
“My best colour has got to be purple because purple pops mehn! Or Red.”

Pius:
“Blue, because it evokes a sense of calmness and serenity, a sort of peace.”

Promise:
“Lemon green, because it speaks a lot about nature. Nature inspires me a lot.”

Kofo:
“Brown, its calm, bossy and homely.”

Mikel:
“White, because it is unique and it shows class. For example, the home of the most powerful world leader is the White House, the best footballer on the pitch is recognised with a white boot, kings and brides wear white regalia.”

Chiamaka:
“Mine has to be teal. It is unique, inviting, exudes confidence and is very attractive and what more?, it is not everywhere. I could buy anything coloured teal even when I don’t really like it.”

Wole:
“Black, because it is elegant, classy, stylish, mysterious, signifies authority and power. Black goes with anything too.”

Clinton:
“Black, because its black. Its dark and it looks nice when well-worn.”  

Yewande:
“Black, because it is beautiful and it does not stress, though often associated with evil, it accepts other colours without discrimination.”

Mrs. Ob:
“Brown, because it is calm and cool.”

Betse:
“Blue is just calm and chilled.”

Khasome:
“White and Purple. White is a very peaceful colour and always makes everywhere brighter. It also looks good on anybody. Purple for me shows elegance, there is something very regal about it. Sophisticated.”

Anonymous:
“Black, because it is a demonic colour and I like it.”

Irene:
“Blue, because it looks good and it just has this appealing look. I can stare at the sky for hours.”

Desmond:
“Red, because it is scary.”

Saheed:
“I like black because it is shiny and it’s basically a badass colour. Blue too because I think it is regal and sophisticated.”

Nnamdi:
“Green, because I like nature.”

Eunice:
“Light blue for me because it calms me and it signifies purity.”

Beverly:
“Orange because it is vibrant.”

Dupe:
“Red because it is never wrong for an event; then white and black out together because it is classic.”

Adesola:
“Red, because it stands out.”

Aminat:
“Red, brings out femininity.”

Mrs. Oj:
“Purple, because it stands for royalty.”

Femi:
“Grey, you can never go wrong with grey.”

John:
“White because it is Real Madrid.”

Gabriel:
“Best colour is black, I love neatly-ironed black suit and black shoes.”

Oludare:
“Purple. Has certain richness and depth to it.”

Oge:
“Peach, because it is cool.”

Valentine:
“I will say it is blue. It speaks tranquillity and soulness.”

Dayo:
“Blue. Fascinating.”

Angela:
“Blue is cool.”

Ope:
“Blue and Gold. Blue makes me less attractive, it gives me this cool look unlike other colours and it works well on my skin. I don’t know why I just like gold.”

Womiloju:
“Okay, Red. Why is red my favourite colour? It tops my appearance like what icing is to cake. I love red for its bold nature, uniquely blending a sharp and stunning feature. Red puts me in-charge!”

Daalu:
“Black, because it affirms design and style.”

Seun K:
“Black, fits perfectly with everything.”

Ginger:
“Black is bae, words fail me.”

Tomiyin:
“Yellow, the colour of sunshine, hope and happiness, has conflicting associations. On one hand, yellow stands for freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honour, loyalty and joy.”

Khadija:
“My best colour is Lilac because it looks so calm and its pleasing to the eyes.”

As we can see, colours mean different things to different people and people love them for different reasons. Can we ever do without colours? NO!

Why not share here your favourite colour in the comment box below and why you like it, even if yours is cockroach brown, pineapple yellow, bush rat grey or even the “colour” of water…lol, you just gotta love a colour, it’s such a colourful world we live in, share yours.

 

 

 

 

BREXIT: The Future Ahead of Britain

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THE GENESIS OF ‘THE BREXIT’

The call for Britain to exit the European Union (EU) can be traced to the global economic meltdown which saw the economies of the world crumble. The global recession took a toll on every nation of the world but Britain compared to many other nations recovered in a fairly good time. Following the recession came increased terrorism and Islamisation of the world with Islamic terrorist groups holding sway in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, they were beginning to gradually infiltrate Europe. The crisis that rocked the Middle East led many to migrate massively into Europe not just for safety but for greener pastures, the slow economic recovery of some European countries led Europeans too to migrate to better economies within the region. With migration of people into a country comes the transference of ideologies, systems, lifestyle, religion, traditions and culture etc. Matters became worse in Britain when some British boys were brainwashed and left the country to fight for the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This influx of persons threatened the territorial integrity of Britain, Islam became the fastest-growing religion in the land.

Furthermore, many Britons watched people from other nations take-up jobs and prosper at their expense, this led to the call for Britain to leave the EU in order to have greater control of its borders. Not so long after the call, Prime Minister David Cameron ran for a fresh term in office and he campaigned and won on the promise that he would conduct a referendum to determine first if Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom (UK) and secondly, if the UK should remain part of the EU. The referendum was fixed as promised and Scotland voted to remain part of the UK (a decision greatly influenced by the fact that the UK was part of the EU) while the UK majority voted to leave the EU. The British referendum that led to the UK exiting the European Union is what is known as the British Exit – ‘Brexit’. Over all, it is important to note that the main political undertone underlying the Brexit is ‘Migration’.

