MidweekSpecial: Our Issue is Beyond Jonathan by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed
I first came across the word *tritrologue* as a curious young man reading newspaper captions at a stand in Abidjan, sometimes in the 90s. A titrologue will read only the titles on the front page of a newspaper and form personal opinion(s), preempting both contents and author(s). Sometimes, (s)he goes as far as coining stories to suit her-/himself, i.e. in line with perceived raison d’être of the write-up. Most probably, on seeing the title of this article, titrologues will think two things.
Here is the first. Our president does not have the talents and zeal needed to rule this diverse nation of over 160 million people. He concludes, the president cannot steer the affairs of the state.The list of qualifiers to borrow from critics of the PhD-President is endless: clueless, shoe-less, corrupt, weak, incompetent, ill-prepared, disastrous, kindergarten or auto-piloted presidency…name it.
On the other hand, “our issue is beyond Jonathan” can also mean the Nigerian issues are so complexly enormous President Jonathan appears incapacitated. Many Jonathanians disagree, voicing such in different ways. They ask if Jonathan is responsible for the many years of misrule in Nigeria. They suggest that some people have vowed to make the country ungovernable simply because Jonathan is from a different region/religion. Above all, their defense is that Jonathan inherited most of Nigeria’s problems and terrorism is a global phenomenon; Nigeria is having her share of it.
Whichever side of the divide one belongs, it is a two-sided but one single coin. President Jonathan is both incapable and incapacitated. He is as overwhelmed as the challenges facing us as a nation are as overwhelming.
This is double tragedy for a nation that aspires to keep its head above water in this continuously competitive globalized world. Nothing can be more incomprehensible than to present oneself for a task too daunting and for which one is incapable. Holding on to such a job will only leave one incapacitated. Unfortunately, we live in a nation where the able are not enabled. The unable, like the president, enabled by goodluck, tragically, do not have “resignation” in their dictionary. No wonder our best don’t lead us and our worst are hell-bent on leading us.
End of lamentation! Lest I bore readers with rhetoric of the tragic dilemma of our nation!
Here are questions we need to ask: (1) how did we arrive at this pitiable state? (2) what have we (not) done to deserve this free-fall and ridicule in the comity of nations? (3) are there ways to save Nigeria(ns) from themselves?
Of a truth, Jonathan is the minutest of our problems. Our real problem is the system that helps produce, nurture and sustain the likes of Jonathan as leaders. For many decades, collective helplessness, dementia and inertia in the face of generational and regenerating oppression characterize(d) our nation. The real problem is the “suffering-and-smiling syndrome” coupled with “short-memory syndrome” which the common Nigerian continuously exhibits.
My latest decision is to start proffering solutions (addressing the causes) to our national malady.
I have said it severally, privately and publicly, the ruling class uses four deliberate strategies in a bid to perpetuate its rule of subjugating the Nigerian masses, namely
- keep them uneducated or at most pseudo-educated
- impoverish them the more
- keep them in perpetual darkness and
- fan the embers of ethno-religious sentiments (divide and rule tactic)
Consider the neglect of public education by successive governments plus the commercialization and pricing of same away from the reach of the poor! I bet one doesn’t need look too far! A deliberate well-planned scheme to wholesale-ly mumufy the masses is in execution. Commenting on what he termed as the mass mumufication of the Nigerian masses in an article, Prof. Pius Adesanmi posited:
I have written time and again that the collapse of Nigeria’s educational system is not an accident. It is deliberate. It is purposed. A state that is going to be run based on ethos and practices deemed crude by the standards of Orangutan society needs a sedated and diseducated citizenry that is hostile to critique in order to survive and perpetuate herself. And when that state succeeds in manufacturing a critical mass of consent and conformity such as we see in Nigeria, the triumphant ruling class has only one responsibility unto itself: the sustenance of a wrongly-wired psychology in a vast majority of the citizenry.
In the same vein, the widening disparity/deepening gulf between the rich and the poor is a manifestation of this elite conspiracy. Whereas a microscopic few (apology to Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon) continue to benefit from the privatization of our collective national assets and state-tolerated exploitative monopoly à la Dangote; the bulk of the masses continue to wallow in abject and excruciating poverty.
The average Nigerian provides for every of his basic needs. From generators to bore-hole digging. Hospital bills to the education of the kids. And from tarring roads leading to private residences to paying for personal security (Vigilantes/Olode Adugbos). In short, an average Nigerian family is a government on its own!
No wonder we live from hands to mouth. No wonder we must skip daily meal(s) to make ends-meet. We save and prepare for unforeseen contingency. No wonder it is “Se o ti jeun?” (Have you eaten?) for many families! It is never “Se o ti yo?” (Are you satiated?)
Do you still wonder why we cannot sustain a mass protest for some few days in Nigeria? Remember #OccupyNigeria protest in 2012!
In a private audience with Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed in his South-African home in 2007, Nelson Mandela has this piece of advice for Nigerians:
‘You should encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making personal wealth. Corrupt people do not make good leaders. Then you have to spend a lot of your resources for education. Educate children of the poor, so that they can get out of poverty. Poverty does not breed confidence. Only confident people can bring changes. Poor, uneducated people can also bring change, but it will be hijacked by the educated and the wealthy’.
The ruling elite is still not done with the Nigerian masses. It is well acquainted with the industrious and entrepreneurial nature of Nigerians; our intelligence and wisdom; our resilience and dynamism. The tactic is simple: never give them light! Keep them in perpetual darkness! With light, they will keep abreast of happenings and develop questioning minds! They will be too informed to be deformed! And that will spell the doom of the elites in no time!
If you notice a surge in the level of awareness and activism of Nigerians in the present decade, thanks are due to the ubiquity of the social media and the advent of affordable browsing handsets. How many have forgotten that according to the senate president “Telephones are not meant for the poor!”? How many still remember his latest attempt at gagging/curtailing continual criticisms on the social media?
The fourth strategy of our (mis)rulers: divide them along ethno-religious lines! They continually pester us with the “One Nigeria” mantra when they get to Abuja to rob us of our collective treasury. Nigeria is an indivisible entity when the status-quo favours them. When they fall out of favour, they remind us of our differences. They cry foul and shout “marginalization”.
By the way, that even reminds me. Has it never occurred to Biafran-faithfuls that the threats to the dream of a Biafra Republic are neither the so called “Born-to-rule” Hausa-Fulanis nor the “Maradona” Yorubas? The greatest threat to their secession cravings are their brothers and sisters in/around Aso-Rock. They have mortgaged the aspirations as they feed fat in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Therefore, the earlier we understand the root causes of our problems and the enormity of the deliberate damage of our collective psyche, the better. Enough ranting! It is time for action! In any little way as individuals, civil society and corporate organizations, never fail to sensitize fellow compatriots, empower and unite them for the needed change, from the grassroots to the top echelon!
This our issue is truly beyond Jonathan!
I am sure, even Late Mandiba in his grave is still amazed at our collective docility and naivety:
“There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that should be unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians are not more angry than they are”