How not to win Election on a Nigerian University Campus

Many pieces have been written on the sure-bet ways of winning elections on campus. Some of these writings are exaggeratedly didactic; and are very impressive that one, who needs a god-like yes-nod or sign for running for a post, can be forgiven for holding on to the ‘magic’ of the prescriptions of these write-ups for success at the polls. Meanwhile, while there has been surfeit of how-to-win-election write-ups – in fact; however, the reverse has not been paid much attention to. Who wants to learn how to fail?

Nevertheless, dear one, do you want to lose when you contest any election on campus? You are good to go with some, if not all of this advice 

Keep your ambition to yourself for long. It sounds very awkwardly strange. Yes. How can a serious politician keep his ambition to his own heart alone? But, remember you set out to lose. You have every thinkable chance of losing if you fail to recreate and reduplicate your ambitions in the hearts of your trusted allies first; and then, having had your allies on your ambitious sides, you start courting the hearts of others through every means possible. Do not let your friends and other people know so soon that you are interested in your coveted post.  And the die is cast. You lose. Plain. Simple.

Do not care about your reputation. Why should you in the first place? Give no damn about what people think about you. You own them no dime for their thoughts. You are cocky, they say? Well cocks need to prance to keep being cocks. Really, losing election does not mean an end of the world. It may only sound pathetic to those who see winning as the only option in life. There are more gains to losing sometimes. You keep your reputation. Or you want to change because you want to be in people’s good books? You do not have to be since you care to lose.

As much as you can, keep away from courtesy. Self-explanatory, I guess. Be known as that person who never greets, nor ever returns greetings. Is it not sickening when heaven-knows stranger just accosts you on your way to class in order to exchange pleasantries or greet you? It is, you see. So, you should avoid being what you preach against. Greet only when it is necessary and required. Leave everybody’s kind of greetings to those who care so much on winning.

You alone are your team. How student politicians care so much for numbers in their ranks! Then you start hearing, team-this, team-that. You definitely do not need that wahala to lose. A one-man team will do. Know what you want to run for. Get your form when it is time. Then, rest assured, you are good to go.

Please, be plainspoken. This is very important. Politicians are known for being deliberately evasive and ambiguous. This is because they like to cloud their meanings in such a way that 100 people can get 100 different meanings from what they say. They could use meanings that suit different people at different times. This is bad, fellow. Speak directly. Promise if you can; do not promise if you cannot. Why should you promise twenty things because your rival promised fifteen when you know you can only promise one! You do not have to join the bandwagon since you care to lose.

Never compromise, especially on your principles. Politics is a strange field where strange things happen. It is a field where people who are known for some admirable principles soon lose such lofty ideals in the name of political compromise. How bad! Fellow, you do not have to be. There is no two ways about. Some deluded folks would insist they can still keep their hands clean while playing politics; well, keep shielding your rumps from the wind because it will sooner be exposed! Anyways, since it is all about losing, be hard on your strong principles.

Never join those ones who lie on posters, please. It is said a lot of the folks on campus vote based not on the ideas politicians present to them, but on some flimsy things like appearance, etc. Too bad, these folks will soon leave the campus to continue the flimsiness-based politicking. Most times, it is hardly easy to match the faces of politicians whom you have seen with the pictures on their posters. Still, people vote for the politicians with the best pictures. SAD. But, fellow, do not join them. Lose in a good way for one. Note that many people will still lose out in the over-edited poster crazed race.

Those recipes for failure at the poll will go along a way to sealing your fate in the election you are participating in. However, there are still many other recipes which may be visited in subsequent pieces. Till then, keep winning. No, losing.

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The Change

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Prevailing circumstances were what made him see this change in its stark wholesomeness. The change that was to tear at his heart, and dig a fountain of salty stream in his eyes. He had not been back home the previous eight months. In fact he should not be home this time… The other time Niyi would not know why his solicitous mother would ask him to take up any job instead of coming home for the holiday. He hardly could believe  in the, ‘It will do you a lot good if you can get something to do in school instead of coming home doing nothing…’

‘Do something? “You’d not allow me stretch the strained tissues of my brain that needed deserved rest the other time.” His mother protracted explanations rather perplexed him. But he heeded. He always wanted to avoid the boring stillness at home, especially when his friends were not on holidays from their schools. So, rather than coming home for the sessional break, he worked at a pharmacy store. He literally walked into the job since he had formed a warm acquaintance with the manager who also lived in the same house as he off campus.

