Dear Son of Man,
How best can I express my disappointment in our dispositions as a nation than this little space afforded me to ventilate on issues beyond my power to alter? It is true, what you said in your last letter, that we take one minion step forward and two giant ones backwards. Your allegory about the driver and his passengers was on point with prejudice to the Nigerian state and its unpalatable leadership cum followership trail. If the passengers see nothing wrong in the reckless drive of their driver, I am afraid there is little or nothing to be done to avert a doomed journey. How much of our negligence and complacency are responsible for the wantonness of our leaders? How much of our indulgence renders leaders unaccountable? And just how much of our sycophancy emboldens their lordship over us? As followers, we are equally as culpable as our leaders in the ways we are being led when our reticency acknowledges a silent nod of approval every time we refuse to act or speak up.
This brings to light the recent distribution of sachet rice and a stipend of N200 by the self-professed messiah of the Ekiti people. His self-styled stomach infrastructure is practical theatrics on how to satiate immediate needs in deferment of tangible future developments. The stomach infrastructure concept addresses the need to build the stomach into gluttonous edifice and remodel its beneficiaries into ravenous automatons that will have no need for other human edifying structures, both physical and mental. The practice prioritises the urgent need to satisfy an immediate hunger by doling out meagre sums from the huge commonwealth available at the disposal of leaders in order to prepare an excusable route from questions that may arise from the incompetency and lack of vision from such leaders. While it should be noted that the case of Ekiti people is not peculiar in this dehumanising drive, what made it the more worrisome is the pliability of the people.
The governor had made his intention known, even when he was contesting, as a great advocate of “feed your stomach first and ask questions later”, and like a people under hypnosis, they swarm around him as ants would a sugar mountain. It would only be right to say that the Ekitis set their standards too low when they became the butt of jokes during the preparation to the general elections and most specifically, the October 2014 gubernatorial election that brought in the “stomastructure” crooner. One would think such shame on a people that pride themselves first, as fountain of knowledge, and then, as a land of honour and integrity would be a watershed to head for a new direction, but it was never to be, as rather than chastise them it worsened their sense of self-worth and honour. It was not so much about the hubris of a people, than about the tool of oppression our leaders employ to keep our people in perpetual slavery, hunger, starvation, disorientation, poverty and underdevelopment by purchasing our minds with trivial aliments that can only gratify us now.
Such aliments are the mythological lotus that make us dreamier of a future, promised, that never materialises. Just how can these people task their governors on meaningful developments such as provision of basic social amenities; sound and qualitative primary healthcare, well equipped primary, secondary and tertiary schools, pliable roads, adequate waste disposal system, recreational facilities and a regulated social welfare and security? Leaders who give out fishes to their people than teach them how to fish are committing a crime against the intellectual enhancement and liberation of their people. They are at best shallow in ideas and the ideal principles of creative leadership that our pre-independence leaders bestowed on us.
Generally speaking, our long years of exposure to mediocre leadership ushered by the whimsical sojourns of the boys in khaki had toughened our edges to learn and discern what good leadership should be.
Still talking on the spates of happenings, Buhari had hugely rewarded the loyalty of his governors for standing by him during the hiatus that greeted his medical furlough by announcing the refunds of the Paris club deductions on state accounts. A list of what each state is meant to earn also went viral, according to the president, it was meant to pay the arrears of salaries the various states owed their workers. While tentative palliatives are usually a welcome development, what happens to long-lasting state sustenance policies like increasing internally generated revenues, increasing state outputs through mechanised farming at local government levels, increasing civil service’s turnaround time and drawing up social benefits for citizens? Our economy would be the best for it when we eschew the impulsive need to receive bailouts at every point. The onus is also on all citizens and most especially transparency watchdogs to ask how these funds are disbursed, whether judiciously or not in few individuals’ pockets as usual.
I must commend the government, most especially the CBN team and the minister of finance for the stability they brought to the foreign exchange rate. The Naira keeps growing stronger against the Dollar in relative sense. However, the ultimate commendation should be reserved till the time the effects are felt resoundingly in the prices of commodities. To a large extent, there is a palpable sense of economic fortuitousness and our people can look forward to extricating themselves from the trappings of economic recession that had led to the depression of so many people in recent times. Nigerians are now becoming more depressed to the point of suicide. While many of the suicides witnessed in recent weeks may be unconnected with economic state of the individuals involved, but one would be absolutely wrong to rule out the possibility of the state of economy contributing to the latest spates of suicides. This new culture alien to us is becoming increasingly entrenched in our psyche. Of the most notable are that of Dr Orji’s, a seemingly well-to-do medical doctor, who asked his driver to halt in the middle of the third mainland bridge after receiving a phone call, dashed into the expansive lagoon without any explanation and that of an Urban and Regional Planning final year Lautech student who hanged himself with a cable. He was discovered dangling from the ceiling of his hostel room in an apparent suicidal move. We may need to look beyond the superficial into the deeper reasons why our people are embracing this cul-de-sac as the ultimate option to end it all. One may never know the meaning of solitude until one peeks into the irredeemable dark hole of despondency.
I should leave you now to continue with your research on things that hold more celestial rather than mundane priorities to you, but I must tell you that the Nigerian Police still remains its unremorseful, bias and partisan self. I said this as a fallout of the Ile-Ife crisis between the Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani communities, where the police as ordered by the IGP, Alhaji Idris, made a lopsided arrest of 20 people who are all of Yoruba descent. The swiftness with which the order was dispatched and the suspects moved away from the jurisdiction where the crime was supposedly committed had drawn the ire of so many commentators who saw the move as not only biased but a threat to national security and unity. What beats all right-thinking people’s imagination is how a lopsided arrest of a group could be made in a crisis where two groups were involved. While it will not be good to excuse intolerance and ethnic violence in whatever form, it will be good that justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done. Maybe we would have had lesser of ethnic mistrusts as we have right now, if the police in their puerile zealotry had moved in quickly to arrest the masterminds of the mindless killings in Nimbo town, Enugu, in southern Kaduna, in Zaki Biam, Benue, the Rccg preacher killed in Kano, the southern woman beheaded by a mob of religious bigots for complaining that they move their ablution from the front of her shop and many more marauding massacres committed in recent memory, then we would have seen their zeal as a show of true patriotism, but they left us with no choice than to conclude that just because these perpetrators are Hausa/Fulani miscreants, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.
Just as our senators preoccupy themselves with what cloth a summoned was supposed to appear in amidst allegation that his summon was a vindictive mission against the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Services, who had refused to allow a car belonging to the senate president clearance through the ports without the appropriate customs duty, another allegation of certificate forgery and perjury reared its head against one of the hallowed chamber’s vociferous senators, Dino Melaye. The dent continues against the legislative arm, which is supposed to set a pious precept worthy of emulation by Nigerians, as they have been described as a den of “legislathieves”. Like a twin emotion of burying a brother very close to heart and welcoming a newborn son into this world at the same time, Nigerians remain in the precarious oscillation of looking forward to a brighter future and looking into the dire present that promises no golden future.
I must rush off to the scene where the body of Dr Allwell Orji had just been discovered in the CMS end of the Lagos lagoon by the combined team of marine police, LASEMA and sea divers. He would deliver this letter in tribute to all the depressed Nigerians who constantly battle the daily trappings of societal pressures that yank at their sanity and leave them at the whims of suicidal twists capped by callous governance.
Yours in pen