Sunset Fringes At Dawn On The Niger By Jimi Bickersteth
This evenings, I have suffered from one of those revulsions that all writers know;that the state of the nation and all that fascinating problems associated with it, become suddenly as dust and ashes. What did they matter? Why do I want to write about them. I pushed back the laptop with loathing, got up and took a look at the mantlepiece, the time-piece there glittering in cold amber, 19:58, on a sweltering hot evening. An exhausting day, with no light, “our off day”, (smile)! Enthusiasm in itself can be extremely wearing. With lips pursed together and a flushed face, write on this subject I must. Yes, I must write, I want to entertain, that is the primary duty of a writer.
There is no way to open a discourse on the situation in the country, today, without copious reference, veiled or implied, to a personality who share an interface between his, personality,position and office;his status having undergone a change both in politics and direction. But even with the apparent savoir-faire from Aso Rock,the last few days have passed uneventfully to all appearances,yet there is palpable tension, fear and foreboding in the land,the state of the economy, devaluation or no devaluation, fuel scarcity, PHCN, Boko Haram, Niger Delta, and the travels, all making PMB and his government more grave than he need be, as the nation wait amidst bated breath for some sense of relief to wipe away the fear and tension.
At this point,just before nightfall, my thoughts stopped and resolved speculatively round the figure of Mister president, but here it seems there’s something a little wrong-the practical non-working attempts at normalising the abnormalities in the Nigeria setting,-meal indifferently cooked indifferently served. In the thick of all the normalising, hasn’t Mister president maladjusted. I know Nigerians have never been able to alter people. I don’t see how you can,but the Nigeria situation is capable of turning a man to a woman.
Of course, PMB seem secured,remote at the heart of the whirlpool, but Nigerians expected more of an affectionate act of homage and concern, and a bit of 1984, to put us on the path of social reengineering as there is a wide chasm, one that does not require an aural comprehension tests to hear audibly the discontent between the falcons and the falconers, and Nigerians now feel as if they have found some unwanted prop on a stage. ‘Politricians’, surviving and thriving on a regular basis, on a fundamental belief that the average Nigerian is incapable of :knowing what’s good for him, what’s good for society, what’s right and what’s wrong. They believe their mission is to save people from themselves; not to help them become the best they can be, but to keep them from degenerating to the point that their naturally helpless conditions would lead them with without the politicians intervention. This is been very sincere.
I think the people don’t really need a cause for feeling what they do- feel. They are just made that way. The one trip too many approach to governance has arguably not helped and in the peoples estimation, those travels did not help their cause in the Obasanjo or the Jonathan years, one can’t see it differently now. You can count how many FDI’s and investment opportunities to Africa’s largest market (population wise) this incessant ‘shuttle diplomacy’, so to speak, in the last 16 years or so, has brought to a land where Education, Health, Energy, Public service et al have become painful boils, that can make life difficult for the blind.
The painful boils, in some cases, one may not be specific because the boils have become lingering malaise, in some instances are the rule rather than the exception,in others it is the exception rather than the rule, and there are rules and rules. One is in instance making a general statement, but generally the country has come short as short can be with all grimacing in pain.
The nation under PMB and the ‘Change’ wand, expect that after the eerie dimness of the past the nation would spring to life again. In fairness to him, his actions has been marked by the lineaments of his character, but of course, with the few lingering doubts of his capacity and capability.
But if he hears the unseeing throng push through the streets,it only means that patience with persistent failure of leaders and leadership; especially of a leadership that bemoans themselves in a shaking motion like wayward children ruefully shaking their heads as they reflect on the hardship they have brought to bear on the nation’s fortunes is thinning.
One is not making any accusations- as yet. But time is so very misleading. You may think things take such a long time, but really, of course, they don’t. This is nine months gone,PMB have to get the nation out of its misery.
Times are hard,and its government business to know what it takes to come through adversity and recession,depravity and privation.The new set of leaders, apart from their persuasion, need to be more proactive and circumspect, as they try to apply palliative measures that should bring succour to the people even as they improve the quality of life, service delivery and “dividend of democracy”, already ebbing away like a car headlights disappearing over the crest of a hill on a foggy night,or risk potentially distorting the deepening of democracy, if they continue to toy with the peoples emotions, minds and destinies like a kitten with a ball of wool. All they have to do is to do the best.
The nation no doubt is on a slight eminence, shaky ground, sloping towards the precipice, ‘and like seriously’,when you look on one side of a thing you only see one side, but I don’t really want to romanticise feelings,yet, nine months is a long time in the politics of a nation, how far have we come?
Yes, defining progress is tricky, but we progress because there is a belief and philosophy on success which is predicated on the willingness to succeed.
In Nigeria’s case the government have always had an unconscious rich vein of cruelty, and portrayed to the public that we live in a cruel world, with male and female, boys- and girls- with everything against them, bad times, bad homes, bad luck,disadvantaged, waiting on government to rescue them in the topsy-turvy hell, and it has been hard to count on a normal world. To compound the messy scenario, government apparatchiks, often take a dim view of this psychology, as it grows ridiculously sly and pompous, and at bottom fundamentally unsure of itself. I paused! Silly and melodramatic? I suppose I am. I tapped the keys to continue. So difficult isn’t it? To be clear about anything. About how and why the country got itself into this terrible quagmire. I mean, if you are looking at one thing, you can’t be looking at another. And one so often looks at the wrong things,just like the government, though, whether because one happens to do so or because you are meant to,it’s very hard to say, misdirection the conjurers- call it. Government magic. So clever, so cute.
