Tuesday, 12 May 2015


As a follow up to my previous blog “BROTHERHOOD: EIYE CONFRANTERNITY ON PEACE MISSION (1)”, I received number of phone calls, e-mails from friends and non-friends all over the world for bringing to light  effort been made or better still currently making to educate the public and  every Nigerian confraternity on the importance of Nation building and peace in the society. Read bellow  The Text Of Speech Delivered By  Akin Ogunlola At The First Annual Converge Of National Association Of Airl Lords (N.A.A.) Canada Chapter On August 9, 2008.Enjoy it……

Members of the N.A.A., Canada Chapter,
Members of other Confraternities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am greatly honored to be invited to talk on a topic that has not only for too long been source of concern to every Nigerian confraternity but also one that I am the least qualified person to discuss. I specifically thank the organizers of this discussion and everyone that have in one way or the other made the program a reality.

Before we proceed, efforts must be made to understand the terms, a) “nation-building, and b) “Confraternities.

 Nation building means different thing to different people. According to Carolyn Stephenson, “nation building is a normative concept that means different things to different people. The latest conceptualization is essentially that nation-building programs are those in which dysfunctional or unstable or failed states or economies are given assistance in the development of governmental infrastructure, civil society, dispute resolution mechanisms, as well as economic assistance, in order to increase stability.

According to Wikipedia, “Nation-building refers to the process of constructing or structuring a nation using the power of the state. This process aims at the unification of the people or peoples within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run. It can involve the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth”. Yet, a 2003 study by James Dobbins and others for the RAND Corporation defined nation -building as “the use of armed force in the aftermath of a conflict to underpin an enduring transition to democracy”.

For the purpose of our gathering here today, I would prefer to adopt the one by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, which defined nation building as “equipping nations with the institutional foundation necessary to increase their capacity to effectively assert self-governing powers on behalf of their own economic, social and cultural objectives. The Study identified some core elements of a nation-building model such as: (a) genuine self rule (i.e. nations making decisions about resource allocation, project funding and development strategy), (b) creating effective governing institutions, especially non-politicized dispute resolution mechanisms and getting rid of corruption”.

To me, reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment as well as ensuring entrenchment of the rule of law, social justice and enduring democracy are integral elements of development and nation-building so that the role of Nigerian confraternities towards nation-building MUST be measured among other criteria, against how much or how far they have contributed towards preserving, championing, guaranteeing, or achieving the above elements within the Nigerian society.

A Confraternity is defined as an association of persons united in a common purpose or profession. Examples of early Confraternities include but not limited to Confraternities of the Cord, which were pious associations of the faithful, the members of which wear a cord or cincture in honor of a saint, and the Confraternities of Christian Doctrine, which was an association, established at Rome in 1562 for the purpose giving religious education.  There was also the Rosary Confraternity, which existed since the 17th century.

Today, in Nigeria, we also have various associations of persons or students united in a common purpose. Originally, the earliest Nigerian confraternity, Pyrates Confraternity (National Association of Sea Dogs) was founded to fight societal ills and injustice as well as what the members considered elitist nonsense among university students at the time.

According to a well researched article by Bestman Wellington, the origin of  Confraternities on Nigerian University campuses dates back to 1952 at the University of Ibadan when the “Magnificent Seven” headed by Professor Wole Soyinka (code named “Captain blood”) founded the Pyrates Confraternity (P.C.) to address what was rightly perceived as negative tendencies at the time. These men known as the Original Seven are:
1.            Wole Soyinka
2.             Ralph Okpara
3.             Pius Oleghe
4.             Ikpehare Aig-Imoukhuede
5.             Nathaniel Oyelola
6.             Olumuyiwa Awe
7.             Sylvanus U. Egbuche.

