Finally Sigidi fetes Trouble

For a long time in this country, representatives of the public in positions of political power and economic control have insulted the Nigerian public with their I-don’t-care attitude (my grandfather’s expression) to their needs. And for as long as the Nigerian public endured their shit that their representatives have thrown at them. One night at the Freedom Park in Lagos, Rotimi Amaechi said in public that Nigerian politicians will continue to steal and loot until the Nigerian public learn to start stoning these politicians in public. Only Odia Ofeimun challenged him that night about that statement. Now that our sigidi is ready for destruction, perhaps we must begin the process of getting the Nigerian masses to prepare to stone the politicians in public as they do in private, in their prayers only and not in their practice. This is because a former head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has begun to insult Nigerians publicly, calling them stupid if they want to know what has happened to money stolen and re-stolen, where is it? This is what moves mere oppositional criticism of the government to the level of oppositional revolt. Egungun, be careful, your frailties are beginning to show to the public. Be very careful.

Years ago, Thomas Sankara told the story of a man who was to inspire him throughout his political career. The village was in dire straits as a result of a long-standing drought. The government at the capital was distributing foodstuffs to people and places but only those who could reach the capital could benefit from this government largesse. The village put money together as well as borrowed the bicycle of the only man who had one in the village and gave it to their representative to go to the capital and bring back their share of government foodstuffs to relieve the hunger and the thirst of the village. On getting to the capital the representative of the village, RV for short, went to the place of foodstuffs and got the allocation of the village. He loaded this allocation on to the bicycle and found that the bicycle could not carry everything even when he gave up his seat for more foodstuff. He wondered if he could pay for a camion (lorry) to help him take the foodstuffs to the village.

The list would wet the appetite of any one villager or urbanite – there was rice, and beans, and groundnut oil and onions and pepper and there was salt. Bags and bags of them. What about selling some of the material to pay for a lorry . . .? RV would not dream of reducing the allocation even if it was to help him get to the village quicker with what was left. He dismissed the owners and driver of the lorry. He would put away the village’s allocation. He would take whatever he can take little by little and deliver them to the village. But the denizens of the jungle that was the capital city had latched on to him and they were determined that he would get nothing to his village. They took his bicycle with a promise that they were going to make it bigger so that it could carry the rest of the foodstuffs one time. He wondered how you could make a bicycle bigger? The owner of the lorry laughed and said you know not the white man? First he made the bicycle. Then he made its elder brother the motorcycle. Then he made their biggest brother keke napep! One bigger than the other as they came! So, your bicycle can be bigger! He waited until it was dark and he fell asleep. While he slept, they came back and took the allocation of the village and went away leaving RV with nothing to take back to his village.

RV woke up to the emptiness of his life: sent on an errand on a borrowed vehicle, to bring goodness to his village he failed. He could not take back the foodstuffs. He did not have the transport system lent him to do his work better. He could not face the people of his village. He was ashamed to confront his people with his failure. Imagine the representatives of Nigeria at international forums around the world, parading themselves in flowing agbada and glittering head gears as they carry the failure of their leadership in front of them for all the world to see – fifty years of darkness in the midst of light; fifty years of poverty in the midst of plenty; fifty years of roadlessness in the midst of material abundance to build roads; fifty years of illiteracy in the midst of books and brains; fifty years nonentity in the midst of possibilities – carrying on with billions and billions of dollars stolen from the common purse. Without shame, proclaiming – don’t you know who i am? Without shame and shaming others!

Iku ya j’esin! Death is better than disgrace!! RV took his life rather than go to his people a failure in their service. Thomas Sankara put the service to his people above everything, above his own life. When he became head of state through a military coup d’etat, he offered to put the house which he and his wife had built through a bank loan in the public space for those who do not have a house to live in since they were now housed by the state. After all one family could not live in two houses at the same time.

Mere oppositional criticism is definitely no longer enough. With the amount of money being stolen, with the amount of money that has been stolen and, to prevent the amount of money that will be stolen in the future, we need to prepare the masses for stoning the politicians who have crippled the dreams of Nigerians. “But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create with their interference the initial groundwork for a new regime.”

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