By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
I sorry sorry o, I sorry for Nigeria
I sorry sorry o, I sorry for Africa
Sorry sorry o (trice)
But with these kind of leaders
Africa no get hope
Africans will suffer
‘Til the suffer reach our bone
Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti
This was the song playing at the other end of the bar. And then I could see from my seat an altercation a few meters away, voices, and from the gestures you could tell there was a fight in the making and what followed were a couple of hard-hitting slaps. I was a little drunk on two calabashes of ‘tunboliqour’ (palm wine). And I am sure I was between sixes and half a dozen, a dream and several visions as I drifted.
In my dream and visions, I wondered at the fact that what a nation laughs at and about, tells you how serious or otherwise that nation is—
So, the long and short of the story from Akwa, Anambra state is that there was an altercation between two women, one being the former First Lady of the state, the other being the widow of former Biafran Warlord and Leader Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Ikemba Nnewi at the swearing in of Chukwuma Soludo as governor ended in an exchange of slaps between both women.
It was in the news, who slapped who first and who started it, was inconclusive and inconsequential. Fact is for the next few days it was the slap that made the news. Not even the content of Soludo’s promissory notes to Anambraians mattered, not even the farewell speech of the former governor Obiano counted. There was simply a consensus Soludo please do well, we expect governance unusual from him. We cared less about his first appointments, or actions because we were in the season of slaps.
Nigerians are slap hardened; in Street lingo we say ‘no be today’. A nation that has crude oil in abundance is waiting for 29 shiploads of petroleum and other products or else we remain in a slapped state. As usual what the fuel problem has exposed is we don’t even have a reserve that can take the nation a week if we had a real war and yet all sorts of figures are branded as consumption and subsidy.
So, what is a slap?
To hit or strike with the palm of the hand or a flat object. As in, “My sister slapped my face”
Who slapped us, in one full sweep no motor spirit, no cooking spirit, no aviation fuel and no diesel? They equally slapped our electricity sector, 14 power plants crippled supply as the national grid collapsed and trust me it’s no news story. As usual we just go onto another matter, or we simply seek alternatives.
In the midst of all these our national consciousness is fixated on the ongoing theatrics of the ruling party and gimmicks of the opposition as they entertain us with the best in Baba Suwe and awada kerikeri while we slap banters away. Increasing food prices, cooking gas price increase, and transportation cost hike. Our educational institutions are battling the perennial cultural festival called ASUU Strike, a festival where our kids stay at home for a while and then go back like nothing happened.
In Nigeria they know us, our leaders know us too well, they know when to slap us, they also know when to leave us, and we will certainly slap ourselves with the mundane, the funny, and inconsequential, after all, “we cannot ‘come and kill’ ourselves”, so they provide enough comedy to keep us unconscious of reality.
Slaps are in many versions, Nigerians have become accustomed to it, it is a TAKE AWAY SLAP: When someone gives you a dirty slap and all you can do is hold your face and walk away. Imagine that there has been a fuel increase and all we can say is at least, “let us see the fuel and buy…” We buy and walk away. In Nigeria, any price that goes up, never comes down
Our politicians never cease to give us RESOUNDING SLAP: This is after they hit us with their actions and inactions, we keep on hearing some funny sounds in our brains like “wiiiiiiiiiii”! And voices in our head will start singing Christmas Carol, and mind you it is nowhere near Christmas…you remember when billions were spent feeding school children that were home during lockdown.
What did we do, increase in the price of bread, withdrawal of all kinds of tariffs, we are the ones taking the carbonated drinks, they are the ones who feel so bothered they ask us to pay tax, it is simply a FORMATTING SLAP: This is the slap that makes us forget instantly that some of our would-be-leaders have failed in many aspects, but as a result of the slaps, it is a case of “who-do-us?”
Have you seen Nigerians explaining how the government is trying, or have you seen a governor explaining how they paid salaries, I mean as in really and then they are praised, or have you heard that debate about, even though he stole, he worked! We have been given an EXPLANATION SLAP! Many of us are yet to recover from the FIXED DEPOSIT SLAP of the entire Abba Kyari and NDLEA drama, or the Hushpupi Sura the tailor episode. When the stories started coming in, many of us just stood fixated to the spot, where we were still watching how all these will end, mouths opened wide.
In Nigeria today we are given all kinds of slaps, the RHETORICAL SLAP, the one they slap us, and we ask, who slapped us, some slaps are SWEET SLAPS, here they are about to slap us, and they are testing us, asking whether it’s painful or not, and we start blushing because the slap was administered by our kinsmen or adherents of our faith.
In our clime, nothing makes sense, we don’t know exactly how much fuel we consume, cannot figure how we import matchstick and yet want to produce pencils, the MATHEMATICAL SLAP makes everything gloomy, we all are experts, at some form of maths or the other because nothing adds up. Have you seen party faithful discuss, or legislators speak especially when there is a probe or panel, everything is hazy, nothing makes sense, there is loads of noise and movement with no direction? It is actually a COLOUR RIOT SLAP.
The Nigerian populace do not know that they own the power in the spaces, they forget that there is a RETURN LEG/RECIPROCAL SLAP: Where our leaders can be made to see the consequences of their actions. That we can slap them back immediately they slap us, thus making them respect us and do what is right.
Like the proverbial Yoruba mother, we need to give our leaders an IGBATI (Face Slap), so that they correct their mistakes immediately! Our institutions need to function with IFOTI alacrity, one that holds leaders responsible and accountable, it will make them confess their sins on the spot.
We need to operate in the realm IGBAJUN (same as Ifoti & Igbati), give them IGBARUN & IFORUN (Neck Slap) so that we need not discuss who was responsible for adulterated fuel because knowing the consequences, they won’t try it ab initio.
The fear of the citizenry should be the beginning of wisdom, when politicians know the power of the PVC, it will be like an ABARA (Random Back Slap), not knowing who is watching and the reaction will put them on their toes. Sadly, I am afraid, because the question, is who and when will we slap them—Only time will tell,