By Bolanle Bolawole
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“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me” – Martin Niemoller.
Martin Niemoller (1892 – 1984) was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany who emerged an outspoken public enemy of fascist Adolf Hitler, spending the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration (detention) camps. He is remembered, till date, for his post-war words quoted above. These are famous words which continue to resonate all over the world today, especially where fascism takes roots and fascists bare their fangs; and where popular revolt against the same becomes a task that must be done.
Those who compromise with fascism, thinking they are immune from its atrocities, and those that are beneficiaries of its crimes against humanity, are reminded, in the immortal words of Niemoller, of the criminality of their action and the futility of their hopes. Niemoller expressed his belief that Germans in their numbers compromised and were complicit through their silence – and the active collaboration of many – in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions. Niemoller felt this to be especially true of the Protestant churches.
Substitute Niemoller’s Nazi Germany with Buhari’s Nigeria of today and witness how one resembles the other – be it in the eerie silence of the Church, the docility of Labour, the timidity of a large section of the Press, the complicity and duplicity of the political class, and the befuddlement and castration of the public at large!
Niemoller’s words, applied to Nigeria’s present situation and circumstance and taking a peep into the future, will read thus: First they came for the youths and students at ENDSARS, and I did not speak out because I said the youths ruined a good cause with youthful exuberance. Then they came for the IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu, and I did not speak out because I said the agitators for Biafra had allowed their agitation to turn violent. Then they came for the media and social media (Twitter, etc), and I did not speak out because I said the media were busybody and meddlesome interlopers poking their nose everywhere. Then they came for Sunday Igboho and the agitators for Oodua nation, and I did not speak out because I said Igboho and his cohorts were too uncouth and loud-mouthed for my liking. Then they came for PDP and other opposition politicians, and I did not speak out because I said, to hell, the PDP years were the years of the locusts. Then, finally, they came for me – by which time there was no one left to speak for me!
But the fascists delude themselves if they think they will win this war. They may win some battles but, ultimately, they will lose the war. That is the lesson that history teaches. The graves of fascists litter the pages of history. Sordid tales of how creeping fascism met its Waterloo have been told again and again. That is the confidence that makes me unfazed about fascists and their schemes – however grandiose, however sinister, and whatever successes they may chalk up in the interim. They are sure and certain to end up in ignominy. Their defeat and destruction is a tale already foretold.
When France led Switzerland three goals to one in the ongoing UEFA soccer competition, Paul Pogba, scorer of the third French goal, celebrated non-stop; it was as if his goal had sealed victory for the French. But he celebrated too early! In the end, that celebration turned into ashes in Pogba’s mouth – and in the mouth of other French players, the coaching staff, and millions of French nationals all over the world. The same fate awaits all fascists. Fascists and fascism succeed only but for a while. History attests to that – in Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet, Fulgencio Batista, name them! Back home, we had Buhari in his first coming; we also had IBB and Sani Abacha. Were they not all consigned into the dustbin of history? Where is Abacha today? And have you seen IBB lately? Be certain that the same process repeats itself in diverse dimensions with vile dictators!
Therefore, even the madness of the moment shall pass. These dark hours will not be Nigeria’s last moments. They will not even be its defining moments. Confident of that and inspired by Niemoller’s words quoted above, let every man and woman of conscience stand up and resist the fascists. And never mind if it appears you are alone. German writer, Henrik Ibsen (in “An Enemy of the People”, 1882), teaches that the strongest man upon the earth is he who stands most alone!
Recommended for the moment’s little tyrants: Jimmy Cliff’s “House of Exile”!
Food for thought…
Did you read the statement below on social media? I wouldn’t know if the statistics given there are correct. If they are, then, it is truly food for thought! It reads: “China is the largest producer of agricultural products in the world. With 550 million farmers, one in three people in China is a farmer! The Red Dragon has 12.7% arable lands – feeding 22% of the world’s population. It earned about $734.9billion in 2020 from agriculture.
Nigeria has 37.3% arable lands. If what China achieved from its arable land is put into consideration, the largest black nation on earth has what it takes to feed the whole of Africa! Sometimes, I feel very reluctant when I hear “Let us pray for Nigeria”. What are we praying for really: Additional arable land or what? If a country has 12.7% arable land and is able to sufficiently feed its population (1.4 billion) with surplus for export; I do not think God will be willing to give more to a country with 37.3% arable land yet is unable to feed 200 million people! I prefer to think critically for Nigeria than pray for Nigeria!”
Ever heard of the dichotomy between Knowledge economy and Religion economy? China is a knowledge-based economy while Nigeria is a cow-based economy. That is the difference! And it is huge!
On “The TB Joshua I knew…
I have two buildings along Oba Akran, Ikeja close to the Computer Village, which I put out “For Sale” some years back when I needed additional money to invest in my business. On a Saturday at exactly 12 am in the night, I received a strange call from a familiar voice. Someone calling me at 12 am to enquire about my property was strange. But I quickly recognized that the voice on the phone unmistakably was that of Prophet TB Joshua himself calling me directly. He asked me to come to his church the following Sunday morning by 7am concerning the purchase of my property. Before I got there, he had instructed a lady to take me to the Synagogue cafeteria. Within minutes of my sitting down, I was served food and drinks, which I politely declined. The caterer was vehement, she wanted me to eat. I also vehemently declined under the guise of “I don’t take breakfast!”
TB kept me waiting in the Cafeteria for three hours! Then, around 10am, he asked another lady to bring me to the Church and to sit in the front row. I declined the offer and went to sit at the back. By 1 pm I became very confused and started feeling uncomfortable. I left! As I was driving out, he asked the security man to stop me at the gate. A lady later came to give me about 10 copies of TB’s books. I had a beautiful golden pen with me that day which I bought in the US. I sent the pen to TB through the lady that delivered the books. As soon as I drove out of the gate, I dumped all the books in the drainage beside the church.
Curiously, the telephone number he used the previous day in calling me stopped connecting. He never called me back… I would never know his true intentions on this particular transaction but his behaviour and body language were suspicious. – Tim.
I ran away from TB Joshua in 1993 when I realised that certain of his activities were not biblical. He made efforts to stabilize my membership but I was too clever and smart for his level of reasoning at the time. I was the first to receive an ID card from him. It was a permit to sit in his small office in Agodo… I didn’t have to queue. He attended to me specially and privately. The card had no space for photographs. It eventually disappeared because I violated the rule. Money should not be kept in the same pocket or purse with the card. He made some inscriptions on the back of the card which no one else could read. I deliberately broke the rule and in a space of five minutes the card flew out of my pocket! TB Joshua could openly read your mind!
– From a colleague at the then Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
I disagree with the rejoinder by Oriade Adediran (in “The TB Joshua I knew – I”) describing Bola Tinubu as a colossus that bestrides the Yoruba landscape. Oriade is probably one of those Tinubu loyalists in Lagos but he must be educated that Tinubu is nowhere in the achievement ladder in Yoruba land outside his bullying money politics that he uses to enslave and pauperise the large army of the illiterate Yoruba clans following him and his APC in Yoruba land, including the many contrived “Honourables” that he has placed in his illegal LCDAs in Lagos…flocking around Tinubu in their warped zealotry and “Arise, sir!” bigotry. There are many brighter and better Yoruba citizens that stand shoulders higher than Bola Tinubu and his APC soldiers in Lagos and other Yoruba states who are capable of doing extremely well if elected the Nigerian president.
– 0806 675 9838.