Adewuyi Adegbite’s birthday colloquium: Participants advocate pragmatic approach to solving Nigeria’s problems   

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Adewuyi Adegbite’s birthday colloquium: Participants advocate pragmatic approach to solving Nigeria’s problems

Yinka ADETUNJI

The 55th birthday of Mr. Adewuyi Adegbite, a historian, writer and public affairs analyst, came up Sunday, which he celebrated with some friends and family at his Apake residence, Ogbomoso.

Adewuyi Adegbite making a point

Aside the usual entertainment with foods and drinks, the occasion was one in which participants, numbering about 15, engaged in intellectual discussions about Nigeria’s myriads of problems and looked at ways of salvaging the situation.

Chaired by a university don, Akin Odebunmi, a Professor of Pragmatic and Discourse Analysis at the University of Ibadan, the colloquium noted that prayer is important in overcoming the problems of Nigeria, but that the citizens must be ready to work hard and be more practical to effect the desired change.

Professor Odebunmi flanked by Adewuyi Adegbite and Dr Yemi Adegbite

The celebrant lamented the crippling of the country’s administrations at all levels noting dividend of democracy is no more trickling down to the common man.

He added, “This country is at the precipice, it is divisively tottering, there is never a time in Nigeria that the clamour for separatism is shriller and that is why I will wish we discuss nation building process in Nigeria, there is a logjam in the nation building process, so what is the way out?”

Professor Odebunmi in his submission expressed displeasure over Nigerians’ penchant for eschewing the truth, remarking, “We all know the truth but avoid it, we subsume truth under personal interest. Those that directed that ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) should not be heeded or under whose watch Boko Haram insurgents are committing genocide, they are conversant with the truth, but they are propelled by personal interest.

“It is because of these problems that there are several separatist groups seeking self determination, I can count about six. For me, I don’t see that as a way out because in every region we have fraudulent people and collaborators who will come around to assume leadership in the various nations in the event of balkanization.”

Mr. Femi Ogunlana, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Insight newsmagazine, observed that the problem of Nigeria started the moment the country jettisoned true federalism for unitary system.

Ogunlana now stressed that if we returned to true federalism the downward trend will be halted because “each region will be able to grow at its pace, there will be healthy competition.

“And there will be development. But in a situation where we practice unitary system – feeding bottle system, where every component part looks at the Federal Government for sustenance, growth and development will be stunted.

“The system we practice kills creativity and innovativeness. Look at local governments today; they can’t repair even a common road. There was effective leadership during the time of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and co, but the military take-over destroyed everything.

“Until we go back to the system that subsisted in the First Republic and we have state police, fiscal autonomy and so on, there won’t be progress and development; there won’t be solutions to our problems.

He however regretted that the class of leaders who have the power to effect restructuring and restore true federalism won’t activate it because the present system is beneficial to them, adding, “But unfortunately too, the masses who can force it are held down by a combination of ignorance and fear.

“Religion, both Christianity and Islam have inflicted people with passivity believing rather that God will do it. It is never so, we have a part to play, even the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for Christians to have a chance of salvation.

“This simply means that before we can progress and have development there must be hurtful sacrifices. The people must be ready to push for a change, change will not come unless the people stampede it. We shouldn’t be suffering in the midst of plenty. But if we cannot fight we just should be ready to cope with the suffering.”

But Mr. Taiwo Akinfenwa, a school Vice Principal, in his submission believes prayer has been effective in bringing about the little progress we have in the country, “It is not due to pressure from anyone, it is God. It is only God that can change our people. So, we need prayer to change our people to have a re-orientation. Let’s continue to pray. The little change we witness is through prayer.”

He meanwhile frowned at what he described as religious exploitations by the major religions, “Someone they (religious leaders) know is not worthy of a position, the moment he is sworn in, they will proceed to offer prayer for him/her, forgetting that will make him or her worse. Blinded by expectation of cash gifts they continue to support bad governance. Nonetheless, we should continue to pray, and make the little push we can.”

