Essay from Ayokunle Adeleye

Why Won’t They Fail?

Going through secondary school, I wanted to be a lot of things: an
engineer, a writer, maybe even a farmer. My best friend, Ifeanyi, just
wanted to be a farmer, he just wanted to feed the nation. Today, we
are both medical doctors because my father made the same argument as
her mother: being anything other than medical doctors was a waste of
our brains…

My mother is a teacher, and my father was a teacher, as was his mother
before him. Ifeanyi’s mother was a teacher too. Yet we had to be
doctors, we had little choice. And therein, in open secrecy, is why
our students fail, is why the standard of Nigerian education has since
fallen and yet does, is why our graduates are schooled but not
educated, or educated but not learned!

More and more of our children fail standardized examinations, even
while the textbooks continue to be better written, simpler written,
and written for the lazy, even dummies! “Mathematics Made Easy”,
“Statistics for Dummies”, “Key Points”, “Exam Focus”, and we continue
to encourage laziness and promote mediocrity while we close our eyes
to the root of the problem: the internal brain drain!

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Essay from Adelayok Adeleye

Before the New Tariff

INCREASING the electricity tariff from the N16.11 per unit it is now, as has been announced in the news today, buried in the rubble
actually, would seem an acceptable idea until U consider how Nigeria works…

Whenever fuel, for example, becomes scarce or more expensive, the following happens: costs increase across board, and refuse to return
to baseline when the (fuel) crisis is resolved, or (fuel) price dropped.

In practical terms, when fuel becomes N97 from N87, fares that are N50 will become N100. U’ll be asked if U live in a different Nigeria when
U protest the disproportion. And when fuel price drops back to N87, U’ll be lucky to be ferried at N70, which becomes the new baseline for
the next crisis.

This is Nigeria!

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The Potential: Ayokunle Adeleye’s column on entrepreneurship as a career path in Nigeria and beyond

The POTENTIAL VIII: Acquiring Land

Every good business needs its own land sooner or later. Plus, land is an appreciative asset, unlike cars, and makes for good collateral, unlike shares. But when it comes to acquiring land, it is often a case of the same person not possessing a good head and a fitting cap. Why, those of us with the tricks and nice locations do not have the wherewithal, and those with the wherewithal are either too distracted or too naïve.

Two weeks ago, I was in Lagos sourcing funds for a piece I had finally gotten the keys to after years of hoping. I thought I was offering a
good deal, well, until my calls stopped being answered or returned. Money doth answer all things. And after a decade of yes-man-ship,
you’d suppose I’d be earning the big salary by now. Oh, that I have some! But money is not all that is required, as you shall soon see.

According to the Land Use Act of 1978, persons less than 21 years old, the age of majority, cannot acquire land, save by inheritance. So,
first things first: are you old enough? Then, are you ready for the trek? The other day in the Theatre, this Doctor had a call which I had
the privilege of being privy to as his hands were busy. Someone, apparently a land speculator, was offering him land. I just pitied him.

There are simple rules to buying land, and land speculators are not in a good part of my rulebook: If you are too busy to find your own land,
you are probably too busy to own it. Location is everything. And with it comes seasonality and exposure. With the latter comes implied
costs. As I shall now explain…

Swamps tend to be dry during dry seasons; so land is best searched out at the peak of the rainy season. (Half-word suffices for the wise.)
Lands by the roadside are generally exposed, and are not only relatively expensive but are also very competitive, spatially as well
as temporally. Encroachments are not unheard of, as are reclamations and multiple sales. I personally do not think it wise to buy land that
will take you to court (over and over) or make you pay over and over.

If you ever buy such competitive land, you must be ready to finance the implied costs: extra payments for Witnesses and other signatories,
homage to the local lords and land leeches, accelerated building with/out property demarcation, and sometimes, settlements for dissenting families (or family members).

Usually, here’s what I suggest: get a good surveyor, to avoid government-acquired land, as well as get cheap(er) offers; and a good lawyer to draft an ironclad agreement – my lawyer is the best there is. These added costs save you a lot of trouble. Be careful with surveyors though. I have learnt to measure land myself, and to negotiate with the owners before I bring in my surveyor. And that is not paranoia.

(If I told you everything here, the tricks and clauses and dangers and precautions, then what would you pay me for? Locations only? Offers
only? Meeting my lawyer is for free, anyway.)

