Nigeria and Her Accident-Prone Drivers

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COUNTERPOINT

By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Sometimes, when Nigeria acts true to type – when problems, incidents, actions and blunders tumble upon each other like the clanging possessions of a full-time mad man – the conscientious chroniclers of fables and foibles are stunned into silence, or at best, they grasp at sanity by delving into old materials, sure and certain facts (or faction), that may reduce their heartaches and disappointments. 

 It used to be that we managed to dig up one or two inconvenient issues every week, throwing ordinary Nigerians cheap “biscuit bones” to chew for a number of days, before our minders dreamt up another. The case has gotten worse; now, it’s a daily seepage of dross and gross… on special days, they cascade, in staggered disregard, every other hour… not permitting the people even a breathing space to ponder at the implications on their personal economy and wherewithal. 

  While wondering how did we get to a point where personnel clothed, equipped and trained to protect us from undesirable elements would turn on their ilk, killing a few so that an alleged perpetrator of heinous crime might escape justice… then, after the back and forth of blames, the two forces joined sweat to ferret out the accused, Hamisu “Wadume” Bala, who somehow sent out prayer requests from his hideout! 

  Before that episode had concluded, far away in Germany, some Nigerians battling to redefine their national identity, stormed a venue of their fellow Igbo kinsmen, and literally whipped up a leading voice of the Igbo people. Immediate past Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and as variously reported, a noted sympathiser of the IPOB vision, was physically and mentally abused, assaulted and “chased” out of a public space…for what? Not serving well the cause of IPOB, or the Igbo nation? While at it, a N1m tip for early warning squeal on the itinerary of Igbo governors and prominent politicians (earmarked for the Ekweremadu treatment) to foreign lands was widely reported, though no information on the procedures for the transfer of manifests, and payment for whistleblowing. Coincidentally, about 48 hours after, the German authorities deported some Nigerians for sundry migratory reasons.

  In Lagos, the action of the State House of Assembly to drop three names from the governor’s lists of commissioners and senior aides irked Lagos aboriginals who didn’t understand how the three (genuine Lagosians, in their views) were dropped for what they considered “watery” reasons, while few “settlers” without any roots in Lagos whatsoever were given the thumps up. 

  Then, the usually serene looking, matronly head of federal service, Ms.  Winifred Oyo-Ita quietly tendered her resignation letter after a gruelling interaction with the anti-corruption agency which subsequently landed her in hospital – if we believe the Nigerian newspaper reports. Yet, the drama – just within a week, mind you – is promising to give more. As we travel towards the first 100 days of this dispensation, many governors are struggling to knock down or spruce up some face-lifting achievements…sadly, many Nigerians will have a hard time identifying any action, policy, project or vision enunciated or continued by many of the governors, such that it may not be strange to hear that the electorate are on the verge of regretting efforts wasted in voting and making sure their “votes counted”….

  Yet, I can go on… in such climate of unceasing villainy and stubborn refusal of leadership to commit to advancing the corporate vision of improving the people’s welfare and making life comfortable and safe for people to flourish and prosper…I seek refuge in “past perfect” scenarios… Not like the ostrich and its sandy cave, but as a precaution to going off the bend, if you know what I mean! 

  So, I took a chapter from my book, “Lifelines: A Slice of My Life” to reflect and use as air-bag to cushion me against more “accidents” of our rulers ahead. Join me. 

Life On A Fast Lane

“By the end of 1999, I was already restless, burning to face another challenge. I had dreamt of an all-interview magazine, as I was tired of misrepresentations and embellishments which were dished as news and investigative reports in most of our magazines. I had been toying with the idea of faithfully capturing the thoughts of interesting people since 1996, even at Fame. So, 1999 saw me freeing myself strategically as Editor-in-Chief and executive director of Encomium, to start a radio talkshow, FAJ-Alive on Eko FM. I needed to hone my skills in the art of interviewing; I wanted to get a springboard to put into practice all I had been studying about that area of Journalism. I had a fulfilling one year at Eko FM, then run by young dashing Lekan Ogunbanwo. My mentor and great producer is long-time friend and fellow soul-traveller, Tokunbo Ojekunle. I believe we had a great time. 

 But in all the excitement, something was always bringing me to earth, though at that point in time, I couldn’t clearly put my finger on it. I had this idea that all my fairytale career in journalism was going too fast and too smooth not to suffer a gridlock somewhere. It all seemed too good to believe. I was usually a slow-boomer. I started secondary schools two years after my mates; I entered university after a two-year wait. But after the NYSC, it was too easy getting work; I became editor at 28, a publisher (at least one of four) before my thirtieth birthday. Everything was going swimmingly well. Too well. 

  I was a party freak, a prodigious nite club crawler. I was so taken by the fast life that I did not need to have a kobo in my pocket before I would visit and enjoy myself in not less than eight clubs between Wednesday and Saturday – free entry, free booze, and free many other things. It was a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle, and I wasn’t ashamed one bit. I knew that the bubble might burst – but I couldn’t care.

  So, when I began my new walk with God, I knew that living a straight and narrow lane would not be enough recompense for my wild and willful past lifestyle. I was hoping, and admittedly naively, that abstaining from immorality, ruinous habits; getting involved in church activities, and even attending the Bible College might just be enough to convince God that I did not need to suffer for my past errors. And I believed I wasn’t such a bad person, even if I was the judge and accuser in my own case. 

 But I have since learnt (and it will serve you well to keep this in view) that you cannot sow yams, and later dream that cocoa would come out of the soil. It is not that God is after your life, to make example of you. It is that the cosmic laws that God has established cannot be wished away; whatever  we sow, we shall reap – it is only a question of time. 

  Yes, you have come to a new life in Christ; yes, you no longer smoke, drink, womanise, neglect your responsibilities, and all that….if you had led a life without reasonable restraints, you will be held accountable sooner or later. Since none of us can be Jesus, who went through life without sinning; we’ll just have to live with the fact that the consequences of our conduct will constitute our threshing floor…the place of furnace where we’ll inevitably be tested, strained and burnished. We either come out shining like well-polished pure gold or as dross to be tossed into the gutter.”