But Niyi was to be on the road on that revelatory day he wanted to surprise his parents. ‘Eight months without me seeing anyone at home? The next time we talk on the phone, you shall hear me speak in the midst of my mama’s love,’ he had told his bewildered friend who called him when he learned that Niyi had travelled suddenly from his neighbour.

He meant to unleash surprise  on his unsuspecting parents, especially his mum who had called him the previous day. She had seen students demonstrating on the TV. It was Niyi’s school. Her mind soon flew to her only child whom she deliberately kept away from herself these last eight months. Eight month of falling grace. Change had gnawed at her fulsome lineaments; they had lost their rich juices. Mama Niyi, as her son loved to call her, had transformed to a sunken statue… thanks to a deceitful mirage. She would not let her son see what change had wrought on her; so it was heart wrenching wisdom that made her restrained Niyi from coming home when he completed his third year at the university. But change unravelled…

Change was sweet when it swept away the incumbent government in the country. Niyi saw in his mother’s glinting eyes the hope-for happiness many fellow citizens wished when the result of their cast ballots was announced by the calm electoral umpire.

‘We badly need this at this time if we’ll survive. Things are not good, and that defeated man is as clueless as his words of submission.’
‘Mummy, yes. But we must not expect too much.’
‘Son, you better be; your father salary hardly can feed himself. And you know my business…
‘Naira will do go now, mummy. You’ll get more dollar to import’.
‘Hmmm… I pray so o, my prophetic son.’

These last conversations with his mother played on Niyi’s ears as he fell into the warmth of the soporific waft that teased his eyes as he looked at the sprinting bushes that ran neck to neck with the bus along the highways. It had been eight months he was on this long pot-hole invested, yet the busiest road in the country. Eight months had also seen nothing changed on the road or in the country. Like the road, things rather sank more, more precariously, he thought. Wasn’t it the bad state of country that seeped obtrusively into his school,  the premier institution of his country? Conditions were that bad on campus many students had to go to classes without baths for days, nor were they able to read without inhaling the flames of hardly available candles: electricity came and gone like a vicious abiku. Students could not push their drawn out spirits any longer. They demonstrated. The school authorities, insouciant at the students’ plights, closed the school when students peacefully grieved their excruciating pains.

As the bus halted at the bus terminal in his town, Niyi heaved a wistful sigh.
‘They fooled us with their warped change!’  A familiar stink greeted his nostrils as he alighted; but there was much pungency to the stink which birthed a sneeze from his nose.
‘All the promise of cleaning up this place, and building a modern motor garage.’ He soon was straddled at the back of a  motor-bike for his house. A scuffle would ensue between him and the bike-man when he got down at the front of his house.

‘Your money be 100 Naira, no more no less.’ The man quipped while cleaning his sun glasses.
‘I paid 40 Naira the last time, how far now?’ A shocked Niyi rejoined.
‘E be like say Na another country you dey live; you know sabi say change don rocket everything… guy I must meet up my daily contributions, pay me quick, I dey go get new customers.’

Someone must have heard their exchange from within the compound as the gate was opened from within. As the person appeared, Niyi went into a momentary trance.

‘Niyi, give him what he asked for,’ the shrivelled figured drawled…

Mechanically he handed the ruffled 100 note to the man who thought he had won a repartee battle from his passenger who seemed unable to block the many cuts at his eye pipes. Tears came of their own accord rather profusely.

‘See as you dey cry like a boy them just circumcised,’ the bike-man leered as he wheeled on his motorbike.

‘Mother you’ve changed a lot,’ Niyi’s lips at last could form when he came to from his disbelieving trance to look again at his wizened mother.

Tobi Idowu

Nigeria’s Economic Strait: Adjusting to the Lean Days

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The days are gone when Nigeria and Nigerians swelled in economic plenitudes and riches buoyed by crude oil; well so it seems, perhaps till there’s an upturn in the fortune of the black gold which continues to flounder in the international market.

This straining phase of Nigeria’s  existence didn’t just ghost in suddenly in our midst; the devil  came after a billion minute persuasions and coaxing. Corruption, profligacy and improvidence  in different degrees were and are the tools with which Nigerians, from the top to the base, toasted and are still courting the mite of economic woes into the land.

