It is not about N65
A well meaning follower of my penned thoughts sent me a moving mail. I publish excerpts below,
For the past several days I have been checking on your blog in the hope of reading comments about what is going on in Nigeria right now. I am dying to read your opinion about the current situation and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way lots of other readers who are following up your blog probably feel the same. Please say something you can't possibly keep silent at a time like this. I am looking forward to hearing from you shortly.
Thank you very much for your mail. Truth is I am so overwhelmed and angry at this time. I have been thinking of writing, but words fail me. I am really hurting deeply. I wonder what I have to say that remain to be said. People have been writing, talking, and doing all they can. I believe you saw the piece I wrote on the subsidy removal "Support for Removal of Oil Subsidy; Shame on You United States". I am a great believer in preventive measures and it seems like things have gotten out of hand now.
.... Believe me, at this time, the words are not coming; at least as I write to you. Maybe they will come in the next hour or 24 hours or 48 hours, I do not know. I will keep following events closely, reading and thinking. As soon as I have something to say, I will write.
But thanks much for investing so much expectation in me.
Do I now have the right words to say? Not at all. Have my discordant thoughts metamorphosed into a coherent and seamless whole, such that placing my hands on the keyboard will fill the blank MS Word pages with sweet blackness? I am not of that view.
My heart remains heavier than my mind. I was raised not to speak when angry. I have carried into adulthood, Mum's gentle reprimands that usually followed my childhood and early adolescent tantrums. Her deeply imprinted words to wait for the anger to subside before uttering a word are ever in my heart. For oftentimes, words spoken in heated haste are deeply regretted in calmed thinking.
My heart has been filled with anger since this debate on the removal of fuel subsidy started, yet again, under the current leadership. The kind of anger doctors warn against. I have waited for the anger to abate, I have tried all known palliation. But each time I read the news, my heart gets heavier and my mind gets lighter. My mind gets lighter not because my reasoning abilities are being cleared and redirected to saner thoughts, but lighter, as in light headedness. I become sort of hare brained by the day, thinking about Nigeria.
I hold in front of me, the words of Spinoza the great Dutch philospher who said " I have laboured carefully, not to mock, lament, or execrate human actions, but to understand them." Putting it more succintly in another piece he said " I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." I have been engaged in a battle against my intellectual side. I have tried not to deride, not to derogate, not to belittle the actions of Goodluck Jonathan, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Mallam Sanusi and the rest of those currently holding Nigerians hostage. But the more I seek to work my mind around to understand their actions and utterances, the lighter my mind becomes until I now fear possessing the light headedness of a lunatic.
President Jonathan, it does not make sense. It will not make sense. Not now. What is happening is beyond N65, and it is not necessarily about your recent utterances. It is about the seat you inherited and currently represent. It is about the oppression that has characterized governance in Nigeria for the past 50 years and counting. My mother talks of the Independent celebrations that usually equalled Christmas day festivities in the 1960s. The joy of the masses at being free from colonial rule. The hope invested in Nigerian leaders. She would pause to hiss and say "mana agha emebisigo ife nine" meaning "the war has spoilt everything." But still she would go on to tell encouraging stories of life after the war. She would tell of how interesting The New Masquerade drama series were, and how people would enter the house of strangers to watch the show. If you were walking on the street and it was time for Zebrudaya to show, you simply would stop at the next house that boasts of a television set and avail yourself of 30 minutes of laughter. And then she would say "mana uwa a di atozi uto" the world is no longer sweet.
Based on Mom's utterances, I grew up worried that I was headed for a very horrible existence. Little did I know that my worries were little compared to what was coming. My mind has never conceived of the evil that will befall my generation in the present day Nigeria. Of the hardship that will stare me in the face everyday. Of the fact that the fear of kidnapping has robbed me of my most cherished annual vacation in my village home. That being Christian and Igbo, I can no longer freely visit my Muslim Hausa friends in the beautiful landscape of Northern Nigeria. That I am one of privileged minority if I have a job that pays my transport, feeding and other miscellaneous allowances. That I must glance around me all the time for fear of being robbed by frustrated young men and increasingly, young women. I never thought that at this stage in the history of my great country, corruption will still be the order of the day, and that when exposed, it will be treated with indifference by the authorities.
It is far beyond the price of a loaf of bread, Mr. President. It is not about N65. It is far deeper, far broader and far higher than light blue, red and peach coloroured bank notes. Yet, it is simple. It is uncomplicated. It is not at all complex. It is about respecting the human beings who populate the geographical entity called Nigeria. It is about seeing them for who they are; hard working people who want the best out of themselves, for themselves and for their community. Respecting the spirit of this exceptionally brilliant caste of Africans who have shrugged off decades of insults and theiving, believing that if they just worked harder, things would be alright. It is about doing right to a people who have since taken their destiny in their own hands by erroneously hoping that if they ignored the government, the government would leave them alone to attend their businesses. But government after goverment have robbed, killed, maimed, cheated and lied to this great but gentle people. Outsiders have laughed at them and called them stupid. Stupid you must be, the foreigners say. For how else could you tolerate all the things we read about being perpetuated against you by your leaders.
Mr. President, you came in at a strategic time and you had the right opportunity to set things right. The wearied Nigerians voted for change, like the Americans did with Barack Obama. Far more people voted in the election that brought you than ever recorded in the recent history of Nigeria. People came out en-masse to seek change. You should have realized that was the first sign of what is going on right now. That it will never be business as usual with Nigerians. No. Never. A knowledge and understanding of changing times often make for adequate response, but you seem to be a little slow in reading the national mood.
Perhaps you mean well, but you are being misadvised, Mr. President. These are not times to put your feeble foot down on a people who are down already. It is time to lend them a hand to arise and build with them. It is not the time to talk to these overly oppressed and ready to implode people. It is time to talk with them; human being to human being.
The blood of the faithful departed in the past five days will haunt your administration. They cannot die in vain. By drawing the battle line, you spoke the exact same words uttered by Otto Von Bismarck who said that great issues of his day will not be settled by public opinion and parliamentary debates, but by iron and blood. World Wars I and II were the results of his utterances.
Chika blogs at www.chikaforafrica.wordpress.com