WHY THE ‘REMAIN’ CAMPAIGN FAILED

Late Sensitization: The British people did not know on time even up till the voting day the meaning or implications of leaving the European Union (EU). Many people voted out of emotion and ignorance because sensitization was poor and very late. Before people go to any poll, the first campaign drive should be that they register to vote; this is one of the factors that aided the Obama campaign in the first term. When encouraging people to register, the party involved is indirectly selling the message that they are serious and are the right way to go. A friend of mine in a conversation told me a colleague of hers in her workplace voted to leave the EU because “she did not know what else to vote for” i.e. voted for no just reason. Because people did not have the knowledge nor understanding, they enjoyed the hype of the season and voted for whatever choice came to their mind at the polls. Many voters did not consider the facts of the issue and the implications of their decision. Early preparation is the secret of success. If citizens were first sensitized and encouraged to vote by both parties on a neutral level as a matter of social responsibility, then the people would have decided after thorough thought.

Voter Apathy: Voter apathy among young people has been a perennial challenge across continents, young people usually do not come out to vote, it is a big deal all over the world when young people exercise their civic duties; Brexit unfortunately had to be the cost for the British youths this time. One factor that made the difference in the Obama 2008 campaign was the enthusiasm among the youths, many young people volunteered and voted for the first time. Ordinarily, the younger population would always be more than the older population, how then it be that over 60% of the ‘Leave’ voters were the older generation who eventually had their way if not that the younger population did not come out en masse.

Conflict of Needs: There was a conflict of needs between the older generation and the younger generation. The older generation voted for their own interest, they were trying to secure their own future rather than the future of the younger generation. The older population who voted to leave the EU have about 15-16 years on the average to live with the consequences of Brexit while the younger ones have about 50 years on the average to bear it. One of the main campaign messages of the ‘Leave’ camp was that the UK spends GBP 350 Million a week on the EU and that such money could rather be used to beef-up the National Health Service (NHS), the figures turned out to be outrageously untrue. Now, who needs the health services more?, the older generation. The older people need the health services more, they are prone to health challenges and thus, if the only price to have better health services and live longer was to leave the EU, why not? While the older generation were thinking NHS, the younger generation were thinking of the affordable fun trips (thanks to the EU free movement policy), they were nursing the prospect of living outside UK and working in a big firm in the heart of Europe without restrictions or the opportunity of learning a foreign language or doing business abroad. Therefore, the older generation having their way means that they had overpowering interest, they wanted ‘it’ more than the younger ones, voting towards living longer was the best they could do for themselves since they had nothing to lose.

Poor Campaign Strategy: The basic principle of magnetism is that like poles repel and unlike poles attract, the same principle applies in political campaigns. To attract people, the opposite needs to be done sometimes. The ‘Leave’ campaign employed the ‘Fear-mongering’ tactic i.e. Highlighting the negative aspects of being in the EU and the repercussions of remaining. The ‘Remain’ campaign on the other hand made the error of using the same strategy by highlighting the repercussions of leaving the EU. What the ‘Remain’ campaign could have done correctly was to focus more on propagating the benefits of being in the EU such as free movement, jobs abroad, easier trade and business, foreign investments, war on terror, global standing etc. Rather, the ‘Remain’ camp propagated what sounded more like threats – “if we leave, this is what would happen” instead of “if we stay, this is what will happen”. The ‘Remain’ campaign ought to have capitalized or consolidated on the gains of being in the EU stating why the UK is better-off. They could have sold the message that even though UK is not where it hoped to be, they are not where they used to be and have made some progress. Opposite tactics would get the opposite results from an opponent. Confidence is the opposite of fear, the ‘Remain’ team may have been successful had they expressed more confidence in the EU in their campaign.

Late Heavy Push: The heavy push from the ‘Remain’ camp came very late, it came barely 48-72 hours before the polls. People would not have had the time to think through their points, the message would not have been able to resonate or sink-in, it was too late for people to think through or change their minds. The big voices would have spoken early enough, it always works; John Major, Gordon Brown, Sadiq Khan etc spoke rather late. Recently, President Barack Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton for president even before being officially nominated, that is the biggest endorsement any candidate in the race can have, the sitting President has made it clear who he would like to handover to and who he feels America should vote for, Americans can now begin to prepare their mind who to support early enough.

