(Published in The PUNCH on April 2, 2018)
The supreme irony of our national tragedy is that we are uniquely blessed with selfish and vain leaders. The gang piloting Nigeria since creation day swarms with conceited and ultra-corrupt leaders who serve the masses rotten pottage in a potty while they gobble ‘isi ewu’ in golden chinaware and down exotic wines in diamond chalice. We’re worse than slaves. We, the Nigerian proletariats, are a case study of a rape victim, who feels the pain of an intruding phallus but yet moan and gyrate to the vicious thrusts racking her innermost at ravishing intervals. This is our plight, a followership condemned to perpetual cursing amid blessing, deafness amid listening, dumbness amid talking – all at once in vain.
No sooner had the colonialists waved their goodbyes in 1960 than our political elite rode on winged chariots of fire, burning the decencies of our shared existence with the departing overlords. In 1966, the military snatched power from the hollow jaws of a bigoted political class, setting the country in a writhing spin that twitched till 1979. A momentary taste of power from 1979 to 1983 shows a democratically elected political lot that had learnt nothing from its 13 years of wandering in the wilderness, engaging in odious corruption which the military seized by the barrel as an excuse to seize power again till 1999. The beautiful damsel, Miss Nigeria, complained about the smelly rapist, whose body odor and two clothes – khaki and ‘babanriga’ – she knew too well. In all the years of the raping holocaust, the life of the ordinary Nigerian diminished in quality, purpose and length as bats and cows in some other climes enjoyed better food, shelter, security, electricity, medical treatment, health insurance and other necessities of life.
In 2015, tired and sore, the belle decided to get married to the town’s most handsome suitor called Mr Progressive, and jettison the Conservative rapist forever. How wise?! Progressive is suave and urbane, Miss Nigeria thought, closing her dreamy eyes to see a rosy future lived in love with her cutie pie. “Begone from my sight!” she barked at Conservative.
Show me any Nigerian political leader, who can confidently swear that he only lived on the statutory salaries and allowances approved by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, and I will show you a lizard in Texas! Enough of the esoteric speech, Tunde; these leaders will never listen! But I will call a spade no other name; both the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress are one nightmare Nigerians want to wake up from. While the Goodluck Jonathan administration lied all through its four-year existence (said Chibok girls were never kidnapped, you remember?), the President Muhammadu Buhari media machinery has been minting excuses daily. The great Pope John Paul II has a word for the excusive Buhari administration. The Pope said, “An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.” It’s tragic that the APC combine excuses with lying. But I just don’t know the excuse the APC would come up with for the Anti-People Commotion the party caused in the name of welcoming President Buhari to Lagos last Thursday for the inauguration of a mere bus terminal and the birthday of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The whole bat and cow circus was mean in planning and irritable in execution. I remember that the Action Congress of Nigeria, as an opposition party in 2012, described the paralyzing visit of Mrs Patience Jonathan to Lagos State as the worst form of oppression of the common man. That day, Lagos was locked down even before Madam Jonathan woke up in Abuja, and people were dehumanized, trekking for several miles. Many slept on the road that day as they couldn’t get back home just as many missed their flights, doctors’ appointments, lectures, deliveries, work, and fancies. Also, I remember the ACN schooling the shoeless son of a fisherman in ethics, patriotism and leadership when the head of the clueless administration visited Lagos for a centenary at the Eko Hotel and Suites on the Victoria Island. The spokesperson for the ACN, who is now the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, offered an unsolicited advice to the visiting President. He advised that Jonathan, upon arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, should fly to the Lagos Island event in a chopper – in order to save Lagosians the agony of endless hours in traffic. In a letter addressed to the Governor of Lagos State at the time, Babatunde Fashola, Mohammed also advised Jonathan to postpone his visit all together because the date clashed with the national convention of the ACN billed for the Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island.
More than any other shenanigans since Buhari was voted as president in 2015, the shameless shredding of the masses’ rights in order to please the gods of Daura and Bourdillon by Ambode confirms the APC as a more hypocritical and cruel form of the PDP. If Jonathan was advised by Mohammed to hop on a chopper en route to Lagos, what stops the Daura herdsman from clambering into a train from Abuja to Ikeja thence to Lagos Island; that would, at least, afford him the opportunity to see cows’ grazing routes, and also save Lagosians the nuisance, which his visit turned out to be. Sadly, Tinubu, Ambode, Mohammed, Fashola, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the visiting President know that state visits caused hardship to the citizenry and brought Lagos to its knees since the days of the jackboot when innocent schoolchildren were lined up along routes where visiting military tin gods rode. However, Buhari, Tinubu, Ambode, Mohammed, Fashola, Osinbajo don’t care about the effect of the inhuman visit on the public because they know the soothing words to coo into the ears of the raped nation during the next round of election.
If Nigeria is a gnashing irony, Lagos is a teary oxymoron. Lagos is the smallest and largest state in Nigeria. With a surface area of 3,557 square kilometers, Lagos is the smallest in terms of land mass but with a population of 21 million and a GDP of $136bn, the state is the largest in the country. But I cannot see the sense in barring people from work and closing down the seventh largest economy in Africa for the visit of a man, who was also on a working visit. In a familiar fashion reeking of stupidity, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, announced that Lagosians seen along certain routes during the visit would be arrested and prosecuted.
As popular as Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama were, no US state ever declared a holiday when they visited. President Donald Trump has visited a number of US states after his election, none has declared a holiday in his honor. So, what has Buhari done especially to deserve the honor of a holiday being declared in his name? Despite being a country that openly professes its trust in God, the strongest country in the world, America, doesn’t observe a public holiday during Easter. Some statistics have rubbished our leadership incompetence and religious hypocrisy. Alaska, a state in the US, is almost twice the size of Nigeria just as the US is almost 11 times the size of Nigeria, yet the country is run effectively. If you choose to live in Nigeria instead of the US, you would make 89.7% less money, live 26.4 years less, consume 99.06% less electricity, spend 98.94% less money on health care and you’re 12 times more likely to die in infancy!
The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people, says Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States. Hear, o ye Nigerian leaders!