Season of Ndi Amakekwu?

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Okey Ikechukwu
Guest Columnist: Okey Ikechukwu (EDIFYING ELUCIDATIONS)

The recent “summary retirement” of Vice President Osinbajo, without a demand that he physically vacates the office, points to something more ominous, more macabre and more unseemly than the obvious fact of a progressive, but resolute, dismantling of Tinubu and the South-west in the rehearsals for 2023. The public humiliation was not necessary. The matter of seeking clearance from the President on certain issues, assuming Osinbajo was not doing that, could have been discussed privately, or even resolved over the phone. To inflict an official memo on the already clobbered and browbeaten fellow, directing him to be of good behaviour, was the limit. And this has sent out very interesting signals at two levels: (1) Osinbajo can now be conveniently ignored in the Aso Rock pecking order as a neuter whose beak (if any) has been effectively and resolutely blunted and (2) The imaginary political mansions some people have been trying to build around those who made Osinbajo the VP has just run out of building materials. In sum, the man is now part of the clerical support staff in the presidency: a senior clerk who may even use the presidential jet from time to time, but a clerk all the same. For those who say “serves him and, particularly Adeboye, right for being such hypocritical facilitators of the dismantling of everything they are supposed to defend,” let them look around and see that what the presidency is doing is being done at all levels and in every sphere of our national life – in this season of Ndi Amakekwu.

For the record, Ndi Amakekwu are people whose ideas, actions, conduct, choices and positions on issues are mostly guided by only what they want at any particular time. Rarely do you find decency, a sense of natural justice, equity, good conscience, plain common sense, or even a feeling of shame in deference to widely accepted norms of propriety, being taken into consideration in what they do. Whatever schemes they have devised, whatever they love doing, whatever they have decided to do, is what they will do; not minding what anyone may say, or think, about it. That is why an Igbo proverb (loosely translated) says: “A land that is ruled by Ndi Amakekwu is finished” (Obodo Ndi Amakekwu na achi a nago ngbuka). Not only do you find Ndi Amakekwu in the three arms of government, at both the state and federal levels, they are also at the local governments and wards and in our religious and traditional institutions as well. It is a political, traditional and religious leadership problem that predates the current government.

A close look at the federal government, the national and state assemblies, state and local governments, as well as federal and state parastatals suggests that they are breaking new grounds in insensitivity and squandermania. The Senate spokesman’s response to those who reportedly took the Senate to court for allegedly planning to spend N5.5 billion on the purchase of vehicles for its members is symptomatic of this malaise. So is the pay packet of members of the National Assembly, the running cost and impress for its principal officers, the scary bills of the executive arm of government, the expenditure on personal security and the cost of vehicles for office holders and their assistants at all levels, the endless debate over the national minimum wage, the pussyfooting over the demands of doctors, teachers and organised labour. Look at the plethora, and frequency, of industrial actions – going on for decades now!

Ndi Amakekwu can also be described in biological terms as saprophytes, scavengers and parasites. These are organisms that feed, grow and are best nourished in places where things that were once healthy and robust have either died, are dying, are decaying or are, at least, being diminished in their original state of being. When found in nature, away from large populations of healthy entities, saprophytes and scavengers are ordinarily useful as the “waste disposal” agents of nature. They live in wild forests, underwater, in your backwoods territories, in private dustbins and in public refuse dumps; where they help in recycling nutrients, minerals and chemicals. But that is in nature, where they exist in small numbers and in restricted areas. Just one dead horse in the bush can give rise to as much as a billion cheerful and thriving saprophytes – mushrooms, fungi, larvae of various organisms and a complete riot of vermin and scavengers. But death of all robust, cheerful, midday-like life ends up as the ultimate permanent resident wherever they “dominate” and luxuriate.

Are we, perhaps, watching the loss of our collective living space to the decomposers of the values of positive evolution? Are we watching a merciless “dismantling” of the building blocks of edifying parenting, leadership recruitment, mentoring and responsible societal life? Are we, metaphorically speaking, watching the wrecking of the positive genetic information, as well as the cell structure and the accumulated minerals and other nutrients, making up the body politic we call our nation-state? Is the Nigerian State and its people standing under a ruling elite that does not represent development anymore? Is it the expected growth of our national wealth now like a situation where someone is pouring water into a bucket, while another is draining the bucket by scooping water out of it? Thus, a situation where the owner of a bucket may have fetched enough water to fill 10 buckets, but has less than half a bucket of water to show for his efforts?

