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The Nigerian hero is dead


Late Prof. Dora Akunyili

Whenever emotion is promoted to the rank of reality, there is likely to be great moral and operational problems. Court is preponderantly relying on the law and doing what the law of the land is saying. By the time one or the nation descends bellow the thin red line, it would take the strength of God to return the society to normalcy. The Great Chairman Mao Tze Tung of China said in his conceptual Combat Liberalism that Liberalism rejects ideological struggles and stands on unprincipled peace, thereby favouring social and blood relationships. In a market place, there is always too much noise and I always wonder whether one can hear another.

The voices in the market are always between two principals, the seller and the buyer but because these principals are many in the market, that is why the noise is always much. Emotion is the attitude of humanity and it can only prevail where ever it can find itself. When will the noise in the nation stop? In crowed psychology, the most valiant person or the loudest voice wins the day. When the loudest voice talks all others with better options would not be able to talk. The timid but more intelligent voice would be driven into their shells. When exactly have the rulers of Nigeria made a universal statement. A politician would see his statement as a universal statement and effort but as soon as he departs from the ruler’s position this idea is jettisoned by the people because originally it was not of such caliber. If one intends to promote someone to the status of a hero it may depend on whether he is using the dynamics on humanism. After leaving the Cantonment at Ikeja, where the British High Commissioner, Mr. Cumming Bruce presided, Yakubu Gowon emerged as the head of state of Nigeria. That was on 1st August, 1966. He pledged to go on with one Nigeria, because hope was almost lost on one Nigeria. That was a universal statement. Around the same day, he presented his first address to the nation. In this address, he urged the Northerners to rejoice because another northerner was then in power.

Though that statement was not a universal statement but it was appealing to those it was meant for. Today, one may not rate such statement as high because the nation seems to have grown an inch higher. Every nation and individual must strive every day to plant a tree which would yield good fruits because the tree will yield the fruits for everyone around and the children of those who planted it will eat. When General Yakubu Gowon returned to Nigeria, he then said at a ceremony: “Time is the healer of wounds” That simple statement is philosophically loaded with meanings.


Words are needed to bring hope to people who have lost hope. Of recent, there was one report on Ghana to the effect that in 2016, about one thousand five hundred Ghanaians committed suicide! I do not know that such would happen to Ghana because it is better managed than Nigeria. Rulers may be advised not to plant a tree which would yield bad fruits. The Third law of Isaac Newton stated: “To every action comes an equal and opposite reaction” The Owelle of Onisha and President of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe gave a rebuttal in the seventies: “Never in life shall I allow myself to be kicked as football by the politicians in their struggling for naked power.” The world knows that politicians always struggle for naked power. The power is superficial, transient and ephemeral. The former president of Nigeria Umaru Yar’ Adua, was coming up to be a great president of Nigeria. He insisted on the Rule of Law. He criticized the election which put him in power. He would not tell lie. Nigerian politicians may not build the statue of honor in his name because the saying was against their ambition. In his moral dissertation Plato stated that if it is the one person in a thousand that is telling the truth, the whole world should not desert him but to bow for him. Why it is that many Nigerian politicians are working for vanity and why is the quality is of this quality?

Aristotle stated of God as one who never works in vain but works for an end. Most of the constructions and projections of the politicians are based on vanity because the politicians knew from the start that he is working in the name of vain. If I see one single Nigerian president or politician who is beyond the cloud, I shall accept him as my hero, whether he is Igbo, Hausa/Fulani, or Yoruba. One must tower beyond the cloud and to see plainly not opaque that by what he is doing the greatest good must reach the greatest number of people in the Land. If what the politician does is to raise a conclave in the name of his tribe and to pursue this segregation with vigour that may never win the price for a true Nigerian hero. Some time ago I asked from my Indian friends after I read books on Mohandas Caramchand Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) and Pandit Nehru, about the two men and they indicated that Gandhi was the father of the nation; that God always send the kind like Gandhi once in a thousand years. That he was not an ordinary human being. If he was a tribal demagogue, he would not be so acknowledged. There was the child prodigy, Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832.

He was the author of Utilitarianism: “The rightness of an act is dependent on the goodness of its consequences; depended on the utility of the act in producing the balance of good over bad than any other act possible under the circumstance.” At another intellectual outburst, he stated: “All law is evil: the evil of the offence and the evil of the law.” Evolution is a very serious matter and some can be very slow while some could be so fast. If I omit education as one of the factors of evolution, people might ask why and I may respond: not all our rulers used fake educational qualifications. Why can’t some of them show the world that they are truly the children of the universe or that they are truly educated? Haven’t we observed that the presentation of awards to many people may not truly promote them to the class of the children of the universe? One may be in a thick crowd where one is played up as one of the very few, yet he should not promote himself or see himself as one because the world knows him more than he knows himself.

As one can observe, the Nigerian National Award is a political gift. The qualifications of the children of the universe cannot be faked: It is either you are one who has it or not. Many people who were observant would know that, that powerful director general of NAFDAC, DR. Mrs. Akunyili was a good material for a truly national honour and not many people would rise against her. Alhaji Aminu Kano was one of the greatest Nigerians before, during and after independence. He towered above many politicians in Nigeria. He fought for the talakawas, the poor of the land. He would not look back during the numberless protests which he organised. He contended and confronted feudalism and went to prison for numberless times. At the time when he died, the information which came from the family spokesman indicated that thirteen Naira was found in his bank account. Were he to live up to this era, he would either commit suicide because of evils and the stench of corruption or fight to ensure that all those who are today stealing the public fund be summarily executed. Feudalism was not able to completely muzzle him.

In a multi ethnic society as Nigeria, there cannot be a national hero, because, the other tribe may not acknowledge that person who distinguished himself. People may join others to play to the gallery but in reality he is not seen as a hero. A hero is a hero, whether declared nationally, internationally or not. The world is individual existences even though there is always interplay of forces at the field of play.

Osunbote is an author.

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