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Living on the Precipice of Danger Hands Across the Sea – @bickerstethjimi

This day, I was meditative. As I stepped out of the dining terraces of the Hilltop accompanied by a buddy who had only the stump of a right arm(a 2004 Xmas present courtesy of the Book Haram skirmishes) and he kept scratching the stump,touching it,moulding it,even as we scramble into the (2002 model) modest Rodeo Jeep.I choose to be a
disinterested guide in this piece, so that I can be fair in judging all that I see,because I am not invoIved in it and do not expect to gain anything from it personally.

It promises to be a bright
day and the iridescence under the
bowl of the Abuja tropical skies lost its beauties,for its
inhabitants and even for first time visitors, and has become what it is-an obscene forbidding prison and the fading matinée of a government that has promised a whole panoply of social and economic improvements.

Two green flies flew around the peripheral arc of my vision. I used my bamboo fly-swat, gift from a Nikai engagement while on
peripatetics in Michika-
Adamawa state. A deft,half unconscious twist of the left wrist and a fly fell to the ground, maimed.

To kill a fly is careless, cripple it,then the thing would suffer and repay in tiny measure your suffering. Cripple it and it would soundless scream until ants and other flies came to fight over its living flesh. This flies in government! Senselessness in the sense.Ah! Mtchw! One is wet with embarrassment. As this our Abuja has created a cunning world and a feeling for itself.

A forty some minutes drive took us to the base of
Zuma. My guide and companion invited me to get out of the Jeep and climb to the summit of the rock for a superb panorama
of the city or whatever remained of it.
From the
top the view is captivating; virtually everything in view in the city below-the ground, the streets, the moving vehicles, the walls,the structures with their assortment of roofing look exquisite. I caught sight of a swimming pool whose pond change hue and tone as the Sun’s burning rays shift their angle of reflection.

I stood unconscious that I have made a sound, watching the constant movement of the lizards around the base of the rock as they darted after insects or fornicating. Walked briskly up the path leading to the main entrance heading home, to my hotel.
I was pleasantly hungry, but what do I do with my newfound friend, who seems to know everything on the street and had learned the lessons of life from those same streets at an early age;and whose Law like all natural law was
similar and simple,only by mutual (not mutua, as he calls it) efforts do you survive. It is as he concludes our banters, that,
it’s impossible to survive the streets alone.

I dropped him off,and drove to the hotel. I wanted fried egg,like kilode! I lifted my electric stove onto the table and plugged it into the electric socket. Broke the eggs and dropped it into the heated oil. The yoke was rich-gold and its circling jelly sputtered and hissed against the heat and began to set,and all at once the sizzle filled the room,what a fragrance, just then,PHCN struck.

After I had demolished my second stack of wheats, half-done eggs and sausages and was working on my second pot of coffee, I leant back in my chair with a sigh. I didn’t know how hungry I was. I stuck cigar in my mouth,struck a match and puffed deeply.

I was ruminating,still in the meditation mood. So many pictures making the clatter
and whirr of castanets in my mind;a pantheon of brilliant performers from all over the world,a
government that has been widely castigated in the press for its handling of the economy,and on and on.

My eyes strayed through the 32″ window-glass partioning as I observed a golfer,his level of concentration,the fluid grace as he arcs the club into that little white ball,even smaller from this distance,as he sends it sailing onto the green.

It is amazing I thought,
h

ow the world has since Adam and Eve made its three sixty degree turn and left our country nay our continent with a head hidden in the clouds.
I saw again the
faint light of the never-quite-dark twilight which has given the once colourful and ebullient man-creation its present dark glow.The muse in me screams, the problem is not the nation, it is you, you, you and you.

Even in spite of wrestling with recession, depression,
tormenting memories,
unemployment,addiction, financial failure, or sickness; still,we live in a world where everyone live with the illusion that, we are still in the top percentile of global wealth.

The leaders and politicians none of who have the nous,
are oblivious of the fact
that,and I add in parenthesis, that, prosperity isn’t in what you attained, but rather in what you give away. What are you doing for others, for this nation,for the world? How you answer that question is the measure of your and the nation’s prosperity.

In our world today,each day presents two pressing problems,how to survive natural disasters and how to find enough to eat,under this, is how to survive into the next day,clothing, feeding, housing, security, prosperity et al. It is now a race against time and an uphill task to provide the mammoth social services needed for our survival.

The state of the nation,today,leaves most of its peoples, most of who did not grow up among the best of influence,griping in horror, and has raised serious doubts as to whether, there indeed would be any future- indeed, a sorry epitaph.An epitaph that is in fact and in deed true;as the nation has been turned to a sturdy fairly tree limb that had been recently stripped of branches and bark.

