Agents and agencies of state are not accountable to the people, and nothing that they would do in order to retain the system in power, comes with any questions or consequences.
My sojourn in my grandmother’s home ended with my mother’s return to Nigeria just before I was to start Primary Class 4, and I left Inalende to live with my mother in her new home at Ojoo. This movement also meant a change of school, and I was transferred to Abadina Primary School 2 in Abadina Village, within the precinct of the University of Ibadan.
The University Of Ibadan had a Primary school for the children of the senior staff, and it was properly named the UI Staff School. But there was also a Primary school purposed for the children of the junior staff, and those living close to the university campus, would seek to have their children sent there. Iya Wale ensured that I was transferred there from St’ Stephen’s Primary School Inalende.
The University Of Ibadan campus was a whole different kettle of fish from the streets of Inalende, Ode-Olo, Oniyanrin, Mokola, ati bebe lo. I went into Abadina in 1976/77 session, and began the task of familiarizing myself with my new environment. I discovered this weird collection of young men and women, who seemed to have their heads stuck in the clouds of knowledge that appeared to abound everywhere I turned. I discovered the children’s library next to the International Conference Center, and became an habitué.
It was in the library I was, when we first heard the gunshots, and then the noises. People running around and wailing about soldiers and policemen shooting students. Then arrived the air that bit the eyes, nose, and made the senses weep uncontrollably. Then the mad rush through Olorogun Stream, to get out of the campus. I was 9 years old at the time I witnessed the Ali Must Go riots, and took the same bush paths to escape the killing machine of the Nigerian state.
In 1984/1985 session, I was enrolled at the Oyo State College Of Arts And Sciences, otherwise known as OSCAS, in Ile-Ife. I had failed to make enough WAEC O Level papers to proceed to the university, and whilst my father reckoned that it might not be a bad idea for me to learn a trade, my mother would have none of it. OSCAS was for me, the Last Chance Salon, and I was dedicated to my studies, and determined to join my childhood crush, who was by then a Part Two student in University Of Ife. That dedication to my studies, earned me the lifelong anointing that clarified my views of the Nigerian state.
OSCAS was a nonresidential school, and we lived in the houses all around Ondo Road, where it was located. Some students were natives and lived in the town of Ife, and even back then, there were the inane arguments of the existence of another town called Modakeke. I have always thought that the distinction belittles those making it on both sides. I came from the melting pot of Ibadan, and the whole place wasn’t larger than a tiny piece of my childhood home. But as usual I have digressed.
On the Lord’s day in question, must have been sometime in April or May. I can tell because I was preparing to rewrite my WAEC for the third time, and I was the most serious and dedicated I had ever been to my profession of studentship. There had been some problems in the school earlier that morning, the University Of Ife had sneezed, and OSCAS had caught a cold. You see, it wasn’t enough for them to come and take any fine girl in OSCAS, they would also bring their Aluta to us. The scheduled lectures were cancelled, and I was walking to school to read. Error.
I walked into pandemonium close to the school gate, and I ran like everyone would, when they would hear gunshots, and sniffed teargas. A fresh skirmish had broken out between the students and the police, and I had walked into it. I knew the neighborhood inside out, and I had used back roads, involving walking through compounds, and scaling dwarf fences. I was about 20 meters from my hostel, when I received sense.
I walked round a blind corner, and walked into a police officer. He greeted me with a resounding slap. Igbati olooyi! I collapsed to the ground dazed and confused. My books, were scattered around me. I was all of 16 years old. A runt, and clearly a harmless kid to any discerning being. He stood over me with his gun in hand, and he must have been touched in some way by the spirit of God. He walked away without any word, but he had slapped my eyes opened.
The Nigerian state is yoked to an evil system. Agents and agencies of state are not accountable to the people, and nothing that they would do in order to retain the system in power, comes with any questions or consequences. The state murder of Kunle Sonowo in LASU further cemented my views as to the ruthless and murderous nature of the Nigerian state, and these are the events that have always shaped my engagements with the amoral state.
Whilst I am irreconcilably opposed to the evil system that has governed Nigeria and ruined it all my life, I have never believed that it might be changed by the employment of the conventional methods favored by those who have been engaged with the system, and that has over the years meant that I have rarely ever agreed tactics with many people with whom I have agreed on the issues and problems.
The Nigerian revolution is not inevitable. What are inevitable are the implosions that we have been witnessing all over Nigeria, and implosions are money spinners for the security industrial systems, whilst the only victims are the ones that have always been the victims. The hapless and blighted citizens. Those who are desirous of revolutions must awaken themselves to the need to first unshackle their own minds, seek and then embrace the truth, wherever it might be found.
The Nigerian peoples must be given the common purposes that have eluded us all, and kept us divided along tribal, ethnic, religious, and all the many lines of division that have been promoted by those who have themselves been undivided by any lines, save their perennial quarrels over the allocation of our captured commonwealth. The Nigerian revolution becomes inevitable when the poorly paid policeman, recognizing that he is RELATED to the struggle, refuses the order to shoot innocent and peaceful protesters, in the knowledge that his own mobilized and revolutionary children, might be in the crowd.
Before you may presume to call anyone into the street, you must educate them on the purpose of the call, and the generality of the people, must understand what the struggle is about. An educated and well disciplined mob becomes an army, and an educated corporal is superior to an illiterate general. The collective and most damaging failure of the would be revolutionaries in Nigeria, to educate the victims of the system that we have sought to liberate, has separated us from them, and made it easier for the system, to isolate, and victimize us. What should be a popular movement, have been labeled and demarketed as elitist and disruptive.
How many Iya Onifufus marched in Sowore’s revolution? What happened to the rest? Iya Onifufu was clear that she joined the march when she was told the purpose on seeing the marchers. Why was she only hearing of the march and the purpose, on the day? What machinery was in place to propagate the ideas of the revolution? There are several whys, whats, and ifs about that episode and the many that I have witnessed in my life, and just as I have disagreed with the tactics, I have agreed with the purpose. Received wisdom says that the Nigerian revolution is desirable, but it is not inevitable.
It is the prepared that will benefit from the coming implosions. The Nigerian system is poised to package itself as the solution to the problems that it has engendered, and it will repressively put down any and all dissenting voices as it has commenced with the incarcerations of Sowore, Agba Jalingo, and the several unreported cases of unsung victims of the emerging fascist governments in Nigeria.
Whenever the Nigerian system has become dysfunctional and unsustainable, it has always reinvented itself without any pretense of reformation. Witness how Buhari’s second term cabinet resembles a cabinet that might have been formed by Etiku, and lend yourselves some brain. The Nigerian system is intact, receive some sense today. Nothing has changed but the driver, the destination is still unknown.
First published 6 October, 2019.