No second chance in Ifo market/

Alas! the elephant has fallen-
Hurrah for thunder-
But already the hunters are talking about pumpkins:
If they share the meat let them remember thunder
(Christopher Okigbo, “HURRAH FOR THUNDER”)

“In which year did a Harvard sculler last outrow an Oxford man at Henley?”
(Dan Brown, The Davinci Code)

By calling on our Xmas Rockland minstrels to make sacrifices, that is giving up something of theirs that are so significant, dust their butts in the quest for national development other than mere versification, Sonala Olumhense in “Leaders Act, Not Make Videos” fumbles with one part of the dual-themed muse he left long ago namely the theme of progress, the other being penance as punishment. Though I have had the opportunity of appraising the theme of penitence and punishment in reference to R.A Duff’s work titled Trials and Punishments where he argues that criminal trials like moral criticisms are “communicative enterprises which seek the assent and participation of those whom they address,” I will like to briefly X-ray this idea of progress in our confused and confusing national discourse and quickly advise that our minstrels are better left alone to continue their hymns or if they like they can turn them into hums.

In No Second Chance, a Novel written by Sonala Olumnhense and which is part of the Drumbeat series alongside with Festus Iyayi, Violence and Samuel Selvon A Brighter Sun, Edward asks Jimmy ‘what are your plans for the future?’ and in response, Jimmy fresh from prison replies that ‘the future has neither direction nor focus nor colour now.’ In fidelity to his line of thought the novel navigates through Jimmy’s home coming to his forced divorce due to a news paper publication. All thanks to Sonala’s genius. However what remains and still resonates in the mind of Nigerians today is this question of progress given what we are witnessing. Though, this question is not new it crept up during the last elections when people argued that the case of Jonathan vs. Buhari was a question of the Devil and deep blue sea. The implication was that most people abstained from voting or just thought that it was just about corruption and in such a case the old unlettered disciplinarian of the legionary order is better than a compromising democrat. In the end the consequences of that choice continue to unfold.

As we move on political pundits are putting together their permutations. Some will like to see the disciplinarian given a second chance while others are thinking of a mega party and others are thinking of a total dismemberment of our nation space. The whole confusion in my opinion boils down to how we can ascertain what amounts to progress in a confusing environment. It is here that I think that Olusegun Obasanjo’s triune autobiography can be of help. I have always argued that progress is not a neutral term but moves towards specific objectives and may also involve tolerance. However there are some movements that are the opposite of progress namely retrogress. In Obasanjo’s hitch hiker’s guide to the galaxy, he titled My Watch, which I find to be a marvel—Inter Mirifica—he addresses the problem of his age. The absence of authoritative document to determine his age led him into a quest for the ascertainment of his age. He used the advent of the church as a calibrator, that doesn’t give a good validation, he searched for documents in different areas to no avail, he even thought of the arrival of the white men all to no confirmation. However a historical phenomenon remained unquestionable. This phenomenon is couched in his mother’s assertion “you were born on Ifo market day…” to question this assertion is to question the onto-bio-genesis of his being. Here I can recall what my grandmother always drum into my ear “Uba ka nda n’ akwukwo” literally meaning wealth is nearer with education.

What we can learn from Obasanjo and our current state of affairs is that progress must as of necessity excise some roads and retain some as necessary conditions in the quest for progress. To question the onto-bio-genesis is to question the very idea of progress. Participatory governance must not be devoid of the idea of progress. It is on this note that we must, if we are to make progress in our national discourse to allow our old guards to continue humming away their hymns in the background. Calling them to active service is akin to thinking of the modern warfare in terms of Homer or Hesiod and the implicit manipulations through the desert storm on the one hand, or that of Spartacus and Greek mythologies, on another, when wars were fought on horse backs. In the end if the present reign of General Muhamadu Buhari has taught us anything, it is this that there is no second chance in Ifo market. If he is reasonable enough he will subscribe to the contents of A Matter of Honour other than taking to the Other Side of Deception.