The Lagos State government, following reports of an alleged “rape incident” involving an 11-year old female student of Chrisland Schools Lagos, and male pupils of the school, during a trip to the World School Games in Dubai (March 10 -13), promptly shut down the school, to investigate exactly what happened. A video was put into circulation showing the girl in a sex position, with one of the students watching and recording the bedroom scene. The public was shocked. Raw sex in a primary school, photographed and videoed and put into circulation! Matters got worse when the mother of the girl involved raised an alarm and made statements to the effect that the school, Chrisland, had failed in its duty to take care of her daughter while on a trip to Dubai, under its auspices; that on the return of the students, her daughter was taken for a pregnancy test without her consent, and that when the video became public, every attempt to engage with the school failed, and that the school had told her daughter not to say a word to anybody about her experience. Her daughter, she claimed, went to Dubai as a virgin, and returned in a sex video, traumatised, afraid to return to school.
I followed the story closely. The Lagos State government having shut down the school and its various branches warned the public to desist from sharing the video. Long before the state government reminded everyone that the circulation of pornography would attract a penalty of 14 years imprisonment, the video was already in circulation in any case, and many social media sites used it as click-bait. But what would any parent gain from a group of minors exploring adult experience? Many must have been motivated by sheer curiousity and the native belief that seeing is believing. The Lagos State government has now re-opened the Chrisland Schools, and the students are on their way back to the classroom in all the locations where the school has branches: Victoria Garden City where the incident occurred, Idimu, Ikeja, Festac, Lekki and elsewhere.
Chrisland is one of those well-appointed schools with a strong reputation and record of achievements, dating back to 40 years. The Awosikas, owners of the school, have through their educational system produced generations of students who have become established in many fields of human endeavour at home and abroad. In the absence of a functional public system, many parents patronise schools like Chrisland, which aspire to and maintain higher standards of instruction. Nigeria is a country where education is still valued in terms of the acquisition of certificates, observing the routine and the process to the letter. Even if a child is still going to end up as an internet fraudster or as a Boko Haram soldier, parents believe that a starting point is to give their children good education. This is more the case among the troubled Nigerian middle class, especially in the Southern parts of the country. Elsewhere, in other parts, the story is different. The North, for example, has the largest collection of out-of-school children. In parts of the East, the enrolment of the boy-child in trade apprenticeship schemes, by the way a global business model, continues to compete with enrolment in the formal school system.
This then makes it all the more surprising when it is reported, one case after another, that there are serious issues with the same schools that middle class parents and their wannabe colleagues patronise In the same Chrisland School in question, there was a report around 2019 about a male teacher who was said to have defiled a two-year-old. The man was convicted. In Abuja, there was also the case of a victim of sexual abuse, 14-year old Keren-Happuch Akpagher who died in one of the elite secondary schools – Premiere Academy, Lugbe. Before the latest incident in Chrisland, there was also the matter of Dowen College in Lekki, Lagos, in which 12-year old Sylvester Oromoni died. The Dowen College matter, still unresolved, with the family still protesting an attempt to sweep the matter under the carpet, was a big scandal. These are three of the reported cases of similar incidents in schools across Nigeria and in Lagos State. Many more of such incidents would go unreported, given the culture of silence that governs the Nigerian cultural and social space. Now, after the temporary closure of Chrisland Schools and police investigations, Chrisland has now been reopened by the Lagos authorities. The Police and the Lagos State government probably acted swiftly in order to prevent the ugliness of the Dowen College affair from re-occurring. To start with, I think, a review is necessary. In this country, we forget too soon, too easily. Things happen at such a frenetic pace, that we hardly have the time to reflect on what may have happened, before we move on to the next incident. Our present-mindedness, that is temporocentrism, is the biggest affliction that holds this country down.
