Thursday, 30 March 2017

While we all laugh: Nigeria 101 in plain language

I have been privileged to visit several countries on this planet earth, but I have not been had that rare opportunity to visit a madder country than Nigeria. My very first flight out of Nigeria, and Africa, was to London some years back. And I had no idea what to expect. Like most Nigerian youths, life in Nigeria was good and couldn't be worse, having no other experience to compare mine with. Don’t blame me, I didn’t know differently. We left Murtala Muhammed International Airport and I had no idea how much it stank until I experienced something different. We made a brief incursion onto the Atlantic airspace, a detour through an arid and Northern Africa, over the Mediterranean and then …. There, right there was the first shocker. Watching London from the air was like watching a perfectly pencilled work of an Engineering student, with all the curves and lines where they should be. Even the river banks we neatly drawn as it were, more like one giant cup of coffee, with banks glittering greyish white from the distance. River! Ordinary river, that we used as conduit for all things disgusting and nasty back home in Nigeria?

Before I knew what was up, tears were streaming down my eyes. I wasn’t the emotional type, but the anger, the feeling of betrayal, the loss that I felt, that all our leaders have been privileged to visit these saner climes and yet they returned home without feeling the need to improve the country's condition of living… We the youth, we do not know any better, so you should pardon us. We should pardon ourselves. They, the self-acclaimed leaders, know better. Rather than returning to the country with a passion to improve the home land, they go out there in the West and Dubari, on a spending spree- buying houses, buying cars that only gods or insanely mad people would dare ride, spending money on oyinbo girls, and boys and those whose behind is hardly different from the front…

Yet we laugh.

After all we are Nigerians, and the only consistent thing about us is our penchant to turn everything to joke and laugh it off. We do it. Our fathers did it. Their fathers before them did it. We play the ostrich, maybe if we bury our heads long enough in the sand and laugh under the hood of the earth, maybe, just maybe the problem will have disappeared before we remove our heads from the sand. And in time, we have lost the knowhow of how to remove our head from the sand. Problem rages where our asses reside, but who cares, our heads are in the sand and troubles cannot get to us. The price of cement doubles, more than doubles within the space of 6 months. But who cares, the harder we laugh, the more distracted we get, the less painful it will all be.

The generations of our fathers bought brand new cars during NYSC and they didn’t have to share testimonies in churches and mosques. And yes, our fathers studied history, and demography, and education, and business admin. During NYSC, yes they bought DL cars, tear rubber. They ate with both hands, excited by the jobs as servants of the civil society, forgetting to build industries... But who cares, we their sons are better than them; we are their pension plan, their breathing gratuity. We are better and so we study pharmacy, and law, and medicine, and chemical engineering, and we study so hard that we speak languages our parents do not understand. Yes, we are doctors, we are engineers, we are lawyers and pharmacists and speech-makers … But 10 years after graduation we still don’t have a job that does any better than keep us alive to suffer grimmer fate of the coming morrows.

But who cares, our churches are there, and our mosques, and our senate… they take our mind off our fate, and they make us laugh, and clap, and make celebrations out of Christ… If I pay my tithe of #1k today, next week God will have made me a millionaire. The good Lord in Nigeria has taken Ponzi scheme to a whole new level. Just a seed of faith and in the morning we all are at par with Dangote. But how? Just how will this things be? Beloved, the good Lord cares not about tiny details of success, neither should we... And after one year, and two years, and ten years, we still can’t increase our offering from N20 to N50… But we are men of faith, and we are to bury our heads in the sand of religion and indifference while Dangote, the son of God, buys us all and makes us give him change.

Who cares!

We have a President, and he has certificate that no one has seen. Several months ago the 180million of us left no stone unturned running after the fleeing paper; but we couldn’t catch up. We couldn't find it. We looked everywhere, everywhere except the other room where he keeps a lot of precious things and our Mrs Madam. And when we’re all exhausted from the search they graciously allowed us to consider his NEPA bill…to become the President of our dear mother-father land. Hurray! No, not so fast, JAMB has refused to allow us too present NEPA bills to enter higher institutions. What are we to do? Our favourite spot remains still in the sand, we need only bury our heads deeper still, and these concerns will dispel all by themselves.

A rule exists for the Senate and the politicians, another for us that live in the jungles of our common national hustle-ship.

But who freaking cares?

Steal a loaf of bread and your fellows-in-suffering, before you say “Jonat not Buh”, have lighted you up like a candle. How fast they get the petrol I do not know… Or worse still, the police get to you first before you fulfil the destiny of a human torch. They take you to SARS, and for stealing a loaf of bread, you enter their nest and you never again come out alive. 

The gods that occupy our senate no longer have to steal these days, they have carefully legitimized and apportioned the choicest part of the loot to themselves. After all once the law backs it it is kuku not a crime. A single alert announcing the salary of a senator, could well have paid the salaries of a hundred Nigerians, and Dende that entered SARS’ nest would not have needed to pay such a fatal price for hunger, for a loaf of bread.

Someone dared us and we tried to see if indeed we could remove our head from our precious sand. We did, only briefly, and found that our President dearest, the Lion of the Tribe of the Other Room, the Lord of WAEC, and the wife of Saraki, had been gone for more than a month. Ah! Who stole him? The Queen? Is he alive? He breathes, like in the movies? But, is he alive like normal people? Before we were answered the one of whom Onikuje of Kuje fears, the Lord of WAEC, the Confidence of the Herders quickly gave us the blessing of Suleiman and Otobo, and Sowore and Dino… And we were happy, the Lord of WAEC is happy, Saraki is happy, so happy he has now gone on a summoning spree; if a tree moves too much, it must appear before him in uniform. And before the year runs out we all must appear before the senate at least to justify the criminal pay they all collect. Legitimate, yet criminal.

Perhaps one day the wind will blow our sand away and we will have no choice than to stare with naked eyes at our naked and sorely butts. Perhaps we will someday grow the courage to beat sense into the senate and the executives. After all, the people they say is the power of democracy… Perhaps, someday our youth will live up to their true strength, not merely seeking and taking up jobs, but building industries and inventing mechanisms to put the old dinosaurs leading us into old peoples’ homes.
But right now, let’s keep laughing until God comes round to building a ladder that allows Him to descend into Nigeria to sort out our problems, every one of them, by Himself. Who knows, the desperate and fervent prayers of our mothers and their fathers before them, might just get answered in our days. But if that doesn't materialize there's at least a heaven after now and here.

But hallelujah somebody, Nigerians needn't be afraid of a Hell after this life: Hell's headquarter has now moved to Nigeria, with the executives and legislators and public officers outdoing each other as the able representatives of Hell's special envoy to our land.

But who cares, our sand still remains.

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