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RSU Driving The Wheels Of Educational Excellence

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Three months after
assumption of office, the Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on August 1, 2015, appointed an erudite scholar, Prof. Blessing Chimezie Didia as acting Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University.he was confirmed Vice Chancellor in 2016. The appointment came at a time when the premier Science and Technology University was in a state of turmoil arising from mal-administrative challenges of the past administration. In the midst of the crisis, many lecturers were sacked by the administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The university witnessed a very bad academic season with the record of experiencing the highest industrial action in the history of universities in the country.
Professor Didia, confronted by the enormous challenges and task of returning the institution to fall in line with the new Rivers vision of Governor Wike, quickly unfolded his administrative road maps in order to regain the lost glory of the former “University of Science and technology, (RSUST), now renamed (Rivers State University (RSU).
In an exclusive interview with The Tide in his office recently, the Vice Chancellor, recounted his experience since he assumed office and expressed gratitude to the State governor for giving him the needed support to return the university to normalcy.
“The task before us was enormous. I came to the university in 2015 when it was engulfed in serious crises and strikes. Every where and anybody who lived in the state as at that time can attest to the condition of things at the State University before my assumption”.
“Luckily for me, the governor who appointed me just took the first shot by inviting all those staff that were sacked, talked with them and resolved to make peace. That move by governor Wike brought the first peace and I have to leverage on it and called for forgiveness, reconciliation and commitment and the staff listened to me and that was how peace returned, and we have our dedication, forgiveness, peace and commitment to duty till today”.
The Vice Chancellor explained that prior to his appointment in the university, only the faculties of Engineering and Sciences had their own buildings while other faculties were either housed in makeshifts or clustered apartments, adding that such situations have changed as seven faculties in the university now have their own well furnished buildings.
He disclosed that his administration engaged both the state government and corporate organisations in the rebuilding process of the university. Today, the university has witnessed tremendous infrastructural development, adding that such approach, paved way for the massive infrastructure and development currently being witnessed in the university.
“Talking about achievements, not by our power, may be the approach we adopted, we appealed to the state government, Tetfund and corporate bodies to come to our aid so that we can regain what we lost within those period”.
“The state government has been quite helpful to the university despite the lean resources within its purview in the midst of many demanding needs of the state. “We were able to achieve all these through the prudent management of fund, applying fund, where necessary. Moreso, the governing council of the institution has been quite forth coming through the approvals of funds that propelled the actualisation of the various projects”.
Apparently, the visible infrastructural development of Prof. Didia across the university has justified the confidence and political trust placed on him by the Chief executive of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Concerned by the state government’s commitment and determination in realising the dreams of having a College of Medical Sciences established in the university, the Vice Chancellor through the instrumentality of the state government, mid-wifed the change of the institution’s name from the former Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) to the Rivers State University (RSU) with the aim to liberalise the university, so that it can expand its scope and operations to include other disciplines without losing the focus of its core mandate of remaining the leading Science and Technology institution in Nigeria.
The dream of establishing a College of Medicine came to reality under the watch and guide of Prof. Didia.
The College of Medical Sciences has taken off with the admission of 100 pilot students in the departments of Anatomy and physiology for the 2018/2019 academic session.
With the appointment of the provost of the medical school and the employment of both senior and junior lecturers into the college, it is evident that the coast is now clear for the commencement of full-fledged college of medical sciences at the state university.
“The state government is building the faculty for the College of Medical Sciences which will be commissioned in May this year. The university is working in that direction to realise the mandate.
“With hope that the on-going projects will be completed accordingly, we have at the moment four Professors, Jack, Ordu, Jaja and Uriel. Our sons and daughters who are consulting at the BMH have all indicated interests to come over to the school to lecture, so we have enough manpower. When the University of Port Harcourt’s College of medical sciences was established, they did not have enough manpower as we do”.
“We have been up and doing to stand the test of time and we are working to ensure that our university becomes among the best in Africa. Things are slowly picking up in the medical school. The first hurdle we had was to ensure that the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) approved the laboratories and courses, that we have achieved. The law for the establishment of a Teaching Hospital had been approved and what is left now is the appointment of a Medical Director for the Hospital which will be done by the state government. We have admitted hundred students into the College, a good beginning”, said Prof. Didia.
