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Pa Jacob, the lanky willy old man in my village, once took a look around him, could not comprehend what was going on with the world and in a moment of utter astonishment and disillusionment exploded with the statement, “the world has burst its tube and burst its tyre!”, a statement that has remained famous in my village and areas close to it till today.
When Pa Jacob of blessed memory made his profound statement, a sizeable loaf of bread was sold for one shilling and you could cook a good pot of soup for three shillings. Today, let me just give my young daughter, Booboo, who is in charge of the kitchen in the absence of her mum, less than five thousand naira to make one pot of soup. The way she will look at me will tell you all you need to know: “This man does not understand what is going on”.
If Pa Jacob were alive today, how would he have described the crazy situation where the “Executive” Governor of my dear state of Imo, the most protected man in the state, who drives around in a convoy of armored cars with heavily armed policemen and sundry security paraphernalia protecting his house, would have his house set on fire by ‘unknown’ gunmen? If Mr. Governor with all the security around him cannot protect himself, how does he protect the millions of citizens who have no AK 47s, no police, no catapults and ‘no nothing’?
Tell me, how would Pa Jacob have summed up the situation where armed soldiers and policemen at check points are being murdered by “unknown” gunmen who terrorize and kidnap politicians, the clergy and innocent students practically at will, everywhere in the country?
Did you hear that Boko Haram has raised its flag in a good chunk of the landmass of Niger State which boarders the nation’s capital, Abuja? As things go rapidly from bad to worse, will we be surprised to hear that Boko Haram has raised its flag at Aso Rock Villa, Nigeria’s seat of government or that Nigeria is now being governed by the terrorist group? And Nigeria has as its President and Commander-in-Chief an infantry general?!
The type of democracy we are supposed to practice is a tripod made up of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. In the midst of the leadership vacuum that the Executive arm of our government has been wallowing in, the Judiciary went on strike! What started as a mere threat by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has got out of hand. For weeks, all courts in Nigeria have been shut. Police cells everywhere are over-flowing with awaiting trial inmates in a coronavirus environment. Many urgent issues that need quick resolution by the judges have become festering sores. This is after the Corona virus shut down that dislocated the courts for months. Those of us who depend on the courts as our last hope in a nation where the instruments of state are constantly used to intimidate citizens, are bewildered. What ought to have been resolved in two days has gone on for weeks, again because of lack of leadership. Our democracy’s tripod is standing on only one very weak leg. If this is not anarchy, please tell me what is.
During the week, several of my friends called asking for how to get visa appointments. You do not need to be told that their belief in the future of Nigeria has evaporated. Time was when people who doubted the ability of Mohammed Buhari to steer the ship of Nigeria were called wailers. Suddenly, practically every Nigerian has become a wailer. What would have been described as treason not long ago is being openly discussed as disillusioned Nigerians from across the nation ask Buhari to resign and leave them alone. Many are even calling for the break-up of the nation.
The immortal Zik of Africa was once quoted as saying, “a broken bottle has no mmekwatarism”. You may ask, what is “mmekwatarism?” Mmekwatarism is coined from the word, mmekwata, which in Igbo means ‘to repair’. In other words, what the great Nnamdi Azikiwe seems to have said is that a broken bottle is not repairable. Has Nigeria become a broken bottle? My nephew, ‘Mr. Cash’, insists that the Nigerian bottle is not just broken, it is shattered.
When we used to drive with tyres that had tubes inside, if your tyre went down, you patched the tube. You would see some tubes with so many patches on them that there is no question that the car is spending more time with the vulcanizer than with the owner. But there comes a time when even the vulcanizer cannot help you – when both the tube and the tyre explode in one moment of madness.
I am the eternal optimist, characteristically the last to give up on anything so I wish Pa Jacob was still alive. I so badly need to ask him whether Nigeria has finally got to the state of no return, in those words of W.B. Yeats when the falcon can no longer hear the falconer, things fall apart, the centre can no longer hold and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, because I am disheartened, traumatized, disillusioned, astonished, astounded, devastated … by what I see around me.
Please tell me from wherever you are, Pa Jacob, has Nigeria finally burst its tube and burst its tyre?
See you next week.