Our government is a five-legged cow!
There are strange culture creatures around the world. In Scotland there is that special breed of sheep native to the hills of Scotland. And because this sheep walks around the hills grazing its two inner legs are shorter than the two outer ones. It is this special nature that makes its innards suitable for the special Scottish delicacy known as “haggis”. There is the dribbling wizard of us with an extra leg for the final tick and trick who lives in Argentina and here. In the same way we propose the Nigerian five-legged cow, off-spring of the South African five-legged camel.
Our cow is fecund and ready to deliver on milk, on meat of choice cuts including delicacies such as ponmo, shaki, towel, cow leg and roundabout. It can also deliver bones and hides and horns. Our fecund cow is able and willing to deliver these goodies any time of day or night. Unfortunately it has a handicap. It is a democratic government. It must listen to those for, and then hear the case of those against and ask those indifferent why their stand before taking decisions. And having taken the decisions, it must now move to implement the decisions. It is in moving that the wahala begins. Legs are for moving, moving slowly, moving steadily, moving fast. In the history of moving creatures and devices two and four are the favourites for steady and fast movement. One leg, three legs and five legs get problems.
Dictatorial governments move fast, legs or no legs. General Buhari says let their be discipline and there is war against discipline. General Babangida says let there be two parties and there are two parties, one a little to the left and the other a little to the right, never mind where those who want to stay in the centre must go. General Abacha says I want to be the presidential candidate of all the five parties and promptly Chief Babatope nominates him as candidate of all the five parties. That’s dictatorship for you. But ours, alas, is a democratic government and its cow moves exceptionally slowly. Let’s look at the nature of the legs.
There are the elected legs. These are the President and the National Assembly comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate. Right now the President Leg is hobbled by reasons of old age and weariness. We have taken it to Britain and back. We have had orthopaedic surgeons of here and there log at this leg. For now the leg can only walk from home. I mean work from home.
As for the National Assembly Leg, it is crippled. It does not know where the hoof stops and knee begins. Nor it clear which muscles moves what aspect. Questions of eligibility arise. What should be the make up of this leg, first and foremost? Are the present members the most suitable out of the peoples of this country? Are crooks, liars, certificate forgers the constituents for a Leg that must move fast and sometimes even do a jig or two? So much for the Elected Legs.
There are the Appointed Legs: the Judiciary and the Press. First the Judiciary Leg. This leg is in gold chains provided by the high and mighty of our country. Gold chains are not just any chains that those encumbered by them would love to break. These chains are binding and lucrative. To keep the chains on, there are those of the Judiciary who would give anything, including giving up the Judiciary itself. So, by the nature of its gold chains the Judiciary Leg is shackled.
The Press Leg is elephantine. The hoof is online, the knee is print while the thigh is audio and the shoulder is video. Each is weighed down by lack of techno muscle that would make it move and dance and prance and do its thing. It is weighed down by lack of blood flow to these parts of the leg. Such is the consequent inability that every bit is allowed to do its own thing. Such confusion has led to elephantiasis – a disease that could be chronic, lasting for years or even for life. That is the Press Leg.
The fifth leg is the People Leg, the Voter Leg. This should be the most important Leg, the most decisive Leg, the Leg that should lead the way. Unfortunately it is the missing leg not just because it is not there, but because it sometimes votes with the leg, leaves, goes away, walks away, abandons things and goes away. It is absent and missing and out of action. How does our cow move with a leg that is there today and tomorrow it is gone? It is a leg that has had to look after itself. It is a leg that has received no nourishment from the known and acknowledged fecundity of our cow. Not the milk, not the meat, not the bare bone, nothing. Getting nothing, it gives nothing back.
Under normal circumstances, this leg should lead. But it is absent and missing. But not only is it absent and missing. When it comes back it does not know where it stands as a leg in relation to the other legs. Should it be in front guiding the pace of the cow and commanding the nature and speed of the movement of the cow? Or should it be behind, guarding and caring for the rear legs of the cow? Or should it be situated in the centre of the cow, providing balance, timber and calibrate to the fecundity of the cow?
A hobbled leg, a crippled leg, a shackled leg, an elephantine leg and an absent leg all make for a empty head. The head, knowing that the legs are going nowhere, occupies itself with frivolous thoughts, thoughts that do not get any cow anywhere. The head also smiles to all who compliment the cow for its unusual fecundity and plenitude. From time to time the cow freezes out of fear that it would perish and die with its plenitude and fecundity. At such times, the cow prods its legs and pleads for them to get a move on, but: “the child in me trembles before the high shelf on the wall; the man in me shrinks before the narrow neck of a calabash.”