GODSON O. MONEKE
My position on IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu and their numerous theatrics is well known to those who have read my write ups on them. Let me restate once again that Ipob is a franchise and Nnamdi Kanu is a fraudster who has hijacked Biafra agitation to amass personal wealth. Nnamdi Kanu is preying on the psychology of some gullible Igbo youngsters to carry out his nefarious and criminal enterprise. How people would know that somebody is lying but still look for a justification to believe the lie is very worrying. The #ENDSARS protest was a reaction to government tardiness in helming police brutality against the citizenry generally and Nigerian Youths in particular. This criminal action by the police has gone on for some time and people’s complaints were more or less dismissed and nonchalantly treated. What led to the current protests is hard to pick out but all I can say is that the protests were massive, widespread and spontaneous. The protests were peaceful, nonpartisan and issues based. Rather than engaging the protesters on the reasons for their protests, the official response of playing on the fault lines of this multi ethnic and multi religious country is least expected and condemnable. The protests have nothing to do with IPOB , Nnamdi Kanu and anything like that. This is without prejudice to my well informed position on IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu whose utterances have been highly provocative and irresponsible .
The protesters distanced themselves from any external influence from opportunists seeking to hijack the protests to pursue their personal and selfish agenda. They made sure they remained peaceful, were never provoked by rented miscreants and ensured that their body was never penetrated by other miscreants . The peaceful protests went on for ten good days without any incidents. Though the citizens were inconvenienced they nevertheless supported the peaceful protests because they saw their reasons as genuine and germane. The shooting of this peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate was the trigger which the hoodlums saw as the opportunity to reck havoc on the society. Since that shooting on Tuesday 20th October,2020 till today 23rd October 2020 a lot of damage, destructions, burnings, deaths, looting have been unleashed on the society by the hoodlums. Granted that some of the hoodlums became who they are out of frustration but since they assisted politicians to rig elections and thwart the weal of the people , they should look up to their paymasters for their sustenance instead of looting and robbing people who were victims of their perfidy in the first place. Government role in fraternizing with hoodlums just to break a peaceful protest leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
I saw the widespread destructions unleashed countrywide by these hoodlums particularly in Lagos where I live. I saw the desecration of the Palace of the Oba of Lagos, burning and looting of government and private property. It is unfortunate that security agents allowed these to go on unchallenged . If the effort they dissipated in shooting innocent and peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gate and elsewhere had been channeled into combating and apprehending these criminals, the whole country would have been better for it and sanity would have reigned. The attitude of the security agencies leaves much to be desired.. They are behaving like soldiers of occupation and sadists who spawn hatred for the same people they are supposedly engaged to protect and whose interests they are supposed to serve. I shudder at the soulless armed security agents who murder their fellow citizens in cold blood only to go back home and rollick with their immediate families while the families of their victims gnash their teeth in agony. The rules of engagement in the security circles do not permit the murder of unarmed people in cold blood. What has happened to our collective humanity? Is this the type of country we aspire to bequeath to generations unborn? Even in warfare the rules of engagement are strictly applied. That is why Prisoners of War are never hurt or killed (The Geneva Convention). To intimidate citizens with arms bought with their money for their protection is criminal and an act of cowardice.
The ENDSARS protests have no tribal undertone and those who want to change the narratives to give it a tribal coloration are our common enemies in this country. It is unfortunate that those who purport to be our political leaders are always eager to exploit our fault lines and fan embers of disunity among us to distract us while they continue to pillage our commonwealth. We are wiser than that now, these wicked politicians and their apologists are not wiser than we are. There are hoodlums in different parts of the country and they all burnt and looted as their trademark showed. Regarding what happened at the Oba of Lagos palace, you don’t need to look far to know that the havoc was done by miscreants from Isale-Eko. This is condemnable by all decent minds. Traditional institutions must be respected beyond the occupants. These are the relics of our civilization and we must guard them jealously and not desecrate them. However, what happened in Isale-Eko only showed that the Oba is not loved by his people, they were only afraid of him. That is not how to be a traditional ruler, he should mend and moderate his ways . You must love your people so that they in turn will be fiercely loyal to you out of love. That being the case, they would always protect you from aggression and build human shield around you when such external threats is posed.
