Road to Change

In fact, even Fela, that artist of yabis, would have been proud. History will record that there was no reason any king should have spent a second thinking about ending hunger in his land when a circus was about, spewing hot words that shaped a path to greatness.


History will record: That, once upon a time, a kingdom named Nigeria was mired in crises and desperately needed focused and visionary leadership. Instead, according to the scrolls of history, the emperor and the coterie at his court decided that handling ordinary people’s headaches was beneath them. They were sublime agents of change, fine artists in the league of Homer, Virgil and Sophocles, they protested, not houseboys and nannies. So, as their subjects groaned and moaned, these grand artists of power retreated to their studies and produced splendid circus plays. One they called, “You Lost Your Job? Then Jump in Joy, For EFCC Has Arrested Another Dasuki-an!” Another: “Your Children Have No Food? Rejoice, For Obanikoro’s Wife, Daughter Are In Hot Soup!” Another they named, “Who The Hell Needs a Salary When Sarakus Has Just Been Slammed With More Charges?” But their epic production was titled “A Tale of Dino, Tinubs and Senatorial Dogs and Impregnators”.

Further, history will declare that there reigned a man who finally proved the political theorem that the more vociferously the word ‘change’ is chanted, the more things will remain the same.

History will record that, during this man’s epoch, Nigeria witnessed a golden age of political theatre. Nigerians had deposed King Jonah on account of his ineptitude and for once telling his subjects that he didn’t give a damn. But Nigerians did not know, until King Buhar told them, that the man they removed from the Villa was actually an omnipotent, protean and virulent spirit.

King Buhar and his acolytes produced scripts that exposed Jonah and his acolytes as the real, hitherto secret cause of such local and global maladies as blighted tomatoes, depletion of the ozone layer, cancer, typhoid, migraines, earthquakes, rising divorce rates, Zika virus, malaria, and the flu.

History will credit King Buhar and his retinue with inventing several political stratagems. One such stratagem, according to historical records, was called “forward to the past”. It entailed a refusal to move in the general direction called forward, because the business of blaming your predecessor is never ever completed. Another novel stratagem was to move with all deliberate slowness, whether the task was ordinary or urgent. For example, if the task was to appoint ministers, why not break the world record for procrastination? Yes, spend four to six months to put together a cabinet of predictable appointees.

But Team Buhar’s genius was most powerfully expressed in a strategy of staying focused, stubbornly focused, on one theme and one theme alone. Call it “The benefits of sticking to a single theme of corruption.”

History will record that, once upon a time, during the reign of King Buhar, untold misery terrorised the land. Hunger battered the subjects, incessantly growled in their bellies, and turned them “hangry.” Day and night, the rich and the poor alike gnashed their teeth. Together they formed a choir, and raised their voices in common to ask, “Where, oh where, is the vaunted Change?” They bemoaned the closure of businesses, worsening unemployment rates that were already monstrous. They cried about wages that had dropped to the bottom of the valley and the sky-high rise in the cost of foodstuff. They complained about the sharp deterioration in electric power, the prohibitive hike in the price of fuel.

For the dejected, plaintive subjects, change, real change, not what they derided as “change for mouth,” would have meant better social services, an economic boost complete with more jobs and better remuneration. But the reigning king replied, “Children, why do you perturb me with all this petty whining for bread and gari? Can’t you see I have Sarakus and Dasukus in a headlock? Don’t you see I’m meting hell to Spokesman Metus? Are you so blind you cannot see how I’m smashing former military honchos from one side of the ring to another? While I trash the corrupt, do you really expect me to simultaneously concern myself with such trifle as economic growth, the saving and creation of jobs, and mere hunger?”

History will record that the subjects expected their reigning ruler, who promised change, to reform the land’s educational system. Long past their days of glory, the land’s schools were more adept at producing linguists with misshapen tongues, doctors who often acted as licensed killers, philosophers confounded by logic, lawyers who made a mockery of the word ‘learned’, civil engineers whose straw buildings sometimes wobbled and toppled, and journalists incapable of asking one single probing question.

Yet, during the aforementioned apostle’s reign, he and his court aides seemed stoutly indifferent to the plight of Nigerian students, hapless victims of a long broken system. The reason was a sound one. Why should King Buhar combine a fierce war against King Jonah’s corrupt apostles and a battle to save Nigeria’s education? Besides, why bother to fix a local educational system when it was a long established tradition that all steakholders who counted sent their children to schools abroad?

History will record that King Buhar’s idea of change never left the precincts of “fighting corruption” to include thinking about a healthcare system for Nigerians. Why spend time and energy on a healthcare system when the subjects have pastors and imams calling down miracles from heaven for the sick? And when miracles don’t work, why, there are hospitals and doctors in such places as India, South Africa, Ghana, Britain, Germany, Canada, and America to step in. Between the efforts of prayers warriors and foreign doctors, it was well with the sick and afflicted men, women and children of the kingdom.

History will disclose that King Buhar was not alone in producing the great Nollywood scripts of Nigerian life. He had much help from amazingly gifted judges (whose expertise in perennially adjourning trials ensured that there was no finale to any of the corruption movies); distinguished senators and honourable members of the House, who stood by their embattled men and demanded immunity for them; and agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, who magically became blind once in the presence of any APC who stunk of corruption.

There were even individual stars, including Melayus and Star Couple, The Tinubs. Thanks to these stars, there was enough drama to engage Nigerians who otherwise would have imagined that hunger, unpaid salaries, joblessness, electric power companies’ unrelenting supply of darkness, ill-equipped hospitals, schools with neither labs nor libraries, highways decorated with potholes etc, etc. were serious problems the King and his men should have tackled.

These individual stars gave something of unique power and appeal to the denizens of the kingdom as well as the people of the world at large. These star performers proved that the robust trading of political insults (“You’re a dog and a thug!” “No, it’s you and your man who are thugs! As for dog, yes, I accept! And I’m coming to bite you, maul you, and impregnate you!”) signaled immense economic development in the land. In fact, even Fela, that artist of yabis, would have been proud. History will record that there was no reason any king should have spent a second thinking about ending hunger in his land when a circus was about, spewing hot words that shaped a path to greatness.

Please follow me on twitter @okeyndibe