Professor Didia, former Provost of the College of Medical Sciences, University of Port Harcourt observed that the state was lagging behind in the area of raising medical professionals compared to other states due to the absence of a medical college, adding that the state depended much on the admission from the University of Port Harcourt for her students to study medicine and other allied courses.
According to him, UNIPORT is a federal institution that spreads its admission across the country, and that the quota given the state is shared between Rivers and Bayelsa States, adding that the establishment of the College of Medical Sciences would also help to bridge the existing gap in other allied medical sciences that the state has few professionals.
To consolidate on the various achievements and to ensure that graduates of the institution become self-sufficient and create wealth for themselves without depending much on white collar job, Prof. Didia disclosed that efforts were being made to ensure the completion of the Entrepreneurship centre within the university before the end of the year, adding that the centre when completed would train graduates of the institution on skills acquisition and also award certificates.
The Vice Chancellor averred that the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) has also approved seven more disciplines as courses to be offered by the university, adding that the new courses are Anatomy, Sociology, Geology, Biochemistry, Micro Biology and Agric Economics.
The VC opined that his administration desires to make agriculture a major source of revenue to the state and indeed to provide the needed food sufficiency for the state. Prof. Didia said arrangements have been concluded to revamp the Onne Campus which used to house the faculty of Agricultural Sciences, adding that when that is completed, the university will play a major role in achieving food sufficiency to the country as well as boosting the internally generated revenue of the institution.
Worried by the issues of sorting and cultism in the institution, Prof. Didia said his administration is fighting the scourge, hinting that some lecturers had already been placed on suspension, while some matters had been referred to the senate. He said, cultism which used to be rampant in the university before his appointment has now been reduced to the barest minimum.
“Those who lived in the state can say what the situation was, but today such things are no longer happening again. Yes, we can say that those cultists in the society are students but in RSU any student caught indulging in these criminal activities will be shown the way out of the university.
“The university law is there; we have proscribed sorting, selling of handouts. Any lecturer who cannot stand and teach his or her students in the class, he or she is not worthy to be called a lecturer. I am not protecting the lecturers, this sorting is in two phases, sometimes, students pay money to lecturers. My office is open for any student to come and report such issue”, he added.
The Vice Chancellor however used the opportunity to thank the First City Monument Bank (FCMB), SPDC and NDDC for the various projects executed in the campus and also called on corporate bodies, indeed Rivers indigenes, to show interest in the development of education in order to immortalise their names.
Many pundits believed that Prof. Didia’s appointment as the Vice Chancellor of RSU by the state governor in August 2015 was a mere political settlement and compensation and not for service delivery, but the numerous achievements of the Vice Chancellor within this short period in office have proven them wrong.

 

Amieyeofori Ibim & Amadi Akujobi

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Nigeria: Salvaging A Nation At 59

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Even as Nigerians marked 59 years of self-rule on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 only a few will disagree that, amidst the myriad of unnerving socio-economic and security challenges bedeviling the country, Nigeria remains a great nation waiting to happen. October 1, therefore, signals another opportunity to ponder on the state of the nation and the failure of leadership which has largely defined her misfortune.
To that extent, no patriotic Nigerian can pretend to be satisfied with the development and progress of this country, 59 years after Independence. Yet, it is not a misguided optimism to argue that the nation’s best days are still ahead. Nigeria remains a country of diverse nationalities, cultures, regions and values and has defied all doomsday predictions to remain a united nation. This is enough reason for self-congratulation and hope of a better future. On the balance, however, there is little to celebrate about Nigeria at 59.
As the depressing indices show in areas such as security of lives and property, food production, industrial output, quality of education and health-care, economic diversification and productivity, there is indeed cause for worry. Not only do Nigerians eat the bread they do not produce, wear clothes they do not manufacture and drink wine imported from other countries, they now import almost everything, including toothpicks. Nigerians today read books, quote facts and figures about their country from foreign sources and copy models of development designed by outsiders with vested interests.
Fifty-nine years after Independence, many are even wont to blame the present parlous state of the country on British colonialists who left six decades ago.
