Nigeria’s Mountains and Moles, Perspectives on Centenary Celebration, Boko Haram and Other Matters

by ahjotnaija

It is no exaggeration to say that Nigeria has in the past few weeks had one of her toughest seasons in the view of constant bad days, which threaten to be a permanent occurrence. In fact, these bad days can be said to be as good as permanent because that is simply what they are right now. One can hardly imagine a more horrific or nightmarish fate other than that which confronts the country at present. It is sad and regrettable.

Tension is very high among the populace. The blood of the people is undoubtedly hot at the moment. One can only hope it will not have gotten even hotter before this particular sentence is completed. Fact is, alarmingly catastrophic occurrences which befall the country update themselves almost by the seconds.

That Nigerians have already more than enough “bad bloods” in their bodies to deal with as they confront and attempt to overcome the daily chaos of a typical Nigerian life among other “jagbajantis” (terrible pathetic obstacles/stumbling blocks), which the country and particularly her government and her representatives, among many others, throw consciously before the people, is another fact.

The people have “bad bloods” in overdose! One can only wish this overdose is not made worse than can be borne by the people. Alas! This can only remain a wish because the opposite is the case. The truth is, the condition of the people is daily being made worse by news and events from various public quarters in the country which make “these bad bloods” more than appalling in the people and for the bodies that carry them to cope with!

Now, one can only imagine what the fate of any self-acclaimed concerned citizen or public commentator in certain physical public spaces might be, should (s)he get her-/himself carelessly caught or lured into making diagnosis which are perceived to be “wrong” in such spaces.

I have heard of and seen people in Nigeria being seriously beaten or given “a big dirty slap” for talking “nonsense” during a football match; not even a Nigerian football match or even our local league! In order to understand the looming danger therefore if caught in these so-called wrong public spaces physically, it only takes the understanding of the fate of that fellow who in Nigeria is being “severely, albeit unjustly punished” for uttering innocent words/opinion, which are but received as “wrong choice of words/opinion” by the hearer. Readers only need localise the context of events to visualize how extremely high and dangerous emotions can get, especially when political matters are involved. I on my part can only wish such person good-luck and hope (s)he gets out with his skin unhurt.

The illustration above is by the way to underline on the one part the unfriendly atmosphere into which dissents are mostly expressed, so that the dissenter is at risk should (s)he for instance get entangled in a dialogue with a better place individual, physically, financially, politically or any other conceivable -lly. I bet such a better placed bully in Nigeria will gladly exercise that power to punish indiscriminately. Clearly, our cultural perception of and views on dissenting positions certainly need be better cultivated. On the other hand, the short discourse is to also emphasize, like the illustration vividly portrays, that the people are nothing but frustrated with the kind of life they live daily in Nigeria.

Having said this, let us turn to other issues. In one of my recent articles, I wrote about the absurdity in and of the Nigeria society. I noted that we would only need wait patiently enough, but certainly not too long, for the next absurdity to show up! Hardly had I made this submission, I personally was even overwhelmed at the speed at which the next absurdity crushed the last absurdity I talked about in the said article.

Certainly, many, if not all events in the recent centenary celebration, which marks the 100th anniversary since the amalgamation of Southern and Northern Nigeria Protectorates by Lord Lugard, the Governor General of the then Colonial Government in Nigeria, belong in the category of the absurd, but I will want to be careful in lumping up the whole event as being absurd.

Of course, I would not begrudge Nigeria for attaining 100 years of existence. Anybody would celebrate such feat. We must all admit, it has not been easy. But exactly for this reason of hardness and endless lists of miserables is what some people referenced in their opposition of the centenary celebration. In fact, they call it shameless because this present Nigeria at 100 is not the dream of any patriotic citizen. She has nothing to show for the years. The country has nothing worth celebrating.

I agree with them partly if seen in the context of the proverbial old man, who at 90 years of age had only saved enough money to afford a rickety bicycle, and proudly hanged on the bicycle a placard which seem un-mistakenly to suggest that “he might be slow in achieving greatness, but he is certainly on that path, for which he strongly believes his rickety bicycle is a prove!”

Well, since the misfortune of his own pitiable condition is certainly lost on him, one can only pity him. On this ground, those who think the centenary is another show of shame and a dance of madness as is oftentimes the case in the Nigeria political scenery could not be more right.

At the same time, one might be tempted to want to rejoice with this proverbial old man. He has at least achieved something! What about those who are as old or older and are worse off?! I will be very careful though to add my voice to the reasoning of this latter group of people. Applying this to Nigeria, it leaves one with so much concern. I am not wont to celebrate such an old man if he is Nigeria, which apparently he is in this context! I will come back to this. Let us turn our attention to one other part of the title of this article, namely, mountains and moles.

