[Article by Ayokunle Adeleye]
I was born in 1988, during the reign of whom? You tell me, for a babe
that I was, I knowest not who was what then, or who did what… But as
the Yorubas say, if a child does not meet the story, he will meet the
hearsay. Rather unfortunately for me, hearsay, just like heresy, is
not admissible in the courts of our law; I however hope it is, in the
courts of our conscience. And here is the hearsay.
My mum used to tell me how my grandma, her own mum, would take me to
the market and buy me loads of things. I was robust then, for i was
well fed on storkfish; I am merely a caricature of my infant self now,
for I am now a thin young man. But that is not the only difference I
see, now I am old enough to know who does what and who reigns: This
year, I shall move from early twenties to mid-twenties; this year,
during the reign of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
I find myself at a time when my country is angry: when my fellow
nationals have had enough. We are at the brink of a much-needed
revolution, only we are at a standstill. We are not on a road as we
think we are, no, we are not on the road we think are; we are on a
cul-de-sac. And what is worse? We are making whatever progress we are
making, not by making the three-point turn we so much need, not even
by reversing, but by hewing our way through whatever obstacle we
encounter. Alas, where there is a will, there is a way; and we are
such a willful people….
Earlier, my Egypt-based Congolese girlfriend asked me, ‘What is the
issue with Nigeria lately?’ At loss for what to say, and so as to be
‘faithful, loyal and honest’ as General Olusegun Obasanjo decided I
should be indoctrinated to be, I stuck to the latest, what I felt she
must’ve been referring to, what is, at present, rife on our media:
fuel price hike. After all, she had earlier said she couldn’t last a
day in my beloved country. What with our epileptic power supply and
our unimpressive internet service. Why complicate issues then with the
ASUU strike and national what not?
It saddened my hot heart to say it, but it pleased my moist eyes that
she soon found something else to chat about. My heart is hot, not from
unrequited love (it is, after all, not hurt), but from the heat of the
harmattan sun with no electricity to power my rusty electric fan; my
eyes are moist, not from crying after love (it is, after all, not
teary), but from boredom for ASUU is yet again on strike.
I ate partly burnt noodles this morning because I was carried away
with chatting away my sorrow and boredom. In fact, I indebted myself
last Saturday (thank God) by buying a rather expensive Nokia 500
simply because it was a touchscreen phone and my fingers would soon
developed arthritis from excessively pressing my X2 as I adolescently
chatted away in loneliness the grief I felt for my grieving country
now called the Lame Giant of Africa. At least one good has come from
my debt: your reading this!
I thanked God earlier because had I procrastinated on Saturday – to
get the phone on Monday – I wouldn’t have been able to. The roads are,
unfortunately, blocked – and at times with bonfires. Now you see why I
don’t have soup. I once wrote an article about the Nigerian pyromania,
an article that did not see the light of day for my father’s fear, but
now is not the time to revisit the issue. Enough about me and my
predicament. Now to the issue at hand.
What many of us, and I dare say most of us, do not realise is that the
protests are not about the fuel price. I may not be so old but I know
that a litre of petrol once went for forty naira and, before that,
twenty-something naira. Nigerians didn’t protest then. It is not
because the increment is nearly two hundred percent. Nay. We always
knew, truth be told, that a hike was inevitable. What then is the
trouble, my dear president asks? The problem is two-fold.
One. Permit me to ask, If the President had announced that the removed
subsidy would build our refineries and settle ASUU once and for all
(in contravention to a rather pertinent law in economics: the wants of
man, ASUU, are insatiable), would there be bonfires? Nigerians are a
hardy stock, we will survive. But no, the subsidies are to be shared
among the prominent rich while the insignificant poor treks the
dual-carriage ways. Abaa!
Yes, we cannot continue to subsidise fuel, not with the increasing
number of cars on our roads, but we also cannot continue to subsidise
the gluttonous appetite and wanton expenditure of our lawmakers. A
friend remarked on the population of new cars on our (old) roads as
reflected by the frequency of the new registration plates. Another
friend observed that the fuel subsidies and the cost of running our
legislature (comments withheld) are very nearly the same – to the
nearest trillion, at least! And the arguement went, If the handful of
legislatives need the more than a trillion naira that we pay them,
then why can’t the hundred and fifty million Nigerian populace have
the more than a trillion naira that it needs?
Two. Nigerians have lost faith in their President. They say he lacks
action and wonder if he is still the puppet of a renowned General that
he was suspected to be. We had hoped he would sever his umbilical cord
once he took the throne. Alas, he calls the tunes who paid the piper.
To my dear President I therefore say (how I love him so; I love fellow authors),
Goodluck be thee not unwary
Hear as thy angel sayeth
‘In the midst of enemies thou hath
Be thee wary.’
And I dare add, make effort to read a friend’s book, The FOUR
Generations: Why You Do the Things YOU Do! Published by AuthorHouse UK
Publishers and University Press, Ibadan. You just might need to know
the real reason those you rely on do the things they do. All that
glitters is not gold.
And who am I?, they make to ask.
Your humble friend, a fellow Nigerian, someone a lot like you, Ayk
Ayokunle Adeleye currently lives in Sagamu, Nigeria. His recent book, The Four Generations, is currently available for purchase on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Four-Generations-Why-you-things/dp/1456779133.