There is no denying the fact: Nigeria is presently in the vise grip of monsters. Monsters we created.
Instead of electing leaders, we elect gods – albeit clay-footed deities. But we, nevertheless, worship and revere them as ‘almighty’ and ‘omnipotent’, even as the powers they wield are powers we are supposed to have given them.
We soon erect an altar to offer them sacrifices and also raise an army of worshippers – clowns, courtesans, cronies and outright palace idiots. They attempt to deify the office holder and then decree it a heresy (punishable by death and/or banishment) to say anything to the contrary.
Even when the new gods do the most stupid things (for which they should ordinarily be brought to the village square and publicly flogged), we make them believe it’s the best, and most intelligent thing, that ever happened to mankind since the Garden of Eden.
Soon, the clay-foot doll begins to think himself a god – if not God Almighty. And we all land in trouble – both adherents and non-adherents of the new faith. And a monster emerges. Our own creation!
We also extend our hero-worship into our tribal an ethnic groupings.
As tribal warlords and champions of narrow interests spring up, both those with the legal authority to rein them in and those with the moral authority to call them to order do absolutely nothing. They soon join we the lesser mortals to worship at the feet of the newest deities.
We conspiratorially keep quiet, dismissing them with a wave of the hand, secretly thinking and hoping they would soon go down, the same way they came up. But they persist, consolidate and become larger than life. They soon gather sizable following – usually from the ready army of the hungry and the unemployed (including youths, who do not see any hope in the horizon for their generation – our fathers having mixed our tomorrow with their today and swallowed everything). They begin to get invited to major state functions, get invitations to A-list social events, and begin to attract A-listers to their own social events too. Another monster is born.
…Throw your mind back to the early days of OPC, MASSOB, IPOB, Arewa Youths, Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Boko Haram, Niger Delta Avengers, etc., they all started the same way. Everyone (or group) springs up by trying to do more abominable things than those before, and say even more unprintable things about our government, our country and other tribes and peoples and cultures.
And because we are all compromised – from the top to the bottom, we are unable to honestly call them to order. It is at that point that we see the police and state governors (who should be telling us how many of the miscreants they have already arrested), calling for the arrest of the rascals – as if it is now the duty of those of us, who are not any “constituted authorities”, to effect the arrests. Talk of buck passing!
But, jokes apart: At this moment, not too many people are unaware as to the identity of the author of the “Kaduna Declaration”, which has dominated public discourse in the eight or so days.
Listening to one Ahmed Sule, who is said to be the the national secretary of the coalition of Arewa Youths, on a live television programme during the week, I immediately concluded that what we had on that fateful 6th day of June was another case of ‘voice of Jacob, hand of Esau’.
What I saw was that now-too-familiar tactic of mischievous elders, sending out their delinquent children to cause trouble, while the elders (who were always the face behind the mask) now sit back to pretend to settle the matter between their children and the victims of the children’s delinquencies.
Of course, this tactic is not a preserve of the Northern elders. Their counterparts in the South West occasionally play the same hand with OPC and area boys. And I can’t honestly claim the the South East elders have not contemplated doing the same with MASSOB and IPOB. Of course, the curious romance between the Niger Delta elders and the militants can sometimes be a little unclear. A few years ago, when Jonathan was in government and the military was bombing identified bases of Boko Haram insurgents, some people actually accused him of intentionally bombing and destroying the North. It was as if the entire North was in bed with the insurgents and was bent on using it as a bargaining chip to not only win votes, but to also capture a chunkier share of the proverbial national cake. It is now clear that this was not the case.
However, it was the great Aminu Kano who always noted that the reason every family keeps a madman is in anticipation of the day a rival family would unleash its own madman on your family. That way, you’d have a madman to confront the other family’s madman.
What we have been witnessing in the past week or so is just tension generated by old men, who have resolved to see Nigeria only from the prism of our pre-independence experiences. Elders who have now force-fed the youths with the heresy they are now regurgitating today.
Today, all we do is to remind ourselves that we are a country of many nations, not supposed to be in one country – as if we are the only country on the face of the earth with multiple ethnic groups. Today, we recall what our fathers said about Nigeria, without giving a quarter of the efforts our forebears put in, to make it work. That is the tragedy of the times we live in.
Yes, we must never lose sight of our history, but how do we move forward if we continue to keep our gaze permanently fixed at the back?
And because we seem to be perpetually trapped in this eternal war of checkmating one another, no policy is ever viewed from its face-value. There must be a hidden agenda. No pan-Nigeria agenda. Every policy must be seen to have been formulated to favour one ethnic group, or to shortchange another.
Even, otherwise simple things, as signing the budget is shrouded in mystery of ambition, conspiracy and suspicion, so much so that we end up playing into the hands of critics – like claiming that a vacationing president needs to formally write to his vice, whom he properly handed over power to (in acting capacity) before travelling, before the latter can sign a budget. That was why we made so much fuss, trying to sell the dummy that ‘co-ordinating’ president was distinct from ‘acting’ president.
That is why we have to raise hell because the president and his vice decided to choose their personal aides (and kitchen cabinet) from among their tribesmen whom they have trusted over the years. Yes, in choosing our friends, we must also take cognisance of quota system and federal character.
But if we were to run on a system where everybody is made to be equal before the law and given equal (or equitable) access to opportunities, we would have been unlikely to end up in a situation whereby Jonathan’s government becomes an Ijawnisation of government, or where opportunities during Pius Anyim’s tenure as secretary to the government of the federation is seen as the turn of the Igbo. Obasanjo’s tenure would also not be sometimes seen as the season of economic empowerment of Yoruba-owned businesses. Similarly, we would not have read meanings into the arrangement whereby all the security agencies are headed by people from one section of the country, even as retirement (and redeployment) from key command positions tend to affect one section more than another.
If we treat all the bile-spitting ethnic jingoists the same, nobody would ever think of the current favouritism and kid-glove treatment that has now seen us now redefining democracy, as government of herdsman, by herders and for cows (herds).
Yes! That is why cows have overtaken humans in government’s order of importance. In fact, while we are said to have about 20 million out-of-school children, cows are going to school. They are now taking over classrooms in Edo State, and displacing the children to grass field outside the classrooms.
Today, the only constitutional right that is taken seriously, and savagely defended, is the ‘right’ of cows to graze anywhere. With the cows, that time-honoured rule about how your right stops where the next man’s rights begin no longer applies. For the cows are free to feed on the croppers crops and trample on whatever is left of the farm.The herdsman, of course, also reserves the right to accuse, try and execute the crop owner if he as much as shows up in the farm while the cows are feeding on his crops. In fact, while the cows feast on the crops, the herdsman actually reserves the right to use the farmer and his family for sport/entertainment.
Let’s keep creating these Frankistein monsters everywhere, one day, they will swallow all of us. Let those who have ears hear. I can’t shout. And I can’t come and go and die.