“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
or take arms (PVC) against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them”. Hamlet
While musing on this piece, an ode to politicians building a nation backwards, from the roof to the foundation, and the outcome of the vice presidential candidates debate last night, the true situation of the nation and the likelihood of its cherries blossoming at all, a distance sounds of instruments at the New African shrine triggered in my mind a flow of thinking that I had to isolate in order to be able to sequence properly and with the right perspective the thoughts coming in series.
By now the thoughts are creating a feel that appeared like the nation was gliding through a rollercoaster unguided; and a reality in the fact that justice in developed countries is not left to the unguided sage.
I forced myself to a restless search for interesting harmonic sequences out of the mumble jumble in the federation, the statistics been reeled out by one of the candidates, the counter allegations, the petrol issue and the refineries, the lull in the Fulani Herdsmen activities, the Benue heartless murderers, the madness and serial killings elsewhere in the federation, rampant kidnapping, unemployment, et al.
Vivid images of my past visits to that part of the world (including the “old Kalakuta 1” on Agege Motor Road, and “Kalakuta 11” on Pepple street at the centre of the state capital, well; ‘old’, not in terms of idea, concept and conception but in terms of locale) swept out of my memory.
Particularly, memories of the originator, my big uncle’s classmate at Abeograms, whirled around in my mind as I responded to the now pulsating beats with dancing, all in simplicity and grace, I’m not a particularly great dancer, but I love African music and rhythm with its heavy and intense percussion.
If you excuse the large scale assortment of freedom and liberty not found anywhere else on the continent (maybe in the jungle) on display here; it’s a good place to be an a Sunday afternoon. As exotic as the atmosphere in the African shrine aka kalakuta republic, the dark, intense atmosphere in the environment gave the place an air of mystery.
A female guest wearing plain, tight-fitting white linen dress with purple trim around the high neck and a split up one side of the skirt revealing a wide expanse of thigh. The muscles of the long thighs were toned and so well defined that they seemed to have been sculpted by some master to flow perfectly from her hips to her delicate feet in a gold slipper was a mock severity.
Her hair was dark and straight framing her face which the years had transformed from youthful prettiness into the full beauty possessed by mature women under Mary Kay clay as foundation, she greeted me with subdued smiles and a comfortable ease, even though I noticed a bright look of appreciation in her eyes, my mind was filled with pity for the coming generations of nobody’s who needed a nation to rely on.
As my mind became one with my body, the image of the African shrine superimposed squarely on that of the nation was reflected in my mind. At this point my mind was working on two levels, one, was a sense of apprehension each time I’m on a visit to the republic and, two, just as fear and apprehension has gripped the nation on the direction of its politics, its unity and oneness, the perceived marginalisation from left, right and centre, the economy, its moribund factories, its deficient public service system, the insincerity all around, the Fulani herdsmen incursions, and lately, the Offa massacre, all leaving in its trails “sorrow, tears and blood” in several parts of the nation.
I was sorting out and integrating how this our ‘Fela’ got what was wrong with the nation right and why the nation was still where it was-crawling at 58+, because our leaders couldn’t get what was wrong with the nation not to talk of applying palliatives and or remedial actions in the circumstance.
By now I was in a state of near euphoria, into a deeper mental levels of consciousness above the Nigeria malaise and the enormity of the nation’s intractable and unresolved problems and hassles. This gave me a song and dance about all of us not knowing the exact place to pinpoint the nation’s problems and solutions thereof.
While I kept ruminating, the session men were pounding out a rhythm on konga drums, and as the evening wore on it became brighter and clear; and without electricity, the neighborhood around the republic looked like a modern village in a 21st century film setting, with only a trace of wispy clouds to mar whatever remained of nature’s perfect purity. But then,I became bored with the sameness and stillness of everything; the ‘republic’ and the Republic being the same all this while for an ever-present river of humanity in an enterprise that was supposed to be impermanent.
At this point my mind began to tell me it should turn off and sleep in rest, but my body revolted as it keeps on churning to keep up with the pace of the surrounding world. A world in which we are attempting to built from the roof to the foundation, where the peoples sobs after 18 years or so of party politics and transitional democracy have diminished to sniffles and their moans to deep sighs, and all nursing a mutual burden of sadness as the nation is floating as if sleep, adrift on an ocean of crude oil and filled with regret for not being the best it could be with its embarrassment of riches and its leaders fortuitous recklessness.
What is wrong for instance with running a 24/7 economy you may wont to ask. The immediate answers would be, the lack of power and capacity. The nation’s capacity presently is incapable to adequately drive an 8 hour economy as it were; name it, power/energy supply, oil and gas, political will and a political class all ghouls with no souls. The idea of a 24 hours economy would be welcomed to them as an outbreak of poliomyelitis.
The political leaders listen only to what they want to hear, and, has built walls smoothed over in plastic foam, as a result anything from a whisper to strident criticisms, excruciating screams and painful moans of the people were absorbed by the foam plastic material and converted into some meaningless vibrations in the plastic bubbles of the walls, with the multi-laminate sintered carbon door of their hearts, impregnable to anything but secret communications of their pals, coterie of advisers and spouses, reckless, irresponsible streak in them that usually swamp their cautious judgement.
