The Blinded, The Seer, The Sojourners All With An Eye Behind The Shadow By Jimi Bickersteth
I woke up affected by jet lag, and worn out. As I sat this rather wet,sleeting morning, watching the fingernails of the sleet slashed against the streaming panes of the broad windows of the Transcorp Hilton,Abuja,the horizon and the streets in the background were all just as I remembered them. In the distance,the panes reflected a dog crapping on the well manicured lawn.
I wondered if the present crop of leaders that was trumped up by the current political dispensation, including our dear PMB, expected to see with clear grey eyes that never seemed to flicker, are doing anything worthwhile, particularly,with a PMB being shunted to hospitals abroad, the weeks of dreary convalescence,the hard work of getting his body back into shape, and presently held incommunicado all in the process of making him fit to resume duties.
Good gracious,he PMB has been shunted back to work and hopefully would chair the FEC meeting this Wednesday. Watching him at close quarters, stepping back into life and the reality of the postmortems on the shambles the nation has been and has become has somewhat become an uphill task for the beanpole politician.
Yes! Shambles.What with the government’s economic growth policy lacking blueprint and that is completely out of sync with the nation’s peculiar realities;or what on earth do you call a situation where you have a closet full of clothes yet naked;a whole barn of fat cows,bones and cowhide are our choices.
The nation with an HDI an acronym for Human Development Index,a composite statistics of life expectancy, education and per Capita Income ratios on the decline, and getting harder on the people. The nation sitting comfortably at no155 out of 188 countries.
With such a gloomy summary, one feels the government by now must be thinking of a safe harbour, and a rendezvous that is to end with either further drama in darkness or improved light, bigger and better hope and renewed optimism;if the blinded, the seer,the sojourners, all of us held hostage in power are to be liberated.
A lightening suddenly flashed,roughly pushing aside the darkness in the darkened horizon and revealing the entire picturesque landscape for one brief moment. It is getting darker here. Outside, the weather is thickening as PHCN struck and in a flash the hotel’s ‘standby’ generator switched on displacing the sudden pitch darkness.
The centre of the king size room became a warm yellow pool from the reflection of the green-shaded desklight.
Bit highly strung,from the wall mirror, I caught a glimpse of my prematurely greying temple, (and this holds true for all of the millions, blinded and traumatized “country people”),from the endless grind of work and responsibilities,often saved from a nervous breakdown by physical and mental toughness, and, of course,a wry and dry senses of humour,and the stoic resiliencies of refusing to allow us to be completely dominated by an emotion or impulse under the conditions of inclement storms showing no signs of abating. We can’t abandon ourselves to despair,you’ll say.
The sadness all around us is accentuated and aided basically by the hostile hostage takeover of:
a).a zeal expressed in transient bursts of ardour from our seers and statesmen which time cooled and which compromises and difficulties diverted.
b).a weak, incompetent and corrupt system of justice, that often leaves justice standing on its head.
Therefore, the aggregate total of(a) and (b),promote directly or indirectly the ascetic and abominable violence that deny the nation the variety that produces the biggest bloom that can be picked for a bouquet, both in size,depth, length and height; and a nation left lonely and alone, wandering as a big black rain cloud.
The despair that has taken over, leaves on its trails,a distressed, feebled frames of a people living in the memory of the past and the painful pleasure of the present;as they eat the sour grapes-a travesty of justice,what democracy stands for; a sad chapter and tragedy of being in bondages;of being in the wrong place and at the wrong time, in the annals of a people tired of stories and in need of and thirsty of glory.
With the state of the nationwide ,being the same all over- a land where people are thirsty in spite of the super abundance of water,the general picture is that of gloom and despair everywhere, it crosses my mind that the only thing that will save and help our nation is a radical shakeup of the way it’s run.
In a land flowing with milk and honey,the general picture is that of despair everywhere. The blanket of pessimism about our future seems to cover everywhere. Pessimism, shambles and glorified despair through and through and in every respect which the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debates have not been able to assuage.
Thus presenting the nation with a future we may never hold even as we are planning to possess the tomorrow that may never be ours. In sum,Nigerians have been mesmerized and have been so blinded by our seer leaders. We live in shacks ready to collapse and give way.
We live like refugees in our own land, not sure where the next meal would come from, not sure when we’ll be able to get food for the next meal;-a sordid reminder that hunger and poverty its frater cousin,are engaged with us;but for a happy spirit and that tremendously delicate, complicated piece of machinery, Prayers.
Subjected to all sorts of strains and stresses, and when you look at all the factors in a given case,you can’t help wondering how, by and large, our people do as well as they do; even with the tons of loads of cash in the sands all over the place.