At 59, Nigeria still has much catch-up to do. And let no one be deluded that 59 years is a short time in the life of a country. The Nigerian economy is in dire straits with the potential to get worse if sound political and economic judgement is not brought to bear on the affairs of state.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed a raft of official data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, unemployment and capital formation which, along with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) manufacturing performance index, show a terrible economic downturn- with foreign reserve depleted significantly, and oil prices crashing daily, the impact can only be better imagined if all the fundamentals are not mustered to manage the situation. This is why President Muhammadu Buhari must now articulate a grand vision for the nation and re-direct Nigerians towards actualizing that vision.
Given the terrible scenario playing out in the country, manifested in mass poverty, high corruption in government, gross official recklessness and near-zero governance, it is no surprise that the Nigerian ship of state is rudderless and adrift. There is hardly any aspect of governance that cannot be faulted for corruption and incompetence.
As the nation marks 59 years of self government, it is too late for Nigerian leaders to change and make democracy work for the people. Too much pain has been inflicted and now is the time for Nigerian leaders to focus more on the Nigerian promise.
At Independence in 1960, there was a groundswell of euphoria and hope in the Nigerian project. It is sobering that, 59 years later, the anticipated gains of nationhood envisaged by the founding fathers are still being awaited.
Not a few have marveled at the exemplary character of Nigeria’s founding fathers; the simplicity of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the selflessness of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the nationalism of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and the enduring vision of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, all of which tower above their personal ambitions. Apart from the sense of foreboding that the new multi-ethnic nation was unworkable, Nigerians envisioned a great and bountiful nation.
Today, Nigeria is so greatly afflicted that some wonder at her prospects. The trouble with Nigeria, noted famous author and intellectual icon of blessed memory, Prof. Chinua Achebe, is a failure that has resulted in shattered hopes, broken promises, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled aspirations. A country, it has been said, rises or falls on the quality of its leadership. Nigeria is a terrible victim of the poverty of good leadership, but most destructively, political leadership. Good leaders must show strength of conviction and character. What poor leadership in Nigeria has done is to create over 150 million passive citizens who have no voice. Every citizen must, therefore, share the blame, one way or the other, for the Nigerian condition.
There has never been a shortage of speeches by Nigerian leaders in favour of good intentions to govern in the best interest of the country and its people.
Over the years, Nigerians have heard, to the point of being deafened, that government is committed to promoting good governance. The inaugural addresses of elected leaders and military coup plotters reveal uncanny similarities in promises.
Yet, as the quality of successive leadership deteriorated, Nigeria regressed in terms of the truly important yardsticks for measuring the progress of a nation. All these notwithstanding, it is pointless to look back with regret and anger at lost opportunities. If Nigeria gets her acts together, she can be as great and liveable a country as any on earth.
There is, of course, a time for everything. So, a change was inevitable. The election of President Muhammadu Buhari, largely on the strength of his perceived integrity, indicated a yearning by the people for a good leader they could trust to serve in the best interest of Nigeria. But over four years after taking office, Nigerians are still waiting for the change promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
From his appointments into high public office Buhari has demonstrated an uncanny addiction to primordial sentiments. This, indeed, is unfortunate for a man who promised in his inaugural, that he belonged to no one.
Buhari needs to understand that leadership is not about ethnic domination or selfish power equation; it is rather a disposition of moral strength and sacrifices to genuinely carry out a mission for the common good.
Since the return to democracy in 1999 the political class has shown impetuous and irresponsible behaviour at the expense of the people. The looting and the wastages going on in Nigeria in the name of governance has no parallel anywhere else and is responsible for breeding an angry and alienated citizenry which sees no dividend in this so-called democracy.
On all accounts, Nigeria, at 59, is yet on the path to fulfilling her destiny. The current structure of the country today, which is anything but federal, holds it down, stunts its growth, truncates its progress and actually threatens its unity. This must be corrected as soon as possible to liberate the nation’s full potentials.
The starting point towards the actualization of a Nigeria of our dreams is the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report, though not in any way a perfect document, but certainly one good enough to take off from. These proposals for a new Nigeria are daunting.
