"Power, in this country, seems to continue to oscillate between two major power blocs, the arrogant and the ignorant"
*Photo courtesy abc.net
By Dele OMOTUNDE
Chairman, First Gentleman, Mr. Depooti Waif Jang, husband of our amiable, beautiful and stylish first female governor of this blessed state, Her Excellency, Mrs. Queen Jang, obongs, obas, obis, emirs, chiefs, members of the diplomatic corps, gentlemen of the press, ladies and gentlemen. I am happy to welcome you all to the third in the series of the bi-annual STATE OF THE TRIBE lecture and it's a big privilege to introduce to you the lecturer for today, in the person of Professor Al Mazoori, the famous itinerant motivational speaker who is blessed with a combined honours degree in History and Anthropology. Professor Mazoori, as some of you may be aware, is not a stranger to us here, but as much as I would have loved to recount his antecedents, I have been asked to allow these to come from the horse's mouth. Prof, over to you, sir.
Thank you, Mr. Moderator. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, I want to express my gratitude for being invited to this great nation of yours to do what I have been doing in other parts of Africa and the rest of the world. The last time that I was here I talked about the similarities among the people of Africa and how really related we all are (See KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU, TELL, November 29, 2004). In 2006, I was back to talk about the seeming peculiarities that exist between your country and Ghana (See THE GHANAGERIA SIAMESE TWINS 1 & 2, TELL, October 2 & 9, 2006). Now I have been commissioned by the Civil Rights Association and Democracy Watchman of Niagara to take an anthropological look, this time, at your seat of power and see if there is any deviation from old practices and practitioners.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not here to cast aspersion on any power bloc, neither am I here to judge anybody. My mission is to find out if real progress has been recorded in your march towards the promised land of democracy. Unfortunately, it is, as they say in Kenya, not yet uhuru. Very sad, indeed. Power, in this country, seems to continue to oscillate between two major power blocs, the ignorant and the arrogant. For many years, you have been led and ruled by the ignorant who seize power but do not have any ideological basis for doing so. Theirs is to be in charge of the oil wealth that you are blessed with and dispense favours to cronies such as spouses, cousins, relations, political stooges and henchmen. To them, the age-long theory of utilitarianism, a doctrine which says that actions are right if only they are useful for the benefit of a majority, has no meaning. The second group which understands the need to initiate programmes that will bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number, choose to be arrogant and nonchalant. They forget that those who are in the position of power have the responsibility of improving on the welfare of the citizenry. They also forget that it is not the number of mansions they build on reclaimed lands of Lagos and Port Harcourt that matters but the quality of castles they erect in the hearts of the people.
One other thing my research has found out is the lack of a permanent national framework on which everybody in power must build. What I have discovered is that there is no clear-cut national policy on how to direct the affairs of your country. It is an all comers' affair. Everybody rules according to his whims and caprices, pardon that cliché. But do I really have to beg for a pardon? When you are discussing a cliché which the Niagara issue is, actually, you can't help running into dated expressions. Niagara, in the international community, has become an irritant, worrisome cliché. Terrible, isn't it? For instance, have you not been talking and shouting about peace and unity since independence? Is the country peaceful? Are you united? And I blame the respective occupiers of your seat of power since independence for not thinking out of the box. I learnt that your seat of power used to have only a mosque as the only place of worship until a Wild Christian came, by happenstance, to power and caused a chapel to be built also. To me, that is a reactive measure. What stops a Niagaran President from saying that for the sake of unity, the seat of power will lead by example and henceforth have a common place of worship for both Muslims and Christians? On Friday, the Muslims go in to knock their heads against the floor in the direction of the Kaaba, shouting Allahu akbar! and, on Sunday, the place is rearranged for the Christians to go in, to kiss the lifeless feet of a statue on the altar, shouting God is great! If Aso Rock, I learnt that is what you call your seat of power here, could worship together (both Muslims and Christians) in the same building, the entire country will take a cue. Never will anybody burn down any place of worship again, except 'Worst Class' savages!
Then how about this? Instead of an ecumenical church which you have in your capital, Abuja, why not a chursque, a church-mosque of sorts, where all Niagaran Muslims and Christians can worship during the National Day celebrations? (Some murmurings in the audience) ...Sorry, have I stirred any hornet's nest? Beg your pardon? No, no, no, there are no infidels anywhere in the world. This is what I have been preaching on my lecture tours. Everybody is a believer. It is only the ignoramus that will label another fellow an infidel or unbeliever. We all believe in something, so let's come together and worship that Being we believe in once in a year, for the sake of our country. That's not too much a sacrifice. Is it?
Let me end this lecture by reminding us all that there's nothing wrong in having a cabal, mafia or inner caucus in any political setting. It depends on the interest they are serving, the ruling elite's or the people's. During the process of gathering material for this speech, I came across some of the most prominent mafia groups in your country. The list is long but permit me to mention just a few. They are the military mafia, Kaduna mafia, Arewa mafia, Katsina mafia, Polio mafia, Polo mafia, Gumi mafia, Egba mafia, Ekiti Parapo mafia, First Lady mafia, Ijebu mafia, Ikenne mafia, Ndigbo mafia, Amala mafia, Ogbonno mafia, Langtang mafia, Okija mafia, Gbegiri mafia, Bakassi mafia, Fattening Room mafia, Oil mafia, Ahoy mafia... Whether seadogs or seagulls or landhogs, why can't all the mafiosi come together for the sake of the country? But this I know — myopic visions, class interests, primordial stereotypes, savagery, primitiveness, wickedness, greed and inordinate ambitions are always cogs in the wheel of progress in many African nations. The rest of the world look up to Niagara to put its house in order but for how long shall we wait for the "giant in the sun" to wake up from its deep slumber? I'm sure we do not have to wait till the Second Coming. Thank you and GodAllah Bless.
*First published in TELL September 22, 2008.