I woke up from my bed this morning feeling rather flustered. In learned terminology, I would be said to have woken up from the wrong side of my bed. Well, kudos to learned terminology in all of its ramifications. All I know, however, is that my bed is my bed – a comfortable place where I love crash landing after having sailed and soared around our harsh socio-economic milieu and its unfriendly disposition. It is also a place [my pastor must not hear this] where I unleash the full potential of my masculine proclivities. I must say too that I have never known my bed to have right or wrong sides, and as I concede that that idiomatic phrase got its bearing from etymological circumstances, we must insist that etymology did not take into cognizance that it is these unfriendly skies we soar and navigate that generate such ill feelings with which we hello the day.
So, if I am permitted to identify one unfriendly circumstance that made me wake up feeling very blue early this morning, it would be the power problem. I am an artist, whether anyone likes it or not. I write, I think, I sing, I compose, I dance, I conjecture and I mentor a group of young people within my spiritual circumference. The epicenter of my creative potentialities reside somewhere in a critical ambience produced in moments of tranquility, [apologies to William Wordsworth, a poet of the Romantic school]. Sometimes, the presence of power supply acts as a stimulant that generates a pulse that beats faster than normal. Under such conditions, just the titillating scent from a perfume, the alluring breeze from a cooling device, or a favourite song can translate you to the ethereal. My professor of Literature in Uniben once described the effect as the natural music that a gust of wind produces when it caresses a stationary musical instrument known as the Eolian Harp.
The quick inference from what I have just described here is that POWER IS EVERYTHING – without it, we revert to life living like the Neolithic and the Neanderthal, stone age people who eked a living hitting rocks against each other to produce weak fires to roast a cob of maize for dinner, or tying flints together to chase mammoths for their meat and skin. Therefore, if we truly want to be a key nation enjoying self-respect as an emerging economy, we better focus and direct our undivided attention to diversifying and fixing our power needs.
All of this vexation of mind over matter is a product of the fact that for two weeks, my brain and central nervous system were forced to shut down and sometimes malfunction. And this is simply because in those two weeks, I have come home to an environment enveloped by a thick blanket of darkness. When it is hot, it is very hot, and when it is cold, we sleep like lonely canaries in the damp clusters of bamboo and stones that represent our homes. From 730pm everyday, most Nigerians like me and nationwide conduct the rest of our chores and pass through the motions groping in the dark like cave men. While people in Europe, the Americas and some less endowed parts of Africa are suffering from the specter of ‘luminous pollution’, [having too much power that they can ever consume daily], here we are, ‘good people, great nation’, suffering from the disease of illuminance, in this case rationing power in a manner that reminds one of the way food was rationed in Britain following the German bombing of London in the World War II.
I do not find it hard to say that Mr. President could have upped our power ante by as much as 6000 megawatts by December 2009 if he had not taken ill. The man had promised to deal with the Niger Delta problem, and we saw that he was indeed dealing with the problem despite our everlasting skepticism. He managed to win us over in the manner he conducted a response to the attack on the Atlas Cove by the freedom fighters from the Niger Delta. He dealt decisively with the Boko Haram hydra, making a lot of his critics who had accused him of being a closet jihadist in his days as Katsina State governor blush in disbelief by suddenly transmuting to one of Nigeria’s trusted leaders, ever.
Perhaps this may be why there is an outpouring of prayers for him to get well soon and continue with his job. I do not imagine that Nigerians would have prayed for an Obasanjo or an IBB the way we are doing now. Many Nigerians jubilated and took to the streets when Abacha dropped dead on us.
Beyond all of this however, we must all realize that our present condition is just a symptom of the dearth of leadership and followership. People in positions to lead fight tooth and nail to feather only their nests, to send their own children to schools and go for medical attention abroad, while people who should not follow this kind of lead, follow blindly as long as the so-called leader doles out some crumbs from monies that have been stolen from our purse.
It is at this point that I want say that we must intensify our prayers for Mr. President. In the same vein, we must also tell ourselves that prayers just for Mr. President are not the panacea to the problems of this country. The Holy Book says that faith [prayers] without standing up, getting up and insisting on being treated like human beings is vain and vague. We must stand up and fight against the God Dey and e go better one day mentality.