By O Busayo Mfr

This intellectual exercise examines the reflections and depictions of
the socio-political prevalence that underscore, permeate, and
handcuff Akeem Lasisi’s “THEY SAY I HAVE NO CERTIFICATE” with a view
to establishing the import of the influence of contemporary political
occurrences on the political poem, and on the creative imagination of
the poet. To achieve this objective, a close reading is used to carry
out a practical and an in-depth examination of the poem with copious
references from the poem.
It also argues and exposes the intellectual intercourse between the
universe of the poem, its urgent thematic significance and its
multi-faceted outlooks – mostly the pseudo reformers and their
empty-headedness, the masquerading saviours and the displacement of
sanity from the centre. It thus provides an adequate extra-linguistic
and literary resources and evidences that build the universe of the
text. It also suggests that the weight of contemporary political
happenings in Nigeria overwhelms the fictional content and the whole
universe of the poetics.


Separation of power as contemplated by Baron Monresquieu is the
distribution of power among the three arms of government (the
executive, legislative and the judiciary).This political thinker
frowns at any attempt of concentrating all the political powers in a
single authority. This is aimed at ensuring administrative convenience,
power relations and preventing totalitarianism or gross abuse of
power. The introduction of checks and balances also cement the
thematic necessity and essence of the concept. When one arm serves as
a check on the other, then impunity is subject to regulation. To ensure
smooth operation, the law of the land becomes a guiding principle.
Despite the living presence of the law and the documentation of
legislations, some major characters and practitioners of politics on
the Nigerian political stage still see themselves as being superior to
the law. Since the law is what the court says, one can summarily
conclude that these characters are the “court”. Whether they are
unconstitutional court or otherwise, it is only the dead that can
solve the riddle as it is deliberately left as a beer parlour
discourse. There is no gainsaying the fact that corruption has assumed
the status of a larger than life character as a result of the
situational implementation of the law of the land.


“THEY SAY I HAVE NO CERTIFICATE” is a kaleidoscope on the free flow
of corruptible practices, legislative inconsistencies, unhealthy
political power relations and the dethronement of decorum and sanity
in Nigeria’s political space. The controversial personality of Senator
Dino Melaye provides the fabric with which the universe of the text is
built. Dino Melaye’s recent certificate scandal becomes a fertile land
on which the title poem is produced.

As part of the techniques of faction used in the poem, the poet uses
pseudonyms of names. The use of pseudonyms of names readily confirms
not only the fictional nature of the work but also confirms it as an
authentic Nigerian poetry. “Dejo” as used in the poem is suggestive of
the original name of the controversial personality that characterizes
the thematic discourse of the poem. In the poem, Dino is reduced to
“Dejo”, the adaptation is close to and suggestive of the original
name. The visual imagery of Dejo as portrayed in the poem awakes our
sense of sight to the portrait of a controversial character who is
being adjudged to be mentally indisposed, absent and vacant but
despite the presumed mental epilepsy and empty-headedness, he was able
to beat his critics to a point of intellectual wilderness through an
unimaginable proportions of academic, political and monetary

“Dejo is crazy, Dejo
is mad, Dejo eats amala
with the thigh of a
ram. They say I have no
certificate but Dejo is mad,
Dejo is mad, Dejo eats
pounded yam with the arm
of a goat. Dejo is crazy, Dejo is
mad. Dejo eats amala with
the thigh of a ram”

The poem lampoons the society that is being reflected and showcased in
the universe of the text. Senator Dino Melaye was alleged not to have
graduated from Ahmadu Bello University as claimed by him. Despite the
measures adopted to bring him to book, the deafening social
opprobrium, the uprisings and dramatic protests, yet he won the battle
against sanity.

The poem recalls the rift between the wife of the national leader of
the All Progressive Congress at the floor of the house. How he
threatened to impregnate the woman (Senator Oluremi Tinubu), how he
later denounced his threats by pronouncing the woman as infertile; one
who has reached menopause. The poem is a literary documentation of the
excesses of the controversial character, the excessive impunity of the
hallowed chamber, and how he can use legislative influences to
frustrate the passage of the national budget should the president
decides to call him to order through the strict hands of the law. The
dominant use of satire shows paper certificate is being ridiculed
and reduced to its barest minimum; how it has not been able to prevent
the looting of national treasury, how it fails to stop the character
with which the universe of this text is built from getting to his
dream place and how those who have colourful certificates are still
wandering like a Fulani cow. The poem is a record of the
socio-political prevalence that handcuffs the space of growth in
contemporary Nigeria.

About the author

Bada Yusuf Amoo