After the Pyrates Confraternity, came the Supreme Eiye Confraternity (S.E.C) in 1969 also at the University of Ibadan. Historically, the SEC started in 1965 as “EIYE GROUP” at the Nnamdi Azikwe hall, by such patriotic and visionary leaders like Goke Adeniji, Dele Nwapkele, Bayo Adenubi, Bode Fadase, Tunde Aluko, Kayode Oke, and Bode Sowunmi among others. This group of young adventurous students with strong commitment to excellence, desire to make positive impact on the socio-political psyche of Nigeria and ensure complete break away from colonial/imperial cultural domination of the time were also not prepared to be like other conventional clubs known for their foreign or imported names, hence the unique Yoruba name “EIYE”. The half a century old usage of “eiye o ni sa sun, on buta” (a bird has no pot, yet feeds itself) was in fact given by Nwapkele, an Ibo student who was fluent in Yoruba language and proud of local people’s heritage. The Eiye group later metamorphosed into the Supreme Eiye Confraternity as we have today, with Ibadan as its MOTHER NEST.

In 1972, a member of the Pyrates Confraternity, Dr. Bolaji Carew (code-named “Late Ahoy Rica Ricardo” and a few other members were accused of not following the teachings of Pyrates and they were expelled. This group of expelled members, led by Dr. Bolaji Carew later founded the Buccaneers (National Association of Sea Lords). Another organization was the Neo-Black Movement of Africa (Black Axe) which started at the University of Benin in 1977. There is also the Fraternity Order of the Legion Consortium, also called the Klansmen Konfraternity (KK) that was started in 1983 by five students at the University of Calabar. A year after the formation of the KK emerged yet another one called the Supreme Vikings Confraternity (SVC). A few other confraternities such as the Family Confraternity (Mafia), the Brotherhood of Blood, otherwise known as “Two-Two” (Black Beret) have also arrived and presently existing in many of Nigerian universities. Although the early Nigerian Confraternities were exclusive preserve of men, as time went by, we later witnessed the emergence of a few female confraternities that sprang up in our tertiary institutions. Examples are the Black Brazier (Bra Bra), the Viqueens, the Daughters of Jezebel, and the Damsel.

According to Section 40, Chapter IV of the Nigerian Constitution dealing with Fundamental Rights of Nigerians, “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests”. This is the legal foundation for the existence of any association, confraternity, political party, religious body etc in Nigeria. Ours are not, and cannot be regarded as extra-constitutional associations notwithstanding whatever current shortcomings being used as propaganda against us.

Every Nigerian, regardless of sex, ethnicity, or religion basically agrees and shares some common goals and desires with his fellow Nigerians. Among others for example, as a people, we need a functional and less corrupt government, drinkable water, steady and uninterrupted supply of electricity, security of lives and property, good and affordable housing and education as well as a society where there is rule of law, respect for human rights, enduring stability and social justice.

In the same vein, our government, like every other governments worldwide, is set up to make the country a better and orderly place to live by providing the  laws, rules of acceptable conducts, punishments for violations, necessary services to the people in addition to overall security of lives and property. A good government must also at all time remain responsive to the needs of the citizens and respect the wishes of the people as expressed either in an election, referendum or opinion poll.

 Members of every confraternity in Nigeria have common interests in good governance, respect for human rights, advocacy for a more just and equitable society where the “weak and downtrodden” have equal opportunity as the privileged and powerful. It is this desire to solve some known societal problems and protect common interest (personal and national) that led to the formation of these confraternities in the first place in accordance with the provisions of our Constitution. Noble as the ideas behind formation of the Nigerian Confraternities are, it is without doubt that many have lost sight of the noble objectives that led to their creation or the important task of nation building that today, rather be part of the solution to national problems; the confraternities are generally considered, and rightly so, as part of the problem.

The virtual disappearance of our collective aspirations as a people, the abysmal failure of successive Nigerian governments in the performance of their traditional ordinary governmental roles, coupled with societal lawlessness and high level of corruption in Nigeria have all combined for the present state of  violence, lawlessness and destruction among various Nigerian Confraternities as we now witness.

