The bagpipe is a Scottish musical instrument. It is the national pride, symbol of the people of Scotland. Men who blow it traditionally wear skirts, as skirt-wearing by men isn’t alien to that culture.
Now, Nigerian males have begun to wear skirts at Nigeria’s Presidential Villa, blowing bagpipes as they welcome either the President or his important guests. For instance, on November 21, 2017, when the President of Togo, Faure Eyadema, visited, bagpipers ushered him onto the premises of the Presidential Villa.
On such occasions, I had thought: Why bagpipers? This has got me wondering about some of the contradictions that we engage in as a nation, but to which many of us pay no attention to.
Every Nigerian has heard government officials talk about our culture and the need to promote it.
We hear them mention the need to purchase Made in Nigeria products and thereby create jobs for our people. We hear them say we should help firm up the naira by patronising what our people make.
They mention the good in patronising indigenous contractors and the rest of it. But when the public space is inspected, we see the manifestation of things that are contrary to what our officials encourage us to imbibe.
It doesn’t seem to me that many of them look at it from that perspective though, and I think this shouldn’t be. Why? The promotion of what is ours should be a government policy.
As such, every step the government takes ought to be accordingly aligned by our decision makers, pertinent questions asked and conscientiously answered.
Is this relevant to our way of life as Africans is one question that should be asked at every point in the process of arriving at a policy decision. Is it in tandem with the declared policy of the government?
What message will it send to Nigerians, especially the younger generation who learn much from what they see and hear? It should worry any Nigerian that our government displays Scotland’s bagpipes to young Nigerians who erroneously think that every ancient Egyptian Pharaoh is white because of what they watch in Hollywood movies.
It should worry us that our traditional music is sacrificed for that of the Europeans in a situation in which younger Nigerians hardly knew that black Pharaohs who had inhabited parts of ancient Egypt (and Sudan/South Sudan) were the first to construct pyramids before invaders with white skin arrived from across the Mediterranean Sea to do the same.
It should worry us because in about 50 years from now, latter generations of Nigerians will know nothing else apart from Scotland’s bagpipes as the only proper way to welcome guests to our country. That’s the extent of the damage some of our decision makers have set in motion.
One could imagine the oddity of an African Head of State arriving the Presidential Villa, and men in skirts that he sees when he visits Scotland are the ones who equally welcome him in Nigeria.
We talk about being independent sovereign states, while we still willingly submit ourselves to the way of life that former colonial overlords no longer have the power to force on us. I wasn’t ever amused each time I watched as guests arrived the State House in Cameroon; that government dresses its Brigade of Guard operatives in cumbersome heavy raincoat-like military uniforms and caps that France dresses its guards with at its Presidential Palace in Paris.
Heavy raincoat-like military uniforms in hot African weather? Now Nigeria is going in the same direction, and I wonder what those who decide to dress Nigerian men in skirts at our Presidential Villa have in mind.
There are reasons to focus attention on those who decide for us in matters such as this. How best to welcome or entertain our visitors at the Presidential Villa should be of interest to the Ministry of Information and Culture.
Is the minister, Lai Mohammed, in the know regarding how men in skirts are being presented to our guests as the face of Nigeria? What informs the decision to adopt Scotland’s bagpipers? I hope it doesn’t include excuse such as the Scottish government offering to train the bagpipers free of charge.
If it does, that says something about how we take policy decisions and find reasons to jettison them.
A few weeks ago, on this page, I had called attention to how Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State gave jobs to some Chinese to do the geological mapping of his state. I was concerned that the job which qualified Nigerian geologists could do was given to foreigners.
I had heard the governor stating about a week later that these Chinese sent by the government of one of the Provinces in China were doing the job for free. For me, that an offer is free isn’t enough reason to sideline a stated official policy. What is meant for our people should not be handed over to foreigners no matter how tempting the offer from foreigners is.