To chart a course of progress, Nigeria needs big dreamers and even bigger dreams, leaders who would do things the unusual way. It is not too late to rescue Nigeria from the brink of collapse.
Exemplary leadership is imperative at all levels to realize the dreams of the founding fathers who toiled for Nigeria’s statehood. Nigeria must demonstrate its coveted state of independence by beginning a new chapter, and the time to do so, especially for the sake of posterity, is now.

 

Bethel Toby

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And Here Comes Spirulina

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Nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
Good health and well-being is the focal point for sustainable development and a prosperous society. In Nigeria, there has been a major progress in the improvement of health since 1950. Although, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and HIV/AIDS have ranked the topmost causes of death. In the case of other diseases such as polio, malaria and tuberculosis, progress has been achieved. Among other threats to health is malnutrition.
Proteins are the major structural components of all cells of the body and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins can function as enzymes, membrane-carriers and hormones. As far as the human body is concerned there are two different types of amino acids: Nonessential amino acids are acids that the body can create out of other chemicals found in the body. Essential amino acids cannot be created and, therefore, the only way to get them is through food. Protein contains approximately 22 amino acids, eight of which are essential because the body cannot produce them. Therefore, they must be obtained from our food.
It has been estimated that the daily minimum crude protein requirement of an adult in Nigeria varies between 65 and 85 grams per person. However, it is recommended that 35 grams of this minimum requirement should be obtained from animal products (Oloyede, 2005; Britton, 2003). A review of the data of food supplies available for consumption in different countries shows that the per capita protein intakes in developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, is comparatively low. Not only is the total protein supply deficient but the quality of dietary protein available is inferior to that consumed in developed countries. Most of the foods consumed in Nigeria are carbohydrates which are obtained mainly in the form of starch.
In Nigeria, food supply is not distributed equally throughout the country and sometimes within the households. A large proportion of the populace, including children, do not receive balanced diet to ensure physical health and development. Most people consume the minimum level of calorie but fail to get the necessary protein and essential vitamins and minerals required for leading a healthy life.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae offering exceptionally high protein content and a remarkably complete composition of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy living. Unlike other potent sources of nutrients and protein, Spirulina is low in calories and cholesterol. Spirulina has gained considerable popularity in the health food industry and increasingly as a protein and vitamin supplement to acquaculture diets.
It grows in water, can be harvested and processed easily and has very high macro-and micro-nutrient contents. It has long been used as a dietary supplement by people living close to the alkaline lakes where it is naturally found; for instance those living adjacent to Lake Chad in the Kanem region have very low levels of malnutrition, despite living on a Spartan millet-based diet. This traditional food, known as dihe’, was rediscovered in Chad by a European scientific mission, and is now widely cultured throughout the world. In many countries of Africa, it is still used as human food as a major source of protein and is collected from natural water, dried and eaten.
The extraordinary nutritional value of Spirulina was rediscovered in 1940 by the botanist, Pierre Dan-geard. Dangeard’s rediscovery went unnoticed for 25 years until Jean Leonard furthered the work. In 1967, two years after Leonard’s observations, the International Association of Applied Microbiology declared Spirulina “a wonderful future food source”.
Since Spirulina’s rediscovery, a better understanding of its immense nutritional benefits and the potential applications as a food source has been realized. Today, companies focus on producing Spirulina on a commercial scale for human consumption as well as animal and fish feed. Governments and NGOs are working with lesser developed communities to combat malnutrition by introducing Spirulina farms for local consumption.