Fela, the African shrine and last night seemed a long time ago in the past, almost in another century, here, the nation and its people are “suffering and smiling” with “yellow fever” and “teachers teaching nonsense”, beautiful nonsense. A nation being led by the nose by half-fit administrators, plagued with a great sense of indiscipline, indiscipline in our art, in our act, our government, our homes- even our family life and all of us unable to live according to present days values.
The nation has lost something somewhat somewhere in history. The restlessness in the air, the resilient spirit, underlying ruggedness and wild permissiveness that permeates the entire environ also enveloped the nation. The stillness of everything holding no one to formalities and questioning made one some how uneasy; or perhaps more aware of my anxiety of a nation having so little direction, ambition, gut, goals and above all leadership.
Its not all the time I venerate personages, but Fela has left into the narrow corridor of death, in that cold shaft where his bones were interred, leaving only the warm echo of his works on vinyl and discs on the sands of time to underscore his struggles and desire for a better Nigeria. I should have been impressed by what I had seen at the African shrine, but the unfulfilled reality of a better life for our compatriots hung like a heavy fog in my mind; as the journey thus far portends, no light, no work, backlog of months of unpaid salaries, all factories dead, poor transportation et al – a sterile nation with politicians seeing bogey men behind every tree and attempting to swat a swarm of flies with one hand.
The direct result subsequently, is a nation that is left nursing a stranded and paranoid; hungry, angry, lonely and tired (H.A.L.T.) people, no closer to the truth about their nation and situations. The people are making less and less sense out of theirs and the nation’s precarious situations, and young and old alike are forced to deal with emotions turned upside down. No matter what the truth about the nation’s situations are, it goes without saying that all are locked up ,even when Man don’t like the idea of been locked up, never have and never will, given the opportunity, but the situation, the helpless and near-hopeless situation the people found themselves is like a prison environment.
With the prison atmosphere is the unresolved National questions and with things the way they are the nation’s 91 political parties would continue to multiply in leaps, until at such a time when it would burst at the seams. This then would exposed the futility in the present political engineering and take the carp of truth out of the present federal system’s inherent bait of camouflage, deceit, attempts at finding direction through indirections, windlasses and assays of bias.
The nation has to firewall the throttle and pitch controls in the management dynamics of people and politics, and the foces or properties which stimulate growth, development regardless of the obstacles strewn around that path by the presidential system’s winner-takes-all syndrome and its inherent implications- lopsided appointment in favour of a particular geo-political zone, flagrant disregard of the 1999 constitution as regards federal character, its seemingly innocuous and several unresolved lacunae all of which have conspired and left the nation in a spiderweb of contortions and confusion, and a people that are starved but deserving the higher truth. Truth, higher truth which are of vital importance and significance to the nation’s peace and progress and also salvage a giant nation crouching outside in the cold like a tamed beast.
In the course of thinking of a way out and for the nation to back out of its berth,I took a drink of cappuccino, and threw the half full cup into a wastebasket, then lit a cigar and studied the pattern of blue lights which marked the crisscross of the décor in the study wall, after which I passed out and in a flash I saw PMB, who I had imagined would have been blasé enough to take the situation the nation had engineered in his stride, but he hasn’t.
In the reverie I swung my head angrily to say something bitter at PMB, at our political and religious leaders for their indifference, but stopped dead when I saw PMB’s eyes I hesitated for a moment, then closed my mouth, my mind seething. The nation has not accomplished what its people hoped for in spite of its embarrassment of riches, with this as a background,regrets has become the peoples lot and major pastime.
The summary of events read like, bloodletting, no jobs, no light, no money, no hospitals, no clothing on their back, the educational system in shambles, no,no. Maybe PMB is planning to leave a legacy, but to date, all he’s left is a trail of unfulfilled aspirations. It would be unwise to ignore signposts, sadly, though, that’s what some do on the road through life when the direction plan does not fit their personal preference. It’s not too late though, we can begin again in 2019. The PMB administration just have to be prepared to pursue its dreams and agenda if any.
To win the contest in 2019 however, it appears he must deny himself, many things that would keep him from doing his best. He must not listen to the wailers and friends who’ve settled for less. His goals shouldn’t just be to live long, besides he’s been around for a while, and that’s a worthwhile trade for an ordinary lifetime, but to make a difference in his world. Instill hope in the teeming mass of the people by deploying Radio/TV jingles and campaigns all over the federation, hope brings happiness, the present state of scepticism in the nation never can.
The truth about the whole experience is that the administration in a way is letting doubters dull the peoples sense of hope, even when they force themselves to rejoice in the worst of circumstances; hungry, with no roofs over their heads and with great anxiety sometimes. The nation’s leaders seems not to get this because they presumably focus on individual incidents,rather than the big picture which focuses on patterns to get the real feel of the suffering in the land, sufferings that has no bounds.
