Nigeria’s Unsung Heroes: A Response To Paul Mamza;
Friday, 05 August 2005
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Professor Paul Mamza’s recent article was a pleasure and a delight to read!
The professor indicated that the article is intended to be in two or multiple parts or in a series perhaps, but I could not wait to respond to the first part, which featured a notable Nigerian patriot, who unfortunately, is no longer with us, the former Chief of General Staff, General Tunde Idiagbon of blessed memory. How can we forget Idiagbon?
It is refreshingly different and a welcomed relief, to witness a Nigerian Public Intellectual of Paul Mamza’s stature, discuss a Nigerian patriot, even though General Idiagbon is no longer with us, which means that Professor Mamza could not be accused of praise-singing or sycophancy in anticipation of some sorts of favor or appointment, from his subject! General Idiagbon deserves to be written about!
And I hope that much more will be written extensively, about him, because his life and times are relevant to Nigeria, analyzing these, appreciating his contributions and impact and even his shortcomings, are a very meaningful undertaking; particularly, because, this and future generations of Nigerians would learn, learn about the meaningful contributions and profound impacts of Nigeria’s unsung heroes, of which the unsmiling Idiagbon was a part.
The world will certainly learn, about Nigerians who served Nigeria well and gave Nigeria, their all, we will all learn, through efforts, such as Professor Mamza’s. Nigerians who have affected public policy formulation and implementation, ought to be analyzed and scrutinized for posterity and for Nigerians and Nigeria’s benefit; A greater good will result from such examinations.
Personally, I had a great admiration for the Late Tunde Idiagbon for his sense of mission, purpose, tenacity and courage even to the end. He may not have been a democrat, he may have had a tinge or whiff of arbitrariness of military manners and a hint of draconian enforcements of rules; just as such tactics were arguably harsh and yet needed for Nigeria’s circumstances as dictated by those times.
The late General Idiagbon is not known for wealth or money or flamboyance, and multiplicity of girlfriends; he was, instead known for his sense of duty, his patriotism and his loyalty and steadfastness to the Nigerian cause. They don’t make humans like him anymore?
It is sad that Tunde Idiagbon died young and unsung! But it is crucially important to document and preserve his contributions to steering Nigeria’s ship of state, in the dire circumstances that was military governance in Nigeria at the time.
The Buhari/Idiagbon administration was arguably tough on Nigerians, but no one could say that the Buhari/Idiagbon duo, were selfish and no one could accuse them of self-aggrandizements, a vice, for which too many Nigerians, military or civilian leaders have been known. Buhari/Idiagbon gave Nigerians the true meaning of accountability and transparency and commitment, it will be recalled, that their administration gave a quarterly briefing to the Nigerian public, on the goings-on in the management of the affairs of the Nigerian nation. I clearly remember how Nigerians were informed of the amounts in our foreign reserve, how much debt we owed as well as how much was paid on Nigeria’s external debt etc. The Buhari/Idiagbon crew assessed indiscipline and corruption as twin travails of our society and with military intensity and zeal, sought to right all that was wrong with our society. Lawbreakers were pursued relentlessly!
Buhari/Idiagbon pursued Nigeria’s national interests with moral certitude and with vigor!
Their downfall was orchestrated by those with unsavory characters whose lives were made miserable by the rigorous enforcements of Nigerian laws; laws that made it impossible for vermin-like characters and parasites, who paraded as humans in our populace.
And Nigerians who assumed that it was impossible to change anything in Nigeria, had an awakening to the fact that they were completely mistaken! War Against Indiscipline WAI, was phenomenal landmark occurrence and a lesson in how a good leadership could set examples for citizenry, who are in turn happy to replicate such. It was momentous!
I lived in Lagos at the time, and Lagos was just about the most undisciplined and immoral of all our cities, some people urinated in public and thought nothing of it, but with the advent of WAI, they stopped, no one dare to engage in risky street crossing or jaywalking or public urination, without incurring the wrath of other members of the public, who would shout almost in unison, WAI, WAI, WAI etc and the person engaged in unacceptable behavior retreated quickly, from the opprobrious censure of angry fellow citizens, and it got so good, that WAI Brigade didn’t need to be present for WAI to be enforced by everyday Nigerian people! Social Change was with us!
WAI curbed immoralities and illegalities, it curbed unethical conduct and public disorderliness… for once, public sanitation became something we all considered, even if briefly; and for once, we learnt the rules of decorous behavior or conduct in public places, as we lined up for public transportations at airports, bus stops etc; Just as we lined up for services at the banks, post offices and every other places where services are provided to fairly large numbers of people.
Those who had aversions to laws and rules, sought to dethrone Buhari/Idiagbon and they succeeded, and they enthroned perversity in place of Idiagbon’s law and order.
Nigerians ought to write more about citizens like Idiagbon, we ought to celebrate his life and times. According Professor Mamza, too many of our heroes are unsung and we ought to change that. We may actually inspire and motivate young people into public service for common good, aimed at attaining national purpose, as we applaud and exult our heroes and their accomplishment for Nigeria’s advancement and greatness.
All through human history, Nigerians and other Africans have been deficient documenting or recording the way we live, but instead have heavily relied on oral history narration which of course not as reliable as recorded or documented history. Memories are liable to fading and people grow old and pass on, and when these occur, valuable ideas and concept are lost, methods and procedures that had served Nigerians and other Africans are allowed by default, to go extinct
And as a consequence, uncharitable outsiders have erroneously concluded that we possessed no structures, we possessed no systems or processes and procedures, or further that, we had no definable and expressive language or culture..
But of course Nigerians and other Africans have always had music, songs and dances, even though we may not have followed the practice of Americans and Europeans, the practice of writing music and notes, as music writers and composers do. But we always sang and danced, like every other human being! We many not have produced a Beethoven or a Mozart, but we have composed music and sang songs for ages, for all sorts of occasions.
In order for Nigerians and other Africans to reverse these trends, and prevent languages, cultures and practices from being forgotten or becoming extinct, because they lack recordation, we all, ought to write more, we all ought to document the way we live, life is all about culture and the way we live, technology is only a facilitator or machinery that speeds up or make more convenient, the way we humans live.
I have in the past made these suggestions, when I commented on Presidential Library for Olusegun Obasanjo, and would like to repeat them for emphasis, Nigerians and other Africans ought to aggressively pursue the documentations of how we live now; We must record, for posterity and generations unborn, our contribution to the world, our collective impact as a people. A sort of time capsule and then some!
We ought to have Foundations, Research Centers/Institutes, Museums etc dedicated to the study of individuals who have had positive or negative effects on our society, we ought to study these individuals, their circumstances and their policy rationales and the end result of it all, favorable or unfavorable.
We ought to encourage the writing of autobiographies and biographies, we ought actively prod the likes of Mr. Babangida and General Buhari, former President Shagari, former Vice President Ekwueme etc, to engage memoir writing, the should engage in written reminiscences and Nigerians and Nigeria will surely learn from them all! Just as we ought to challenge them, if and when historical facts are misstated for whatever reasons.
Paul Mamza’s analyses and examination of major individual character such as the late General Babatunde Idiagbon, is therefore seen from this important prism, we must analyze and examine in multiple ways, all those individuals and their policies, their attendant effects on our nation and continent. We must examine those individuals who excelled brilliantly and the others who failed woefully, during their lives and times on our national and continental stage, whether such effects are brought to bear on our political, economic and social cultural stage or a combination of some or all. It is how history is written or documented. And I thank Paul Mamza for his “Nigeria’s unsung heroes series.
We must analyze, examine and we must write!