This week’s essay panders to the oldies crowd of which I’m one. Movie-loving members of the tribe must remember the 1970s classic, Network, starring late Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway. Space here is so precious that I can only mention that Finch got a posthumous Best Actor Oscar award for his portrayal of a television anchor who is so believable as a model of outrage that his words from the anchor chair got thousands of New Yorkers into the streets. Beale, though, was fed up with another thing in another place – and time. I may pander to oldies but the following extract is for all:
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. … banks are going bust … We know things are bad – worse than bad … I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot … All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.
“You’ve got to say, ‘ … My life has VALUE!’ … I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ …Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad! … Then we’ll figure out what to do about … inflation and the oil crisis.”
I still remember the scene in which every New Yorker, seemingly, had his and her head out of windows shouting the words “I’m mad as hell …”
A text message commentary in last Sunday’s Vanguard on Tony Momoh’s “Niger Delta Swamp” the previous week brought the movie flashback. Submitting his opinions on what can lead to peace rather than “ … cause avoidable deaths”, Andy Ojigbo echoed the frustrations of ‘Howard Beale’, even if he had never heard of Peter Finch – or Network. Condemning how “your generation [Momoh’s] and mine that came from this Niger Delta … were docile, were cowed through years of army boots and guns, through obnoxious petroleum acts and land use decrees … a whole new generation of our children … are saying they won’t have any of this nonsense anymore …”
Even if most – if not all – the governors of the South-South were rigged in, they have said ‘no’ to Gambari whom “Vice President” Goodluck NOT UNEXPECTEDLY, supports. Before we know it, Nigeria’s “federal” government will say ‘yes’ to France that is acting as proxy for good old USA and Britain, governments that do not care about the blood that will flow from a “quick military action”.
Is it any wonder why these countries were quick to acquiesce to the rape of democracy in the “elections” of ’07 while they are all now shouting themselves hoarse about Zimbabwe? It’s about “all that oil” as a near-illiterate army wife remarked on U.S. television during Sadam’s invasion of Kuwait in the early 90s.
There are zillions of things – and people to be “mad as hell” ABOUT and AT in Nigeria but here are just a few. First, two people who have expressed outrage about the ND: Tony Momoh is mad as hell and so is Andy Ojigbo. Polytechnic students in Gambari’s Kwara who marched in their hundreds because of newly-named [by this paper’s Tatalo] Never Expect Power Again. Take his advice, kids, and forget Never Expect Power Always! I, for one, am mad as hell at NEPA for non-supply of power although I take consolation in the fact that I still have a balance of eleven units (July 5) from the 176 balance I had on April 28. Normal daily consumption with few outage should have cancelled all the units in two weeks!
In my native Ondo State, “hundreds” of irate soldiers who served with UN’s peace-keeping force in Liberia are mad as hell because “they were not paid $1,228 monthly allowance … They also alleged that they were being underpaid by the Nigerian Army …”
There are thousands of policemen and women who are mad as hell at the senior hierarchy but they dare not [yet] go into the streets to protest the purported creaming off the top of their salaries. And d’you blame them? Att least, there are hapless motorists out there to be shaken down to make for the shortfalls in their salaries. Policemen also purportedly always sign for amounts less than they actually receive. Mafia-type country?
Even though many of these so-called PDP “chieftains” show what qualifies them to be at the top of the heap of this party of Anything Goes from their comments and newspaper interviews, most Nigerians are still mad as hell at these “chieftains” with Osun’s Ogunwale as poster-boy, pardon me, man; that’s just an expression. A former Senator, he received an Award for non-Excellence in the 2nd edition (December 6, 2006) when he snatched one of two awards to Osun. (The other went to Mrs. Oyinlola for telling Nigerians that a property she built with money raised from one of those now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t first ladies’ NGOs, is hers). Part of Ogunwale’s citation: “From one of those bombastic press interviews the guy gives often, ‘Obasanjo is the messiah of the black race … I don’t know how to be a sycophant …’. High Chief Ogunwale, You’ve shown that you DO KNOW how to be a sycophant …”
Well, Ogunwale is still at it. Here’s from a recent outing in a Vanguard interview: “The President [Yar Adua, that is] is a very quick achiever … He’s a man who could carry Nigeria to greater heights. I think we should all try to gear him up (???) a bit for him to be faster” – (Now you’re talking, Mister, but it gets more asinine): “I think if the president has signed the budget and shared the warrant to various ministries, it is no more his business … We cannot say Mr. President is wrong because he is the one that has executive power in Nigeria. …” On the former president: “The man did his best for Nigeria, in fact I start to wonder at that age how he was able to hold Nigeria the way Nigerians want … I don’t know which government Nigerians will ever be grateful to. During Obasanjo’s time, contractors were being paid up front … I will say we are all reactionists …” (bold letters, mine). “I don’t know why we use our initiative in anti-clockwise manner. We should try to be clockwise …” It actually gets worse but this is all I can inflict on readers this Lord’s Day.
Nigerians are mad as hell at the idiocy that goes on in the name of legislating and governance; the self-glorification by governors who publicize one-block hospitals after collecting billions – from Ado through Akure to Abraka to Argungu and from Potiskum to Port Harcourt. We are mad as hell at a declaration of power emergency that will come, perhaps, when Alhaji Yar Adua gets two terms of seven years each.
Here are more things Nigerians are mad at: $83 billion MORE needed for power; a minister withdrew tens of billions over a holiday weekend; a non-government official is ENABLED to collect billions from industry, including foreign airlines for a Police Equipment Fund, money which promptly disappeared into Nigeria’s black hole of corruption; oil revenues and the appetite of Nigeria’s ruling class have gone through the roof and so, inversely, has the masses’ living condition; revisionism all over the place, including Iwu’s role in the 2007 elections; Nwosu’s exoneration of Babangida from the ‘June 12’ saga; the North’s beatification of Abacha – through The Gang of Three (Buhari, Abdusalami and Babangida), etcetera, etcetera.
Unlike ‘Howard Beale’, however, Nigerians are not making their indignation known but remain “the happiest people on earth” – Suffering and Smiling as Fela put it. You must not only be mad as hell but you must act mad as hell because everything is stacked against you and your children in this neo-slavery plantation of a country that seems destined NEVER a nation to become because we may share the same landmass, the same thieving leaders but we are different nationalities who share VERY FEW values.
The following postscript to last week’s column was skipped due to space constraint.
The Mugabe Saga: “How can Mubarak (a despot), Mbeki (a fiddler), or Yar Adua (a self-described “God-fearing” man, yet willing to walk to Nigeria’s presidency on a red carpet which hue derived from the blood of thousands slain by Ehindero-led police and thugs of PDP regional enforcers – to receive a stolen mandate), among most African rulers – condemn Mugabe? Oro ko dun l’enu iya ole! A lot will be lost in my translation, as usual: a thief’s mother cannot sugar-coat her son’s ways – OR, cast the first stone … the Holy Bible says!”
The Nation on Sunday, July 13, 2008