As the man once said, ‘just because I am a paranoid schizophrenic does not mean that I don’t have enemies.’ Given the opacity of our political system and the obtuseness of Nigerians, I have over the decades evolved to have a healthy skepticism about all things Nigerians. Nothing is ever quite what it seems, and oftentimes the truth about Nigeria is stranger than fiction-even the stories from the fabled Nollywood repertoire, sometimes strain our understanding of reality.
Indeed, I came to the conclusion that the moment you are in Nigeria, you are in a Reality Distortion Field where Euclidian geometry does not apply. In Nigeria, the shortest distance between two points is not the expected straight line. As I have grown older, I have learnt to make adjustments to correct the distortions inherent in the Nigerian distortion field. As the nebulous conspiracies unravel in plain sight, I have come to see that like those Russian Matryoshka dolls, with one doll nestling into another, in Nigeria, there are ‘conspiracies’ within conspiracies. Enjoy!
The story of Nigeria reminds me of the story of the Tower of Babel in the old testament of the Bible. As the story goes, some enterprising engineers got together and decided to build a tower that would go way up, puncture the clouds, and terminate at God’s doorstep. Work soon started, with a labour gang of thousands. With some ingenious engineering and plenty of hardwork the tower was built to an appreciable height.
But God didn’t exactly fancy the idea of humans [as would have been inevitable] climbing up and intruding on his privacy. So, determined to stop the construction, he wrought confusion among the workers, by unleashing on them a plethora of languages.
Everybody present started speaking in different tongues, nobody could understand the other. Somebody asked for some cement, and another person promptly offered a wheel barrow. Predictably, with such confusion, the construction grounded to a halt. God had prevailed again.
Nigeria, in stringing up this metaphor, is like the Tower of Babel. Some ambitious engineers have decided to build, and work has started, but the confusion of a ‘wazobia’ of languages is not the only problem. Workers are tardy and indolent; suppliers supply inferior building materials, and most times do not supply at all. And of course, the building contract has been grossly inflated to satisfy the traditional ‘ten to twenty-five per-centres.’
At this rate, it is doubtful if we will make it to ‘heaven’s gate’ or if the building will be completed. And the most damning indictment of all is that we do not have the plausible excuse of divine intervention. The confusion in Nigeria today, is not wrought by God, but by men… Nigerians like you and me.
Actually, it is more of a conspiracy than anything else. I am sure of it. In a kind of nebulous isometry, our muscles are pitted one against the other. And so instead of complementing one another to achieve specific goals, like lifting this country off the ground, we are straining and stressing, achieving nothing but perhaps a ‘pulled’ muscle here, and a torn ligament there.
Nigeria sometimes defies reason; against all reasonable logic, we have refused to be great, despite our tremendous potential, and our enormous mineral wealth. And the more that the progress chart of this country is scrutinised, the more we smell a conspiracy, aimed at protecting the interests of a specific class of Nigerians and hamstringing the nation. Our polity has been compromised, and now reeks of a conspiracy.
The democracy is now nothing but a legitimate machinery for the elected to fuel their petty egos, exploit the country, and subjugate the electorate. Politicians (at least this present breed) are all the same, and any differences that might exist between them are only skin deep. They have clearly conspired to keep politics in this country stagnating at primal levels. It is to their benefit, to ensure that the electorate are not made fully aware of the democratic clout they possess.
All the brouhaha about political parties, as far as I am concerned, is a ruse, a red herring to distract attention from the conspiracy. The conspiracy is pervasive, and it stretches way beyond our territorial boundaries, and knows no patriotism. Nigerians are conspiring against Nigeria and Nigerians, with the help of non-Nigerians. In a mindless bid to preserve the status quo, ‘unholy pacts’ are made with foreigners, who come under one guise or the other, to help consolidate certain footholds.
What we have is not quite as pungent as neo-colonialism, but its effects are none the less quite debilitating. It’s an insidious quasi-neocolonialism, perpetuated by a bourgeois class that glides into the nouveaux riche. They are also the ruling class, which explains the conspiratorial silence over glaring national ills.
There is a very real danger of our sovereignty being enfeebled by unhealthy liaisons with aliens contrived by certain Nigerians. But it is part of the conspiracy to gloss over, and downplay the threat of subtle neo-colonial domination.
As it is, we are victims of media imperialism — we are constantly being bombarded by exaggerated news about Western countries, and fed by the shovelful of garbage, half-truths about ourselves and our continent. The conspiracy sees to it that we know that Roland Reagan loves jellybeans; that Yuri Andropov is short-sighted; and that the Queen was “not amused” about ‘Randy’ Prince Andrew’s brief roll-in-the-hay with soft-porn star Koo Stark … or Stark Koo (or whatever).
All our ideals are gradually being redefined to fit a Western mould. It seems that we now know more about the western world than about ourselves. I know that King Canute tried to stop the waves at his behest; I also know about Paul Revere’s midnight ride, but I don’t know how many we are as Nigeriansor when the registration of voters will take off again in Lagos State, or Rivers State for that matter.
‘Thinking’ Nigerians I am sure, are aware of the subtle wave of brain washing that is rippling across our consciousness. But everybody is too busy rat-racing for the almighty naira, to be bothered by such trivialities.
Our lopsided educational systems churn out people that are qualified theoretically to do the job, but practically incapable of doing so. Our Western- oriented curricula ensures further dependency on Western education. The old stereotype of the ‘noble savage’ has been synthesised with the colonial ‘master–servant’ one to evolve into a contemporary ‘noble-servant’cast.
It is no accident that we are almost totally dependent on oil-generated revenue. It is no accident also that we are Black Africa’s largest market. With the conspiracy of a comprador class of merchants, and a consumptive middle class, we are guaranteed to produce and export little, but import and consume plenty.
So that whatever revenue is generated by oil, is almost immediately after, consumed by our staggering import bills. The arrangement is neat; it suits their exporters, and it suits our middle men and importers, and everybody is happy and so much for ‘austerity’. The people that have money still have, and the vast majority that don’t … don’t; for them, their suffering is perpetual.
And as somebody put it, “the rich get richer, and the poor procreate”. It is either that or booze. And the conspiracy has taken care of that too, what with the ever increasing number of breweries, that should guarantee that, in a short while, we would be a nation reeling in a drunken daze, too pissed to worry about anything, let alone a conspiracy.
Saturday, December 11, 1982