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Desertion at the barricades




There is no vigilance anymore at the barricades. There is no longer any significant sentry of conscience. There is no sturdy consistent voice, speaking out loud and clear, articulating in brave largeness the sweeping infirmities hobbling the hovels of the poor, inhibiting equitable balance in the national moral portrait.

There are no genuine icons again who could fling themselves upon the tempests and the storm, mocking the oppressor’s insolence with the banner and the daring luster of the truth.

There is no evocative symbol in rallying majesty; defiant and sure, assailing the false ramparts of the hour with determined nobility and firmness of purpose. The barricades now yawn with boredom and despairing fatigue. It is now draped in howling vacancy, flung in a painful, indifferent vacuum, intimating conspiracy or exhaustion, signaling an abandonment or resignation.

Either way, there is no steady voice again to grapple with the odiousness of the hour; there is none to clamour and fight in the good cause; there is none that stands in enviable alertness and the truth, keeping watch upon the people’s cause.

Now everyone carries his grief alone. Now everyone stands in solitary mournfulness, stripped of the intervening succour, detained in solitary helplessness.

We are now denied the prompt mediatory immediacy of the very few, the consistent soldiers of conscience, brave enough to collide against the arbiters of the moment, resolved to make any sacrifice for the good cause.

Alas, something awful has happened among the once conscionable people’s vanguard. The wheel of fate has turned in awkward corner.

The instinctive vibrancy of old, the quick, un-prodded intervening feistiness has disappeared: the combative crusading certitudes of a Gani Fawehinmi, the implacable populist zeal and charm of an Aminu Kano, the irrepressible oratorical grace and intellectual ferment of a Tunji Braithwaite, the unconquerable will and heroic assertiveness of a Kanmi Ishola-Osobu – have all yielded to a sickening half-hearted posturing of unstable, flighty men who now and then are prompted by dubious fancies to mouth tendentious inanities against the grim dislocations of the hour.

But only that. But only for a moment. Here you can no longer perceive the sweeping genuine zeal of the true believers. Here you cannot discern the passionate commitment, the rousing, heroic steadfastness of old, the dogged courage and the unbending will that pitted itself against the ravages of tyranny with uncommon grace, with uncommon purity of character.

The general abandonment of the people’s cause, the strange voiding of popular activism, invoke an aberrant withdrawal into tragic captivity. It is as if this mangled steering of the state is acknowledged and embraced in helpless servility. It is as if all the teeming wrongs of the hour have overwhelmed and exhausted the once vibrant platforms of crusading activism. And without these galvanizing shepherds who could stir everyone into civic consciousness and alert, the traumatised people now wander in stunned, defeated miseries.

We carry on now, distorted and twisted, oafishly recast in some horrid surrender to the aberrant largeness.

The endless trap of suffocating petrol queues still linger beyond eternal nights, defying official clarity, mocking and tormenting our collective comprehension – and yet we are still hoarse, unspoken, receding into concealed tumult and veiled uncertainties.

The abandoned populace still acquiesce, uncomplaining about the general collapse of the power generating entities, still frozen in benumbed acceptability of a sweeping slide into primitive intrusions. And yet again, there is stoic oddity and gloomy, indifferent continuation.

The startling ubiquitous faces of hunger and desperate squalor are now intruding beyond the traditional hovels of the forgotten ghettoes, wandering like a scourge, afflicting the urban centres, savaging even the industrious who are equally weighed down by a terrible imbalance as businesses are shut down in a bruising philistine economy.

Thus, without the conscionable tribunes of the people, without the shepherding intervening presence of those who could give vent to the buried inner torments of the aggrieved, helpless throng, the collective tragedy lengthens, the despairing spectacles of deprivations and want continue to mount in dizzying paces.

In this universal formlessness, in this cruel savaging vastness that is eclipsed in unspoken challenge and strange toleration, the arbiters of the state are invariably deluded in the dubious conclusion that with the people unspoken, with the rallying ferment unperceived all conquests are made, all defining grapples are settled, all the storms are calmed, spent and exhausted by the sheer counter force of the unrelenting assailing furies.

The arbiters doth lie! The desertion at the barricades, the subtle complicity of those who should muster and instigate the necessary rectifying ramparts of the national decay does not in anyway strengthen the gods of the moment. There is no enhancement in their armour. There is no widening grasp in their competence or vision.

The absence of the truth is not necessarily a triumphant holler of the league of falsehood. The voidance of the conscionable is not necessarily the conquest of all that is just. It is not an overthrow of the righteous cause.

What subsists then is a thronging anomaly, an ephemeral malady that can fester and swell in its own rabid venom.

But only for a while. Only for a dark finite tenure. Invariably the truth must rise in slow, deliberate, gradual ferment. It will rise of its own volition, gathering in ascendancy, swelling in might and energy, uniting itself beyond isolated corners and orbits, widening furiously and firmly into a huge coalescing force that will not bend before the truncheon or the bayonet, that will not falter nor fail before the dungeon or the hangman’s noose.

It is often said that “the truth lives a difficult life. But it does live.” This is as valid as the unceasing wisdom of the Great Nazarene’s Sermon on the Mount. It is as enduring as the eternal metaphors of life and struggle, of death and survival on the ancestral plains of Serengeti.

Indeed! the truth is both a logical and a moral equilibrium that steadies the guidance of power that firms up the rudder of the state in enlightened compass. Denied the truth and conscionable arbitration, stripped of the shepherding guidance of iconic symbols, the state ultimately withers in self-conjured maladies until the rabble rouses in implacable tumult and the din of thunder!

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