This combination will not be strange to any good connoisseur of words. Such an expert will quickly remember that saying, which describes someone who “makes a mountain out of a mole”. Another beautiful combination is found in this saying of someone who “climbs a mole while panting like one who climbs a mountain”. There are definitely other useful combinations and usages, but for the context under consideration, these two will suffice. Both usages refer very clearly to a deficient character in the person being garbed with these sayings.

How is this relevant to Nigeria? Both are very much relevant when we look at problems of Nigeria, many of which her leaders and by extension her people, have thus far encumbered the country with, and in fact still do. Many of the problems are in actual facts mountainous. They might even be bigger than mountains, especially those that are leadership-imposed. The problems caused (for) Nigeria by and from the Nigerian people themselves are not to be seen as out-of-mountain-size, but apparently less cumbersome when relatively placed side-by-side with those of the former group, namely leadership.

Now this is where I am going: It is one thing to notice there is a problem, or there are problems! It is another to sincerely recognise them as such! It is yet another to sincerely and objectively understand the weightiness, size and effects of the problem(s)! And it is yet another to (strongly) believe these problems can and need be solved! It is even yet another to be willing to have them solved!

There are really many faces to a problem or to problems. The unfortunate reality of the Nigerian situation is that we are yet to be clear or accept that there is/are problem(s) which need be urgently solved by applying different tools other than those being applied thus far! Well, maybe the “we” is seen to be too amassing, so that one think it inappropriate.

One might want to say too quickly that the Nigeria problem is government (leadership), pure and simple. Well, I dare submit that even if the “we” is made not to include every single Nigerian, the fact that we agree that one of the problems is the Nigerian leadership, we are indirectly covered by the “we”. The government cannot elect itself. We live in a democracy. Since the government is our own election, fair or unfair. We are thus the government by and large.

In any case, I will be too unwilling to accept that government (leadership) is the sole problem of Nigeria. I have severally posited in articles and posts that a government of any country is (un-)consciously, (un-)willingly or otherwise a true reflection, a very close, nearly a perfect representation of what and who the majority, if not all, a society depicts/is. A critical study of the Nigerian followership is a good example in this regard. Let me not pursue this strand of thought beyond this point in order to return to the matter at hand, which is talking about the Nigeria problems and her many faces.

Another reality is this: Let us agree we know that there are problems, which need be solved. Let us assume we all know there are such daunting problems that must as a matter of urgency be tackled. I go a step further my assumption; and I believe that this is the truth: We as Nigerians, home and abroad, know the solutions to these problems! Then: Why are they still unsolved? Here is the reason: We, be it the government, namely leadership, or the people, namely followership, have chosen to make mountains out of our mole-like mountains!

Yes! That is the truth!

And No! I have not contradicted myself.

Our problems, political, social, tribal, finance, justice, spiritual, etc, in Nigeria are as mountainous and big as they might be imagined to be or even are! The mountains are rocky and very hard too! But the truth is, the solutions to Nigeria’s woes and problems, no matter how big they are in this current age, cannot be seen to be so big that they are out of reach of current human reasoning or thinking.

The human mind is such a genius, which has been nurtured for so long time with decades, centuries and thousands of years of acquired knowledge. Our old and current problems in the world, and particularly in Nigeria, cannot be beyond the compass of this wealth of knowledge. Let me zero in now: The Nigeria troubles are not peculiar. They are so minute that I dare say they can be (re-)solved if only we want them solved! They are moles! We have however, and unfortunately so, chosen to make mountains out of these moles!

Some might say: But we are getting there gradually! We need to move at our own pace etc. Every country and continent have their period of backwardness etc! Let me quickly counter this claim: We are in actual fact not getting anywhere! In fact, we are yet to start, let alone move at all. At best, we are moving backward, and that very swiftly! Besides, I can confidently assure such people that those difficult times, years and centuries they are quick to reference are certainly not the 21st century for crying out loud! These countries and continents did not have the tools, means and possibilities now available when they faced those times. Therefore, with the all these available to Nigeria, government and citizens alike, claims of “moving at our own pace” is out of place and ridiculous.

I think I am getting too passionate now. Let me leave it at that for now. I will return to talk more about mountains and moles. Let me return to that matter, which I had earlier left, namely: The centenary celebration.

