Friday, 2 March 2018

FORWARD, BUT AROUND A CIRCLE


First, the time comes when a people have to choose between their survival and the survival of the principle by which they live. Would Americans rather die than America cease to be the land of the free? Two, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result has been demonized as insanity, but that is only half the tale, because Einstein didn’t follow things down to a tee. Monotony is torture but, sure, one can do the same thing over and over again and not only expect but get a different result if he is a seeker of perfection. Yes, it’s true, it’s damn true. Keep doing it, Andre Pirlo says, and don’t stop when you get it right, stop when you can’t get it wrong. Upon these aphorisms I trek this well-beaten path; Project Nigeria. 
Etymologically a misnomer because there is in reality no project, at best an artificial congregation of ethnic nationalities bound by 1914 under circumstances I am always reminded to forget because I hate to love it, and at worst a parody of the Hobbesian State of Nature. However, project Nigeria still stares us in the face like a boil atop our noses, accessible to the view of both eyes and we must decide what to do with or about it. Sadly all hands can’t press on this boil at the same time, but all hands may decide which select hands press on this ripe boil on our behalf. And we must get our best hands to do the job. The outcome of every election, and later tenure, since the first time a Nigerian thumped upon a ballot paper has indicted the brains protected at unnecessary expense within our craniums. But when one wonders again, we see that there are in most cases no better options; it is always the choice between or among two or more evils, choosing the most human of the devil’s favorite demons. On the way to 2019, I laugh when I hear the ruling party say that the opposition party destroyed Nigeria for 16 years because the great majority of those who make up the ruling party today were key members of the opposition party when it destroyed Nigeria for 16 years. Mathematically, it would then be correct to say that the bigger part of the ruling party destroyed Nigeria for 16 years. Case is that irrespective of political party, the Nigerian political class is fraught with a complex of psychotic cases, ranging among outright naked mad men, dogs with crowns instead of leashes, and tipsy megalomaniacs drunk on empty adulations of ‘my leader’. This we already know, but the point we miss is that the system has been designed to present such like minds every four years for election, there is no breaking the cycle except by a revolution or an outright rearrangement of the system. It is a bakery system very unfitted to any known variation of democracy where the national cake is shared. Why is there nepotism? Because in a situation of great scarcity, people tend to take care of their own first. So, a people will rise and say ‘it is our turn to rule’, a euphemism for, ‘it is our turn to be the chief baker, our turn to eat the national cake.’ Taking turns at this turns will never make for progress as those who wait their turn would gym their greed while waiting. We will just keep marching forward, but around a circle.     
This puts to the test my aphorisms, should we continue to do the same thing over and over again in hope of someday getting our best hands on the job, or do we collapse this apparatus into a more relevant and workable arrangement? Do we keep doing this until we miraculously arrive at men who would ditch the turn system and create a merit-driven system where the best hands get the job at every level of the society and administration, a society with functional institutions where the son of a nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody (apologies Aminu Kano), or do we rearrange the terms and structure of engagement as nations within project Nigeria, and let each region answer his father’s middle name while retaining Nigeria’s surname. Each region may instead of waiting their turn to handle the sharing knife and enjoy the spoils of cronyism go ahead to adopt relevant and workable socio-economic policies and institutions that would not only be fitting to their way of life but also integrate their ambitions and dreams. Under such circumstances, no one would say without being rebuked that anyone is holding him back. And tales of marginalization would be folklores. No system is perfect but there are lots of systems that are better than what we have, and you may never know how better until you have tried them out. Really, if Nigeria is to remain the same and not atrophy, then things have to change.    
During the last round yet, of the Biafran demand, there were those who remonstrated on the premise of an alternative to secession: ‘instead, join us to work for the progress of One Nigeria’, they said. Now we are back, at least for now, with our shovels, but there is nobody on the site of the said progress. Truth often has a sad reality that bites with the sharpness of a pest. And in this case it is that progress is not for the lily-livered, progress is not for the comfortable, and progress is not for those whose objective is convenience. Progress is for those who understand that we are messengers from our fathers to our children; that we hold the world in trust to both, and that none of our actions should destroy either the legacies of our fathers or the hopes of our children. This is not time to recline in convenience, it is time for those who remonstrated against the Biafrans to come out with their shovels and work for the progress of Nigeria. 
Some things have to change for other things to remain the same. At this stage we have to toss any unproductive weight overboard, so that this sail might last another day. The more important things have to remain the same, and in this case the people are the more important things. Just think, if the people die, for whom would the ship survive? But if the people survive, anything is possible.

Agwo Turumbe is a social activist based in Pyongyang, North Korea.