In defense of constituted authority

Disclaimer: Governor Ajimobi is not my father, neither am I his son.

Disheartening. This was my reaction when I saw the video where Gov. Ajimobi of Oyo had a meeting with some students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, a University that is cooperatively managed by the governments of Oyo and Osun states. In the video, the students had a very unfriendly exchange with the governor, which almost led to the immediate arrest of one of them. Very embarrassing. The general reaction of many Nigerians has been one of solidarity with the students, considering the fact that the school has been closed for 8 months, and the governor was perceived to have made some unwarranted comments. To add fuel to the inferno, the governor’s daughter went ahead to use her social media account to call the students mannerless. Very unfortunate.

However, I would like to look at things from a different perspective. I do not intend to speak ill of the governor in anyway but I must admit that perhaps, the governor overreacted. Indeed it is a big deal to have a school shut down for 8 months. You know what they say about an idle mind. Nonetheless, in all of this, my biggest surprise has been people’s reaction to a particular statement the governor made during the ordeal: that he is the “constituted authority”. This phrase — “constituted authority” — has been the focal point of many people’s attack on the governor, which has caused me to wonder: is governor Ajimobi not the constituted authority in Oyo state?

I don’t know a great deal about the constitution but I am sure it says something along the lines of the governor of a state being the “constituted authority”; or at least that that he or she is the number one citizen of the state. If we agree, among friends, that Governor Ajimobi is the “constituted authority” in Oyo state, is it too much for him to ask that he be accorded some respect? Even if we ignore the constituted authority part, is it not enough that he should be respected based solely on the fact that he is an elderly man? I know talking about respect these days sounds like something from the stone ages but if the whole respect thing was not so important then why did our parents and teachers spend so much time teaching us?

The approach taken by the students was, to say the very least, discomforting. All sides have a share in the blame; the governor, the students, the society, everyone. I consider it a big problem if we neglect one of the fundamentals of African culture: respect, in a matter that should not even happen in the first place. What kind of community do we expect to have when the leader is the subject of mockery? If all Nigerians decide to ignore the way the students conducted themselves and focus only on the governor, well, I beg to differ. I will not participate in anything that would lead to a socially and morally irresponsible society. We need to understand that even when we disagree with people, there are rules of engagement, and as far as Africa is concerned, one of them is showing respect.

P.S: For those who would say “stay at home for 8 months let’s see what you will say”, during my time as an undergraduate student, I spent a combined period of least 9 months at home thanks to strike.