The centenary celebration has drawn much attention and much more criticism from millions of Nigerians. Particularly of note is one article, which was sent to my Facebook inbox yesterday by a very good friend. He had done well to draw my attention to it. Apparently, he wanted me to add my voice to the teeming millions of Nigerians, who have chosen not to sit by while the Nigeria government celebrate one of her worst leaders with awards and garlands based on fictitious, if not questionable grounds. All these being done in the name of a centenary awards! I will not disappoint my good friend. I hereby add my voice to tell the world that Nigeria and Nigerians refuse to be insulted in this manner!

Come to think of it: Who am I that I will not join my voice to those of Nigerians, who clearly, and rightfully so, demand that the centenary award granted the late General Sani Abacha be revoked with immediate effect. Even Professor Wole Soyinka could not hold back from speaking out against this ill-advised decision from the Jonathan Presidency! I agree with all these voices calling for sanity in the reasoning and thinking of Nigerian leaders and how and who they award awards and medals of honour!

The people are right. The voice of the people are the voices of gods and deities. I will be quick however to add that the gods can be wrong at times, but this time around, I dare say that the gods are absolutely right in their demand! Their assessment is right on point! General Sani Abacha deserved anything but a Nigeria centenary award!

Now, having said this, I will not stop there. I will go a step further. Clearly, the decision is another absurdity, for which the Jonathan administration is known for. President Jonathan has therefore only confirmed his manner and approach in the context of logicality of illogicalities. Still a step further: We definitely need to scrutinize the list of awardees beyond the name and personality of General Sani Abacha! In that same list are the names of Muhammadi Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida among others! Both of these men are retired army generals whose terms of offices are anything but rosy for the common man. We remember still very much the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the Babangida Regime! No good watcher of the Nigeria history can claim that the years of the Babangida administration was a good time in the history of Nigeria! Remember the annulled June 12, 1993 election?! Remember Dele Giwa and many others killed by this reckless military man? Now here is the punchline: Babangida is so rich today that no sane person can claim that Babangida got all these monies from his sweat and labour! This is a man who swindled the Nigerian people and Nigeria beyond recognition! Yet, he is one man on the list of our centenary celebration.

I don’t even want to open the can of worms of General Muhammadi Buhari’s term as military head of state. It is beyond contempt! Yet, he made the list! There are many other awardees, who are just as contemptible as General Mohammadi Buhari. There are those on the list who are as terribly originally evil and deceitful as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, less or even more contemptible than him and there are those who deservedly made the list, who are listed therein. However, the recklessness and double-standard with which the list is compiled, rubbished even the names of those who deservedly made it.

Now, tell me: Why would I wish to waste a single breathe of air in crying over an award whose recipients are nothing but bunch of criminals, people of highly questionable reputations and nation-robbers? Why would I want to talk about an award, whose yardsticks of determination are at best dubious and ridden with double or no clear standards at all?

I swear Mother-Earth is weeping her eyes dry right now for that part of her which is being inhabited by Nigeria. She weeps because this part of her is being vandalized and squandered with so much ease and peace of mind she just would not understand any of her children could be so terribly careless in this present age! The woes of the Jonathan Presidency, his management of Nigeria and the absurdity of his deeds cry to high heavens!

I bet I need some music now to clam my nerves!

Oh! I have forgotten I want to write about Boko Haram as indicated in the title of this article! I bet readers would want to save me from a breakdown if I have to face headlong the rigors of having to discuss right now the evils and calamities this dangerous sect of irresponsibles have so far inflinched on the country! Anyway, I will risk an attempt.

There is understandably no other entry into discussing the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria than to plunge headlong into talking about its brutality. The sect made it clear from inception it will stop at nothing to make Nigeria and Nigerians understand they are up to no good. They have thus far achieved beyond convincing us. We are not in doubt as to this. In fact, I dare say, we were never in doubt of the genuiness of their intention even before they set out to kill in the name of whatever the course or grounds for which they maim and kill children, adults, young and old Nigerians alike! Nobody seem to be left out now in their scheme of destruction! They kill even their own! All that is needed is for victims to be close enough to any target around and the victim is long dead.

I thought of what qualifying adjective would best describe the brutality and endless lust for blood. Even the choice of “barbaric” would invariably under-emphasize the level of the crudeness, coldheartedness and utmost barbarism. One could sure bet the Barbars were certainly far less brutal in their acts and manners of operation which earned them that quality of being referred to as barbaric. Without doubt, a new word need be coined for Boko Haram’s brutality and acts of criminality in Nigeria. It is unspeakable!