I was struck by three major reactions to the pre-teenage sex scandal of the Chrisland students. Tonto Dikeh, the star actress, was the first to raise the alarm. Having watched the video, she said she did not think this was a case of rape or sexual violence, and that this was not the child’s first sexual encounter. She actually surmised that the girl must have had sex at least five times and that there must be an adult somewhere who exposed her quite early. I am tempted to believe Tonto Dikeh. She is a mature, experienced woman of multiple talents. I am therefore not in a position to doubt her ability to read this sort of situation and put a date and a stamp to it. But her more cogent point is that parents need to pay more attention to their children. The second reaction came from Shola Ogudu, the mother of Ayo Balogun’s first son, Boluwatife. Ayo Balogun is the superstar musician known popularly known as “Whizkid or Star Boy.” Ms Ogudu, in a statement, disclosed that her son attends the school in question and that she accompanied him to Dubai for the World School Games. There were 76 students from Chrisland and, incidentally, the school won about 34 medals which no one has bothered to talk about!
Ms Ogudu indicated that there was no way she could have allowed her son to travel alone to a foreign country, in the midst of 76 children and others! She advised parents to be more attentive, and devote more time to their children. Unlike the aggrieved mother in the story, Ms Ogudu was full of praise and support for Chrisland Schools. The third reaction that caught my attention was the statement by more than one psychologist that both the girl in the video and her parents need psychological counseling. And I ask: How about the boys too? What kind of 11-year old male child starts having sex so early? What kind of homes are these characters from? I have heard some people arguing that parents do not have time. Schools and teachers are expected to act in loco-parentis. This is where the problem lies.
In our time, growing up, our parents were hands-on guardians, coaches and advisers. They drummed values into our ears at every turn. Each time you tried to venture out of the house, to attend an event or return to school, you would be told: “Remember the child of whom you are.” This had nothing to do with money but everything about values, character, dignity and integrity. But in the new society in which we have found ourselves, many parents have abdicated their responsibilities. They claim that they are busy looking for money to meet everyone’s needs. In the course of that pursuit, a child is handed over straight from the maternity ward to a retinue of nannies, home assistants and aides. In our new society, we throw money at everything including our children. Daddy has no time. Mummy is too busy trying to compete with the Joneses. The children are given all the toys that they want – from TV, to Play station to 24-hour electricity supply. These uptown babies of the new society do not cry. As Max Romeo and the Upsetters put it: “They don’t know what hungry is like/Uptown babies don’t cry/They don’t know what suffering is like/They have Mummy and Daddy/Lots of toys to play with/Nanny and Granny/Lot of friends to stay with…”
As soon as they are old enough to press numbers, they get a sleek, smart phone – usually the costliest in the market, with unrestricted access to social media. Some parents even open instagram and TikTok accounts for their children as soon they start crawling. This Gen Z group is soon introduced to all the negative stuff that social media can offer. Even outside that space, they are exposed to the dissolute lives of their parents: twerking moms; violent, 12 o’clock dads; and a community of sick uncles and aunties who set very bad examples. There are many households out there in which parents and their children are strangers to one another. When the children then fail in school, morally and academically, the same parents blame the teachers. They claim that they have paid so much money so that their children can get the best training possible. The truth of the matter is that money cannot buy everything. There are just certain things money can’t buy. Many parents themselves are in need of parenting! What do you make, for example, of those overgrown babies who wake up in the morning, eat spaghetti and spend the rest of the day playing games in front of the TV. They don’t have to work: their own parents have made enough money to feed the next five generations of idle sons and daughters! These idlers father children and the cycle continues.
It seems to me that all cases of reported misdemeanour in our schools should trigger introspection in every right-thinking, concerned stakeholder. The problem is not that of Chrisland Schools. It is an indication of the deepening moral turpitude in our land. Everything that can go wrong is wrong with the younger generation: juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, value system collapse, cultism, the kind of music they listen to – there is even a Naira Marley Gang – you don’t want me to describe the sociology of that. Adolescent sexuality is on the rise, with promiscuity now the order of the day. Aristotle told us that “a child learns by imitation”. Nigeria has taught its children bad imitation, and that is why the children replicate the bad behaviour of their parents. It is beyond the schools. After all, one Christian university in this same country once decided that it would conduct compulsory virginity tests on its new female students. Many of us complained at the time that this was discriminatory and gender insensitive. The school authorities stood their ground. After two sessions, they didn’t need to be persuaded to abandon the practice without any argument, when they discovered that among the teenage female university entrants, a virginity test was no more than a futile search for a virgin in a maternity ward!