And how much land do I have to have become a speaker on the issue? I’m still waiting for my big break ni o. Nyem ego, ka’o kudi, m’owo wa;
bring money… and I will gladly test these things effortlessly right before your very eyes. Right now, I only speak from experience gathered over the years. *winks* And I know the best lawyer for these matters, just saying.

Essay from Ayokunle Adeleye

Saraki in Our Democracy

On the twenty-fifth of March, in the heat of the Presidential campaigns, yours truly released The Beauty of Democracy. That innocent article had been borne out of concern on the increasing lust for blood that fellow compatriots were displaying, and unabashedly too. They had seemed eager for justice and more; they had in fact seemed ready to take justice into their own hands. And I was concerned, as anyone should.

A change in regime had been imminent, the finger-pointing that customarily accompanied such regimes was gaining innervation; but the
excessiveness that the propaganda of the incoming band was preaching was beginning to gather much more momentum than could be needed to
oust the incumbent and Change! the nation. And so my fear had been: What would happen to the excess?

As it turns out today, one human gestational period later, that excess momentum has birthed vengeance, blind vengeance; vengeance blinded by
the propaganda for Change!, and nurtured by the myth that every rich politician is corrupt; vengeance ignorant of the simplest of political
truths: only the rich succeed in politics, as of today, when mere nomination forms cost tens of millions of Naira so as to “separate the
men from the boys”; and vengeance that has made a man yet on trial to be stoned as though guilty.

How visionary that humble, and largely unpublished, article has now turned out to be! For, in a bid to paint the former band of politicians as thieves, the propagandists conveniently forget that they themselves are politicians no different than the former, at least to the naked eye and to the vengeful minds of the awakened masses now thirsty for blood, any blood at all. A sentiment that now endangers our budding democracy, more than ever, as I had then opined nine months ago:

“Democracy is slow, democracy is cumbersome, democracy is imperfect, and it is apparent that the Opposition will, in their present stride,
taint our budding democracy in a bid to satiate the lust for blood that the gaping mouth of our populace desires… The supporters of the Opposition have taken it upon themselves to be plaintiff, judge and jury; to label every dissenter as cheap, corruptible, and shameless; to gang up and degrade the humanity of anyone speaking in defence of the defendant. They condescend, they insult; to them only the dumb and clueless will support his [Senate] President. Yet, the beauty of democracy is that defence is a fundamental human right, even to the accused, even to the allegedly guilty; and remains so, even in Nigeria, even now!

“We can all be misunderstood; I usually am, and anyone that is often misunderstood knows that nothing hurts more than the hypocrisy and sanctimony, the judging gazes and condemning sneers, the pre-emptive guilty-as-charged attitude and misplaced condescension.… For, the
beauty of democracy is that however wrong, guilty, [insubordinate, wealthy,] or clueless the defendant is, he must not stand alone. And
whoever chooses to stand by him, pardon his misdemeanour, and believe in him, must not be ostracised, not for his humanity.

“[Saraki’s] assailants go about the tents of democracy, with shrouds ostentatiously bearing the insignia of Change!, and with vengeance in
their proud stride. And as they do, they look down upon, and alienate, those of us preaching caution lest we find ourselves right where we
are, four years hence!… For, the beauty of democracy is that the leader be tolerant, father to all, and compassionate; that his followers be empathetic, accepting of others, and friendly to dissenters; that people are not maltreated in their own land because they disagree with popular opinion.

“[But it would now seem that Saraki’s assailants are prepared to] run our democracy off, or over, in their quest for applause… [and that
their] supporters have little regard for democratic freedoms [including the belief in the rule of law administered in a fair trial; as they themselves are] intolerant folk… [It would seem that we have alas voted] the inquisitors and the chips [are falling:] there [is] little tolerance for sympathizers, for due process, for proper defence; those of us who are apt to stand for the Constitutional Way will become targets, those who habitually dwell on the fence will become collateral damage, and no one will be safe. There will be no room for neutrality, caution or commonsense. And there will be no room for friends. Yet, everyone needs a friend at least; no one deserves to stand alone. For, that is the beauty of democracy: the right to the
freedom to opine, decide, associate, disassociate; to live, and let live!

“And if [rather than insist that due process be followed,] we keep quiet, if [rather than advocate the rule of law,] we hide our heads, if we [support rather than enlighten] the coercionists, then not only will our democracy lose its lustre, then not only will autocracy take over, and dictatorship in his wake, then not only will we suffer for our gullibility, but we will leave Nigeria worse that we found it: bound.

