The Hay In The Sun And The Next Level Of Political Implosion, By Jimi Bickersteth
“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is still the same problem you had last year.”- John Foster Dulles,Secretary of state under president Dwight David Eisenhower,aka Ike, 34th president of the US.
This morning, the entire suburbs of Oraifite was as usual its sleepy self,a lot of flu about,people,many of whom were suffering from it,were just standing about on street corners trying to work out where he was.
It had been pathetically, nicely peaceful, particularly,so,since after the recent clampdown on the impolitic and without a lodestar warmonger and son-of-the-soil,zoo commander,Nnamdi Kanu and his group of dipsomaniac Boy’s brigade; whose effusions of second-rate verse embarrassed the nation. One should add in parenthesis, that, they were dislodged and left to scampered in fright at the mere sight of the
Python -the Python, who sated with pleasure in its dances, yanked on Nnamdi Kanu’s tactile sensations rope and it broke.
If the tacit approval ratings and support by the general populace given Operations Python Dance II,Lafiya Dole before it and Crocodile Tears after it were anything to go by,then,the ops were necessary;and the compelling reasons that made them acceptable to the generality of the people that gave the ops imprimatur,was that they were in the pursuit of peace,(one cannot say if they were there in the pursuit of the truth)an admission of the trite statement,paraphrased,”if vanity is not raised the gauntlet is not raised”.
Operation Python Dance, on one hand,was like the rain that sent everyone scurrying for shelter,and on the other hand, was one of those momentous events which caused a sea change in public attitudes, as the noise about a “Biafra republic” died a natural death, just as the semantics and ensuing confusion of “restructuring”,” self-independence”,
“self- determination”,et al,all in an attempt to reinvent and rediscover a new nation went with the wind into thin air, accompanied by Nnamdi Kanu.
Once the furore of the agitation for the nation’s jugular had died down and all the confrontation petered out and the nation regained its pulse and composure, then comes the sheriff to town. The president mien and the confidence and cadence in his speeches throughout the short official visit showed everyone that matters who the defacto and dejure c-in-c is.
He stepped on the Igbo soil-Anambra,amidst threats to his safety by some disgruntled remnants of whatever remained of the hapless Boy’s brigade; whose chief protagonist’s were merely interested in negotiating for power,and that is speaking of the prig, kanu,who in his utterly ruthless determination to succeed, gave as his raisons d’être and took advantage of the Republican and
peace-loving Igbo people as a pawn and at the same time as a bait.
In an environment redolent of history and tradition,unlike the kanu’s imagery of the people as having the smallest size and least value in the federation, using his sanctimonious voice. What a sacrilege! Thank goodness, the people had the courage and sincerity of purpose to rise to the bait.
In any case, Mister president not only went where the splinter group and scandalmongers thought he was not wanted as an “Igbo hater”, he went,he saw and he
conquered-and with chieftaincy titles to the bargain. All hail the Enyi Oma I.
But,you may ask,was this the right and correct handshake? However,one thing became clear and glaring from the visit,and that is,all,now know that the nation is too big and too sophisticated to be bullied into submission or coerced by any person, group or organization.
Yet,it is not Uhuru. One have a premonition of an impending implosion,even, beneath the façade of indifference and hand pumping with Mister president, there was: (I) the whiffs of unhealed wounds whose stench had refused to go away,and (ii)the unresolved issues of the national question, both of which should be the utmost centre-piece of the national Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly,as the nation begin to put in place a number of measures congruent with the seriousness of the situation,
There is also the compelling need for the nation to try as much as it could to assuage the Igbos longing:and for the gales to be abated the nation has to assiduously cultivate the support of the Igbo constituents that is presently assailed by worries, doubts, tears and fear,and a feeling of panic of whether they too can be number one. That is the long and short of the question,every other claims are extraneous.
The self-independence tantrums is thrown by a people who felt they were in the throes of danger and uncertainty;all you see is an excitement by a people dropped in the Creek, left alone to hold the baby. Even where the people should be seen working for and making the goal of a reality, the nation do not have to leave them to rue and grapple with the expectations and the intermittent heartbreak forever. Fair is fair. Let’s all be able to speak sincerely and truthfully and faithfully of a one united Nigeria.
Here in Oraifite,seeing the sun beat the dust and the wind pick up the dust and swirl it;with such a ferocious force that gave everything on the ground,everything, wings in the wind, the wind picked up everything in sight and scattered them all over into a nervous sky. The wind gathered slightly and beat the heads of the palm trees,ruffled the mangoes and pear trees, and graceful to a graceless people, with the hackles on one’s neck beginning to rise, a pair of secateurs on one hand, as I brushed back some of my wife’s hair that the wind caressed out of place with the other hand. We were all in tenterhooks when the rains came down in the searing heat of the beautiful, tropical summer afternoon.
After the rain that wet the hard clay and powdery soil,the men came up to us,enjoying the fleeting coolness and waiting until it was time to eat. Water dripped from the thatch gathered and gushed in the storm ditches, a puddle formed in the courtyard, the dust was mud. The sun was still proud in the white blue sky. The men growing old by the minutes with an undying underlying philosophy that, an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. That when life is dragging one back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch one into something great, and that as long as the dice is still rolling, “Double Six” is certain.
The heat’s more than worthwhile – makes you appreciate the coolness, like fever. But my mind was up country, at Mister president’s office. I had told the gathering most of the things that I know of Abuja, the essence of government and why it was important to troop out to vote at elections;that there votes were veritable tools to ‘instal’ there own people and representative into elective political offices.”So,do you understand. “I said blandly and they all smiled. They did not talk much, they only listened with rapt attention, as you listen to a hostage of fortune and a sanctimonious catechist who knows everything.