Mr. Sulaiman Oladosu, a local government employee, also berated the system of government adopted in the country saying it is anti-productive just as he denounced the notion of “born to rule” often propounded by a section if the country.

He then posited, “But we sold ourselves to them, and we now over rely on prayers neglecting what we need to do. If you go to Jerusalem or Mecca the people there will tell you to rather work, that what you are praying for is before you. And like my brother rightly observed, religion is a means to enslaving ourselves.

Some participants with the celebrant

“It is high time we went back to the drawing board by which I mean our elected leaders and others should take oath by swearing with our local deities like Ogun and Sango.

“Revolution is the best solution for our problems. The culture of lying is well entrenched and this we instill in our children. We need revolution, we need to come together to force the change.”

Dr. (Mrs.) Yemi Adegbite, a lecturer at the Oyo State College of Education, Lanlate, and who’s vice chairperson of the colloquium emphasized on getting closer to God while urging everyone to let the change start with them.

Dr Adegbite however supported the idea of fighting like it happened during the EndSars protest, averring, “Our setting is abnormal but if we want to treat it normally, we can’t have a way. Added to that, the factors we proclaim as ways out are contradictory and so the next thing is to go back to God. The Bible says when the foundation is faulty what will the righteous do.

“Then, I must say I am not against use of deity that will inflict immediate comeuppance to conduct swearing-in ceremonies. That is a solution. Let African tradition takes off and see what happens. But as for Christianity and Islam that is the way we know and we will have to continue to pray.

“In addition, we should make our family a unit of change by inculcating the fear of God into every member, whoever knows God will do the will of God. If a child imbibes the fear of God from the cradle it will be difficult for such person to stray when he or she assumes leadership. We should not be weary, one day the truth will be established. We want result immediately but it might not come immediately.”

Odebunmi affirmed that prayer is being answered, “What of the secrets of frauds in government being exposed. Look at how the heist by Ahmed Idris (accountant general of the federation) was uncovered, it is not ordinary that he was exposed, prayer is being answered. God knows when to answer our prayer, so we should intensify prayer.”

Dr. Layi Ayoola, of GNS Department, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, while congratulating the celebrant described him as “very accommodating, loving and someone who always seeks the progress of others.”

Mr. Kehinde Odekunbi of the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo, corroborated Dr. Ayoola, while adding, “he is someone difficult to convince once he has taken a position on a matter. Even if the whole world sees differently he won’t change his opinion.”

Mr. Alabi Tunji Michael, a journalist recalled how Adegbite encouraged him to study journalism while taking time to extol his virtues.

In his reaction, the “Birthday Boy,” expressed his desire for a gathering like this to continue where national and community problems could be discussed and solutions proferred, affirming, “On the matter of the country, of a truth, prayer is good, but the Bible says prayer without work is vain.

“We have been so docile and then most of us are collaborators, we keep quiet when they do things that favour us. That is my diagnosis of this country’s problem, if we can collectively maintain our stand against bad leadership or some of their policies the perpetrators will back down.

“Prayer is good but unfortunately, I will have to read ‘The Long Walk to Freedom,’ the autobiography of Nelson Mandela once again, because I am not sure whether he mentions God in the whole book. So, I want to read it again to be sure of this. He went to prison, spent years, persecuted, yet at the end he became the president of South Africa.

“That is a vivid example of work. Our fathers say, you didn’t make a cut on the oil palm tree but you got there wishing to take a gulp of palm wine, it never happens that way, you have to work to make things happen.

“But our own is always ‘God will do it, God will do it,’ we do not want to work for the change we desire. But I must say that no one relinquishes power freely it has to be fought for, power is not something given on a platter of gold, it rather has to be taken on a platter of blood.

“Those who are lucky to survive it will reap the benefit but posterity will not forget their sacrifices, so, let’s put mind to it if we want our nation to witness positive turn around. Then, let’s always satisfy our conscience when we are to vote. We have made history today, let’s sustain an initiative like this.”

 

 

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