It was after cruising home from the arcane annual ritual and tradition of the Christians crossover service at the wee hours of the morning of 1st January 2019 that it dawned on me that the year 2020 is apparently, whiskers away.
The Pursuit of the Millennium: Year 2020 and the Beginning of a Long, Long Road.What are our Politics? – @BickerstethJimi
MMXX will be a new year starting on a Wednesday, a year that has been tagged, the 2020th year of the Common Era (AD), the 20th year of the third Millennium, 20th year of the 21st century, and the first year of the 2020s decade.
By 2020, a year that shared names with the human normal vision acuity, aka
Vision 20/20, the nation, as it were, would be close to sixty years. It was a year the nation had
(i) see into its own eyeballs,(ii) be able to literally, compete at the highest level of human endeavors, globally, be it in Rocket science, Space science, administration and technology or what have you, and,
(iii) with its citizens aspiring to be the best that they can be and enjoying the best the lands has on offer by real planning rather by fortuitous sets of circumstances.
At the dawn of the 20th century in 1999 if my memory serves me right, I recall my late Dad often said that, a society, is like a ball of yeasty dough in a fine mesh bag. The dough is mankind. The yeast, which makes the dough active and gaseous and straining against the mesh, stands for the passions of the human heart. The crisscross strings of the bag represent all that holds a society together: habits,
Some of these are conscious, some not, just as some of the strings are visible, some sunk in the dough. No one invented the bag. It was implicit in the dough from the beginning. In fact, it is dough, spun out and hardened. The dough excreted the bag as a spider excretes its web. Sooner or later, every such network of inhibitions begins to show signs of wear.
The anecdote not necessarily true or accurate,
but today sums up the antecedents of the nation’s background, at first, the dough spins out patchwork with a kind of shy enthusiasm, happy, you might say, to expend some of the energy that kept it churning. But spokes begin to pop all over. The dough thrashes about like a sack full of cats. In an attempt to contain itself, it spurts out filaments of its own substance in all directions.
The bag has lost its symmetry. It no longer looks like the system of latitudinal and longitudinal lines on a map of the globe. It looks more like a much frayed, ripped, and mended body stocking, eleven sizes too small for the circus Fat Lady with hiccoughs and a twitch who is wearing it.
When the rate of breakage exceeds the rate of repair, the dough gives up, humps sullen, quivering, as a laboratory rat that has been frequently shocked and seldom rewarded soons
ceases to jump.
The energy once discharged in the excretion of restraints is converted into inner turbulence. The dough throbs and quakes. Finally, it boils through the gaps in the network. It erupts in the form of private madness and mass panic, religious quackery and political terrorism, pointless chicanery among the great, haphazard violence among the little, general demoralization, sexual
perversion, breakdown of the family, mistreatment of children, disrespect for fathers.
The final outcome is anarchy and revolution and civil war, or conquest from without. It has happened many times before and it is happening here. I am describing the nation we live in. Even if you do not need to understand a shuttlecock to swat it, we have to understand it, if you want to deal with it; otherwise, it will deal with us.
From the very beginning, it
was assumed that man evolved as hunters and farmers and have remained as such still, no matter how securely they been tethered by apron strings, the hunger, cravings, taste for bigger kills and corporeal needs and wants would still be there and of course,the urge for a better tomorrow. This was where aspiration and ambition came in.
It is no crime to be proud of one’s achievements, if they are genuine. Just following my inclination. Of course: one’s natural inclinations are always the visible signs of instructive promptings. But what have we hunted? What achievement(s) is the nation planning to take to the Year 2020?
A year that had been tagged and earmarked for showcasing a number of achievement(s), in the hope that the nation would have matured and berthed at the gateway of nationhood, of peace, stability, progress and development.
Anyone old enough
twenty-three years ago, should be aware of the birth of ‘Vision 2020’, which, apart from its optics relationship and connotations, it was designed to portend a change of government policy, in political and general administration, sports, agriculture, health, education, the economy generally and politics which would accelerate the nation’s growth and development.
The ‘Vision 2020’
committee has all the who’s who in all sectors as members, and enthusiastically, all were hopeful that by the beginning of the first year of the 2020s decade, the nation should have become self-sufficient in food production, economically viable, technologically advanced, non dependent and with greater and higher global investment and reinvestment.
The Year 2020 is less than 360 days away, and as the fabled year draws near,
what does the nation with its cauliflower ear leaders
have on the table as delicious serving to its teeming mass of humanity. Nothing! What a thumping loss!
