20th December, 2013
By Odia Ofeimun
I stand here, bemused, unable to determine whether I am trying to recall the day I met Festus Iyayi for the first time or I am merely responding to the unreality of his death. Was it an accident or a murder? I am seized by Professor Wole Soyinka’s remonstration that “with the mortuary photos of the late Festus Iyayi just published in TheNEWS, the world is waiting and watching if the corpse shown in that image will be interred without a coroner’s inquest. I am fully in agreement with him that “To allow this to happen is to make all of us accessories to a possible crime. It means we are now attuned to the culture of impunity and have forfeited all claims to elementary citizen security. Or are we, have we, not?
This is a simple question that drives into the very trauma at the heart of Festus Iyayi’s death. The unvarnished truth remains: whether it was an accident or a straight-out murder, his death is not retrievable from the unwholesome context of the nation wide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, whose negotiation with the Federal Government Festus Iyayi was on his way to attend to, when, as TheNEWS reports it, “a police escort van in the convoy of Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State rammed into the bus” in which the university teachers were travelling. The sequence of events thereafter may indeed require a coroner’s definitive pronouncement. The incontrovertible position, too self-evidently, is that Festus Iyayi did not just die; he was killed. And, this cannot be blamed on the poorly maintained Nigerian roads but, quite pointedly on the rude culture of convoys and sirens which offered the cover for the rest of the story. Nor is there much left to the imagination of readers of newspapers who have seen the gory pictures of Festus Iyayi’s corpse that emerged from the mortuary. ‘Who killed Festus Iyayi?’ is therefore quite a deft, inexorable question that does need to be asked, and if possible, answered. If possible? that is the rub. As Professor Soyinka rightly observed, the tributes that we are all obliged to mount must ring hollow unless the nation “be placed in knowledge which assures that “Beyond all doubt”, is a protective armour for each one of us, no matter where and how”. ‘
Still, it cannot be denied that there is an easy helplessness that the circumstance of Festus Iyayi’s death almost promotes, because of the sheer run of unsolved crimes in our society. It is a factor of the highly manipulative indifference of officialdom, based on the rather tested but abnormal sense of inefficacy which allows that, with the passage of time, even pent up rage will simmer down. Such a factor however merely lays the basis for the next visitation of the same or similar debasement that belittles our humanity until a strong capacity for self-forgetting becomes the norm. I call it self-forgetting because it motivates and overtakes our bored acceptance of the unacceptable. In this regard, I admit that ritually, there are cynics who may begin from the worldly wise notion that nothing we do can bring the dead back to the world of the living. They may proceed to the scarred wish that the living should be allowed to carry on with their lives. But the self-abandonment which it involves is a whole whale when we realize that this is more than just one man’s life or one man’s death. in this particular case, we are in the midst of the physical despoliation of a man who, even when we were not paying attention, had become, in so many ways, a factor and standard by which our society determined heights of integrity and self respect, moral dignity and genuine fellow-feeling. These are heights to which we accede when we are not too distracted by the business of merely filling our stomachs, sometimes with pure junk, worshiping our own traducers in order not to get hurt, or foregoing some transient largesse, or benefice. Festus Iyayi had become in a lot of ways quite a multitude, representative of a rare quality that only a few possessed in our midst or were minded to assert. He had become, too definitively, one among a rare crop of Nigerians, a select few, who truly make Nigeria look like a country, that is, in the sense in which a country is not to be measured by a cult of anything goes or a drifting with the flotsam and jetsam of the moral poverty so weighted all around us. It does need to be stated that by the manner of the causes he championed and the grit, fervor and high sense of responsibility that he brought into service in all his advocacies, Festus Iyayi had become a man who