When incidents such as the one under review occur, processes are important. I hope that the Lagos State government and the Police would make their findings public. By deciding to re-open Chrisland Schools, both authorities must have made some findings and reached a conclusion that the school has no case to answer. Many parents are relieved. But the public has a right to know more. Parents in particular, need to know. There are also lessons to be learnt from how Chrisland Schools management has controlled the crisis and managed the communication process. They have done much better than the managers of Dowen College who practically slept off in the face of a crisis until things went out of hand. The team of crisis managers at Chrisland stayed on the matter and bombarded the public with their own version of the story before the alternative could gain ground. They had the support of other stakeholders who helped to intensify other aspects of the narrative, including detailed revelations about how the girl in question is an indulgent, over-pampered child with a reputation for sexual displays on social media and a wayward, bad-girl-attitude for which she is reportedly unapologetic!
Chrisland School has done a good job of rescuing and protecting its brand all through the storm. In a statement signed on behalf of the school by Akin Fadeyi, a member of the school’s Advisory Board, the school has in place a strong child protection mechanism. Going forward, the school must see the need to invest more in that mechanism, and constantly engage with parents to provide the best possible arrangements for students. Besides, Mrs Winifred Awosika needs to take a second look at the Victoria Garden City (VGC) branch of the School. It was in this same school three years ago, that a teacher was eventually sentenced to a prison term of 60 years for sexually abusing a two-year old. Is there something amiss in that school that needs to be addressed? Could it be the celebrity environment on the Island? Lagos State has more than 20 thousand schools – public and private, from the primary to the tertiary level. The government should strengthen the Inspectorate Division of its Ministry of Education to make it more efficient, vigilant, and productive for the good of all. To parents, a simple message: wake up!
Reuben Abati is a former presidential spokesperson, writes from Lagos.
Reviewing the world economic model, By Lekan Sote
The newly elected President of Argentina, Javier Milei, promises to smash orthodox economic models in Argentina. He vowed to cancel a slew of government ministries, departments and agencies, including the Central Bank of Argentina.
Kenyan President William Ruto, who wonders why Africans must use the dollar for intra-African trade, says, “From Djibouti, selling to Kenya, or traders from Kenya selling to Djibouti, we have to look for US dollars. How is US dollars part of the trade between Djibouti and Kenya?”
He adds, “That is why Kenya champions the Pan African Payment and Settlement System that is done by our own institution — the Afreximbank… Why is it necessary for us to buy things from Djibouti and pay in dollars?”
Proof that the world is taking note and acting on this argument is in the fact that China, the world’s second-biggest economy, initiated a Yuan-Naira payment arrangement for trade with Nigeria.
This international payment option will bypass the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications system, operated by G-10 Nations to power global money and security transfers.
Russia, warring with Ukraine, its former client state, now insists on receiving its currency, the ruble, for the gas it sells to (especially) the Western European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance.
The blurb of Thomas Pakenham’s “The Scramble for Africa,” a historical account of how the West took over the fortunes of Africa, observes that, “Europe was experiencing a period of economic stagnation (in the closing years of the 19th Century) and (thought that) Black Africa might be… an El Dorado, a new market and tropical treasure.”
Pakenham stated that the missionary, explorer and medical doctor, David Livingstone, had suggested ‘the 3 Cs,’ of commerce, Christianity and civilisation, which he cynically interpreted as “a triple alliance of Mammon, God and social progress,” as a remedy for the blight of slavery and slave trade in Africa.