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Nigeria’s political elites and their variegated cronies across all sectors, apart from an almost insignificant fraction of them, have become world-famous veritable despoilers of their country Commonwealth. The present harsh economic woe of the country is the culmination of these elite’s plundering. Perhaps they’d been consciously blind to the various dark portraitures they had managed to evinced from foreigners, especially from the West, in relation to their fantastic corruption when they suddenly morphed into scrupulous patriots cavilling at the truism in the British Prime minister’s epithet…

David Cameron had surely seen much of the corruption harvest of Nigerian politicians and other privilege thiefing class freighted to his country on daily basis. He could have got notice of another of such now routine exercise on that very day he made his remarks.

It is therefore not surprising that one of these beneficiaries of the pillaging business sought amnesty for his ilk. A distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic, Bassey Akpan, out of his sharp intellection, came out with a rather ingenious means of getting some of the stolen money -a whopping seventy percent- back into the country; an ingenuous admission, however, of the plunderous art that has overtime been perfectly mastered by the privileged class which he is part.

Along the economic rungs, from the base to the top, are many wrongs that are devastating the country. The art of corruption is well ingrained in the heart of most Nigerians that it’s often the case of the while you leap a rung to a higher one, the more you are expected to cart away the commonwealth. One is presumed a consummate fool who questions his own right to take from the ‘national chin chin.’ Many a Nigerian actually believes that stealing business is a turn-by-turn thing; so while it’s your turn, fleece as much as possible.

It is, therefore, not shocking when some take umbrage at the trial of corrupt persons. ‘Everyone does it; it’s just that they’ve not be caught.’ This and other vindicative tunes play out of the mouths of many Nigerians, sadly.

The case of not saving for  lean days was best exemplified by the capacity for rapacity that characterised the Jonathan’s era. When posterity looks back at that era, it will have to suspend its disbelief in men excessive drives for wealth that drove their country into almost economic comatose. Having one of the best economic teams in any government couldn’t make the Jonathan-led government provident enough; nor the fact that the commander-in-chief of the Armed force rode into power on the goodwill of his people made him conscientious enough to safeguard their lives.

While Nigerians took untimely flights to heaven, Jonathan government took and shared among the friends and allies of the government the money earmarked for their security: the now famous Dasuki-gate.

Meanwhile, those down the economic ladder are not exempted from improvidence. In a bid to-enjoy-life-because-it’s-brief many Nigerians are recklessly frittering away the now scarcely got resources in their hands. Instead of adjusting to the situation of things in the country, some will rather not have a meal on their tables tomorrow than to eat less than they are used to today. There’s a case of an electrician who complains he doesn’t get work to do due to epileptic power supply, and so he can’t feed his family; but whenever he gets a work to do, he comes home stocked with beers, buys petroleum and then locks himself in his room while his stereo booms on. He loves this occasional boon that he forgets he’s most time in economic doom.

Yet, the electrician is an archetype. He abounds in different shades and temperaments across the social spectra. It’s a case of the misunderstanding of the alowo-majaiye dictum that Nigerians are wont to, wittingly or unwittingly.

In the light of the foregoing, therefore, it’s imperative that apart from making tried, whether they’re eventually convicted or not, corrupt persons as deterrents, there must be a paradigm shift in the  premium and value placed on the acquisition of wealth. Something expedient needs be done to convince Nigerians, especially the youth that success doesn’t have only one yardstick, wealth. Life-is-all-about-money craze must be beaten down in the media, in schools, in places of religious worships etc. Wealth is a factor, an important one, but other measures of marking a fulfilled life must be floated across all the possible platforms of dissemination of information.

Furthermore, government across all levels must lead by examples if Nigeria’s floundering economic ship is to be saved from finally foundering. The incredible figures that Nigerians heard everyday as the money that maintain their leaders are incentives enough for anyone to aspire to one day get his chance of joining the leaders on the stage where he’ll also take his own share of the national cake. Politics has merely become a means towards economic uplift at the expense of others who waddle in hardship. This must be stopped and discouraged, but the leaders must start the process by removing the big logs in their eyes before followers follow suit by taking out their own specks.

Finally, these days are  times when everyone must live with the realities on ground. Nigerians must realise that these days are lean days that must be adjusted to. The Buhari-led government  also needs to be up to task in ensuring citizens trust it. The perceived taciturnity of this government in making known its plans must be looked into if it’s to win citizens full trust. The case of having to explain things after decisions are made is not a good way to run a democratic government. The fallout from the subsidy removal decision is a textbook case.
                                                                                   
                                                                                     Tobi Idowu is a student of University of Ibadan.                                                                                    tobywonders@gmail.com

The Solidarity Cross

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Undoubtedly, majority of University of Ibadan students wanted to bear the cross of this break. A disruption of the academic calendar was a solidarity cross everybody was proud to bear for Mote… and others.

