Our National Comedy Series

On the 6th of August 2012, I posted on my Facebook wall, “Nigeria: A country of comedians in government”.  8 years after, neither the comedy nor the tragedy has abated.  Laughter is definitely good medicine in Nigeria (the country of the supposed happiest people on the earth) and that is why the stand-up comic sector keeps expanding with the entry of new acts almost on a daily basis.  Thus when the monstrous, the unbelievable, the incredible happens and you expect the most severe outrage from Nigerians, what you get are memes and plenty of GIFs on social media turning a serious issue of incompetent leadership into a comic relief of tragic proportions.

Take for instance the NDDC inquiry at the House of Representatives and the mindboggling revelations by the Minister of Niger-Delta, the enduring take away has been, “Honourable Minister, Off Your Mic…” and the fact that the acting Managing Director of NDDC “fainted” under the barrage of questions as an attempt to relieve the pressure and avert further embarrassment. 

One is not sure whether we are getting better or worse at these ridiculous cop out tactics.  At times one wonders at the veracity of such statements as,” the more things change, the more they stay the same”. 

Those of us who were nurtured on that famous Yoruba primary schools’ textbooks, “Alawiye” by the late venerable author, Joseph Folahan Odunjo, encountered many remarkable tales that you will naturally consider farfetched.  But not anymore with some of the “gymnastics” of the past 60 years from those who appear to have soiled their hands with the country’s patrimony. 

Until Andrew Yakubu and other distinguished suspects who buried money in overhead tanks, soak-always and lately graveyards (“owo iboji” aye o!), the story of a man who hid significant amount of cowries in a pot and buried same in a farmland appeared preposterous at the time. These strange storehouses were effectively dramatized in Kemi Adetiba’s “King of Boys”.

The story of the tortoise who stole a measure of porridge and hid same under his cap and thereby scald his scalp making him bald, remained the kind of story restricted to the animal kingdom until Honourable Farouk Lawan stuffed his cap with a portion of the $600K he collected from Femi Otedola whilst keeping the remainder in his billowing babariga!

As if the Kano axis is infested with stuffings dollars in babariga syndrome, the Governor, Abdullai Umar Ganduje stormed all of us with his own theatrics. His excellency chose to deal with contractors directly. No intermediaries. What he collected as kickback, and stuffed in his babariga makes Farouk Lawan a learner.

Whoever wrote ‘Tea Without Sugar’ and ‘Ali and the Angels’ in our primary school English Language textbooks, years back, had Nigeria’s future leaders in mind.

This is a tragedy of the Nigerian State where the man who picks the pocket of a fellow citizen for whatever reason is the “thief” and will languish in jail whilst his counterpart who has helped himself to billions in both local and foreign currencies is strutting about with impugnity running down the clock of an inquiry that will soon become a charade and lapse. 

This is an aspect of the problem I have recalibrated as, “Acquired Value Deficiency Syndrome (AVDS)”.  It is a disease that originated from the failure of government to engage in actions that make the citizens to appreciate that their welfare is the focus of government; that provides assurance that government is thinking about their problems/challenges and doing something to ameliorate their plight morning day and night.

This failure creates opportunities for those who play politics of intervention, politics of patronage, politics of deception, politics of the belly to enslave certain important but vulnerable segments of the society. It is AVDS that sustained Late Chief Adedibu’s brand of politics: “Amala Politics”; Ayodele Fayose’s “stomach infrastructure” and all those political coinages born out of greed for public purse but deceptively presented as love for the masses.

And whenever anyone engages in actions which reinforce a culture of perpetual dependence by the less privileged or the vulnerable class among our people, he is spreading AVDS.  So when you see anyone who has done what is agreed not to be right, engaged in gross misconduct or misbehaviour, shameful acts at local, state or national level but his relatives, kinsmen etc are carrying placards, placing advertorials in the newspapers in his support etc, this is AVDS.

The whole nation is infected with this deadly moral disease. It is simply because of a failure of a system that cannot dispense justice, fairness and equity without reference to where a man comes from, who he is or what he is; a system where those who stage multi-billion naira frauds are granted judicial bails while pick pockets are jailed 50 years!

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