Nigeria of today is a paradox of abundance. A country that is very rich but hungry. We are the 6th largest producers of petroleum in the world but the citizens spend hours or days at the gas pumps for gas if and when available, this is apart from ridiculously high prices for the gas, there is also widespread decay of the country’s infrastructure, erosion of work standards, lack of support services and of course, corruption problem that continues to frustrate any meaningful change and development.

According to former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Thomas Pickering in 1998, “when we think of the positive changes in Africa, we are not reminded of Nigeria. Instead, we think of Nigeria when we consider the Africa of lost economic opportunities, tragic abuses of human rights, and repression. This is disturbing because I know firsthand that Nigeria has every reason to be a success story, to be a model for its region and a leader of the continent. It has the human and material resources to provide for every one of its citizens. It has or had educational base to develop political, academic and artistic leaders that could have inspired a continent, enriched the world and led in international as well as regional cooperation and development”.

As members of various Nigerian Confraternities, how have we tried to ensure that Africa in general and Nigeria in particular lives up to her full potentials? In what ways have we championed worthy causes of poverty reduction, equality of justice, eradication of illiteracy, transparency in governance or establishment of enduring democracy to mention a few?

Our “ruggedity” must not be measured in terms of how many lives and property we have destroyed, mayhem unleashed on innocent students, crimes we have committed, or the number of injuries, casualties and violence that we have visited on each others and our society, but against how many lives we have saved, how many causes we have championed, and against our overall fearless commitment to fighting for the less privileged members of the society. 

Without doubt, some individual members of the early Confraternities have stood up or spoken out and demonstrated rare courage in the face of tyranny and oppression of the Nigerian people to advocate for rule of law, social justice or return to democracy. However, the same cannot be said about the Confraternities as associations of persons united in a common purpose. Many Nigerians today associate Confraternities with violence and destruction more than nation building or fighting for any known noble cause that they even refer to various Nigerian Confraternities as “Cults”.

While there are reports of humanitarian projects being executed worldwide by the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), the National Association of Air Lords, and a few others, the criminality and violence of young Confraternity members on Nigerian campuses who continue to wage wars of supremacy over petty and personal issues like “girlfriends”, and remain continuously manipulated by corrupt politicians and university officials, will continue to overshadow these genuine efforts at nation-building. The old members of various Confraternities must therefore drop the debate of how better, less destructive or more patriotic they were compared to the present crop of members and redirect their energy towards reformation and redemption of what they had voluntarily started several decades ago.

The challenge before each one of us today therefore is to fashion out practical ways to ensure sanity in our schools and refocus energy on the true objectives of Confraternity through both intra and inter –confraternity interactions, better education for all members, enlightenment and awareness programs for the young members as well as devising appropriate disciplinary mechanisms to curb excesses and hooliganism which have for too long characterized confraternities in Nigeria. In addition, the older members must be more active and visible in the fight against injustice and advocacy for peaceful resolution of conflicts, campaign against corruption and other well deserved reforms in Nigeria. All these must be in addition to nurturing and maintaining open channel of communication and interaction with the young members of our various confraternities with the overall goal of discouraging violence and possible deviation from acceptable standards.

Finally, while it may be true that early confraternities were not as violent in degree and extent as those of the present; it is also true that no single Nigerian Confraternity is completely immune from violence. The oldest Confraternities are known to have resorted to one type of violence or the other either in their resolution of conflict or fight for a cause considered noble.

Ours are not mere social organizations. We are groups that must pride ourselves on service to community, philanthropy, scholarship, integrity, honor and tradition. Efforts towards true nation-building by various Nigerian confraternities must begin with prior eradication of violence from our schools, rededication to academic excellence and other objectives of various confraternities as well as renewed commitment and interest on the part of older members to regulate and supervise the activities of the young ones who are prone to violence and susceptible to manipulations by Nigerian politicians and unpopular Vice chancellors. 

Towards this end, we must all mount pressure on both the Federal and state governments in Nigeria to demonstrate genuine commitment to students safety and security by implementing those recommendations put forward by Ben Oguntuase (former Capone, National Association of Sea Dogs) when he proposed that the leadership of all fraternities in Nigeria should come together with the representatives of university community and the Ministry of Education to constitute a national governing body, “The National Inter-Fraternity Council (NIFC) which will be charged with specific responsibilities aimed at reducing violence and monitoring compliance with set rules and acceptable standards among others.

