Category Archives: Political Articles

Can the Marxist Ideology Save Nigeria? Chiedozie Ude

Karl Marx: “Religion is the opium of the masses.”

The poor have a lot in common, but they’ll never unite to fight against the oppression of the rich. The reason is that the poor allow differences in religion, colour and tribe to hinder them. This Marxist premise easily explains why the January 15, 1966 Coup was branded an Igbo coup. This coup was supposed to end the corruption practised by the ruling class.

Other tribes were able to sell the ideology of political and economic domination by the Igbos; consequently, instead of the coup to instigate the positive change that was intended, it became a catalyst for tribal vendetta.

Similarly, after the #ENDSARS protests, the politicians and their loyalists employed the same tricks — that is, the use of tribal and religious differences to bring about discord.
Funnily enough, those of us at the lower rung of the economic and political ladder will continually fall for this trick because tribal loyalty and religion are our opium. They numb our ability to think. They make us stooges in the hands of nefarious politicians.

For Nigeria to move forward, we have to debunk the ideology of political domination because this ideology is repressive. It hinders our ability to work together for the greater good of the nation. We have to realize that the average Igbo, Yoruba, Edo or Hausa man is not the enemy; the callous government and their draconian policies are the real enemies. Friedrich Engels described ideology as “false consciousness” — that is, it only exists because a certain class of people intend to cling to political and economic power. Thus, in a bid to achieve their selfish aims, the Nigerian ruling class stoke the fires of political domination.

We, the citizen, have a lot in common. Chief of these things has to be that we are all at the receiving end of governmental impunity. This alone should be able to unite us all in our common goal of making the politicians accountable.

Therefore, it becomes crucial for us to expunge tribalism as we seek to create a nation devoid of corruption, insecurity and poverty. We have to realise who the real enemies are and, by so doing, we can tackle any national issue heads on. God bless Nigeria.

© Chiedozie Ude

“POLITICS OR PÒ-LITICS?” BY OLADIPUPO OBISANWO

I stand to aver that Nigeria has no political sphere. What she does have is a ‘pò-litical sphere’. You might want to ask: “What does pò-litics mean?” Simply put, it is the system of rulership in Nigeria.

The BREAKDOWN:
The word, “pò-“, is native to the Yoruba tribe. It is an adjectival morpheme, and means “plenty or abundant”. As for “-litics”, let’s just say it means politics.

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP?
Politics is simply the sphere of life whereby an individual or a group of people take on leadership inclinations, primarily for the interest of all. It is subject to context. For example, church politics, school politics, American politics, China politics, etc.
However, there is a brutal reversal of the essence of politics in its manifestations in Nigeria. While politics should be for the good of all, the Nigerian version, especially, has proven that politics is for the benefit of the few involved. Truth be told, more than 90% of Nigerian politicians care less about the masses (that’s even if they care at all). They go into politics to amass wealth, fame and power. In other words, the rationale behind their venture into politics is to get the above in abundance: the true essence of the word, pò.
By the above, the perpetual news of embezzlement of colossal amount of funds by politicians is less astonishing.
In sum, unless much is consciously done to distant “PÒ-LITICS” from the Nigerian politics, Nigeria can never amount to anything politically.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
When next anyone tells you she wants to go into politics, ask the question, “Do you really want to be a politician or a pò-litician?

History: The Past Pandemic in Nigeria.

©Chukwuma K.

I’m fortunate to have both of my grand parents alive. I’ve spent the past weeks with them and I have a story to share with you.

My grand parents told me about the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu)- caused by a virulent type A virus. It is documented that about 21 million people died from the disease over a 12-month period, and perhaps 200 million at the end of the pandemic.

Grandma said it was called “OKORU OGBUE”. A centralized Igbo name would be “OFEE OGBUO”. The name implied that the disease was very contagious and that infected individuals most often died from the disease.

The disease was introduced into Nigeria by passengers and crews who arrived overseas through ships. Within months it was all over the place- every community in Nigeria. Anecdotal reports from my grandparents and others showed that every community lost between 50-80% of its inhabitants.

Documented reports, though, showed that about 500,000 Nigerians, out of a population of then 18 million, died in less than 6 months, and between 50 and 80% of the population was stricken. Undoubtedly, majority of the cases especially in villages were not reported.

On September 14th, 1918, a ship, S.S. Bida, arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. Some of the passengers were suffering from the influenza. They had boarded the ship in Accra, and on arrival in Lagos, passed on the disease to Lagosians.

The first cases were documented on 23rd September and a few days later the disease spread inland through the railway, appearing in Abeokuta on 1st October and Ibadan on the 5th of the same year.