With the benefit of hindsight, the nation’s leaders has supervised
the cannibalisation and eventual outright sales of its Iron and Steel industries, its Rolling Mills, cement factories etc, coupled with a number of uniformed
policy somersaults and inconsistencies and unstable and unhealthy
The ensuing scenario was that of throwing away
the baby with the bath water, that, eventually, the goals of ‘Vision 2020’ in terms of policy and institutional reforms that would usher the nation into the twentieth year of the third millennium has veritably been reduced to
mere optical illusion.
With the reckless, hasty and hostile takeover of the nation in that hurriedly put together 1999 transition, the resultant auctions of its resources and general widespread monetization of everything in that era of revenge and political relativism in the nation’s national politics, saw, it, with an inadvertent gestures swept the beautiful vase of aspirations, ambition and the nation’s expectations off the table. These and more were pointers of the factors that dimmed the nation’s glorious visions for the twentieth year of the third millennium.
With the 1999/2007 Dilation and curettage of the lofty goals in the ‘Vision 2020’ and the long-term
plans by dimwitted and self-serving leaders, it by no means became certain that the boundaries of things are not what they seem to be at first. Ask a philosopher, if you know any.
This been the case, as the
nation race to the Y2020, it has become absolutely
imperative that it make a quick decision. It is
therefore, a time for
imaginative construction and projections, and in depth analysis and prophylactic prognosis of what resources, plans and programmes that the nation could deploy to conquer the tsunamis ahead.
The symptoms and prescription should take cognisance of the nation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and immediate, remote and imminent threats. This matrix format is a simple but useful framework that would help focus on strengths, minimise threats while taking the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available for the national goals, growth
The 1999/2007 era of revenge and political relativism, (whose only achievement’s were the liberalization of the nation’s telecommunications/tel-
ephony industry, and the much-touted debt forgiveness by the Paris club,(but, you may ask, who picked the consultancy fee),
the mass looting and heists, and high level corruption of 2008-2015 was the beginning of the year of the locust.
Today, one would be light years from the truth if one believed that the nation at that time was ever in pursuit of serious economic development. Quite the contrary, friends and acolytes were merely “invited to Chop” from the nation’s broad
rimmed Tukuyan; by auctioning the hen that were supposed to lay
the nation’s golden eggs. One is not making any accusations as yet.
Today, most of them through the hostile takeover could boast of billions in theirs, their fronts and their childrens and spouses
banks accounts. Meanwhile, Energy and infrastructural development suffered, the mainstay of the nation’s political economy suffered, and consequently, the nation and its people must suffer for the copious effects of poor judgement, maladministration and the failure to at a time of boom,
lay the solid structure and basis for succeeding administration. It is arguable, if the nation has
really gotten out of the depression induced and inducted by the locust year 1999/2015.
The nation and its leaderships have suffered rebuffs, but not many, fewer than you would think, if you consider the risks of the task the leadership should have set itself. That task should have been nothing less than to diassembled
and reassembled her personality. I should quickly point out by way of admonition that it is no use trying to disassemble your personality unless you have one.
The real reason why past efforts, short-term, medium and or long-term plans, and, particularly the most cerebral ‘Vision 2020’ proposed in 1996/1997,
(even in the middle of political crisis occasioned by the calls on the military regime to actualize the 1993 elections and swear-in the acclaimed winner), did
not work nor yielded the desired results and dividends. In the era when few things are so bad that they do not offer some good to anyone save the
leadership and the coteries of advisers, planners and schemers.
I will just pause to mention that the leaders at that point in time, should have known that plans are to events what neurotic symptoms are to impulse and what philosophic systems are to reality. Maladaptatious, all of them, defenses that in fact
disarmed our leaders and became the equipment for evading, the unpredictables, unknowables, and inexplicables (tripling triplets) of the events, impulse, and reality that plans, symptoms, and systems are presumed to contain and subdue. Mind
you are not reading literature, but life.
I pulled out and springs open a silver case. Both sides of which are filled with these long, thin, white-filtered, mentholated miseries (our leaders and their ambitions). I have a weakness for the audacities of unsponsored ambition myself. I carry them for my wife. I extract one, even though I know it will taste like liniment. A smoke is smoke after all.
In spite of all these,
nonetheless, one believed that the human and social ingredients of the nation must comprised the recipe of a new culture, new dynamics for growth, new impetus for national aspirations and development: urban, funky, polyethnic.
