Gadflies And Society: As Pius Adesanmi “Wailed” In our Social Wilderness: The Life And Times Of Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi

By Ikenga Chronicles April 7, 2019

Gadflies And Society: As Pius Adesanmi “Wailed” In our Social Wilderness: The Life And Times Of Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi

A Lecture in celebration of the Life of my great friend and Brother, Prof. Pius Adesanmi, who died in an Ethiopian Air disaster on the 10th of March, 2019 in Ethiopia

By Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh, PhD
Director Africa Dept.
International Society for Human Rights, (ISHR)
Frankfurt am main, Germany

1. Curtains:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am grateful for your presence here tonight.

As a participant-observer of human life in society, I can say that, life in most of the world today, has grown to become a festival of schedules. Everyone is so very busy, and overloaded with schedules. This is why one should never take the gift of anyone’s presence, both in your life, and at your event or occasion for granted. Life is a sequence of moments; time; our greatest resource. We should never underestimate nor overestimate the time we have on our hands to do good; and on departing, leave our footsteps in the sands of time, like Longfellow famously exhorted; and as Prof. Pius Adesanmi, in whose memory and honor, we are gathered here today, has done!

We must always be grateful whenever our invitations are honored. We must always show gratitude for every friendship we have, for every help we receive and for every favor done us. We must be grateful for the time we have and use it to its fullest. Tomorrow is not promised us.

To that end, I thank all of you here today, who made time out of your busy schedules to join us. 
We are honored!

I wish also to thank Mrs. Priscillia Adenuga, Mr. Chijioke Onah, and Mr. Chike Nwoke for putting this evening together. I thank also Prof. Dr. Katharina Hartmann of the Institute for Linguistics here; and Prof. Dr. Frank Schulze Engler of the Institute of English and American Studies here, for their help in making this evening a reality. I am grateful to the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt, my Alma Mater; for availing us this platform to reflect on the life of my friend.

What better ambience, could befittingly host a platform to celebrate the life of a teacher, than that of a university; that citadel of teaching, learning and research, which was the backdrop to Pius’s greatest unfolding and career, as an African and a global citizen?

A university is not only a citadel of learning. For every rational society; for every humane society; for every society enroute civilization and progress, the university is like that metaphorical yeast, which permeates lifeless flour; making it to rise and expand. And since Prof. Pius Adesanmi likes beer; and was always getting his “beerings’ right, whenever he socializes, one would be amiss to miss the role of yeast, in the brewing of those “nectars of the gods” we variously call wine and beer.

The university is over and above being the metaphorical yeast, actually the brewery of knowledge serving the whole of society. If the university is hijacked by fraudulence, or allowed to brew cocktails of intellectual toxicity; or afflicted by pestilences of unreason, it devastates the entire society, by producing men and women, who are nothing but replicas and vectors of those very diseases, harbored and replicated by the university. If a society is corrupt, look to its citadels of learning. It is not any better. If a society is retrogressive, its citadels of learning must not be anything better. If a society is dysfunctional, then its citadels of education are breweries of toxicity. If a society is governed by gangsters, then its citadels of learning are presided over by moral imbeciles, intellectual cowards, or venerable scoundrels.

Prof. Pius Adesanmi knew this.

This explains his dedication towards revitalizing and retooling African universities for the 21st century, through many of his collaborative training programs with many African universities, for instance the University of Ghana, and Ilorin, Nigeria respectively.

Prof. Adesanmi, in spite of everything he was to many people, loves teaching, and joyously desired to be known basically as a Teacher! He was a teacher not only to his students at Carleton. He converted the social media, and newspapers columns into classrooms, from which he taught many Nigerians and Africans.

With years of theorizing under his belt, his poems, creative writings, and books all became teaching moments for him and for us all. He never missed any moment to live out his vocation of being a teacher. I cannot imagine any aspect of the African and Nigerian public life and reality, that Prof. Adesanmi has not theorized about. 

His book; “You’re not a Country, Africa”, which was a collection of his essays; ranging from his quasi-autobiographical journey, into self-discovery and self-situation, to discourses on the embezzlement of Africans from history and even scholarship as his essay in chapter 13 of that book, titled “I, Sarah Baartmann, Invisible” showed.
His first chapter of that book, titled “Oota”, which was his African name dealt with the idea of two publics existing in the mind of every Post-colonial African. He tried a resolution of that crisis of identity with a story of how his parents retired his African name Oota, and resurrected Pius, which was the name of Pope, because their only son, could not be caught carrying an African name into a catholic seminary in Eastern Nigeria, manned by the Spiritan Fathers.