A nation whose magnificence seemed almost superfluous,and an embarrassment of riches that was grossly unfair to its men,women and children,because the political leaders have
stripped it of its soul and left the people naked to the world; living in a twilight world of truth and half-
truths. In this twilit gloom of the half alive, there are not many fat or well-built or round or smooth or fair-built or thick-built men and women, majority of who live under the comforting illusions of Mary Kay foundation.

There are only faces dominated by eyes and set on bodies that were skins over sinews, over bones. No difference between us but age,and face and height;in a world where only the elected politicians and their garrulous coteries of advisers and close friends and some of the times relatives ate like a man,smoked like a man,slept like a man,dreamed and careless enough to keep dreaming even while awake, and looked like a man.

A lady in her Toyota Sienna sedan,had the side-mirror on the passenger side chopped of by a tricycle, and rather than apologies,the gathered crowd descended on her in a mob-fashion,only the passing by of two men in army uniform saved her.

The state is far off
and it’s intimidating all,the political intimidation and guilt everywhere affecting everyone is a daunting task requiring intense concentration, synthesis and better analysis to aid the nation’s goal and
a favourable expected end.

There’s a deeper hate in the nation, in bred hate of class,of greed amidst lack, poverty and lopsided and uneven plenty; not of birth or grace, but of opportunities that showcased a contrast between abundance and lack; of what the poorest classes wanted beyond all things and could never have, and they have been sold on the hope of a better tomorrow, a better life and a better Nigeria fifty seven years or so ago.

I could feel my starched shirt wilting from the sweat and sticking to my body in the seering evening heat. I sat weakly in the electric silence, took my Ronson cigarette lighter from a slack hand and lit a cigarette. I cannot come and kill myself( anyone giggling!) in this millionaire city that has through its greed, and insatiable appetite denied most Nigerians a thorougly good life-of course, throughout history, many individuals have seized opportunities to enrich themselves at the expense of the life and liberties of others.

I tried to have a bath, I tried turning on the faucet,expecting water to pour out of it. Alas!no liquid gold,the oil of the twenty first century. I heard it somewhere that, “if you run out of water, you run out of life.” This is more prophetic than proverbial,as the scene of walking a long distance in the Nigeria of the 50’s,wait in line with halfpenny to draw water from the public tap in the 60’s to carry a bucket of the essential liquid back home began to play in my mind.

Then water was scarce and that difficult to obtain, but you can’t explain or forgive its scarcity in this days of artisan Wells, boreholes all over the place. I remember in her book Water Wars -Drought, Flood, Folly,and the Politics of Thirst, Dianne Raines Ward notes that forty percent of the world’s population “carry their water from wells,rivers, ponds or puddles outside of their homes.” This is true even of the much-touted federal capital,where residents spend hours fetching water for their families.

Indeed, all over the nation’s geopolitical space, a lot of our people is seriously affected by a water and sanitation crisis,and
each year,quite a large number of our population die prematurely as a result of poor sanitation and contaminated water,and a large chunk of the victims are children. It is severe where some don’t even have a proper toilet-a factor that, according to a World Health Organization report, contributes to “the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta which …contaminate water resources, soil and food.” Such contamination, the report notes,”is a major cause of diarrhea, the second biggest killer of children, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis,and trachoma.”

The nation must devise means and ways of dealing with imminent water crisis. Our people are faced with this affliction and a government and political leaders overwhelmed by a sudden avalanche of problems, water shortages, energy crisis being some of them. One asks, what has the people done to deserve all this. A people that could lay pipes to draw crude oil for tens of hundred of kilometres, but could not lay pipe borne water for a few kilometres.

We are responsible for our own mistakes individually as a people and collectively as a nation; because all without exceptions think money makes man happy,and spending it will make us happier. We all forget that wealth is not a predictor of happiness. Once a people have enough money to meet their basic needs, getting more of it doesn’t give one much of a boost. The real reason we spend frivolously on profligate lifestyles and neglecte the essential and necessary.
The bigger fear is that if government don’t raise living standards and mammoth social services needed now,including provision of decent pipe borne water one could foresee a humanitarian crisis of colossal proportion brewing.

As I lay my head on the throw-pillow,waiting for the dripping water in the bath to fill the pail,the sea in my head presented an ever-changing series of tableaux from my bedroom window, a reverie, more of a startling dream and a shocking reality of three deaths within few hours of each other, some of whose parents are our acquaintances and friends. One prays for them the fortitude to bear the loss.
I commiserates with them.

