Today the nation appears to be on a holiday in the sun without a cloud in the horizon,and
in spite of the acting president’s assertions that talks on the much touted restructuring of the nation are orchestrated by people looking for political appointment; which strong as it is interesting,except that, positions in the federation are limited and under PMB are no longer
lucrative and the tasty,finger-licking behest it used to be.
To Nigerians north and south, in spite of everything
-the comatose economy, prostrated prosperity, dwarfing grandeur, this, that and the other various things and other thistles, the
government’s reserved apathy to the calls for restructuring, self-determination notwithstanding,and KANU spiciness of IPOB, there’s never been a dull moment in the tropical sun.
The Lagos beaches and alluring shores and coastlines are yet to form bores, as in the Severn, but have men lounging lazily and women twittering under the brightly trimmed evergreen ribbons ball of mistletoes, deep romance of lasting friendship and goodwill as delicious as a dream.
The picture on the other side of the coin for the nation is infra dignatatem,with so many of our men and women as
dejected as a wet hen and as deep as despair, languishing in penury;with teeth clenched on lower lips, as they keep struggling like an eel to eke a living- one chuckles at the quirk of fate.
Whoever and or whatever is holding our people and the nation together,that it is practically impossible to escape (even with the odds stack high,and,no one contradicting,) is with a steel chain, with no name and address.
In the stream of the Lagos late afternoon traffic and its
attendant gridlock- cars,buses,keke Marwas literally piling on
one another,on the same spot in the middle of no where. In the crush,hand-drawn barrows selling violent coloured drinks,Ale,
opaehin,etc.to relieve “any” pains,and really, my cramps and arthritis and lumbago have indeed been triggered by the cramming of bones and joints in a stagnant and standstill traffic.
Within the twinkle of an eye downed a shot of the coloured mixture drenched in ethanol, I was moist with perspiration and felt like throwing up, urinating, utter nausea. Suddenly I felt exhausted. It was only four’o clock, but it was roasting and my shirt was sticking to me even in the air-conditioned interior of the Toyota Venza. The dirt of big city life with no great shakes. My Mount of Venus,the soft lozenge of flesh in the palm below my thumb, began to itch.
The sun was just setting. The wave of violet shadow was creeping down towards the IBB boulevard,by the time I arrived home,fueled the Generator,I was fagged out. The nation with no power supply was as dismal as a hearse. It has squandered
fantastic capital assets,c.i.f,by its quixotic and prodigious leaders and now have betrothed to a PMB/APC, expected to organise the remaining or to arrange its remains.
After a wash during which the sneak preview of my face in the bathroom mirror showed a deep cleft of worry between the eyes,worries about self,family, state of the economy, about government functionaries inattentiveness, inaction and insincerity and greed.
The situations so bad,that, our people feel unsure of what to say or do-so they wound up saying and doing
nothing, but grumble. But the situations must not be allowed to cross over to mass appeal.
This itch again! I scratched even as I subconsciously, drew my laptop from its charging point,I have started pounding the keyboard before I realized it,while my stomach was making the noise stomachs make when they have been subjected to abuses.
The reports, if they are indeed true,that the acting president claimed that
those clamouring for
“Restructuring” are attention seekers or rabble rousers,seeking for appointment, amounts to, trolling them. However,those concerned should not despair or screwed up their eyes
making wry faces as if swallowing bitter medicine, it is the price to pay.
In any case, his was a cross-current of opinion against the prevailing view,and that is expected, considering the conditioned reflex of officicialdom. But I humbly wish to disagree with such a repressed view, from those who are bent on preserving the picnic atmosphere around the country;for which the nation must cross the bridges now that it has come to them.
If you ask me, the acting president,the erudite scholar and legal luminary
must learn to begin to say little, if he is not sure of the algorithm of a matter. The people don’t ever forget.
I know apologies won’t come so easy to someone so much on the defensive, if you get my meaning. But, the erudite scholar’s prosaic phrase seems to remind one,nay, the nation, of its nakedness and why Nigeria is where and what it is. I blushed!
