A ruling elite – largely a bunch of megalomaniacs – who exist in a world of their own, where they feed on the profuse offerings of sycophants, and in return dispense life-transforming favours. A citizenry who, now accustomed to the fact that there is no justice to be expected from the state, have perfected the art of dispensing their own justice, upon whomever is deemed guilty.
This week, the Mubi and Aluu killings. We don’t know how many fell in Mubi. Cut down methodically, bodies scattered across a killing field that was once a school hostel. In Aluu, they were four; four young men savagely beaten, and then set on fire, by a mob wielding, in addition to their bricks and sticks – mobile phones. I watched the tragic video, and allowed the chants of “Die! Die!” by the lynchers to transport me to the hallowed ambience of one of those Nigerian churches where “enemies” deserve violent deaths and deserve it now.
On Sunday afternoon, I found myself watching NTA International, one of the handful of stations you can watch when DSTV sentences you to the E34 prison. There was a birthday thanksgiving service for Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. I watched the clerics, mitres towering into the air, invoking the grace and blessings of God on His Excellency, and His Excellency’s Birthday Cake.
When it ended, NTA started showing Nigeria’s Got Talent.
There were people coming to dance, and play instruments, and crack jokes. I was terribly disappointed to not see those things I’d consider real Nigerian talent on display. What’s a Nigeria’s Got Talent without people transferring copious quantities of petrol from car to car armed with nothing more than a short length of rubber tubing? Without someone starting vehicle engines with light-bulb switches? Without someone managing to sweet-talk a thousand people into buying the same plot of land?
I’d only just settled into the show, when NTAi issued apologies, and cut to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, where the amiable and indefatigable Governor of Kano State was celebrating the airlifting of 501 students of Kano origin to eleven countries, for postgraduate studies, on government scholarships.
Later that night, it was the turn of the Akwa Ibom State Governor to celebrate, on NTAi. This time, the 25th anniversary of the creation of his state. The twenty-six members of the state house of assembly lined up like schoolboys on stage to issue a “vote of confidence” on His Excellency, and present him with a gift. In return he declared them “the best House of Assembly in [Nigeria].”
I stopped watching NTAi soon after, and therefore didn’t get a chance to see if, having treated us to celebrations by a Northern Governor, a South Eastern Governor and a South-South Governor, the station would follow up, in the spirit of federal character, with the South-West.
It’d have been good to see one of our Omoluabi Governors celebrating his wedding anniversary live on TV. To put to shame the useless commenter (named “Essien”, by the way) on Linda Ikeji’s blog, who, in response to the story of a Yoruba doctor who allegedly committed suicide in England after the double life he was leading was exposed, wrote:
“Why is it that Yoruba people’s marriages never last. I have like 8 Yoruba friends and none of their parents are together. It’s either they live in the same Lagos but none of them are seeing each other or one partner is in Europe or America and the other is in Nigeria. They would not divorce…but they will be living separate lives. Why?”
Sum all of the above up, and you get a good sense of where Nigeria stands, fifty-two years after independence:
A ruling elite – largely a bunch of megalomaniacs – who exist in a world of their own, where they feed on the profuse offerings of sycophants, and in return dispense life-transforming favours. A citizenry who, now accustomed to the fact that there is no justice to be expected from the state, have perfected the art of dispensing their own justice, upon whomever is deemed guilty. Religious institutions that have lost the plot, and found a way to feed on the terrors that assail the masses.
Everything points to one thing, which Tolagbe Soleye-Martins captured a year ago in the twitter hashtag: #ThisIsNotACountry.
We are pretending to be what we’re not. We are living a lie. We are an assemblage of peoples, bound by nothing more than a desperation to “make it” (this manifests in an acquisitive instinct that even animals would be ashamed of) and a frustration (at not making it, or watching other people make it).
There is no real state, no real institutions, no mechanisms of accountability and responsibility between the governing and the governed; only a bizarre system that efficiently combines rent-seeking, patronage, cronyism, professional sycophancy, elite-endorsed criminality, hypocrisy and religious fervour.
And we are all of us complicit in this; all both exploiters and victims of the system in some way or the other.
The most important of the many questions that arise from this dysfunctional scenario, is this: do you, deep down within you, think that there is any chance that Nigeria can/will successfully make the all-important leap from being a tenuous assemblage of accountability-free individuals and interest-groups, to being a real nation?
In other words, is there any hope for this country that is not (yet) a country, to become a country?
What do you think?
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.