My first reason for this position is that free offers are carrots, essentially meant to lure. Those who offer them have other goals that they do not state from the outset. What they do is that they consistently make free offers, using this to infuse other peoples and nations with their culture and ideals.
The Americans have been successful at it. The other day, a young educated Nigerian engaged me in a discussion. From the first statement he made, I knew he had been exposed to the American way of seeing things, their ideals, their arguments. He had been part of those programmes that the Americans organise around the world.
Note that the Americans had consistently been pushing the same messages and ideals for more than a century, using different platforms. One of such includes the scholarship programmes, the aid, the grants, their music and movie industry. They push what is theirs at home and around the world. They don’t adopt the culture of others, such as promoting the Scotland’s bagpipe culture at the White House as we do at our Presidential Villa.
The second reason is the long term implication of resolutely pursuing a stated government policy. It is how nations that have climbed the development ladder are able to do it.
They are consistent with the policy they adopt, and with time they get closer to their destination. If at every opportunity we divert in Nigeria, giving excuses that some other nations gives us something for free, how can we arrive at our desired destination?
However, I return to the question of how the decision is arrived at to adopt bagpipers at our Presidential Villa. The first point that I feel should have knocked out this option is Nigeria’s national pride. Is it that we don’t have any?
How come decision makers don’t see anything odd in adopting a foreign culture that makes men wear skirts at our nation’s seat of power; this in a nation where we have sections that frown on women wearing trousers?
Does the reader see the contradiction? Women are the ones that must be frowned upon when they wear trousers. There’s no problem when men wear skirts. Yet, there’s no single Nigerian tribe that doesn’t have its negative outlook regarding a man that’s dressed the way a woman should.
We know in our cultures that it’s not just the clothes that’s at issue, but the implied symbolism of a man conducting himself like a woman.
The matter is not left to that. Is this decision arrived at because it is convenient? Get a dozen persons, make them blow into bagpipes and match in front of guests at the Presidential Villa. Convenient, isn’t it?
It removes the inconveniences of getting our own cultural dancers and singers to welcome our guests. What is ours is inconvenient. That of foreigners is convenient. I may not be able to fathom the exact reason skirt-wearing men are drafted to our Presidential Villa. But whatever it is, for me, it cannot be excused; just as I am not convinced that anything Nigerians have or can do should be handed over to foreigners no matter the excuse.
If our decision makers cannot display our own culture while welcoming the President or his guests at the Presidential Villa, it is not right that they should display that of foreigners. I expect the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, to take up this matter.
PERSPECTIVE: How Senator Bwacha Distinguished Himself At The Eight Senate-Emmanuel Bello
He is the Deputy Minority Leader of the eight Senate, but Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, representing Taraba South, is one of the most respected figures in the Nigerian National Assembly. And this appeal is bipartisan as both members of the green Chambers and the red of various political leanings are in unanimity when it comes to assessing the University of Jos trained lawyer.
Bwacha is the quintessential law maker who started from the very lower rungs as member Taraba state House of Assembly years ago. At the state’s level, he’s seen it all: Commissionership, member and insider back home before ascending the ladder in Abuja. It was indeed a powerful preparatory ground. So when, in Abuja, he started from the House of Representatives, he was, in the words of a popular hip hop song, “all way up”!
Bwacha’s colleagues attest to his unique style in the chambers: respect and friendship. His warmth and friendly disposition anchored on a deep sense of the value of humanity is one of his talisman confessed a colleague. Although, Sen. Phillip Aduda, for instance, is clearly a close compatriot of Senator Bwacha, the Donga born politician, is perhaps closer to many of his colleagues than is readily known. And this cuts across the age and status divide. There is practically no senator involved with Bwacha that does not feel he is with a special friend. And Bwacha knows how to be jocular with all of them, understanding their individual quality, even playful nicknames. So while he could laughingly tap the back of a Dino Melaye as a younger brother, Sen. Gemade, for instance, could easily relate to the courageous “Jukun boy” from Taraba state. The elderly Senators often pull the younger Senator Bwacha aside for commendations and for boldly speaking their mind.