In all his works, Pius was a delight to read; prodigiously inventive with words, and deeply anchored in history, knowledge and nuance. 
With all these in his kitty, Pius graduated into a gadfly, striking terror into the hearts of irresponsible power-centers in Nigeria and most African countries. His biting commentaries and brilliant satires were weekly delights for many. His Facebook updates, his twitter engagements, his email-group contributions and his Nigerian Tribune Newspaper column, titled “Injury Time with Pius Adesanmi”, all ensured that irresponsible power and the atrocious psychology of mediocrity, afflicting Nigeria and most other African countries, are not allowed to become culture.

He inspired us with his prodigious mind. He edified us with his brilliance and intelligence. He never hid those gifts. He lighted himself as a candle, and put it on the lampstand for Nigerians to take a cue, that we should never be satisfied with mediocrity.

He taught us in virtue.

And like St. Frances de Salles once said, that “those who taught men in virtue, will shine as stars for all eternity”. I believe that Pius Adesanmi will shine as a star, for all eternity in our firmament. He taught men in virtue. He taught Nigerians and Africans never to be satisfied with mediocrity. But to seek to make themselves better; to never accept that heights of greatness are impossible. He was a koboko on the asses of irresponsible power. He was a brilliant essayist, a loving father to his daughters, a loving husband to his wife Muyiwa, a great, loving and doting son to his mother; a great brother to his sisters, and my bosom friend, brother, and my mother’s son.

2. My Thankless Job today

I am here to show gratitude to Prof. Pius Adesanmi. Not to bury him. For a guy that took the wings of the morning, on that fateful Sunday the 10th of March, 2019, and was incinerated together with 156 other people, in a fiery exit that was final; there may be nothing left to bury.

I am here to celebrate the life of my friend, and brother, not to deliver a funeral oration. I am neither a Mark Anthony, out to mourn a Caesar, nor are there similarities between Pius’s and Caesar’s death.

If Pius was murdered by a congress of conspirators; I would have dared to convert this podium into a Capitol, and raised an armada of revulsion to avenge his death. I have told myself many times, that Mark Anthony’s oration of yore, would pale into insignificance compared to the deluge of torrential words, which I would have convoked, and let cascade like the Niagara; to rouse disgust at his murder.

If Pius Adesanmi, my friend, my brother, and my mother’s son, was killed by physical principalities and powers; those powers would have seen legions of Nigerians rise up in irrepressible vengeance, with unparalleled vehemence.

But Pius took the wings of the morning, and flew into eternity. Pius’s life, and that of 156 passengers, was eclipsed at high noon, on the 10th of March, 2019, as the Ethiopian Airline Boeing 737 Max 8, operating a scheduled International passenger Flight, as Flight 302 from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia, to Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, crashed near the town of Bishoftu, six minutes after take-off, killing all 157 people on board.

Pius, flying close to 13 hours from Ottawa, to Addis Abeba, was supposed to have a lunch appointment, with a common friend of ours, Prof. Tade Aina, that day in Nairobi, before heading to his ECOSOC meetings.

He never made it to that lunch!!!

Pius Adesanmi was until his death, a professor of Literature and the Director of the Institute for African Studies, at the Carleton University, in Ottawa Canada; a perch and platform he deployed in letting loose his passion for Africa; a service in pursuant of which he was on his way to Nairobi, on that fateful day that he lost his life.

His life, as his writing, public and personal engagements testify, was a shot taken at immortality. Pius was a man in a hurry. He may have known that longevity was not promised him. He used every second he had, to follow his passion, which was Africa! He did it faithfully and to the best of his ability, marshalling all the talents and opportunities offered him, and deploying them in service to his fellow men and brothers and sisters. He used every opportunity to make us never lose sight of what is important.

