I remember Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare’s classics. I remember too when preparing for my Literature in English paper in secondary school, when the witches told Macbeth that no man born of a woman could destroy him. He felt invincible because, truly, there was no man not born of a woman. Until now Macbeth was too full of himself; he did not even care for the prophesying witches and they decided to destroy him with a false hope. Macbeth’s destruction was further accentuated by another deception purporting that he would only be defeated when Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane.
However, Shakespeare, the master word weaver, had his plot in perfect form and made Macbeth to realise rather too late that there were indeed men not born of a woman because though a woman conceived and carried them in the womb, their birth was not through the birth canal but by caesarean section. Then his destiny was sealed when his enemy’s army actually came through Birnam Wood by camouflage, each soldier hiding himself behind a large branch, so that as the troop marched on, it seemed like the wood was actually moving. Macbeth was eventually defeated and killed.
As Macbeth was corrupted by power, so were all of us. Every Nigerian has been corrupted by power in our various clusters of influence.
Ironically, we wrongly assume that some are bigger thieves, believing that the little we steal in our little corners would be known by a different name.
Ordinary police constable assumes power over life and death simply because he has been clothed and given arms by government. He becomes law unto himself and takes or maims life at will. So far, they have killed in a fortnight more lives than the COVID-19 for which lockdown is imposed upon hungry people without provisions. They speak no other language but roger, egunje, which has seeped into their blood, and pull the trigger on any unwilling soul.
The power company still estimates bills and the authorities look away.
They don’t care because they connived to take over national assets for a pittance by proxy and yet, it is worse in private hands than when it was N(L)EPA. We pilfer office time and property but yet look for the big thieves. We build substandard houses, which collapse on people and claim some lives, but yet we are looking for the big thieves. The charge-and-bail lawyer secures unending adjournments to enable us evade justice and we reward him with a senior advocate tag but yet we are looking for the big thieves. The doctor sets up private practice while still working for government and secretly slices fetuses in bits during illegal abortions but yet we are looking for big thieves. Our daughters are no longer safe in universities because lecherous lecturers prefer to mark their exam scripts between their thighs or they fail but yet we are looking for big thieves. Civil and public servants long due for retirement are still in service due to doctored credentials thereby shutting out virile fresh graduates but yet we are looking for big thieves.
Tell me something else jare; Nigeria is such a confused and confusing conundrum. Like a mirage on the busy highway, the closer you get to understanding her, the farther it retreats and more mystic it becomes.
The befuddlement has increased with the latest plague in town called coronavirus, alias COVID-19. The Nigerian leaders are at a loss how to tackle the arrogant virus. That is why it is difficult to have a uniform policy. Like a pack of dry sand, the amorphous policies cascade into bewilderment foisted by different states and the centre.
When the COVID-19 comes to an end as it surely must, by God’s grace, what lessons will we have learnt as a country?
Anyway, for very inexplicable, strange reasons, when this COVID-19 sneaked upon the world unannounced, it started its eerie, grisly campaign from the very top; those deluded Macbeths made invincible by power and mostly pilfered wealth. It first blocked their offshore escape routes and made them equal with the forsaken dregs of society now yoked together in long forlorn health institutions. COVID-19 became erroneously known as rich man’s disease. Many did not even believe it was real. Many funny theories began to emerge, including the one about governors faking infection in order to collect relief fund.
However, as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, rightly pointed out, with the unfortunate death of Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, by the virus, nobody should be in doubt anymore. It is shocking and reprehensible that some Nigerians were rejoicing over the death of Kyari, as if they would not die some day. What has happened to our sense of humanity? It is evil to rejoice over the death of a soul created by God.
Be that as it may, this is one death that has taught Nigerians a lesson. Here was a very prominent Nigerian by all standards. He had seen it all at the very top of decision-making in different sectors of national life and, until lately, was touted as the de facto President. His clout could be felt in the brazen flouting of all the rules government put in place for treating the COVID-19 during his burial. While corpses of others that died of the virus before him won’t be released to their families for burial, according the government, Kyari’s defied that and was flown all the way from Lagos to Abuja for burial despite the lockdown. What could typify mythical power more than that? The careless handling of Kyari’s final rites, nonetheless, is foreboding and one only hopes this does not further escalate the spread of the deadly virus.
Also, looking at how he was casually dumped into the earth without the paraphernalia of affluence, influence and power, one comes to the conclusion that life’s entire struggle is vain. Thinking of Kyari lying cold and alone in the bowels of the earth puts a question mark on man’s tenacious scheming and jostling for power. Yet people are already plotting to undo one another to take over the office he just vacated.
Power is enthralling but illusory. Many that go after it are scarred.
Power is like old wine, the more you sip, the more you get drunk. Yes, power titillates but tends to mismanage and make otherwise nice people wicked. Or what would one make of the COVID-19 palliatives that end up elevating the grinding effect of the lockdown? Why would they insult the sensibilities of Nigerians with this rip-off without fear of COVID-19? Some people get heart o, dem no dey fear at all! What manner of lockdown is this that is respectful of a few but punishes the majority? That is what power does.
Power is transient, deceptive and slippery, you have it today but tomorrow it flies away, leaving you clutching at straws. You have it today but tomorrow it’s gone, leaving your swagger up in smoke. You have it today but tomorrow you go crashing back to the base you seem to have forgotten or sworn never to return to.
The same goes for money. You have it today but tomorrow it enslaves you. You have it today but tomorrow you are behind bars, serving terms with felons you once thought were scum. You have it today but tomorrow it possesses you with unquenchable taste for more until your gasps of shame are heard miles apart.
Poor man, victim of both money and power. Those who have and those who don’t have are the same, bewitched by this powerful spell of prodigious wanderlust. We follow it wherever it goes; follow, follow until we mingle back with the earth from which we were first sourced.
Man is hamstrung and cannot save himself from the vise grip of mendacity. Oh poor soul, think well about your history that when your bonds are broken, you shall recoil in blissful solitude and repose.