During the Second Republic, 1979-1983, the popular television program, MASQURADE, in obvious dig at the excesses of the period, added a new character, EMPEE (MP), a voluble braggart with a distended belly who carried himself with a swagger in the context of the politics of that era. That MP regularly boasted that he would introduce “a very rowdy motion” in parliament! Well, last week, members of the Nigerian House of Representative set aside temporarily, more serious matters like sharing money and attempting to get themselves immunity, to move a “a very rowdy motion”, like Zebrudaya’s EMPEE! Hon. Saleh Minjibir, a member of the ANPP, had been rankled by the October 5, 2009 edition of TELL magazine, which had been titled “The making of a failed nation”.
I will not describe Honourable Minjibir a braggart like the EMPEE in MASQURADE nor say he has a distended belly like his television counterpart, since I don’t even know him, but I guess that against the backdrop of the comfortable life he is living today, Hon. Minjibir, can be pardoned to say that although Nigeria was grappling with basic indices of failure, but they were not enough to declare Nigeria as having failed. Minjibir’s Naira-oiled patriotism was particularly sharpened by the fact that the media highlighted what seemed obvious to the Nigerian people but is so hidden from the haloed precincts of the House of Representatives. Hon. Minjibir called for a panel that would “identify those elements that contribute to the making of a failed state and report back to the House within seven legislative days” (Didn’t God create the world in seven days before taking a rest according to one popular account? So in seven days the Honourable Members will explode the failed nation thesis and also then take a rest!). But just in case the cynics are resolved to maintain their mischief about the state of the nation, Minjibir rephrased his prayer that “We resolve to assert that Nigeria, our dear country, is not a failed state and it is unpatriotic for any Nigerian to say so”. The only thing missing in the “patriotic” declamation of the mover of this “very rowdy motion” was the sanction for the unpatriotic act of telling the truth about the state of Nigeria.
There were other comical matters arising from the “very rowdy motion” about the failed state proposition, which should not detain us so much here. But it is instructive that our “patriotic” legislators found a few moments away from the more serious matters of sharing their money to look at the “unpatriotic” suggestions of the Nigerian press. Our dear legislators please do not be angry but make this a last warning to the media. If we ever doubt the robust health of the Nigerian state again: as it creates millions of new jobs in the hallucinatory minds of the authors of the Seven Point Agenda; or achieves the target of 6,000Mw of electricity in breach, etc! If the press persists in such “unpatriotic” reporting, you might be forced to move a new motion to dissolve the Nigerian press and then reconstitute a new more patriotic media! And believe me that might be the best answer to the “unpatriotic” attitude of the media. We distract you from facing more germane issues that you would rather pursue!
But after all the drama on the floor of the House, especially the temporary resurrection of Mrs. Patricia Olubumi Etteh, from a political coma, it was no surprise that the Honourable Members agreed that Nigeria grapples with a myriad of problems like youth unemployment, lack of adequate power supply, poverty, hunger and general insecurity. In short, the Nigerian state fails its people in all the points for which a state is established; but despite that, according to NIGERIAN COMPASS of Friday, November 6, 2009, “the House resolved that Nigeria is not a failed nation and it is unpatriotic for anybody to say so”. And as I pointed out earlier, the Members left out sanctions for whoever chose to describe Nigeria as having failed.
Let us talk as frankly as the moment demands; our Members live in a universe totally removed from most of their constituents anyway and if we take it even further, most of these members, were a product of the fraudulent elections of 2007. The Nigeria which is not failing from their own perspective is the political world of PDP’s Garrison politics and its ANPP clone as well as the rigging contraption called INEC. That world guarantees the comfort and other perquisites of House Membership! When you live in a palace, your consciousness cannot reflect the world of suffering in a shack; it is actually a class issue! The Members are worried that the media is reflecting the failure of confidence of the Nigerian people in the elaborate project of scam called “democracy” which has thrown everything but a happy life at the Nigerian people, since 1999. Remember the events of the French Revolution? Marie Antoinette was surprised that the Parisian crowd was demonstrating against the scarcity of bread; if there was no bread, why don’t they eat cake? It is the same with our Members. They partake in creaming off of Nigeria so how can anybody describe their cash cow as failed?
Our Members can take themselves on a stroll on the avenue of deception that Nigeria is not a failed nation; but the indices are very troubling indeed. If they do not know, Nigeria under their watch is one of the most unjust societies on the face of the earth. Here the gap between the rich and have-nots is wide and continues to widen. Nigerian capitalism has no redeeming features because it is an elaborate scam. The Nigerian state is the machinery which helps to perpetrate that scam and its control is the whole basis of the existence of the political machinery upon which the comfort of the House Members has been constructed. It is a failing, if not a failed state, from the perspective of the mass of the Nigerian people. Its status rings hollow and because people know the ruling class perpetrates all manners of crime against the state, it has emboldened non-state acts of crime by all kinds of criminal groups too. So the scenario is one that is frightening for a law abiding citizen; the Nigerian people are held hostage by groups of contending criminals: those who control the levers of the state and the ones who deploy non-state forms of criminal activities.
So when patriots talk about the failure of Nigeria, these are some of the tendencies which they see. They frighten because they are like self-fulfilling prophecies about the future which awaits a Nigeria which is so badly husbanded by its ruling class. Nigerians are not unpatriotic when they present our country in its naked nastiness; on the contrary, it is the ruling class, including its legislative arm that must shape up in a responsible manner so that they do not destroy the cash cow that offers them the platform for the stupendous wealth they cream off as Members of the National Assembly.