Incompatibility has no medicine

Gbau gbau langbo aomobi ibon tindun
Gbau gbau langbo aomobi ibon tindun
K’olori dorie mu o, ka kiye s’ara
Oro Nigeria yio kom bawa d’ogun
-I.K Dairo 1967

The first generation of Nigeria musicians were mostly uneducated but nevertheless, very enlightened, intelligent and never shied away from boldly commenting on current issues of the day. Let us go straight to the point by explaining the content and message in that I.K Dairo’s masterpiece above. It was released in the early part of 1967 and was his own reaction to the horrendous, sadistic, and come to think of it, most needless killings, first of the key Northern military and political leaders, by mostly and coincidentally Ibo military officers but including some innocent lower rank officers and recruits from many parts of Nigeria who merely obeyed the “Follow, Follow” orders of their seniors. This culminated in the “Revenge Coup” of July 1966, sequel to which was the unabated killings of Ibos in many parts of the North. Simply put, the prophet in I.K. Dairo foresaw the Nigerian Civil War and cautioned against the war that inevitably broke out in July 1967. He said he had a strong foreboding of war, of sounds of gunshots from everywhere “gbau gbau”, such that we don’t even know from where the avalanche of continuous sounds of gunshots were coming from.

He goes on to counsel, “Let everyone continuously hold his head, let everyone be careful so that all the pent-up fury and resentments against each other would not resort to a large-scale war.” Of course, within a few months after the release of I.K Dairo’s timely warning, the Nigerian Civil War broke out, starting with a “Police Action” and shortly after the quick invasion of the Midwest Region, into a full-scale war which lasted until January 1970. The rest, as the famous saying goes, rests in the bosom of history and in the mind off historians and interested Nigerians. With the foregoing as a background, let us go unto our very sensitive and currently relevant topic, “incompatibility has no medicine.” If a man or woman wakes up early in the morning with some body aches and pains, the natural response is to urgently go and consult a doctor or pharmacist or the village drug store and a befitting medicine will be prescribed.The same procedure will attend to even more serious ailments like acute malaria, typhoid, chronic cough and cancer. Thanks to the great advancements in scientific and medical research, many ailments and diseases have a medical solution that would be compatible with the cure and a restoration to a wholesome health and wellness.

Let us now go into the realm of some theoretical suppositions. Imagine a husband and wife or a husband with wives, who are perpetually at loggerheads with each other. The simplest way to describe such dysfunctional human relationship is Incompatibility. The exact opposite is Compatibility! Let us take our theoretical supposition to a level where the warring couple or the man with many wives, would wake up one morning and approach the doctor or the pharmacist, asking him or her to prescribe Panadol, pain relief as a permanent cure for their incompatibility. Your guess is as good as mine. The doctor or pharmacist would most probably imagine they were out of their minds and politely advise them to go and see a psychiatrist or native doctor.

There are many shade and colours of incompatibility, manifesting itself through ethnic, religious, cultural, historical, attitudinal, educational differences. The symptoms often manifest in resentment towards each other, graduating if care is not taken, into hatred. Incompatibility is not restricted to human relationships at home, at work and on the streets of life. It can be devastatingly profound even amongst statutorily enforced peoples whose culture, religions, languages, mores, attitudes, aspirations, tribes and tongues differ. That selfish, sadistic, mischievous and insensitive partitioning of Africa by European colonial governments through that infamous Berlin Conference (October 1884 – 1885), where people, whose history, civilisation and religions were unknown to each other but nevertheless forced into make-believe nation states, is the source of all the wars, conflicts and hunger, poverty and mis governance, incompetence and the various attempts and clamouring’s for secession in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria. In every African country today, symptoms of incompatibility abound in every facet of life, of living and governmental structures and administrations that are deliberately structured to favour only a few, who invariably enforce themselves on the larger society with impunity that defies all forms and interpretations of common sense and good governance.

Let us come nearer home to Nigeria. Are we compatible? Definitely not! We are not! Incompatibility is our first name, incompatibility is our middle name and that is why our surname, Nigeria, is heavily scented with all the fragrances of and symptoms of incompatibility. What is the way out of this complex logjam? How are we going to step into the future, especially now that we have attained 58 years of independence from such a self-seeking and very manipulating colonial power and the main source of all our symptoms of incompatibility? Long before and especially from the first day of independence in 1960, the Nigerian vehicle was structured in such a way that it was an accident waiting to happen. Those scandalous census figures from 1953, and up to date is the main source of or problems as a nation and we do not need a clairvoyant to confirm this. For their own selfish interests, the British gave the North a glaringly mischievous advantage over the Western and Eastern parts of Nigeria and whoever opposed that “Arrange” arrangement always had the Northern dominated security forces to contend with. This possibly explains the empty arrogance in the mindset of a vital part of the core North, having “born to rule” on their vehicle plate numbers when some other states display their relevance to Nigeria e.g. “Gateway State,” Centre of Excellence,” “Sunshine State,” Pace Setters State” etc. Born to Rule? Over who? What is your contribution to national income and GDP? Whoever coined that “Born to Rule” slogan has achieved nothing other than to misguide successive generation of youths to aspire to be rulers and leaders wherever they find themselves in life without earning it. Life does not work that way! The National Orientation Agency has a job to do. They should go and counsel youths of those areas as to the pointlessness of the “Born to Rule” slogan.

Incompatibility, although very, very difficult to eliminate, can be managed and the impact reduced to the barest minimum. It all depends on the determination of men and women in leadership to be imbued with the determination to write their names in the Sands of Time. As we step into the future, President Muhammadu Buhari in a determined attempt to write his name in gold in the history of Nigeria, should please take another look at that controversial Decree 34 of 1966, with the intention to right the many wrongs that have been inflicted on the peace and harmony of Nigerians. Secondly, our dear President, please call for the statistics of the all the top and senior management cadres in the Armed Forces, as well as in the major departments and parastatals of government. The lop-sidedness is too much of a disincentive to promote national peace, harmony and confidence amongst large areas of Nigeria who feel so disenchanted in the Nigeria project, the Nigerian Project as a “Going Concern.”

When you deliberately bastardise the essence of the “Federal Character Commission” with such a glaring impunity, when the children of those areas who contribute immensely toward the baking of the “National Cake” complete their education but cannot find jobs to do and have resorted to gambling their way through the Sahara desert and Libya and thereafter to Europe, and into inevitable sufferings and sometimes their death, the call for “Restructuring” is inevitable. In the words of that famous economist, Professor Emmanuel Edozien, “if you run away from this topic, this topic will not run away from you in Trenchard (examination) Hall.” No matter how distasteful this Restructuring Topic is to those who regard themselves as the “Owners of Nigeria,” it is a topic we must all address in full if we want Nigerians to live in peace into the future.

As we have celebrated another independence anniversary, there is too much pent-up fury amongst the youths and the general populace, amongst the tribes and among various religious groups. A leadership that will not urgently and honestly address these concerns would only be asking what I.K. Dairo warned all of us against in 1967 but to which we paid no attention. The result?

Runsewe wrote from Lagos.

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