A Nation Caressing Petal’s Of Rose And Tickling Vanity, By Jimi Bickersteth
The monument at the UN plaza has a Peace Statue set against a background of the Isaiah Wall with an inscription, “THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES, AND THEIR SPEARS INTO PRUNING HOOKS: NATION SHALL NOT LIFT UP SWORD AGAINST NATION, NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANY MORE.
All of a sudden,doing nothing begins to pall after having to spent time listening to the late night newscap. I elect to have a cold shower before going to bed. I hobbled slowly to the bathroom, had a bath,but it didn’t help the feeling of acute depression that settled over me,but it cleared my head and lying on the narrow, comfortable bunk, I thought about a nation playing with petals of rose while its youth back home are tickling vanity.
I painfully ease my athritic knees over the edge of the bed. Then I sit and wait. Slowly the ache in my legs subsides.I brace myself and got up. I groan in pain. Hands on hips,just as grasshopper drags itself along. I tucked the end of my towel in at my waist and padded across the room to where my handset laid on the table. I mechanically dialled a number and and sat listening to the crackling drone on the line. After a while the operator told me there was no reply.
I looked at the clock on the mantlepiece. It was stationed at five past two in the morning and with early traces of dawn as I rather savagely threw the phone on the sofa. I saw and began to imagine things that I hadn’t seen before. The nation’s disunited unity,its independence, about the six-geopolitical contraption,unified disunity (only football and religion sew us together),the now proscribed IPOB,MASSOB,OPC,NDA,MEND and so on. I wonder vaguely what is going to happen to our dreams and to our dear country in time to come.
There and then, the inscription on the Isaiah Wall set as a backdrop of the UN Peace Statue ,IPOB agitators-a monkey with its paw in a bottle, and “Operation Python Dance” came to my mind. The poisonous sting in the dance steps has got some of our compatriots killed through it already. It wouldn’t surprise one if several more went the same way before this business I called playing with the petals of rose and tickling vanity is over.
Just before I went back to bed, I hope we’ll draw strength from the sentiments expressed on the Isaiah Wall. Sincerely, I won’t be one of those that will die,not that I fear death, but just that not the hole of a rifle. I reached for the light and switched it out.I went to sleep after a while and dreamt that Nnamdi Kanu and FFK were kneeling at the foot of PMB’s bed.He,KANU, seemed quite happy, smiling in a catholic, oily way, but when I looked closer, NK had a big wound in his throat. My dreams have a knack of coming to past. The dream, however, did not disturb me. In fact, I slept all the better for it.
I woke up startled, my face puckered into a heavy frown. The first light of dawn came over through the fan-light over the front door and I could make out the flower beds and the flowers moving daintily in the wind. The flashback to the dream led to a reverie, and there was no association of ideas,real or imagined, to account for the reason why this rabble-rouser called Kanu is contriving and throwing up discomfort and trying to destroy the bond between the north and south.
His sentiments forcefully expressesd showed a character suffering from depression, bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorder, whose obscure literal allusions to Nigeria as a zoo,a zoo where his mother and father lives,reminds me of the popular classic of whimsical humour “Three Men in a Boat” and “The Wind in the Willows” Kenneth Grahame, in a sane way.
His image and name slipped into my mind and I immediately tried everything to discard it and the thought and everything ugly it conjures with its few unpromising leftovers. It is expected that with the only crackdown, call it onslaught, if you like, the fat of his body and the motley crowd of jobless, hapless and helpless youths has gone cold, turned into a cornered ferret,and encased in a trembling, chilling mass of clay in a pile of straw;and should be wondering out of the thinning darkness and in a vague frightened way, in a courage of desperation, how much of the immediate present is left to him.
The damp and damning atmosphere making their eyes and hearts heavy should henceforth make them reasonable rather than vulnerable, even now that they are riding the pain and shivering with repression, rage and hatred for the fatherland. Their are some educated and enlightened ones among the army of youths, let them use their brains.
Nigerians have to get out of this ugly mess. We’ve got to get out. If they can’t use their heads,are there no more adults! Adults looking on with eyes like holes in a white and green sheet. Adults who have seen it all,who are supposed to with wizened voice,cut out all extraneous information, materials and details, but show the whole of the big picture, with balanced and unhurried equipoise,and whose intervention should be predicated upon the toga of truth, authenticity, candour, superior native intelligence and genuine pacifying logic of a Nigerian elder.
Time is up for the elders north and south of the Niger to keep showing wisdom, maturity and compassion. Elders,who, like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land had jept quiet as if they’d acquiesced on the issue and were looking for a battering ram or a scapegoat!