This administration which looks like being on the cuffs of solving the ‘National Questions’ and its attendant recourse to “Restructurings”, and must be chafing to get out of the stable and on to the track, perhaps, came at a wrong time or that the ruling party, the APC, lied in its manifestoes in its attempt
to wooing the electorate in,when it promises “Restructuring” the polity,or are in a collective dementia
sending the wrong signals.
However, PMB or VPO as the acting president and the APC do not have to wait
until they have something more to show or convince the nation, to know that the extant calls for solutions to the National questions, of inequality, of marginalisation, and now
Restructuring,were sincere and relevant.
Let me straight away and without fear of contradictions add that the calls for restructuring were mere reinforcements of agitations for solutions to the national Questions which dates back in time, and of course,if something went badly wrong,(and here,
one have the ultimatums in mind,)because the APC administration ignored the calls, they’d be in trouble. It is up to them to see that nothing did go wrong.
The “National Question” is in a bottle of spirit on the shelf. The label on the bottle has said it is poison, whose sting is mortal if it hit an artery. The Nigerian nation, a neat query in brackets, is beginning to quake and shake with an ague of fear,with an imminent crash that may
shake the nation and
knife-jacked it out of its bed of basmatic rice;and, may end up,leaving its hard carapace whipping from side to side in its agony.
Nigeria today,with just 36 governors and 108
senators appeared as a cockle whose two halves have been shut tight. Along both edges of the hinge,thin horns stood out unequal. It doesn’t seem a very distinguished piece and setting, and the new found imperious attitude and the quality of the administration’s attack or is it defence, quite exciting!
After enjoying a postprandial nap,the thought streams into my mind;I wondered, what the hell this controlled breathing all over the federation is and how maddening the soft nibbling of militants, IPOB, the Middle Belt and Fulani herdsmen were in this season of ultimatums.
In an apt turn of phrase,I only saw a nation in a reversed oil drop and a bizzare,gliding figure of a giant venomous
worm with thirty six legs trailing slimily
wrapped in grey tin-foil in its creeping feet.
A bluish prickle of phosphorescences meandered vaguely in my line of sight and disappeared as fast as it came in to nothingness. Up by the ceiling, the stars shone more brightly through the glass. As the nation
trudged on,daily wrapped in different thoughts;all we hear nowadays is the Federation and its importance.
We must keep the fire burning, Stoke it,fuel it,tend it, because the whole is only as strong as the parts,and great relationships strive on each party been truthful and up-front about their real needs, desires,feelings and values.
But what we have today is a nation whose peoples are marinating in the gall of bitterness and also spiraling downwards in the core and mire of bitterness.
Everyone with no exception had the gall to complain!
With words full of venom to convey their bitter feelings and resentment. It is therefore,more galling as it were to be conscripted to cohabit with a man one detested.The galled
existence and relationships amongst ‘brothers’ becoming dangerously unsafe, as we find reasons, real or imagined, to dislike, we form another layer of bitterness. Then like a Beach ball we try to submerge. It pops up,
slap lashing everyone.
The picture is succinctly put,when you observe fellow passengers on an airplane when turbulence causes sudden drops and vibrations. Young and old scream and cry out. However, tolerance is the key word. Here,tolerance is not just about agreeing to embrace our differences. It’s about accepting the other person’s right to believe as they wish, and to believe according to those beliefs;beliefs infiltrated by newfangled ideas.
So, instead of condemning people who are on the forefront of restructuring, self-determination, self-independence and the pockets of opportunists,who have nothing to lose but everything to gain in the ensuing confusion and near-state of anarchy and becoming walking time bombs, ready to explode given the right amount of tension and fear,could explode.
The nation can’t deny there is enormous anger,resentment, discomfort in the land;that the only questions on the lips of patriots should be, How do we harness it? We have nurtured by our acts of omission and or
commission,a world in which poverty and inequity are endemic and also one where our people have been made victims of the inequities of the legal system.
The inequalities in representation, resource allocation, marginalisation and other follies of government have consciously and unconsciously
bred a stir-crazy mob,mad at something they couldn’t see,not that it is relatively
abstract,so they try to take it out on the nation, as it is been forced to make a compromise in
extremis,and with words flying out,words,hate speeches, if you like, that inflame nationalist sentiments.