Even in the midst of tears, Pius would always want us never to lose sight of the goal, but to keep on at it, in spite of the pain. For him, we can only honor the dead by being more insistent in our advocacy for what is right, true, and beautiful. In 2009, I lost my elder brother Mr. Christopher Ogbunwezeh, in a car accident in Nigeria. It was such a heavy blow. Christopher was a rock for my family. Those networks of dysfunction and potholes, pretending to be roads in Nigeria, claimed him. He was 44 when he died. Attesting to many research findings that life expectancy in Nigeria, hovers around 40 years of age. Every philosophy I knew, became powerless to console me or minimize my pain. I couldn’t analyze the pain or comprehend the unfairness of it all. I could well understand Herbert Grönemeyer in that moment; who sang a beautiful dirge to his departed wife, titled “Der Weg”, which has as its heartrending refrain: “Das Leben ist nicht Fair”- Life is not Fair. I was slipping in and out of depression, anger, helplessness. Friends all tried to console me. I am normally a kind of a loner, when it comes to painful events or tragedies. I tend to take flight into the deep recesses of mind, to try to work through the pain. In those dark weeks, I got a lot of condolence messages, and support from a lot of friends. I got one mail, which shows the character of the man, I came to know, love, cherish and admire as my friend and brother. It reads:


I just read news of the tragic loss of your brother. Condolences. It is tragic that you, an important public voice, should lose a dear one to the very circumstances we condemn everyday about that sorry country: bad roads and attendant needless accidents.

The only way you can honor the dead is to make your voice even more strident.


That was Pius Adesanmi, writing me from his perch at Carleton University in Ottawa Canada, in 2009 at the death of my elder brother, reminding never to bow to hopelessness, but to be strident in my engagement with Nigeria and her dysfunctionalities, as a way to honor the memory of my dead brother.

This mail summarizes the attitude of Prof. Adesanmi. He acknowledges our weakness and pain, but is always on hand at the personal level to help us see beyond the dark clouds.

That is is the path I am willing to take, after my loss of Pius.

This mail alone may not express the depth of the bonds, which Pius and I shared. But a lot of our common friends are still in doubt whether I would be able to pull this off. I know the violence being done to my heart; by the fact of my standing here today, to deliver a lecture, doubling as a funeral oration, and farewell address to this great friend of mine, who became my brother, and my mother’s son.

I would have wanted something different.

I had an occasion to fear for Prof. Adesanmi’s life. I was frightened to my marrows, when I couldn’t hear from him. I used all the channels that we use to communicate to no avail. I became alarmed.

And then it happened.!

On Friday, Nov.2, 2018, at 16.54pm, I got a WhatsApp text: It reads thus:

“My Mama son I am back from the dead o”

That was Pius Adesanmi writing me, after months of being incommunicado, consequent on a car accident he had in Nigeria, which nearly took his life. Unable to reach him, I raised hell, asking anyone, who could be asked, where they were hiding him. I thought he was dead and no one had the courage to tell me. Normally when we want to embarrass each other in our playful manner, we shout on Facebook. I went on Facebook then to shout out my frustrations, on not hearing from him. 

That forced him out. He wrote to tell me that he was okay. After which we had a video call.

And the rest was history!

I was grateful that he survived Nigeria. I was grateful that he survived a country that we give our all to, but which in turn eviscerates all that we have cause to cherish. I was happy. But my happiness lasted only 4 months.

And Pius died!

3. Our paths crossed!

Many have asked me: How, when and where did you meet Professor Pius Adesamni?

This is a legitimate question, against the backdrop of the fact that every story starts with-Principio- An “In the beginning”. It was the same in the book of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” It was the same when the author of the Gospel of St. John wanted to establish Jesus as the new beginning. He started with: “In the beginning was the word”! Our children’s story books start with “once upon a time”, and so on!

I have railed and written about dysfunctional infrastructure in Nigeria, I have criticized primitive thievery in governance in Nigeria, and many African countries. I have criticized the adoption of mediocrity, and the civic apathy of majority of Nigerians. I have written and talked a lot about the poverty of ideas dominating our decision-making bodies. I have suggested many ways forward. I have railed about those primitive fault lines like tribalism, which was actively cultivated by the ruling class in Nigeria, in subservience to their visionless and primitive acquisitive tendencies. I have debated ferociously about dysfunctional leadership and governance in Nigeria on many listservs and forums; making many friends, attracting many admirers, and also many indefatigable enemies in the process.

All these fights for Nigeria were informed by a deep love for my country, and a deep pain at the wastage of potentials and resources, which the country became at the hands of a range of blind, deaf, and murderously tyrannical civilian rogues, in collaboration with a consortium of military brigands and their foreign collaborators.

