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Tolu Ogunlesi: Don’t-Give-a-Damn Land (YNaija FrontPage)

Thing is – to survive in this country you can’t afford to give a damn. Think of Lagos traffic. Giving a damn means stopping at traffic lights, or giving way to cars on your left at a roundabout, or stopping at a zebra crossing.

I don’t give a damn, said the president. He really doesn’t. His wife, who last worked in the Bayelsa civil service more than a decade ago, wakes up to find herself a permanent secretary, and they’re not even inclined to do a “Thanks but no thanks Governor Dick****!”

I don’t give a damn, said the president. This university, formerly known as University of Lagos, will now be known as Moshood Abiola University, Lagos. I don’t give a damn. I’m the effing visitor to the university. I want to honour Abiola; I don’t give a damn what you say.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against the visitor to a University renaming his university (in fact left to me I hope the university is eventually successfully renamed), but I’m not sure that’s the way to go about it in a country that is not a military dictatorship. But he doesn’t give a damn, does he? Actually, that might not be totally true. He does give a damn, sometimes.

Faced with a record-breaking scandal in the management of his country’s fuel subsidies he elected to throw baby and bathwater into the creeks. He didn’t give a damn, until Nigerians forced him to give a little bit of a damn. I give a little damn, he might as well have said.

After the Independence Day bombs that went off in 2010, the president spoke. “It is erroneous to think that my people who have been agitating for good living will deliberately blow up the opportunity they have now,” he declared, with the confidence of one who doesn’t give a damn. Well, now that Boko Haram is the one monopolising the “blow[ing] up”, we know that the president does give more of a damn than he did in October 2010.

And he does give a lot of damn when its mogul Aliko Dangote speaking.  “Aliko Dangote told me that by December 2012, we would be exporting cement here. I am quoting him.” (And who can blame him – we’re talking about the richest man in the whole of Africa, and the second richest black man in the world (according to Forbes Magazine in March 2012). If Aliko says yes, who can say no? I don’t give a damn, said the president. This time quoting himself. Well, we don’t give a damn either, the people replied. I guess the leader and his followers were made for each other. He doesn’t give a damn. His followers too don’t give a damn. Survival comes first. Every man for himself, devil take the last. You can’t afford to give a damn when the game is all about survival and getting ahead, can you?

Does giving a damn fuel generators or fix potholes? Does giving a damn improve the chances of surviving childbirth (in a country where childbirth is to be survived)? Does giving a damn fill your garage with Range Rovers or Porsches? Does giving a damn pay for holiday tickets to Monaco? Will giving a damn fill your babariga with half a million dollars in cash? Hell no.

Thing is – to survive in this country you can’t afford to give a damn. Think of Lagos traffic. Giving a damn means stopping at traffic lights, or giving way to cars on your left at a roundabout, or stopping at a zebra crossing. Giving a damn means electing to see that sign that says, ‘No U-turn’.

Let me be honest with you – even I do not give a damn ALL of the time. Because when you give a damn, and the one thousand other drivers all around you don’t give a damn, you’re the one who’ll lose. Big time. When you stop at a traffic light, and the forty other cars behind you hoot “Idiot” twice, pull out from behind you, and step on the gas, you’re the one who’s left there looking like a fool. All because you gave a damn. You try giving a damn on the queue at the passport office. Or the queue in Chicken Republic. You’re going to earn a third term on that queue, whilst those who strolled in two years after you will glide back out with their passports (or fried chicken) in seconds.

Giving a damn is bad business. In Nigeria. Our president comes from amongst us. Our president is us. We don’t give a damn. He doesn’t. The name of the Lord be praised.

‘I Don’t Give a Damn’ should be the ‘In God We Trust’ of Africa’s most populous nation. Where is Central Banker Lamido Sanusi to inscribe those words on the new N5,000 note he’s said to be designing at the moment? Over to you, mallam. No one in Nai-ji-ri-ya gives a damn. No, not one! No, not one!

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (11)

  1. Tolu,

    In fact I don't give a damn about this your article. So I would just give it a once over, and move on, to continue not giving a damn about worreva! 🙂

  2. Tolu, you are spot on. Nobody gives a damn in Naija.

    I recall early this year when someone hit my car on Oba Akran. I just turned in from Mobolaji Bank Anthony & the guy reversed into my car. My car bumper was damaged within the twinkle of an eye. In my frustration I didn't utter a word and as the driver who caused the accident left his car and started apologising, the driver behind me came down from his car and began to yell at me. According to him, it was because I was a sluggush driver that someone ran into me, so he rudely asked me to get off the road. I felt really foolish and went home very sad. Tell me, since when did driving decently become an offense?

  3. "Giving a damn is bad business. In Nigeria. Our president comes from amongst us. Our president is us. We don’t give a damn. He doesn’t."

    sometimes it feels like the chicken and egg story, which came first? The lawless individualistic society or a corrupt government with misplaced priorities?

  4. So this day I stopped at the red light at Anthony but all the cars swung out from behind me and hurled curses. There I was feeling like a fool, until this guy in a Range swung out and stopped, blocking the other lane till the lights turned green.

    More than giving a damn, let those of us who might give a damn look for more of us. Organised and in our numbers, like Ojota, we can make them give a damn.

  5. Looool. I say…let's give a damn, shall we?

  6. I hardly comment on here – not because I don't give a damn (hehehe) simply for reasons of principle – but I just had to on this one. Love your brilliantly rhetorical mind Monsieur Tolu Ogunlesi. I am framing this, for keeps. 🙂

  7. Frankly speaking.."No one in Nai-ji-ri-ya gives a damn. No, not one! No, not one!"

    1. Pls give a damn where obeying traffic law is concern in this corner of the World called Nigeria, expecially when u meet a lunatic driver who does not give a damn abt ur life. U will find out it is only ur family member that will give a damn when it happens, nobody else does. So therefore, do not be like d politician who do not give a damn, because they know what they mean, u dont. So please give a damn about ur life, obey d traffic rules.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail
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