I suddenly discovered that another side benefits of habitually exposing oneself to danger is that one is pressed into inventiveness. But after years of exposing the nation to danger, the nation’s leaders were yet to come up with one.
Turning the nation’s ship to a new course require an anatomy of anatomies on why they have turned the country to a nation of gamblers and its national strategy reflective of the careful chess players making series of careful, preplanned moves, never risking much, always protecting its position by seeking small, progressive advantages whenever possible. Always with the question, ‘what is my own in the scheme of things’.
The nation has too many things to do,- many things to change. The times really were changing. Not yet. All PMB has accomplished was to create the atmosphere within which the times might have the possibility of change. The administration must understand that the problem was not so much goals as process.
Every Nigerian knew – had known for years – the things that needed to be changed. It was the psychology of change that no one could agree on. That was a notion that no rational man would wish to face, but it was a choice whose necessity no rational man could deny.
The nation didn’t even know what it earned and what it did with it between 1999-2015, all figures on economic performance had been false in one way or another, each compounding itself on the next until the economic forecasts became as fictitious as the list of the leaders virtues and the ship they commanded was running deeper and deeper into an enveloped fog of lies told by functionaries whose careers would be destroyed by the truth.
Those years of rosy goals and predictions had merely plotted a course on a meaningless chart. Now the republic wasn’t so much a ship to be guided, as a huge
bureaucratic spring that absorbed and dissipated energy and vibrated only to its own inefficient frequency, at a time the world was racing into a new industrial age.
The nation’s political leaders used their names and that of the political parties like a campsite: you move into it, use it, enjoy it,
dirty it up a little, and then move on, and with the way
things were shaping up all of them would extinguished themselves in pools of their own wax.
I now leaned back to close my eyes to the cigarette smoke, and, yes, I can see every feature of the nation’s ‘Vision 2020’ beauty as clearly as in a Technicolor close-up. The beauty in hunger, in, “no light”, merciless killings, the church against society and itself, the cries of
marginalisation, secession, agitations for independence in the backwaters, in the Creeks, political jealousies, the plateau deathbeds etc.
In the nation, tempers were being frayed, the latent savagery in people was being stirred as if by some master hand that stopped every minute to add a little bit of seasoning, hatred,
suspicion, calumny, the global financial crisis, unstable exchange rate,
fiscal federalism, dire need for organic restructuring of the polity, review the humongous take home pay of legislators and political office holders in an attempt to make representation less lucrative,less expensive and ultimately less attractive, and free access to economic power by all.
These and more are the shell on us, and because a turtle without its shell is Phoenix, the reviews may be an uphill task.
It would be so because the nation lives with this shell and they have engendered its fear and resistance of a nation against itself.
All those resistances and fear left unattended by succeeding administration built up inside until the nation want to explode: society and the political class has forced all the people to erect defenses against their own true beinghood by resisting what’s got to be.
My semantics teacher would say, Apocalypse, an event of extraordinary importance is a state of mind. And what are there but states of mind. The (nation) city, as the poet W.W.Auden once said, is the reality principle. One do not even say that if you get rid of your resistances, your defenses, your shells, you also get rid of your character. Can one enact in one’s own personality like
the second Law of Thermodynamics. Can we stop being Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo, no, but must all
cultivate the golden habit of looking out for everyone common interests.
As I wandered into the madhouse in the Three-Arms square, the Haven of
self-serving politicians and political jobbers, who only advance their preparations for revenge, turning trivial things into an epic. People that were only distinguished by an air of low aspiration, their gabbing faces congealed into the expressions that go with mean calculation and paltry opportunism.
In my by no means considered opinion, legislature was in better shape when lawmakers are on sitting allowance or in genteel poverty. I observed that there are a number of things wrong with the nation, its bloated bureaucracies, its capital intensive system of political and general administration.
What is the use of arguing with such people? A people whose passion is a soap-
opera spectacular of egotism, spite and blackmail triumphant. The only problem is that there are too many of them. You can’t kill them all. A people, dream killers with a combined consummated pipedreams and day mares, of men stuck with obsessive possession of power and having the marquee Three-Arms square their own way.
The nation dogged with and bracing for overcoming the challenges posed by unfulfilled aspirations and ambition for the Year 2020 must innovatively get the cobwebs out of its head. As the nation march into 2020, one notes a higher proportion of politicians,
theatrical types, actors and dancers, whose careers do not seem to be prospering but whose expressions
were a parody of flabbergasted innocence. One is stupefied by the
inability of this dinosaurs to see themselves as the people see them (or, as I see them); they think they have the scintillating personalities of demigods.
