My last week column titled ““Mistakenly” Killed or Killed For Amusement?” was a reaction to the massive killing of some worshippers in Tudun Biri in Kaduna State. In that article, I lamented the terrible condition of Nigerians in Nigeria. Explaining the worthlessness of Nigerians at the lower rungs of the societal ladder who represent the absolute majority of the population, I argued that life of mosquito is dignified than life of a common Nigerian. Not only that, “life of Mosquito”, I argued “is sacred.” My intention was to draw the attention of our ruling class to the fact that common Nigerians are not intrinsically worthless; they (ruling class) are the architects of our horrible condition and nightmarish experience which makes us appear worthless. In other words, we are worthy people but turned worthless. Thus, who could be killed anyhow and at anytime for amusement.
A day after my article was published, the Vice President Kashim Shettima at the graduation ceremony of the Executive Intelligence Management Course organized by National Institute of Security studies said the poor are angry. He confessed, in his words; “All of us here belong to a tiny segment of Nigerian population. And you do not need a soothsayer to tell you that the poor are angry with us.” This is a classical case of oppression of the majority by a tiny minority. If I had the opportunity (once again) to teach students definition of democracy, my definition, within Nigerian context, would be: “Democracy is a system of government wherein a tiny minority shamelessly and ruthlessly oppresses the majority without compunction.”
The vice president continues: “Go to the slums and mingle with the poor. I am a native of Maiduguri (Borno State Capital). Anytime a rich man brought a new car to his house, it (the house) used to be a place of pilgrimage. People used to go and see not out of anger, but out of admiration. But now, as we cruise around in our bulletproof cars, one will see contempt in the eyes of the poor. We have to improve the quality of governance. And what we have is a tiny window of not more than 10 to 20 years. Let’s improve the quality of governance.”
Perhaps, His Excellency forgets that they have a minimum of just three years to transform Nigerians back from animals to humans. The maximum they have to do the transformation is seven years. That is, if they were “lucky” to be brought back in 2027 by the poor whose eyes are full of contempt. Though the vice president’s address sounds like a warning sermon by a fiery cleric, there is something gloomy in his speech which only adds to the common Nigerians’ hopelessness. If the “tiny window of not more than 10 to 20 years” he alludes to isn’t a vice-presidential slip of tongue, it means Nigerians should not expect anything meaningful from the present regime which tenure elapses, at most, by the next seven years. (Less than his predicted 10 to 20 years).
The truest part of Shettima’s address, in my view, goes thus: “They (the poor) are the most neglected segment of our society. You can hardly differentiate them and their animals. Even the animals they rear belong to those in the city.” The vice president truly spoke the truth. Or, how can you differentiate some of us (the poor) from our goats, cats, and dogs? These animals are way better than the Nigerian poor especially if they belong to the ruling class. Many Nigerians, due to poverty, will be glad to be transformed to Shettima’s or Tinubu’s dogs than to remain humans.
At some point in this country, cattle walked freely on our major roads in Abuja and polluted the federal capital with their faeces. I don’t know if they still walk freely as I am not sure if President Tinubu has them as assets like the other man in Daura. On these same roads that cattle walked majestically and well secured, Nigerians have to tread with care. They must be security conscious as kidnappers may suddenly strike. The reason is not far fetched. The vice president said it all. Those animals belong to our rulers and are treated like assets. While we (Nigerians) are “owned” by our rulers and must be treated like slaves.
It is not uncommon to see regime apologists making excuses for failures of their paymasters when it becomes glaring that they failed. On many occasions, we heard them say “our rulers have bad advisers,” “those close to them are not telling them the truth,” “our rulers do not know things are terribly bad”, “the president is not corrupt, but those under him,” “president’ aides only read news items that the president likes to hear,” etc. As if taking a swipe against regime apologists, the vice president openly confessed that they are not tone-deaf. It isn’t that Nigerian rulers do not know the right thing to do. The problem, I think, is the political will to do the right thing. May the Almighty guide us and them.
The Senate President and the Uncommon Birthday Celebration
Only those who are not aware of the uncommon antecedents of our uncommon Senate President Godswill Akpabio busy themselves with the talk of his uncommon 61st birthday celebration. Is celebration even the right word? Because the birthday is uncommonly celebrated, I think it should be Akpabio’s 61st birthday festival! It looked more of a festival than mere celebration. People wagged their tongues: why would ordinary birthday celebration take place in an international stadium with a thirty thousand capacity? My response: the stadium is named Akpabio International Stadium Uyo. I don’t know of a better place to hold such grand festival.
Some complained that if not government money, where would he get that huge money to lavishly waste away? My response: what is the evidence that the money he lavished at his birthday festival was government money? It could be his money. If it was taxpayers’ money, we should begin to understand why billions of naira often appear in our annual budget for merriment.
Some lamented that why would more than hundred senators out of one hundred and nine, including the first lady, attend the festival? It means they are not serious about law-making. My response: have they acted against any of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution for attending the festival? Shouldn’t senators enjoy their weekend after a hectic working days? And as regards the presence of the first lady, I don’t understand why some people think she committed a crime for attending.
It is these same people who say she does not have any constitutional role, does the Constitution prohibit her from socializing with her former colleagues?
Some described the festival as a sheer display of our rulers’ insensitivity to our sufferings. In fairness to the vice president, it was on that very Saturday that he confessed at another event in Abuja that the poor are not different from their animals. Here, I admit, even if reluctantly, that Akpabio’s critics have a very good point. The lavishness at Akpabio’s 61st birthday festival is an evidence that our rulers are not sensitive to our sufferings. Yet, Akpabio’s critics are still wrong. They confuse morality with legality. My rebuttal is: As far as I know, Akpabio does not claim to be an apostle of morality and does not claim to be morally upright. Our uncommon senate president! Uncommonly enjoy yourself as you clocked 61 while the masses under your uncommon leadership continue to look like common animals.
These are the leaders we elected. Thank God, one of them now recognizes us as animals. Maybe attention will be paid towards transforming us back to humans. Let’s keep hoping and praying.