Even at that, the lack of proper advises or ill advise of this twelve-minute egg and for their failure to call him to order,the elders,and here,it include even the sitting state governors, are themselves left tensed and pathetically alone,as they are left with no option but to throw the red-tinged water down the sink,put away the green and red towel spangled with a rising star and the lint’s and bandages, and then inspect the outcome of indifference.
Yes! The nation is hiccuping in the abyss of failure, want, lack and poverty; and in some dire straits, jerking all of its inhabitants up and down as if riding a switch-back. But it’s in a for better for best marriage, and marriage is an extraordinary thing-and I doubt if anyone, even a great-grandchild of the marriage has the right to judge. Please hold it!for anyone portraying the nation, as it were, in somewhat unsuccessful conflict with circumstances beyond its control is a casual daydream.
To also say and insist that the republic is poor and generally bad, hence, should be balkanized is not only begging the questions, but an unnecessary display of pedantry; let’s allow the nation to evolved the way it would and must naturally do. Not rip-roaring, nor morals and ideals,but based on the actual circumstances and needs of our people.
Let’s leave the Rip vanWinkle,it is said,”to behead is no cure for a headache.” What actually is the grouses that is leading us to the edge of the precipice in a nation that is in a democracy with all that has pixed all of us together, it’s greed,avarice and our ‘self-before-other’ orientation. For crying out loud, you’ll ask again, what is eating Kanu up,that has emboldened him on a mission of delusion- to champion the ‘Igbo liberation’ cause,ergo,fame. He’s so badly eaten him up that this punk is so excited that the bite deaths would neither deter nor make him flinch, and has in the process pressed the self-destruct button.
To kanu, I have this words,The dead don’t sweat. Òkú kìí làágun ó maá ns’omi ni. Life is a dream! If you are looking for power and or fame,somebody has acquired it and use it and now is powerless. The deadpan, implied or indirect humour in the nation’s breakup, separation and or restructuring, largely depends on what the people think is being said rather than anything else. This and numerous other reasons and questions, national questions have come out in the wash and would always come into play when rationalising arguments for and against the treasonable act and tickling vanity and would be dealt with on its merit by the judiciary.
However, it is safe to say that, sponsoring breakdown of law and order, threatening our nascent and fragile civil rule are obnoxious notations on the nation’s paths to greatness and prosperity; are acts that are dead on arrival,since they are diametrically opposed to the nation’s restructuring, and one come away with the impression that we,the editorial “we” cannot excuse any ambition or means that will ultimately truncate and or abuse the constitution of our republic, which is our own “MAYFLOWER COMPACT”,and we must submit ublima fidei to its authority,rightly worded or otherwise, until it is reviewed and or amended,we are duty-bound to comply with itsletters and spirit, its part of the labours of our heroes past,which must not be in vain;not to so do is to court anarchy, and then, you can only weep like a woman for what you can’t defend as a man.
Having said that, you wonder what was different under GEJ that the Kanus of this world found okay and satisfying that PMB has violated or put in abeyance. GEJ’s administration of endless tragedies, crudity and clueless mess that beheld the nation in the ocean of misery,and corruption huge waves like mountains rising sky high,
In all fairness,I came to a humble conclusion, that,much as the PMB’s administration is fashionable, quite timely and welcoming,it’s pretty difficult to assess its impact on the youths twenty eight some months after; and in this era of privatisation, liberalisation, asset-stripping,recession,vandalisation,rationing, load-shedding,belts-tightening,restructuring, and wholesale change, I’d assess the chances of the government’s efforts getting to the targeted audience as extremely low in a nation that is contradictory in terms. But wrong is wrong, no matter how well you couch it.
None the less, the happenings in and around the country affords all, Mr president inclusive,(whose chief asset is his reputation for honesty) the chance to assess and reassess what, where and who we really are.
Let’s be realistic: any one who has any imagination at all is going to be concerned about happenings in our country. Everyone is worried stiff about the state of the nation generally,with the bleak image of future problems lurking just around the corner at the next bend,but galvanise the nation must the unsuspecting youths,even as the present circumstances keep them further restive,idle and spineless.
