The Disappearing Symbols of National Unity


Abuja-based businessman and politician, Iboro Otu uses vivid imagery to illustrate noticeable the cracks in a once cohesive Nigeria

At every instance where we dig perilous graves for others, we only dig them for ourselves.

I’ll give an occasion and probably one of the very beginning and illustration of things. Let’s take that word itself, ‘perilous’. As I read an amazing story on the ‘Brazen Bull’, I couldn’t help but imagine if this was the incident where ‘perilous’ derived its meaning as it was from interesting occurrences the Anglo-Saxons made words out of.

Allegedly, at this instance in Akragas, Sicily, its tyrant king, Phalaris, was presented a very wicked contraption, this monstrosity was called the Brazen Bull, artistically and meticulously moulded in the form of a bull, made of bronze, but with a hollow belly in which tubes were connected to orifices in its mouth, nostrils and anus. There was a door on one side through which a human being could be forced in and then roasted to death from under the belle of the beast. The idea of this perilous journey of death was that the commuter would bellow and scream as they were roasted to death. The acoustics of the hollow chambers was such that as the person screamed and wailed, it would follow the hollow tubes and resonate outside of it like an infuriated raging bull, hence the its name.

Someone sat down, thought out, designed and made this. Guess who he was? Mr. Perillos, of course, the owner of the ‘perilous’ title! He told his tyrant king that ‘the screams will come out through the pipes as the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious bellowings’, and that the scored bones afterwards will shine like jewels and could be made into bracelets’. Such science, sounded exactly like modern day Nigerian leaders and their numerous advisers working on ideas on how to suffer Nigerians to death.

Perillos, an inventor, could’ve used his time to invent anything good, but no, like the origin of his name, he had to be fit for purpose; be perilous.

The king thought for a while and asked Perilous if he could sample the product but because he didn’t have a criminal yet to make an example of, he would still love to hear a mimicry of it by staging a mock show, having someone go inside the bull for a minute and wail albeit without any suffering. Of course Perillos jumped at it, it was his invention and no one would first him in launching it, he should show the king how it worked. And that is exactly what happened. Poor Perillos jumped inside his contraption and lo, King Phalaris ordered for it to be locked and lit! Perillos has a taste of his own invention and that indeed was the first example of how such could work. It worked perfectly I heard. Perillos bellowed. That, my friends, is exactly how Karma rewards.

Meanwhile, a few years later Sicily was invaded and captured by another King and guess how King Phalaris went? Of course, down the Raging Bull.

You see these our leaders, you see these our ‘wayo’ leaders building us all sorts of Raging Bulls to kill us by the day? They will end in the belly of the bull, Perillous-ly, all of them.

Each day the impossible is made possible as a result of man’s ability to innovatively pursue good. Only just yesterday, biblically sworn enemies made way for some good; out of an understanding that peace, reconciliation, co-existence and harmony is possible when difficult considerations are made on all sides. Isreal, Bahrain, UAE made friends with each other, forging a path for lasting peace in the Middle East. And yet, on this parched earth and dust called Nigeria, every opportunity for peaceful co-existence and progress is hijacked by jackals in power as money making opportunity. The earth has long evolved to a point where humanity has realized that when we think good for others we only do good for ourselves; not only for others. This peace agreement works in each of their best selfish interests, first. What can we then, as a nation, borrow from this?

We are a concomitance of two hundred million people. A wealthy and diversity rich human resource that could be mined for it’s immense possibilities, yet, at every juncture, the wickedness of our Perillos always come out in ways of developing hard-starting whenever anything good comes up.

The household art of war begins with standing akimbo, giving the other party ample time to sense danger and structure their defense before the war begins. The real battle however, long began with our imaginations and machinations of war and self defense with each other, in our minds. Slay that and you slay it’s manifestations. We must identify and slay our Perilloses.

Obasenjo has spoken, Danjuma has spoken, Kukah has spoken, Babangida has spoken, Abdulsalam has spoken, who hasn’t spoken? See how you can tell who I’m taking about even with mentioning only their first names? It goes to legitimize their popularity and position in this country and all of them are saying same words as if they were reading from same script. Every symbol of unity is fractioning. Lately, it is the Arewa Consultative Forum fracking into North and North-Central forums. That, right there, is standing akimbo popularly termed as ‘fire on the mountain’.

My role is to call the fire service and point the direction, what is your role?