“I have thus stood by the weaker, more aggrieved side… You may psychoanalyse me as much as you want; only, I have done so for balance, I have done so for fairness, i have done so despite enormous pressure and grave threats. And I yet do [and as should you… I have thus and since taken it upon myself to defend the defenceless. For I am not a populist, and someday, it shall be me in the dock, and I shall hope to be shown the same mercy I have shown those before me: a laudable defence, and a fair trial.”

The exact thing every Nigerian deserves during trial. The exact thing you would expect if peradventure you are on trial. The exact thing Senator Bukola Saraki deserves; not a witch-hunt, not stoning, and definitely not jungle justice. Oh, Lord knows we have had enough of those!

Ayokunle Ayk Fowosire.

Essay from Ayokunle Adeleye

Me AND Now

Few years ago I conducted a study wherein I asked my FB friends to
translate a simple sentence starting with “You and I” into as many
languages as they are able to. (Not) Surprisingly, while non-African
languages typically place “You” before “I”, African languages
typically place the Speaker, “I”, before the Other, “You”! Where is
our chivalry? You and I are a selfish lot!

Sometime last year, I “boarded” a bike only to realise, some two to
three hundred metres to the agreed destination that the road would be
bad further on, having rained heavily the previous night. So I took it
upon myself to alight prematurely and save the bike man avoidable
trouble: slips, falls, and mud. But when I paid him what was
commensurate with my new stop, he refused flatly and said I had to pay
him for the whole journey, a journey I will now complete on foot out
of consideration for the ingrate! I and you are a selfish lot!

Just last month, I was regaled with tales of how Buhari formed the WAI
Brigade during his (in)famous reign of terror, of how a few civilian
youths would patrol the streets and hand over defaulters to the
soldiers for (inhuman) discipline, of how they were themselves terror
in the community, respected, nay, feared! And the kicker was that the
narrator was routing for General so he could dust his uniform of
thirty years and resume his delusions of authority, summarily! That
was his reason for singing Buhari to the polls; even after I told him
we are in saner times!


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Essay from Ayokunle Adeleye

Of Artists and Scientists

Medicine is both a science and an art: the study of Medicine starts
predominantly as science, the Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and
Biochemistry; continues as a blend of science and art, the Anatomy,
Physiology, Pathology and Pharmacology; and ends predominantly in art,
Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medicine and Surgery.

In the one you are expected to think outside the box, imagine, and
explore; in the other, well, just cram and pass, do it as it has been
done for centuries: stand on the right side of the patient, say it
thus and thus, no need to reinvent anything. In the one you have to be
smart and genius; in the other, just be alert and attentive, and tune
your antennas to synch.

And as it turns out, Medicine asks for scientists, admits more
scientists than artists, and turns us all into artists by virtue of
the training; yet, Medicine makes it (extremely) difficult for the
scientist to survive! Much like Nigeria: Nigeria votes you in as a
Democrat, but expects you to be a Dictator; wants you to swear to
protect and uphold the Constitution, yet would rather you threw
everyone in jail, even without lawful convictions; wants you to build
lasting structures, but would rather you did so overnight.

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Essay from Adelayok Adeleye

The Paternal GAP

Fathers are wonderful people: caring, providing, and responsible. We
need more of them in governance. Yet we need more than them. As good
as fathers are, responsible and all, they rarely make good political
officers. Fathers, by their nature, are good providers, and rulers,
but are rarely good leaders as they are seldom good talkers: Fathers
direct and guide, but do not see reason to sit you down and explain,
and convince, why what they want for you is really what is best for
you; the very essence of leadership. Hence the paternal gap: Fathers
only demand trust, trust that they rarely give.

Fathers, by nature, know best. Or not quite, since times change; and,
as my people say, Ajá ìwòyí la fíí s’ode ìwòyì, modern times are best
secured by modern measures. So that instead of the politician’s
perpetual plea for blind trust, what Nigerians deserve is uncommon
honesty; instead of rehearsed speeches and recycled manifestos, what
we should have are untainted explanations on why things are as bad as
they are and the way out; instead of the Change! mantra, and the
Transformation Agenda, what we really want is accountability.

We have had enough of paternity stints and stunts, of accusation and
counter-accusation, of paint-him-bad and draw-him-down; now we just
want our sovereignty to be recognised and respected; power, after all,
belongs to the people and is vested in us, since democracy is the
governance of the people, by the people, and for the people, and yet
remains so, even in Nigeria…

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