It was in the course of these fights for the soul of Nigeria, that I met Dr. Pius Adesanmi in 2003, in many of those Nigeria listservs, that became the watering hole for Nigerian intellectuals scattered all over the world in the late 1990s and early 2000.

He was present in every forum I was in. We were following each other like hunchbacks. We wrote together We were together in UTexasgoogle group organized by Prof. Toyin Falola of the University of Texas. We were together in Naijapolitics, which was a yahoogroup organized by Matto from the US; to name but a few.

Those were the young days of the internet. We became internet warriors in our spare time. The old Napoleonic lesson that “the pen was mightier than the sword”, was our operating mantra. We had the keyboard. We used it to devastating effect. Many top Nigerian politicians got to taste our biting critiques and analyses of issues. They had their minions and mandarins in those groups too. But the patriotic and kindred spirits crystallized and formed lasting bonds of friendship, which originated within those listservs and grew stronger outside it.

Pius was a young PhD holder who finished his PhD in French Studies, a year earlier in 2002, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. I was a young doctoral candidate starting my PhD in Social and Economic Ethics, under Professor Johannes Hoffmann and Obiora Ike, here at the Goethe University. 

The Internet gave us a forum in the form of chatrooms and message boards. Ideas blossomed as they were exchanged for free. We realized that Nigeria had many brilliant heads. We wondered where these guys were, and Nigeria was going to hell. We lived online and fought for the Nigeria of our dreams. Many of our exchanges became opinion pieces. Many of them led to bitter battles of tribal provenance, which has been the lens through which any discussion about Nigeria is carried out, even till today. Many of them reached the ears of power in Nigeria. Many of us became hunted because of our views. Many, gained power through their patronage and retailing of official narratives, financed by those sodomizing Nigeria. Some of our battles spilled into concrete existence and became court cases across American and Nigerian jurisdictions. We lived for our ideas. We wanted Nigeria to live up to its potentials and promise. We churned out ideas; myriads of them. We were never afraid to state our views and visions. Theories took flight in those forums. We were young. We were insistent. We wrote and read.

And we were heard.

It was in the course of that, that Pius and I took notice of each other. He confessed to being in love with my peculiar way of stating my side of the story. I fell in love with his intellectual depth, his wit, his satirical manner of delivering serious issues. I must confess that I was intimidated by his deep knowledge of culture. His knowledge of history and philosophy was well was breathtaking. His mind could process infinite amount of information at a speed I have only seen in a few people. It was a meeting of minds. It was a meeting of brothers from across time.

He was dope!

He was a young doctor, armed with an opinion and the intelligence, and wit to deliver it. I was a young PhD candidate, armed with an opinion and with enough braggadocio to deliver it. We were frolicking in listservs patronized by professors of many things. We were not intimidated to say the least. As the years went by, I could not resist reading him immediately he penned anything. He later told me that he couldn’t resist reading me whenever I wrote. He was marveled at the way I weave history and philosophy as backdrops to whatever I wanted to say then. We were drawn to each other like twins separated at birth, but seeing much of each other in the other person. We got talking and found out that apart from Pius coming from that area of Nigeria that people call Yoruba, and me coming from that area of Nigeria that people call Igbo, that we shared similar vision of Nigeria, reality, intellectual engagements and so many other things. I would drop an article and Pius would call and chastise me of stealing the ideas that he has in his mind. “Old boy, how come you used the words I could have used today na”! And sometimes, when he is theorizing, I would call and ask him “Old boy, how come you thief my words and ideas in my mind.” I see him speaking my language, and he felt the same way on many occasions about my words. We knew we were brothers from different mothers. Our relationship changed upon that realization. We became brothers.

Once in the course of our online engagement, I got into a very intense disagreement with a revered Nigerian professor of an American university that turned ugly and resulted in two opinion pieces; published by many Nigerian websites then; one from me, denouncing his take on Chinua Achebe’s refusal of the Nigerian merit award that the Obasanjo government awarded him. The professor wrote, denouncing me for denouncing his take. It was passionate. It was intense. No turfs were given and none was taken. I was firing on all cylinders. The professor was too. It became the subject of discussion in naijapolitics forum. The professor was from Pius’s part of the country. And as is usual, people took sides based on where their tribal allegiances lay. But not Pius. Pius wrote me asking me not to mind the take of the professor, who was obviously wrong, but couldn’t admit it! He stood on the truth of my position and reminded those who wanted to retail that as an ethnic war, that it was not one, but a battle between two positions and visions of morality. I argued that Achebe was right in rejecting Obasanjo’s offer of a national merit award, while financing the conversion of Achebe’s home state into what Achebe described as a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. The other party argued that Achebe has no right to protest. Pius stood for his principles on that occasion. He taught me that truth has no tribe.

