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Clever people doing stupid things – Trouble

By Kole Omotoso
07 January 2018   |   3:30 am
Like the clever tailor who sewed an invisible but gorgeous garment for the emperor, it was a stupid thing to get money out of his imperial majesty.

Like the clever tailor who sewed an invisible but gorgeous garment for the emperor, it was a stupid thing to get money out of his imperial majesty. After the emperor wore the invisible dress and found it wonderful, he prepared to make a money transfer to the account of the clever tailor, who was already waiting for the alert from his bank. Until . . . A three-year-old baby shouted that the emperor is naked! There was no cloth in the sewing of the invisible garment! That is one of the lessons from learning the political history of Nigeria. Clever people doing stupid things to cheat Nigerians. And they will do nothing about the stupid things that their predecessors did because, as the saying goes: their hands are tied by the previous stupidity of their predecessors.

Starting from something that is fresh in our minds and on our pockets – fuel shortage leading to crowds, they are definitely not queues, crowds and crowds of cars and motorcycles in jumbles waiting for fuel at inflated price.

What is stupid is an arrangement that involves landing price of refined petroleum products. Landing from where?
In the radical 70s we used to say that our economy was made up producing what we do not consume and consuming what we do not produce. We seem determined to keep our economy that way by consuming petroleum products we do not wish to produce and producing petroleum products we do not consume. Yes, it makes your head spin to get around understanding our stupidity. We have no business with landing cost at all since we can refine what we produce and consume what we produce. But our hands are tied by ensuring that not one of our four refineries functions. And stupidly, nobody in power does anything to make them work so we would not have to deal with landing cost of refined petroleum products.

Another stupidity. Production and distribution of electricity has been on the stupidity list as well. The generator tycoons ensure that electricity production for the national grid does not function. Individuals should proudly produce their own generator from a range of I better pass my neighbour to Iglesias and Obas to industrial size. The type of generator we own has become part of our oriki, praise names. No wonder, some state governments have been thinking of imposing taxes on generators! According to the power of the generator possessed, so much taxation. Along with paying for undelivered electricity supply we pile stupidity on stupidity. Very soon it is not only our hands alone that will be tied. Our tongues are becoming tied to the extent that we do not speak against stupidity. Like the three year old and the plain nakedness of his imperial majesty.

On the personal intervention level, recall the types of matters on which you have been beseeched to personally intervene because you are perceived, rather wrongfully must be said, as one with prehensile hands fashioned to retrieve everyone from dungeons self-dug through stupidity. Two recent ones come to mind.

You are requested to please write a pleading letter to the governor of a state where pensions have not been paid for years. The letter pleads the cause of one person rather than of everybody. The reason was that the person needed the pension money for medical treatment overseas.

Would such special pleading be called for if pensions were paid? Would pensions remain unpaid if those who stole pension funds were punished for stealing instead of being hailed as thieving heroes?

What is more stupid than catching a thief, begging him to return some of his loot and leaving him severely alone to enjoy the rest of his loot? This is not because there are no laws about stealing public property. It is just that from little pilfering actions like paying government fines into our private accounts we have graduated to taking whole treasuries into our private sakani.

The other incident has to do with insurance for vehicles plying our miserable motor paths. The cheapest insurance is no insurance. If you happen to hit some other motor path user’s rear bumper, you immediately prostrate and beg for forgiveness. After all even God forgives. So, who are you to be so heart strong as to refuse to forgive for someone who is genuinely sorry that he destroyed your rear lights because he was carelessly texting somebody while following you in a go-slow? The next and the commonest is third party insurance. It does nothing for you except fulfill the law. But most vehicles on the motor path today have no insurance finish.

A trailer carrying huge logs wobbled. The iron ropes used to tie the logs loosens and releases the logs on to the motor path. One hits the front of an oncoming car destroying its bumper, the front lights and the radiator. But nobody was wounded or hurt the narrator was quick to add. You are being begged to beg the owner of the car to forgive and forget.

There are things that one does not feel adequate to do for others in the name of being a helpful so and so. One of them is begging a colleague to forgive and forget about a wrecked vehicle because his wife and children in the car did not suffer even the smallest scratch. We must be grateful for small mercies. Imagine if, may God forbid, something had happened otherwise and the log had landed on the roof of the car, imagine?

From our hands being tied we are going to a situation of our tongues being tied. We need to speak now loudly against stupidity. We need to speak because we do not wish to be the child in the proverb. The parent condones his child’s stupidity as long as the child does not die. The point of the proverb is that stupidity kills! Whatever made that three-year-old child shout out that his imperial majesty was naked must loosen our tongues. We must not only call out the stupidity in which we are drowning but untie our hands and undo the stupid things our clever politicians do to cheat us. Undo things our political leaders condone and “mumora” and go on as if all is well. No, all is not well in the presence of these stupidities.

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