As I was Saying/

In 1942, William Neil Connor, one of the finest and funniest columnists of his time, under a pseudonym Cassandra, took time off to go to war, the Second World War. He returned to his column in the London Daily Mirror, after the national service, on September 23, 1946, with his famous words, “As I was saying when I was interrupted, it is a powerful hard thing to please all the people all the time….” For three decades, Cassandra arguably occupied the pulpit in public print with his trenchant sentences, so crisp; copied everywhere, but never bettered. Connor’s rivals envied him many things, particularly the cut and thrust of his style. On April 6, 1967, Connor died aged fifty-seven, he was 20 days from making fifty-eight. Cassandra, however, had held that no significant event occurred in his absence, bereft of his comments in admonition or acclamation. Hugh Cudlipp, the editor at the Times of London at the time and a rival wrote, “The Cassandra Column, non-stop for thirty years, apart from global hostilities, has now been interrupted yet again. So far as is known, it will not be resumed this time”.

My regular contributions in the Village were similarly interrupted by a federal appointment, during which I was advised to keep whatever thoughts I had on the shelf for as long as I remained a pilgrim in Abuja. Now the pilgrimage seems over, but what I cultivated on national issues remain unchanged and perhaps still valid. Abuja is another world by itself and many of the pilgrims to that hilly city, I am sure, are big enough to admit it. There is virtually no difference between those selected and those elected as pilgrims, except maybe the suffix S in the former. On a lighter mood, though, if one considers numerous litigations that trail every election, then almost all of the pilgrims in Abuja could be classified as selected by either the judiciary or the executive and never truly by the people.

What has changed on our collective wellbeing since I virtually left the Village on the pilgrimage? Nothing!! 

In the three years outside of the Village, the national electricity grid hardly grew, and surely cannot be sustained on a regular basis; the buying power of the people has now become worrisome, and the unemployment rate is now alarming. My arguments on the Nigerian economy have always been for us to jettison the classroom stuff and think outside the box; to forget that it is coming from armchair economists, instead of from professors and even experts in economics that have brought nothing workable to the table. In one of my articles, “The Tie-downs to Nigeria Economy”; I stated that unless the mechanism of Tax, the Insurance Industry, and the Exchange rate are reformed and focused upon, we will continue to consign the future of this great country to mediocrity, in a competitive capitalist global economy. 

Everybody agrees Nigeria should not be where it is - considering its geographical location, the size of its population and its endowed natural resources. These are even qualities that are outside the influence of any other country that may want to compete with Nigeria; these are our advantages. So far they are not utilized, and they are God given. No group excels or fosters unity without a common enemy. Nothing stops us from altering the narrative and declare the rest of the world as our enemy if that is what it will take. Let us see who can challenge this geographical spot on the surface of the earth; with its many vibrant people; added to unmatched natural resources and favorable weather. Only the Congo Democratic Republic could arguably be as blessed by nature, and that also is a troubled spot. We are the envy of the world, yet we wake up every morning ready to tear ourselves apart over mundane things. The tint, tongue or texture of every federal appointee has become our most concern. Well, what does one expect to a land, like Nigeria, festered with shrinking opportunities? In spite of it all, I still woke up this morning without light.

Lagos.