Take for instance, the 45pc hike in electricity tariff, which to all intents and purposes portrays government insular views of the peoples experiences and circumstances and a government that is more than willing to show the people it has power and control,and like to kick up its heels a bit. They like to make us feel its natural.
The layman’s reaction here is, since the government privatised the entity that used to provide Nigerians electricity, is the PMB administration working to backtrack the agreement signed with the 6DISCOS, or is the government just being under a bad influence- offshoot of an irregular life of former leaders, who had run and ruin the nation and who took so much upon and for themselves.
Whatever it is,such unilateral hike in tariff normally do have a domino effect on the economy, and also make a poor mark on the index-linked pensions and salaries that insulate people against inflationary price increases. Such unilateral decisions in the past have acted as an incrustration of barnacles on the already corroded hull of the nation’s development, and the main reason the nation is this backwards, lucidly pale and translucent in its shimmering but now shrinking elegance of oil wealth and deep pockets . There it is and it is there anyway.
It is positively ridiculous that the national assembly, who’s president has just taken delivery of
#300 million exotic cars, sat looking on helpless and unconcerned as the president carried along his minister of power in the complicated backpack, and government at all levels are the best and biggest debtors, as they hardly settle utility bills . If government, including all the military and police barracks and other institutions pay up their share of the debts owed the electricity company, there may be no need for the new increase in tariff, I bet. Be that as it may.
The gothic gloom brought about by the sharp drop in oil prices and sharp practices and other illusions created to deceive the audience, (Nigerians)in the BDCs and the exotic maddening glow brought on it expose us to what we really are.
I got up so worked up and in a red mist of rage. I made attempts to leave the desk and take a walk in the garden, but something kept me glued back on the edge of my seat, as a thought flicker in and out of my mind; that in between the solutions to the nation’s myriad of problems is PMB, with some subdued eagerness though, staring out sulkily on the world from under a heavy fringe to a people watching helpless with eyes that danced with mischievous mockery, Epòn Àgbò nmí – literally,the ram’s scrotum is shaking.
May I state for the umpteenth time that one is not making any accusations- as yet. But the remarkably regrettable slow progress of the change agenda is being likened to the last administration’s transformation agenda, and also making us to regretfully realise how difficult it is to get a true estimate of someone from what other people said; just swank, put together by people who thought fine feathers make fine birds. However, government is a continuum, and we don’t have to shut the nation down because there’s a change . It is supposed to be a seamless change.
PMB sure have a pleasant simplicity about him, an etho that screams, patience is a virtue and some measure of integrity,but this are simply not enough CV to wield and wave through in the presidency, as even if endorsement takes you there, only performance keeps you there.
With the magnitude of rot and rut, in the system, he really needs to upset the apple cart, as he struggles and tries to be his own man,and share the prevailing discontent and fortuitous distance between his government and the people. He should by now know enough of the language to be able to grasp the general tenor of the peoples feelings,their expectations and what is being said.
The precarious situation the nation has found itself is all very distressing, PMB and Co and the executive exclusive club should know. It is about time to get the truth from the facts and get it all clear and cleared up, not just this G-force visceral excitement of a motor-bike ride that we are getting; like why are our leaders doing what they are doing- mindless fleece, graft and looting of the nation’s treasuries. Why do we in today’s culture discount and marginalise the needy including those no longer functioning as they once did; are the agitations for independence and other discomfited discomforts, gestures of defiance and resentment against a nation that denied them the simple necessities of life-care and affection or was it against a nation whose leaders, stood by and watched unabashedly, with vicarious satisfaction and pleasure,as the people are increasingly pauperised and boxed into this difficult moment, in this land of magic and affluence, or was it a damning indictment of lost values and traditions.
There’s every need to find answers to all this salient questions, then we’ll be able to take a peep into what the future hold for Nigerians.
Its a huge responsibility and liability and the pressure to succeed come from all angles. One is trying to point out that PMB have a very slim opportunity to prove himself as a willing and selfless leader. He must cover every blade of grass, and if he succeeds, we would see him smiling, I’d almost forgotten what it looked like to see him looking anything other than tortured.
Nigerians have been mistreated, and have found ourselves in the atmosphere of high conspiracy elves, deceit and sloppiness all around that defy logic, because the past administration could not make hard choices. Nigerians have been forced to endure losses of lives,dignity, jobs, health and self-esteem, and this had left us to rue and grapple with a lot of suffering amidst plenty and this has highly impacted on social life, work and security-extremely distressing circumstances, you’ll say, and I’ll add, numbness at its most severe. But wailing and asking for our politicians to undo what they had done isn’t going to happen.
Need we remind PMB that being a president of a country is the highest job, most prestigious and most powerful and you need speed, skill and authority,putting all of these together, if you perform flawlessly you are seen as just doing your job, but if you make a mistake, and a pink slime appears on the nugget, you are likely to be subjected to abuse by the people with too low a spirit for this days of adversity. Therefore, we need a president who could make his people laugh even when they don’t feel like smiling. To show by concrete action that he is capable of deploying his ability creatively and achieve results. In any case, Nigerians are gradually getting used to refusing to submit to any flat-track bully syndrome without a dot of panic,remorse or regret.
Thanks for restoring an army that was looking worn,tired, dishevelled, compromised and bleeding, and suddenly the bad things of the past are getting to be good. Still, the people want tenacious and determined leadership that symbolises strength,health and passion,this they think they have got. That’s putting it mildly but without flattery.
I begin to see not daylight, but the little glimpse of light that one gets in a train when one is about to come out of a tunnel. It is not so much daylight, but the promise of daylight- may it birth warmth, peace and prosperity.#
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and a writer.
He can be reached on Twitter