The Obama (Side) Effect: Quite alright, the UK and USA are best of friends, probably the greatest allies the world has ever seen. Though President Obama’s trip was made in good faith, it was counter-productive. President Obama seemed not to understand the nature of the people he was dealing with. The British people are traditionally a conservative people who mind their ‘business’ and dislike interference. Suffice it is that one of the facts in issue about being part of the EU is the belief that the EU dictates to Downing Street, the fact that the EU interferes in exclusively internal issues. President Obama coming from miles away literally to tell the British what to do could not have resonated well with the British people. Therefore, some persons may have voted to leave the EU simply to prove a point that no one can dictate in British affairs, Obama’s visit may have strengthened the resolve of some ‘leavers’. President Obama could have still remained in the US, made a statement as a persuasive opinion and he would have still achieved the aims he intended by traveling. Traveling in person was a bit too much and it is quite embarrassing that the voice of the world’s power was scorned by her best friend.

Over-confidence: The ‘Remain’ team leaders were over-confident, it seemed common sense not to leave the EU. Over-confidence was partially why Prime Minister David Cameron offered a referendum to the British people in the first place, over-confidence may have led to the late heavy push, a little over-confidence definitely stemmed from the outcome of the Scottish referendum. Many leaders never believed that the UK would ever want to exit the EU. Ordinarily, the co-existence of a people is made non-negotiable because if given any chance, there must be division. There must be agitations in any society, there will always be a sub-group in any group and a sub-group within every other sub-group. Biafra has been agitating for independence from Nigeria same as Saharawi Republic from Morocco but what has kept the countries together is the fact that the issue of co-existence has been made non-negotiable, not by law but it is implied. Prime Minister Cameron took a big risk which showed weakness and it has turned out costly, but history may be fair to him for giving the people a voice if Brexit turns out beneficial.

Racism and Xenophobia: According to human rights law expert, Ruth Costigan, the UK is a perennially racist country yet tolerant being one of the most diverse countries in the world and with sizeable number of mixed-race persons. Over the years, people have migrated to the UK and have made a living there. However, there are still residues of racism and now xenophobia which affected the outcome of the EU referendum. There are two (2) reasons: First, the older generation are still very traditional and conservative and secondly,  the younger working lots have watched other Europeans troop into Britain and becoming more prosperous than they are. The belief that the core Europeans are taking British jobs is not entirely true, they get employed by British job-owners either because they have the requisite skills or because they are willing to work for lesser pay. If the Brits are willing to acquire the requisite skills or can work for a little less than the minimum wage, they would get the jobs too. As a matter of fact, many believe the core Europeans are more hardworking, contented, friendly, willing-to-learn and make great co-workers. The Britons forgot that just as the core Europeans migrated into the UK to work, they have equal chances to move too and make a living abroad. The European migrants earn less, pay more taxes, have restricted access to social services and benefits and yet are happier. Many believed and expected that once they vote ‘leave’, the migrants would back their belongings and actually leave, it does not work that way, the streets will not be “British only” anytime soon because many immigrants have become permanent residents, many have inter-married and given birth in the UK. No matter the shades of colour or race some Brits do not want to see, these set of people have equal and legal rights to stay in the UK indefinitely. Furthermore, the Point Based System policy the UK intends to model from Australia guarantees skillful foreigners to take-up British jobs and also stay in the country.

HOW ‘BREXIT’ IS IRELAND’S GREATEST GAIN

Like it is popularly said, “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom-fighter”. In any political organization or disorganization between two or more parties, there must be gainers and losers. I believe the biggest gainer from the British Exit is the Republic of Ireland. Ireland share territorial, traditional and historical ties with Britain. Investors in Europe prefer to operate from London because of convenience, strong currency, language, diversity, flexibility amongst other factors. Ireland is part of the EU and has good trade relations with Britain, the next best deal is for investors to enjoy the best of both worlds by relocating to neighbouring Ireland. Ireland compared to the UK needs more skilled workers and are “desperate” for foreign investments, they are open to the world for business. Proximity to the UK would not make relocation of companies difficult. For tourists and international students, Ireland’s attraction is not just the beauty and education but the English language too. Foreigners who desire to speak better English language can live, work and learn in Ireland as an alternative to the UK. Ireland is the last English-speaking bloc within the EU with similar systems and infrastructures as the UK, the country serves as a viable alternative to the UK. There is a record-high demand for the Irish passport and Ireland would be willing to welcome the world.

THE FUTURE OF GREAT BRITAIN

Following the World War II, the Marshall Plan was launched to facilitate the reconstruction of Europe. Ever since then, Europe has been on the rise becoming an exclusive continent in the world. One thing the ‘Remain’ campaign failed to point out is the fact that since the formation of the European Union, Europe as a continent has become more prosperous than any other time in the world’s history. Therefore, the EU arrangement is not a failed project, the quality of life of Europeans is arguably higher than the rest of the world; pulling out of the EU meant pulling out of the common wealth. The UK has some slight advantages economically over some countries in hinterland Europe but upon Brexit, the most of Europe would become richer than UK if serious economic decisions are not made, the UK needs to make critical contingency plans and must be committed to seeing them through. The Peoples of European Union the UK wants to see emigrate would in a space of 20 years be better-off in many respects, a typical case study is between Nigeria and South Africa. During the apartheid, Nigeria was better than South Africa in many areas, South Africans would come to Nigeria to study and work, Nigeria gave South Africa aids and technical support but today, South Africa has better infrastructures, stronger currency, became Africa’s largest economy and South Africans generally live a better life. Another case study is between Nigeria and neighbouring Ghana; Ghana gained independence 3 years before Nigeria but during their era of serious economic woes, many Ghanaians trooped into Nigeria to work, the massive influx led to the popular ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ agitation, the Ghanaians returned to their country, developed it, and today, Accra is better-organized than Lagos and Ghanaians have a higher life-expectancy than Nigeria. If the UK is thus not careful, the rest of Europe would surpass them, newer countries in the EU have testified to the goodness of the EU arrangement and have seen meaningful changes in their country.

