During the month of July and the early part of August, I acted as a panelist on a series of interviews for prospective teachers in preparation for September resumption in private basic (primary) and secondary schools in Lagos state.
During the interview, it was noticed that mathematics acquaintance proved to be a big challenge to many of the applicants.
While the results of the applicants in the written tests gave the panels a lot of disquiet, another bigger uneasiness is the result released by WAEC where 61.32% of students that sat for the May/June examination failed English/Mathematics.
But one wonders why many Nigerian students would refuse to take the subject of Mathematics serious, when the subject has played very noteworthy roles in the country’s political history.
When one recalls some of the mathematical solutions in the country’s politics, one can only marvel at the effect on the society. No discussion of mathematics in Nigeria politics will be thorough without mention of the Richard Akinjide’s legal recipe combined with Professor Chike Obi’s mathematical formula. Since then, arriving at a “two third majority” in Nigeria has created a lot of controversy especially in state and national assemblies.
Michael Ani’s declaration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari as the winner of the August 1979 presidential election was disputed because it was based on Ani’s interpretation of the ambiguous electoral decree which said, “A candidate must obtain one quarter of votes cast in at least two thirds of the states of the federation.”
To calculate the infamous two-thirds of the 19 states, the Nigeria’s celebrated and renowned mathematician, Professor Obi had to appear in court to crack the nut! Subsequently Nigerian politicians have displayed numerous innovative ways and methods of arriving at two thirds which are more often than not, confusing.
As an admirer of the late strongman of Oyo politics, the man the Ibadan people fondly referred to as Ariyibi. When the then Governor, Senator Rasheed Ladoja fell out of grace with Lamidi Adedibu, his erstwhile political godfather over non-payment of “gratuity” and the 32-member Oyo State House of Assembly needed to secure a two-third vote in a bid to impeach the Governor.
It will be recalled that the eighteen Adedibu loyalists decided to employ the 1979 Richard Akinjide’s political shenanigan with Professor Chike Obi’s mathematical formula to impeach the Governor.
In arriving at the equation, the use of elimination method was applied. Thus, the fourteen of the thirty-two lawmakers were ‘subtracted’ via suspension, leaving eighteen Adedibu’s loyalists to impeach the sitting Governor.
In Ekiti, a State acclaimed as the ‘fountain of knowledge’, Governor Ayodele Fayose was locked in a fierce political battle with the 26-member state assembly that was dominated by the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Seven lawmakers of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party that were loyal to Governor Fayose held a session to elect a new speaker and other principal officers while the 19 APC lawmakers were addressing a press conference in Lagos.
Nigeria is truly a land of numerous wonders as seven PDP lawmakers were escorted into the state Assembly Complex in Ekiti by Mobile Police Commander, Selenkere Michael to perform the ‘solemn’ duty. When accosted, Governor Fayose said the seven lawmakers breached no laws!
In the same vein, when the lawmakers in Niger State resolved to impeach the governor and the speaker over the alleged non-implementation of house resolutions, staff and members’ welfare and non-release of the statutory allocation to the assembly for months among others. Unusually, 21 out of 27 members of the House that were in the premises began the process of impeaching the Governor. This time around, unusually, two-third majority was met.
But in a bid to foil the ‘plot’ by the lawmakers, both the state governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu and the Speaker, Adamu Usman adopted a quadratic equation that one of my friends referred to as the almighty formula which involved using armed Policemen from the Department of State Security Service and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to seal up the Assembly complex.
Just like the formula is to many students, the 21 Lawmakers were magically barred from forming a quorum since they were prevented from gaining entrance into the State House of Assembly complex to perform their constitutional duties. Hence, the impeachment was forestalled and aborted.
In the same vein, Nigerians watched with confounding amazement on national television stations when six out of 38 Rivers State lawmakers who were opposed to former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, attempted, albeit unsuccessfully to impeach the Governor. It was obvious that with the tacit backing of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, six was equal to two-third of 32.
And of course, watchers of political events in Nigeria know too well that, courtesy of former President Goodluck Jonathan, 17 was also greater than 19 during the infamous crisis that rocked the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in the Rotimi Amaechi’s group versus Jonah Jang faction crisis
In a related event, 15 out of 24 members of the Enugu State House of Assembly commenced an impeachment process against the State Governor, Sullivan Chime, citing allegations of forgery, inflation of funds for state project execution and unlawful acquisition of public landed property.
But the process took a dramatic turn when eight members of the House loyal to the Governor sat, impeached the Speaker, Honourable Eugene Odoh and shot down the Assembly indefinitely. After his sack by just eight members of the House, the ‘impeached Speaker’, Honourable Eugene Odoh, insisted the other 15 lawmakers would continue with the impeachment process of the Governor until a political solution was applied to calm the frayed nerves.
It was obvious that while the eight lawmakers who struggled to protect the Governor by ‘impeaching’ the Speaker could not possibly be taken serious because they did not amount to two-third of the House, the 15 aggrieved lawmakers that attempted to impeach the Governor also acted ultra vires.
Until an average Nigerian grasps correct mathematical formulas in fraction and ratio as well as their applications, we may unwittingly be sustaining the ‘Mathematical’ Akinjide’s Legacy which can only be damaging and destructive to the polity.