I did spend the whole night sunk in my chair, eyes fixed on flotsam of images. No sign of dawn. I made a point of not looking at my watch. There are other hours d’ouvres I could narrate here, but for space constraints. Through the
window I could see recently planted trees, half of them already dead, line both sides of the street. A little longer and that true being hood of ours would be locked in its defenses mode forever.
I am rummaging around furiously inside my head for the right words with which to turn the politicians and their coteries of advisor and their lies, deceits and antics down. I shook my head at the nation’s politicians dirty tricks. They should have stayed away from the people if all they meant to do was hurt their feelings.
The nation in its march towards 2020 must be looking for words of a cool finality, of an unself-conscious arrogance, of an impersonal rejection to which there can be no appeals. The nation has to rush things because it hasn’t got the time to waste further. About time the so-called political class and their watchman become a bit more open to experience.
Its amazing how a nation could have lived with its politicians for this long and not discovered what desperate creatures they are. One of the many ways politicians, like women, differ from rational men is that they do not have inhibitions. With all due respect to Freud, a great man, I very much doubt politicians have subconsciouses either.
It is an absolute certainty that they are all ego. And there’s no check on their egoism from above or below; they are capable of anything. Always feeling the nation needs them. I feel the politicians will do the nation the favour of not deceiving themselves.
I have just gone through the trouble of explaining why their very existence in the present state had left the nation in perpetual quandary. The year 2020 the nation expects a parable of vice punished and redeemed by its own passionate excesses.
Right now, I blame PMB,
(whose face is rehearsing the whole human repertoire of appeasement gestures and sinking under the weight of accusations, just and unjust, the spectators are always wiser than the actors – until the houselights come on) for the nation’s present susceptibility to the solemn lunacies of visionary radicalism, for his weak grip on things as they are and must be.
PMB’s socialist humanism is to the best of my imagination impeccably illogical, and not too
practical, for a nation at whose consciousness
raised another notch and whose decisive battles had to be fought. But as we approach year 2020, PMB, nay, the political class should not be tempted to profiteer on their favoured position as the nation’s antithesis has cast them all into roles for which they never auditioned.
It should be their lofty mission to liberate men as well as women. The sun rose with its hypocritical caresses and demonstration that together we would grow to new and dizzier heights of freedom. The nation must disdain to employ the techniques of moral blackmail, such techniques are inconsistent with the conception of what it takes to build a virile,
As the mystical year beckoned, it appeared our politicians, estranged bedfellows, actors and dancers are sleeping back to back, the space between them pointed as a sword. One must needs scratch where it itches – this dinosaurs are completely sync and out of touch with the real world of real people with real problems.
The nation’s political class indeed, are a genetic disorder. Yes: look what followed from their pernicious meddling; the stratification of society, the invention of modern
slavery, the establishment of priests, police, bureaucrats, and ideologies. They introduced overpopulation, urban blight, and a ruling class sprawled in voluptuous ease on the bent shoulders of history’s first suffering masses.
Time to cease humouring those vagaries of the
politicians like a female will that D.H.Lawrence had so prophetically warned about. Ever know about the golden rules, and categorical imperatives, and treating the people as ends rather than means and all that.
This had led to a situation that there are so many around today with their heads empty of everything but impossible longings and boundless gullibility. Tragedy! – and surely, I am,
so to speak, reminding you of something you already know – emergies out of what heroes do and how they do it, not out of what they or their victims suffer. As Aristotle so rightly pointed out, a tragic play is an imitation of an action.
People tell me that this days, people are less concerned with how they are governed, they are mostly preoccupied with chasing money or high social status- or about women chasing after young men who already have money or high social status. The only obstacle in the way of the triple embrace of boy, girl, and money is some unbelievable villain, the political businessman.
Everybody is diminished by age, reduced by circumstances, insulted and injured by the brute refusal of things to comply with our desires! Life-and-death
needs, rather. And what in the final analysis do any of us have but ourselves. But while it lasted, shouldn’t we strive for the best life have on offer.
With the way and manner our politicians are carrying on, turning politics to things we do in the process of trying not to do something else, its dizzying rush in media res is assured that one does attract, gather, and master counter magic of equal potency by a mere snapping of the fingers and the peoples silent but unmistakable displeasure. Ha! This political class were not the tumescent coils of a lion ready to charge, but the wrung – out knots of a gazelle rigid in shock.