A major disadvantage of the Brexit is that for a lot of things, the UK will now be at the “mercy” of the EU, a lot of things would be on EU’s terms e.g. trade relations and counter-terrorism. What was a matter of obligation is now a matter of discretion, it all depends of the generousity of the EU following negotiations. It is likely there would be a decrease in tuition fees to allow more British to be able to afford and acquire the necessary skills to take-up British jobs, international students may also pay less and Britain may want to headhunt or “trap” foreign talents to grow their economy. The UK needs to diversify the economy, if jobs are not being created, unemployment may rise. About 90% of UK’s export is in the financial services, it is generally an efficient service-driven economy. Scotland has oil but the EU referendum has divided Britain. Scotland is considering a fresh referendum and if Scotland leaves Britain, UK economy would most-certainly be affected. The British government must do all it can to make the country have a more-attractive outlook to the world, this means bigger incentives and more liberal economic reforms to attract foreign investors to remain or participate.

Furthermore, because the UK is no longer part of the EU and would now have to follow the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade regulations, the UK would import more and spend more on importation; goods would in turn become more expensive. Because trade is lot more complex now, some companies are very likely to pull-out partially or permanently from the economy and that comes with loss of jobs. For companies who choose to remain in the UK, they would cut costs, wages may be cut down and some workers may be retrenched so as to break even on all indexes; the point is, whichever way, jobs would be lost. The UK served as a vantage point to gain access into the European economy, nevertheless, some companies would make the UK a mere hub while main operation is moved to a different European capital. If the finances of the UK are not well-managed, the UK would plunge into recession with lower credit ratings, the Bank of England must thus have sufficient capital to support British businesses. To maintain capital to run the economy, there would be tax increases and spending cuts, austerity measures would be taken and that means “crunch” for British citizens and lower quality of life. The UK would definitely see a decline in tourism over time, this is not only because of the new racism and xenophobic inclinations nor the cold anger globally towards Britain because of their decision but because the free movement policy under the EU arrangement would have elapsed due to ademption. The British passport is currently the strongest in the world but following Brexit, there would be a lower demand for it and the passport would rank lower ordinarily if British citizens would now require a visa to travel to some countries. Lastly, Britain being part of the EU added some flavor to her global perception and standing, following Brexit, Britain may lose her voice and some respect globally, Britain may no longer be seen as an opinion leader in the region or on global issues in the coming years.

In conclusion, the future of Britain looks bleak for now, yet there may be light at the end of the tunnel, it all depends on how post-Brexit Britain is managed, the world will be watching.

– Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi 

The Deterioration of Student Leadership in Nigeria

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PROLOGUE
The moral decadence that has become characteristic of Nigerian tertiary institutions today is simply a nucleus of the massive decay of values in the larger society. The decay of morals is therefore a by-product of a bigger societal decay.

The educational structure consists of four (4) major stakeholders which include:
i. The Government
ii. The University Management
iii. Parents and Teachers
iv. Students

The genesis of decay by inference is the failure of one or more or all of the stakeholders. It is unfortunate that the failure of the Nigeria educational system today is as a result of the failure of all the stakeholders.

THE PURPOSE OF STUDENT LEADERSHIP
The purpose of student leadership is as follows; however, they are not restricted to these:
i. To serve as a bridge between the students and the management.
ii. To initiate activities to recognise student’s achievements.
iii. To make life easier for students on campus.
iv. To implement a comprehensive students programme.
v. To develop student activities to benefit youth and national development.
vi. To be an advocate for good governance.

