Nigeria: From Sublime To Ridiculous

(By O’Seun Egghead Odewale)

 “Even through the cathode tubes, one can imagine he was able to sniff the mint print of the colourful publication even though he might not have read a word of its contents. Quite a cheeky way to console oneself considering that the President can readily imagine he was speaking to less than 10 percent of Nigerians. One can also opine that not many will have access to the President’s answer sheets to which he now requests a comparison with some spooky marking-scheme that must have been earmarked as the yardstick to determine whether there has been any ‘trans-for-nation’ forward or backward or that indeed, it has been three blighted trance years of bitter than better.

I WOKE up, after many weeks, from the reverie of how apocalyptically bad the American system has evolved and how apotheosistically well the Nigerian body polity works and has been mouthed to be on a ceaseless transformation run since the present handlers were cobbled into the national psyche.

  Alternatively, can we imagine that Maurice Iwu of blessed public remonstration once told a disconcerted nation, how the Nigerian electoral system is exceedingly better than that of the Americans? Forget opprobrium, I am expected to thump my chest for we had the freest and fairest elections in 2011 despite many families of NYSC election volunteers now have annual memorial services for numerous unsung deaths during same exercise.

  I imagined that we are all too soon enamoured in our affectations and have thus allowed the recession of our outbursts into a residual fixture waiting to be recalled once the relevant, usually political, triggers are pulled. The Nigeria Senate had only earlier in the week released a report of its findings on Baga to which claims of mass deaths were disputed even though the report admitted that it could not verify its own assertions contained in the reports as access to the area was moderated since there is now a state of emergency in place. For force, Baga was just on April 16 2013.

  Imagine we have a President who ‘nose’ it all to stand knightly on a lectern with the official seal crested and declaring to all whose eardrums are not politically prejudiced that he not be assessed except there be a marking scheme to which ordinary Nigerians are the sole assessors. And, in so doing, he submitted his examination scripts for the assessors’ scrutiny. Even through the cathode tubes, one can imagine he was able to sniff the mint print of the colourful publication even though he might not have read a word of its contents. Quite a cheeky way to console oneself considering that the President can readily imagine he was speaking to less than 10 percent of Nigerians. One can also opine that not many will have access to the President’s answer sheets to which he now requests a comparison with some spooky marking-scheme that must have been earmarked as the yardstick to determine whether there has been any ‘trans-for-nation’ forward or backward or that indeed, it has been three blighted trance years of bitter than better.

  Cheer, chime and char, I imagined that if we were not a people with unmitigated lofty aspirations for fatherland, we should by now shove our mouths in the gutter for the unprecedented transformational diagnosis that we now witness as approbated by Dr Goodluck Jonathan. For were it not for that, we should sing hosanna that in the labyrinth of mediocrity within our public systems, we have a not-too-lettered Minister of Aviation, of the feminine gender, who has fixed new tiles and wrapped the airport pillars in incandescent wall papers of gold and silver. Just the other day, the articulated dentitions of our self-conscious image-maker spewed to Nigerians how he used to travel from poultry sheds as a Deputy Governor of Nassarawa State. Imagine that our President, who was also a former Deputy Governor, Governor and Vice-President, had not, in his determinate wisdom, appointed a woman to rewrite all the wrongs of the men – Femi Fani-Kayode and his ilk – who forced Nigerians and visitors through the prurient tents fitting only for the birds of ravenous prey. Forget that the facelift had been bogus, the feline minister sure knows how to apply the appropriate portions of her Mary Kay layers and the airports are indeed wearing a new shine. Not to worry about the expected activities of the elements, come next year, we shall apply new layers – from foundation up. If you are in doubt, imagine her face in the spotlight when next you behold it.

  Circa 2015, believe it or not, all who will pass through the Lagos-Ibadan expressway would be marching on a billion dollar worth of tar, bitumen, gravels, laterite and all. Imagine that! This is actually chicken feed compared to the over $2 billion that Anenih and President Obasanjo threw at roads in less than two years in the first tenure between 1999 and 2003. This money is chicken feed, not because the roads look like poultry lanes. At least Labaran hasn’t ‘metaphorised’ that. And no, the Minister for Works is not female. Minister Onolememen has actually patched more federal roads than he has constructed or than any of his predecessors had patched since 1999. That is incontrovertible transformation and you are willfully wicked if you say President Jonathan has not transformed Nigeria. Yes, I said it.

  So, no matter the level of economic figures that the Iweala woman peddles at local or international speaking opportunities, look straight into her face and read her innermost disaffections and discontent in how the nation is being managed. There must be a shrill down her spine when she sits to watch the Professor-Mrs. Minister of Education display her power point showing single block buildings as rationalisation for establishment of new universities in all states of the federation and a pronouncement that once the teachers are good, it does not matter if the classroom were under the mango tree! Therefore, whether or not the new universities are known to any extant law(s) in Nigeria, it was an electoral promise of Jonathan hence thy imperial will be done. Regardless of whether or not Ngozi admits it openly, watch her body gait when she saunters on and off the open podiums. Any discerning, not even trained, observer can sense it. At any rate, she has been adequately useful to distract us from querying how oil receipts are being managed. She’s internationally renowned, comes highly recommended thereby we are all expected to trust her judgments. She crackled us that much several times.

   Patriots, imagine that you are dead tired; as in totally summer zonked and drained of all strain of energy in your being. To replenish, you pick a can of sub-zero chilled Red Bull (I like Red Bull by the way but this is not an endorsement), opened it in readiness to quaff. Then the Bull figure on the can comes to life; emerges and charges at you. Pin Prick!

• Odewale is currently a Research Associate on Governance and New Technology at the Harvard University

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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