represented more than just himself but was always, I repeat, a multitude. Yes, wherever he stood or sat, he represented so many unspoken Nigerians who normally are not heard. An intrepid advocate of good causes and a defender of the millions in society who are unable to speak for, or defend themselves, he remains difficult to describe merely in a cliche-ridden manner as just one among a civil society crowd. The reason is that he had a consummate inclination to seek and give organizational expression to his pursuit of popular goals. For him, organization, was always the weapon of the weak. In a world in which the strong are usually well-heeled and rather over-mobilized, Festus Iyayi never allowed the near occult belief in the power of the powers that be to upstage his firm commitment to ameliorating wrongs and resisting the power-besotted ways of the already over mobilized. He stood apart in a notionally profitless zone, pooling special skills, intellect and will, to make things change and to make change worthwhile especially for the poorly situated who are always the majority in all under developed societies. He was forever seeking to strengthen organizations which pursue creativity and speak out for, not only the near, but the distant future : organizations such as the Association of Nigerian authors, and the Pan African Writers Association, the Nigerian Labour congress and the workers movement as a whole, the Academic staff union of universities, the last of which he would truly have preferred to die fighting for even if not in the manner in which it has now transpired. He was more interested in protecting the thinking lobe of society as well as the solidary muzzle by which change is made possible. Let’s face it: to let the death of such a man become part of ritualized cynicism must amount to a case of self-forgetting by a society that could, unless it retreats, end up in a state of complete anomie and absurdity.
Necessarily, the belief that such a fate can be avoided is what should make us, as citizens, want to have knowledge of what actually happened, if only as a way of learning something that may disallow a repeat. A society that can afford to be so complacent about the continued sustenance of impunity, ought to see the prosecution of such knowledge as the basic minima in a normal society. Or is our own not a normal society? I ask because when we consider the many deaths that stand on the conscience of the nation for which there may well now be a need for a national committee of unsolved murders, deaths and assassinations, it boggles the mind. Some of those deaths may properly be regarded as executions in the light of the involvement of formal security agents. in such situations, yet to enjoy fair investigations or formal judicial interventions after so much passage of time, it is to be hoped that ‘beyond any doubt’ must be made a fount of knowledge that removes abnormality from our society. It is a matter of showing that those who hold dissident views, or are in opposition to the powers that be, are free to enjoy the right, full right, to life. What the alternative suggests, especially as the case of Dele Giwa, and Bola Ige, suggests, makes plain murder in our society an instrument of governance. It leaves the rest of us wondering whether the state is not thereby to be held responsible for educating ordinary citizens to deploy crass violence as normal fare – in the way that, these days, we see it so frequently all around us. Even then, the cases of plain murder that we know must be placed side by side with the others which form emergent patterns, still requiring proof, in which death has been visited upon people who are in the midst of fighting causes that most normal societies leave at the level of arguments and debates. So to say, Nigerian progressives of a radical cast cannot forget, for instance, the death of Chima Ubani in an accident in the process of a national strike by workers. An accident may be just an accident! But a sitting government that finds itself host to the death of a major negotiator in the process of resolving a crisis like the ongoing strike of University teachers, owes itself and all a responsibility to provide a firm basis for faith in its capacity to defend its opposition instead of seeing every disagreement in terms of enemy action. A clearing of the air is what an inquest is all about. And, a seasoning of the articles of democracy, as a conversation, is what it favours by laying ghosts to rest within the certainty that a difference of opinion is too normal to incur the almighty wages of sin which is death.