BRIEF HISTORY OF STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND COMPARISONS
Student leadership in Nigeria became prominent in the late 1970s. In the 1980s it became monetised and politicised when the government began to look towards student leaders to solve major problems confronting their interests in the educational system. This ushered in the decay characterised by victimisations, lecturers were victimised and lecturers victimised students. Lecturers and students began to lose respect for each other; due to the incessant strikes by the lecturers, students gave less reverence and due to the lack of intellectual prowess on the part of the students, lecturers lost their respect for students too. Back in the days, students could challenge their lecturers in intellectual debates, lecturers and students learnt from each other. The lack of mutual respect led lecturers to begin to make “special demands” on students before they could pass to the next level while the students on their part began to carry guns, this partly birthed cultism. Cultism was also as a result of the tilting and diabolism of the purpose of some societies established on campus; fraternities were meant to be similar to those existent in US schools. Another factor is that students who enrolled in universities then were quite mature in age but today, students are really young, many complete their bachelors degree by age 19 or 20, the age most students gained admission in the past. Furthermore, parental neglect has changed the value system, back then, mothers were sit-home moms but today, we have 9am to 5pm moms who have taken up white collar jobs, there is little or no time to pass the necessary values to their wards. Also, parents today pay the way of their children through school, they bribe to have their children pass WAEC, NECO, JAMB etc, parents no longer reward success nor punish failure. Lastly, the university management became less efficient and less dedicated to their work, insensitivity to student’s welfare became a norm, the lack of government support was mainly responsible for the failure of the university management. From this, the part of the failure of the four stakeholders is clear.

THE PROBLEMS WITH STUDENT LEADERSHIP
i. Bad Governance: When a bad government gets into power, three things would surely go wrong with the educational system. First, the standard of education would fall. Secondly, campus vices would be on the rise. Thirdly, pre-existing problems would remain the same. The crime of advance fee fraud and obtaining by false pretense became the new international label of Nigeria when an insensitive government came into power and refused to pay bright Nigerian students sent to the USA their allowances; the students were helpless and were forced to channel their intelligence to the wrong things. The USA had never witnessed such kind of advance fraud in their history, this negative phenomenon became popularly known as 419 and Yahoo-Yahoo. It is unfortunate that today, student leadership have become so politicised such that many universities have pledged themselves along political lines. Bad governments emanating have become extremely intolerant to protests unlike in the 1970s. During the popular ‘Ali-must-go’ protest, a significant feature was the fact that students never destroyed the school’s property and the policemen never invaded the campus, that unfortunately is not the case today, students vandalise school properties and the police intimidate students during protests. For the records, the ‘Ali-must-go’ protest began in 1978 when Colonel Ahmadu Ali, the then Minister of Education under the Olusegun Obasanjo regime increased the cost of feeding, the then National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) led by Segun Okeowo, a 200 level student of the University of Lagos went into talks with the government but the negotiations were unfruitful, this led to wide protests across the country.

ii. Money: The monetisation of student leadership by politicians is one of the greatest disservice politicians have done to the country. Students have become a tool in the hands of politicians to cause chaos especially during elections. Student Unions also loot their treasury just like the politicians they pledge their allegiance to. Today, we find student union governments offering awards to corrupt leaders in exchange for money.

iii. Bad Followership: Worse than bad leadership is bad followership. It is not true that an army of sheeps led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. If a person is a contributor to a system whether for good or bad, it does not exclude the person as being part of the system, either good or bad. This is why the election of credible leaders into power is very crucial in the process of nation building. The unfortunate situation in the country today is the fact that a person who summons the courage to criticise the government ends up being victimised.

iv. Compromising Student Leadership: Late Chief Segun Okeowo, the former leader of the then National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) and the forefront leader of the ‘Ali-must-go’ protest refused to compromise, collect bribes or be intimidated to call off the strike. He was expelled from university as a result and could not complete his university education until after 5 years. He was witch-hunted but he sacrificed his personal dreams for the cause he believed in. The reverse is the case today, many student leaders are easily bought-off at the expense of the genuine agitations of the students they represent.

v. Personal Ambitions: Many student leaders aspire to get involved in public office in the future, this personal ambition drives them to familiarise themselves with already established politicians. The submission of the student’s interest to pursue personal interest is a major challenge with student leaders. A student leader does not have to pursue personal ambitions to be of public relevance, the likes of Tai Solarin, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Late Chief Segun Adesina and Late Chief Segun Okeowo are typical examples. Integrity is what it takes to be a leader, there is no better way of showing integrity as a student leader than to fully represent the interest one was elected for.

vi. Non-Uniform Youth/Student Leadership Structure: One major contributor to the success of the ‘Ali-must-go’ protest was the fact that a singular body (NUNS) represented the students. Today, numerous student/youth platforms are in existence, this has given rise to conflicts. The government must be made clear as to the body that really represents the students. This would require student/youth-led platforms to unify. Just as the Nigerian Labour Congress represents Nigerian workers and can successfully pursue their interests with the government, Nigerian students must establish a similar platform to regain relevance.

vii. External and Internal Conflicts: In the 1970s, universities and polytechnics cooperate in pursuing common goals but today, universities oppose each other and polytechnics are viewed as inferior to the universities. Also, inflamed politics internally does not give room for the growth of student leadership in the country.

viii. Lack of Management Support: No Student Union body can really function without the support of the university management. A cordial relationship and mutual understanding must exist in order for the student leadership to pursue their programmes. Most of the time, the management prefer a student leadership they can easily control and this is very unfortunate. A strong student leadership is a reflection of a strong management, if the management supports student-led programmes, there will be little or no agitations. The management must at all time express confidence in the capacity of the student leaders to lead the students yet providing guidance.

SOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
An obvious solution would be to do the opposite of the problems.

i. A uniform system of student leadership should be formed.

ii. Student leaders should develop the culture of grooming other leaders from within. This is the best way of spearheading change. It allows for good traditions to be maintained or improved upon.

iii. The government should give a statutory allocation to student union governments of universities through the ministry of education; this is in addition to the student union dues. The funds should be used to facilitate student-led programme crafted by the ministry of education. The state ministry of education would supervise the use of the funds. Student Union Governments would have enough funds to implement programmes and this will reduce corruption and manipulation by politicians.

iv. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be involved as a supervisory/advisory body in the conduct of student union elections. This would give credence to the outcome of the polls and because it is regular, it would sharpen the skills of INEC officials ahead of the general elections which take place every 4 years.

v. The government should be incentive driven. The government should develop new ways of rewarding student’s success. Bursaries, fellowship programmes, exchange programmes, grants/scholarships and student loans are some of the initiatives the government should lead.

vi. Academic excellence should be made a crucial factor for eligibility for student leadership. Persons of excellence should be encouraged to take up leadership positions. It will also encourage new students who aspire to be student leaders in future to put big effort into their academics.

– Written by: Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

The Role Of The Opposition In Democracy

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The words of Abraham Lincoln still linger that “democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Over centuries, in the quest to solve as many societal problems as possible and to ensure socio-political stability and also reflect the desires of the people, many systems of government have been tried and tested. Democracy appears today as the most popular and most preferred system of government that meets this quest. It is worthy of note that a democratic society is a hybrid of the family institution and the political institution, this is because the family is the nucleus of the society and every individual in the society is a product of a family and individuals are the players of democracy. Therefore, when family values are excluded in politics, democracy must fail. The United State’s Republican Party is an example of a political party whose ideology is well-known and cemented along the lines of family values and nationalism. Nigerian political parties must have ideologies everyone is familiar with, parties springing-up overnight for the purpose of being a platform to win elections must stop. Democracy as a governing system has many constituents that must be in place in order to make it function appropriately; this includes political parties, an electoral umpire, a constitution and so on.  When all is in place, an election must take place and a ruling party and an opposition party must emerge. Without an opposition party, the people can be forced into frustration in the long run if their will is not being reflected, the social system becomes a pseudo-dictatorship and the social stability democracy is intended to create will be defeated. The society will be forced to a state of anomie after a long stint of societal tolerance which portends “when there is no choice available, the available becomes the choice.” Frustration leads to aggression and in most cases the frustration of the people aggressively topples the subjugating government of the day. A typical and recent example is the Arab Spring which toppled repressive governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and some governments in the Middle East. Global leaders must begin to study why nations fail; for a government to collapse, so many things must have gone wrong over many years, governments don’t just topple and it is not an easy process at all. Most times, lives are lost and series of protests and violence must have taken place. The defiance of sit-tight leaders do not make things any better, the after-effects shows how influential a single leader can shape a social structure. Therefore, Africans and indeed Nigerians must begin to take the process of choosing leaders very seriously and get it right first time. From these few points, we can see that the existence of an opposition is crucial in sustaining democracy.

Nigeria has enjoyed 16 years of non-stop democracy, it is a good thing that our democracy is fast-maturing. To make it more lucid, a 16 year old child is mature enough to make certain important decisions and decide what he wants to do or become in life. Same applies to our democracy, we are at a crucial time whereby we have to determine as a people what we want our democracy to become in the nearest future. With the wind of change across the country and the peaceful transition from a party to another party, there is no better time than now. The people have a sacred duty of expressing their will by voting and this is the biggest assignment, what protects this will is the opposition in place, this is because the people have their reasons for voting a particular party and the roles of the governing party is automatically cut-out. The role of the opposition is not to oppose every position but to make propositions. Opposition parties must criticise constructively and if they don’t, they do so mala fide and will destroy the democracy they are meant to protect. They must remember that a failed democracy will put them out of job and that an opposition today is a potential incumbent tomorrow. I believe the pressure is more on the opposition party than a governing party in a boisterous democracy. The opposition plays a preventive role while the governing party plays a curative role. The opposition is meant to prevent democracy from collapsing while the incumbent government is meant to find a cure to the people’s challenges. Prevention is better than cure and being an opposition is not necessarily a lonely walk in the desert. An opposition is not in place to criticise for the sake of criticising because they believe that is what the public expects, they are meant to sit down, do their own concurrent policy research and at all times present a better alternative to the people, doing this consistently will allow them stand a better chance of becoming the governing party in the next election. An opposition must be mature, confident and secure. They show this by giving the governing party their props when necessary and appropriate, they must be able to do so without contradiction, admitting that a governing party took the right decision on an issue does not mean the public would begin to prefer the governing party more, instead, it shows that the opposition is objective, honest and can be trusted and this public confidence can extend to the people entrusting their votes to them in the next election.