Livingstone’s conclusion that “trade, not the gun, would liberate Africa,” is just a pacifist route for Western nations to rule the economy of Africa.
GlaxoSmithKline Beecham is vacating Nigeria which no longer serves its commercial purpose.
Dr Patrick Lumumba, lawyer, social activist and former Director of Kenya School of Law and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, probably a motivational speaker to African politicians, has urged Africans to define their terms of economic and political engagement with the world.
Maybe Milei, who vows to dollarise Argentina’s economy, is cynically pointing out that the metropolitan economies have become so dominant that peripheral economies may have no need for their own currencies. By the way, the Argentine peso bears the American dollar sign.
Dollarisation will mean either the substitution or simultaneous use of the dollar with the currency of Argentina, the largest debtor of the International Monetary Fund, with a killing 143 per cent inflation rate.
It looks like the people of Argentina, their Western economic policy advisers and the rest of the world will see even more iconoclastic policies from the oxymoron in the radical, yet far-right, Milei.
Anyone who knows the workings of capitalist economics and can read economic trends knows that beyond becoming “flat,” the world and its increasingly interdependent economy will sooner or later be ruled by a single leviathan that operates from wherever the international monopoly capital chooses between New York, Beijing, London, Berlin or Tokyo, or even Pretoria.
Japanese business consultant, Kenichi Ohmae, has shown how cross-border businesses almost no longer have national addresses but take up an amorphous identity as it becomes more difficult to classify the legal residency of their ubiquitous international monopoly capital owners.
Ohmae says: “National borders are now irrelevant to most companies and consumers, regardless of whether they are in Japan, North America, or Europe. Current frictions and clashes at the national level may seem serious, but they are insignificant at the microeconomic level where customers buy and companies sell.”
The first place to look into for the tendency that the world’s economies may eventually merge into one is the consumerist outlook of the “glocal” citizens, the ultimate cosmopolitans, who dress, look, speak and exhibit the Western materialistic attitude wherever they are resident in the world.
Ohmae adds: “Americans are eager to buy (Japanese) Sony Walkmans and wear (Italian) Benetton sweaters. Like other cosmopolitan consumers in advanced industrial countries, they acknowledge the value of good products and buy them, regardless of their country of origin.”
If you took this “one-world” idea to the ridiculous, even bizarre, extent, you would have observed that striptease dancing, cross-dressing, even the LGBTQ syndrome and the biologically ridiculous idea of a transgender are trending throughout the metropolitan and peripheral nations!
Another evidence of the “one-world” trend is the global brands and the multinational corporations that manufacture, market, distribute and advertise them. Nearly everyone in the world today knows and craves one global brand or the other.
Again Ohmae points to an irony that hits the West: “The (now materialistic) Japanese (consumers) are not aware of contributing to imports when they drink the products made by Coca-Cola, nor do they feel any duty to drink a Japanese brand instead….
“They pay no attention to the fact… that Coca-Cola is an American company, or that Kleenex tissues are made in Japan by a joint venture that is 50 per cent American-owned. Schick has the largest share of the Japanese market for razor blades, but Japanese men don’t feel they have jilted the leading domestic (razor blade) brand!”
These global brands include European football teams and fast-moving consumer goods, like dresses, accessories, shoes, personal hygiene products, wines, beers, and quick-service restaurants, like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Domino’s Pizza and Nando’s.
But how all these work, almost like one big orchestra, to impose one culture and one economic model on the whole world, is the more intriguing part: Finance, technology and marketing communications are the nodal nexus in this intricate loop.
Yet the workings of the mechanism of Western capitalism have an inherent problem. By continuously adding layers of costs on a product, as it travels throughout the labyrinth of the market, a product acquires added costs that are almost irreversible.
It may be difficult to replace this cost-loading template that has permeated even into the communist systems (run by Communist China under Chairman Mao), and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (spearheaded by Lenin)!
