by Oyedeji Aderemi
There in the driver’s seat is the president of the nation, doing all he can to stir this vehicle that was once brand new but is falling to bits and pieces due to poor maintenance. Does this not look like Nigeria?
Nigeria is like a molue — that big contraption of metal hooked together to move as a unit, swaying as it drags itself and its heavy load to their destination day in day out.
In a molue at any point in time there are varied sets of people from all works of life; the educated and uneducated, Igbo, Yoruba, Kanuri, good people, bad people, the dying, the living and sometimes the dead!!! It’s a good representation of Nigeria, filled with people of diverse ethnicities, religion, and social status.
There at the helms of the molue steering it along its course is the driver, who is sweating, haggling with the touts at the bus stops and dishing out orders to his conductors. It’s a beautiful scene of chaos filled with moments of laughter, sadness and anger. The passengers are unequally distributed, some sitting, the majority standing (20 sitting, 99standing!!!) while some hang at the molue’s tail gate ready to leap off.
While some people are shouting and fighting each other, some are busy catching up on their missed siesta. It’s a pot pouri of activites. Collection of fares from the passengers is commenced at the signal from the driver, when they are along a stretch of road without hope of getting a lift per chance you are thrown off if found not to be without the required fare.
The driver has fully delegated the collection of fares to his conductors, not that he trusts them in totality but he has realized he must take risks to get this work done. A conductor starts from the passengers in the front, going from row to row, from column- of the multitude standing- to column, the procedure continues while the other conductor starts from the back of the molue. Suddenly you hear the conductor growling at another passenger who insists that’s all the money he has on him and did not hear when they called out the price for the various bus stops (prices vary erratically, majorly determined by the traffic along the route and what time of the day it is).
At the commencement of the journey you are treated to the voices of the various marketers onboard the molue. The range of products beats the imagination, magic pencil to pass exam, a pill that cures all ailments, your quick reference book for the current information on Nigeria, gums to seal your leaking pots at home, opa eyin and many more. Each hawker has an allotted time to do his marketing to give room to others.
Mayhem occurs when the molue suddenly stops and refuses to budge, the driver cranks it, it only coughs, splutters and goes dead again. Then cries and wails emanate from the bowels of the molue in unison each lamenting his/her own fate, the conductors are surrounded and the passengers demand for their money. The conductors employ all the tricks in their bag to give the driver now turned mechanic time to resolve the problem and if not successful, they make sure they do all they can not to lose the whole money for this trip.
How is this scenario akin to the state of Nigeria? We are a people of diverse tongue, strata, religious beliefs and cultural background, lumped together by “fate”. We are all heading in one direction-heck out a living- with people stopping off at various point, either death happened to them or they packed their bags and left the country for good, the chaos around them is driving them crazy. There in the driver’s seat is the president of the nation, doing all he can to stir this vehicle that was once brand new but is falling to bits and pieces due to poor maintenance. Does this not look like Nigeria?
Ripped off and raped by succeeding governments whether democratically elected or came to power by the force of gun. The majority standing trying to get to where they are going, while few seat comfortably, at some point someone alights and one of the people standing is able to slip into the seat. That is the story of Nigeria, few rich people control the resources with the majority living from hand-to-mouth, occasionally one of the poor people gets a breakthrough and he joins the league of the wealthy, either by crook or by the sweat of his honest labour.
Bomb blasts, floods, inaccessible or non-existent healthcare- the passengers shout and scream at the top of their voice yet the driver continues-the populace weep and lament, our leaders turn a deaf ear. The conductors milk the passengers depending on the greed of the conductor, while the driver is unperturbed; his major concern is the money is COMPLETE!
We are a people who have the ability to withstand the most gruesome of situation with a smile. It’s obvious to me as long as this Molue-Nigeria-continues to drag itself on and on, we won’t consider it imperative to call to order the driver and his conductors. However the handwriting on the wall is gradually becoming clearer and pockets of resistance are arising from various parts of the Molue, people are agitating and growling back at the conductors, the attack lions and attack dogs are gradually being silenced but we are still far away from the promise land, with the state of this Molue I doubt if it will get us there. However I am sure if the Molue finally breaks down the passengers will hold the Driver and his conductors to ransom till the wealth of our land is returned and the Molue fixed to a befitting state.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.