On 14th October, the disease was brought to Onitsha from Lokoja and in a week or two the entire town and villages in the Onitsha province were thoroughly attacked.

From Onitsha, the epidemic spread to Asaba and all the towns of Western Igboland, causing much panic and consternation.

A report of the Roman Catholic Mission at Asaba stated that the people of Asaba, disturbed by the rumor that influenza was causing havoc, gathered each morning at the Post Office, expecting to hear from relatives who had emigrated to affected places in search of wage labor. One morning, while a large crowd assembled at the Post Office, news arrived that influenza had broken out in Asaba itself and everyone ran home to isolate, the crowd was dispersed. In a few days, Asaba was thrown into mourning as virtually every family had someone to bury.

From Asaba, the influenza spread to Agbor, appearing there on 19th October.

Also from Onitsha the epidemic spread eastward, appearing at Owerri on 25th October, Okigwe and Enugu-Ngwo on the 28th and Aba on the 30th.
Furthermore, the epidemic, having affected the towns on the Eastern Railway, began to diffuse eastward, appearing at Ikot-Ekpene on or about 1st November, Obubra on the 4th, Afikpo on the 5th, Abakaliki on the 7th, Ogoja on the 11th, Obudu about the 11th and Ikom on the 13th.

Every family had someone to bury. Grandma said: “After returning from a burial, all those who buried the dead were required to remove their clothes and burn them before coming into their homes….. But in a few days, they too will get the flu and would die….. When someone die, people cried not because the person died, but because others in the family will die after the burial and so on”.

Traditional medicine men and women died after treating a sick person. Non of the remedies seemed to have worked. But when our grandparents learned that isolation and quarantine was the remedy, the disease was contained.

It was like a war. None of our grandparents went to the markets or farms, because no one does that during a war. They starved, they didn’t visit relatives, they ate cassavas and cassava leaves, they improvised, the government DID NOT provide palliatives, they too, DID NOT EXPECT the government to provide palliatives. They passed through the pain of watching their dead rot away without a burial, only then was the virus contained in 1919- one year after!

Today we have another major pandemic, very, very similar to that of 1918. We know better today, we are more enlightened, we have developed medical sciences. We know that our government SHOULD provide palliatives, but if because of corruption they REFUSE, we should borrow a leaf from our grandparents. Let’s pull through.

You see, the rich and famous brought the virus always, but the poor are more vulnerable and will be hit the worse, because the rich will stay at home and the poor will go out to be killed by the virus or shot by the reckless officers. But whether this pandemic will last less than a year, a year, or more than a year depends on us.

This is like a war. Stay at home to save lives. Obey the Government.

Most importantly, you see those who do not believe that the virus exist, and those who think there should be no lockdown, avoid them because even our uneducated grandparents were wiser than they are.

Reference:
Ohadike D. C. (1991): Diffusion and Physiological Responses to the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 in Nigeria. Soc Sci Med. 1991;32 (12):1393-9

©Chukwuma K. April 25, 2020

A Realistic Approach to the Poem “May 29”

UDE, Chiedozie Orji.
University of Lagos, UNILAG

The poem.


The poem, “May 29”, is a realistic one that graphically depicts the Nigerian political society. The poem is a satiric one which centres on the farcical nature of the Nigerian democratic system. According to the poet, democracy, as practised in Nigeria, is not in line with the tenets of true democracy. Instead of the Nigerian democracy being an affair for every citizen of Nigeria, it is an affair for a select few, that is, the rich, the political godfathers and the electoral candidates which are metaphorically referred to as “sacred cows”. The poet continues to criticise the Nigeria’s version of democracy by mentioning several flaws in it. He shows these flaws by describing the system as one that is infected. Finally, the persona admonishes that Nigerians should practise proper democracy by giving the people the opportunity to select their own leaders.

The title is significant to the subject matter and thematic content of this poem because it is a date that shows our return to the democratic system of government after decades of military rule. Little wonder why the 29th of May is regarded as Democracy Day in Nigeria. This day is one that should represent a new beginning for us Nigerians; however, it is not so because our democratic system is flawed by issues such as violence, preference for the rich, incompetence, godfatherism, anarchy, restriction of the press, amongst others. All these issues, no doubt, show that this poem is one which accurately portrays the Nigerian society.

