Nigeria: From a Human Zoo to an Animal Farm?

by Isidore Emeka Uzoatu
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Without mince of words, Nigerian citizens since creation have always been juxtaposed with animals willy-nilly. Because of the three of them adorning our coat of arms, perhaps. But topping the list are the beautiful animal-themed monikers we have bestowed on our national sports squads – Eagles and Falcons, in football and Tigers and Tigresses in basketball, etc.

However, our citizenry have also often been despicably compared with animals in the jungles and zoos of this world. Depending on the whims and caprices of the definers. For this, one only needs to eavesdrop on the altercation between motorists in a road rage in any typical Nigerian city. Often the monkey is the best name one can call the other to prevail. Which, invariably, is much better to be called than a chimp or orangutan, for instance.

Sad as it sounds – and is – it does appear to be the only reason it’s slowly becoming apparent that Nigeria is presently transmogrifying into an outright farm of animals. As in becoming a place where, other than being reared in cages, the wild and, or game reserves, amounts to all of living on freehold in all the 923,768 square kilometres of our territory. Often our very leaders are even characterised as beasts – as though those international leaders Fela Kuti said were nationless hitherto have finally come here to roost.

Fela apart, there’s no doubt that Nigeria must have been farthest on their minds when Secker and Warburg published George Orwell’s Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale in London, England on the 17th day of August, 1945. But as time would have it, today, some Seventy-Eight odd years later, all the oddities that transpired in that slim masterpiece are currently playing out in this nation – wholesale and piecemeal.

Like is well known, Orwell’s avowed effort to fuse political and artistic purposes ‘into one whole’ was in mimicry of the old Soviet Union. A stance that worked against the book’s acceptance by Westminster on account of their World War II alliance with the USSR. Any wonder then that it took the Cold War regime for the book to come on its own.

Enough for preambles.

Now it appears past and present situations in Nigeria very much refer to what transpired in that book. What with the leader who took over after the military coup d’etat that toppled our First Republic upon independence taking the title of Supreme Commander. The selfsame title was taken by the pig Napoleon, the head of Orwell’s Animal Farm, after the consolidation of power.

Coincidentally, it was upon the assumption of a similar title that the leader of a separatist dot in the county’s circle termed Nigeria a zoo. And so when subsequently a topnotch campaigner for the present regime adumbrated their ascendency to the maturity of jungle justice, only a few were amazed. What with the way and manner they went about it. Much like their principal professed, they virtually seized, grabbed and sped home with it!

Presently, the vicarious efforts by the agents of the supposedly humanoids on our throne of power are not turning out any better. Their undying effort to widen the tax net unapologetically aligns to what happened in Animal Farm after the Battle of the Cowshed.

Like Napoleon denying that Boxer, the indefatigable warrior, was only taken away in a labelled knacker’s van because the veterinary clinic that bought it over hadn’t had time to rebrand it. Meanwhile, the old war horse was only sold to allow the commander and his inner circle more money for whiskey.

This in no way implies anything about the most recent removal of the little subsidy the government pays on Prime Motor Spirit (PMS) in the country. However, it rings true that the move’ll unabashedly leave more money in government coffers. And with hindsight, most of such had in the past often been spent on things more ridiculous to humans than whiskey is to pigs.

Yes, some proverbs are supposedly anathema to people of faith; yet, same elders buttress that there’s no better advertisement for the taste of the turd than the smell of its predecessor flatulence. Every adult of voting age in the country is yet to forget, let alone forgive, the aberrations that came to play in the last presidential elections. A development that will – save one is an unmitigated sycophant of theirs – dog those elected via it even after their abridged or completed tenures, whichever comes to fruition first.

If all animals – human beings inclusive – ought to be equal, then they should not just remain so. The government in power owes all and sundry a duty of endeavouring to make it to be seen to be so in both intent and purpose. By all means, they are supposed to defend every content of the constitution which they climbed to power with. And this without regard to who voted or did not vote for them.

But what do we find? Like the skewered percentage equation of their predecessors, they have managed to unbalance the appointment of federal ministers for one. While some geopolitical zones have as many as three per state, at least one has only one per each. An aberration that once more calls up the old debate about the disparity in the number of states in each of these zones.

The question remains what the reason behind this initial anomaly is. Mostly given that it dates back to when these states were originally created. Propping up the question whether those from that zone also needed to vote for the military regimes that created the states in the first place. Much as this is often hard to say, the marginalisation being meted out to one in a group often translates to a judgement being passed on the rest. Talk of the rest of the fingers pointing back at one even as one points just one forward.

Finally, down to specifics, it does appear that certain animal types in Orwell’s book are now manifesting here. Like Moses the tame raven, telling tales about Sugarcandy Mountain and doing no work at all.

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