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Making decisions in uncertain times

By Kole Omotoso
08 November 2020   |   3:07 am
The story goes that Egbunike’s teacher reported Egbunike to his father. The teacher reported that Egbunike did not know his 1,2,3,4, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd. Egbunike’s father called his son and told him what the teacher accused him of. Egbunike promptly replied: ‘Papa, I asked Teacher what we were counting.’ “And what did your teacher…

The story goes that Egbunike’s teacher reported Egbunike to his father. The teacher reported that Egbunike did not know his 1,2,3,4, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd. Egbunike’s father called his son and told him what the teacher accused him of. Egbunike promptly replied: ‘Papa, I asked Teacher what we were counting.’ “And what did your teacher say?” ‘Teacher said Nothing. We are counting nothing.’ “And what did you say?” ‘Papa, I said I don’t count anything. Teacher said he was going to flog me.’ “What did you do?” ‘I walked out of his class.’

“Before you walked out of his class, what did you do?” ‘Didn’t he tell you?’ “Never mind what he told me. Or didn’t tell me. You tell me.” ‘I broke his cane and threw it into the waste paper basket where all teachers who cane their pupils belong.’ “And before that?” ‘Well, I gave him and the class a TedX lecture on the need to end Teacher brutality.’ “So, to go back to the original offense: what would you like to count?” ‘What all Nigerians love to count!’ “And what’s that?” ‘Naira, USDollars, Sterling and so on and so forth, Euros, even Afros still to be approved by the AU.’ “You can go.” What does this story teach us and the Teacher?

We are faced with decisions decisions decisions – merit over FC, Restructure over the 1999 Constitution, law’n order over chaos.

What do we choose – merit over federal character? When we look at the merit of Merit over federal character where the federal character does not have the required equivalent merit, Merit must win. But this ignores the fundamental issue of the neglect that brought about the policy decision that those who did not conquer us cannot rule us. It led to the recruitment of Indians and Pakistanis into our civil service to hold these positions until our people are qualified to fill the positions. In the meantime, we do not educate our people, we do not miseducate our people, we refuse to westeducate our people because western book is not good, is haram. Which leads back to the choice we need to make: Merit or federal character?

When we look at the past, we see Merit doing the job, passing the tests with brilliant results, beating the competition any day anywhere, home and abroad. When we look at the present when a federal character is the order of the day, we see the country drifting in the open sea, as described by one of the captains of the ship. So, what does the future hold for all of us? The answer is drift unto failure under the rule of federal character.

Those who do not want Merit, have put guns down to defend their choice of federal character. Those who choose Merit must westeducate, universeducate the whole country because the pen is mightier than the sword.

Restructure over 1999 Constitution nko? If we look at our past when we had three regions with economic capabilities, we prospered. Each region filled its pot and contributed to the federal pot. Out of what was put in the federal pot, the federal government was able to defend the country in the time of foreign war or civil war, in time of contesting policies. The federal government also conducted foreign trade and sent ambassadors overseas to go and lie for their country in foreign climes.

With the 1999 Constitution even, as amended, the federal government took the resources of the regions by dividing the three regions into 36 regions or states. Some of the states do not have any economic resource to govern except civil servants, and their salaries. We all know what has happened to civil service salaries. He who trades in worthless sand gets paid in worthless pebbles. The quality of services, civil or military, has declined.

And what about the choice between law and order vs the chaos of injustice? Where law and order prevail the person deserving of a crown got a crown through a process that included Ifa divination.

In a situation of law and order, those who deserve to be chiefs and Marshalls of their streets and compounds were given their due. Without such decisions, the rest is the chaos of injustice. When people – important people, ordinary people, men, women, and children, young and old, believers and nonbelievers all together – must be given their due. Or else it is the chaos of injustice.

But what happens when justice officers – judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and advocates, all those who are paid to make law and order possible, pursue the path of injustice by clever verbiage?

In what language is justice delivered? Is it in the language in which the dispute is experienced? If it is not, justice cannot be achieved.

Anyone who has watched any of our courts dispense justice like common water can appreciate the little priority they place on justice for common people and for common water.

What about justice dispensed after hours in the darkness of night, over and above what was said in broad daylight?

To go back to the Egbunike Principle of Modern Education. The easiest part is the assertion that one option is a superior argument for the majority of the people. The other side can always declare, in English, in the language of John Dryden {1631 – 1700}, ‘Nor is the people’s judgment always true/The most may err as grossly as the few.’ Yet, as Professor Adamolekun always insists, a superior argument must persist. And for such to be the case, everyone must agree to the base. Egbunike takes the existing condition as the base of all decision making. Is the present working for all? If we look in the past of counting nothing, did it benefit anyone? Surely it did. Who did it benefit? Those who did nothing. What can those who did something do? They can declare their opposition to that way of counting and insist that counting is a waste of viable if one is not counting something. Only a country that prefers counting nothing can fail to know the number of its people.

The past of success, the presence of failure presages a future of failure. Yet, going back to the past does not necessarily guarantee the success of the future, because “the past is a foreign country,” as L.P. Hartley (1895 – 1972) said, in the novel The Go-Between, “they do things differently there.”

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