Today, China and Russia are leading capitalist economies, even if communism and socialism are tucked in somewhere in the formal posturing of their Marxist political literature and economic theories.
The hypocritical USSR, under Stalin, appointed Dr Amanda Hammer, whose father emigrated from Russia to America, to establish Occidental Oil company, to handle Soviet Union trade in petroleum, gold and mink, with capitalist economies of the West.
The Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, who is also the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, needs to assemble economic theorists, corporate players, and entrepreneurs to review Nigeria’s current economic template and design a new one.
Just as Western democracy is not quite working out for Africa, as former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, have observed, the spiralling cost-loading template of the West is also not working for Africa.
Nigeria must evolve an economic template that works for it, and halt the hand-me-down template that holds its economy down for the West to exploit.
X (formerly Twitter):@lekansote1
Malawi’s path to an ‘Award-Winning Judiciary’ By Chidi Odinkalu
Joyce Banda, Malawi’s fourth (and first female) president, was in Nigeria earlier this month as guest of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Anambra State in South-East Nigeria, where she spoke at the 12th annual lecture in memory of the man after whom the university is named. It was also the 119th birthday of Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe, Nigeria’s founding president, and the month of the 26th anniversary of the death in 1997 of Malawi’s founding president.
At the lecture, Joyce Banda described Malawi’s judiciary as “award-winning” and many Nigerians in the audience, embarrassed by the contrast with theirs which wallows in infamy, broke out in spontaneous acclamation. The story of how Malawi’s judges became “award-winning” should be of interest to Nigerians.
On the ruins of the banned Nyasaland African Congress, NAC, Orton Chirwa, Aleke Banda and their confederates, founded the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, in 1959. The previous year, Dr. Akim Kamnkhwala Mtunthama Banda, who would later lead the country to Independence as Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (no relation of Joyce Banda), returned to the brutal embrace of a colonial jail in the country he left on foot in 1915. In the 42 years of his foreign sojourn, Dr. Banda had travelled through many countries and continents, acquiring qualifications in anthropology and qualifying as a medical doctor in both the USA and in the United Kingdom. On his release from jail in June 1960, Orton handed over to Banda the leadership of the MCP.
In 1964, on the sixth anniversary of Banda’s return to the territory, Malawi attained Independence with him as its first prime minister. Orton Chirwa, a graduate, like Nelson Mandela, of Fort Hare University in South Africa, became Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. Two months after the cabinet was sworn in, it was in disarray in a power tussle triggered by allegations of autocracy against Prime Minister Banda.
In many ways, Nigeria’s and Malawi’s trajectories managed to converge and diverge. Six months after the military took over power in Nigeria, Malawi became a Republic in July 1966, with Hastings Banda as its first president. It was also the month of Nigeria’s second military coup.
Orton Chirwa had little regard for the niceties of fair hearing. Prior to Independence, he took issue with the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in criminal trials, arguing for their replacement with traditional African ethos. As Attorney-General he sought these reforms but could not enact them before he was turfed out of cabinet in September 1964.
Following the collapse of the Chilombwe Murder Trials in 1969, Banda scrapped criminal trials by regular courts, transferring jurisdiction over them to so-called Traditional Courts, comprising a traditional chief as chair, with three citizen assessors and one lawyer. As both president and Justice minister, he appointed the traditional courts and they also reported to him. Orton’s ideas had become law.
The Traditional Courts eventually usurped the regular courts, affording to Hastings Banda a perverse veneer of process as they handed to him the heads of a succession of his political opponents in a periodic re-enactment of Biblical blood theatre designed for his macabre amusement.
The three decades of President Banda’s reign accounted for the murder and killing of over 6,000 in a rule described by the Los Angeles Times as characterised by “brutality, nepotism and whim”. The rule of law in the country was reduced to reading the mood swings of the man who would come to be known simply as the “Ngwazi”. As he memorably put it: “Everything. Anything I say is law . . . literally law.”