The nutritional profile is so complete that NASA and the European Space Agency are exploring the use of Spirulina as a primary food source for astronauts and sustaining long-term life in space. Below are a few of the highlights for why Spirulina is such an excellent source of your daily nutrition needs:
Dried Spirulina as a potent source of protein
Dried Spirulina is 59 – 65 per cent protein which is especially impressive when compared with dried soybean at 40 per cent, lentils at 26 percent and peanuts at 25 percent. Perhaps more surprising is that raw beef only contains 23 percent protein. With only 36 kcal calories per 10 grams of dried powder, Spirulina is an excellent source of protein without empty calories. Additionally, the protein is far more accessible by the human digestive system than most other plant and animal proteins. This means the body can absorb and utilize much more of the available protein with far less energy and stress on the digestive sysem. (source: USDA, FAO p.10)
Complete Source of Amino Acids and Omega-3
In addition to containing Omega-3 fatty acid, and being highly concentrated with protein, Spirulina is dense with all eight essential amino acids that the body does not naturally synthesize. Here is a list of the different amino acids and how the body utilizes them:
Isoleucine-required for optimal growth; Lysine- needed for producing antibodies, enzymes and hormones; Methionine – antioxidant properties; Phenylalanine – required for thyroid function; Threonine – improves intestinal and digestive function; Tryptophan – regulates serotonin, and Valine – stimulates mental and physical capacity.
Protein without cholesterol
An undesirable by-product of many sources of animal protein in cholesterol, doctors recommend that healthy adults consume less than 300mg or 200mg if you have diabetes or suffer from heart disease. Consider this, 10 grams of dried Spirulina (approximately a large spoonful) carries 5.75-gram protein and 1.3 mg of cholesterol, compared to an equivalent quantity of egg protein containing 300mg of cholesterols.
High Concentrations of Essential Minerals
Remember of expression that eating green is good, well you had no idea just how good it can be. Below is a list of some of the essential minerals you receive in 10 grams of dried Spirulina compared with more traditional sources:
Iron: 2.9 mg more iron than beef (recommended daily iron consumption) M 8mg W 18mg; Potassium: 114 mg more potassium than bananas (recommended potassium intake) 4700mg; Calcium: 10mg more calcium than whole milk (recommended calcium intake) 1100mg; Magnesium: 20mg more magnesium than walnuts (recommended magnesium) M 400 mg W 350 mg; and Zinc: 0.2mg more zinc than spinach (zinc) M11mg W 8mg.
Spirulina does not replace a healthy diet, but helps to balance out deficiencies and gives a great boost of energy. As an example, to achieve a recommended daily allowance of many minerals, an adult would need to consume a very large quantity of Spirulina.
Iron: Men need 2.8 tbsp Women need 6.2 tbsp (Spirulina) – comparable to approximately 450 grams for men and 1000 grams for women of grass-fed beef; Potassium: 33 tbsp- comparable to 1300 grams of bananas; Calcium: 110 tbsp – comparable to 1000 grams of whole milk); Magnesium: 18 tbsp – comparable to 250 grams of walnuts; Zinc M 55 tbsp 40 tbsp – comparable to 2000 grams for men and 1,500 grams for women of spinach.
* Note: An average tablespoon of dried Spirulina is approximately 10 grams (Source: USDA).
Vitamins And More Vitamins
Here is a shortlist of the alphabet of vitamins in Spirulina: A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9,C, D, E and K. It would take too long to list all the benefits from this list of vitamins, so we decided to highlight just one:
B carotene (beta-carotene) is best known for its red-orange pigment found in carrots. The National Cancer Institute of the United States of America has recommended consumption of 6mg of beta-carotene daily to reduce the risk of cancer. In 4 grams, half a tablespoon of dried Spirulina, you will consume 6mg, or your daily recommended amount of beta-carotene. (Source FAO p.7).
Some inhabitants around Lake Chad, where Spirulina grows naturally, have been reported to have survived in times of famine on diets consisting purely of Spirulina. Some sources advocate replacing a single meal with Spirulina but no one recommends a diet consisting entirely of the substance. Doctors and nutritionists recommend a daily consumption of between 5 and 40 grams of fresh Spirulina to support an otherwise healthy diet. Larger serving sizes can certainly be eaten to increase protein and nutrient intake.
Other Facts About Spirulina
Spirulina Has Been Found to fight cancer
Yes, it’s powerful; studies have linked spirulina to boosting the immune system enough to fight off oral cancer cells in particular. In one study, people who took Spirulina every day had 45 percent fewer lesions the following year than those who didn’t.
Spirulina regulates body fat and helps in weight loss
Green foods like Spirulina supplement may be beneficial for keeping the appetite in check. Obtaining protein and fiber content Spirulina may improve weight loss and increase energy levels.