Now, in the face of the happening that has turned all of us into mourners, it may well be seen as safest, to pay tribute to the dead as if the cause of death, no matter how it is construed, has challenged the rest of us. The challenge is to appreciate and re-appreciate the formalities of addressing the ideas that gave Festus Iyayi his unique cut as a personality. I want to argue that he deserves to be celebrated for it because what he represented and represents was always so much larger than who he was. Rather than let him be reduced in stature or shunted out of the way by the eliminationists of the highway, we must emphasize the value that he will always have for those of us lucky to be his contemporaries and for future generations bound to be richer because there was a man, a full and complete human being, whose ideas we forget to our peril. The soundness of his place as an intellectual, and the breadth and catholicity of his interests as an organizer of people, has had a compass covering all nationalities, classes and professions; beyond literature, where he is quite a unique phenomenon in a school of realism that is very much his own; beyond education and human rights activism, where he has been a most remarkable motivator of great causes; and beyond his assertive socialist pursuit of justice, fairplay and a common morality for all, which specifically targets, covers, and protects the common people of society on whose side, very unabashedly, he wrote all his novels and short stories, – VIOLENCE, THE CONTRACT, HEROES and AWAITING COURT MARTIAL. Also, he has penned some of the most seminal analysis of our insertion in the maw of neo-colonial backwardness. He has consistently pressed towards Nigeria’s eventual emergence as a free and industrial civilization based on the solidarity of the producers, the workers, especially the intellectual class. Particularly, his lifelong support for the unionization of University teachers, must be seen as one great boon he has personified along the standpoint of his ideological persuasion which, like it or hate it, has been the factor that gingered the goodness that he has always exuded, as a Marxist.
Of course, it is arguable, and not be forgotten, that it was his socialism that offered the centre from which his ethical standing radiated. This must explain why he has too often been viewed only as a hard political and union activist. So much so that too many of his colleagues on campus could not readily empathize with him, nor could they understand it when the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin banned him from attending a literary conference outside Nigeria. It tells of the kind of intellectual environment in which Iyayi functioned that his VC could not understand why he, a teacher of Business Administration, had to bother with creative writing. By the time he won the Commonwealth Prize in 1988, it seemed like so much grafting to many of his colleagues in the University of Benin whom he had served, for so many turbulent years as Chairman of the University of Benin Branch of the Academic staff union of universities. These were before the more turbulent years after he became the National President of ASUU. For that matter, so many at the national level saw him as their comrade organizer, a socialist maverick whom, as I once wrote in the Guardian, were happy that they could depend upon him to stand fast in times of crises. He was indeed the kind of radical academic, with a clear sense of purpose, whom conservative academics voted for at ASUU meetings not only because they liked his face but because in the business of defending the rights of his colleagues he could be trusted never to waver from sticking out his neck, even for hacking, if that was what it called for. He was indeed often hacked by the Vice Chancellor in Benin who took a special pleasure in displacing him and his comrade, Tunde Fatunde, from their quarters, or throwing him and his other close colleague Babs Agbonifo out of the university, thus forcing them to launch what became protracted court cases against the authorities to regain their places. That they eventually always won is a tell-tale of the falsity of the position of the authorities. Noteworthy in this regard: the resilience which he and his colleagues had to display, was cushioned ever readily by the vibrancy of radical student organizations, the radical fang of ASUU, and the luck they all had in off-campus lawyers like Gani Fawehinmi and Femi Falana whose yeoman’s efforts in the business of protecting the human and civic rights of their fellow countrymen and women ought by now to have deserved tomes of appreciation to sensitize present and future generations to traditions of resistance that should not be allowed to die. Indeed, it tells a sad story about the nature of our society, especially the phenomenon I have called self-forgetting and particularly the parlous state of education which the law courts have given so much notice through the travails of Festus Iyayi and his colleagues in the detention camps of the rampaging militariat.
