Opinion: Enugu witches, FRSC and Lyon’s horrible speech – By TUNDE ODESOLA
Last week, a watery Bayelsa governor-elect speech, a ridiculous Federal Road Safety Corps ‘fatwa’ and a frivolous war on witches in Enugu captured the stagnancy that has perpetually arrested our national development. The three separate episodes reaffirm the utmost clumsiness of, and the damage to, the totemic image of Humpty Dumpty that our beloved fatherland has turned into. Without a doubt, Humpty-Dumpty-Nigeria is tumbling down the hill. And sadly, all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men are not at the ready to put the tumbling giant together after its certain fall.
When I read the FRSC’s fatwa criminalising the use of Google map on mobile devices by motorists, I was terrified. I became mortified as I watched the disgusting viral speech by the Bayelsa Governor-elect, David Lyon. I was horrified when I read about the teacup storm created by Christian hypocrites who glorified a witchery conference held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State.
As I listened to Lyon, the memories of that late Kano State governor, who included Coke and Pepsi in his list of mineral resources, came alive. In the unintelligent address, Lyon said, “Today is one of my great day in my life. The great people of Bayelsans have spoken their mind by taking time to vote for our great party, APC. It is indeed a welcome development because in our own campaigns, we give to them that when being elected and swear-in, security and development is our key agendas and with the support of Bayelsans, they have made it possible, Today, on behalf of my APC leaders, I promise Bayelsans that we will serve them, not Bayelsans to serve us. We also promise that we will respect leadership, respect leadership is key to us, and today, their vote has been counted and the people of Bayelsans will be respected. I am sincerely grateful to our father, President of this country, for his fatherly advice this afternoon. As one of his son in APC, I thank you very muss (much). We Bayelsans, will not disappoint APC. We will consult with our leaders, our traditisonal leaders, rulers and I believe there will be a serious positive change in Bayelsa State. This incoming administrason will make Bayelsans to see positive development and that is key to us. I tank you so muss (much) for having me here today as the elected governor of Bayelsa State, tank you very muss (much).”
Some may say the ability to speak English isn’t a test of knowledge, I won’t argue. But I’ll contend that logical verbal reasoning is a test of intelligence. I’ll also say that English language remains Nigeria’s lingua franca. To start with, Lyon doesn’t even know that his power issues from the people. That was why he didn’t deem it fit to thank them, but was rather quick to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, from whom he felt his power issues.
As Lyon appears incapable of verbal reasoning, how would he come to grips with the dynamics of governance? How wouldn’t he be hijacked by a cabal ready to exploit his foibles and push to his table dubious contracts and policies?
On the FRSC ‘fatwa’, the rancid hierarchal incompetence choking government agencies nationwide reared its head in Abuja last Tuesday when the FRSC Sector Commander, Federal Capital Territory, Ayuba Gora, said motorists’ use of Google maps on mobile phones constituted a ‘serious traffic offence’. Gora’s ‘fatwa’ emanated from a stunted mentality caused by barren reasoning that worships incompetence and resists learning. It also highlights the ills of quota system in a country, where ability is always sacrificed for disability. As a journalist, I interacted closely with the hierarchies of the military, police, customs, the FRSC etc to know that an applicant’s state of origin was far more important than his state of mind when seeking to enlist in any of Nigeria’s security agencies. It’s unimaginable, the fates of motorists arrested for using their mobile maps and brought before Gora or any of his men who has had the misfortune of coming under his ignoramus teaching.
The moral question that should prick the conscience of the country is: How many people have been wrongly arrested and fined for using the mobile maps on their phones by the FRSC in the FCT and nationwide? An honest FRSC would launch an investigation in that direction and seek restitution to drivers wrongly prosecuted or fined. This path of justice is what a just Senate, House of Representatives, state Assembly and Ministry of Transportation would seek. A responsible legislature won’t dwell on criminalising criticism as hate speech while giving a thousand reasons why it’s wrong to hang corrupt politicians by the balls. From Gora’s effusive ignorance, it’s obvious that one of the causes of conflicts between law-enforcement agencies and members of the public is miseducation on the part of the former because an unjust law would likely be resisted and this could lead to loss of lives.
The U-turn by the FRSC a day after Gora’s pronouncement reflects the shameless manner ethical issues are swept under the rug by government and its agencies while erring officials go back to work and continue to wreak havoc. The FRSC should’ve apologised for Gora’s thoughtlessness and not make the issue sound as if he was misquoted.
That aside, all hell broke loose last Tuesday when the Benedict Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, UNN, was to hold a conference themed, “Witchcraft: Meanings, Factors and Practices.” The needless cacophony that greeted the academic conference was deafening as some Christians called for its cancellation. Without giving a thought to the potentialities of the conference, the hypocrites bound the devil and vowed that the conference won’t hold. Their action, typical of the African mentality that condemns inscrutable phenomena, brought to mind the ancient killings of twins, albinos and hunchbacks by African forebears. Though Jesus Christ came and died on the cross to give believers authority over all powers and principalities, nagging holier-than-thou Christians were afraid to attend the conference and convert the witches therein. Tactically, they had to disguise their fear so as not to be seen as Christians of little faith. Hence, they resorted to distraction by making a loud noise of binding imaginary witches. And, an opportunity to convert covens to churches was lost.
Speaking on the importance of the conference, a retired Professor of Political Sociology, Benedict Ijomah, said the conference was to unravel the mystery behind witchcraft. Ijomah, whom the UNN centre for policy studies and research was named after, added that hypocrisy was behind the outcry against the conference. He said, “Scholarship is based on curiosity. Having an academic discussion is not a crime. The Guardian of London raised a question last week about the effects of witchcraft on growing children in London. People in London are studying the effects of witchcraft. Witchcraft affects every family in Africa. If a marriage breaks down, they will say the woman is a witch or the husband is a wizard. In the US, there are covens where witches meet – every year, they come up with what will happen in their world and it helps the American government in the direction of policies. In that regard, witchcraft becomes useful.”
Commenting on the change in the title of the conference from ‘Witchcraft: Meanings, Factors and Practices’ to ‘Dimensions of Human Behaviour’, Ijomah said the modification in the title of the conference didn’t affect the theme, which was witchcraft. Admitting that the change was to douse the outcry against the conference, Ijomah said that with the subtle title change, scholars proved that intelligence was superior to ignorance.
From the witchery conference in Enugu to Gora’s blunder in Abuja and Lyon’s twaddle in Bayelsa, the preeminence of wisdom and understanding as critical determinants of success in human endeavors cannot be overemphasised. Punch