Other issues like the age-long insensitivity of those at the helm of leadership, an exclusive hubris of the town that has begun to unfortunately manifest in the gown, were incidental. But of course they all added up to the students’ case. The school governing council will meet, and it is hoped that those issues are seriously given satisfactory resolutions. The current of Students’ feelings is largely tied to the freeing of Mr. Tunji ‘Mote’ Ekpeti from the  claws of Students Disciplinary Committee’s verdict; therefore nothing will be achieved from the governing council meeting , as far as students are concerned, if Mote is not freed.

Meanwhile, there is nothing more insidious in cajoling students to academic laziness than a break during an ongoing semester. It is even more penetrating, albeit in a sly way, when the break is indefinite. Questions as to when  one should start the serious plunging into one’s books are often set at the rear of one’s thoughts. To combat this friendly devil, a dose of this axiom: a day spent away from book takes years to recover – this axiom should be of great help in time like this; but like all axioms, it is not an end in itself. The end is, one should go to one’s books.

More so, the cause of Mote was a deus ex machina for many a student who wanted a sudden break from academic rigour. To deny this fact is to perjure against oneself. It was not an uncommon theme on campus before the break on the lips of most students that they were breaking under the weight of the semester’s stress. This couldn’t but have been as a result of the general outline of this semester. More often than not there was canvas of darkness on campus. Water became a scarce commodity. Cost of living sprinted to a point where many students’ riches could not reach it. Consequently, protest became a regular feature. But lectures continued, in many cases, in haphazard spurts. This definitely was a yoke that eventually choked most students.

As we anticipate a happy report from today’s meeting, it is hoped that many will not be back on campus still testing the depth of their academic river when they should’ve become fishes at home in the cozy of their habitat. There is a truth, wittingly and unwittingly accepted by all UItes, that academic erosion and tsunami are crosses borne only by those that are caught in it. O Y O is your case if you fail, then get rusticated, and you want a free-you protest from the rest students. The meat of this pie is that we should not let this break break our reading spirit.

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Mote

Also, there is no time too late for a start of any serious adventure. More often than not, it is the commencement of an activitiy that presents the greatest challenge. After that hurdle has been leaped, it is often discovered that other points along the way become easy pie. So, it is incumbent on everyone to take the leap today. And for those diligent ones amidst us, do not rest on your oars. You may crash along the track if you start looking back.

To take this write-up home, the solidarity with which almost every student has been standing with and for Mote is commendable, and it will be a proud precedent for posterity. Posterity will, however, question anyone’s rationality, who fails to dillengtly bear his academic cross along with the worthy bearing of a fellow comrade’s cross.
                                             Tobi Idowu.

Amnesty for looters

“Why are we suffering in the midst of plenty?
Amnesty was created for militancy, we should create
amnesty for anybody that has taken money outside this
country so that they can invest them in the country. We
can generate a hundred billion dollar in the process in less
than six months.”
Bassey Akpan, a distinguished? Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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…speaks lot about the mental acuity and moral scruples of the legislators in the most populous black nation on earth. Isn’t it?

Heat.

From your prolific face
I learn to pluck my fruity verse .
Your sensuous voice calls me
to emotive attention .

I never seize to journey
to the erotic world,
When your gaze gives me
the absorbing passport…

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My lips have never failed in wanting
to make a restive nest on yours.
I urge you make a lounging sofa
on your tongue
wherein mine always will recline.

Your femininity sparks my virile manliness
When my hands peruse
your bodily  fulsomeness.
I wait but for your soulful alarm,
to rouse me for the conjugal fête.

-Tobi Idowu

Capitulation

It closes in
Closes in
Draws near
It draws near…
Soon I shall be taken
Taken in its waves
And no more will I fiercely
Fear dangerously done deal doom.
I shall be taken
Taken with my mind-noise
Silenced forever with its
Doom drums.
I wait to be taken.

-Tobi Idowu

Lost to you

I am lost to you,
O fathers
Your ways are crude
Your words, simple
Your philosophy, stark.
Mothers,
O mothers
Your backs are spiked
Your milk, sour
Your solicitude, strangling.
Wait no more on me
The light stranger has taken all for himself,
And I, is slavish servant.
I will bow to him
For him I shall till our land,
And cart its proceeds to his.
Contended shall I with what falls from his table.
Fathers,
O fathers
My ears have long lost your sounds.
Mothers,
Your cries are muted…

T I.