JUSTIFIED! MY LORDS…
“Truth is a polished house, Capricious is a raised dust, when the dust is raised, even those endowed with eyesight cannot see.” – [Sa’di]
Sometimes, my lords, it takes an exceptionally unbiased mind to look through a thick bush of prickling thorns just to locate a little sparkling red rose. Unfortunately, for a mind beclouded by prejudice, no matter how nice the rose may smell, the ugly thorns will always cover them. This is the exact case before us this week my Lords. It is the case of the Kunle Adepeju statue recently unveiled by the past Students’ Union administration as led by Babatunde Badmus. Since the administration unveiled its last project in office, rumours and grumblings, like house flies have started trailing their footstep as to whether, the project is justified or not. However, without any regard to any bad bele, I make bold to say that it is highly justified.
But before I proceed, my lords, and in order for us to properly appreciate this side of the argument, it is important that we launch into the annals of history, to dig out its bowels and bring out the answers to that salient question, “Who is Kunle Adepeju?”. It was on the first day of February, 1971. The students of the premier university, University of Ibadan had all filed out to protest against mal-administration, oppression and injustice of the school’s institution towards the students. The students in a bid not to be “as bad as the oppressor” as Mohandas Gandhi rightly said decided not “to keep silent in the face of oppression”. They had trooped out in great numbers to march against high-handedness and institutional bungling. But then, something happened, the policemen were called to quench the students’ peaceful protest, and in their foolishness shot at the students to scare them away. One of the bullets zoomed off and landed on the body of one of the students, Kunle Adepeju!
My lords, Kunle Adepeju has made it to the records of time as the first student martyr in Nigeria. His blood was the very first we sacrificed for liberty and dignity. Though, some who have been deprived of effective reasoning may argue that the Students’ Union Building is already named after him and memorial lectures have been instituted in his name. They may argue further that naming the whole world after him or erecting his statue in all cities of the world will not bring him back. Oh! Yes, we agree with them that all these things won’t bring him back, and we are definitely not trying to bring him back. My lords, what we are simply doing is to keep his memory alive amongst us, to remind us of our gloomy past; the sacrifices we have had to make and to inspire us to not let down in the struggle for freedom. And even that my lords, I do not think it is too much to erect a statue in the memory of innocence murdered on the altar of cruelty.
Meanwhile, accusing fingers may be pointing to the bad intentions of the Administration that built it. It may be said that the statue was built by them to feather their selfish ego-cap. And some are even of the opinion that the statue is one of the few icings the BB-led administration has created to cover the mess of its regime. However, my lords, it is hightime we separated the baby from the bad water. Though, it may be very difficult but it will be highly unjust to taint the memory of our beloved Adepeju in a bid to spite a failed administration. I know it may be very difficult, but it is better we pay attention to the beautiful rose petals of this statue and not to the prickle intentions of the builder.
Finally, I will implore this honourable court to give preference to reason ahead of cheap sentiments; thoughtfulness ahead of hasty evaluation, and dignity ahead of ignominy. I rest my case.
NO, IT IS NOT
“Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best.”- Max Beerbohm
“Our laboratory of ignorance may be our greatest asset”- Gimba Kakanda
For folks who are not gullible as to join some anti-science scientists, who are obvious victims of severe mental Ebolatic syndrome, in drinking and bathing with salt water (to protect them from the same disease), the justification of the statue too should find no space in thought boxes!
Issues like this could turn one to an accidental student of monuments and other figures of memories, but it is worth it, knowing that history occupies a great place in the menu of reformers. Most of the notable statues and monuments across the world are more of the results of some artistic assent to memories and exciting realities, not mere assemblages of clay, Iron or stones that could reduce great men and giants to mannequins you find in cloth stores at Dugbe. The Statue of Liberty in New York City symbolises freedom throughout the world, also depicting a woman escaping the chains of tyranny. The woman’s left hand holds a tablet inscribed with the date; July 4, 1776(the day America declared its independence). The statue put up by the Uniting Uites team is contrary to this great monument; the statue, which bears no affinity with the true looks of this first student martyr, is a reflection of the fact that the Unibadan Students’ Union is unlike the ones of old or the expected, same way the statue does not reflect late Adepeju’s looks!
Perhaps the Uniting Uites team got a pitiable interpretation of the late U.S. writer, Elbert Hubbard’s definition of history, “History: a collection of epitaphs”. For the team’s resounding failure, there is no need for an Adepeju monument before epitaphs are written, the epitaphs for such administrations are best written in human hearts. Uites are perhaps not humoured by the sympathy-joke of the team. First, it was the notebook “package”, now the statue; the ideology of the team throughout their administration ridicules the type of wonders they pulled in their last days, or who does not know that deep in the mouth of a smiling trickster are the molars of falsehood? The many corruption allegations that married their necks like beads, and the diverse conflicts that made shame of their “Uniting Uites” slogan, invalidates whatever good they might have had in mind before putting up the statue. They could have imbibed the “end time” spirit earlier in their administration, sparing the student populace a show of shame.
My lords, just like a confused man needs more than a change in hairstyle, the need of the Students’ Union building is not a facelift, rather a change in the thought process of the occupants is necessary. The Uniting Uites team could have decided to be reformers and not building beautifiers, they could have turned around the fortunes of the union; they could have set enviable standards for the Redemption team; they could have unconsciously produce a classic that could be titled: “Good governance and excellent leadership: the Uniting Uites example”
My lords, some folks could cite patriotism for the Union as enough reason to justify the statue put up, forgetting that “patriotism is an emotion of love directed by a critical intelligence”. True patriots are not contented with half-baked expressions of leadership values; they demand the highest standards and accept nothing outside the best, rather than a conformity borne out of sympathy with initiates of the sect of mediocrity!
Finally, my lords, the Uniting Uites team putting up the statue is not justifiable; an attempt to justify this action is to imitate the drunk’s steps as we take a stroll in the park of reasoning. I rest my case!
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
KUNLE ADEPEJU STATUE: JUSTIFIED OR NOT?
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