Just consider: (1) Many wealthy and prominent people of today may not have gotten to where they are if propriety, honesty and responsible management of public resources had not fled the land. (2) Many prominent Nigerians of today, when looked at very closely, seem to represent decay of values, brazenness, questionable income and progressive deterioration of our collective humanity and wellbeing. (3) There is a frightening expansion of the frontiers for degenerative and non-constructive distribution and consumption of national resources. (4) Our leaders and their acolytes grow in size and strength as extensive damage is being done to values and as underdevelopment reaches new highs. (5) The balkanisation of the public space, as well as the use of laws of their own making to milk the nation at everyone’s expense leaves us in no doubt that they are Ndi Amakekwu.

We have hundreds of parastatals at both the federal and state levels, but we do not have even five percent of what the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Michael Opara did for their people 50 years ago. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which was set up to remedy the misfortune of the devastated area is indebted to the tune of two trillion Naira, but the place is still undeveloped. The North East Development Commission would not have been necessary, but for the failure to govern and secure that otherwise thriving section of the polity for over 30 years. We actually cannot point to what we have gained since we moved from three regions in 1966 to 36 state governments. We have nothing to show for our 34 more administrative units, 774 local governments, 36 extra legislatures, etc. Many big players in the national economy today were created by government patronage, abuse of economic incentives and cronyism; unlike the business leaders of the past who impacted national productivity and local economies, created real jobs, real wealth and posted measurable returns on investment that fuelled development.

Ndi Amakekwu, or Ndi Omekaome, in politics, business and also in the domain of religion preach apostasy as doctrine, parade heresy as insight, present reprobate speech making as evangelism and use their Creator’s name to recruit souls for the devil. The religious saprophytes, scavengers and parasites, for instance, emerge, live, survive, grow and maintain themselves by feeding off distorted, dead and decomposing spiritual teachings. They praise miracles and sudden wealth and create a clan of believers who seek wealth and earthly pleasure without work and without God. So, welcome to “leaders” who need a downward spiral of something good, some decay, the carcass of something, in order to be in their element.

Criminality thrives here and progressively overshadowing the good name of the majority. The “we are not all like that” campaign, which is a reaction to revelations about some Nigerians in the United States, is not gaining traction. To defend us by pointing to the exceptional academic performance of Nigerian youths in the best universities all over the world is to overlook the fact that a farmer whose best seed grains grow well only in other people’s plots of land should ask himself what he is not getting right. Such a failed farmer should not be throwing parties to celebrate the outsourced seeds proof as “his” prowess as a farmer. He should not go about prancing and looking with admiration at the seeds that have become full-blown plants in more conducive soils. The inclement environment created by saprophytes, scavengers and parasites, under the superintending umbrella of Ndi Amakekwu, has dried up opportunities for productive segments of the population. It is not “Nigeria’s greatness” I see as the energies of our people find expression elsewhere, and sometimes in unedifying engagements. It is only Ndi Amakekwu who will not notice that a massive population of largely illiterate, unhealthy and hungry youth and is no national asset, but a scandalous index of leadership derailment. Only human saprophytes, scavengers and parasites will declare massive, uncultivated land, mostly overrun by marauders and terrorists, an asset, instead of an ungoverned space. If Ndi Amakekwu are healthier and more robust here, it means that there is a lot of “death” and dying going on around here. Yes, some very big things are being constantly run down here.

Some saprophytes scavenger and parasites may be so small that the naked eye cannot see them. Others may be grubs, insects, slugs, beetles, and larger animals; it does not matter. So, whether we are talking about governors, local government and ward chairmen, lawmakers, hundreds of personal assistants, special assistants and senior special assistants and what not, they are all draining useful nutrients from the once-viable Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many of them, as Ndi Amakekwu, are agents of consumption and decay. And it seems to be their season. The bazaar is on, whichever way you look at it. Massive houses are springing up in squalid villages and visible wealth of questionable origins affronts those who know, or at least believe, that leadership has become the best route to earthly paradise in Nigeria. Worrisome!