By Wale Adedayo
“A Pyrate is an individual who has dedicated himself to fight against social injustice.” – Ahoy Darkroom, Ash Montana, November 20, 1988.
Being Deckhands at the time, Capoon Blood of Tortuga was more than a role model for those of us on an ABC Deck aboard Ash Montana about 16 years ago. Known to Land Lubbers as Prof. Wole Soyinka, this septuagenarian affected the lives of young Pyrates in more ways than one. But the sole desire of prospective Seadogs in joining the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) at the time was to actualise a long-held dream of contributing to Nigeria’s emancipation. We wanted a change for the better in the society.
However, the Ogun State University Deckhands idea of change was as taught by our PFs. As Pyrates, we were taught that any meaningful change in the society begins with oneself. It has an equivalent in what adherents of Christianity often describe as being born again. Thus, on Falkland Deck, Seadogs resolved to initiate a change for the better.
Of course, guided by the Seven Rudder Blades and the Four Compass Points, the authorities of Ogun State University, as it was then known, had cause to commend the National Association of Seadogs for the work of its members on campus. In one of the activities carried out by the Deck, we effectively stopped the pilfering of library books for about three years, when a category of Seadogs was there.
In one month alone, Seadogs were able to recover about 100 books stolen from the library by some students, who always considered their interests above those of others. For Falkland Deckhands, ‘All before self’, was a daily experience. From one students’ residence to the other, Seadogs were able to identify a network of thieves that almost wrecked the Ogun State University Library.
It was the same approach during an examination period at the time. A network that specialised in selling question papers ahead of examinations was exposed and had its activities terminated in the Chemistry Department. This was in addition to checking the activities of lecturers who derived pleasure in harassing female students. Such lecturers scaled down their activities considerably.
Seadogs also ensured that students were not short-changed by rogues who often get elected into the Students’ Union as officials. In one instance, Falkland Seadogs ensured that a student was prevented from going to Law School, because he was yet to clear himself of allegations that he defrauded the Students’ Union. The SUB was ‘protected’ until the university authorities positively intervened. The executives of that particular session rendered accounts before the ‘protection’ was lifted.
Unlike other places, where public and private properties were often damaged in the course of students’ protests, with Pyrates on that particular Deck, it was different. Violent demonstrations that could negatively affect the hapless residents of Ago Iwoye were effectively put in check. Regular discussions with Students’ Union officials resulted in fruitful delivery of the promised service to those that elected them.
It was during this period that Pyrates on the national scene proved to skeptics that Nigerians could make things work in their country if they have the right orientation. The Federal Road Safety Corps, with Cap’n Blood at its head, initiated a revolution in road traffic management that is still being talked about today. Contrary to the opinions of latter-day experts, Nigerians were not branded as mentally deranged because of traffic misdemeanours. Punishments that far outweighed the offence committed by road users were not even imposed because those in charge of the FRSC knew their onions. Till date, that period of FRSC is still being sought to no avail.
For some, it was Soyinka who did the magic. This might well have been so. But for those of us who knew about Operation Road Watch, the orientation of those formulating and implementing policies must be of the right type for such policies to work. That period of our national life happened because of the many Pyrates who lived their oaths to Nigeria that the country must be a shinning example in the world.
Examples abound of rugged Dawgs who carried out industrial espionage on Nigeria’s behalf only to be disappointed by myopic government officials back home. Others were smart enough in turning it over to private investors who are yet to be bold enough to label such products as made in Nigeria. But the spirit involved in such a determination to make our country excel remains alive and vibrant in the hearts of thousands of Pyrates that have been trained in the art of changing the society for good since the early 1950s when the Magnificent Seven led by Cap’n Blood began their noble work.
With CB turning 70, it is time to take stock and decide what the next line of action should be in a Nigeria that is in dire need of those to turn its fortunes around for good. During the regime of self-styled President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, ideas of ‘assisting’ a political party with the right ideology to succeed was toyed with by the SPC. This was after suggestions of floating a political party by NAS were rightly defeated. It will not be a bad idea to revive this dream now. There is no ideology in the operations of all the major political parties in Nigeria today. The sole ideology, if one may call it that, is this ‘come and chop’ mentality. Public office is considered a place to ‘make it’. Hardly do politicians consider the public good anymore. Sadly enough, Nigeria’s private sector and the country’s democratic institutions are still in their infancy.
Unfortunately, without men and women imbued with a particular vision of where Nigeria should be and how to get there, this country will continue in its current vicious cycle of poverty for the hapless and downtrodden majority of Nigerians. At 70 years of age, CB has paid his dues. But there will be no better tribute to this man of many parts than for the outgoing and incoming NAS Cap’ns to put on their thinking caps and steady the ship in readiness for a major role in Nigeria’s degenerated politics.
* This article was first published as “CB: A rugged Saylor @ 70” (in) As It Is, The PUNCH newspaper, Monday, 19 July 2004, pg 15