But all hope is not lost for Nigeria, despite the foreboding. We can if we are prepared to make sacrifices, redeem – somewhat – and refurbish our sullied image. All our most bizarre quirks can actually be harnessed and put to work for us, instead of against us.
And so, instead of trying to swim up-current, and up the rapids, we could easily be kayaking with the current, and way down…over the rapids.
The absurd exists only in the minds of the demure, or the pusillanimous. For the bold and nihilistic mind of the Nigerian, nothing really is absurd, or ridiculous; in fact, nothing really is ‘nothing.’ There is nothing wrong with cows struggling for the right of the road with motorists, after all, they are bonafide residents of Nigeria and are entitled to freedom of movement.
Understandably, if they were ‘Ghanaian cows’, motorists would have a genuine reason to feel offended. But since they are Nigerians (by birth), they frequently use (and most times, block) public roads. Shouldn’t they be levied the same road taxes ordinary motorists pay? And shouldn’t they be taught the traffic code? The state governments (especially the states up north, and Lagos state, down south) would no doubt generate extra revenue from this untapped source. And may I suggest an on-the-spot fine, for any cow found dangerously roaming the streets at night without headlamps, a horn, or tail-lights!
Our penchant for defecating in public should not be left to ‘waste’. Our unique coprophilia and its resultant talents can be displayed for a profit… and it’s all so easy. Assemble a group of curious, gawking tourists (preferably Americans); charge exorbitant gate fees (they can afford it), and then the performance can begin.
Any vagrant paid a token fee will gladly do the job. There are no speaking parts; the only special qualification (which is optional) is that he must have diarrhoea. And all he would have to do is sit back and “let the matter drop”, to the rousing ovation of the by-now ecstatic audience. And if he can toss in a couple of moans and groans for special effect all the better.
And after the show, the residue of the performance can be collected by the Ministry of Agriculture, as a contribution by a patriotic Nigerian toward the realisation of our much-vaunted Green Revolution programme. In fact, I strongly believe that if the Ministry could take some time and go around the streets of Lagos collecting the remains of thousands of similar performances, we would be self-sufficient in our fertiliser requirements. And we would save millions in foreign exchange.
A colleague of mine recently wrote in the papers, suggesting that the government mount pedestals around gruesome dead-bodies lying by our roadsides, and charges the public a fee to see them. I go a step further to say that, instead of putting them up on display, why not export them? According to experts, there is tremendous potential in Nigeria for a very viable cadaver exporting industry. And the raw materials are there — literally lying on the streets. And we could very easily meet any specifications our necrophilic buyers could possibly have.
Cadavers, in varying degrees of decomposition, are found daily on our streets; the public doesn’t want them and neither does the government. Any far-sight entrepreneur could easily make a killing (pardon the pun) if he went quickly into this line of business.
And I think the government should seriously take an interest, in view of its tremendous foreign exchange earning capacity, and in time, it could possibly supplant oil as our number one revenue earner.
The president’s men and top civil servants all over the country have refused to declare their assets. Their stubbornness, coupled with our society’s reluctance to change for the better, has made the office of the Code of Conduct Bureau an anachronism. Its chairman, Alhaji Isa Kaita, has been thrown into a fit of geriatric despair…declaring that only “God can save us”.
Respectfully, I say to him, “Leave God out of this”, for we can handle the problems ourselves. How? Easy. Legitimise bribery and smuggling in one word: corruption. This suggestion would no doubt assuage the hearts of our leaders.
And now, since it would be perfectly legal to steal from the government and the people, there wouldn’t be any reason for clandestine Swiss accounts. Hopefully, Nigerian monies overseas will be repatriated, and there will visibly be billions of extra naira in circulation (forget about inflation). The Inland Revenue sharks can now move in and tax properly all ‘legitimate’ earnings.
Smugglers should now be able to operate freely, without having to worry about venal Customs officers. And the millions they would otherwise have paid as hush-money to the Customs boys can now be used to retrieve our Naval Flagship, NNS Erinmi, which we are told ran aground at the Tarkwa Bay whilst (ironically) in hot pursuit of smugglers.
With the irksome problems of grand larceny out of the way, we can concentrate on enforcing the unwritten laws that clearly state that it is an offence, and indeed unpatriotic, not to offer bribes, and thereby redistribute incomes.
NEPA, variously known as ‘No Electric Power Authority’ or ‘Never Expect Power Always’, must certainly be the most beleaguered corporation in the world…it certainly is the most unpopular and the most inefficient one in Nigeria. And over the years, the general public has been treated by successive administrations, to a feast of excuses, ranging from “low water level” at the Kainji Dam, to a “snake in the works” at the Kainji battery room; the latter, to my mind, being the most plausible. Snakes are quite capable (all by themselves) of plunging entire nations into darkness, after all, they did plunge Adam into nakedness.
And so, they say, “Once bitten…” I suggest that henceforth, all NEPA installations nationwide should be equipped with a mongoose fed and maintained by the Federal Government.
Recently, according to the Ministry of Mines and Power, NEPA’s problems have been exacerbated by an NNPC-induced gas-supply shortage to the generating power installations at Ughelli and Afam. If the NNPC cannot supply enough gas to turn NEPA’s turbines, our politicians and leaders can easily provide us with solutions.
If gas pipes are ingeniously coupled with the posteriors of the majority of our politicians, and fed to NEPA’s gas turbines, all our problems would be solved. We simply capitalise on the gaseous tumescence of our politicians and provide NEPA with a steady dependable source of premium methane gas, to power their gas-turbines. But I doubt that our more rotund politicians are prepared to make such sacrifices for our fatherland.
And if NEPA is in need of a thermal energy source, their best bet is to have a word with our legislators. For during House sittings, quite a lot of air is expended by our more loquacious legislators. If it is possible to channel house debates to power thermal generators, our legislators would have at least served some purpose.
We can, if we want to create a unique Nigeria, and ultimately redefine the meaning of absurdity, and we are well on our way towards achieving that. But I think our coup de grace will be Governor Sam Mbakwe’s suggestion, (which is quite sound): “Give Nigeria back to Britain!”
The Punch, Saturday, April 9, 1983