There was this story we read while in elementary school about a princess whose hands were being sought in marriage by everyone that mattered in the society back then, but whose father, the king, did not seem willing to betroth to anyone. He, the king, was already a rich man so he did not need anyone’s gold/money as a dowry. He came up with the idea that he would only give his daughter, the princess away to someone who was clever enough to tell a story, non-stop, for a whole week. Princes and well-to-do men came from far and near but no one was clever enough until a pauper came forth. The king was willing to give him a chance. On the main day, like for the others before him, everyone was gathered at the village square to hear him out. There was pin-drop silence with everyone seemingly in a rapt attention on how the story would begin and how far he would be able to go. He looked around, smiled at the direction where the princess was sitting before he started his story.
We have all been waiting and we seem unable to wait any longer pertaining to where our president is taking us. We all believe the direction would be shaped by who occupies what position. We can’t wait to see who is going to be the secretary to the government of the federation. We can’t wait to see who would be his chief of staff. We can’t wait to see who would be the minister of this and minister of that. It however looks like we can’t hurry sunshine. Our concern does not seem to be so much about how competent whoever occupies whatever position is, as much as it is about who and from which part of the country and dare I say by what name that person calls his/her God.
The pauper began his story then: Once upon a time, there was famine in a distant land. The hunger affected humans as much as it affected animals, birds and insects. The humans then decided to build a barn to store the little harvests so it would be rationed to individuals. The locusts, renowned for their voracious eating habits found the barn but there was no way to gain entry. They flew around the barn in their millions (yes, millions!) until one of them found a hole that could only take one locust at a time. Just imagine!
We all want the names of the “key” appointments announced at the same time. We are concerned because some names already announced, which are still under a dozen, do not have that of anyone from “our area”, meaning our state, local government area, ethnic group and/or religion. Remember the pauper’s locusts hovered in millions and the hole could only take one at a time. The president, we all assume, is searching for saints even if he has not expressly said anything to that effect. Our assumption being that whoever would join him in the Herculean task of cleaning the Augean stable must be clean and up to the task. We do not seem to believe that those surrounding him as personified by members of his party, the APC, qualify to be anything near what would get the job done. And like the locusts, we are all “hungry” in this case, to hear/know who would be hired.
The pauper continued his story: One locust was able to find its way into the barn, ate as much grain as it could, carried one in its mouth and flew out of the barn. The second locust was able to find its way in to the barn, ate as much grain as it could, carried one in its mouth and flew out of the barn. The third locust was able to find its way in to the barn, ate as much grain as it could, carried one in its mouth and flew out of the barn. The fourth locust was able to find its way in to the barn, ate as much grain as it could, carried one in its mouth and flew out of the barn. Are you tired of reading the refrain? Okay, the fifth locust was able to find its way in to the barn, ate as much grain as it could, carried one in its mouth and flew out of the barn. I know, it is easier (and faster) to just summarise and say (that) each of the locusts entered one after the other, ate grains to their fill before taking one out each. Well, the story was supposed to last for a week, therefore each locust must be counted and the story told of what each of them did afterwards.
Like the king, it does not look like President Buhari is in a hurry to rush anyone into a position of authority. Like the pauper’s fabled barn, the president seems to be building an impenetrable leak-proof one to insure that you walk and work your way in on individual merit just like each of the locusts did. But then, the barn was still penetrable which means getting an all angel cabinet may not be possible.
Interested in knowing how the pauper’s story ended? We may have to wait for four years to revisit this. Just to add that the president would need the wisdom of another fabled character: how a man would cross the stream with three items and could only take the items one at a time without losing any of them. The items being a lion, a goat and a tuber of yam. Do-able but it is tortuous and it is going to take time.
Jide Omotinugbon writes from Louisville, KY. USA and can be reached on email@example.com.