Petition to Profs Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo on FGN
Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo need no introduction to anyone who belongs to the profession of scholastic or literary or critical studies. In fact, the two of them – scholastic gentleman and learned lady respectively – do not need this column’s validation of their academic learning and significantly significant literary-cum-creative standing in our clime and beyond. I have more than considerable respect for both of them not because they are voluminous as scholar-writers or as scholar-thinkers. But because of what each one of them individually means to me – even though they seemingly are two of a kind. But let me explain myself better without peeling each one’s scholastic or literary potato. That is not the goal of this enterprise now. What do I mean to say without keeping you in any cage of suspense a little longer than necessary?
Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo are two of the monumental admirers of this column. Deliberately, I have withheld the harmonious exchanges of ideas and praises relating to this column (and other matters) that we have shared – and are still sharing. The pictures they share with me, among others, help to constitute the pedal points of this column. What have we shared and what have we not shared?
To answer only the first part of the question: a never-ending stream of thoughts, reminiscences and humours that illuminate what I will call the necessity and the difficulty of being Nigerians in the present time of General Buhari’s presidency, which so far has shown me nothing positively positive to lavish it with praises that are praises as his time is grinding itself away. Who is the Nigerian who truly and actually is enjoying anything worth enjoying? Is what is befalling us today not worse than a never-ending stream of disasters induced primarily by this presidency’s bureaucratic and executive heavy-handedness which our president encourages by what appears to us as his patently malicious, unfair, nepotistic, ethnic, unreasonable, authoritarian, draconian approaches to matters of state without any iota of sense of equity, integrity or adherence to moral principles? This comes from me with the restraint of one who has friends who in one way or the other are connected to this central government that has badly fractured our collective psyche. And the Niger-Daura man carries on and on as if your country my country our country belongs to him and those who are not part of us.
It is absolutely imperative that I address a petition to at least for now two of such friends, solid intellectuals, of extraordinary public renown that is both national and international, who should not be associated with the president of a regime that has generally been seen to be the enemy of the people. This column today is a motion, a petition centering on this central government, this federal government that my friends should instantly re-appraise and friendlily and distinctly jettison.
All my senses have unanimously appealed to me to tell Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo to sever all ties they have with this government whose executive head is the enemy-in-chief of the Nigerian working class. Some persons who are desirous of likening him to a fascist and, as a matter of fact, call him humorously a dumb Nigerian Mussolini have often questioned me on the business of Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Eziegbo with this reactionary and negatively authoritarian federal government that has no respect for trade unions including the Academic Staff Union of Universities that our writers and scholars of voluminous and immensely immense abilities and sensibilities cannot but genuinely commit themselves to forever and forever at least on the grounds of their monumental enterprises.
Let me state it clearly here and now: Professor Olu Obafemi is a leader of humanity in Nigeria. Professor Akachi Ezeigbo is a leader (or leader-ess) of humanity in Nigeria. What is happening in the land and which is indeed sadly sad as well as shockingly anguishing, cannot but raise issues which cannot do credit to the honour and dignity of Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo who are too, too good to be attached to this regime.
Olu Obafemi is an ideological playwright and poet, among other things. Akachi Ezeigbo is a novelist and poet, also among other things, who has the intellectual strength to preserve the values of democracy. She does not strike me as one who out of cowardice, temptation or overwhelming influence will sacrifice principles and values at the feet or door-steps of expediency. Olu Obafemi carries in his little frame of hefty mind the absolute essence of truth of the pursuer of truth. He cherishes freedoms and liberties and is not one to succumb to crass political pressure as he and his fellow pro-chancellor colleagues in the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee the government appointed to help “solve” the FGN-ASUU tug-of-war recently demonstrated. Simply put, he is a leader of humanity who possesses the steel determination not to kowtow to presidential or executive diktats.
Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo should wear their intellectual and writers’ gown of non-cooperators and non-cooperate with what is wrong or appears to be wrong and do what Chinua Achebe did while he served humanity and humankind while he was on this side of the great divide.
I want to believe that their tight friends who are deeply deep in the affairs of this federal government don’t encourage or allow them to intervene on our behalf to do that which is good and pure and just and vibrationally and intensely humanitarian. If I am right (and why not?) they should, with this petition, which may cause harsh reactions to them from the central government quarters and from the hearts of obstinate officials, despite what many persons and readers will accept as a basic or fundamental truth, without a bang say their good-bye. History will be kind to them; and restore their persona grata colourfully.
Of course, I expect that they will give us enduring works that will validate their association, rightly or wrongly, as accomplices of the presidencynologists of impunity who never hearkened worthily to their patriotic contributions. The day shall come when dissertations shall be written on their actions in a reactionary federal government of twists and turns against our people and intellectuals. And my good friends should remember Noam Chomsky’s words: “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.”
Indeed, he or she should do so without fear of anything including death. As Epictetus (? 50 – ? 120 A.D.), Greek Philosopher and stressor of “self-renunciation and the brotherhood of man,” said: “I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it.” Wole Soyinka, our W.S., from his activities, has similarly prepared us for this ordeal of fearlessness. His politics is the good politics from all good men of letters and great leaders of humanity and humankind. Professors Olu Obafemi and Akachi Ezeigbo should prepare themselves for the ordeal. I am not teaching them anything. But may they take to heart this petition of redemption!
Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.