The Oba of Lagos is not the only Oba in Lagos State, Southwest zone and the whole Nigeria. Why was his Office singled out for desecration? A time like this calls for sober reflection by the Oba and his handlers. He should begin to act as the Royal father that he is and should stop playing overt partisan politics. Even if he has a political sympathy, he should be discrete about it. He should borrow a leaf from other traditional rulers of his class and conduct himself appropriately. He needs to do a proper rapprochement with his people and be committed to their welfare. He must stop being mean with his people. I must not fail to sincerely commiserate with him on what has happened and I wish to add my voice to those who had implored the miscreants to return the Oba’s Staff of Office for the sake of custom, tradition and culture of Eko land.
The narratives that Nnamdi Kanu instigated the desecration at the palace of the Oba of Lagos is a trash. Nnamdi Kanu is a fugitive from justice. He jumped bail ,if you don’t remember. But I have listened to him deny this. I must admit though that Nnamdi Kanu’s utterances have been unguarded and unrestrained. But people should see him for who he is; an irritant and a nuisance whose disguised sense of Biafra patriotism masked his real motive which is money making. So, where is this coming from and who is spreading this falsehood? To suggest that he tele guided what happened in Lagos was an insult to the youths’ intelligence taken too far. He does not have the power you ascribe to him. He was never part of the #ENDSARS protests. Was the young man who removed the Oba’s Staff and those people having cruise at the Oba’s private swimming pool IPOB members and also answerable to the “Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omnipresent “ Nnamdi Kanu?Those who spread that idiotic narratives are scoundrels who have no brains. Evil politicians are inciting ethnic conflict instead of doing the correct things. That is wickedness.
What happened on Bode Thomas street, Adeniran Ogunsanya Street and adjoining streets in SuruLere Lagos, Ajah Axis and other areas of Lagos were acts of criminalities. It is the failure of the government to protect citizens lives and property. This calls for sober reflection as to what we want this country to be. So many innocent people in the lower and middle economic class lost their property and others lost their means of livelihood or both. So many small businesses were looted, destroyed and burned. Arson is a serious crime and all arsonists must be arrested and be brought to justice. This lawlessness is a major setback to the economy of Lagos state and the country. In the long run, we are all losers. The issue that confronts us now is how to avoid a repeat in future and not this nonsense some unpatriotic elements are spewing out which is nothing but living in self denial. Community Vigilance groups should intervene and stop the ongoing looting and robberies since government has failed in its primary responsibility and terms of the social contract. Those who oppress the people should know that they are all mortals who will die off one day.
It behoves them to live their lives as honestly and humanely as possible because their children and children’s children will bear the brunt of the bad things they are doing today. Let them not make the mistake of thinking that things will remain the same after they are gone. They will be shocked at what would happen when they are gone and that is why people have to be careful in what they do so that they do create enmities for their generations. Alhaji Busari Adelakun was the strongman of Ibadan politics and when he died it was Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu who took over not his sons. When Adedibu died, what happened to his sons? What is their place in Ibadan politics of today? It is our good deeds that will exalt our children and not the ill gotten material acquisitions we make while alive. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are to repeat the mistakes.
I have seen the writeup and the subsequent video recordings by Joe Igbokwe and also the write ups by other eminent Igbo sons and daughters on this subject matter. I associate myself with the sentiments expressed by them and urge Igbo people especially the youngsters to mince their words so that blood sucking demons do not use Igbos to play their nihilistic politics this time around. Igbos should guide their utterances both now and always so that we don’t become the fall guys again for something we know nothing about. We must guide against those who may wish to play brinkmanship with the Igbo nation again. But those who believe the trash that Nnamdi Kanu masterminded the mayhem in Lagos lack minimum levels of intelligence. Apostles of Yoruba Ronu on this matter are the most bestial propagandists. What do these blood suckers want? These people know the truth but prefer revisionism in order to link unrelated things so as to divert people’s minds from the bone of contention. There is this say that if don’t know where the rain started beating you, you would never know where it stopped. They ascribe supernatural and invisible powers to Nnamdi Kanu to fit their evil stereotype and clannish agenda. Such people are still living in the days past. People are wiser, more deliberative and sophisticated in their thinking now and can not be deceived by such tribal jingoists and ethnic irredentists. They want to set Nigeria on fire while their children and grandchildren are outside the shores of this country. Only fools will fall into their traps.
