TOLA ADENIYI| What We Have (in Nigeria) Is Worse Than The Usual Business.

Away with talking about politics and the barbarism of herdsmen who are rampaging all over the country and maiming innocent people in reckless glee. Away with stolen dollars and the seeming helplessness of the laws to unleash deadly blow on the dirty deals. We thought it was not going to be business as usual, but what we now have is even worse than the usual business. It is business as usual plus!

I really do not care if Biafra breaks away and a new country is born. I do not care also if the Niger Delta region becomes a country and all the oil returns to the pockets of Izons, Itsekiris and Ika Igbos in that devastated region. But I do not want Nigeria to break up. No. I do not want Nigeria to break up if the Oduduwa Republic is not allowed to go. But who will prevent Oduduwa Republic from going except the Yorubians [that is my grandson’s name for the Yoruba] themselves with their undying acrimonies!

Biafra should not go. Although I lamented the slaughter of Igbo students who were on vacation job in Lagos at the break of hostilities in 1967 in the poem titled ‘Bar Beach Show’ [Soul Fire, 1973] I still believe that the Igbos should remain in Nigeria since they have five Ministers and the Governor of Central Bank amongst others. Although I lamented the death of Chukwuma Nzeogwu who I eulogised as ‘Jesus of 66’ in the same book Soul Fire and later named a street; Chukwuma Nzeogwu Crescent in his honour at Ibadan, I still believe that the Igbos should not leave Nigeria unless they are convinced that their plight is worse than that of African Americans in the United States of America.

Nigeria is not worth dying for. What has happened to Dr Ohonbamu? What has happened to Tai Solarin? What has happened to Professor Ayodele Awojobi? What happened to Environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa? What happened to Gambo Sawaba? What has happened to Funmilayo Ransome Kuti? Gani Fawehinmi fought and fought and fought. What became of him? Look at the music machine Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He fought all the oppressors to a standstill. What has Nigeria given him or them in appreciation of their sacrifices? Yes. There is Tai Solarin University, and there is MKO Abiola International Stadium. And so what? Abiola’s once enviable empire is in ruins! The poor man would have been 79 this year. Just 79. He was a mere 57-year-old when he was led away like a goat for slaughter slab!

But if some people did not die for Nigeria may be we would not be enjoying the largess we are enjoying now. All our roads are paved with gold. There is potable water in every nook and cranny of the country. Electricity supply is steady, stable and constant. We do not die from generator fumes anymore and our streets are well lit at night. All those who need electricity for their businesses are smiling to the bank every day. There is mass employment and our youths are not dying to escape to Europe through the desert.

Nigeria is really worth dying for. If some people had not died for Nigeria, there would not be this silly satanic stealing in the land. The lawlessness, the damnable impunity, the daily gory of brutal killings would not have occurred if our founding fathers had refused to die for this country. All of us should be ready to die for this country before the country dies for us.

Someone has asked my opinion about Saraki’s presidency. I replied for clarification: is it Saraki’s undying ambition to be president of Nigeria or his current status as the exalted President of the Senate? People do not easily make their positions clear in this country. They say Saraki, Ekweremadu and some National Assembly officials forged papers. I say; “Where are the papers forged” And if they forged papers, if is the word, are they or would they be the first people to forge papers in this country? After all one Salisu Buhari was said to have forged certificates and the fellow did not wait to be dragged to court before he quietly resigned. But he is not Saraki or Ekweremadu. And his father and grandfather were not alleged to have hailed from Abeokuta.

As I was saying, the fact that some people may have forged papers does not make forgery a pardonable game. People commit murder every blessed day. Some are caught, tried and punished but majority of murderers are never found, especially if such murderers are sponsored by the state as in the yet to be concluded cases of Abacha, Abiola, Ige and John Kennedy before them. But that does not make murder permissible or pardonable.

In beer parlours they argue: ‘Ehn, if they stole nko? Are they the first people to steal or are they the only people who stole?’ Does that make stealing a good pastime?

But speaking honestly, there is too much money lying fallow in Abuja. If such humongous sums lay on the laps of the Federal Government in the Unitary Federalism [doublespeak] we practice, Abuja will burst. No pocket can accommodate the huge funds flowing into the baggy pockets of the Federal Government which has no land and yet is in charge of agriculture. The excess money accruing from excess crude oil must be stolen. What else should happen to that intimidating sum other than looting? As long as the unitary government in Abuja remains over centralised, stealing, looting, ravaging, plundering, rigging and forgeries shall continue.

This brings me to whether Buhari is doing a good work about fighting corruption. Buhari has fought corruption and he is still fighting. We hear of huge sums traced to people’s accounts. Incredible and mind bugling sums! Arrests are made. People are taken to court. Then drama! Theatre! Theatricalities. Inanities! Hardly has anyone been convicted. The alleged thieves and looters are still parading the streets and dancing off their heads at very profane parties while on ridiculous bails granted by ……judges.

But Buhari is doing a good job. At least he has now allowed us to know that dollars do reside in graves and toilet septic tanks. We now know that housemaids are rich enough to have billions of Naira in their bank accounts. But he has not prevented the rogues from fighting back and he is not crying for help.

Why should people complain that they are no longer having three square meals a day? They sound funny. Which meal is square? Which meal is round? As a septuagenarian, I do not have even two round meals a day. I know quite a number of my senior citizens who live only on one FLAT meal a day. I mean a meal without sugar, without salt, without oil, without pepper. Their crayfish has been bent double by condition. Instead of square or round meals they feed as I too do, on about 12 tablets and capsules in the morning, about eight tablets and capsules in the afternoon and about 16 tablets and capsules before going to bed. And if you think it is funny, pray to live beyond age 79.

If you are still lucky to eat two good meals in a day, you must thank your stars, and thank Nigeria leaders for allowing us to still have some air to breathe. But for the grace of God, they would have stolen all the available air and suffocate all of us, groundlings, to death!

New British Prime Minister Theresa May moved to the Prime Minister’s Official residence [10 Downing Street, London] without billions of Pounds Sterling in renovation or importation of money guzzling pastors, mullahs, babalawos for spiritual cleansing! Nigeria!!!

The pen is the tongue of the hand, the silent utterer of words for the eyes…Henry Beecher

Tola Adeniyi is the legendary Nigerian columnist whom we are honoured to have as a guest columnist.

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