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32 — Vanguard, MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2019


Tortoise folklore and national leadership

(A tribute to Pius Adesanmi)

THE article “Tortoise

Folklore as Metaphor of

National Leadership” is

published again, this week, as

a humble tribute to Pius

Adesanmi, a celebrated

African Intellectual beacon

who regrettably eclipsed

much, much too early, in the

fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines

Boeing 737 MAX in March

2019. Please read on:

“Prof. Pius Adesanmi, a

budding literary icon was

guest speaker at the “Second

State of the Nation” lecture

organized in November 2012

by Pastor Tunde Bakare-led

Save Nigeria Group.

Adesanmi, who was a Director

of African Studies at Carlton

University, Canada, chose the

title “Reparations: What

Nigerians Owe the Tortoise”

as his theme. I invite you to

share in an experience that

turned out to be an insightful

and sobering verbal interactive


“Adesanmi skillfully

humorously, personified the

traits of the Tortoise (Ijapa, in

Yoruba folklore) as primary

motifs to embellish his canvass

on the Nigerian predicament.”

“The defining character traits

of tortoise in the narratives, are

those of greed, selfishness and

such other odious, antisocial

behavior. Adesanmi tickled

the memories of his clearly

matured audience with three

such ‘tales by moonlight’

tortoise stories. The menu

included the popular story in

which Ijapa (tortoise), against

strict instruction, succumbed

to temptation to taste the

sumptuous meal, which the

‘babalawo’ (native doctor) had

specially prepared to facilitate

the pregnancy of tortoise’s

wife, Yanibo. “

“The punishment for Ijapa’s

greed was a steadily bloating

stomach; the tortoise’s

consequent desperate

lamentation for pardon

(babalawo mowa bebe) and

the chorus, (alugbin rin) have

remained resonant over the

years, and the audience did not

require any invitation before

they chorused the full melody

and lyrics of that song, in step

with the storyteller!”

“The second telltale of Ijapa’s

antisocial culture and greed

was his contrivance to corner

for himself all the fruits from

the only tree that remained

productive in Ijapa’s famineravaged

village. Instead of

strictly intoning the usual

melody that would release his

individual ration of one coconut

meal a day to drop on his back,

the selfish tortoise’s contrived

deviant refrain demanded that

all the potential output of the

coconut tree which should

serve the whole community

should drop on him in one fell

swoop, so that he would corner

the market and make

substantial profit from selling

his surplus to the starving


“Adesanmi also defines

Ijapa’s ingrained ingratitude

and selfishness, in another

story in which tortoise sets out

to cheat the bird family, who

were invited for a feast in

heaven. In a show of

comradeship, all the birds

donated some of their feathers,

so Mr. Tortoise could fly with

them to the party in heaven;

nonetheless, Ijapa insisted on

taking the new name of “All of

you” before the trip to heaven;

however, since all offerings at

the party were was usually

prefixed with ‘this is for all of

you’, the tortoise consequently,

mischievously cornered to

himself all the refreshments

and gifts provided to the

terrestrial guests.”


By Naomi Uzor

THE Raw Materials and

Research Development

Council, RMRDC, weekend, said

the aims and objectives of

Manufacturing Equipment Expo,

NME, are being met as companies

in Nigeria are now using locally

available raw materials and

fabricated machineries.

Disclosing this at the closing

ceremony of the of the 2019 edition

of the Manufacturing Equipment

Expo, NME, and Manufacturing

Partnership for African

Development, mPAD, tagged

“Optimizing Value Chain to

Maximize Growth and

Competitiveness in the

Manufacturing Sector”, the

Director General, Raw Materials

and Research Development

Council, RMRDC, Dr. Hussaini

Ibrahim said during the

exposition, the council realized

that a lot of companies were now

using locally available raw

materials and have been making

efforts at also using locally made

fabricated machinery to produce

a few products that are in the


Ibrahim who was represented by

“Of course, the hungry birds

were very displeased with this

fraudulent arrangement, and

so, before the return journey

back home, each bird took

back the feathers they had

earlier happily lent to Mr.

Tortoise; Ijapa therefore,

inevitably, tumbled from

heaven in a near fatal fall to

earth with broken bones and

a badly fractured shell as his

ultimate reward for his greed!”

“The common denominator

in the above stories is Tortoise’s

immutable ethos to cheat and


pleads that we

should once

again become

our brothers’

keepers, and


enthrone the

ethos of the

greater good for

the community

as our abiding


corner the common wealth or

muddy the waters for other

citizens after having his fill.

The attendant opprobrium of

shame or even severe personal

injury was never a deterrent.”

