LETTER FROM THE SON OF MAN vol. 5 by ‘Lakunle Jaiyesimi
Permit me to quote one of your concluding remarks, “Like a twin emotion of burying a brother very close to heart and welcoming a newborn son into this world at the same time, Nigerians remain in the precarious oscillation of looking forward to a brighter future and looking into the dire present that promises no golden future.” As much agreement that I may have with that perception, it should be clearly noted that it cannot be all sad tales with Nigeria; not in the past gory days of military headship, the Jonathan days of Sodom and definitely not now. However, the message is quite obvious and succinctly delivered in that statement. The paradoxes of life’s dynamism!
While some, not always or only tired legs, return to the womb of the earth, some others, young, fresh, almost blank, gets suscitated from the womb of their mothers and while the former exacts sorrowful tears, the latter exacts the tears of joy. And while a handsome, though big-mouthed, exuberant Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is embroiled in a certificate scandal, with the adjunct that he passed only three subjects at WAEC examinations, we have had in the past Nigerian teenagers like Harold Ekeh and Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, who on the basis of merit got admission offers to 8 Ivy League schools in the United States of America. What a remarkable feat, compared to a lousy Senator, trying to prove that he, at least, graduated from a Nigerian school, Ahmadu Bello University. How exemplary to be a Senator in a country!
Note that he recently released a video, where he made show of himself singing, like a hunter against his detractors, “Ajekuniyani o je (2ce), eniti o to nina, ti’ndenod’eni, ajekuniyani o je” (translated: “His suffering will be absolute (2ce), he who is incapable of overpowering one but chooses to ambush one, his suffering will be absolute”).
The spectacle of Ekiti is worth closely following, not for anything edifying but for entertainment. It is only sad that while the previously mentioned Senator, in his own way, never ceases to entertain Nigerians, the roguish head of the Ekiti enclave is more adept at the business of theatrical amusements of the people he leads and those far removed.While there is nothing particularly wrong in the policy of “feed your stomach first and ask questions later”, especially if it is meant as an acute panacea for a chronic problem, it should not be the only cardinal drive of a truly sensitive government, who does not aim to create a docile herd of cattle in her people. Give him a carrot or a pacifier and he will be quiet. A truly sensitive government does not neglect the more fundamental creation of opportunities for a people to earn a living and not a meal. The job of providing a “piece meal” to the people, being largely restricted to the kitchen spaces, belongs to the cook. When a governor makes as his rallying manifesto the feeding of a people, then, it means a square peg has been put in a round hole.
While it is largely the responsibility of the government to provide some of the required social amenities and services for the people, a clinical diagnosis of the problem of misplaced priorities on the part of the government may very well place some blame on the people, who present themselves to be fooled without asking, peacefully or as decided, to be ruled appropriately. If all a people seem to be asking for is a “sachet of rice and a stipend of N200”, of course, a mischievous head of government will be glad to provide it, while depriving the ‘ignorant’ people of what they truly deserve. Although, can the Ekiti people be called ignorant? I would not toe that line.However, just like the anecdote of a long-suffering beggar, who in spite of all his entreaties, has only managed to take home a few coins for several years until something drastic happened. One day, he saw a big snake just close to where he sat. Scared to the marrow and unable to move, he started screaming for help, uttering only one syllable, “godddddd!”, stretching out his arms to be lifted by any helper. Lo, many of the passersby, who did not see the snake but heard the beggar screaming for help, “god”, started to drop varied sums in the hands of the beggar. The beggar, on his own, was stunned to discover much later that the change in his status was occasioned by his scream of god and so, he decided to continue the custom of screaming the name, god. Expectedly, this did it for him. As much as this suffices as a good analogy for why the country is awash with many pastors and self-professed men of God, because the people made them so, it also explains, at least in my reckoning, the rationale behind some of the inclinations of governments. The people get what they deserve until they determine otherwise. Because, you know,majority of the people, out of devotion or unreasonable fear, rid their brains when anyone mentions God to them and then, the onslaught. So in Ekiti, because you know the people are hitherto hungry, not like there is any human who is never hungry, you use their hunger against them. Cheap blackmail! The issue is, how do we end the ignorance of being fooled by any idiot who uses the name of God, or a governor who shakes your hand on the street, handing you a note whose equivalence is far less than a dollar? A handshake with a goddamn governor or the privilege of hearing another man say “god” should not be sufficient for a people to lose themselves.
You alluded to the fact that “edges having been toughened to learn and discern what good leadership should be through long years of exposure to mediocre leadership ushered by the whimsical sojourns of the boys in khaki.”I will add to that; education. By education, I do not mean the straightjacketing type that turns a thinking man into an obedient, “Yes Sir!” man, who derives pleasure in taking orders, without a thought, without a question, just like is needed to pass through examination-fitted processes of acquiring knowledge as has always been extant in the Nigerian educational system, and of course elsewhere. The more ability you have to cram, the better for you. Also, how do we solve the problem of perpetual hunger? We must begin to move away from the kind of education that makes graduates more docile, more unthinking, towards making them more productive.Enough of departments of Computer Sciences that cannot design and maintain her University’s simple website. Enough of the Fountain of knowledge oozing out elements of ignorance or of the land of honour and integrity, sold with “sachets of rice and a stipend of N200.”
The death of Dr Allwell Orji is pathetic like many others. Nigerians have suffered and died too long and too badly that the country needs some respite, even a permanent one. There is need for healing! And every citizen of that country must necessarily be an agent of that healing process.
Till I hear from you again, be good.
Son of Man