Presidential State Visits and all the Boju Boju

March 13, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Prince Charles Dickson



Boju boju, akara nbo, she kin shi‘ meaning the masquerade is coming with a (Bean ball) delicacy, do I open it.



“…A stifled, caged and gagged populace can be only marginally propensible to positive political interaction. In a similar vein, political restriction, political repression imbues in the citizens a feeling of depression, depravation and a sense of loss. These are basically non-conformable with democratic attitudes and principles. By extension, such citizenry cannot be expected to contribute their innovative best to the national development. In a nutshell, a society that denies an integral stratum of its constituent units the exercise of its fundamental human rights is nothing but a moribund if not dead society. Incontrovertibly, a dead society cannot be a strategic imperative in the realization of national development…


“…On the other hand, the erroneous belief that one can stay in power ad infinitum, makes a government careless, irresponsible, authoritarian, dictatorial and with an imbued sense of self glorification…” General Olusegun Obasanjo PhD.


And so there was electricity; at least for almost 24 hours, and that was a first in ages, but after the President left, it was back to status quo. In fact as I share these thoughts there is no electricity.


There was also fuel in various fuel stations, selling at the official benchmark price of N145, this was a first in the city, after months of non-availability of the product and when available selling at cut throat prices.


Women that sold their perishable items were asked to vacate because the president was going to pass through. This I did not understand because these were the same women whose votes the President would need for 2019, or got him there in the first place. These same women did not get any compensation as their livelihood was affected at least for a day, many of them their fruits perishing.


There was also a public holiday, and yet another lost in this nation that loves holidays. But really I won’t mourn that. However, as with the previous administration what is it with deployment of police personnel every several meters, in a state that was experiencing scattered killings and well under-policed. And you need too see that under-equipped officers.


Did I inform us that some roads were done in barely weeks, and roads were painted, trees adorned the same roads all of a sudden? Roads that had been abandoned for ages witnessed contractors working day and night to deliver on schedule. And all the areas he was going to pass through were wearing new looks, and sadly if he wasn’t coming towards your neighborhood you would not feel the vibe.


What are we like this, a special budget was made for the visit, and persons got contracts to deliver this or that. Millionaires created overnight for doing exceptional nothing. People got funds to hire praise singers, the governor’s protocol office was tasked with drawing up a list of friendly journalists and loyalists for the town hall.


Is it that the President is naive, or has it become an acceptable norm, an African thing, nay a Nigerian phenomenon, when the chief is around we do a ‘boju-boju’. How did we get to this point where only when the high and mighty are around we get the best of what we deserve?


And they continue to treat us like thrash–my take is that we do not know the concept of peoples’ power, they continually divide us across faith and ethnic lines this makes us negate the following principles.


The fundamental rules of governance, which no one should change.


The principles of democratic consultation among governing institutions have been thrown to the gutters.


Lack of conferred dignity, Nigerians lack the right to dissent, and basically the right to challenge on the premise of superior and correct argument against oppressive leadership has been lost.


The Courts are not necessarily the last resort, neither is there a hope for a popular uprising.


We have seen the nation brought to its knees courtesy of a meal of ‘APC al carte’. As the present administration pursues her window dressing of setting a society on the change mantra, we are yet to establish what the change means. Many still view the change from that stereotype that sees it as only for the proletariat class, while the poor walk miles to get food, the rich walk miles to ease digestion.


Ironically I maintain that what the nation is in need of is not all these change hinged state visits. I argue that there can be no change without taking into consideration socio-economic rule of law, social and distributive justice, and equal access. Change that ultimately ends for the benefit of citizenry.


The APC’s change mantra, as good as it should be, suffers from the ‘kwashikor ‘of legitimacy; this is so, because the legitimacy of law is essentially a function and an interface of the legitimacy of the lawgiver.


This will continue to hunt this government…


So much has been said about the change as we approach 2019, and in fact for whom we are, in some quarters we have celebrated it. The question however is, as we preach the sermon, is there any procedural mechanism at ensuring effective compliance, do we possess agreed legislation or what we have is a set of unwritten rules and regulation for which public holidays are set, and poor traders are molested because the President is in town.


We equally need to move away from the practice of conceptualization to practice and like I said in a public function there is no difference between due process and rule of law, fresh breath, and change Obasanjo came with his, Yar’Adua the latter, Jonathan and then Buhari. Just a case of semantics, nomenclatures, abbreviations, and the nation continues to dance the traditional Yoruba folklore dance, ‘Boju boju, akara nbo, she kin shi’ meaning the masquerade is coming with a (Bean ball) delicacy, do I open it.


There is a thinking that we are making progress, I do not agree given our potential, it could get better, but I remind us that it could also get worse. The French revolution despite the issues was precipitated as a result of the price of bread; the change agenda if pursued with intent would for us, had heralded a new beginning, and a revolution…sadly what we have is still boju-boju visits of Mr. President and a lazy citizenry, for how long—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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