The REP I Want
These days where the mundane is hyped, and the mediocre is celebrated, it is just so easy to lose focus, to show off stupidity, and to profit from ignorance. Since these days, service has been mutated to counter-servitude, and privilege has jumped borders: it used to be a privilege to serve, now it is a privilege to be served, even by one’s own representative. Service was a job, contested for, sworn for, and slaved for; now service is tyranny, an avenue to detain and harass familial enemies, a means to circumvolve diffidents, subdue dissidents, and propagate familiar, unconstitutional, policies, and a means to an end no less.
So that these days, every elected human (human, not official; perhaps calling them ‘official’ is why they act like slave masters) want reelection, deservedly or not. So that these days when I go to the market square, its modern equivalent, rather, it is hard to not notice those two large billboards urging the reelection of a certain Rep and citing somnolent soliloquized accomplishments, accomplishments that, in my entitled opinion, belie a four-year tenure. So that as soon as I acknowledge the ventriloquial message, “•••• lafé léèkan si”, meaning, ‘we want •••• one more time’, I smile. And that is all one can do. Àbí? I smile because I’d rather not laugh, mock, or scorn. I smile because I’m privy to letdowns at the hand of our man, and at a pivotal time too. I smile so I may not cry…
Since I know that not everything is money, monetary or infrastructure– that is how those of us not savoring the fabulous National Cake, and not even enjoying the crumbs off the fabled table, yet live from day to day in our diabetic land, a land of hunger in the midst of plenty. No bursary, no scholarship; yet we paid extra school fees for which receipts are yet inaccessible after four months, and even the political, sorry, publicized, reduction in school fees is not to take effect until another six.
Nay; not everything is in terms of how much funds an elected has in hand to conceive and execute worthwhile projects, lest sycophants say he would have done much more had he had the funds. Not everything is in Naira and kobo; some things are just integrity, plain and simple, and the lack thereof. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, the head thinketh, and the hand doeth. At least that is the sequence the political species operate: promise first, think later… acknowledge, assuage, assure, abnegate, then abrogate and abscond; àbí?
So, shall I recount how Mr. Rep eventually failed Medical Students during our February to April struggle? How he reportedly kept mum in the Assembly, and (inadvertently) played mum to the opposition? How he betrayed us upon many a promise? How we looked up to him, exalted him, and awarded him? How we believed him, praised him, and prayed for him? Shall I ventilate these truths, damn Eleweeran like my friend did, and hope to live beyond the morrow? And hope to not be traced, targeted and apprehended, nay, kidnapped by mask-wearing security operatives quick to oppress harmless citizens such as myself, yet fleeing in the place of duty, fleeing in the face of those armed enough to cow them, fleeing across borders to Yaoundé, and shamelessly too?
Will Barrister initiate proceedings against me then come out to deny it, like they have done who live in a glass house and throw stones, who being themselves constitutionally existent and afforded, ignore constitutionally entrenched rights of freedom of speech, of expression, of opinion, and yet jubilantly proclaim themselves constitutionally minded and abiding? Will Honorable set me up and have me detained in the Station, like he did who arrogated the powers of State, impersonated the machinery of State, and annexes our commonwealth? Will Asiwaju disregard my voice as rantings, attribute this clarion call for justifiable accountability to a familiar quest for attention, and believe me to work for the opposition, as elected’s always do when they are cornered with the truth?
Or will he man up, bell the cat, and tell us what went wrong? Why he lost his voice in the esteemed Assembly, how he could no longer feel his feet once his able Deputy nudged him to table our issue, how his spine wobbled and his sight doubled when we were to be represented by Honorable Mr. Chairman of Committee! How he could not bring himself to speak the truth and damn the evil forces that enslave the people’s will.
Or, have we stopped blaming preventable calamities and sheer irresponsibility on devils and demons, cabals and the opposition, the evil forces? Stopped clamoring for prayer and fasting in place of commonsense and integrity, truth and justice, good governance? Stopped proclaiming centenary celebrations in place of national cleansing, resurrection, and reorientation; and promulgating brazen corruption as mere thievery and politicking and profiteering?
Have we stopped going to church to pray to Jehovah to alleviate suffering that we willingly and willfully endure, perhaps even enjoy? Are we done asking Allah to curb insurgency when billions of naira meant for equipping our military leave no trails, marks, or effects? Are we no longer imploring, employing jàre, Sàngó, the god of thunder to energize our power sector? Is Ógún, god of iron no longer in charge of our railways? Is Yemoja, the coastal goddess no longer entreated to ward off evil from our shores, to prevent the return of clandestine submarine operations in our waters, and debar pirates from our offshore oil rigs, even as we (seem to) lack the technology to protect ourselves from invasion and hostile takeovers?! Are we done traveling to Germany, India and elsewhere? While our hospitals rot and corrode? Is the hypocrite still canvassing support from world powers?
And now Mr Rep has come back to be voted for– again. So he may continue to sabotage our struggle? And for four more years, àbí? So he knew his constituency all along and chose to ally with Oke-Mosan, àbí? So he knew my vote mattered when he was frolicking away from home, àbí? Ok o. If you talk to him, abegi tell him to go and campaign in Oke-Mosan o. Tell him we don’t vote failures o, not anymore. Tell him four years of him more than fills the stomach; unless he wants us to vomit.
And speaking of vomit, abegi, tell him to vomit all the money we heard of but did not see, all the money that did not make it home to us, all the money that must have been swallowed. Tell him this is that period of the tenure when money is coughed up. And if he dares say there was never any money, ask him why he wants to go back: So he may keep coming to our dinner parties and fish? So he may repeat a tenure of misrepresentation? Or so he may let us down again, and again?
Do tell him that he is not the Rep I want. I do not know his opponent, but I know he is not the Rep I want, not for the next four years anyway. Back here, when you are anointed as kite, you must be able to cart away chicks (the bird, and not the human); and to not be enthroned is much better than not being able to control your fiefdom. That’s why he is the chairman of that committee: so he can reason with us, not with the government. We voted him in, the people made him Honourable Representative, not the government, and not so he can represent the government.
My rep. must represent me, my person and my interests. He must speak my mind. He must set aside his personal allegiances to the Governor and do the bidding of his constituency. He must listen, listen good, and listen to me! That is why I voted for him, and not the other guy; that is why I voted for him, and not to taunt, daunt, haunt, or flaunt; that is why I voted for him and not my gaunt self. I am gaunt so he can be robust, so he can be formidable in defending my interests, not so he can oppress me with his new found status and stature, and not so he can annihilate me. That is why he represents me!
I do not have a rep. so he can romance the lecturer and carry the projector with misplaced pride. I do not have a rep. so that he can introduce himself to every stranger that comes to class as such. I do not have a rep so that he can hobnob or whatever it is they do who bear the title. I have a rep. so you can represent me in meetings, and report back to me; the first assignment being just as important as the second. I have a rep. so that you can advise me, not instruct me. I have a rep so I do not have to be everywhere and do everything. You are my eyes and ears and mouth, not my brain; so don’t tell me you ‘don’t like answering my requests for meeting updates’! Capisce? That’s why you are the rep., janitor, whatever, in the first place!
And that is the rep. I want, just so we are clear! And peradventure you are not cut out for such sincere, self-effacing, service, resign and not be like Chukwu: do not eternalize your name in immortal obloquy and opprobrium, ignominy and odium, reproach and shame; do not go down in history as the arrant (guy) who stood, rather than quit, and watched while his colleagues were sacked in their thousands, and more importantly, do not be the thoughtless, spineless, head that sanctioned it– and fled to Berlin.
Ayk Fowosire (c/o #Ayk_EDIT)