Courage! This is one of the reasons Bwacha’s views are highly regarded in the Senate. Never scared of baring his mind on even controversial issues, Senator Bwacha would even tread on grounds seen as politically slippery. He once boldly made a case for decent dressing- an area many may want to avoid as not to offend the ever fiesty modern fashion scene. But once Sen. Bwacha is convinced about a matter, he chases it with unbridled zeal.
On security matters, Sen. Bwacha was very vocal when he condemned the weakness of the security agencies in tackling the herdsmen menace. He dropped the bombshell when he suggested the Federal Government admits its failure and seek for external help if it thinks the battle was too hot.
When Bwacha is on his feet, it is always pin drop silence on the floor as he brings deep perspective on issues. A delight of the Senate Presidents, Bwacha’s views always come in handy in unravelling knotty issues.
But it is behind closed doors that Senator Bwacha’s measure and stature is more pronounced when it comes to legislative business. That’s where he brings in his wealth of experience, his years in the minefield and his familiarity with power to weigh on matters of national development.
Decency also stands him out. A respected Christian leader, often leading the devotional sessions in the senate, Bwacha does not suffer fools gladly. Firm and principled, not for him the Epicurean preoccupation of powerful men in Abuja. Spare time goes to family and his constituents. Work and worship takes up the rest. A devote Christian of the CRCN hue, his convictions are deep and engaging. He believes in shunning materialism, while rejecting primitive accumulation. He says pride is the cardinal sin of man and so Sen. Bwacha strives to be humble at all times. Not flamboyant or extravagant, he cuts the image of a genial next door neighbor.
This has helped in shaping up his leadership qualities: honesty, plain talk, ability to easily forgive, compassion, kindness, meekness among others.
His understanding of how the Executive works is also an arsenal in his kitty. Being a former Commissioner and someone very close to several governors and ministers has helped. A receipt of the prestigious Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Senator Bwacha is atop his game in this city of power, even as he retains his principles and sterling character.
Let Anybody Lead This Country, Not PDP – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has again faulted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly mismanaging the nation’s resources.
He stated this at a meeting with a select group of South East leaders on Friday at the State House in Abuja.
The President believes that although the forthcoming elections should not be a do or die affair, he will never support the opposition party to rule the country.
“Let anybody lead this country but not the PDP,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
President Buhari added, “They (PDP) were so reckless with the resources of the country. The state of infrastructure we inherited was terrible – no roads, the railway was killed and power.
“They lacked conscience because anybody with a conscience will not do what they did. We will report them to Nigerians.”
The President noted that the reported split within the Ohanaeze Igbo socio-cultural group over the purported endorsement of the PDP candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, did not come to him as a surprise.
He said the moment the said resolution was announced, he got calls from some leaders from the region asking him to disregard it as it was without any substance.
“From that moment, I knew that the resolution would not stand, and alas, there it was,” said President Buhari who added, “We have done so much. Given the chance, we will do more. Given every chance, we will tell Nigerians where we were in 2015 and what we have achieved up to now.”
He stressed further, “We will not get tired of speaking about the golden opportunity Nigeria lost during 16 years of the PDP. We earned money, which we didn’t use.
“If you ruin the economy, send your children abroad to get an education; won’t they come back? I said it 30 years ago that this is the only country we have. We must stay here and salvage it together.”
The leaders of the delegation, Mr Emeka Ekwuosa and the National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Mr Chekwas Okorie, promised to mobilise support for the President in the South East.
They informed him that his re-election would be a national consensus, adding the people of the South East understood the good things he was doing for the country.
Saraki, Lai Mohammed in Battle for Supremacy as Kwara Holds By-election
It will be a test of popularity and acceptance today for President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki as they battle for control of Kwara politics in the by-election for Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero federal constituency.