Looking around reflectively, slowly and systematically, my attention passive and receptive, the image I had in mind was of a working 24/7 nation. But nothing my eye flitted over matched that lurching horror, which to this day stomps through the haunted landscape of the nation. A nation we are forcing to act instead of plan.
Need one say that a plan is not the same thing as a plot. The nation must refuse to accept the blame for their disappointments. Every falsehood of the politicians that enters their ear leaves a residue like
wax to irritate the brain.
It is a scientific wisdom that we dream every night and that reality is an explosive stove. The reality behind reality is (1) orderly, (2) ideal, (3) awesome,(4) coincidental with products of the human mind. All of which drew no flattering conclusions to the nation’s sociopolitical situations, but, if followed, would solve the peoples sense of deprivation; a term picked up by men to explain why they could not accomplish anything and women too explain why they were not in the running for the Nobel prize in physics, which gave them an insecure sense of self. The nation has to do what has to be done. But, how can a nation who can do what has to be do it when it doesn’t know what has to be done? – Leadership question!
It is now clear and better to move the nation forward in its destructive environment and frame of mind must begin to orchestrate a complex cascade of events and goals designed to heal wounds big and small,
wounds inflicted by poverty, marginalisation, greed, avarice, power,
inequality and lack, than to calculate equations in which all the terms are × ( which is the way of things outside mathematics).
It is trite to say that in framing a system which the
wish to last for ages, we should not lose sight of the changes which ages will produce. That the American constitution is a product of a convention and the document that emerged from their deliberations in September 1787 was brief – a preamble and seven articles – yet the U.S. constitution has endured for more than 200 years with only 26 amendments,
it’s novel and a challenge to all democracies in Africa.
It goes without saying that something is missing in the nation’s present political ideology, its ideological engineering and configuration, which is vision, integrity and compromise. I read somewhere that there is “No happiness without liberty, no liberty without self-government, no self-government without constitutionalism, no constitutionalism without morality-and none of those great goods without stability and order”.
If government itself is the greatest of all reflections on human nature, then, the nation must produce a constitution of lofty idealism, as well as practical, political compromise.
With the 1999 constitution, the last baggage of the vestige and hangover of military rule
and its lacunas, there were still shouts of marginalisation, squabbling among brethren and blood brothers and no handshakes, no warm embrace; the unity and peace of the federation under constant threats, all of which were indications and contraindications that there must of necessity be a wholesome revision of the constitution in a constitutional convention that would fundamentally change the nation’s concept of government and practice of democracy.
In fashioning a new concept of government, there is the need to redefine or place in proper perspective the idea of federalism as distinct from nationalism. Not as centralized, unrestrained regime, nor undue jealousy and or competition between the individual States (who of course are in need of greater autonomy, or residual sovereignty) in all areas which did not require national concern, armed forces, custom and excise, immigration, which hitherto had placed greater emphasis on the federal authority, but a document of balance or compromise. It is suggested here a “concurrency” of power
between the Federal and States governments. The planets revolving around the sun, yet retaining their separate status.
Survival as a respected nation required the transfer of important, though limited powers to the federal government. This could be done without destroying the identity or autonomy of the separate States. The courts of justice are still to be considered the bulwarks of a limited constitution against legislative encroachments.
Man at his best, even as hunters and farmers, was capable of reason, self-discipline and fairness, must also recognised his susceptibility to passion, intolerance and greed, since it is impossible to outlaw passion or self-interest, a proper form of government must be able to prevent any faction, whether minority or majority, from imposing its will against the general good.
It must urge the principle of pluralism, which welcomes diversity both for its own sake as a testimony to individual variety and freedom, but even more crucially for its positive effect in neutralising conflicting passions and interests.
Just as the great variety of religious faiths makes unlikely the imposition of a single established mosque or church, so the variety of States with many divergent regions and concerns makes unlikely the national victory of an inflamed and potentially oppressive faction or party – a moderate and non -ideological party that encourages such a diversity of sectional and economic interests is desirable.
As for the judiciary, the qualities wanted there are special: not the executive’s energy and dispatch, nor the legislator’s responsiveness to popular sentiment or his ability to compromise, but, integrity and moderation and freedom from executive or legislators pressures.
This must be the goal in a new Nigeria of the 21st century. Goals are like blueprints; with concerted efforts, the nation can turn them into reality. A goal is more than just a dream or some wishful idiosyncrasies. Real goals involve planning, flexibility and must not be a solo act. Year 2020 here we come! # Jimi Bickersteth
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and a writer.
He can be reached on
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