All the “stories” of and about Abuja, from the reading of their faces and countenances could as well be an exaggerated yarns invented. To them it was spinning a yarn,and not truthful. All the yarns that had oversimplified the metaphor the nation has become, of wanton penury,poverty and lack that has no discrimination. That had not proffered solutions to the pervasive inequality in the land, inadequate representation, autonomous administration at the grassroots, devolution of powers-from a centre that is too strong to the circumference, equity,fairness and equal and unfettered access to the good things and resources the nation has and can offer.
After the meal of pounded yam,unripe plantain and grass cutter,I was enjoying the fullness in my stomach, when the company returned to the bungalow and invited me to join them,once more in the verandah, wonderful hosts they were. You’ll never know the strength of your anchor until you feel the full blast of the anchor. This was one such moment for yours sincerely, who did not understand a word of Igbo language. Many thanks to Emekaa,my dutiful guide and interpreter.
I was moved by the willingness of these distinguished peasants and farmers,esteemed ones at that, a willingness our politicians have taken advantage of, and turned to gullibility. I also came to a realisation that all the talks and noises about marginalisation in the land, were indeed a creation and an elitist bellyache. The real people with the real problem don’t really care about who rules them,apart from maybe their monarchs. Far away from government as they were, it appeared meaningless to them,where the GMD,NNPC or the minister of petroleum resources hailed from. It mattered little to them and they care less,if they could move around in their farms unmolested and they could have their gourds of freshly tapped palm wine in the cool of the evening.
One feels the nation should stop this its political allegory of a two-up
game- ridiculous game. Where two pennies are placed on a stick and throw the coins up into the air and bet on whether the coins come down both heads,or both tails,on one head and one tail. Gambling with the people’s fate has became like breathing air to the nation.
But to the people, their major concerns and fear were on why(1) They could not have or access health/medical facilities for common ailments not to talk of debilitating and acute illnesses. (11) Why their children could not attend government schools or the more expensive private schools. (111)Poor housing programmes.(1v) Poor nutrition and food programmes.(v) Why their wards and children leave the homestead in droves, sometimes not to be seen again. Other than these, they were seemingly OK.
Having patronised all of these and the agitation and disturbances that almost turned into full scale insurrection and without unduly rationalising the pros and cons of why we are where we are, the nation’s proper response is not to suppress but deal with the issues.
The problem is,to see the truth about oneself is like trying to see inside one’s own eyeballs. It is not gainsaying that the source of our peoples dissatisfaction with one another is that we often forget that we have different histories,cultures and traditions. We have our own ideas, of what’s right and what’s wrong for us,first as Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, the national interest come second.
Everyone has an opinion and we keep spending till eternity arguing backward and forth over opinions and getting nowhere. We failed ourselves because we’ve been too viscous. We’ve not related well with ourselves the way we are supposed to, this habit is obvious in those institutions of state that were expected to unify us,the NASS,the armed forces, the police and other paramilitary agencies. This been the case,therefore, subscribing to fuzzy notions about federalism would only be in abstract and contextual and like broken rope and hope won’t get us nowhere.
Whilst there are,many issues festering under the surface that needs to be dealt with before we can move forward, the nation had found itself at the mercy of circumstances, unable to solve and in other cases resolved the myriads of problems confronting it,have found itself facing the same obstacles over and over, and habitually in reaction mode and unable to navigate the deep knee bends of life.
We only need to understand the basis of the nation’s diversity and unity. It is not the absence of conflicts that makes nations great,but keeping conflicts from mushrooming into hurtful and divisive standoffs.It also means knowing what to do with disappointments and dashed expectations.
There are truths that can transformed every of our national question and tests as a potential triumph and stabilise the inherent instability, differences, conflicts and disagreement in the polity in spite of our copious and collective pretensions; but our leaders must be awakened by a soft tap on the shoulder or two-by-four on the head to their responsibility and set the parameters for the struggle.
But like gardeners,we must look for tools, a hoe,to care for the garden. The hoe never cuts what the gardener intends to save, and never saves what the gardener intends to weed. We can roll up our sleeves and work on what our problems are with vision and passion. We may have failed ourselves in the past,but we can write a new story of success,with a sustained and zealously pursued campaign with ‘passionate’, ‘proactive’ and ‘persistent’ our watchword.
Nigerians don’t have to live the rest of life,stranded and in straitened circumstances, with phobias, hangup, poverty, injustices, prejudice in this somewhat tricky raft adrift in the unfathomable waters of eternity with no horizon in sight, one in which our hearts ache for every precious life upon the raft.-drifting, drifting, drifting ,wither no one knows.
P.S. There was an overbearingly long, thoughtful silence in the land. A searing indictment of poverty.
As the hours tick down to the end of the day, so do the hours left and the chance for our political leaders to wakeup from their deep slumbers and start thinking and working to change the lives of the teeming mass of our people and the countryside. The nation has got this long to decide how and where it wants to see success in a future majority of Nigerians may not have but are earnestly hoping for.
Whatever there is to do so as to be able to take most of our men and women stripped of all finery from be hind this bamboo cage, the time is now. The obstacles on our paths, be it economic, financial, political,agitation, psyche, labyrinthine complexities of party politics, are merely a challenge to strengthen our position, not surrender
our dreams. When we look back on today, we’ll regret the things we didn’t do more than the ones we did.#
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and a writer.
He can be reached on Twitter