Nigerians keep sniffling, sniffles that brought embarrassed sniggers from around the world,on what our leaders have done to us and what we have done to ourselves.
True, Nigerians have overindulged their leaders and for refusing to squint and “shine eyes”,they have continued to bask endlessly in the euphoria of wretchedness as they, albeit, for ages,continually, lament the absences of social welfares packages, in spite of the county’s enormous,”fantastically”,stupendous oil wealth.
Social services where available is in a subnormal way, ludicrously expensive and ineffective. All of us held as ”hostages to fortunes”, as successive administration’s continued to play Peekaboo with our collective destinies. Meanwhile,politicians, their allies,coteries of advisers and top civil servants keep tons of loads of cash in antics, septics,cellars,ceilings, geepees,and all over the place but our pockets.
Our nation has become virtually unique in her ability to ensure that the entire citizenry do not enjoy a good life, while it keeps recycling and fortified the bourgeoisie in the ruling class,from governor to senator.
The nation also has in place a deceptive pattern of always and crudely too,attempting to build a ” new” Nigeria that has forever refused to be, out of the rubbles of the old one, a metaphor that has remained meaningless. Whatever happened to the Nigeria we used to know and are used to. Nay,now a rudderless ship, helpless against the power of the storms generated by its army of thieving politicians and top public servants.
Our political elites arrest every fibre of our patience. They see Nigerians as miniature adults as they ask us to continually straighten deck chair on a sinking ship crippled by a storm. It’s gone really bad to date and the government appears to be mainly concerned to conciliate public opinion. The people on their own are right to ignored the government’s attempt at conciliation because there are no disputes to settle between it and the people.
The people might be forgiven for concluding that the government does not care about delivering to the right dividends, and are continuously counting the costs of government’s failures to provide adequate Health care delivery, agriculture, housing, education, energy, water programmes/policies;add to this, an APC and PMB-an unfailingly courteous combination but do not encourage conversation. They are not saying much and are not inviting much to be said either.
The peoples appear to be 1.)getting fed up with a president held incommunicado partly due to ill health,an unstable condition and whom they could no longer relate with.
11.)getting disconcerted and disillusioned and disillusioned in the lie,cruelty and gross naïveté in the reasoning that things should get worsened before they get better.
111.)even with the trillions of petrodollar at government’s beck and call,it is pain,pain and more pains rather an admixture of some pain and pleasure for the teeming mass of the people.
One looks so disconsolate, sitting here alone in the rain and seeing an album-full picture of a government showing sublime indifference to the people sufferings. With the prices of food and other consumables skyrocketing by the minute.
The refrain the people are singing to the beats of the bear-bug in their homes, in their increasing frustrations and irritations, which, the PMB administration must not taken for granted, is,that, getting out of office is not all that complicated, in fact easier than getting in; particularly, if things do not move quickly,efficiently and in the way we want.
The nation’s problems of hunger, poverty, uneven allocation of resources, underdevelopment et al,in the face of whistle-blown discovery of stupendous amount of free money looks a lot like championship wrestling-not nearly as painful as it looks, because the people can’t feel the loots, yet,the deplorable conditions, as raw as the weather, under which our compatriots live and die;people existing in poverty trap,where they get a job,whose faces are etched with suffering,and in the face of so much money lying fallow all over the places,leave so much to be desired.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. The nation right now is on default mode,because our guardian angel is down. The sickness, rest and convalescence has come at a wrong time,when there has arisen a subtle,brewing and seeming crisis within the polity,where the falcons do not want to hear the falconer, and we’ve all began to flex.
A condition that arose principally, because the nation has always not been able to differentiate between “disagreement” and “conflict”on one hand and “arbitration”,”reconciliation”, ‘”resolution”, which often breeds compromise as a solution.
This facts and prognosis has amply been demonstrated by the Senate in the feud in confirming the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC,a conflict in sections 171 of the nation’s constitution and the statute that established the anti graft institution, whichever is superior. This has in a way slowed down the paces and strides of the agency, and the nation indeed is like multiplying 21978 by 4.
It appears this state of affairs may linger until such a time would come to the realisation that problems are meant to be solved, resolved and not postponed. That for all our immediate and remote problems,there’s the need to design instant practical and workable resolutions-its about coming up with answers. It’s about bringing causes and people into relational unity, not necessarily into agreement, of course,some issues will never be resolved in our multilingual, multiethnic, multi religious and corrupt setting,but they can still be reconciled for peace, ultimate peace to reign.
As the National Assembly resumes plenary, it should consider that in our ideal setting, disagreement if well handled ends in drawing close and growing up together,in deeper respect and understanding, but where conflict is never entirely resolved due to inherent primordial selfish interests,it portends grave danger to the polity,to nationhood, where the consequences of one battle begin to overlap with a prelude to the next.