An opposition must be magnanimous enough to agree with the governing party on certain issues especially those that involve the sovereignty, unity and sacred honour of the nation. A typical example is the issue of the secession of Scotland, during the referendum campaign, Ed Miliband the leader of the Labour Party in a speech made it clear that he agrees with David Cameron the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party that Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom and they would work tirelessly together to achieve that common purpose even if a united Scotland is the only issue they would agree upon. They worked together to achieve this and the people voted to have Scotland remain a part of the United Kingdom. The lesson from this is that, there are times when the opposition must cooperate with the governing party on salient issues when it matters most especially when it poses an imminent threat on the sovereignty and unity of the people. An opposition party must oppose with conscience knowing that they may be the ruling party one day and at no time should they make inflammatory or divisive statements especially along religious and tribal lines, this is because these two are the opium of the people. When an opposition party slanders the image of leaders of the governing party for instance, it threatens the stability and cooperate existence of the nation because so many people pledge their allegiance to these leaders and will do anything for them, inflaming the polity with slander and propaganda therefore is inflaming their loyalists especially those at the grassroots level who are ready to take to the street. Unfortunately, Nigeria is currently healing from the spate of this kind of dirty politics. Our politicians must begin to be nationalistic with their ambition, a nationalist thinks of the nation while a politician thinks of the next election. Our democracy has a long way to go, we are still teenagers not yet adults, it begins with our political parties having ideologies and recognising family values as part of the democratic system, this is what sustains democracy and keeps the polity clean, when these values are embedded in individual politicians, politicians won’t do certain appalling things we watch and read about. When family values are excluded in politics, democracy must fail.

– Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

2015: The Task Of Building A Nigeria That Works

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Leading a country like Nigeria is widely-known to be a herculean task, not only because of inherited perennial challenges but also because of the diverse nature of our nationhood. The Nigeria extraction is a confluence of religious, ethnic, ideological and socio-cultural differences. Before I highlight some things that needs to be done to make our nation work, it is important to first establish that a nation’s existence is a product of the will of a people; therefore, the task of building a nation is in the hands of the people, it is a deliberate collective effort that takes a period of time since a nation is not a product of happenstance.

A nation is first established along a given political territory bound by certain rules and norms which are generally acceptable. The second is the existence of critical institutions such as a police force, universities, an economy, a civil service and so on. By inference, the fulcrum of building a nation is in its institutions. The first task at hand for the incoming administration led by General Muhammadu Buhari is to strengthen the institutions in our country, massive elaborate reforms must be made and this includes the area of education which is lagging behind at the moment, most Nigerian students prefer to study abroad either for undergraduate or postgraduate study. It is quite worrisome that neighbouring Ghana is now a haven for so many Nigerian students, it was also declared recently that Nigeria tops the population of international students in the United States. One may assume it is an indication of a wider middle class and a more prosperous citizenry who can afford a foreign education; but in reality, it is a clear reflection of a decaying educational system, teachers must be trained periodically. I recommend a licensing process for teachers just like every other profession like law, medicine and accounting. This will also add some prestige to the teaching profession. Other sectors that needs to be strengthened is the judiciary, there must be zero interference with the judiciary in the discharge of their duties, specialised courts must be expanded and the law schools must be very thorough.

Security is also vital, the police and paramilitary forces should be retrained in line with the world’s best practices, the issue of a policeman shooting an innocent civilian and the indiscriminate mounting of roadblocks by unidentifiable men in uniform is appalling. There should be a new rule of engagement between civilians and the police, a policeman must be able to show his identity and perfect his way of interrogation. Community policing is another aspect that could be looked into for better security, it is also important for the military to be better equipped and consistently reinforced by regularly recruiting new combatants into the forces. A ratio system is highly recommended, a policeman to every 10 citizen will effectively provide the basic security presence needed within an area, this will also allow the government to effectively allot security personnel according to the population of each state. Looking at the current ratio, it is alarming, and Nigeria needs to massively recruit more men into the force. Better remuneration and incentives should be provided for military men to reduce or eradicate bribery and corruption of force men.

Secondly, corruption has cut really deep into the Nigerian system. First of all, there should be a fresh reappraisal of officials at various levels and the penalty for corrupt practices broadened, effective laws binding on all private and public organization should also be put in place to allow for optimum accountability. Technology is also a great tool to reduce corrupt practices, when special systems are built, it will be difficult for individuals to engage in corrupt practices. The reason why a person would think twice before committing a crime in an advanced country is because he knows that the system in place would block him and if he happens to be successful, the system in place would catch him. Therefore, Nigeria must launch a fresh anti-corruption master plan and improve technology.