Our friendship took off from there. We graduated into brothers as time went on. We started calling each other my twin, and my mother’s son, or my mama pikin. Our friendship subsisted till that very cold evening on Sunday the 10th of March, 2019, when I called Nairobi and Professor Tade Aina confirmed to me that Pius was on that plane.

I never in my entire experience imagined that I would be deemed worthy of such a morbid honor, of saying farewell to a bosom friend, who generously shared his life and gifts, and plans and project with me and with many other people across our world.

I can now understand the doubts gnawing away at the heart of that ancient author of the 121st Psalm, when he cried:

“I look up to the mountain! From where shall my help come?

I have helplessly tried to understand why Pius must die at this time. I have not gotten an answer to that.

I have asked myself severally: where shall I derive the courage to speak about Pius in the past tense?

Is it from our deep love, brotherhood, mutual respect, and common admiration of each other, which transcended tribe, tongue and distance?

Is it from the concrete plans we had, of being at the vanguard of grooming a new crop of political leaders for Nigeria?

Is it the mutual respect of our various talents? Is it from the great times and experiences we shared?
Is it the fact that we see each other as kindred spirits?

And why should I do this? Why should I bid him farewell?

I guess I am doing this for two reasons. I am doing this for him, and secondly for me. On one hand, this is my coin of tribute to my brother heart; to honor his memory and all he stood for, among many other things. 
On the other hand, I am doing this is to remind myself, that although each man’s death diminishes me”, as John Donne the metaphysical poet, would have it; that I should not send to ask for whom the bell tolls, since it tolls for me and it tolls for all of us. Prof. Pius Adesanmi has done his bit. What is left is for us to do our bit.

I am doing this because I believe that life is the moment we have. In spite of all the fatalisms of pessimism, and inasmuch as Shakespeare would love us to genuflect to that depressing fatalism, that; 
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing;

My philosophies tend to agree more, with the optimistic anthropologies of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; who wouldn’t have any of Shakespeare’s pessimism. 

Longfellow’s take was a rejection of that Shakespearean cynicism. I would appropriate Longfellow, as against Shakespeare, in asking everyone to;

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Though Pius Adesanmi is dead, his life and the fact that he, in this very hall, in this very moment today, is transcending his death, as he hitches a ride in our memories; proves Longfellow right. The soul is dead that slumbers. Pius Adesanmi did not slumber. And we shouldn’t. Or else, we would be dead. And that is what death is; namely, to be lost to memory; to be plunged into eternal forgetfulness. The dead is he who is forgotten.

I am doing this also because; Longfellow reminds me that:

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.

I am doing this because, Longfellow intimates us that:

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

I am doing this because, I want to forever have Longfellow’s reminder before me, to the effect that;

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a Hero in the Strife!

Pius Adesanmi lived this, as his life attests. In the world’s broad field of battle, in that bivouac of life, he was not like dumb, driven cattle. He gave the powerfully corrupt, a good lashing for their hypocrisy. He gored their pretense at the altars of probity. He proclaimed the justness of being fair and just. His lips he did not seal. He became a hero, not only in the strife, but in the lives and memories of many Nigerians, and Africans. That was his shot at immortality. And he took it. Pius Adesanmi is dead. But he lives. He lives in his works. He lives in his achievements. He lives in the fond memories of his friends and admirers.

I am doing this also, to remind myself to;

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,-act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

I am doing this because, Prof. Pius Adesanmi’s life and;

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

3. Pius Adesanmi as the Gadfly that “Wailed” in our Social Wilderness:

In the views of the great British philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead, “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” That is to say that all Western philosophy is footnote to Plato. That was North’s contention in his great work, titled “Process and Reality”. Aristotelian supremacists, I know, would not like that very much, I suppose, not minding the fact that Aristotle was Plato’s student.