Having said that,it is worthy of note that some of the ill diagonised,untreated and unattended symptoms has as its undercurrent in the polity,the threat of a formation of a mega party, a preset new beginning, if you like. One doesn’t have any qualms with the approach and this understanding of the rules of power and engagement.
Nonetheless, to strengthen our democracy and its institutions, there’s the need for us,as the actors on the stage, blind seers,all of us sojourners, to begin to learn to deal with substantive natters that haven’t yet be resolved, both on the standpoint of probity, morality,altruism and common sense;before they can fester and further erode on our relationships from within.
This and some other highly explosive dynamics are what a US intelligence outfit saw a decade ago,and predicted 2015 for the nation’s breakup. The predicted breakup will never come to pass and no amount of shoves and pushes can break it or restructure it. Nigeria with its make up is not and will not be easy to brrak. Not with our solid resolve and resillience.We only need to continue strengthening the internal institutions.
The intimidating and domineering allure of the Three Arms square in the background takes me back to PMB and the Senate president, each on his own have been caught in the web of presumptions and an unspoken but visible sensational disagreement of a partisan political nature and are bound to suffer distractions of a kind that required the duo either to let the APC administration be controlled by the antics inherent in the present ideological engineering or to learn to steer their courses irrespective of the distractions,weaved and or contrived to put the resolve off-balance.
They certainly owed the nation a responsibility, a sacred duty,even if it meant standing in the middle of the political class in disgrace. Consequent upon this, the harsh draw- line between North and South must be removed not through any restructuring, but by social engineering and integration. The North and the South (power sharing)should henceforth not be the basis for the clamour of restructuring in the polity. If we are to maintain our cohesiveness and the nation’s sanctity,it should be the beginning of a new national consensus beyond political gains of north, south, east, west in a multicultural, multiethnic, multi religious monolithic Nigeria.
In any case,whatever it is, I make bold to state here that no restructuring will ever lead up to the nation’s breakup, because all the members of the elite are united in preserving their advantages over the masses,irrespective of tribes, religions or creed. The nation can only be restructured only as far as to accommodate new power brokers the establishment has created and perhaps redistribution of political office and influence. And so the MASSOB,MEND,NDA,etc are all comic reliefs and laughing stocks at the elites dinner dinners and other nocturnal gatherings,where they take far reaching decisions on our collective destinies. They’ll keep us like Machiavellian,permanently on a learning curve and finding it extremely difficult to marry our realities with sincerity,thus keeping us perpetually at the thresholds of a just, prosperous and egalitarian society.
The nation needs no seer to tell us that, now is the time to get deep in the earth with our faces to the coal,in a world where we all have lofty goals, goals so lofty that they blind us to the needs of those other of our compatriots. It is not only a paradox, but also, being hoisted by our own petards.
The reason why we are where we are. A bruised and traumatized people with callous leaders. Leaders leading a people gripped by mass hysteria of No! No! No water, no food, no light, no house, no work,no money,no nothing. A hurt,angry,lonely and tired people. Whether PMB and the National Assembly leadership have the ideological savvy to set a new agenda for Nigerians is yet to be seen.
It is amazing when people attach political developments and social engineering to money. Let it be known now and this should be a piece of good news to the people, that the most impactful changes do not require money-what they require is common sense and a sound political will.
PMB and co must note that politics is a voyage in the deep,where people pay little attention to politicians who say,’You can count on me’,unless their track records so say. The nation can no longer accept the Burkean idea of change and preservation as a credo of political life, hence, needs to be inspired by the highest of motives, by such higher ideals as patriotism.
This calls for the awakening of moral imperative on government’s to provide succour, and reliefs for the poor as it also addresses all injustices. Nigerians want their leaders to show a certain degree of eagerness, but not desperation. The nation you seem to be kept away from, want you to believe yourself and to demonstrate why they should believe you too. Talk to them,let them feel you and the cadence in your speech.
The person PMB always felt like inside had better be made visible on the outside. To stand tall in the saddle is hardworking,but it would make the people adore you the more and hold you in high esteem.
The nation’s experiences in the hands of looters is taking a new dimension, a dangerous influence and risky choice. The simple matter and seemingly complicated and in tense case portends grave danger to the polity. Nigerians had thought PMB is on the cusps of solving our problems, but the events that followed the “change” were anything but nice.
It’s been nice day with you here. Wifey’s birthday I owe her a dinner date.Even as we are going to be prudent with spending and realistic with revenue expectations. Like George Washington, “We must consult our means rather than our wishes”.