In recent past, there had been attempts from many quarters to discern possible cause and source of this inhuman sect of fanatics. By now, even if we still doubt or question their origin, source of funding and the root reason of their inspiration to kill and maim both children and women in large numbers; even men were not left out, we certainly are not doubtful that Boko Haram meant business and would stop at nothing to achieve the goal(s)!

I am really not interested in many blame-shifting-games of recent past, so much so that even a presidential aide, in the person of Reno Omokri, could stoop so low to playing politics with the death of children, whom the country were still mourning at that particular point in time. Mr. Omokri definitely did hope to score some political points for this apparent careless ingenuity! One an only thank Goodness this criminal Reno Omokri was caught early enough before the evil of his mischief went too far!

My interest is summed in this question: How, when and why, among many other “W-questions” did we get to this level of inhumanity in Nigeria? Yes, I know the answer(s) is/are not far-fetched, but I certainly want no answer right now! I just want to mourn these innocent children and many other victims of the incessant Boko Haram killings in the name of …what? I am really at a loss right now!

I heard with one ear on various social networks and platforms about talks that Boko Haram is very much likely to go the way of many insurgencies in Nigeria’s recent past once the Jonathan government is over and done with! I hope I am not being suggested to that there is a clear political undertone to the operation of Boko Haram, which could make it will die a natural death with the end of a particular government?! If this talk is true, it needs no saying that this kind of national sabotage and jungle tactics is bad for politics Nigeria. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth!

I hope readers are not tired by now with reading. To round up this article, I will return to talks of mountains and moles, talking sarcastically about issues, which are very much familiar with the Nigerian people. The best medicine is sometimes to laugh while the (sad) truth is not lost on us.

Let us take a typical Nigeria problem, which has bewitched the country for time immemorial. This problem seems so big that one might think it cannot be conquered. To say the truth, it is that big indeed. Another truth is, we loose the battle against this seemingly big monster with every passing government. One would not be see to be too careless with words if one would conclude that we as a country have lost the fight against this singular problem. It is almost the correct submission going by the insincerity with which this trouble is being handled.

Ordinarily, this problem is not worth a mountain. In fact, it is is not even worth the qualification of a mole! Going by the standard of present-day achievement in this industry in and around the world, we cannot sincerely say Nigeria has gotten a mountainous problem in this regard. But, here we are! We have by choice made it a problem! Or how else can it be explained that Nigeria is not able to solve the seemingly permanent problem of power generation within her borders?

I am well close to thirty years old. Most of my life I have spent in Nigeria, well over twenty-two years. There was never a month in all my years of living in Nigeria, for which I would be willing to swear on Ogun (the Yoruba god of Iron) that I had enjoyed for 30 days uninterrupted power supply! Sowole Omoyele of Sahara Reporters recently posted on YouTube what Nigerians experience daily in order to generate light for themselves if they do not want to live in permanent darkness or wait endlessly for the government supplier, namely Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

This is one mole of a problem, out of which we have made a mountain! The solution is ridiculously simple. I dare say you and I know what can be done to guarantee this compulsory commodity, an important part of our humanity and existence, which unfortunately is scarcely available and thereby being made in Nigeria into a privilege for those who can afford it.

How about transportation and construction of motorable roads in the country? I think I am asking for too much now! This is another sector where Nigeria cannot sincerely claim that the lives of her citizens lost daily in road accidents and mishap are justifiably lost! It needs no saying that we are far behind when the talk is about good transportation system and roads. We have not even started yet to explore the avalanche of possibilities available to us in the present age. At best, we grapple with old and outdated stuffs, yet we hardly are able to sustain them. A good example is our World War Two rickety trains, with which we are best called handicapped managers if good care is anything to write home about. The world is gone too far that we have no sane reason to justify the kinds of structure which presently operates in that sector. Air transport is at the flyers’ own risk! You need hold your breathe until you are out of the rusty machines flown in the aviation industry! Even the dead are not safe in our air! The crash of that flight with the corpse of Chief Olusegun Agagu in it is a sad reminder of this sad truth. I bet, we are nearly done for in Nigeria with our kind of and runners of government! Unfortunately, this is the Nigeria reality. Another terrible choice we have made! A mole it is, yet we have (un-)willingly made a mountain out of it!

What shall we then say of the health sector, education, jobs with secured retirement benefits, provision of good water and affordable food for the people, both rich and poor, security of life and property, affordable and comfortable housing…just think of it. The list is endless. These and many more are those things which I intend to discuss under that third aspect in the title of this article, namely Other Matters, but for which energy has failed me right now to bewail further the disastrous condition of Nigeria. I strongly believe we need a saviour right now. And I right now need catch some fresh air…I swear!