On ocassions like this regardless of the causes and circumstances of death or manner of departure,the outlook always look truly bleak; and thoughts of what to do next chokes one’s mind with a startling panic that always drove one to concentrate on something, anything, else.

On the subject of alcohol abuse and deaths, serial one at that, I am so angry. So livid with anger,with parents and government. What am I angry about? It’s happened now and there’s
nothing you can do about it. So you think. Yes! But there’s something strange about the whole affairs. Yet, while you are about it,
people are going about their daily business, concerned about making money- as if nothing happened. No orchid for the departed. Sure,no charming vignettes.

But let’s consider the underlying assumptions in abstract.i)Were those deaths avoidable,ii)were they homicide cases,
iii)culpable homicide, if it was any of this, then, who is responsible,who is to be blamed for this extinction of youthful hopes at the prime of life.
Who is(are) or what is (are)
the culprit (s). Agbón sé! But it is a great disservice,
not allowing the bouquets to bloom. To me, you, you, the parents, the society, the government,all of us.

In the meantime, we await palpably, the results of the post mortem, the conclusion of the police investigation and possibly the DPP’s advise. One hopes we do not wait in vain. But these ones are dead.
Yes,all life’s succumbs to death,and there are no perfect dancers in the dance of death. It is a macabre.

In any case,
perfection is not of this world. As a person, for some time now I have been feeling gloomy, and my work is being affected. It’s joy that is lacking.
In the Nigeria happy land that did not fulfill one’s expectations,we still could not answer the big question regarding life and its expectations. With a mind fixed on paradox, you ask,
Où allons-nous? Where are we going?

While dropping all the idle rumours and unverified and or unverifiable hearsays, and leaving the medical experts to the morbid duties of autopsies, the writer in me feels we should take a look at the hazards in drinks and the resultant effect of the ill that often scandalised the
neighbours by sunbathing naked on the lawn.

This one death too many can be traced in the layman’s view to drinking, excessive serving of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol have two faces: one happy and the other sad. The moderate drinking of alcohol can make the heart of man rejoice, misuse of same by a people, scurrying around so immersed in their own lives and cleverness that they never search for anything greater than themselves can cause harm and can even be deadly like the bite of a poisonous snake.
You ask, how can something as colourful and as beautiful, like a liquid gold in a glass,become so deadly as a roaring avalanche that flies without wings, and hits without hands.

All over the world, the cost of alcohol misuse and other drugs in terms of human life is incalculable;perhaps after cancer and corollary heart disease. The death toll exacted by alcohol is specially heavy among young people, who are out to cement a synthetic friendliness and who subsequently, fall prey to peer pressure and ‘trying to belong.’

One regrets going to their parties, streets jamz or gigs as alcohol contributes to acts of violence exhibited in large quantities at such occasions. At one of such functions in my neighbourhood, after the boys had scampered to safety after a brawl, the Landlords/Tenants Association, counted over a thousand pet bottles of assorted alcoholic beverages.

Drinking can remove
inhibitions and social restraints and can blur the way one interprets other people’s actions, thus, making it a violent and reckless pastime,one in which a response is more often than not more likely. When health and insurance costs and lost productivity resulting from accidents, illnesses or premature deaths are calculated, the financial cost to society is staggering. Not to talk of the economic impact of heavy drinking for every man,woman and child. And the psychological cost of broken or bereaved families,and stunted careers. The consequences of alcohol to society are incalculable.

Alcohol abuse or a pattern of alcoholic consumption carrying with it a risk of harmful consequences,physical, mental or social is a multifaceted problem that includes hazardous use,harmful use,and dependence. It is laughable,when ironically,friends shants salutations before they take drinks together: “Good health!” Yet paradoxically, this people are drinking themselves into the grave or the loss of control to abstain from drinking.

A drink is a drink is a drink. That is, if you have a standard drink of wine,beer or spirit,the alcoholic content is the same. Ethanol, the chemical compound present in most alcoholic drinks, is a neurotoxin-that is,a substance that can damage or destroy the nervous system. Someone who is drunk is in fact, suffering from a form of poisoning. In large quantities, ethanol causes coma and death.

Ethanol is to be feared,as the body is not wired to be able to convert it into a harmless substance immediately it’s consumed,and if alcohol is consumed at a faster rate than the body can handle it,ethanol builds up in the body system and begins to interfere noticeably with brain function, speech, vision, coordination, thought and behaviour are all connected with an incredibly complex series of chemical reaction.