“Adesanmi argues that the

simplistic nature of tortoise

stories was not only bedtime

entertainment for our children,

but also served as easily

comprehensible symbolic

markers for moral rectitude

and the reinforcement of

positive communal values. In

this process, our children

would become ingrained with

socially supportive behavior

rather than succumb to the

NME Expo: Companies now use locally available

raw materials, machineries — RMRDC

the Director, RMRDC, Mrs Zainab

Hammanga, said within the three

days of the exposition, the council

had real time industrialists and

long time manufacturers who told

the council about their problems

and successes in the

manufacturing industry.

“In that way, a lot of audiences

have gained so much in the process.

We had organisations like Nigeria

Export Promotion Council, the

Nexim Bank, the Development

Bank of Nigeria, whereby these

people were able to tell them about

government’s efforts in trying to

help, especially the SMEs. They

temptation of selfish and

unbridled treasury looting at

the expense of other members

of society.”

“Our current experience as

a people mirrors with great

fidelity tortoise’s ‘me only’

culture, as the communally

forbidden fruit of antisocial

behavior encapsulated in the

tortoise’s DNA has regrettably

become the main menu on the

table of our leaders. The fear

of repercussion either in terms

of shame or personal injury has

since been erased by the

ineffective or non-existent

sanctions that accompany such

antisocial behaviour. Thus, our

leaders have completely

hijacked the intellectual

property of Mr. Tortoise, and

have become impervious to

shame as they wallow in

antisocial behaviour with such

impunity that would make the

tortoise ethos seem as mere


“Consequently, Adesanmi

argues that we owe a debt to

make reparation payments to

Ijapa in the same manner that

plagiarized intellectual

property attracts sanctions,

which may include


On the other hand, our

erudite storyteller admonishes

that the converse of tortoise’s

antisocial ethos is the adoption

of socially supportive and

inclusive behaviour, where

leadership is primarily

dedicated to the service and

satisfaction of the common

good. Such ‘pro-people first’

ethos is discernible, according

to Adesanmi, from the

example of the tall themes of

Chief Awolowo’s 1955 budget

speech, part of which reads as


“Of our total expenditure of

£12.45 million, not less than

82.6 per cent (capital budget)

are trying to move the local content

up the ladder. You will agree with

me now that if you go to the

supermarket, you will find alot of

made-in-Nigeria products on the

shelves of our international

supermarkets as well as our local


“The result of the advocacy drive

for NIRAM expo has helped in no

small measure to improve our

Foreign Direct Investment, FDI,

through foreign partnerships and

investments in local industries as

well as the enhanced exportation

of value added raw materials and

products” he stated.

President, Manufacturers

Association of Nigeria, MAN,

Engr. Mansur Ahmed disclosed

that the association is already

is devoted to service and

projects, which directly caters

for prosperity and general

welfare of our people i.e. health

(10.7%), education (27.8%), (5.4

per cent agriculture).”

“Nigerians may contrast

such a people friendly budget

with the current arrangement,

where consumption accounts

for about 70% of the federal

budget, while education,

health and agriculture,

cummulatively account for less

than 15% of total expenditure.”

“Obviously, the giant

educational and social welfare

strides of Awo’s ‘life more

abundant’ philosophy were no

accidents and the

socioeconomic benefits derived

therefrom still remain

meaningful today.”

“In consternation, Prof.

Adesanmi reminds us of the

Patriarch’s philosophical song,

which loosely translated,

means “the same rain falls on

sugarcane and bitter-leaf; the

sugarcane takes its own rain

and travels the path of

sweetness, while bitter-leaf

takes its own share of the same

rain and travels the path of

bitterness”. Similarly, the rain

of oil falls on Dubai and falls

on Nigeria; the rulers of Dubai

use their own share to create

a path of sweetness, while their

Nigerian counterparts

condemn their own people to

the path of bitterness, lack and

hunger. Every week, “the

Federal Executive Council

chambers in Aso Rock

becomes the meeting point of

tortoise ‘wannabes’, as

hundreds of billions are shared

out of the national cake to

friends and cronies, while 99%

of Nigerians still go to bed


“Ultimately, Prof. Adesanmi

pleads that we should once

again become our brothers’

keepers, and urgently

enthrone the ethos of the

greater good for the

community as our abiding



making contributions at the

continental level and has been

given a leading role in the

establishment of African

Manufacturers Association, AMA.

“This was a fallout of the Intra-

African Trade Fair, IATF, held

recently in Cairo Egypt. I was

elected the chairman of the interim

committee saddled with the

responsibility of birthing this Pan-

African body that would provide

the platform for African

manufacturers to collectively

address the challenges confronting

sustainable industrialization of

Africa and trade among ourselves.

The Director General of MAN was

also elected as co-secretary in

conjunction with his Kenyan

counterpart,” he disclosed.

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