There is failure to embrace heroic roles in Nigeria’s history, argues Okello Oculi

The Commissioner for Health in Kogi State wept openly on surveying the destruction of health care equipment imported by his government; lamenting that his government does not have the money to import replacements. If research and development by scientists at the State University was being funded with billions of Naira to invent and produce medicines out of local flora, his losses would have been minimised. Demonstrators who destroyed and burnt equipment were probably rejecting a policy of importing technology; regarding it as a “false start’’ on the road to development.

The level of destruction of property associated with “ENDSARS’’ echoed protests in Hong Kong and French officials in 1958 punishing Guinea (for choosing full independence), by destroying clinics; chairs, window panes, tables, black boards in classrooms; telephones ripped off, and equiment returned to France.

The choice location of storage and properties looted and burnt suggested a study of Gordon Thomas’ book “GIDEON’S SPIES: The Inside Story of Israel’s Legendary Secret Service: THE MOSSAD’’. In its operation political and commercial centres at national and local government centres are daily researched and reported on by agents. Lucrative details like storing bags of rice, fertilisers, agricultural tractors, television studios, and alcoholic drinks are noted. Cameras inside Satellites and drones chip in.

Such details would have proved vital for shocking Lebanon by exploding bags of phosphate ignored by officials of Beirut. Agricultural tractors stored in Jalingo, in Taraba State, were noted at lootable data; computers in a private school classroom in Yola; cars and archives burnt; television equipment ransacked in Calabar, were mapped and shared the fate of buses parked in LVT’s yard in Lagos.

Visual images of the trail of destruction has shown the power of “propaganda of the deed’’. Various contents of that power have emerged. Among “Southeast leaders’’ there is a need to call for “concerns of our people that are peculiar in various states’’, namely the safety of Igbos. As evidence of bad governance, Chie Bode George denounced the descent of teachers from giving quality education to becoming “Cheats’’ through examination “malpractices’’, thereby producing unemployable “illiterate graduates’’ that expend their frustration by beheading policemen; burning cars and buses.

Chief Bode George also denounced selfishness, greed, nepotism and corruption by government officials in the use of public power and funds; doubting the merit in the Governor of Lagos State offering jobs to 4000 youths because boiling volcano of millions at the base of the youth pyramid would not be excluded.

The rage of the Commissioner for Information of Cross River State is likely to be mocked by this volcanic mass of youths. They have shed floods of tears while governments preferred to export billions of Naira to foreign contractors import bulldozers while the potential power in their arms to clear bushes and swamps remained ignored. Governments have imported rice soaked in cancer-causing chemicals and bought radiation technology for treating cancer patients. They have not given loans to cooperative youths to grow rice locally, thereby, preventing imported poisons.

There is a failure to embrace heroic roles played by aroused people in Nigeria’s history. Usman Dan Fodio, for example, built his revolution of 1804 on igniting anger in masses of people ruthlessly exploited and terrorised by their Hausa rulers. He warned his successor against committing sins of Hausa rulers. Because they forgot his warning, British invaders were hailed as lions that broke Fulani power.

Obafemi Awolowo’s popularity was anchored on giving free education to children of poor people. Mallam Aminu Kano was a hero of the Talakawa because he roused their protest against feudal rulers. Ignoring this legacy underlies the record of depending on imported expensive technology and millions of pharmaceutical drugs and NOT on mobilizing the energy in Nigeria’s population to take preventive measures. Kickbacks from awarding contracts is more rewarding for officials,

Millions of women in Nigeria’s diverse agricultural ecologies have invented nutritious beverages. Their geniuses continue to be denied markets and investment capital. Governments purchase beverages sold by multinational corporations rather than investing in those produced by millions of Nigerian woman. Empowering vast numbers of these women is betrayed. That blocks these women from employing millions of youths in their beverage processing and textile weaving. Also blocked are the application of inventive youths who would fabricate and manufacture local food-processing technology.

Television telecasts show “High Society’’ celebration events which must provoke intense competition among Commercial Attaches of foreign embassies wishing to market the exotic and expensive garments worn at these occasions. Organisers of ENDSARS must see in these rituals evidence of billions of national income being used to support creative textile labour and genius abroad while unemployment is worn by Nigeria’s youth.

These “FALSE STARTS’’ in economic and cultural roads to development fuel ‘’ENDSARS’’.