The presence of ethanol modifies those reactions,that is why,when a person is drunk, he or she develops slurred speech, blurred vision, sluggish movement, and weakened behavioural restraints and inhibitions- all common symptoms of intoxication. With prolonged exposure to alcohol, brain chemistry adapts to counter the poisonous effect of ethanol and to maintain normal nerve function. This leads to tolerance, whereby the same amount of alcohol has less of an effect than it
would have had previously.
That is when you boast that you can never get drunk.

Dependence occurs when the brain has adapted so much to the presence of alcohol that it cannot operate properly without it. The body craves alcohol to maintain the chemical balance. When a person is deprived, his brain chemistry is totally destabilised and withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, trembling, or even seizures, sets in. However, we all react differently to alcohol and moderate amounts of alcohol can be harmful to people with anxiety and mood disorder.

Alcohol and people ensnared by alcohol often feel like if they were caught in a spiderweb and could not break free. They feel trapped with no way out.
This extreme events which can be traced to alcohol and shana wole is already having increasingly
grave consequences on our
future and presently taking its toil.
The message that must not be lost to the world as it begins to reckon with new types of health risks and
greater losses potentials, and in accordance with the
precautionary principle,the nation and parent would be well advised to note that, first, it is imperative that our children and those close to them recognise it when a problem exists.

Dependence is only a tip of the iceberg. It develops over a length of time from a pattern of drinking that was perhaps once moderate. Thus,acknowledging, that one’s own level of consumption is potentially dangerous and reducing it accordingly is indeed “the best way” to avoid serious problems or even death.

Most importantly, the motivation to change must come from within the person’s mind and heart. And a believe that happiness does not and must not dependent on alcohol. Do not give up as you identify specific situations that arouse in you the desire to drink. Could it be boredom, depression, loneliness, arguments, stress, or,events or places where others drink. Avoid any trigger situations,stay away from places where people drink alcohol. While it can be an ongoing challenge, escape from the shackles of alcohol dependence is possible.

A person can make changes whether he is at risk of an accident through misuse of alcohol, is suffering problems because of abusing alcohol, or is alcohol dependent. If your drinking poses a threat to your well being, do not hesitate to make the necessary changes. It can be for your own good and for the good of those who love you. One is not preaching an abstemious lifestyle, but just that only the living, enjoy.

Finding solutions therefore
to this growing enigma of a
phenomena; and facing and coping with its difficulties
and catastrophic
consequences are options,but should not be
as a last resort; neither should it be a hotline or an excuse to do nothing:sitting in the middle of the
motorway and hoping not to be run over by a truck or car.

So,whatever happens to the society we used to know,its morals,to us,as a result of our passivity and complacency is ours.
Playing it safe,yet the world wants safety; but like a drowning man frantically trying to save himself-until
he stops flailing.Decision-making can be scary,but leaders must develop good judgments and should not be guided by circumstances and happenstance alone; and there’s no way to do that without making choices, good choices; and getting to the roots of the matter that has left in its wake,a series of deaths and a alcohol-dependent,maverick and richly-spoilt dudes.Adding to the risks,more and more people,young ones now live in this disasters-prone hobby, by choice – or because they have no alternative. Insurers must
wonder whether their
industry can remain solvent under the onslaught of mounting losses to all alcohol – related deaths. And the future looks uncertain.

The whole world is in the middle of a large uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have and the only one we know,as all the hotels are now ‘home two’ and breeding ground of depressions,alcohol that has in turn,develop into
storms,debilitating one at that for society.

In many parts of the world, population growth means more urban sprawl,more shanty towns, more
environmental degradation,more hotels,
mammy markets,influxes of higher intake of
Paraga,SK,Meth,Arizona, Morocco, Squishe laced monkey-tail,dogonyaro cut
etc. These development’s may tend to magnify the severity of disasters,and with a high population and as bad as the nation’s economy, political and attendant social problems are,nothing
threatens the nation more
than a famished youths.

It must be noted here
however,that, extreme
Night-clubbing, and extensive intake of alcohol,is by no means the only cause of deaths,just that its scale of disasters hinges to some extent on the human element and it
can be argued to be the most pervasive and far-reaching issue ever dealt with by the society.

At present,however, it appears the nation,cannot even agree on how it is contributing,passively
to the scourge, let alone how to manage it.On the second prong, how to find enough to eat and survive the next day: It is appalling and pathetic that each day billions of our people do not eat enough to satisfy their hunger. Yet, this atrocious condition should not exist, because the world’s first priority should be the complete eradication of extreme poverty and poverty in all its ramifications; including
poverty of the mind, which
is the most bizzare form
and dehumanizing part of
poverty. Ayò ní’pàyàn,ìsé kìí
pàyàn, poverty don’t kill,
you’ll say.

