2018 – Trouble settles in Nigeria

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It started small, like all big things.
Little drops of water
Little grains of sand
Make the Gobi Desert
And the sea by the strand.

As part of his settlement Mr. Trouble married Miss Rachelle Palaver. Miss Palaver was a gentle woman and although she now became Mrs. Trouble she remained an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of Palaver and trouble. She wrote her name as Mrs. Rachelle Palaver/Trouble. It was later corrected as Mrs. Rachelle Palaver-Trouble. But this is not the matter of this piece, but for later on. For now it is 2018 and the coming federal elections of 2019. Not about them either but about what it caused to happen in the country – carpet crossing.

In the olden days, those days of Azikiwe and Sardauna and Awolowo carpet crossing was very popular and very rewarding, according to Alaba’s Uncle Very Very, sometimes spelt Feri Feri. Nowadays, to cross from one party to another, politicians have to cross the country. So, it should be known as country crossing.
But the country crossing that happened in 2018 had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the country. And it convinced Trouble that it was time he settled in Nigeria. That year an alphabet soup of unions and associations and groups began to defect to one another. The N.U.T. and the N.U.J. decided to defect to the N.M.A. and the N.B.A. The M.O.S.O.P wanted to cross country over to the N.P.C. while the O.P.C. sought to join the I.S.U. Which being interpreted meant that some members of the Nigerian Union of Teachers and the Nigerian Union of Journalists wanted to be members of the Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Bar Association while some people in the Movement For the Salvation of Ogoni People wanted to cross to the Northern People’s Congress and the Oodua People’s Congress would rather be in the Ibo State Union.

What was the rationalisation for this carpet crossing, this country crossing, this deflecting from one union to another association to another congress?
What was the rationalisation for people crossing carpet from the N.C.N.C. to the A.G? Or from P.D.P to A.P.C? But these are not political parties and so the same reasons for country crossing could not apply to them.

These are professional unions, associations and congresses. They are formed for the greater promotion and safeguarding of their professional careers. The Nigerian Union of Teachers must be one of the oldest professional organisations in the country. It used to be powerful. It was a force to be reckoned with by the authorities. Those lines from Oliver Goldsmith used to apply to teachers in Nigeria:

Still they gazed and still the wonder grew
That one little head could carry all he knew!
Old teachers, salutations – Mr. Ogbue, Olu Falae, Reverend Kuye, Mr. Olafimihan, Mr. Williams, Mr. Miners, Mr. Somoye.

But today, who cares about teachers, much less their union?
And the Nigerian Union of Journalist were also once so powerful that every little school boy and little girl wanted to be a journalist! It was the power of the almighty pen. Whatever they said/wrote about anything was final. Abubakar Imam. Ebenezer Williams. Alade Odunewu. Lateef Jakande. Abba Dabo. Bisi Onabanjo. Sam Amuka. Dele Giwa. Charismatic characters who walked magisterially to their offices day and night, night and day. And today? The newspaper is out of history and few millions have access or attention for the online versions of newspapers.

The Nigerian Medical Association bleeds membership every month as young doctors seek other climes to practise their profession. And the Nigerian Bar Association is becoming an item in the listing of Nigeria’s problems.

MOSOP was decimated by Abacha. It could never be what it was in the glory days of Saro-Wiwa. As for the Arewa Congress (NPC) many will tell you the old North no longer exists. Whatever has happened to OPC and the Ibo State Union is not what Afenifere or Ohaneze wanted.

In one word everybody adult Nigerian today, capable of joining one Union or another is a trimmer – a person who adapts their views to the prevailing political/social trends for personal advancement. When questioned closely by researchers these professional unions and associations and congresses said that they were being marginalised, that they were no longer respected and they needed to do something. When last did you hear anyone pretending to be a teacher and earning a living? The newspapers are full of the story of people pretending to be lawyers and medical doctors and earning money for years before they are caught.

Besides the need to solve the problem of marginalisation, teachers can better do their teaching if they can be admitted to the NMA or the NBA! When questioned further how teaching can be enhanced by law, they mumbled and said something about how nobody withholds their salaries, they are not owed months of unpaid salaries. They just get paid. Well, how would that help teachers, they do not know but how some how sha, something will give.

The ethnic unions, associations and congresses were the loudest in their claims of marginalisation. The Igbos complained that the Ngbatingbati people were monopolising the banks and merchant companies while the Yorubas complained the Yanminrin have cornered all the market for fake drugs and Tai-2 spare parts as replacement for Taiwan originals. And the Gambari want to take over the whole country and turn it into one huge grazing space for their cattle.

So, the best thing is to join them, especially because they are unbeatable. Moreover, it is clearer now when you look at everything from the prism of the 2019 federal elections that OPC can do its Oodua work better if they deflect to Arewa just as MOSOP will achieve spectacular success when they are part and parcel of Ohaneze just as that would go places if they cross over to Afenifere.

What it all means is that from little drops of water, little grains of sand Nigeria will grow seas and deserts enough for every Nigerian. We shall seek nobody’s seas or deserts because we shall have seas and deserts of our own through defecting in 2018!
bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng

In this article:
Kole Omotoso
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