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Poetic justice as worthy gift to Nigeria

By Alade Rotimi-John
30 September 2021   |   3:26 am
The annual celebration of Nigeria’s freedom from colonial rule truly ought to be a regular re-enactment of the defining moment of her transition to sovereignty.

[FILES] A signboard of the Government Girls Secondary School is pictured after over 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by bandits in Jangebe, a village in Zamfara State, northwest of Nigeria on February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

The annual celebration of Nigeria’s freedom from colonial rule truly ought to be a regular re-enactment of the defining moment of her transition to sovereignty. Alas, the whole idea of Nigeria’s independence has turned out to be an augured attainment of poetic justice. As events and affairs concerning her since independence have moved logically, thoughtfully and consistently into some catastrophes as those which await tragic characters, it is proper to adjudge that she has fallen into some grief.

Since her early beginnings, Nigeria has lived under a cloud of fear and uncertainty that it would someday disintegrate. But a certain strand of hope has always crept in to postpone the day Nigeria has with fate. Perhaps the most poignant illustration of the full import of poetic justice is found in the Bible story of when in history the Israelites were taken as captives to Babylon. A Jew named Mordecai found himself in the situation where Harman, the highest noble of King Xerxes, ordered every royal official to kneel down and honour him. Mordecai refused to bow down to anyone but God. This outraged Harman and he set out to destroy not only Mordecai but every Jew in the whole Persian Empire. Harman convinced Xerxes to issue a decree authorizing the destruction of all Jews. He consequentially started building a gallows for the execution of Mordecai. But in a startling turn of events, Harman was executed on the gallows he has built for Mordecai and the Jewish people were providentially spared. In literature, the fate of Hamman is called poetic justice. However, not everyone get justice in such dramatic fashion. It is in the kinetics of natural law, that all injustice will eventually be avenged. While we wait, we are to do all we can to work for justice and leave the rest in the hands of fate. This is one brave challenge facing our pusillanimous bearing.

In the midst of the numerous Nigerian tragedies have ironically emerged perhaps the most inspired set of thinkers in terms of a crop of humane politicians, rigorous men of letters, intensely gifted scientists, sedate humanists, insightful theoreticians, etc. all of who are discernable as having the effect of intuition or the intensity of imagination. The strongest and best proof of this or as a characteristic power of their minds is that their postulations have become classic or unassailable over time even as they are always accompanied in our imagination with the grandeur of naked, unadorned figure. They convey to us the ideas of naturalness, of piety or of pristine nature. We have however gone on as if their imprint are of no moment. A season of anomie has become a permanent feature or climate of the entire Nigerian landscape. Prometheus chained to his rock is not a more sorrowful example of suffering and of despondency in Nigeria. Insightful, forward-looking people are being censured for demanding freedom, they are curiously derided for their ruggedness or staying power; their poetic diction for abjuring cant or hypocritical talk is deemed harsh or unpleasing, etc. In fact, a law is in the offing for restraining opposite talk. The ensuing stigmatization of particular world views has become unbearable. There is a violent official reaction against “uncivil” imagery. There has emerged consequently today a no mercy approach to phrase, metaphor or image for views that are unsupported by a social sense or where the same sense could have been conveyed with equal force and dignity in plainer words. All is fair in war. The social media are thankfully in the vanguard of this offensive.

Nigeria is reaping the fruit of poetic justice which tree she planted at the beginning. The spectre of a large illiterate population that is servile and obedient to its promoters and which has become a dreadful bugbear did not tickle the imagination of her managers. Short sighted and uncaring, they have left the matter unattended to for decades. The frightening spectacle of millions of out-of-school children is beyond the ken of Nigeria’s ruling class. The indictment of this group of people has grown out of the failure to nip the situation in the bud. The huge success of the Awolowo free primary school education in Western region of Nigeria should have heightened the drama for school education. Instead, it enviously aroused suspicion. A curious blend of a sprinkling of realists and idealists pointed in the direction of a necessary avoidance of an impending Armageddon in the years ahead but were deemed to be self-serving. Bitterness, tainted with tribal sentiments was rampant.

How can, for instance, a Northerner of breeding and background sully his reputation by supporting some forlorn ideas which are, in any case, “alien” to the culture of northern Nigeria? Progressive politicians were harassed or harangued out of their wits for interrogating the mores and “natural” values of the north. This is the origin of some of the ordeals of Nigeria which are far from over. Majority of the second and third generation politicians, emotional and undisciplined to a large extent, have followed the charted course of their short-sighted forebears. Gloom has taken over the entire landscape as children could not find placement in schools, as trained teachers have become few and far between, as teaching aids have become a rarity, and as the school environment has become endangered.

Today, the birds have come home to roost. The children of the 70s have become adults in their prime, they have learnt no practical skills, possess a limited word view, and have become pliable tools in the hands of mischievous fellows who have mobilised them into banditry and upbeat insurgency. The socio-economic dimensions of the activities of these so-called bandits have impacted negatively on the fortunes of the entire country as everywhere has become unsafe even for pursuing normal everyday livelihood.

The result of investing persons endowed with mediocre minds and spirit is yet unfolding. Not much is to be expected from them. Persons whose careers reinforce the tendencies form our collective greatness need to be sourced. It would be utterly wrong at a time like this when we need the discouragement of material possession ambitions and the instilling of spiritual virtues, that the presidency should go to a man – any man – of less a sterner stuff. We should consciously search for a man with the capacity to act with disinterestedness and dispatch in a structured situation. Buhari, to our collective chagrin, has denied his touted ethical values of his avowed predisposition for even-handedness and grit. The reality of a pervasive corrupt environment may have affected him.

He has nothing of the crusader in him, we have found out to our discomfiture. He is too calm, too supine to be effective; and too cynical. Buhari truckled to the interests of hegemonists of irredentists and ethnic chauvinists. His regime patently lacks the definite purpose and direction of a progressive platform. He has not only foreclosed the opportunities that otherwise could have been available to his party’s flag bearer in 2023, he himself will be unable to flaunt his own record in office. His nominee may be afflicted with the record of his poor performance and of his niggardly approach to issues of statecraft all which have allowed the full effect of poetic justice to manifest fully in his period in office.

Rotimi-John, a lawyer and a public affairs commentator wrote vide