Before expanding a little more on this, let me briefly restate the point, that great and momentous in his many battles through ASUU, it was in his novels that very many admirers sourced the rationale for the positions that he took as ASUU President. His high-minded concern in his first novel, Violence, forced many to appreciate the value of his special commitment to realism as a literary stylistics. There are too many Edo people I have met who were only able to enjoy the point that Ngugi Wa’thingo was making when he talked about hearing your mother’s voice in the literature that you read. When I first met him in 1981 during the inauguration of the Association of Nigerian authors at Nsukka, I was also particularly intrigued that he could speak our common Esan dialect with ease. What made him my brother was that in spite of his vast interest in the culture of his own Esan people, he was committed to a common morality that transcended his clan, tribe, tongue and nationality. It was also the most impressive part of that first novel, VIOLENCE, in which the unemployed in Benin city had to make virtually death-dealing compromises within a decadent conundrum, turning a strategic fictional maneouver into a hard engagement with violence, – structural, ethical and spiritual – as it is inflicted on the poor in societies with scant concern for the welfare of the majority. In The Contract, a father’s corrupt propensity, drives his son into life-wrecking involvement in the world of contracts procurement. Deftly, the author imputes a clear draw-line between the older man’s preference for keeping his loot abroad and his son’s preferment of his loot staying home to be of use in the domestic space. In the Heroes, the ethnic and religious differences are shown to be less determining of the behavior of the common people outside the loot-sharing propensities of the generals and politicians who are the real merchants of war. The true Heroes, the common people, always subdued by the class power of the war mongers, are presented in their gradual pre-disposition towards solidarity that is contradistinctive to the dominant ethic of the society.
Perhaps, one of the most effective ways of accessing the values that have informed Festus Iyayi’s general practice as a mobilizer of affect and wills, wherever he found himself, is toasted in AWAITING COURT MARTIAL, his first published collection of short stories which narrates in a segmented fashion the different motivations of people in society and the consequences for another generation of the decisions taken by an earlier one. The title story is about a soldier who has resigned himself to being shot; and knows that the real danger is not that he refused to order the execution of the group of twenty three which included his younger brother but that he knew too much about the system of secret executions. However, the story that, in my view, proves most iconic and conscientizing, is the one simply titled ‘Only one pikin’ in which a couple travelling in the Niger Delta are held by a group of would be child kidnappers. The wife had urged her husband to show compassion by giving a lift to a weatherbeaten old woman whom they both thought they were saving from the rain, and dropping off; only to be surrounded by a gang of kidnappers with whom the old woman was in cahoots. The strange kidnappers’ instruction to the couple was simple: you can go with all that you have but we shall take only one pikin. The poor man could not make a choice as to which of his three children to relinquish. The dilemma was resolved only when the man offered himself instead of one of his children. And the kidnappers melted without taking or hurting anyone. The moral is that those who sacrifice themselves for the next generation deserve reprieve. Festus Iyayi apparently always saw himself in that light. Giving a fighting chance for the next generation to be better than the generation of their parents was a primary motivation of his praxis as a writer, unionist and mobilizer of people. What was most disturbing for him was that the younger generation with whom he had to interact as a teacher were more often than not being sacrificed to mediocrity, and as waste, by the disposition of University administrations and the governments that put them in place. Not to forget: Festus iyayi began to teach at the university of Benin in the third decade of the founding Presidents in Africa who were giddily becoming Presidents for Life across the continent and who were being displaced by stalwarts and stratachists of the militariat, those whom Wole Soyinka has described as functioning within the ethic of the divine right of the gun and who rudely and cavalierly began to take strategic interests in the destruction of education and the disempowerment of what was appearing as a middle class that could canvass a case for liberal democracy. They brought into grand visibility the highly anti-social economic policies which sought to bring the majority of the people to their knees so that they could always be amenable to the ethic of command and obey. Of course, once entrenched, even they who came to power to eliminate corruption, became its apostles. They sought to erect military autocracies more rigorous than the monoparty syndromes that, in one regional case in Nigeria, took pride in bragging, “whether you vote for us or you do not vote for us, we shall win.”. Many of them, understandably, believed in unitarized power, a monopoly principle that would not brook any other organized groups except their own; thus impoverishing the whole society. They outlawed trade unions, or grounded them, sacked student unions; and, in their last incarnation in Nigeria, they plotted a political party system in which all five political parties were out campaigning for the dictator as sole Presidential candidate. This was while the dictator was mobilizing one jumbo non-governmental organization which would speak for all past present and future NGOs without minding the shibboleths of internal democracy. This was before the outside world changed against their draconian designs, and internal democratic forces out-maneuvered them .
