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OPINION: Much Ado About Needless Hailing Of An Ailing Country

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Nigeria we hail thee! Members of the Nigerian national and state assemblies we hail thee! We have always maintained that many of those calling themselves political leaders in this country are collectively an unserious bunch; even so, we recognise the fact that irrespective of this unseriousness, this bunch of reckless characters can be very serious when it only concerns their illicit extractions from the people’s commonwealth. 

Unfortunately, when some of us try to call attention to this senseless playfulness within the realm where patriotic actions are supposed to be taken for the benefit of the generality, some people do say we are being unreasonably critical. As we have always been saying, our opinion on this is not about any individual but the system (we) have jointly set up in Nigeria. 

It is difficult to find a substantial number of people in this country that can be exempted from liability for the rot we are today. Political office holders do not just wake up one day to start misbehaving! Yes, they have just been keying into a warped system that permits the variously-observed misdemeanour by public officials. It is certain that once you become a member of the groups holding political offices in Nigeria, you automatically become a living demigod that is superior to other mere mortals like us! The nonsense has its roots in history but we will not be able to go too far into the past, for now. This is where we are today, especially with the exit of the infamous “khaki boys” and entry of their well-tutored boys/girls into Nigeria’s political arena!

As a group, the current crop of politicians in the country is a mirror image of the soldiers they replaced, in 1999, in terms of plundering the country’s wealth. They (civilian politicians) appear worse than past military governments in this regard! Military governments were not only catastrophic but they also did set us back in this country! Instead of correcting the ills they criticised immediately after toppling civilian governments, they ultimately became an entrenched part of the same problems. This is a reason why some of us do not agree with those calling for a military overthrow of the currently deliberately emplaced political disorderliness. 

The country did try soldiers in the past but they failed, woefully! Apart from the fact that military regimes are aberrations, they have proved in Nigeria that they cannot deliver the good. Of course, this is not an argument for the systemic embarrassment caused the right-thinking Nigerians – home and abroad – by the charlatans now in government at all levels. These mediocrities’ definition of political order is continuous disorderliness! That is what makes them relevant and qualified for public positions. They are not to be solely blamed because many of their followers are not different from them. These followers are enablers of the madness we have been talking about. Insanity is sanity to them! Those increasingly populating the political space are people who always claim to have been to where things are working well but they are determinedly collapsing the few public infrastructures they inherited in Nigeria.

After damaging public assets, the next, for these crooks, is to privatise/sell them at give-away prices to themselves, cronies or fronts! While they are doing this, critical sound minds must be kept busy, confused or hoodwinked! What do they do to achieve this aim? Simple; they create worthless controversies that beguile the unwary, dunce and knowledgeable! Regrettably, this is an age-long strategy by Nigerian governments and perhaps others. Many Nigerians (including those “ruining” them as governments) are good at majoring in minor; they are often contented with inanities and meaninglessness!

These followers have been configured to expect little out of life. All types of poverty have been normalised for, and by, them! So, why will their grossly incompetent governments that do not believe in intellectually-driven civil governance not exploit these obvious weaknesses? Are followers not getting what they bargained for in politicians? Are politicians not taking advantage of followers’ sky-high feeble-mindedness? For instance, on the 29th of May, 2024, a bill returning the old national anthem was signed into law by the Nigerian president. This is an anthem that was adopted as Nigeria’s anthem when the country gained independence in 1960 and was used until 1978 when a new one was adopted. 

The country is back to the past! This is a blast from the past! For us, there is no difference between “six” and “half a dozen”. Both are the same from our calculation. Apart from merely mouthing the two anthems’ wordings, can it be said that Nigerians, especially their leaders, embody them in letters and spirit? We have no reason to think so!

This return of the 1960 anthem in 2024 is just another successful smokescreen for distracting Nigerian people from the challenges daily threatening their existence and survival; they are merely being kept busy engaging in series of nonsensical arguments! As usual, many fell for the trick! We did not! Indeed, we laughed! We will quote social media questions in pidgin, such as “…..wetin concern me wey neva chop with national anthem?” Someone even asked: “…..who national anthem help? Yeye dey smell.” 

National anthem is not, and should not have been, a problem requiring such an urgent attention. Although, we ‘congratulate’ those eulogising federal government for bringing back the 1960 anthem; that may be one of the items that is high in their priority list. Certainly, they are entitled to this right. Everyone is not likely to have the same problem but, here, we are talking about the seemingly unquenchable hunger, insecurity and poverty wreaking havoc on the people all over the country. 

Can an impoverished, hungry and unsafe person appreciate the wordings of the national anthem? If the national assembly could speedily address the issues that are more important to the Nigerian masses the way they did for the said anthem, they (masses) would have been better and happy for it. On the flip side, why is federal government not also aiming at bringing back the federal and regional constitutions operational in the country before the 15th of January, 1966? Clearly, Nigerian politicians’ quest for power is basically for their self-aggrandisement!

*Andrew A. Erakhrumen currently teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.


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