Spirulina boosts digestive system
By increasing the absorption of nutrients from the foods, Spirulina capsules may be useful for helping the digestive function, as well as promote healthy bacteria in the digestive system, and help to improve the absorption of dietary nutrients.
Summarily, Spirulina is trending for a reason, it really can do a lot of good for the body, from being a powerhouse of nutrients to assisting the body in flushing out toxins, including heavy metals, boosting the immune system, lower blood pressure, support weight loss, increase muscle strength and increase endurance for athletes.
Oleru is a post-graduate student at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Grace Oleru

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Operational Mechanism Of Fascism In Nigeria

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Nothing can seem foul to those that win – Shakespeare’s King Henry V Part I.

Although fascism, as a system of government, is associated with totalitarianism, dictatorship and high-handedness in which political opposition is not allowed, there are variations in the application of that system in many clever ways.
Students of political science would refer to fascism as Right Wing political system, characterised by strong governmental control of business and industry under national dictatorship. Historically, Germany and Italy in the 1930s and 40s practiced fascism in a raw variation, whose result culminated in the alliance of world powers to defeat Germany and the Axis Powers in the 2nd World War.
A principal aim of fascism as a political practice is the establishment of a strong control of the activities of individuals, groups and corporate organizations and institutions in a country. It goes along with militarism under a dictator, or the use of a country’s security and intelligence agencies to set up an awesome administration in a purportedly democratic system of governance. What is known as “Gestapo” was a secret police used by the Nazi regime in Germany for the purpose of keeping watch or surveillance on activities of individuals, groups and organizations. There were also hired agents who served as private eyes and ears of government.
Another feature of an emergence of fascism is the role of some powerful interest groups, commonly known as “cabal”, who bring serious pressures on an existing government, to serve the agenda or implement some policy in favour of the interest group. In the case of Germany under Adolf Hitler, the powerful interest groups united under the umbrella of the National Socialist Party, some of whose members were money-bags, retired top military and security officers and generals.
Thus, money, influence peddling, intimidation and other antics of power become handy tools of installing a fascist political regime even in an existing democracy. The aspect of high-handedness takes the form of law enforcement agencies going against groups and unions planning or going into peaceful protests, in demand for some change or rights. Even when groups of people who express genuine concerns about events in the society ask for police permit to make a protest, such legitimate means are often blocked or suppressed. Fascism goes with suppression.
There is usually the fear that legitimate and peaceful protests could be taken over by some ill-disposed groups of miscreants and consequently result in serious security problem. Political parties in control of power can become jittery wherever there is any attempt to call attention to legitimate grievances of the masses. For example, persistent scarcity of fuel which can be a precursor of possible increase in the price of petroleum products can result in protests, with the police ready to prevent them from taking place.
Variations in application of Fascism in a Democracy
There can hardly be a full-scale fascism in the modern times, but a number of factors can result in its tactical use even in a democracy. Developing countries sometimes use the services of consultants known in technical terms as spin-doctors, whose roles involve fixing up difficult situations confronting a government. Many of such spin doctors are drawn from serving and retired security and intelligence experts, especially those loyal to the political party in power. Like Machiavelli, establishment’s spin doctors map out strategies fit for definite situations, but also warn about possible consequences that could fallow, and what to do next.
When late President Umaru Yar’ Adua was hospitalized outside Nigeria, a number of intrigues played out, especially with regards to succession. When a similar situation arose during the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, there were definite utterances, actions and maneuvers which pointed towards features associated with fascism in a clever variation. In a situation where there are rules of engagement in a democracy there can be no situation that constitutional provisions would not cover or take care of.
Injection of fascist strategy can take the form of ensuring that “never again can what happened in the case of Yar’Adua happen again!..” It was obvious that desperate spin doctors were at work and, where fascism meets obstructions, legality can be thrown to the winds! Since fascism is one aspect of the game of power, those who use it, as a specific situation would demand, can always follow up their actions by other paraphernalia of power. Intimidation is a handy tool.