In spite of the controversies, which his observation generated and still generates; I wouldn’t mind deferring to Whitehead on this, this evening, for two reasons. The reasons are Prominence and Place.

Plato has been a towering figure in the history of Western philosophy. And that is no mean achievement. His influence is all around us, from Christianity to films like the Matrix.

Two, Place: 
Without any intention of diminishing or belittling the contributions to western philosophy of every other person from the ancient Ionians, on whose shoulders, Plato may have stood, or whose ideas may have irrigated Plato’s conceptual universe, I wish then, in deference to Whitehead, commence my reflection from Plato; since I am in the halls of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt; that great citadel that has offered some serious contributions to contemporary philosophy and social theory, through its popular Frankfurt school, made of up of great thinkers like Horkheimer, Adorno and Jurgen Habermas. Critical theory, which is fruit of their intellection is still a tool being deployed across many disciplines today. Plato is reputed to be the founder of the first institution of higher learning in the Western world-the academy. So, being in a university, I would naturally defer to the guy reputed to be a founder of the idea, which metamorphosed into universities today.

The idea of a thinker as a gadfly was first broached in written form by Plato. This great Athenian Philosopher, in his apology for the life of Socrates, reminded us for all times and across all climes, that every society needs a gadfly, to sting the “steed” of State into acknowledging its proper duties and obligations “According to the words put into his mouth by Plato, Socrates believed that he had been sent by the gods to act as a “gadfly” to the Athenian state. He saw the state as “a great and noble steed” which had to be reminded of its proper duties. Socrates believed he did this by stinging the steed of state “all day long and in all places”. No wonder it wanted to get rid of him by forcing him to commit suicide!“

Who is a Gadfly?

A Gadfly common defined, is a person who annoys or criticizes others in order to provoke them into action. So, “If you refer to someone as a gadfly, you believe that they deliberately annoy or challenge other people, especially people in authority“. This is taken from the fly that annoys and bites livestocks.

Gadflies are society’s conscience. They are loved and they are hated according to the stake of those liking or hating them, at each point in their careers. In so many embraces they are branded or even murdered. Some of them like Socrates of Athens, would be condemned to hemlock, as their societies battled to commit crimes against philosophy. Some of them, like John the baptizer of Galilee, would have their head handed on a platter, to the daughter of an adulteress; on the orders of the moral imbecility of psychopathological power, represented by Herod the Tetrarch of Galilee. Some of them would be crucified in between thieves, like Jesus the Nazarene was. But in Nigeria under Buhari, anyone who criticized Buhari and his incompetence, was labeled a “Wailer”, by his paladins, and notorious hatchet men. Pius Adesanmi was also called a “wailer” by some sections of the Buharideen apparatchik. That was why I chose the operative word “wailed”, to own it for all of us that are critical of incompetence, nepotism, and the petty atrocity-spangled psychology of many an African henchman; a war which Pius Adesanmi joyfully fought for all of us.

Whether they are wailers, or voices crying in the wilderness, gadflies never tire of reminding their societies, that their asses stink, and that they should reform their psychologies to enable them attain their highest potential and promise. They are visionaries, who keep awake, thinking for their socieites, while many of their countrymen slumber mired in the limitations of the status quo. 

Pius Adesanmi once declared publicly in an interview, that all he owes Nigeria, is thinking! That was the moment, he confirmed all we have known about his public engagement. Pius Adesanmi grew to become Nigeria’s Gadfly. 

In his essays and interventions, he became an un-lance-able boil, on the scrotums of power. His career was an indictment of governments’ fraudulence and falsehood. He was not only a voice screaming in the wilderness. He was a bullish bullhorn, blaring its message from the rooftops. He was that persistent vuvuzela, trumpeting its dissidence to all ears, harassing our civic apathy, acquiescence, and lethargy. He railed against our atrocious national sociology of everyone wanting to go into government, not for service, but to take a turn at stealing. Pius never got tired of jolting Nigerians to what their country has become under their watch. Any observer or student of the Nigerian situation, just like Pius would see that Nigeria under our politicians became “the earthly address that Satan rents to provide temporary accommodation for the occupants of hell whenever he needs to service the furnaces in hell.” 

