Even then, and when all is said, the obtuseness and folly of power in Nigeria beggar belief. Power in Nigeria is so powerfully unfeeling and insensitive that even critical dangers to itself simply do not register. Only a political daydreamer, cocooned away from harsh reality, could have mistaken the danger signals flashing all over the nation in the past two weeks as a sign of national quietude and acquiescence with official evil.
It doesn’t take some rocket science or some special clairvoyant gifts to read the pulse of a nation or to glean the mood of a hapless people at the end of their hopeless tether. All it takes is humility and the ability to know when the past has become history and when a new paradigm is finally in place.
It is a political fool that will mistake a major historical tide for a mere ripple in the mighty ocean. There are many political fools in the upper echelons of contemporary leadership in Nigeria. Eventually, it is a feckless monkey that will kill itself. There is nothing more to say on that one. But our heart must bleed for the plight of poor Nigerians who have been deliberately saddled with a monumentally corrupt and inept leadership.
Dear readers, for the past two months, week in and week out, this column has been warning of the dire consequences of toying with petroleum pricing in the name of a bogus subsidy and of the security complications that may confront the nation in the event of compounding industrial strife with political and religious mayhem. Unfortunately, those the gods want to destroy, they first make mad and deaf.
Now, the perfect storm is upon us all. Like a foolhardy commuter, the fourth executive president of Nigeria has walked into a landmine with eyes wide-opened and with the assurance of a sleepwalker. It doesn’t get more bizarre. Some hardnosed analysts have in fact concluded that Jonathan cannot be this naïve and politically challenged. They have concluded that he may in fact be acting out a well-choreographed script whose endgame is the balkanization of Nigeria as we know it. Welcome to Afronistan or Negroslavia where a full slave rebellion is in progress.
There comes a time when even dupes realise that they have been a victim of a gigantic swindle. You can only trick a woman into bed once. The rest is dalliance between consenting adults. But there comes a time in the life of a nation when the voiceless find their voice, when the people must say no to conscienceless and unconscionable oppression, when the politically meek finally realise that they are never going to inherit the earth.
The past one week has been unique in the history of the nation. The genie of national will and a pan-Nigerian resolve is out of the bottle. You can break the bottle if you like, but that is like locking the stable after the horse has bolted. It is the birth of a nation by default. It has taken blood, sweat and tears. The funeral pyre is crackling with the bones of old Nigeria. It is bye-bye to Lord Lugard’s colonial monstrosity. Lugard created Nigeria but did not create Nigerians. You cannot give what you don’t have.
In order to man the apparatus of torture and terror he was leaving behind in the name of a new nation, Lugard created a new colonial elite of metropolitan mimic men. They have done excellently well in sustaining the penal colony, the medieval torture wrack. But they are not Nigerians. Otherwise, we would not be in this mess. They are Managers of the Interior such as we encounter in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Those of them who saw through the fraud and could sniff the odour of death and decay beyond the camphor cubes and the deodorised dung heap were summarily silenced. Leopold Senghor was a minority Christian in an overwhelmingly Muslim nation but he was able to give his compatriots a new nation and an identity to be proud of. Julius Nyerere was from a minority nationality, but he was able to forge a new nation from the disparate multitude. Nasser was a visionary soldier and the father of modern Egypt.
This week the Nigerian multitude finally seized the initiative for nation-building. They carried the battle to their tormentors. They responded in kind by taking the law and the nation into their hands. But since the law and the nation have both been bastardised nobody must complain. When two negatives collide, the outcome is always positive .It is people’s power at its historic vintage. Historians looking back will surely point at this past week as the critical watershed for Nigeria.
But the toll has been prohibitive. The nation is foaming in blood and gore. Valuable property has been lost. Many have been killed and more have been maimed. The nation itself has been turned into a vast ghostland. A deathly still and silence has descended on the land. The protocol of elders have disappeared to their malignant dens. Welcome to the stone country. It is also known as Goodluck’s Gridlock. Like Lady Macbeth, Jonathan is swimming in a river of blood. Nigeria will never be the same again.
Sane and rational people must wonder why it must come to this. For decades, we have argued that the current structural disequilbrium of Nigeria will eventually see off the nation in its current format. If we don’t restructure, Nigeria will eventually be forcibly destructured. Whoever heard of punitive taxation during the First Republic?
Unlike the hallowed generation of the Alukos, our economists in government no longer think. They have allowed the meta-language of their profession and the discursive formation of its hegemonic discourse based in the western sanctuaries of knowledge as oppressive power to replace thinking. Otherwise, why hasn’t it occurred to any of them that the very notion of subsidy removal is a violent oxymoron, an assault on the sacred social contract between the ruled and their rulers? Lord Maynard Keynes would be weeping in his grave.
There must be a basic levelling field before government can stop functioning as a huge economic almshouse. When they came with the notion of structural adjustment, discerning people asked them where the structure they were adjusting was. In the Gadarene procession of monetarist economics and its lunacies, the myth of a non-existent structure leads directly to the bogey of a non-existent subsidy. How many of the current Chinese economists and the Singaporean miracle workers care a hoot about the IMF and the Chicago school? What then is to be done?
There will be more storms ahead even if Jonathan rides this one out. Whether he is acting out a script or he is merely succumbing to fundamental incompetence, it is clear that Goodluck Jonathan does not have what it takes to rule a complex and complicated nation like this one. Yet, whether one likes it or not he is the constitutionally elected president of Nigeria.
The sane and cultured thing would be to allow him to serve out his term and leave the rest to the electorate. But since he is so prone to unforced errors, the country will continue to slide towards anarchy, chaos and eventual violent dismemberment. Despite its paraphernalia of power, it is clear from the events of this past week that the Jonathan administration has lost legitimacy and authority with the larger segment of the populace. The presidency is hobbled. It will take some extraordinary magic to bring the nation back on an even keel.
Tatalo Alamu, The Nation on Sunday, 15/01/2012 01:57:00