Same Shade; Imagined Differences

by Nnaemeka Oruh

‘GEJ is the worse president ever’; ‘Imagine giving us fuel price increase as a new year gift’; ‘That GEJ is a complete weakling! If it was OBJ he would have taught Boko Haram a lesson’; ‘Imagine how many people who travelled as part of GEJ’s delegation’; ‘Anenih again? Chai!’; ‘Amaechi is not doing anything in Rivers State! See the Iwofe road nah’;’Who be Fashola?Second tenure na nonsense’ etcetera.

Varied voices all keen on pointing out how inadequate our present leaders are. Sometimes, they even say that the past leadership (which they also criticized) was better than the present. Recently, some also said that General Buhari would be the best leader for Nigeria. A few years back, he was hated. So what really is the problem?

I cannot go ahead without first acknowledging that it was my very good friend and fellow writer Dum Syl Aminikpo who actually spiked my interest in this topic. In one of those moments when Mr. Aminikpo rebels against going to church and somehow philosophically transforms into a demi-god, he had pointed out that today’s propagandists were yesterday’s critics of the government while today’s critics were yesterday’s government officials/propagandists’. Then he cited the examples of Rueben Abati and El Rufai. Classic Aminikpo! So, somehow when positions are changed, the views of the individual change.

What he did reveal to me was that our problem can only be called ‘the human problem’. The human problem is man’s inability to understand that we are all of the same shade even though sometimes, we imagine that we are different.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine was working as a security head of an institution whose security apparatus also secures the immediate community where the institution is domiciled. For whatever reasons, my friend decided that the bread suppliers who supply bread to the local shops had to be giving him some free loaves of bread. Question is, on what grounds were they supposed to be giving him free bread? It did not matter what his reasons were, he persistently forced them to give him those free loaves of bread. He was the god of that area so he demanded sacrifices. Ironically, at that point, he was a self proclaimed ‘activist’. That was his first taste of power, see how he misused it? Let us continue.

It is so easy to criticize others. Let me ask though, as that office executive, how often have you fought for the rights of your subordinates? While you go on vacations and enjoy some other privileges, your subordinates work over time and get no extra compensation. How often too, do you stay away from ‘working the books’ to get a little extra for yourself? What about influencing job opportunities? You have never recommended your relations ahead of any one? When the “government” does it, the same set of people will scream “blue murder!”

And you Mr. Subordinate, I understand that you are the one sent out in the sun to take care of the ‘real business’ of the company. Question is, how often do you inflate prices to gain a few more for yourself? And while you are at it, how often do you blame the government for embezzlement and corruption?

What about you the house wife? Do you not inflate prices for the foodstuffs your husband had given you money to buy? Later you will moan about inflated prices of vehicles supplied to the House of Representatives and also, about the cost of decoration of a certain ex-speaker’s house. Before you judge them…

One of the other accusations levelled against our leaders is that they are ‘in bed with the west’. Nice accusation which unfortunately has become such a cliché such that fighting irrelevant wars against the west has become third-world fashionable. But you businessman/woman, how many female/male suppliers have you slept with to get some supplies done at cheaper rates, and/or on credit? Same shade, imagined differences.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a project sponsored by the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority for the installation of pipe borne water at the Rumuji community of Rivers State. That contract was handled partially by the Biwangi Group which I was attached to as an account officer and daily reporter(as part of the project ‘Empower Africa Initiative’ run by my friend Princess Halliday).Now I was an observer mostly. However, I saw how much the contractors were harangued by the community people who wanted to be paid for the pipe borne water to be installed! They saw the project as a ‘chop-I-chop’ one. Fortunately, there were some sane ones. Question is, if Biwangi had wanted ‘chop-I-chop’ they would have discussed a settlement plan that would have personally greased the pockets of the company, some select people in the community and maybe the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority chieftains, then the pipe borne water installation would have been a pipe dream and the ‘government’ would be blamed. Before you judge them…

Now before we accuse government officials of living flamboyant lives, let us ask ourselves this question; ‘how often have we taken out of our ‘more-than-enough’ barns to feed other people around us who are hungry? Or are we part of the people who thrive on the mantra; ‘the poor we will always have with us’? Father forgive us for over feeding while all those other people out there are barely feeding even as they wish for a morsel out of what we trash.

So many reasons for us to know we are all culpable!

Blaming others is so easy. It is actually what humans always seek. It would be best if another person is blamed for your woes even if you would have done worse in his/her shoes. That is why babalowos thrive. Actually, that is also why a certain type of Christianity thrives in Africa.

The government as an institution is not the problem. After all, the people in positions of authority are mere representations of who we all are. Through progress therefore, can only be achieved when we all conduct a total soul searching that will let us gain genuine repentance. Until then, we are all of the same shade even though we try to imagine that we are different.

*Appreciations to Idah,Emeka,ThankGod and Zubby my colleagues at d Rumuji water installation project

You may also like

Leave a Comment