Nigeria is terribly sick, and some say nigh unto death, but that, as everyone can see, is the least of the worries of Mr. Umar Musa Yar’Adua, the President Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo imposed on Nigerians for self-serving reasons. For now, what appears to be uppermost, in fact, the consuming desire of his heart, is how to effectively turn the Presidency into a dreadful secret cult, enveloped in very thick darkness and fear, where men and women walking with extreme trepidation are bound by a very scary oath, so that even if Government now is on perpetual recess or life-support, none of them would dare whisper it even to the hearing of their spouses.
Now, most people are familiar with the kind of fate that usually befalls anyone that intentionally or even mistakenly violates an oath. The consequences, I am told, are usually better imagined. And so it would be with those working with Yar’Adua. Now, with a taciturn ruler encumbering the ground up there, and habitual liars as his spokespersons, Nigerians, in their view, would be finally and completely shut off from the affairs of the Abuja regime, so that Mr. President can sleep easy in his secret, comfortable chambers, and put the problems of Nigeria very far from his mind, while his false prophets remain out there attempting to make us believe he is having sleepless nights drawing up marvellous plans for the nation’s revival. Poor souls.
By the way, what does Umar Yar’Adua have to hide in this age of greater openness and transparency in government business except his insufferable visionlessness, perennial groping for direction, double standards on the issue of corruption and rule of law, and, of course, his health situation which has consistently defied all his great labours and attempts to conceal it from Nigerians? But these are already well known to most Nigerians, so what is the use of all the efforts?
Maybe, it is possible that Mr. Yar’Adua is not even fully aware that in this InfoTech age, if a president, for instance, sneaks into a Saudi elite hospital to fix his failing health (since like all humans, he is not above falling sick) but chooses to tell his nation that he is in Mecca performing some religious devotions and occasionally playing squash during his spare time, for nearly three weeks, that it would not even require some squealing government official for the media to state exactly where he is and what he exactly he is doing there.
But should we really be wasting precious time on this clear trivia when there are innumerable ever worsening problems crying for urgent attention in this nation? Ours is a country where only tales of woes, failures and abject lack in the midst of plenty have become perpetual components of public and private lives, so much so, that these are often narrated with what appears like utter relish to the disgust of decent human beings. For goodness sake, this is a richly endowed country which earns in a year what some of the countries our rulers are rushing to now to buy homes and relocate their children for quality education can never dream of earning in more than five years! My people have a proverb about the man in the middle of a very big and clean river, but who had to wash his hands with his own saliva.
When you demand to know, for instance, why our so-called ‘international’ airport in Lagos is in such a horrible state, you would almost throw up watching our officials lamenting how they lack the resources to clear the overgrown grasses near the runway or fix the airconditioners to save foreign visitors and Nigerians returning home from the forbidding heat that starts tormenting them from the very moment they step out of the aircraft into the tunnel that leads to the immigration and baggage collection points. The indecency of the whole place and the whole process can only induce nausea. Is this nation cursed or something? Things that would require very little effort to fix in Nigeria are just left like that and watching full-grown men and women wringing their hands and explaining with irritatingly convoluted stories why those things are never fixed fills one with revulsion. Well, sometimes I don’t even blame them? From whom would they derive the requisite inspiration? Certainly, not from the uninspiring characters behind the perennial clowning that passes for leadership in Abuja and the state capitals.
Like I said last week, it costs very little to lead a decent existence; it is only an issue of the mindset. Nigerian leaders just have zero taste for self esteem! I doubt if there is still any of them that would lose any sleep if those he is ruling encounter him one day and call him Common Thief and Wretched Failure to his face! So long as it does not pose any real threat to his re-election bid or efforts to further bloat his bank accounts, it’s okay. Hardly any of them is interested in the place history would allocate to him or her tomorrow so long as his determination to criminally enrich himself was suffering no obstructions. One only needs to observe at close quarters the mostly light-minded and totally characterless fellows that rule this nation to realize that indeed, this is a finished place. And the decay has become so deep and widespread that even some of those who would have attempted to do anything have become clearly overwhelmed and simply given up on the possibility of ever reclaiming this nation to respectability, decency and enduring prosperity. Many have gladly become part of the problem.
For a nation as terribly sick as Nigeria is, when exactly would its healing and reclamation commence? When would men with vision, mission, skill and verve come on board to commence the really arduous of work of reviving this nation? When will the rescue operation that would free this nation from the jaws of unyielding parasites and insatiable leeches with iron determination to suck it to death actually commence? Is anyone actually thinking about it? Can we say in all sincerity that the perennial groping for direction going on in Abuja in the name of governance is what a nation as sick as Nigeria urgently deserves now? In America today, despite the abundant good life and near-faultless infrastructure everywhere, passionate concerns about the economy have become quite deafening because their eyes are all on the future. But here today, just because some people are able to feed on the decaying body of this clearly dying nation, they feel unperturbed when concerns about the nation is raised. How blind can a people be?
No doubt, Mr. Yar’Adua and his cousin Goodluck Jonathan have since clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of performing even below average. As I look them each day groping around the seat of power, I weep for this nation, which seems always content to settle for its Tenth Eleven despite an array of stars God has blessed it with. Now, look at the duo today, and see if you would not readily agree with me that they present a perfect picture of two terribly flustered, overwhelmed and perspiring school boys stuck at a crossroads, unsure of the next step to take? Neither of them can inspire any confidence. I am sure that deep down their hearts, they are quite aware that they lack the vision and energy to pull this nation out of the woods. How long then can a sick and dying nation wait for these clearly overwhelmed and evidently blank duo?
The other the day, the SSS said they are investigating some reports that some “disgruntled persons” were influencing a section of the media “to mount campaigns of calumny against the First Family and some top government functionaries with a view to causing disaffection in the country.” Now one hopes that serious desperation and paranoia have not begun to creep into the psyche of this clearly overwhelmed regime? Is this an attempt by a regime at a crossroads to vent its profound frustrations on a hapless populace? Unfortunately, such ominous threats cannot stop Nigerians from demanding solid evidence of purpose-driven leadership from this regime. Where, for instance, is Yar’Adua’s action plan? What are his goals and targets? What is the timeframe for each target? Is he still in his closet planning as his aides keep telling us? We have heard too much talk-talk and voluminous promises, when would he at least redeem just ONE promise? Indeed, this pitiably sick country urgently needs a healthy physician to save it but I am yet to see any in today’s Aso Rock.