On Christmas Eve in 1981, Banda arranged to abduct an exiled Orton Chirwa and his wife, Vera, from Zambia and, in a tragic irony, had them arraigned for treason in 1983 before the kind of traditional courts that Orton had advocated for as Attorney-General. Their trial was a charade. The court denied them legal defence and the right to call witnesses. Initially sentenced to death on conviction, Banda commuted this to life imprisonment. Orton spent the remainder of his life in solitary confinement at the Zomba Prison in Malawi where, in December 1992, he died at 73.
In death, Orton exacted revenge on his nemesis. Reputedly born around 1898, Banda’s cognitive capabilities were in terminal decline. On June 12, 1993, Nigeria voted in elections to return the country to democratic rule after a decade of military rule. Two days later, Malawians similarly voted overwhelmingly at the end of tortured advocacy to end single party rule. In Nigeria, the military nullified the vote, extending its rule by another six years. In Malawi, the outcome stood and in elections the following year, citizens toppled Banda’s MCP, replacing him with Bakili Muluzi of the United Democratic Front, UDF.
Under President Muluzi, the country took steps to reinstate the rule of law, reform the Traditional Courts, integrate them into infrastructure of the lower magistracy and update the skills of former traditional court judges through suitable training. In the judiciary, the task of spear-heading this reform then fell upon two young judges: Andrew Nyirenda and Rizine Mzikamanda.
As his tenure wound to an end at the beginning of the millennium, President Muluzi thought himself indispensable and sought to extend his tenure, pitting him in a battle of wits with the judiciary who eventually ruled that being term-limited made him ineligible to run again. In this battle, the judiciary were strengthened by the popular support of citizens wizened by years under the Ngwazi.
In 2004, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika succeeded Muluzi. When Bingu died suddenly of a suspected infarction in April 2012, his younger brother, Peter, an American law professor for over three decades, who was also Foreign Minister, sought to engineer a departure from the constitution in order to by-pass the vice-president, Joyce-Banda, and install himself president.
Despite failing in this machination, Peter inherited his late brother’s political infrastructure and, in 2014, got himself elected president in succession to President Joyce Banda, whose effort to nullify this outcome was foiled by the courts. In 2019, Mutharika sought re-election and, knowing that he lost, got the electoral commission to erase enough results to announce him winner. In February 2020, the Constitutional Court invalidated that declaration.
The year after taking power, in 2015, President Peter Mutharika appointed Justice Andrew Nyirenda as Chief Justice of Malawi. It fell to Nyirenda’s Supreme Court to affirm in May 2020 that the election organised by the president that appointed him as Chief Justice was too flawed to be lawful. On May 8, 2020, they ordered a re-run.
Ahead of national elections in 2019, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari compulsorily retired then Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, whose fate was buried by the selfish ambitions of his own judicial colleagues.
In Malawi, by contrast, believing that he needed a more pliable court, President Mutharika sought on June 12, 2020 to oust Chief Justice Nyirenda and his next in line, Justice Edward Twea. In response, Malawi’s citizens blockaded the streets and the courts restrained a desperate president. Two weeks later, the citizens delivered the coup de grace, ousting President Mutharika in the re-run. When he retired in 2021 as Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda became a judge of the IMF Administrative Tribunal. His successor as the Chief was Rizine Mzikamanda.
In Malawi, citizens learned the hard way that the judiciary is ordinarily a weapon in the hands of the powerful; that judges are not born independent; and that judicial independence is fought for not donated.
Courts and the judges who sit in them are liable to suffer elite weaponisation in any country in which citizens are unwilling to provide judges with the political support to enable them to strategically defect from the status quo.
Malawi’s politicians, having learnt that this kind of judiciary endangers them all, have become reluctant converts to judicial independence. Trading in short-term control for long-term security of expectation, they seek and appoint the best to be judges.
In Nigeria, by contrast, subsistence remains the cause of politics; so politicians weaponise the judiciary in advancing a jurisprudence of subsistence. Citizens interested in changing this could profit from a study of how Malawi changed it.
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