He wrote about the Nigerian pretense thus:
“The sum total of national life is nothing but an endless footsy playing between those in government and those outside, hoping to cajole them to be let in or scheming to shove them out and take their place. Either by election or appointment, a Nigerian has no greater definition of success and life fulfilment than a political office, no matter how paltry and insignificant (Restructuring by Pius Adesamni, See Facebook Post)

For Pius, that tragic sociology destroyed Nigeria. He urged every Nigerian, even those wanting to leave Nigeria for Biafra or Oduduwa or Arewa republics respectively “to restructure their psychology before they leave” since that “tragic sociology destroyed the Nigeria they are fleeing”. That was vintage Pius.

Pius Adesanmi realized that power according to Noam Chomsky, is a very violent institution, and that like John Pilger had it, that ‘one of the noblest human struggles is against power and its grip on historical memory’ Over and above keeping the politicians on their moral toes, he was aware and hated the soft bigotry of low expectations, which has been the civic refuge of our citizenry. He was always flogging our mediocre expectations, and rejecting it whenever it showed its head. He wrote his heart out in his article “The parable of the Shower head”. Pius spared no opportunity to lament and agonize over the intellectual laziness and mental indolence of the Nigerian political class. 

Pius criticized pretensious arrogance of our men of power treating Nigerians like their chattel. He criticized the destruction of our educational system, which was deliberately destroyed by the ruling class, so that they would always have a mass of ignorant hangers on to lord it over; while sending their children to the best schools abroad; so that they can take over, from where their fathers stopped. Pius never hid under the putrefying collectivity of anonymity. He named his subjects and gave them pieces of his mind. Saraki’s brigandage in Kwara State and in the senate as president never escaped his stinging rebuke. He dished on the Jonathanians, those bandwagon of intellectual fraudsters, and political masochists, who were online justifying the plunder of Nigeria under Jonathan. He dished on the Buharideens, those vociferous band of insufferable vuvuzelas, in the public space, insulting our intelligence, trying to justify Buhari’s grotesque incompetence, inexcusable nepotism and all round incompetence of his government.

Pius wanted a Nigeria that lived up to its potentials and promise. He wanted a Nigeria that would jettisons the flotsams of moral imbecility and embrace civilization. He wanted a Nigeria, where his poor mother would not wait until his death, before the governor of Kogi state, would start doing something about the poor woman’s pensions. He wanted a Nigeria, where every Kayode, Okeke, Ekpenyong, and Musa would be treated as human beings with dignity. Pius knew just like Terry Pratechett had it, that evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.

Pius was not a peddler of Jeremaids. He was not the kind that peddles fire and brimstone like the old testament prophets would. He was a trader in laughter and nuance too. He was a master of satire. He deloyed his wits to dissect our predicaments in ways that are superlatively didactic but impregnated with comedy. His book „Naija no dey Carry Last“, was a collection of satirical essays dissecting Nigeria and Africa.

To read his books is to be a witness to a profound intelligence working his way through his reality in time. 
To know Pius is to know ebullience, laughter, joy.

That was the Pius Adesanmi, who was lost to Nigeria and to Africa in that plane crash.

He wanted an Africa that is not the toilet paper for the rest of the world. He wanted an Africa that would forever be the pride of every African. His interventions on, and in Africa are testaments to that.

Pius was on his way to the meeting of ECOSOC, in Nairobi Kenya, when died.

Professor Pius Adesanmi was a scholar of first eminence. He is a great man possessed of a very fine and cultivated intelligence. He has a will of steel. He brings his ample wit, charisma, and prodigious mind to bear on any task he set for himself. He is all human. He hated every citadel of oppression with a passion. He is at home in his cultural skin as a Yoruba man; and deploys that as a pedestal of meeting the world and his fellow human beings. He hated supremacist ideologies with a passion. That is the basis upon which Pius would fight you to a standstill with all the weapons in his intellectual arsenal, no matter how much respect he nurses for your person.

Pius Adesanmi stood for the truth of his convictions. He sought knowlege. He hated mediocrity and fought against it.

What do you stand for?

Pius stood for something!

That is the man we are celebrating today.!!!!

He would be sorely missed by his wife and daughters, his mother and sisters, his relatives and friends and by all of us, whose lives, he touched with his intelligence and total dedication to seeing Nigeria work!

Pius my brother: Thank you for the friendship and brotherhood we shared. That plane pulverized your body, creating a crater. The crater you left by taking the wings of that morning, can never be filled.

Your death has robbed us of one of our finest.

Goodnight my brother.

Good night my mother’s son!