In the face of such a concerted creation of debility as a form of governance, isn’t it understandable that those who were consistent in never bowing to impunity and tyranny had to be put under relentless pressure? The good part is that although the material means of sustenance and the capacity to test reality for organizational purposes were constantly weighted against the forces of dissent, they managed to have a core that was, whatever their individual proclivities, genuine bearers of light against the rubbishers of collective aspirations. Festus Iyayi was at all times part of that core that, across the country, refused to be cowed, by the shenanigans of the transient wielders of power who imagined that pereniality had been ordained for them. It needs to be said that he never allowed the kind of power drive that disordered and eventually destroyed actually existing socialist societies to dissuade him from commitment to the values that he found quite inspirational in the cause of socialism. The values: of human compassion, building solidarity with other human beings to reduce pain and hardships that people face in society; and the very universal requirement of loving people for themselves rather than for what they have and what they may give in return. Add the values of honesty and honest hardwork and the bracing of self punishment in pursuit of whatever makes life better. Above all is the sheer commitment to truth, not merely as a washer word but as genuine lever for realizing objectivity in relationships as well as removing a lack of integrity that goes with purveying falsehoods and corruption of morals.
Everyone who has encountered Festus Iyayi can attest to it that, to be true to one another was a cardinal principle of his existence. He could brook no knives of hidden agendas in the pursuit of goals that other comrades were not privy to. In his view, the ruin of normal human interconnections lie on such counterpane. It goes without saying that he was completely sold on the very credo of all labour organizations: that people be paid a living wage; that honest work deserves honest pay. The only key to such a society had to be one primed to defend transparency and an accountable performance. His stand on this score was always a testy one for many comrades who normally had to take time to know that it was not a put-on but part of a sworn ethic by which he believed the underprivileged could always realize their aspirations.
It may be wondered whether all these were not merely a rehash of the baggage that he brought with him from the formalism that overlaid his studies in the Soviet Union. But there was no doubt that his interaction with the societies of actually existing socialism showed how the values could be inlaid in social institutions. Surely, he was lucky to have seen enough of the formalities of existence behind the so called iron curtain, and also in the so called free world, to know that for an African and for all countries yet to industrialize and unable to educate citizens for global competition, in a world of scarce resources, it mattered little whether an African country was aligned with the West or the East. Without industrialization, it all ends up in penury. Those who would not, or could not raise themselves by their own bootstraps, as they say, simply remain in the dormitory of the poor and forgotten; or in what Frantz Fanon called the geography of hunger, enslaved, pauperized and misled by leaders who are not allowed by a long pole to sit where the leaders of world opinion decide the fate of their countries.
Inevitably, the foreign masters heckle and bully the leaders of the poor who are obliged to tyrannize over their people in order to prove that they are in control. It is also to justify the help they get to sustain the continued repression of their people; that is, so long as it does not generate the kind of uproar that can prevent the proverbial flows from the aids-besotted periphery to the centre. Since many of these leaders would rather obey their foreign bosses and cronies than parley with and build solidarity with the people whose welfare they are swearing to, but never manage to advance in genuinely qualitative terms, the story is that intellectuals always have to decide how much to stand fast without losing the means of continued intellectual performance that lie in the hands of those who, these days, command our leaders against us.