Thirdly, the task of nation building is also an engineering process. Proper infrastructure gets the economy running; they are essential constituents that determine the quality of life of a people. New roads should be constructed, alternative means of transportation developed, clean accessible water should be provided and constant electricity available. A basic developmental framework is highly-recommended, this is where the basic requirements that gets a city or town functioning are highlighted and efforts are to be made to build new cities and upgrade existing ones, it is also important to have the welfare and happiness of the people at the background and this includes recreation. A framework could consist of advanced waterworks, power plants, roads, a conference centre, museum, stadium and so on, some town have these while some do not, the idea is to improve the quality of life of every citizen irrespective of location, there should be a basic common developmental framework for every city and town in the country. A man should be able to visit a museum in Potiskum and be sure to find a museum in Warri while carrying out his anthropological research, culture is preserved and education is improved, an example of the benefit of a basic developmental framework.

To build Nigeria, it is also important to be an effective global player. Nigeria earned her mantra as the “Giant of Africa” not only because of her population and oil wealth but because of her role in international politics, Nigeria assisted South Africa during their days of apartheid, assisted Namibia to gain independence and played important roles in preserving West African democracies. For Nigeria to remain an important nation, we must continue to tow this path, it is unfortunate that Nigeria’s global reputation is really bad at the moment, we need to build from the scratch in this aspect, this backlog is heavily telling on Nigerian citizens abroad, the respect Nigerians used to enjoy in the past in almost absent. Nigeria should not wait for a crisis in another nation before becoming a global participant, it begins with strengthening our embassies and high commissions abroad, some are currently redundant, the presence of Nigeria must be felt in every nation, a programme should be handed to embassies to implement in their respective countries and adequate funds should be provided, some embassies are literally non-functional or even into oblivion at the moment, nothing stops a Nigerian embassy from having a cultural programme for their host country or a department to run a Nigerian market or restaurant to cater for her citizens abroad for instance.  There are so many things an embassy can do that can make the nation’s presence felt abroad and for Nigerians abroad to feel protected and at home. Our biggest export is our nollywood movies for instance, that is where rebranding Nigeria’s image starts from, it is the sacred responsibility of the embassies to promote the nation and this aspect has not been harnessed at all. The incoming government has the task of assigning real tasks to the embassies abroad if Nigeria wants to be a real global player.

Furthermore, national orientation is needed for the people, we need to be patriotic as a nation, we should develop a concept of a Nigerian spirit. The Nigerian mentality has a negative undertone which is not meant to be. We should recall at this point that a nation is a product of human will and imagination, it is also a collection of agreed norms and ways of life. Our way of life as a people needs to be re-evaluated, the entire populace needs to be aggressively sensitised on what is and what is not. It is very possible, it was possible when ebola was diagnosed within the nation’s territory, it is the same process and level of sensitisation that is needed to put Nigerian’s attitude right; however, it must be a continuous process. Values and virtues of nationhood must be fully enmeshed into the psychic of the nation’s populace, it becomes a habit and then it forms the character of the people. The educational system plays a vital role in this aspect, the exclusion of history in the school’s curriculum is just a very major mistake or decision a government can make. History when it was part of school’s curriculum was not really grounded, the next best thing is to find ways of making it more attractive and lucrative and not to scrap it. The solution to headache is not to cut off the head, history must be brought back to schools, it is the child’s first encounter with her nation, the study of history is where the sense of patriotism is developed.

Finally, the right policies must be put in place. There is no limit to the policies the government can put in place to make a nation stand. As development, trends and technology improve, policies must improve along too in order to meet the needs of the time, this makes policy review crucial. The first step is to reorganise Nigeria’s political system because it is the bane of policy-making, policies and politics go hand-in-hand. With the right politicians, we can have the right politics. Other areas that require political reform include agriculture and natural resources, education, power, labour, welfare, immigration and sports. Unemployment for instance is a major problem, many youths are roaming the streets, some are degree holders and others do not have the funds to start their own enterprise. The government must begin to show the desire to own and run institutions, privatisation is a good idea but is not automatically the best, it is ok for the government to build industries and outsource them, it creates a favourable value chain. The logic is that people work in firms and if more work is needed then more firms are to be created. One of the government’s surest solutions to unemployment is to build firms where people will work, there cannot be wastages because every excess of a nation is an opportunity for export. The incoming national leadership should harness the resources of every state and build industries and invest in the service sector too, the government can own hotels or run ferries for instance and also build cement plants, there will be jobs and the service and industrial sectors would be thriving concurrently with government having favourable stakes that can run the economy. A central national job portal is a good way for making Nigerians know where to find and apply for jobs created by the government. Government must not leave its sacred duty in the hands of private individuals; it will only widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

No nation can exist in isolation and it is the duty of the people to develop their country by entrusting their desires in the hands of credible leaders. Nigeria must remain a global player internationally, develop her infrastructure, put adequate policies in place and develop new systems for tackling her problems.  It is important to state that investment in research and development in all or atleast critical sectors of the economy will make Nigeria a continental forerunner. A sense of patriotism is crucial for citizens to be able to cooperate with the government and these and many more tasks are ahead of the incoming administration to achieve. Together, we can build a Nigeria where things work.

Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi