Sacrament to Mediocrity

by Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh, E.F
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Nigeria is a sacrament to mediocrity, stumbling towards Armageddon; a metaphor of dysfunction, hovering dangerously over the precipice.

Over and above being a testament to the messy afterlife of colonialism, she is the manifest destiny of every embrace constructed for exploitation.

That explains why she is presently an essay on the iniquities of power; the inchoate variousness, native to every amorphous collection of strange bedfellows pretending to be a people, and the congenital dysfunctionality of every confederacy of hypocrisy.

With no intention of conscripting our consideration to essay in service of imperial amnesia,  or in exoneration of native agency, Nigeria is what happens, when a country of stupendous endowments, is run aground by a congress of witless knaves and infernal scoundrels. It is what obtains, when a society collectively masturbates to the pornographies of inglorious leadership. She is the product you get when a butcher pretends to be a surgeon.

Jacob Zuma’s chronicles of thievery in South Africa, is an antic of spoilt kids, in comparison to what Nigerian politicians have turned Nigeria into.

They have outclassed Mobutu Sesse Seko-the Cock that leaves no hen unruffled-, in primitive thievery. They have bested Jean Bedel Bokassa is visionless ostentation, and dusted every other wannabe thief on the continent.

Little wonder Nigeria remains the headquarters of dysfunction in the African continent. Little wonder the country is like a patient in vegetative and terminal coma, waiting for the euthanizing mercifulness of a bloodless break-up.

The elite are doing everything to squeeze the last juices of profit, from this cadaver on life support, before she finally expires, or implodes upon those onerous weights. 

The country is dead. Every other thing is a burial in slow-motion. 

Even in those watery graves of exasperation, the country remains an ongoing crime scene; being taken apart by a colony of scavengers, conscripting a timid congress of civic wimps, and a convocation of the wretched of the earth; all very busy in their various stations, putting into action their collective ambition to embezzle the State out of existence. 

What is a state without justice, but a band of robbers, thundered Augustine centuries ago. Sad that this great African saint and scholar didn’t meet Nigeria. He would have found an apt articulation for what is gradually evolving into a colony of crooks, where corruption comes to be canonized, and mediocrity sanctified.

Thieves are now chiefs in this country, and fraudsters are now anointed with oils of impunity, by rogue men of dog, preaching lousy homilies on empty theologies.

The government is a citadel of cluelessness.  Those mismanaging illusions of governance on our behalf, have all become summaries of grotesque incompetence. They are artisanal charlatans, visionless pedestrians, and eminent knaves, whose political metaphysic is primeval thievery. Buhari our president is the reincarnation of nepotism. The Senate is a conglomeration of buccaneers copulating with brigades of brigands. Corruption is their theory of value. Government functionaries and public officers at all levels, have been thieves-in-the-most-proximate-potency, whose only raison d’ etre is an ontological revision of the Hamletian Question: “To steal or not to steal. That is the question! The public officers are very busy stealing whatever is not screwed to the ground, in readiness for the implosion of the State.

Akpabio a Federal Minister and Joi Nunei his subordinate have been retailing juicy details of who is the greater thief between the two, while Malami, the Nigerian minister of justice is in a mortal combat with Mr. Magu, the suspended chairman of the Economic Crimes and Financial Commission, on who has stolen more than the other. Malami is deploying Buhari as his bulldog to cut Magu to size. Magu is fighting back with copious leaks of confidential documents to the press, all chronicling Malami’s life of sleaze and corruption. And the Buhari, who claims to be fighting corruption, is missing in action, in his traditional pose of see no evil and hear no evil, while evil metastasizes in his administration.

On those Isles, where a forlorn, shipwrecked wayfarer, faced with possibilities of his mortality, is condemned to fight for his escape, our country chooses to ensconce in incomprehensible putridity, as a dispirited reincarnation of medieval feudalism feeds off her decaying flesh.

She raises her hands in a fatalism sired nihilism, like the doomed gladiator, humoring the emperor, before wild beasts, make mincemeat of his flesh. That is why most of our churches are full, and we as a people still retail the most frustrating superstitions, that have been disinherited by time.

It has become a nation, where rulers are canons of debauchery, while -the vassals, the hoi-polloi, the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, – are enslaved and imprisoned in a cycle of that Blackhole-grade ignorance, back-breaking labor and dehumanized indignity, required to maintain a neo-feudal estate of inveterate thieves.

Shakespeare was not fair on life. His observations suited Nigeria better. Instead of life being but a walking shadow, Nigeria represents more a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage…, a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing; an obnoxious hagiography of dissimulation; a pretense to what a nation should be, a monumental fraud, and a psychopath’s idea of a nation. 

She was a creature of British greed, an amalgam of intense incompatibilities, and a monument to imperial myopia and recklessness. Awolowo saw her as a mere geographical expression. Wole Soyinka called her, an Open sore on the African continent. Some called it a scam. Others call it a zoo. But the zoo appellation is not as decisively disgusting as they intend it to be, since human beings are animals; and anywhere they are caged, could be termed a zoo, whereas anywhere they can roam freely is a jungle.  

This is a country where everyone is armed with a grudge. Some weaponize this grudge.  On that side of the ledger,  are the Boko Haram terrorists, the Fulani herdsmen, and on a lower scale, the Niger Delta militants.

Others ride these grudges to power, like the Yoruba did after Abiola’s death. Some others channel it as a shadoof, to irrigate the arid deserts of their marginalization, like the IPOB and other ethnocentric warriors are doing. 

One will not be amiss to say that the most Nigerian attribute is having something to grumble about.

We grumble in public. We grumble in private. We grumble in the morning. We grumble in the afternoon. We grumble at our feasts. We grumble at our funerals. We grumble at the rising of the sun. We grumble at its setting. We grumble in the North, as we do in the South, West and East. We grumble about everything, and everybody. We grumble about men. We grumble about spirits. We grumble about thrones and Dominions. We grumble about principalities and powers. We grumble about bad roads, epileptic power supply, an elite class of syndicated gangsters busy making Nigeria a spider-web of primeval corruption, a parliament of unvarnished thieves, busy apportioning our commonwealth to their private estates, a religious and ecclesiastical office-holders very busy fleecing their flock and impoverishing them in god’s name. But the most impressive dimension of our organized festival of grumbling and holding a grudge, is that we shout, we scream, and we do nothing, in what could be regarded as the greatest monument to the collective impotence of a people.

That explains why the country remains the greatest summary of impunity on the African continent.

The news of the massive robbery of state resources by public office holder has graced the front pages of our Dailies since Independence. Today as Malami, Nigeria’s attorney general fights a kitchen war with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman, we are now finding out that Magu may have stolen close to 34 Billion naira. Magu has illustrious predecessors, who shared the same ontology of primeval thievery with him.

Nothing portends the Nigeria’s dangerous trajectory than the fact that it is now a nation, where a radical redefinition of ethics has canonized moral imbecility, as the new ethos of being and action in public life. It is now a country that has created, nourished and scaffolded a system, which has no other function, other than, making an extraordinary effort to pigeon-hole her citizens into a narrow tunnel, where to survive means accepting crime as your personal lord and savior.

This is a country that has abandoned her soul to Sheol, and has compelled her posterity to embrace decay. This is a country that has bent her knees in subservient genuflection to the golden calf of might-being-right.

And to drive home the final nails in her malodorously putrid coffin, Buhari’s anti-corruption war was only a smokescreen, mimicking the benediction that roguery pays to crookedness.

The cognitive dissonance at play here, is suffocating. This man claims to have a mortal allergy to the dog-meat of corruption. But his dilemma is not helped by his deploying his teeth to divide the delicacy, which allegedly threatens his existence, amongst dog meat patrons  This is a vocation of one, who is either a thief, or a superintendent of thieves. I didn’t call Buhari a thief oooooo!  

Little wonder the country is unravelling at the seams. Deep seated pathologies are seeping through the cracks, like magmas of murderous hate cascading down a mountain of volcanic unease. It has crossed the valleys of our stupefaction, in the form of Fulani Herdsmen, creating furrows, flowing with rivers of innocent blood, as well as the violent campaign of Boko Haram, and other armed bandits and campus cults, running riot across the country and exacting vengeance on us all.  

While all these maladies have hijacked the State, Nigerian leaders are busy massaging their pettiness, and celebrating their impunity and mediocrity with mendacity and mean-spirited scurrility.    

These didn’t start today. Granted that the quasi-independence, we got from British imperial perfidy, was not on a bed of roses, but we mismanaged the challenges of those days.

We allowed our teething mistakes, lead us into prideful stupidity. Instead of resolving the political problems of those days by honest dialogue, we chose to invite dogs of war,  to dine at our expense. 

War honored our invitation. 

It came, washed its hands, and proceeded to eat the bodies of over three million of our brothers and sisters.

She drank their blood too.

At the end of the hostilities, a section of Nigeria became an eminent heap of smouldering ruins.

That was Igbo country.  

We consulted every mistake screaming to be made, disregarded every counsel clamoring to be heeded, conjugated every indignity, like one would a verb, and consulted every chronicle of hatred resident in our stereotypes, all to narcotize our reason, as we marched off to kill each other. 

In the engineered confusion native to such moments of collective madness, we hurriedly buried the truth, took up the refrain written by foolery, for the litany of idiots. We danced to the anthem of beasts, beating their chests as they marched into the arena of savagery, to murder their brothers and sisters.  We marched down there, to drag defeat from the jaws of victory.   

The war destroyed the meagre structures we inherited from the colonial hooligans. But that was the least of its enduring legacies. We emerged, shell-shocked. The bonds, which pretended to hold us together, were finally ripped asunder. The savageries we inflicted on each other, coagulated into fossils of discomfiture, forever witnessing to the moment, we actually ceased to struggle for a nation, and took flight into our ethnic cocoons. 