The seat became vacant following the demise of Princess Funke Adedoyin.
President Buhari had charged the All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the state headed by Lai Mohammed to take back the state from Saraki who defected from the ruling APC to the main opposition party- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Although, Lai Mohammed, being the highest office holder in APC from Kwara comes from Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area, which is within the federal constituency in contest, Saraki, who is highly influential in the state, would prove that he remains in control and could command followership even after dumping his former party.
Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has distributed sensitive electoral materials to all the four local government councils where the exercise will take place.
Thisday reports that tension has gripped residents of the state, following alleged arrest of some PDP officials and members in the constituency by men allegedly in police uniform. .
Besides, scores of the PDP members in Ajase-Ipo in Irepodun Local Government Area of the state had been declared missing in the wee hours of yesterday’s night ahead of today’s by-election.
However, the state police command has deployed 1,500 policemen to maintain law and order during the by-election, which will be a straight fight between Saraki’s PDP candidate Mr. Saheed Alatise and Lai Mohammed party’s candidate, Mr. Raheem Olatunji.
Both parties have been throwing barbs at each other resulting in the palpable tension in the state. Besides, there have been accusations and counter-accusations on plots to rig the election.
The PDP camp had accused the APC leader in the state of planning to “import” political thugs from Lagos and Osun states to manipulate the exercise with the state chairman, Hon. Kola Shittu also alleging plots by the federal government to arrest their party leaders so as to make way for the ruling party to muscle through and rob them of victory.
The APC leadership, on the other hand had accused the PDP of planning to use uncollected permanent voters cards to rig the election.
The state chairman of APC, Hon. Bashr Bolarinwa told journalists that the party advised the INEC in the state to check such illegal plot so as to have a free and fair bye-election.
Tension heightened Thursday over a reported attack on the campaign train of APC’s candidate, Mr. Olatunji by unknown gunmen though no casualty was recorded.
However, the state police command said that it was still “investigating the veracity of the claim raised by the APC candidate for the bye-election.”
The state police Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi told journalists in Ilorin yesterday that “the report on the attack was being awaited from the reported area where the incident purportedly happened.” He however assured the people of safety within the area of the by-election and the state generally.
Despite the tension, the two leading political parties campaigned across the federal constituency soliciting the support of the electorates.
Speaking at the campaign rally of the PDP at Omuaran, the headquarters of Irepodun Local Government, the state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed urged the residents of the four local government councils that make up the federal constituency to come out en masse to vote for the PDP and its candidate, Alhaji Alatise.
He said that the people of the area should allow the good work of the later holder of the seat, Princess Adedoyin to continue.
The governor also urged the people not to be intimidated by the heavy presence of security men in their communities, but should feel free to go out and cast their votes for the PDP.
Ahmed said that the PDP would continue to win election in the state because of the transformation that every section of the state had witnessed between 2003 and now under the administration of Saraki and his own government.
The government in a statement condemned the alleged crackdown on members of the PDP and charged the people to fearlessly guard their votes.
Also at a mega rally of the APC at Omuaran, Alhaji Mohammed urged the people of the area to come out and cast their vote for APC candidate, Mr. Olagunju.
The minister, who condemned the alleged attack on Olatunji by unknown gunmen during his campaign tour of the area, said that the party would work with relevant agencies to ensure free, fair and credible election today, with adequate security before, during and after the election.
He said the election would begin a new chapter for the party and would be used to show the world that the APC was intact and the preferred party.
Meanwhile, INEC said that a total of 170, 918 ballot papers and other electoral materials were distributed to all the four local government councils where the by-election will take place.
Madami also said that “1,855 electoral officers would be involved in the election. A total of 125, 865 PVCs were collected from the four local governments where the election will take place.”
He however restated that the commission would conduct free, fair and credible by-election.
Ahead of today’s election, the police had banned the activities of vigilante groups in the affected areas.
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