Pooping Green Stuff… (1)
This is from a piece I wrote in October 2010 for some competition on Nigeria’s past and present which I clearly didn’t win. I hate essay competitions. Especially when I’m not winning…
Right now, it really sucks to be a Nigerian.
Post-September 11, all the heat was on the Arabs. A turban here, a full beard there and your fellow passengers would be counting their rosaries on that flight from London to the Arctic Circle. I wonder how it was for Arab astronauts: “Hey Abu, please don’t blow up the moon. We need it for nighttime and stuff. What are the youths going to make out under?”
But dear old Mutallab fixed us up real good didn’t he? Now, our tribal marks are an open invitation to be strip-searched. Till all crevices are sore and itchy. If I wanted a colonoscopy, I’d pay a doctor whom I could sue if he left a lens in my large intestines.
In spite of all this, I’m still proud of my roots. I’m very Nigerian. Heck, let me rephrase – I’m very 9ja! Amidst all the dung thrown at our image in international circles, amidst all the rubbish we hurl at ourselves locally, ours is still a great nation.
Sadly, I’m really not sure why.
Over the next thousand words or so, I’ll attempt to figure out what the allure of the green passport is. And why it can sometimes be an albatross. Shall we?
We begin our journey in a slick but ultimately explosive fashion. Oil.
Once upon a time, we really were just a bunch of farmhands. Then crude popped up and we abandoned tilling the ground in favour of drilling it instead. Nigeria is far and away the largest producer of crude in Africa and one of the top producers globally. Truth be told, everybody (and I mean everybody) knows why we are in the quagmire we currently find ourselves.
But I have the luxury of 2,000+ plus words so let me rehash:
A bunch of thieving baggers (popularly known as ‘our leaders’). Since Independence, we’ve only had about twenty years of civilian rule in total. Not that they (civilian heads of state) have been saints, by the way. But at least you can attempt to hope to caution them some and call them to order. But under military dictatorship, you can attempt to hope: but soldier go just flog you keep one side…
Now, we are plagued with poverty of astronomic proportions, pipeline and tanker explosions and the whole Niger-Delta fiasco. Corruption is also a factor and it is safe to say the infant has grown to a corroded giant. From the tout on the streets to the policemen who pretend to be against them, all the way up to very highest corridors of power, corruption is ubiquitous.
All things in Nigeria start with good intentions. All things. Every parastatal, every project, every budget, every adopted ideology always came to life as a result of hugely magnanimous intentions (yeah, right!). But in the past, now, and very likely, in the future, execution has been a problem. Take our cute nascent democracy for instance. We lauded General Abdulsalam Abubakar with all we were worth when he initiated and successfully orchestrated a handover to civilian rule – but to an ex-dictator no less! Surely somebody can spot the irony! Once the alleged democracy was in place, things began to take shape. Not necessarily a good shape. Like our ruse of a multi-party system. Seriously, it’s a ruse. YOU KNOW it’s a ruse. Consider the gusto with which the ruling party announces their presidential candidates. Like he’s the next president already. Who can blame them: they’ve always been right in the past haven’t they?
Fifty years on and our electoral process has gotten worse then better then horrid again. June 12, 1992 (how many times have we heard this date mentioned? I’m tired too!) would have been our stand-out achievement in this area but IBB had to be a punk about everything, no? Also, it seems that for a fruitful stay in our topmost legislative houses, a passable knowledge of the martial arts is in order. Talk about fighting for your rights! Seeing members of the House of Representatives bash each other’s overpaid heads in will always be a memorable albeit embarrassing sight.
But let’s step back for a bit. Yes, we are so corrupt some of our people could probably attempt to bribe Jesus into saying he was black. Yes, there’s almost always the belief that the winner of an election is the person who rigged harder and better. But it’s not all bad. Nigeria has produced scores of good leaders and genuine patriots. From the Ziks who championed freedom to the Doras that fought adulterated medication with their every fiber, to the Donald Dukes who turned their home states into virtual tourist utopias. We’ve actually had some good ones. Just not enough of them…
No story about our political landscape will ever be complete without the tale of Biafra. I can trivialize it now when I write but if you lived in Eastern Nigeria in the late sixties, it probably wasn’t a time of joy and limitless gladness. The Igbos thought: “I can live without you. Let me be!” And the rest of Nigeria went: “Oh no you don’t! Who’s gonna import ‘Made in China’ for us?” Guns went off and a few million corpses later, the Igbos caved in. People please – war no more. I could go on and on and on but frankly, I’m tired of this political gist. Too predictable, in my opinion.
Permission to switch? Thank you!
To be continued…