The civil war was actually the death of Nigeria. That war took a knife to the heart of all that struggled to hold us together. It etched in our collective psyches in various degrees, the hypocrisies at the heart of a nation created a neo-feudal mongoloid, constructed for the maximum inconvenience of the people, and the maximum exploitation of those at the helms. And since the gods guarding the portals of erection, are hard to propitiate, every other thing we have been doing as a nation since then, has been a sequence of funeral ceremonies, dedicated to the burial of Nigeria by installment.

A nation is an imagined community. Once the fountain, supplying her with waters of belongingness is dammed, the nation dries itself into extinction. This explains why no one believes in Nigeria anymore, except the 1%, who are in the power centers.

For them, Nigeria is the proverbial cow. They believe in her as long as they keep on milking her dry for themselves, and their posterity. Every other person can go to hell for all they care. 

We straggled on, groping aimlessly as the un-propitiated ghosts of our fratricidal impunity, kept roaming the hills of unconcern, seeking for a place to rest in peace. Our memories denied them acceptance, as history was banished from our curriculum. 

We were still grappling with interrogating our survival and analyzing what happened, when an Oil boom happened upon us. Unfortunately for us and for the rest of Africa, we were already cursed with leaders, who basking in the pseudo-gracious glories of butchering their brothers in war, clothed their neotenic incompetence and myopia in borrowed robes, and sat down to preside over a society they are grossly unqualified to.

Gowon told the world that Nigeria’s problem was not how to make money, but how to spend it. That was a blank invitation to the worst run of “squander mania” ever created on the African continent.

We spent money on all the ostentatious nothings that money can buy, and spent nothing on securing the future for ourselves and our posterity.

We inaugurated the progressive decline of our educational system. Subsequent governments husbanded and chaperoned that decadence, so much so that this system that produced the Achebes and the Soyinkas, started digesting itself, and churning out certified ignoramuses clutching certificates, which signifies nothing.

In time, the ignorance we incubated, came to power, as the internet democratized stupidity and gave everyone the platform to show his nakedness in the global public square.

The arrival of the internet and cellphones merged to expose the unsanitary nature of our collective anuses. The world now gained a ringside seat to behold our rottenness in all its ugliness.

Our madness went to the market.

Over and above the internet democratizing stupidity, Cyber-reality cried havoc, and unleashed an armada of belligerent stupidity and entitled ignorance.

Nigeria and her band of badly educated entered an appearance too.

It was turbulence seeking vendetta.

All our epistemic sanctuaries were invaded. Our entire inventory of ethos, were looted and emptied of meaning and significance.

And shit was programmed to hit the fan!

That eruption of volcanic unease polluted our clime, with magmas of molten irrationality. They flowed freely online. And ignorance was made flesh. And dwelt among us.

At that instance, our tribes of thinkers started auctioning off their intellection for sordid lucre; as vuvuzelas and cheerleaders of cant.

They became wandering minstrels, conducting mercenary orchestras, ready to bleat like castrated he-goats or kiss asses for a fee.

The inelegance of purchased voices and compromised conscience, kissing the asses of rogue power, corrupted the youth of our land. They came to believe that all that matters is money; and that how you made it was immaterial. We got Invictus Obi and Hushpuppi in the bargain.

Those we looked up to, as the cerebral percentile of our population, flew into the wimpy refuge of patronizing megalomaniacs with money, serenading robber-baronial procession of looters, with saccharine eulogies, that insults hypocrisy itself. Those cheated of the lucre, ran off into their primeval huts, bearing ethnocentric grudges. Our universities surrendered their souls, to mercenary considerations. And the ignorance, which gradually invaded and conquered our land, now enthroned itself at the center of our national legitimacy.

These brains for hire deserve hemlock more than Socrates did.  But we gave them platforms and conferred legitimacy on them.

And we expect our country to become a paradise, whereas we conferred legitimacy on rogues. 

It has been a sad spectacle.

I now feel what the Jews must have felt, when the Romans smashed the Maccabean revolt.

It wasn’t the physical conquest of their land, that squeezed such mournful lamentations as, “Oh Lord, the Heathens have invaded your sanctuary”, out of the dispossessed Jews of Maccabean times.

It was the emptying of their lives of all meaning. It was the rape of those epistemologies, scaffolding who they were, as a people.

They considered their land holy. It was a summary of all they have cause to cherish. It was their temple of being and action. Those sanctuaries harbored the bones of all that was sacred to them.

As the perimeter of those hallowed grounds was breached, their angst, anger, disgust and shock took the wings of words, and screamed in mournful supplications across time, to seek audience in the ears of Him, whom they considered the creator of all things. 

They cried oceans. 

Those mournful sighs was what the psalmist captured in those agonized screams-Oh Lord, the heathens have invaded your sanctuary!

I am sure that this has been the silent tears and supplications of many a powerless Nigerian in these times.

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