The mess is perfect. We have no fuel to move around, no money to exchange value to get the necessities of living, no electricity to power our dreams, no network to even use technology to deal with a cashless economy and little ability to go from here to there without the threat of being consumed by violence in a country that just had new phraseology of ‘ungoverned spaces’ enter its Lexicon. This is even as the people struggle with concepts like state capture, supreme court installed Governors and candidates. And those responsible for it all say they should be trusted to repeat the class, from failing at exams.
They even dare to say the PTA calling for the expulsion of perennial failure students should be flogged in the Assemly for failure is the emblem of our tribe., that it is our way to repeat when we fail.
Extant Nigeria ; A perfect mess and perfect mockery of a people who must now look the world in the face with heads bowed.
A perfect mess, a perfect storm and desperate people. But the Big men of power are without remorse, it seems, for they knew not Nikolai Caucescu and they are willing to mass murder the PTA, as they are alleged to have done in ENDSARS.
My friend from back when men were boys, 40 years ago, Sonola Olumhense, sends an SOS to the people, the school Parents/Teachers Governing Board, (The PTA) in his column this week titled Save Yourself! published on February 19,2023, He opens masterfully: it seems safe to say this “nobody dies who has it in his hands to save himself”.
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I paused, and perspired a little as I read my friend SO and I began, unconsciously and self-consciously in an admix of consciousness flow laced with paradox, to hum a song: ‘This Country Nawa… ‘ ,
Sonola’s perfect logic, refreshing and edifying, forgets that you could have clusters of masochists and suicides who choose to ignore Nigerian Law which prescribes punishment for the crime of suicide. You have to catch him alive to punish him for killing himself.
How is it possible that rational people could look at a party whose own Governors now say the President they gave the country accomplished nothing in 8 years and even think of voting for such a party?
For those to whom shame exists it seemed clear to me that all APC people should tender a public apology to the Nigerian people and self-penalize by holding “rallies of apology” and withdrawing from offering candidates to the Nigerian electorate for eight years as appropriate mea culpa.
But this country Nawa. They actually feel entitled to continue to inflict misery on the people.
Then you cross the apparent divide to the other side of the ‘ruling parties’ and character flaws assail you.
First the PDP broke its own grand norm about the North South rotation , then picked for running mate a man who hosted a meeting of colleague Governors to say “over our dead bodies” shall we support a candidate of the section that had just taken its turn. In that the PDP broadly advertises for our education the motto which says that when character is lost all is lost.
Surely the future of Nigeria cannot be entrusted to people who do not understand that when character is lost all is lost.
The young of Nigeria have suffered enough to be left to such a future. But my friend SO should know there is hunger in the land and the APC/PDP tradition has weaponized poverty and are much invested in the misery of the Nigerian people because they depend on that misery index to buy their votes, use thugs for voters’ suppression and rigging, especially as tags like the poverty capital of the world mean little when shame is lost, and the politicians can have swag in posh SUVs from looting of the commonwealth even as the people groan in agony.
Much of this will likely be on display this weekend even as our friends from the West who are election observers observe but not see. And the perfect mess will roll on. Unless the youth of the land look at the famished road ahead and say we protect this vote and if we die we die.
Between the greed of the complicit, middle hoping the victory of different candidates can place them on the gravy train and those so poor and more desperate for scarce new Naira that they will sell more than their vote, we are lost.
This is why this week, the pain and anger in the land is so high that there are enough people ready to defy the moments vote price for a taste of freedom.
It is liberation time as the Peter Obi/Datti Baba-Ahmed ticket bring a breath of fresh air to the quest to take back Nigeria and remake it for its young people. Perhaps we can miss the wider road to serfdom.
Thank God also for grand patriarchs like former President Olusegun Obassnjo, Chief Ayo Adebanjo , Chief Edwin Clark and others for show examples of dignity in leadership that can be shoulders to stand on for many.
The disarray, indiscipline and indignity in todays APC dealings define what their examples constitute and the antidote to the giant of Africa that lost its strategic relevance and punches below its weight.
Weather it be El-Rufai or Ganduje speaking about their Party’s incumbent president or Fashola and Keyamo as serving minister weighing in, or those calling for sedition trials of those people serving at tax payers expense but are perceived to be out of line in public conduct it is a perfect mess. In this mess the moral compass is lost and harm is being recklessly inflicted on the character formation of our 7 year olds. They do not deserve conduct so lacking in charity as public officers of these parties project.
God sure works in mysterious ways. And if you do not see the hand of God in this perfect mess as signal to Nigerians that ‘our mumm don do’ you could be blind to the nature of the divine. That person unable to see the hand of God can stand in front of T-junction with God standing like a giant gorilla there and he would not see Him.
What is evident is that on February 25th God sets before us light and darkness, more of yesterday or a new beginning, life or death. May we choose life that we may live like SO craved in his Column.
Of course he was right to assume none in whose hand it is to save his live will choose not to. Unless he is homicidal.
To be completely candid, the shock for me in all of this has not been so much that people I had much regard for were sucked in by emotion and prejudice they kept veiled for long, in leaning towards certain candidates.
I began to track how emotion battles reason and builds gaps between us and them, decades before Joshua Greene offered us a delightful digest in “Moral Tribes- Emotion, Reason and the gap between us and them’ Of course, I was taken aback to see some conduct by people I had marched with as I defied those sentiments of faith, ethnicity, fortune and bigotry, repeatedly crossing those social lines in my advocacy and politics, driven by principles and not emotional sentiments of tongue and faith since my revolt as a 17 year-old undergraduate 50 years ago. From demanding Justice for a student killed back then in Ibadan,through election annulment and trying to reform political parties in Nigeria, Justice and the Common Good have been my banner.
But I followed game theory narration of choice by man since my head of department 42 years ago, Ellinor Lin Ostrom followed revisitation of the 1968 Garrett Hardin Classic : The tragedy of the Commons for our thinking benefit. The tragedy of the commons revisit counted for her academic exploits that helped her become the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics., but the effect of those days at Indiana made me better appreciate our own Peter Ekeh and his classic explaining of corruption in Nigeria in “The Two Publics” . What people do in emotional couching of misguided self-interest stopped surprising me a long time ago.
My real surprise was that both the PDP and APC candidates failed to grasp that all could have been forgiven and forgotten with a path to immortality opened if they simply said: as statemen; we step aside to give voice to the potent call of the youth of our nation for renewal and a new beginning. Perhaps I overestimated the availability of wisdom. Its now left for the people to massively show up to vote, and protect their vote. A new Nigeria is possible and we hope it begins this Saturday.
Patrict Okedinachi Utomi, is a Political Economist and Professor at the Lagos Business School is convener of the Big Tent Coalition for Obi/Datti and a Chieftain