I wish to advise all that we are better off as Nigerian but if we must break up we should do so peaceably like decent people who separate and still remain friends. People should stop romanticizing breakup as if it will bring the much dreamt Eldorado. Engineering ethnic hostility is the way of primitive people who do not appreciate the unintended consequences of their actions. Nnamdi Kanu is not a leader in Igbo land and nobody will obey him. . Have his disciples bothered to ask why Nnamdi Kanu is the only one attending purported meetings in all countries of the world ? Doesn’t he have representatives who can represent IPOB at some of these meetings? Haven’t people thought of a deceit and coverup? What happened to his purported numerous meetings with the Queen of England, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Heads of State of some European countries, the European Union, the President of the United States of America, Russia, China and other countries of the world? . It is unimaginable that at this time and era, somebody like Nnamdi Kanu would be hypnotizing otherwise intelligent people to be following him sheepishly .
It is important for these people to realize that all the claims of holding meetings with leaders of various countries including the United Nations are bogus and go to no effect. All the news he claims to get first hand are news he gets from international news media. You don’t require up to two hundred and fifty thousand Naira to float an illegal and unlicensed radio station. Therefore, operating Biafra Radio Station is not a big deal. The biggest threat to Igbo renaissance is Nnamdi Kanu and his self serving antics. It is unfortunate that some Igbos do not realize the damage Nnamdi Kanu is doing to the Igbo project. IPOB is Nnamdi Kanu’s shop (like anyone who owns a shop at aspamda Lagos) and he is tending it profitably, after all it pays the bills of his lavish and extravagant lifestyle. Nnamdi Kanu cannot stay in Britain and be vomiting rubbish on Nigeria and Nigeria. Let the whole Nigeria know the he does not represent the Igbos. On the contrary, his frolics and antics constitute an existential threat the Igbo nation.
One of the demands of the #ENDSARS protesters is increasing the police salaries. While I do not have anything against this demand, I am afraid it is rather simplistic and non rigorous. Salary distortions are the biggest macroeconomic challenge we have in this country especially in the public sector. There is no way a system will allow somebody to earn a monthly salary that is ten times what another with the same qualifications and experience earns and you expect macroeconomic stability within the same system and economy. Salaries are borne out of work study. Salaries are related to the work you do but relative to the approved national minimum wage level. The minimum wage is the reference point in the compensation system of any economy. All salaries within an economy take bearings from the minimum wage making adjustments for qualifications and experience. The nature of a job will determine other enhancements such as hazard allowances etc. Salary level for any group of employees is not determined by blackmail and strike actions as done in Nigeria. It is scientifically determined. The current differentiated levels of salaries for workers in different sectors of the economy without reference to the national minimum wage is the reason for the current instability in the compensation system within the economy. It is hurting the economy badly. We must understand that the economy is a system and any salary distortion in parts of that system creates instability in the whole system. Check the ways salaries are determined in economies of industrialized countries and compare them with what we do here. Salary reviews should be wholistic to reflect economic realities. To isolate one sector of the economy for salary upgrades to the neglect of similar and other sectors is unwise because sooner or later the neglected sectors will begin their own agitation and you find yourself in a vicious cycle.
There are many paramilitary agencies in Nigeria, what happens to them if you single out the police ? I have no objection to salary reviews for these agencies if they are not yet earning comparable salaries within the economy. I believe that all salaries should be benchmarked against the national minimum wage. The peculiarities of job will determine the additional allowances after the general allowances. This is the scientific approach and is the way to go. People should realize that wage level within an economy is determined by the strength of the economy. Nigeria’s economy is a weak and consumption economy and wages are bound to be low relative to what you have in stronger economies. This problem is compounded by corruption which have become a systematic rot.
Corruption has done more damage to the system than any vice and any leadership that can curb corruption has solved seventy percent of Nigeria’s problems. One way of curbing corruption is by building strong institutions. Our institutions are weak in this country and that is being exploited by strong men in the the various strata of power and authority. There is no guarantee that increasing the salaries of police men will change their criminal ways. Low salary can never be an excuse for stealing or taking bribe, otherwise majority of Nigerians would be robbers because salaries are low nationwide. Majority of employees in the informal sector earn below the national minimum wage and they make up the majority of the population in Nigeria. Statutory Allocations to the various sectors should be used for the purpose they are meant and heads of those agencies and organs should resist the temptation of cornering public resources into their private pockets. This is the major cause of disequilibrium within the macroeconomic system. We don’t need strong men in Nigeria, what we need are strong institutions. This is very urgent.