Much as the government wants the nation to acknowledged its presence and existence,we’re a
shepherdless nation,stringed together by weak and sometimes
non-existent philosophy and institutions.
We can’t answer our own questions, about unity,equality, equity, fair representation, unfettered judiciary, free press,security, resources control, fair and equitable revenue sharing formulae,transparency,
economy and so on.
However, uncontrolled anger and aggression won’t better our world, sympathetic understanding will,and once the nation and its people begin to operate out of compassion, we’ll realize the lights are out, a lot of people are stumbling in the darkness,while some are as a blind man walking toward a cliff’s edge, so we light candles.
Now let me be clear,compassion is not compromise, but we must be seen to be uprooting embedded traditions, histories and lores,while opening up new opportunities for growth and expansion and an atmosphere that will cultivate refinement with authenticity, while in infrastructure, it should propose new definition of modernity that sings a ceaseless paean of rugged beauty-a new vista of the future.
The nation must also expand its borders, territory wise. Our mentality and human resources as we design a different way of sorting and settling the National
Questions-questions of nationality, liberty,equity, free enterprise and allowing every Nigerian free access to the good things of life and every potentials the nation could offer.
Towards this end, it should be as opening in the earth’s crust out of which steam,gases and molten rocks are hurled with terrific force. But issues, active, dormant or extinct that have been antonyms to the nation’s well being, peace and prosperity must be earthed but must not give way to an avalanche and launch of hate speeches and propaganda and warmongering; but are better discussed on a robust atmosphere, flexible, prolific, ongoing, not strict but permanently yielding to change as new culture, synthesis, analysis, orientation comes into play. Ultimately, be submissive not intractable to the will and aspirations of the people.
In doing this, the nation must be wary,and here, the words of that Management consultant Fred Smith comes to mind. He points out that there are two kinds of people,… Polluters and purifiers: The polluters are like smokestacks, belching out dirty smoke all the time. They hate clear skies,and no matter how good it gets they find a way to make it gloomy. When the people around them breathe their toxins they feel sicker and sicker. Purifiers on the other hand, make everything around them better. It does not matter what kind of rotten atmosphere they encounter. They take the toxic words of polluters just like everyone else does, but they filter them before passing them on. What goes in gloomy and negative comes out fresh and clear.
The nation must strike a balance between the two extremes. A lot of questions arises. But the salient question arising for both on the either sides of the divide is, (1) in the years of being together, when we have spent time together,should anyone walk away feeling better or should anyone be allowed to walk away feeling better or worse? (2) do you clear the air by giving them encouragement and fresh perspective, or do people interested in leaving, leave feeling downcast and discouraged?
The issues involved in the National Questions and the imminent and consequent search for a confluence must therefore be seen beyond politics, rhetoric, but instead, be viewed as a valid attempt at strengthening the nation even as it reshape and recondition its people. Just as you own the home,you live in, and when you own a home you rearrange it the way you want it. Ever hear the old saying, “Making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.”
It is a healthy past time to hang a question mark on the things we had long taken for granted without breaking our spirits; some of which are the source of our socio-political hiccups, and the reason Nigeria is still sleeping in the tropical sun on a bed of basmatic rice rather than roses.
The nation must attack the problems and questions with passion;it seems as the ideal thing. The nation’s perfunctory sanatorium façade must give way,because we are unlike birds that require no caring, no nurturing, except to be left in peace. The nation’s growth is our collective responsibility, and growth requires change, of course,we are often uncomfortable with the things change brings,but the corollary is if we don’t change we won’t grow.
There are many more questions begging for consideration, and since they are identifiable, its
apparently easy to set up an agenda for a discourse assuming the 8th National assembly is not all for it.
If we are to have a talk,let us have it without any more stage effects,heroics,
obstinacy or anger. While not wasting breath,there are certain facts that must be divulged in certain circumstances, but it does not have to be a duel to death.
The nation will require a singleness of purpose that will keep it in the groove of its purposes- no dissipation of energy, fragmentation of vision, loss of momentum, the lack of follow-through; and with no illusion of power,but just as much as the people will allow.
