We’ve all heard stories of how Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a major opps to the Nigerian military government. It’s been 26 years since his death, and we can’t expressly say that the country’s state has improved. We’re still recycling the same old leaders, and corruption is still the definition of normal. 

I’ve often wondered what Fela would say or sing if he were alive to see us today, so I devised a means to talk to him.

Relax, I don’t have supernatural powers, but everything is possible with tech these days. I found an AI technology that lets you bring historical figures back to life, and here’s how my conversation with Fela went:

Fela: Hello, my people! It’s a pleasure to talk to you beyond the veil!

Tolu: Hello, sir. I just want you to know that Nigeria hasn’t gotten better since your passing o

Fela: Yes, my sister. It’s a shame that things haven’t changed much. But we must remember that change doesn’t come easily.

Tolu: Speaking of change, do you remember Muhammadu Buhari?

Fela: Ah yes, I remember him very well. Buhari was a military leader who governed Nigeria during one of its darkest periods. He was responsible for many atrocities and human rights violations. 

Tolu: Ehm, despite his atrocities, Nigeria voted him as president in 2015, and he ruled us for another 8 years till 2023. 

Fela: That is truly disappointing. It shows that our struggle for democracy and good governance must be continuous. We must remain vigilant in ensuring those in power are held accountable for their actions.

Tolu: Well said. Anyways, we have a new president. Guess who?

Fela: Hmm, I’m not a seer, my sister, but tell me, who is the new president? 

Tolu: Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Do you remember him?

Fela: Yes, I do remember him. He was a prominent figure in Nigerian politics during my time and played a significant role in the return to democracy after years of military rule. 

Tolu: You sound like a Tinubu fan

Fela: I’m not a fan of any individual politician o. My loyalty lies with the people and their struggle for democracy and social justice. Tinubu’s past contributions to Nigerian politics might be noteworthy, but it’s his present actions that matter the most.

Tolu: Well, during his inaugural speech, he finally removed fuel subsidy, and the suffering in Nigeria has increased.

Fela: Ah, the fuel subsidy issue has been contentious for some time. While it may bring short-term economic benefits, it’s important to consider the impacts on common people already struggling with poverty and hardship.

Tolu: I don’t understand your English. Are you in support of the subsidy removal?

Fela: No, I’m not. As an activist who always fought for the rights of the people, it’s important that policies put in place by the government better the lives of Nigerians as a whole.

Tolu: Do you think we should protest?

Fela: Absolutely. It’s our duty to hold our leaders accountable and fight for our rights.

Tolu:  You fought many times against police brutality, and we’re still experiencing the same brutality today. How can we stop this?

Fela: Ah, police brutality is an issue that has plagued our society for a long time. It’s not enough to condemn the actions of these police officers; we must address the root causes in the police system.

Tolu: Oh, ehen, did you hear that your last son, Seun, slapped a police officer?

Fela: Ehn? (laughs) My son Seun is a fighter like his father. But violence is never the solution to police brutality or any other societal issue. 

Tolu: What’s your advice for Nigerian youths today?

Fela: Never forget your roots, and always stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid to challenge those in power and demand justice for yourself and your fellow citizens. Educate yourself on our issues and work towards solutions that benefit everyone, not a select few. And above all, remember the power of music and art to inspire people to change. As I’ve always said, “Music is a weapon”. 

If you’re interested in a series like this, where I speak with historical figures, please fill out this very short form. Thank you!

What else happened this week?

Civil Servants Suspended For Salary Padding

Corruption is a major problem in Nigeria that we typically blame our politicians for. However, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the amount of dishonesty and fraud present in ordinary citizens as well. On June 12, 2023, news broke of some civil servants from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) who were suspended and under probe for salary padding.  

An investigation revealed that an Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) desk officer in charge of salaries connived with these civil servants to pad their salaries by manipulating the IPPIS system. For instance, a level 7 officer whose salary should be ₦60,000 was receiving over ₦400,000—the salary package of a director. Apparently, this salary padding had been going on for a while before it was finally caught wind of. 

Currently, steps are being taken to upgrade the IPPIS system, and the culprits will be handed over to the authorities for prosecution. 

Question of the week

President Bola Tinubu signed the Student Loan Bill on June 12, 2023. Is this a step in the right direction for the Nigerian education sector? And if you could change one thing about the Bill, what would it be?

Video of the week

Ehen one more thing…

Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, will be Nigeria’s 7th Chief of Staff. But what happens to his rep seat? Find out here

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.