Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters and one of his cherished youths and talented musician, son of the late AfroBeat king, Seun Anikulapo-Kuti had it rough this Sunday morning on social media, discussing governance in Nigeria.
The duo shared different views of what governance and projects execution should look like in the country.
Ojudu posted pictures of a primary school under construction in Borno State, while he wrote that some universities in some states could not boast of such projects.
He commended the Borno State Government and charged Nigerians to pay more attention to their governors and stop spending all their time thinking of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government.
“Your governors collect billions of Naira monthly from the Federation Account. This is different from other funds that get shared for other purposes. They keep saying there is no money and that is why they could not improve the lives of the people. Ask them if Borno State owns the Nigeria Central Bank. Looting and criminal things are taking place under your nose and yet all you see is Buhari who has never denied them what they require to meet your needs”, Ojudu wrote.
Seun in a swift reaction wrote, “all this praise because of a building? Na building be education? All a building assures us in Nigeria is that contractors have made money! Falling over ourselves over a building? And by my research they need at least 1000 of these buildings first, to tackle illiteracy and under education of children and no this is not a start! Except there are 99 others being built somewhere else.
“When will Nigerians /Africans reject Tokenism? These people do it all the time. Flash one little project and we all fall over ourselves praising them for minimal output. Show me 99 more then I will join the bandwagon until then-not impressed!!”
The Senator responded to convince and lecture a rigid son of the late Abàmì Ẹ̀dá,”Seun this is not a flash of one project. It is a vision and I have said it somewhere else, it began under the past governor of the state. We must commend it when people are taking good initiatives. If you were in Borno fifteen years ago you will see some schools where children are gathered under the tree studying in hot weather. Google Borno state education you will see many of this type of schools springing up everywhere.
“Cynicism or criticism for its sake will take us to nowhere. When we see good examples we point it out. That was why despite all opposition by the high and mighty we stood by your dad and the same reason we see you as the light of your generation as well. Not all problems are solved at once, every good step needs to be applauded so that others could learn from it.
“Awolowo’s free education was so unpopular in those days. Even those who later benefited decried it. He even lost an election because of it. We later saw the outcome. If the governors of Borno could take schools from under the trees and dilapidated buildings to this level then they are up to something. The money spent on this used to go to funding pilgrimages to Mecca in the past.
In his response, Seun wrote, “Ojudu Babafemi they still fund pilgrimage to Mecca and I will bet that if this project will stop hajj they will drop the project. If we want to truly develop this country, NO MORE TOKENISM, they have to do the work sir, all the work!!!!!
“And Egbon the evidence of the glaring failures of these ‘buildings’ are there for all to see in all sectors. The more doctors the ‘buildings’ churn out the less healthcare the people get. The more lawyers these ‘buildings’ churn out the less justice we get. The more engineers these ‘buildings’ churn out the less infrastructure. The more teachers that exit the said ‘buildings’ the less the level of education. Shall I go on? I am not cynical sir, I am fed up with tokenism”, Seun argued.
“Look Seun when Thomas Sankara began to do things differently in Burkina Faso, Fela was enamored. He went there to do a free show and declared that a star has been born in Africa. Sankara at that time was a military ruler and he had not solved all the problems of his people. All that showed at that time was symbolism and a good example of how a leader should be. His portrait surfaced at the Shrine then and Sankara became one of the people we worshipped then.
When a leader begins to point to a better way of doing things we should encourage him rather than throw barbs. If he departed from what we have seen we can then throw stones at him.”
“Never sir, Sankara wasn’t about symbolism alone he was acting! Let’s even assume that you claim it was symbolic, symbolism is greater and more efficient than tokenism!! But sir with all due respect don’t compare Sankara with the Gov of Borno State”, Seun disagreed.
“It was Seun. He said the right things, he demonstrated a personal example by riding in a cheap car. He was not a big man haw haw. He had not stamped out poverty in Burkina Faso nor had he turned the place into eldorado. He had the potential, the vision and that was what we appreciated before his life was terminated. When we see people doing things that point to a better way of doing things let us applaud them. This, if we are lucky, will encourage them to do more.
Meanwhile Seun made it a no victor no vanquished issue. “Ok sir. The truth of it is that I have seen this. I have seen this in Lagos and Ogun and Osun, the so-called drive for education. I have read about it in our history books, Awolowo’s accomplishments. I have read the accolades poured on the ‘beautiful edifices’ of education we were churning out in the 60s and 70s, OAU BEING ONE OF THEM. I will ask u again sir, after all these buildings are built and all the contractors are rich, are we educated? Just answer me that Egbon and I will go with my cynicism for cynicism sake!”
The Ekiti state born politician never gives up, “Oh we are. Those who passed through those schools, countless number of them have accomplished so much in the world. If their accomplishments have not translated to making Nigeria one of the most developed countries in the world is a different matter. We cannot write off those institutions. How could you? Some of the works that made Soyinka what he is today were accomplished in that environment that allowed people to challenge the orthodox.
“We can do a symposium on this and people will come out to give different reasons why the vision of free education, the building of the first generation university were of benefit to Nigeria and mankind. Your grandfather was Chairman of the Committee that brought about the University College Ibadan which later became University of Ibadan. Without that singular step would we have had Chinua Achebe, JP Clark, Christopher Okigbo, Osuntokun, the world acclaimed neurological surgeon and several others. It will be unfair to dismiss these steps no matter how small or inconsequential you may think they are. Even the battle your grandmother embarked upon on behalf of women cannot be dismissed even though the lots of women in Nigeria is still largely not what we want it to be”, he replied.
He responded, “Ojudu Babafemi, but sir how can the accomplishment of a few very gifted Nigerians be the excuse for the failure of the Nigerian educational systems that does nothing but create self hating blacks? No sir. The success of my father Fela and his cousin Soyinka (albeit my father studied in England) can not be used as evidence to justify the failings of the educational institutions. These were gifted men that would have made it even if they weren’t educated!
My grand mother’s act just like that of my father and my cousin stems from personal convictions not due to the education she received and the system never supported her that’s why her accomplishment didn’t result in greater advantages for the Nigerian women-no government support. We can not take individual accomplishments that were made in spite of the state, suddenly a virtue of the state. That’s callous and disingenuous sir! Both Fela and Uncle Wole were enemies of the state not products of it!!!
The neurological surgeon, is he serving his people? Or the west with his talents. There are more Nigerian doctors in the state of New York alone than the whole of Nigeria combined! Many of them graduated from these ‘buildings’ but have no love or vision for its soil-they are economic mercenaries. Our education is only working if it’s serving the people of this country not by the fact that some few lucky Nigerians are geniuses that couldn’t be stopped by the under education! These are the exceptions (exceptional people) not the norm”.
Ojudu thus promised to keep an update on Borno, at least to convince the skeptical musician. “Seun Kuti I will continue to report on Zulum. I will continue to report on his activities. Who knows this may not be tokenism as you assume. He may not be a fluke. He may just be the kind of selfless leaders we are looking for in Nigeria. Let’s watch and see.