Festus iyayi made up his mind quite early, and had the spine to stand up for his beliefs, and to decide on whose side he was going to play. He chose to stand with the people, their interests, their future. It did not take long, after he acquired his doctorate and began to teach Business Administration. He began to make forays into the world of the power hungry militariat that had taken over African countries. This was the era of the anti-education binge in several African countries. In Nigeria, it manifested, first, in the cat and mouse game which existed between the Nigerian Union of teachers and the powers that be. As the devalued standards of primary and secondary schools began to load the universities with less and less educable entrants, even during the civilian interregnum in the Second Republic, it was clear that the war on education had reached the tertiary institutions. It was in an even more hoary manner in the era of the great anti-sap riots by Nigerian university students, the last great show of youth power before the drivers of a distracted world order moved in with their domestic satraps. As it happened at that time, public sympathy for the Nigerian union of teachers had been so irredeemably battered by military propaganda and mayhem that the riots of disgruntled university students merely posed the same old questions in a starker form in relation to the universities. How could the Universities be protected from the same fate that the NUT could not save the primary and secondary schools from?
By way of reaching some conclusions, let me acknowledge that it was the formation of the Academic staff union of universities that managed to save the day; at least, hold the evil day from dawning too peremptorily. Squaring up between the Ivory Tower and the education-loathing militariat had long arrived. The last age grade of students that had the freedom and independence to stand up to the political bosses were actually enjoying the last lap of self-empowered freedom. But they didn’t know it . This was after it was said that university teachers were teaching what they were not paid to teach. There was the added complication provided by ASUU, which in order better to fortify itself, had reached the point where it was felt that a literal fusion into the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) was it. It was a jolt too much for the military to contemplate. The possibility of an NLC in cahoots with ASUU, as it materialized under Festus Iyayi as President of ASUU, yielded a counter insurgency strategy that put the destabilization machinery of the state into top gear in order to frustrate the campus unionists. The vice chancellors were literally mandated and paid to wreck radical student unions at the risk of promoting and sponsoring cults and other anti-union organizations on the campus. The old idea that student unions could be incubators for future leadership was reduced to their simply being handmaidens of the agents of the state. Life on the campus was systematically made harder. Overcrowded hostels and overcrowded classrooms told the stories of abandoned accommodation responsibilities. Students were taught through the crummy conditions of their living environments not to have too grand a view of themselves or the future. Like worms in a decaying meat, they lived. The sheer decay of conditions meant that the next generation was not being prepared for a life that is as good as the ones enjoyed even by their deprived parents. To the bargain, many parents did not appear to mind. In the grip of a mindless social competition, parents who had proper laboratories in their time did not appear to care that their children were using kerosene stoves as Bunsen burners. Or that there were never enough teachers to do the job of guiding intending graduates aright. The utter dilapidation of the lives lived by the lecturers themselves, as a result of a deliberate policy of starving the universities, meant they had to teach the students within a culture of deliberate wastage. And, victimage.
By the Fourth Republic, it became, for the minders of the university administrations, merely a matter of paying higher salaries to keep ASUU quiet without providing requisite facilities to make the job of teaching worthwhile for both students and lecturers. For the motivators of ASUU, it was more than a reaching for job satisfaction. Many were energized by the need to truly draw a map of development for the young that will help nurture and sustain a culture of creativity. The goal was to outclass the received wisdom of the international do-gooders intent on sheer profit for their economies. Yes, the do-gooders would grant aid to the poor in order to be able to take back more than six-fold whatever they gave. Worse is that the nationalistic lecturer or just the conscientious professor wishing to derive pleasure from leading his students off the rack of the second rate and third rate factors inherent in the environment, simply found that (they) also had to deal with competing ideologies of management which wished for the theories to be always manufactured abroad while the third world universities merely produced the consumers. How do you win as a researcher against well-funded knowledge systems abroad which were insinuated into the domestic space to create and recreate underdevelopment? More than mere grist for agitational politics on the campus, the reality is that the defenders of the Nigerian university system were being deliberately repressed by governments. The powers that be farmed out consultancies to externalities that are not even as good as domestic ones. Their unpatriotic and corruption induced propensities looked down upon and snubbed fellow countrymen and women whose confidence was then ritually sapped.
The ultimate derangement of the system, let it be said, had come to be, over a generation of monetarism which overtook the political system. It led to the complete dislocation and asphyxiation of the planning processes in the country and eviscerated the creative economists in our midst who used to demand home-grown approaches to development. One of the most harrowing pictures I have ever seen is watching the Baba of Adebowale Electronics pleading with his colleagues at Obasanjo’s National Political Reform Conference to allow indigenous manufactories to re-emerge and survive. He was bound to fail. The consequence is that the domestic space has been denied the learning experiences that could have allowed for genuine intellectual confidence. Local entrepreneurs and their intellectual counterparts have therefore been obliged to grub for the placements of mechanics although they may have been trained to be engineers. The age-old pattern has been for Nigerians on the corridors of power to be weaned on ways of denying rather than providing access to fellow Nigerians who have even more viable contributions to make to national development.
With specific reference to the state of the universities, readers of the assessment reports of the University system have enough to make them puke when they see people on the corridors of power pretending to be marshalling ways and means of creating jobs and pursuing development. How do you create jobs if your universities are fourth rate and they produce half-baked and jaundiced graduates for the education of the lower rungs of the educational system? How improve on the hard reality of public schools which give poor education to poor people’s children in order to keep them poor. And unmobilizable for their own good? I mean, in the absence of proper universities, it is pathetic watching Governors make giddy efforts to change the quality of education in their schools. It makes one wince as most of them must, first, do the inexorable graphic showing off of smart school buildings which contribute to winning elections. They produce the excitement of these school buildings within the general scandal of an absent educational system. u The greater issue is that so many do not even realize that they need to create an educational system into which you insert school buildings. It is all in the same manner that the heady pursuit of grand infrastructure across the land manages to reduce the inclination to do the right thing about job creation. The few that are attacking the problem, and who must deserve our sympathy, are naturally being crowded out by minders of the old system who would not allow new approaches that promise better yield. To worsen matters, in the era of monetarist opposition to genuine planning, the supreme ambition is for those who had participated in the grand laceration and decimation of the public school system ,while in power, to enjoin policies on the state which will of necessity lead to a collapse of public schools. As happened in the manufacturing sectors, and in estates, where normally profit-making corporate bodies were sabotaged, looted and remaindered to be sold at ludicrous prices to the cronies of the destroyers, the most advanced proposals these days are for the repair rather than utter redesign of the educational system. Some are based on the presumption that when public schools shall have been killed off, the el dorado of private schools will have arrived. Quite myopic. Utterly mypic. The myopia of the presumptions is inherent in expectations that Nigeria would remain and that Nigerians would agree to remain, standard followers of countries in Asia and Latin America that were once less than par with our own educational system and industrial promises. Otherwise, who does not know that the only way to create jobs is to build farms and factories and give them rationales for interacting together with proper universities? Who does not know that the only way to compete in the global system today is to target industries that save you from importing what you can produce even at a more expensive rate than the imported variety?
The core issue is that you must create the market for what you produce. And who says we cant have a market that can absorb even the more expensive goods that our domestic production can deliver? In a country where government is the reservoir of investible funds, the greatest single consumer of goods and services, able to account through direct purchase and inducements for more than half the percentile of the consumption across the land, what kind of undertaker economics is that which says it is not the business of government to be in business? I would argue that it is based on crude logic, fit only for wastrels and which allows, for instance, the banking system to literally sabotage the whole economy in favour of loot-sharers at the expense of the manufacturing and agricultural sector. For those who would like to extend the same logic to the tertiary institutions, simply lets say that these days it is easy to add up the amount of theft, corruption and general malfeasance going on in the economy. It shows that there is available in actuality up to thrice the amount of money being demanded by ASUU for the resuscitation and continued defense of the universities. It is, as Festus Iyayi, was saying before he was rudely interrupted, as simple as that.
—Being a Lecture delivered as a tribute to Professor Festus Iyayi, at the University of Benin, Benin City On 5th December, 2013