October 28, 2020

On Nigeria’s headlessness




In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Judges 17:6 (NIV)

In the Holy Bible, a copy of which I used to own years ago – I can’t recall which version – the above passage is rendered as: In those days, there was no head in Israel and every man could do as he liked.

In the past few weeks, a lot has happened in Nigeria which this Scripture rightly diagnoses: Nigeria is lacking a head.

Head signifies many things: leadership, for one. It also means a sense of direction and, equally, a moral compass, which, if a nation lacks, people resort to living by their own non-standards, the Constitution be damned.

And this headlessness also gives birth to a kind of heedlessness which is the harbinger of social chaos, turning us into a nation-state that lacks a social conscience, where “anything goes”.

Since the head is also the cerebral part of the body, lacking a head also means lacking thoughts. Nigeria, with eyes wide open, is thus thoughtlessly heading for destruction.

For a lack of head, Nigeria has been spiralling out of control and which, (un)shockingly, has become acute in recent times.

A key indicator is the spate of violence occasioned by sociopaths, those bestial messengers of death who customarily herald every new week with pools of blood. Their theatre of violence, with signatory gruesome death, has seesawed from churches to public places to mosques to schools and universities and now, back to churches.

These acts are carried out in a most barbaric manner, pointedly and progressively, and the unwavering assault an indication that they do not just intend to kill and maim, but also sow the seeds of fear and discord in the nation.

The triple-bombing in Kaduna State, for the third consecutive Sunday, with the emerging act in Yobe State, plus Nigeria’s pretentious leadership routinely issuing trite statements after each incident, shows that we are plunging into a black-hole. And the reprisals in Kaduna have shown that while it is stupid to turn the other cheek, an eye for an eye approach is just as unpleasant. By now, the pastors and Bishops who have been threatening to unleash their counter army on bombers should have planned to protect the people against counter-reprisals. So much for their threats.

And the Nigerian theatre of the bizarre continues its uptick with the sting melodrama of Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola.

Without waiting for the Ethics Committee of the House of Representatives or the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, State Security Service, Police or the courts, I can bring to a neat close how this new corruption script will play out: at the end of the day, the only thing that will happen is that several Nigerians would have their vocabulary improved by a phrase: sting operation.

Nothing else of import will happen except perhaps Lawan will maintain a low profile for the rest of his days in the House, and perhaps his entire political career. It doesn’t take much to conclude: If the state wanted to prove anything against this man, with the video, they wouldn’t have waited for six weeks (and yet they are surprised that Lawan could not produce the “sting dollars”?) during which period the video was, reportedly, shown to the President, Goodluck Jonathan; a former president and principal officers of the House who, obviously, did not take the needful steps till the story became public. The only thing left for the SSS to do was to premiere the said video on Nollywood and start charging fees at viewing centres.

Lest we forget, it was after the so-called sting operation took place that the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, branded the whole subsidy probe as “a fact-finding mission” and that nobody was going to be prosecuted. It is hard to believe Adoke didn’t know about the video already when he said that and harder to convince that this latest show is not being staged to sink the report like its predecessors.

There are many things that simply don’t add up. And while the video of Lawan’s motion demanding that Zenon Oil and Synopsis be struck off the list is making its rounds, it is curious the lawmaker could have the power to single-handedly add and delete names from the list; at least he would have informed his committee before making such an announcement. And so why are other members of the committee quiet? Who did they solicit for bribes (or vice versa) and how much dollars ended up in their caps too? In the next few weeks, if we do not hear stories of bribery, given and received from someone else, maybe we then ask, “why, of all the possibilities on the list, only Otedola?”.

For those who insist the fuel subsidy report should not be discarded as the “baby with the bath water’, the problem is that in a headless nation like Nigeria, the baby doesn’t even take a bath to begin with. The baby is covered with grime and that is why the President could turn a deaf ear towards the Malabu scandal; that is why despite the profligacy of the 2011 budget and its overflow into 2012 which is leading the country into another round of debt, there is very little effort to curb their wasteful demons.

There is one thing I have concluded from all these: Nigeria’s problem is not corruption itself. If it were, it can be solved. After all, some other nations have succeeded in spite of corruption.

Rather, it’s that we have no head. What’s in place are mere figureheads; people who have no dream. Their highest ambition is visceral, their language is all about consumption, with little thought for tomorrow. They lack introspection and when they look ahead, they do not see a vision for the nation. They are like animals in the wild rainforest who exist for the temporal present only; their gods are, as the Bible says, their stomach and it must be worshipped. Their greed must be satiated with others’ flesh and blood. We live in those primordial times; the Hegelian state of nature where everybody does what he/she likes; where there are no guiding moral standards.

It’s therefore a no-brainer to say Nigeria is going nowhere for now. Like the circus chicken with severed head, we are just drifting, providing amusement in the meantime. And, becoming a laughing stock in the comity of nations, yet deluding ourselves we are a great nation.


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