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••• The International Writers Magazine: Notes from Nigeria

How Should One Live in Africa?
• Adeojo Kolawole Adeyemi Hannibal

As the world turns, we oscillate between our local predicaments and the magnitude of effects of foreign wrangling.

You must have heard about the clamour for change that is almost turning sour in the mouths of citizens, what you have not heard is the hunger wracking the very soul of the masses. There were a lot of broken promises, not that we cared that much, since it had become their chief stock in trade, but the brazenness with which these were being churned out daily in the media is most appalling. We were taken from the acme of hope to the abyss of desperation in just a year. Though the menace of Boko Haram was reduced from the frequent bombardments that assaulted our daily lives to pockets of attacks that show a dying jihadist group holding on to suicide attacks in a forlorn attempt to keep afloat their reduced notoriety. What we lost in the grip of terror of the Boko Haram insurgents in the past regime, we gained in the emergence of a neo-culture of kidnapping. Hardly do we wake up these days without the daily news of kidnapping and the demand for ransoms. From the arid expanse of the North to the convoluted creeks of the south, this new culture has gained notoriety amongst recruits, mostly youth, who are emboldened by the lack of employment opportunities and the irreconcilable chasm between the over-bloated politicians and the masses. In this new trade, they have found a way not only to meet ends but also to get back at the callous system. I know you would say, that is the comeuppance of a nation whose leaders refuse to train its teeming human resources, but what is alarming is that these societal misfits have taken their game further down the ladder, as one does not necessarily have to be high net worth individual to become a candidate for their plots. One gets kidnapped for as lowly as N2million ransom nowadays. The most intriguing part of it is the spate of killings resorting from kidnap gone awry even after ransoms must have been collected and the seeming helplessness of our security outfits, who just could not figure where to attack this growing menace from. Did I mention that the wife of the governor of the Apex bank was kidnapped too?

Our state secret services have upgraded their commando maneuver as they finally muster the expertise to conduct a FBI-esque raids on the houses of alleged corrupt judges in the dead of the night. They were able to cart away exhibits, which they claimed would help them bring the judges to their hallowed knees in the court of law. There was furore in the aftermath of the raids, but trust Nigerians to be easily polarized along the lines of sentiments and harsh realities. Some said while they had no issue with arresting corrupt judges, why not go through the proper channel of reporting them to the NJC, invite them and follow due process in prosecuting them. The others said there was nothing wrong in conducting raids on the homes of corrupt judges once they have search warrants. To have given them the slightest inkling of impending raids is to have given them the grace to destroy valuable evidences that could be used to prosecute the indictments brought against them, they asserted.

The latter argued that a corrupt judge is worse than a murderer, as the court remains the last hope of the common man and to have a corrupt  arbiter  presiding in our courts is akin to destroying the last bastion of hope for the common man. Come to think of it, maybe we would not have been in the present state if cases brought to our law courts are dispatched with in fairness and promptly so. All the same, the prosecution is still ongoing and some of the drowning judges are trying to hold on by counter indictments of some notable members of the president’s cabinet, whom they claimed had tried at various points to influence the outcome of  the verdict of elections tribunal in their favour by offering them kickbacks.

Perhaps you are as quite excited as to how this would play out as I am, since none of them is yet to plead guilty to any of the charges proffered against them. I must remind you that we hardly plead guilty here, even in the face of glaring evidences; we will rather go for plea bargain. Please, do not ask me how we got to this state. Justice is an expensive commodity; the poor cannot simply afford it.

Religious intolerance is still rearing its head every now and then, most especially in the north where the Shiite leader, Yaquob El Zakzaky is being held after the massacre that followed his faceoff with the military.  A subsequent procession by his followers also sparked similar macabre outcomes in five northern states. This reprehensible act is not to be found in the21st century, where individual’s rights to worship should be respected. The taciturn approach of the government in condemning all acts of religious aggression, persecution, violence and intolerance is equally condemnable. It was this same laconic expression that the president was almost skinned for when nomadic Fulani herdsmen invaded Nimbo community in the East and left it in ruins of human piles. His refusal to publicly condemn this act of terrorism was taken as a silent approval of the herdsmen’s invasion. Till this day, the survivors of that carnage still await justice for themselves and also for their departed.

The insensitivity of the government was taken to a new height when the Super Falcons who returned victorious at the just concluded Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) refused to leave their hotels to their various clubs because the government did not keep its own part of the bargain. The present government also continued in the traditions of the past ones by refusing to pay the bonuses pledged to them and by consequence totally neglecting sportsmen who brought honour and pride through their sweats and blood, to the nation.

It may interest you to note that the youth have now embraced all vices known to man under the sun. Of particular interest is internet scams and trolling. On trolling, the Nigerian internet space was awash with reactions directed towards the venerable Nobel Laureate who was called out to tear his US green card following the emergence of Mr Trump as the president of the U.S.A, in obvious rejoinder to the literal meaning offered by the sage when asked what his reactions would be should the self-acclaimed racist emerged victorious in the US presidential election. Trust the old man to rightly put them in their place. That is the level of abasement we now reduce ourselves to on the internet. People now sit in the comfort of their homes behind a computer, invading the private spaces of others, peddling rumours, orchestrating evils, phishing and scamming the last meaningful lives out of them. We are yet to invent anything meaningful despite the enormous human resources at our disposal, instead we only invent scenes , complex enough to embarrass the devil; the acclaimed master of all machination.

The masses wait exasperatedly with gaping yearnings on how to fulfill their Christmas and new year celebration and wondered where their best staple; rice, would come from in the midst of ban on importation, the trumping inflation and weak Naira against Dollar. They still await the outcome of the various intervention inputs injected into the agricultural sector, most especially for rice production. The plan, they said is to make us not only self-sufficient in rice production but also to become an export country of that staple food. We hope to start seeing the dividends of our long suffering soon, as people are fast being stretched beyond the threshold of tolerance.

The loss of hope that you so well captured previously is pathetic; however, that is where we have found ourselves as a country. Like most other youths, I am personally affected by a system that cares very little for her citizens. I have several dependents, yet with little to cope with their daily demands, while the people we voted into power spend millions and even billions at every given opportunity. Some friends were talking about the roar in the legislative house, where a Senator put down the budget that was presented by the Executive arm of government, which makes a provision for the purchase of sets of computers and cutleries for use at State House just as was done in the budget of the previous year. The question is, does the State House buy these things every year? What happened to the ones bought last year?

I will have to rush off to the scene of a collapsed church building few metres away. This, unfortunately, is also part of the hydra headed issues we face daily here. Kindly permit me to round off here; my earthly correspondence with you.

Till you hear from me again.  
Adeojo Kolawole Adeyemi Hannibal          

February 14th 2017

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