Obviously, the issue of violence is central to the understanding of the subject matter. Violence, as an act, is one which pervades the Nigerian political system at all levels of government. It is not uncommon for political leaders and candidates to employ thugs that will aid them to suppress or intimidate the opposition. The persona sheds light on this issue by mentioning the disregard with which the rule of law is held in the country. He emphasises the obvious irony by defining democracy as a system of government where the practice of the rule of law is absent, that is, instead of having peace during elections, we have bloodshed. The except below strengthens this argument:
“Democracy
Without rule of law”
Democracy with
Deoxygenated blood”

Closely following the theme of violence is the theme of anarchy. Anarchy suggests a state of lawlessness. The Nigerian society is described as lawless by the poet due to several anomalies. To exemplify this state of lawlessness, we use several instances highlighted in the poem such as the decision to allow only the rich to govern; the violence that mars our elections; the absence of press freedom; and of course, the blatant disdain with which our constitution is treated by the political elite. Anarchy is further emphasised in the poem when the poet advises the ruling elite to give the people the power to constitutionally choose their own leaders instead of imposing leaders on the people through unconstitutional means.

“Let authority
Emerge from the people
Let the have the right
To alternate leadership”
What makes anarchy stand out as a theme is the sharp contrast between the two systems — democracy and anarchy. One symbolizes orderliness while the other represents chaos. Due to the obvious difference between the two ideologies, it becomes ironic that the Nigerian democratic system is deeply embedded in lawlessness.

Another theme that is central to this analysis is the theme of incompetence. The poet draws an image of a blundering person as he tries to define the Nigerian democratic system. To him, nothing about our democratic process is worth emulating and this is because those in charge did the weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making the decision to return to democracy. This explains why the persona, in the fifth stanza, describes the system as “premature”. He goes on by stating in the subsequent stanzas that our democracy is counterfeit; hence, it will never work unless we go back to the basis by giving the people the power to select those they want as leaders.

One cannot discuss the Nigerian democratic system without mentioning the problem of godfatherism. Political godfathers are powerful individuals who impose electoral candidates on the people. These godfathers can go to any length in order to ensure that their candidates win. This practice, unquestionably, limits our democratic system. The presence of these godfathers make the candidate untouchable, that is, these candidates cannot be rejected by the people irrespective of whether they are qualified or not. To further show that these candidates are untouchable, the poet describes them as “sacred cows”

Another issue that helps to give credence poet’s stance on Nigeria’s democracy is the fact that only the rich can contest elections. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a system of government that revolves around the choice of the people; but in the case of Nigeria, it is a government of the rich who rule for the benefits of the rich. This problem vividly support the writer’s claim that our democracy is infected.

The poem is structured in twelve quatrain stanzas. Each stanza, undoubtedly, is used by the poet to reinforce the main idea of this poem. The poet is consistent in his criticism of the Nigerian democratic process by clearly mentioning the different flaws in our democratic system in the stanzas. The stanzas are uniquely structured in such a way that no two stanza mention the same problem. For example, stanza two presents the system as one reserved for only the rich while stanza three exposes the bloodshed that is inherent in the Nigerian democratic process. Aside these differences, one can, without any iota of doubt, conclude that all the stanzas reinforce the fact that Nigeria is not practising the right form of democracy. Also important to note is that the stanzas lack any form of rhyme or regular meter; instead, the poet ensures musicality through the repeated use of the word “democracy”.

The diction — choice of words — employed by the poet is simple and straightforward. The poem is one whose subject matter can be easily deciphered by the reader due to the writer’s use of everyday words. Also, the choice of words is also important because it helps us establish that this poem is set in Nigeria. For example, the use of “May 29” as the title reveals a specific date, and constant repetition of the word “democracy” or its adjectival variant “democratic” help us to establish that the pun centres on democracy in Nigeria. Asides the use of somewhat complex expressions such as “rinderpest, suffused, deoxygenate, and Francis de Sales, to name a few, the poem is to a large extent easy to understand.

The persona’s tone can be described as satiric. This satiric tone is evident in the way the poet mocks the Nigerian version of democracy. It is worthy to note that this mockery is geared towards bringing about a change in the Nigerian society. The poet ridicules contrasts the Nigerian version with that of other developed democratic countries by sarcastically bringing his own variant of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy. Instead of calling democracy an ideology that is people oriented, the persona calls democracy a system that has been reserved for the rich. He satirises all the lacunas in the Nigerian system, and he concludes by calling for a revamp of the system, that is, one that will ensure people’s participation.


Conclusively, this essay has been able to prove that this poem is realistic by discussing extensively on its form and content. The issues mentioned in this poem will, most certainly, convince any reader that this poem adequately mirrors the Nigerian political society.

Email: Chiedozieude@gmail.com

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