The title of this write-up is borrowed from the late Major General Mamman Vatsa who was executed by his childhood friend, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, for leading or planning a coup against him in 1986. He was executed by firing squad, along with twelve others, on March 5, 1986.
But after the judgement that condemned the accused coupists to death, delivered on February 25 same year, by Major General Charles B. Ndiomu, chairman of the military tribunal that tried the accused coupists, Vatsa made a brief statement, part of which were the wordings, “…if you throw stones at yourself, people will join you”.
Apparently, it was a coded message to his friend, IBB: We came from the same town, we grew up together, went to school together; we are more like brothers, watching each other’s back; by harming me, you will ultimately harm yourself because when the sharks come visiting, I wouldn’t be there for you. Or something like that.
Whatever he meant, throwing stones at oneself could imply lack of confidence, disdain for self, absence of self worth, despondency, inferiority complex and all words that define someone who sees himself as scum and the wretched of the earth. People will accept you for what you present yourself to be.
I like the phrase. And when you apply it to us as a nation, one can say that Nigeria, or those saddled with her affairs, keep throwing stones at Nigerians who always excel when they escape the avalanche of stones being thrown at them by their supposed guardians.
They keep throwing stones at us at every turn. Consider coronavirus. The western world that we consider the best of humanity is battling for its cure, which may take at least six months to have in an abnormal race for it. Then other “lesser” countries – read Madagascar – with leaders who believe in themselves, their country, people and potentials dug deep into their culture and came up with a cure – a cure the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned against but now is the toast of the world, being bought by countries and getting grants for its mass production..
But before Madagascar produced its own, Nigeria’s scientists in universities and traditional medicine practitioners had produced their own and told the nation so. None among our leaders has deemed it fit to say fine, our system of education should be tested since it’s our scientists or our traditional medicine men. Some of these scientists have also studied and excelled among people we consider superior to us. Ditto for our traditional medicine practitioners: Some have studied traditional medicine where traditional medicine is doing wonders and considered above orthodox medicine.
Our leaders’ feeling of inadequacy or greed for the greenbacks or both is making them throw stones at our indigenous efforts. They prefer to wait for the Whiteman’s medicine no matter how many of us will die or will eagerly go to Madagascar to buy plane loads of theirs. In whichever case, there is more to be gained than by empowering our people with capacity to research more and refine their products.
Would they have gone to Madagascar if their leaders had behaved like them? Now, have they given a thought to how much Madagascar would make in foreign exchange? Aren’t they thinking of other sources of revenue, or are they still waiting for oil to bounce back? Clearly, that’s not their concern, Nigeria I mean. Their pockets are more important.
What has happened to the shouts on us to “patronise” home-made products? You only know a person’s real thinking when the chips were down. We have always been sold on lip service; leaders telling us what to do to “move the country forward” while they practise the complete opposite.
But who even told them ours may not be more efficacious than the one made in Madagascar? Do they not know that what makes the world develop is competition – which forces people to always try to better what is in existence? Must we remain receivers instead of contributors to the wellbeing of the world? Nigeria will gain more foreign exchange in the interim from producing these remedies than from crude oil. Its standing among nations will soar. Don’t they see?
Our leaders have been throwing stones at us by neglecting our hospitals and research institutes. The thinking is they have learnt a lesson; that it is wrong to deliberately fail to develop your country, its resources – human and natural – and engage in medical tourism as a result. That henceforth they will focus on providing the best at home. Alas! They are now enamoured with the product of a people whose leaders honour them and pave ways for them to utilize their God-given talents.
Even Senegal is producing test kits at the cost of $1 each which churns out results in ten minutes while our own test kits bought at $60 each – again, from those that are “superior” to us – takes 24 to 48 hours to produce a result. Ghana has produced home grown drones that carry samples for testing from remote areas to testing centres as a result of which it is only second to South Africa in the highest number of people tested in our continent.
Take ventilators, most sought after equipment. They have been produced by undergraduates here. Bayero University, Kano, and Abubakar Tatari Ali University have all produced them. Just last week, Federal Polytechnic Ilaro has constructed one while University of Benin has produced ones that do not need electricity.
But perhaps we should go to Senegal and buy testing kits then come to Ghana for drones? By the way, they should know that Dr Jérôme Muyangi, the discoverer of the Madagascar medicine, is a Congolese who left his country because the leaders there where throwing stones at him. Congo’s loss is Madagascar’s gain. Professor Maurice Iwu’s Covid-19 remedy is also with the Americans for testing. Our loss.
Why do our leaders have the attitude of throwing stones at us?
It is this attitude that made us lose an Olympic medal and world heavyweight boxing belts. Anthony Joshua was here in 2008 to represent the country in that year’s Olympic Games but was rejected. He went back to England and four years after, he won Olympic gold medal and later became a professional. He now has four World Heavyweight Boxing belts, the WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF.
There are many Nigerians, especially in sports, who changed nationality when they were thrown stones at or sensed the stones would start coming. Gloria Alozie, a hurdler, went to Spain and won medals for that country, Francis Obikwelu went to CR7’s Portugal while Africa’s fastest man and 100 metres record holder, Olusoji Fasuba, ‘Americanised’ and enlisted in the country’s Army. They all won Olympic medals for Nigeria, though, before changing allegiance. Daniel Igali, the Bayelsa-born wrestler, picked an Olympic gold for Canada before returning to Nigeria.
There are also footballers from John Fashanu, Emmanuel Adebayor, David Alaba to Totenham’s Dele Alli and Chelsea duo, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, among others. I recall Fashanu recently saying he currently receives N5m yearly from the English FA just because he played for England at a time. What does Nigeria do for her former sports stars?
Late Professor Ayodele Awojobi, an ABU, Zaria alumni, nicknamed Dead Easy, Macbeth and The Akoka Giant, was the youngest professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Lagos and was the first African to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Science in mechanical engineering at the then Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. It is said that such a degree is exceptionally and rarely awarded to a scholar under the age of 40.
The Akoka Giant invented an automobile he called Autonov 1. It had the ability to move both forward and backward with all pre-existing gears. It can achieve its highest speeds at a moment’s notice, in the normal reverse direction. This invention was advantageous to the army especially during an ambush and they need to make a fast retreat.
Dead Easy died without seeing its mass production because it was unpatented, but mainly so as he wanted Nigeria to produce it rather than the various advanced nations wanting him to sell them the patent. Nigeria’s loss again.
Perhaps when our leaders stop throwing stones at us, we shall come out of our ‘potential’ inertia as a nation with such kinetic energy that would see us dominate the world. Well, if they won’t, then, maybe, we too have to go to Madagascar and bring a plane load of leaders.