As already stated, I am not unaware of a number of good works and philanthropic activities of a few Nigerian Confraternities both at home and abroad. Neither am I unmindful of rare and extreme courage already displayed by certain distinguished individual members of these confraternities who continue to fight for a better Nigeria even at the risk of their personal safety, comfort and freedom. I am personally proud and I salute them for their relentless patriotism. 

It is my position however that, until we can collectively say that Nigerian confraternities have succeeded in eliminating inter confraternity violence on our university campuses, provided leadership training skills for the youths to make them more productive members of the larger society, while at the same time contributing to national stability, security of both lives and property, eradication of poverty and preventable diseases, advocating for a better and less corrupt Nigeria through the presence of rule of law, respect for the rights and dignity of man, peaceful resolution of conflicts in a democratic society where solid foundation is laid for sustainable economic development and social justice, it cannot be said that we have contributed in any meaningful way towards the Nigerian nation-building.

To me, this is the challenge that must be promptly addressed. Membership of Nigerian confraternities is fast becoming an undesirable stigma and the trend must be reversed. Every member and every confraternity has a role to play in reversing that trend. The solution does not lie in finger pointing, name calling or the frantic and wasteful generational argument over which Confraternity is “real”, “fake”, “more or less violent” because whether we like it or not,  all fraternities have certain practical characteristics or qualities in common apart from the bitter truth that the new university confraternities have come to stay. The new ones are all children and grand children (or branches) of what was started in 1952. 

More importantly, without the 1972 crises within the first known confraternity (Pyrates Confraternity) which marked the beginning of break aways, we may not have witnessed the existence of so many confraternities that presently litter our tertiary institutions and campuses. The founding members and older ones must therefore be willing to take responsibility for their action, stop whining over departure of young fraternity members from academic excellence, or the wrong-headed direction of present Nigerian youths, and take a more proactive role towards redeeming the collective image of these confraternities with the overriding goal of making Nigeria a better place for every all.

To stubbornly expect the 1950’s standards from today’s youths in an over militarized and ultra violent Nigerian society is to ignore the unfortunate reality of Nigeria as a country. Today, the level of government’s use of deadly force and complicity in suspected political assassination of its critics are more common than was probably the case even in the Nigeria of 70s. Has anyone here forgotten so quickly how late chief MKO Abiola and his wife, Kudirat Abiola died? What about late Pa Alfred Riwane and late chief Bola Ige? I have also not forgotten the reported assassination attempt on late Abraham Adesanya on the streets of Lagos by suspected agents of Nigerian state. The point being made here is not to condone or approve the criminal activities of any member or particular confraternity but to show that even Nigeria as a society has greatly and substantially departed from whatever civilized standards of the 60s and brazenly embraced violence in resolution and settlement of political and social disputes.

The youths are products of the society where an average Nigerian believes in power show, intimidation and harassment. Today, even the local people would seek the services of military personnel to intimidate others in their demand for house rents or debts owed. The level of lawlessness is so great that military signs are even posted on private lands or wrongly acquired property in the form of “This land belongs to Major-General A, B, or C, and trespassers will be militarily dealt with”. In most cases, the owners of such properties are civilians trying to ward off trespassers. To expect a higher standard from the vulnerable and mostly misinformed youths of same country is unrealistic.

As members of these confraternities, we cannot continue to clinch to the same old and unproductive arguments of “we” against “them”, “old members against “new members” or “real confraternities” against “fake confraternities”. What we urgently need is solution to the current wave of violence on our campuses, complete halt in the destruction of lives and property by the present crop of Confraternities with a view to securing the desired peaceful environment necessary for honest nation building and enduring development.

Thank you all for your time.      Fly safe.

Akin Ogunlola is a U.S. licensed attorney and Air Lord.

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