Extreme poverty and its frater-cousin hunger are an affront to humanity,
and there’s a dismal record of failure on the part of the government that shocks and shames our civilization. As proof of its desire to improve living conditions for all,our leadership must commit itself to action,even, as it spares no effort to free our fellow men,women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than half of its population are currently subjected.

It must resolve further: To resolve to halve,by the year 2018,the proportion of the people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. A little progress has been made toward this noble goal. But for all its important goals,the nation is failing utterly to put forward the needed efforts.The problem is not an absolute shortage of food in the nation-there is enough to go around. The problem is that available food and adequate nutrition do not get to those who lack money,not necessarily because they are lazy,but because the global economic system is
designed by the wealthy
and basically for the
wealthy,and is too often
stacked against the poorest.

In the face of this reproof,our leaders and politics continue to debate rather than act and the
governments continue to
manoeuvre, each for its
advantage. Meanwhile, the nation’s poor continue to have and live on empty
stomachs;and this,in reality
will continue.
This vast swaths of humanity will face increasing hunger unless government policies are changed and focus on hunger and successful local efforts are multiplied. And who needs to make better
policies and more successful local efforts?
The very government that
promised to improve the lot of our people.

The poverty, lack and premature deaths on the nation’s cuffs today is a
mirror that reflected us in x-ray form to reveal emotions
and motives that we
ourselves scarcely know. Like a whisper in the breeze, a man is born, he works, he dies. Then there is nothing.You wonder if it is truly true that one day, some time ago,a group of men gathered to set down the principles of something they called democracy under which all men would be created equal. In race, in opportunity. Goals that have become the travails and the challenges of democracy. Because it is always easier to state the ideal than to achieve it. But then,all said and done, the achievement becomes the struggle, and the struggle is ours,we are the people who must accept the challenge of democracy and make it work.

I struggled up through a maze of pain at the horrendous horde of horror on TV; of houses and persons floating. Lost dreams and faiths that is vanishing.Who is going to stand up for us, us,who are frothed with indignation, but couldn’t express it,as
blanket of pessimism about our future seems to cover everywhere; even as we are
saddled with leaders that couldn’t breeze through the obligations and commitments that go with their status.The leaders have increasingly exposed the nation to a therapy; therapies that calmed our limbs but not our pulses,pulses which seem to grow in loudness as it grew in speed. Therapy that cannot help,but might hurt the people leaving our cheeks burn from embarrassment and anger.
It’s been a constant tale of blatant breach of trust,a rape of honours, dignity and decency from the leaders,in the process, our world has confused the container with the contents and unable to recognise the contents in its substantive form.

It is sad that the world and the people cannot totally protect themselves.Why ?
Because,Politicians always have an agenda and ever will and all they want, is our money,which they’ll use to feather their own nest. They often forget that to be self-centered is a grand step toward poverty ,even as they keep bleeding the
nations dry.They have deliberately reduced the quality of life in and around the world,and we have all been pauperized and the general feeling is pathetic and so poor. What do we have left, a nation,whose politicians arrest every fibre of the people’s patience, consider the people as miniature adults and are constantly asking them to tighten their belts and straighten deck chairs on a sinking ship crippled by a storm.

Our democracies appears to be blurring our leaders vision. Power blocks their vision and causes them to often vacillate, and as a result, sap the peoples energies, as they are asked to work for the benefit of a few people in government.
Which has constantly been a barrier to creativity, and
has consistently render the people less powerful and politicians more powerful,the resultant effect is that it stalls the nations group and collective attainment.

In our blighted climes, rather than making democracy a coefficient of abundance, equity and
liberty, it is fast becoming a meaningless metaphor, meaningless in the heart, mind and life of the individual. It is making a terrible mess of a people submitting to the state.As the peoples representatives miss the fact that there are no science, formulae or theorem in the art of governance, because it is psychosomatic, and a matter of the heart. Our
leaders are presently preoccupied and crippled,while emphasising what they did wrong rather than what they think they’d done right and are thereby unable to enter the fulness of their avocation.

This is to remind the our
leaders, that, they must change, their thinking even as they must note that achieving peace and a buoyant economy are destinations that are achievable, but the leaders and politicians must know where it is.

Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and a writer.
He can be reached on Twitter
@alabaemanuel
@bickerstethjimi
@akannibickersteth
Email jimi.bickersteth@yahoo.co.uk
jimi.bickersteth@gmail.com

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