By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
In 1869, at the age of fifteen, José Martí and his young friends published a magazine in Cuba called La Patria Libre (‘The Free Homeland’), which adopted a strong position against Spanish imperialism. The first and only issue of the magazine carried Martí’s poem, ‘Abdala’.
The poem is about a young man, Abdala, who goes off to fight against all odds to free his native land, which Martí calls Nubia. ‘Neither laurels nor crowns are needed for those who breathe courage’, Martí wrote. ‘Let us run to the fight … to war, valiant ones’. And in the rousing address by Abdala, comes these lyrical words:
Let the warlike valour of our souls
Serve you, my homeland, as a shield.
Martí was arrested and sentenced to six years of hard labour. Eventually, the Spanish imperial government sent the young Cuban into exile in 1871. He spent this time – much of it in New York – writing patriotic poems, producing political essays and commentary, and organising the resistance to Spanish imperialism. He returned home in 1895, only to be killed shortly afterwards in a skirmish, his legacy cemented in the war against the Spanish in 1898 and in the Cuban Revolution that began in 1959.
The lines from Martí about the ‘warlike valour’ serving as the country’s ‘shield’ form the basis for the name of the new Cuban vaccine, Abdala. This vaccine, the fifth to be produced in Cuba, was developed by the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana. In announcing the results of their trials, BioCubaFarma, the country’s leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical institution, noted that it had an efficacy rate of 92.28%, almost as high as the efficacy rate of the vaccines by Pfizer (95%) and Moderna (94.1%). The vaccine is administered in three doses, each given with a two-week gap. The Cuban authorities plan to vaccinate three quarters of the population by September. Already, more than 2.23 million vaccines have been administered to the 11 million Cubans on the island, 1.346 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose, 770,390 with the second dose, and 148,738 with the third dose.
Let me start by saying, this is ordinary Cuba, just Cuba! Some three weeks ago, I admonished my fellow Nigerians on how we just seem to have lost it, battling twitter and the social and legacy media over the funnel of politics while we prided ourselves in the invention of kilishi and our pencil producing gimmicks.
Today again, I am forced by the circumstances of our time to ask a divided nation, one that is fixated in the shenanigans of separatists young bloods that are a result of a badly skewed and deaf administration bent on self destruct, what really is wrong with us, why is this supposedly great nation lost on direction, how is it that those who are supposed to know, intentional refuse to know.
How is it that we still are commissioning boreholes, discussing grazing routes, and hellbent on the e choke business of hisbah banning mannequins to display clothes, and unislamic hairstyles, and we masquerade that the centre cannot hold, while we are all stalled with thieving and directionless branches.
Nigeria as a control, has no monopoly over science and technology, no monopoly over financial systems, no monopoly over access to resources, no monopoly over weaponry, no monopoly over communications.
Our component states from Sokoto to Imo, Adamawa to Rivers, are all agitating for one thing or the other, while we complain that the centre is top heavy, head foolish, and unsustainable, I dare ask what are the states that desire restructuring, and more powers doing, how are the states really preparing to be some sort of revolutionary “Cuba”?
The entire 36 states of Nigeria while seeking some form of real federalism, have not shown any real monopoly beyond agitations repeatedly, if we are not stopping onions from getting to the south, we are insisting that cattle should be left roaming the streets and in primary schools in the south, while some elements are killing security personnel, and defending it under the most mundane excuses. Yet the bitter truth is that (s)elected public officials are unable to advance any social agenda for their populations.
So are we mute, or pretending to not know that there is no way Nigeria can progress, and why we will stop the agitations across board when the man for any job in any part of Nigeria must be ethnically/regionally and religiously correct, and not on merit and what he/she is capable of doing.
Are we surprised that while we join the begging third world or derogatory GLOBAL SOUTH as we are referred to, the real problem is not just a Mr. Buhari, but leaders in the states, governors that have dozens of commissioners ranging from 25-30 in numbers, with senior special assistants/special assistants/advisers (both senior and junior)/countless aides and yes consultants on various subject matters, with almost nothing to show.
Governors who spend an average of 10 days only in a month at the office and in the state. While the rest is spent galavanting, wedding, naming ceremony, birthday, and death-day, they attend meetings in Abuja, and flex in caucus meetings of how to remove that Minister, and deal with one Legislator or the other, that is when they are not seeking to get more money from the same centre they deride.
Of course all these happen when they are not in Kosovo, Kabul or Khazastan seeking investors, at the height of auctions and banditry in one such state, the governor was abroad with his wife seeking solutions to the state security conundrum.
We have the Igbohos, MNK, and their ilks agitating because no state can really boast of being near CUBA, because there is no governor in Nigeria that has in the last four years spent an average of 4 hours everyday, 15 days a month and 9 months a year in the office, taking his leave as at when due and handing over to the right person temporarily. After trillions in federal allocations in 21 years, trust me, these ‘guys’ are working so HARD, indeed very HARD, and the result is all the agitations.
Our governors tell us how difficult the art of state governance is, and you sure would agree, contending with the opposition, with political enemies from different camps, and sure spending billions of unaccounted security votes must be one hell of a job.
Billionaire state CEOs that don’t have factories in their state, yet they speak and act in millions and billions, I watch people say governor X,Y,Z is doing well, and I ask where else do people praise a governor for using your money to give you utilities that are not priorities, but our beloved Nigeria. To think that Mazi Nnamdi Kalu is our problem, while businessmen bandits thrive is just a tiny bit of our agitation.
Until you show me any Nigerian governor with just two cars, with kids in public schools, and less than N100M, then I will show you a governor without any agitation in his state. Today in assets and cash there is no governor who is not a billionaire, and that’s 36 hardworking billionaires, and we want Odua, and Arewa and Biafra, anyway the truth is stealing is not corruption as long as it is done by our own.
Hardworking governors spend millions on healthcare, and yet the hospitals are not good enough to check their health. In one of the progressive South West States, all of the governor’s kids are schooling in London and the governor flaunts his hardwork in the educational sector, why won’t Sunday and co be deceiving themselves with chants of Yoruba nation.
I am using these governors as guinea pigs, but it is really about our leaders, what do our councilor men/women do, how about the chairmen, legislators, how has our minister impacted our lives, Cuba has produced vaccines while Nigeria is daily producing all forms of agitations, the people are not happy.
We need to start asking questions, we have refused to demand answers to issues of governance. An old axiom speaks of not touching a blind man’s hand while eating with him…for how long our leaders will continue to touch our hands while they eat us dry and allow us fight each other
The small monkey completely shaves its head and breaks the razor; it thinks that its hair will not grow out again. All talk not centred on good governance, all dialogue without good governance, the hair will grow again, it’s only a matter of time, do we want good governance or just agitations—only time will tell.