The present administration,must not forget to inform the nation’s youths about how and why:
i)their country entered upon a history of social and political development,that could not be modified by the varying influence of ecology.
ii) like their parent’s and guardians,they are been conditioned and consigned eternally to go through numbing pains that hurt so deeply, so badly, that words cannot describe, but shows on the weariness etched in their deeply circled dark eyes devoid of laughter, all looking older than their ages.
iii) they are forced to go through such a roller coaster of worry, till despair became their soulmate, with insecurity, hunger, grief in tow, and struggling ever to shake the tree of life itself for some subsistence.
iv) they have to keep surviving on mere instincts, not knowing for sure where the next meal would come from. All of these,due to no fault of theirs,just that they happened to be borne and bred in Nigeria.v)That the youths are where they are not because of lack of will,physical and natural resources and endowments, but because of leaders lacking in panache, confidence and convictions.vi) That a kind of serenity comes only over a people and leaders who have convictions, and in the centre of the serenity is the sunlit oasis call success,and vii) How the government is or has planned to effectively and efficiently meet all challenges confronting the nation,particularly its youths on the nose.
The government must sold to the youths the notion, of, nothing in life is fixed and permanent. This notion,is why to some extent the nation is able to speak of a Nigeria, today, with a civilisation, where things are always changing; but increasingly an arduous task,developing out of our genius or by symbiosis with creation, with much originality and splendour.
One may ask,wither the ingenuity, creativity, ambition and desire (which Nigerians know they have), that can change the nation from a wobbling drifter and dreamer; and emerge from the prison we have been living in.
Its becoming clear as the day,that the primordial instincts,creativity,high capacity and ingenuity inherent in our peoples DNA went with the wind,at the nexus where leadership and followership connects. Here crisis ensues,and the nation got stuck and stranded.
Globally and every where the world over,sociopolitical ideas change,the economy often and constantly develop and metamorphosed, and new ways of life from one that is always faint and often arbitrary, generally are different from those of few years ago, and the influence of the changes becomes greater.
But the nation in her own case, got stuck in one place.With this being the case,it’s pathetic and unfortunate,that,the nation keeps going forth with sharpened sticks to hunt wooly mammoths. Leaders with strong opinions about the state of the nation should carefully distinguished between the things they knew to be true and those they thought to be true, as they tried to liberate our democracy without being dogmatic and frigid.
It is patently irresponsible and dangerous for government to keep using the same old conventional wisdom about solving poverty-more and more money doesn’t work. What is so threatening about teaching young poor Nigerians that the way out is by investing in themselves. What is the risk, one wonder. The way you help the poor improve their lot in life is to empower them to do it themselves.
The government’s positive contribution is the key to develop the citizens pride and breed self-reliance,respect and motivation; but in this climes, our own are apparently, not doing enough to help the people access the opportunities this country has to offer. The massive failure of the nation’s leaders and consequently, the endemic systemic and organic failure it engendered has held us all hostage.
Methought, the world is too advanced into the age of reason-time and moment,when thinking men and leaders,should begin to learn to free Nigerians from the fanaticism that has enslaved us. Poor leadership cannot be allowed to mess up our sense of perceptions, paralysed our dreams, fullness and maximisation of our potentials. PMB must wisely choose who have his ears. There must be no elephants in the room, but content of character, power of thought, wisdom and motivation.
With economic insecurity comes fear,fear of an unknown tomorrow and its dire consequences; averting calamity would require significant changes in policies and practices that are not currently underway,if we continue as usual, a disastrous future beckons. Imagine that you are driving on a long, straight highway for many kilometers, you have had to make only minor adjustment to your steering. Then suddenly, the road takes a sharp turn. To keep your car on the road,you have no choice but to adjust your steering.
The IPOB/Python Dancerssaga has shown that in all these brouhaha PMB can react one way or the other, but the nation’s reactions must not be a one -off thing, hence,the solutions the nation is willing to proffer to the lingering National questions, in spite of the national Assembly uncomfortable silence must be sound and consistent with the aspirations of a good people wishing to live in liberty, freedom and prosperity.
Our pressy therefore should be aware that he’s been caught up in an endeavor that time somehow seems to be altered. He must be deeply aware, without being self-conscious, stretched or challenged, but without a sense of stress or worry,as he strives to invest his abilities to create value for Nigerians; to plant and build and invent ways that will cause our people to flourish.
The nation must be seen to be constructing a new vital social ethics and tradition which can give us the moral foundation and character on which to revive a nation that is capable of achieving its potentials. Putting our skills against the elements of nature bring home a scalp. Some of our preferences and practices may not be very important, but our principles regarding personal liberty, integrity, morality-these are not up for sale or compromise.
I see new jobs,new grace and glory for the nation, can you! You can only if you care to see through rose-tinted spectacles.
Everything is coming up roses in spite of the slightly uncomfortable sensation.#
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and writer.
He can be reached on Twitter