Now talking about patterns, established positive patterns provide predictability, and predictability provides comfort, control and security, job loss, health issues, unemployment etc, all of which would help defuse reactive emotions and establish an environment where a people hitherto constantly stressed out and confused with tingling sensations and discouraged all feel valued and hopeful of a better tomorrow. Kudos to the Nigerian people for their resilient spirit and for not sitting around wallowing in negativity.
The kernel of this treatise therefore, is for PMB and his team to begin to define what success and progress is and should be in the nation in 2019 and beyond. Success being the progressive achievement of a goal resulting in feeling good about the nation and the people, not the haphazard development and achievement all around.
Yes, PMB has installed peace and one can’t take away from him the decisiveness in his approach- the flip side of legalism is licence. Now the relational unity in the federation is passable, with less hate speeches and minatory words. But the sociopolitical engineering and financial management is taking its toil in this land of penury, wanton poverty and wasted resources and pretending things are fine when they’re not, makes it harder to get back up.
Of course, if you look for an excuse you will always find one. If you don’t you won’t. When it comes to making excuses,our government’s are infinitely creative. Ask the Femi Adesina’s of this world, what if we channelled that creativity into finding solutions instead of finding excuses? PMB has to therefore step up and step in. It can become the nation’s defining moment.
Enough is enough. He must go on the offensive, if he wants to live a legacy worth living up to. He should not be subsumed and or overwhelmed by the magnitude of the nation’s problems, he only need to CounterPunch, by breaking down goals into smaller steps with determination and real commitment in the several options on the narrow road that leads to the alleys of prosperity and progress.
There is widespread hunger, food shortages, a sizeable percentage of our people who are chronically or acutely malnourished. In some cases, increasing food prices force many to choose between having food for dinner or paying for other necessities such as medicine or pipe borne water,as illnesses and new sicknesses, ever greater numbers and hoped-for remedies are proving elusive; and some disease continues to defy human control, a complete collapse of social and moral values and the president should be interested.
This experiment with ‘change’ should not be the beginning of nothing and a fruitless endeavor, talking about de jà vú! Of course, he can’t solve the problems on hand by using the same elements that caused it. As we go into 2019, it must be a time for real politick and an approach to politics based on the actual circumstances and needs of our people rather than on morals or ideals to correct a long past, a present and virtually no future that is out of control and precipitate both tragedy and disillusionment in a people who hitherto have been proud of their country. -A nation that’s grown up so swiftly and became rich overnight.
Today, the people could see the cracks not only in the structure of the nation but also in the structure of their own life’s and that of the small collections of political leaders and little czars slowly crushing the people out of existence. The standards are suffering under a political system riddled with graft the much touted war against corruption notwithstanding.
To get the nation back up, the PMB administration must act as grand strategist who intuitively developed complex plans and implemented them with prevision, but must first be visionary in outlook. What good is a well-planned strategy if it doesn’t yield good results and impact positively on the peoples living standards. To quote Winston Churchill: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
Now that “Sai Baba” has signified interest in a second term, he ought to know his Change agenda, political, social and economic presents the greatest test the nation have yet faced. If he is to meet the challenge successfully, he would have to move quickly and decisively – and with a maturity, ab initio, rarely, shown.
Will such maturity rise to the fore,under a PMB administration? Working against it are many factors: apathy, insincerity, the double-speak of politicians the nation thought were hardy and sticklers to their convictions, greed, ignorance, vested interests, the scramble for wealth in our gene, and the business-as-usual philosophy of millions who want to maintain a high-energy- consuming lifestyle; who’ll prefer the status quo, rather than goad him on in the task of providing leadership at its most challenging, and give the nation a realistic appraisal of his and our general capacity to solve our ethical, social, and governmental problems.
In the pursuit of excellence, the administration and political leaders that have oversimplified and poorly understood the nation’s problems,must remain flexible and humble in the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex political system and process, and its own advertised scepticism of its ability to know what it is doing and why. The political leaders led by PMB using the element of doubt as justification for doing nothing really tangible in the task of salvaging the nation is gambling with the future. How would we explain this to our children?
Whether the economic models and sociopolitical reform and parameters thereof are accurate or not, one can be certain that the nation is in serious trouble. Its own people and environment is being assaulted by pen-robbers,armed robbers, herdsmen-terrorists, to name just a few factors that no one can successfully dispute. Still, even if politicians and policymakers had only a rough idea of the consequences of present action or inaction, they could make decisions today that might reduce problems tomorrow.
Hence, PMB and co, second term or not, must be able to rob minds and determine, blotting out some men, ideas and concepts inimical to good governance. The expression ‘blotting out’ means ‘wipe out, erase’ the image conjured and expressed by the verb here is something the surface for re-use; time for a cabinet reshuffle and a change in policy thrust.
PMB have only days, not weeks, to make the needed changes. At the very least, making such changes,would mean promptly addressing the root causes of the nation’s problems – human greed, self-interest, ignorance, inept government, and apathy.
As the old ad for Nike sneakers said – “do it”!#
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and writer.He can be reached on Twitter