Lessons from Ife

Elsewhere, “the price of freedom is watchfulness”; back home, the price we pay to still be on this side of the here-and-now is fear. Legendarily, it is the fear of the future, the fear of the unknown; but in more recent times, there is likewise the fear of the law… For we are aware of the laws protecting us, our being, our freedoms, our respectedness; as we are also aware of the (not so) subtle ways that these laws have been undermined, sidelined, and crushed– and all in one breath– by the very ones we allowed to be in the position to safeguard our sovereignty, and who do not…

We’re back, or so it seems, to when it was said, and understandably so, that to (admit one that one did) witness an event (or crime) is to risk imprisonment, and for six months: Ó s’ojú mi, èwòn òsù méfà ni! That is how much our apathy has cost us and brought us. That is what we get for hiding in our rooms while the votes are cast; for looking away while the votes are counted; for not being involved in the process that represents us, and in the way our representatives are suggested, fielded, and appointed. And that is why they have gone rabid…

So that what currently obtains is the (illegal) detention of opposers, their liberal labelling as enemies of progress, and the graphic instillment of fear: fear of the lawkeepers, fear of the lawmakers, and, summarily, fear of the law itself. So that my people have learnt to watch with a straight face the petrifying putrefaction by and of the putrescent pigs we passively preferred, by not voting for the man of the people, as they glut glibly on our Commonwealth. So that we have learnt to turn to God in all things, even the mundane ones.

So that we now have to choose, if indeed we can, between the apparently Clueless but benign One and the premalignant ethnocentrist who thirty years ago gagged the press and banned protests with the famously infamous Decrees 2 and 4– Who does that? So that even if we do not like the One and the other, we have to pick the One or the other, either by omission or by commission, since N27m Declaration of Intent Form is positively beyond the reach of the innocently-minded Nigerian such as myself.

Alas they (the cabals) are separating the innocent boys of my era from the corrupted men yet using 1960-calibrations in 2014! Alas they are securing their interests and indebting the man, as, nothing goes for nothing, and he verily calls the tunes who veritably pays the piper. Alas they are perpetuating their kind, persistently parasitising us and in perpetuity; even as politicians and diapers ought to be changed frequently and for the same reason.

Alas they have become law!

So that even though the Nigeria Police Code of Conduct states that: “Police officers shall not knowingly restrict the freedom of individuals, whether by arrest or detention, in violation of the Constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” and that “Police officers shall take no action knowing it will violate the constitutional rights of any person”; the (apparently) supervening Doctrine of Mbunity, allows the detention, however temporal, of anyone that expresses in his (constitutionally guaranteed freedom of) opinion that a police officer is “controversial”.

– Section 5, Officer Requirements: Principle One, Rule Three; and Principle Two, Rule Three.

Yet, as it is not a doctrine confined to policedom, the obscure journalist honoured with emceeing a youth event threatens an ‘erring’ youth with defamation (àbí what other power does he wield?); the critics of His Excellency are instinctually designated ill-mannered ingrates deserving of public embarrassment; the student that faults his lecturer is anointed to fail, however faulty the truant lecturer is, shamelessly labelling his student as dull when his perpetually absent ass did not teach as required; and the child that will not do as instructed is destined for doom, however wrong the instruction may be.

So that the journalist must ally with the very ones he is entrusted to caution: the diapers called politicians. So that the student must pally with the one she virtually employed; or aren’t lecturers employed for students, and not students for lecturers? So that poor me has to be affiliated to some diaper-politician in anticipation of the dreaded visit to the police-counter instigated by an illegal “order from above” and readily carried out by an overzealous under-brained officer, himself blamelessly aligning with the powers that be– for no one is safe or indispensable indefinitely.

For as it is, we are iron filings and they are the magnets, we are kites and they are the wind, we are wheels and they are the steering, a different sort of wheel, but wheel all the same– even if they will not want to be so reminded. But not for much longer. For come 2015 their feared grip will loosen, and forever so. Come 2015, their recklessness will be called to remembrance, evaluated, and rewarded with ass-kicking shoves off the corridors of power. Come 2015, power will change hands…

And it begins with you. For your vote is your power: your power to clean out the quarters of power that are being hogged for family lines, your power to speak quietly and be heard lucidly, your power to matter and be listened to. And come 2015, power will change hands to return to us, the masses, to belong to us as it should, and as does sovereignty; the soiled diapers will be changed, and thrown away to rot away in putrid silence away from sanity, for we are not anosmic after all; and we shall have found our voice, never to again be at the mercy of these stench.

Come 2015.

It was on the 10th of September, at OAU, Ife, that I learnt the significance of fear as a demoralising technique and agent, and as a weapon of war– notwithstanding SLS’s Overcoming the Fear of Vested Interests. We, the OOU team, became so afraid at some point that to say the answer you knew was right was a gamble, to gamble was a sin, and to sin was just unforgiveable. A situation much akin to the Nigerian scenario: we are stared down, shouted down, and even pushed down. Anything to keep us quiet and bowed, and quietly so. We are seduced and lured; bought and sold, threatened; detained or killed. Anything to dissuade the person next-in-line from picking the gauntlet and sustaining the fight.


But it gets better…

Ayokunle Adeleye

Ayokunle is a doctor, a writer at heart, his opinions are strong and he wants a better society. Follow him on twitter @adelayok