Unilorin’s convocation play, Wanted showcases Nigeria’s leadership failure
The series of intrigues, needless polemics and the perpetual mistrust plaguing the nation’s politics, prior to and since independence from British imperialism was hilariously dramatised last Tuesday at the Performing Arts Theatre of the University of Ilorin venue of the institution’s 35th Convocation Play, entitled, Wanted, an opera, written and directed by Dr. Taiye Adeola.
The command performance, which kept the audience spell-bound for close to two hours, was a theatrical recap of the prolonged struggles for power and the attendant squabble among the nation’s political elites. The play also reminded the audience of the unfortunate and intermittent disruption of the nation’s democratic engineering by the military, which seized power with the promise of changing things for the better, only to leave the situation worse than they met it.
The opera was a painful reminder to the audience of the leadership qualities, which followers must look out for in those they are considering putting forward as leaders. They were reminded of the need to be conscious of altruistic values of intended and serving leaders instead of material possessions and socio-cultural-cum-ethnic affiliations, which for long served as the basis of leadership recruitment and subsequent subservient interactions between the governed and those who controlled the machineries of government.
The cast really gave a good account of itself as it educated and entertained the audience with the inter-ethnic strives, particularly among the three major ethnic groups of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. The effects of the constant collaborations of the leading members of the minority groups, who were after their personal economic benefits rather than pursuing true all-round development of the country were also recalled to the applause of the audience. The performance also revealed the roles of the press and other social critics, who serve as the conscience of the nation, in the country’s march to the anticipated greatness.
The opera also orchestrated the series of misplaced priorities and outright economic mismanagement perpetrated by both the military and civilian rulers who allowed narrow personal and group interests to obstruct purposeful leadership.
The highlight of the performance was the recap of the pathetic and mindless events leading to the unfortunate and needless annulment of the historic June 12, 1993 election presumably won by Chief M. K. O. Abiola despite being a bastion in democratic engineering in Nigeria, and the series of the crises which erupted thereafter. It reminded the audience of the seizure of the government by the bespectacled General Sanni Abacha, who not only ruled with iron-fist but also engaged in unimaginable moral decadence perpetrated in the seat of power, which eventuated in his unceremonious death and at the time the nation least expected.
The pathetic display of inhumanity, which followed the death of the maximum ruler as seen in the spontaneous jubilation of people over his death, was a reminder of the fact that at that particular moment of our national history, there was an informed disaffection, which was confirmed by the display of joyous celebration, rather than sorrowful solemnity by the citizens.
Addressing the audience at the end of the fascinating performance, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, commended the Department of the Performing Arts for the scintillating performance, which depicted the distasteful political history of our country. He said that he was always amazed with the dexterity of the several actors and actresses produced by the Department over the years. He also eulogised members of the troupe for a great and tactical enactment of a major malaise facing the country, which reminded the audience of the trauma the country went through in the hands of its leaders, many of whom behaved as if tomorrow would not come.
The Vice-Chancellor added that such performances are needed to remind the nation of where, how and when we derailed so as to serve as a guide to the present and future generations of our people, especially those who may attain leadership positions, in order to avoid the repeat of the mistakes of the past.
Prof. Abdulkareem said that as faultlessly depicted in the opera, the nation’s problem is largely leadership-induced, the followers must also be blamed for egging misrule on when they should have stood their ground against bad leadership.
Among the dignitaries that attended the command performance were the wife of the Vice-Chancellor, Hajiya Abdulkareem; the University Librarian, Prof. A.bdulwahab O. Issa; the Dean of Clinical Sciences, Prof. Ibrahim A. Katibi; the Chairman of the Ceremonials Committee, and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. AbdulRasheed A. Adeoye; a former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Ayo Akinwale; a former Director, Unilorin Advancement Centre, Prof. Jelil Ojuade; the Director of the Unilorin Medical Services and Member of the University’s Governing Council, Dr. Rasheed Odunola; and the immediate past Registrar of the University, Mr. Emmanuel Dada Obafemi.