Let me quickly add in parenthesis that the search for power is an illusion because power itself is an illusion. So is art, death and so,probably is life. It is drama, hence, must not be taken too seriously. We must not go out of control diving down a gun barrel.
The nation must be suave enough to note that (1)the National Question posed and presented a threat to its peace, progress and unity. It is a time for clear, firm decisions, and we must not be stupid enough to sit over the threat with a gun out trussed with inexpert thoroughness. Here the nation must not be caught napping or nodding dumbly like children in front of a Christmas tree.
The snag is,while as a people we must make decisions together, decisions about who you are as a person and what you want your life and those of your children to be are yours alone to make. Allowing someone else to make those decisions for you is a mistake. When you let someone else decide who you are and what you want, you gave away your rights.
The National Assembly, as the law making arm for the good governance of the Republic, must understand this:
(1)Doing nothing and turning deaf air or playing deaf about the strident calls for restructuring and or self-determination is not making a decision.
(2)sitting back and always on holiday and pretending not to see a situation for what it is,is not a decision.
(3)procrastinating about what to do until something happens where you have no chance but to give one way or the other is not a decision. It’s passivity, and in the end it won’t serve well
the interests of the nation’s security, well being, prosperity, unity and cohesiveness.
Nigeria is a trap,it’s a contraption and a
contrapuntal variation, but we are in it. The coating on the pill was certainly of the very finest sugar, it will be wise to expect that the medicine inside would be of the bitterest.
There is nothing
we can do now but eat the cheese. We can eat breakfast while it’s hot or eat the breakfast when it is cold.
However, the people are entitled to total security from material dangers and from the hazards of living, against the casual slings and arrows of the world, the power to decide, to judge, the power of absolute Independence-the essence of temporal power. This being the case therefore, the proposition in the parley must not be a gold brick.
We have been stuck for a long time, the talk may be hot, unpalatable, frank, threatening, sincere and forthright, but we must roll with the punches, bend without breaking, believing big doors swing on small hinges.
In a eyeball to eyeball, we must not leave any lacunae whatsoever that may in future be exploited by any one or group of person.
If the nation is sincere with this effort, we should clear the path of making peace with the space formerly occupied by bitterness, regrets, thoughts of revenge until peace takes up full-time occupancy in the new digs. So wherever you are -be there. Live in the present. You can’t slow the world, so slow yourself.
It is the sacred duty of the presidency to direct the nation into peaceful resolution of the nation’s issues. Our conflicts can become stepping stones to stronger relationships, when we individually and collectively make a commitment to understand each other and refrain from divisiveness, and take the truism in the fact that you can’t unscramble eggs.
While we could not beat,knock, drive some senses because of a formed and set patterns and impressions that are beginning to surface on the nation’s horizon; and, but, for the arguments coming forth for and against Restructuring and threats of dismemberment to be made puny,the nation has to consider adopting the goodness in, amongst others:
(1)Devolution of power from the centre to the circumference.
(3)True and full fiscal federalism.
(5)Reshape the Revenue and Fiscal Mobilization formula.
It is five o’clock in the morning as the first worker’s train with loads of our people on its roof beginning to rush,shaking the ground beneath my cool dark bedroom. The filtering moonlight shone down on the sheet on the bed.
Blearily my eyes took in the towering cliffs above and the narrow vee of softly breathing water. The nation itself in deep grey shadow. A great length of luminescent greyness showed, far down in the prominence of darkness. My hair tousled and eyes were heavy with lack of sleep. This feather-hatted
fuddy cuddies of the last fifty years must stop.
Last line: with lips compressed and eyes hard as Onyx’s, the Grand-Inquisitor sits on the high- backed chair. The hour has struck for the pane forte et dure. Stripped and
pock-marked red,the nation must not be hypnotised, like a bush mouse in front of a rattlesnake, and,no mock life of nervous impulses.
I looked up at the sky. It was pale blue. Clouds tinged with thick greyness trailing away towards the horizon. My thoughts went to the president, did I miss him, is the nation missing him.# Jimi Bickersteth
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and writer.
He can be reached on Twitter