Professor Wole Soyinka would remind us that power is “the horse on which fanaticism and fascism ride to fulfillment”. To grab or retain power, it is obvious that treachery and deceit can be ready instruments for the purpose. Therefore, fascist strategy can be applied when convenient for the purpose of holding on to power even in a democratic system of government. Since human beings have the tendency to avoid costs, pains and penalties, an ultimate goal in the application of fascist strategy is to create fear of possible reprisals. This can be formidable!
In a democracy characterized by high stakes and huge monetary investments, fascism is a ready tool of political control. Even though several political parties may exist, for the ruling and dominant party, fascist strategies can be used for purposes of defection and consolidation. In a situation where, in the words of Dr Samuel Uche, “you are the vilest offender in one party and cross over to a certain party, you become a saint over night”, it is fascism at work.
The operational mechanism of fascism lies mainly in the application of the paraphernalia of power to force compliance to the whims of the holders of a power. In order to enforce such compliance, intolerance and high-handedness can become ready instruments, where other measures fail. Ranging from party disciplinary measures, to sponsored harassment by security agencies or some miscreants, persons trying to oppose or challenge those who hold power can suffer some reprisals if they remain recalcitrant.
In developing countries, a common variation in the practice of fascism is the creation of a cryptocracy. A cryptocracy may be understood to mean a secret government within an existing government, whose members are drawn from the inner circle of a cabal or controllers of the person officially in power. Such arrangement usually comes into existence when there are internal suspicious, conflicts or power tussles within the party in power.
There can also be factions even among members of the cryptocracy, especially when loyalty to the principal power-holder becomes a family affair. In such cases, religion or ethnicity plays a game of mobilizing support and loyalty, in such a way that old friends begin to part ways. Unfortunately there are politicians who are experts in playing the religions or ethic trump card to bend the rules of a democracy, with a combination of fascist strategies. The stake of loyalty via the means of religion and ethnicity becomes high where politics is tied to the means of wealth accumulation.
Fascism can also be a state of mind or the peculiar temperament and life-style of an individual leader in a democracy. In this case we find that there are individuals who are dictatorial and tyrannical in nature, even to the extent that their wives remain miserable and unhappy. When such persons get to power in a democratic system, they go into offices with that peculiar life style. It would happen that they are usually surrounded by persons of similar temperament, whereby those who disagree with such leadership style would be miserable in the party, or defect to another party. There would also be frequent squabbles.
Another operational mechanism of fascism is when big multi-national conglomerates such as foreign oil and gas companies become partners’ with governments. Through the mechanism of staff employments and promotions, location of headquarters and other strategies, rewards and penalties can be applied as means of expressing the fascist temperament. From the award of contracts to scholarship benefits, multinational companies operating in Nigeria can promote or maneuver a number of things in ways similar to what a fascist regime can do. The experiences of the Ogoni people can serve as an example. Let it be noted here that top management cadre of multi-national companies are occupied by experts in various power and security issues.
Role of the military in fostering fascist temperament.
Fascist temperament or life-style was facilitated in Nigeria via the military during the period of its intervention in the nations’ politics. The military is associated with authoritarianism and high-handedness; and what happened in the years after the civil war would most likely influence and infect the psyche and temperament of Nigerians, especially the young generations. Just as “the young shall grow”, so also would the influences imbibed by youths grow as they get old. Many of the politicians today were participants in military activities of youths during the era of military intervention in Nigerian politics.
Political development goes with increasing awareness of the populace, especially with a wider expansion of access to higher education. Political development would involve a continuing programme of sensitization of the citizens in various areas of attitudinal change to foster appropriate awareness fit for a democracy. But gross abuses and institutional imbalances that needed to be addressed were left to continue, which made the masses lukewarm towards politics. Survival of democracy demands the institution of social justice and the elimination of vestiges of military authoritarianism.
Therefore, what had evolved in Nigeria after the era of military intervention in politics is a combination of fascism and democracy which should have borne a proper name of diarchy.
Despite the possibility of human rights abuses and curtailments, people, individually and collectively, need some external stimulus and impetus to force them to fulfill their responsibilities and duties. Not to apply such measures, when necessary, would be to foster evil and indulgence. Nigeria as a developing nation is still held back by some deficiencies which would require some fascist strategies to remedy. They include lethargy and indolence.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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