THE POLITICS OF THE SPHINX
What is the quality of loyalty? How do we estimate a man’s loyalty and followership? I am dreaming of tomorrow but I am afraid to make plans for it because I am scared of what it carries. I carry around me like some second skin a hopeless prayer that it is alright to sleep tonight for it will be okay to look tomorrow. I am afraid to close my eyes because of the thieves who have stolen my hopes and scattered to the winds my earnest prayers. They said they would look after my welfare for a measly promise I am afraid of what they have given me in return. How shall I get pass 2007 as it looms large and frightening on the horizon? They are horse trading now and call it reconstruction. They are counting away my wealth as they sit round the pot of soup and with very dirty fingers pick the juiciest meat. They are recruiting my children for the fire and the bullets as their greed and ambition rides my back like some hungry monkey!
I am thinking of going back to school. No, it is to learn some old Egyptian script. I think it is the only way I will understand the new language of the Nigerian politician. Suddenly we need a new dictionary to understand simple greetings. This year will be recorded in creation as the most bewildering and interesting the history of the nation. It is the year in which what you say does not have to be believed even if you act it out because we have boxed ourselves into a corner. The psychiatrist will watch us with quite a lot of interest. We badly want to accept that what our leaders tell us is gospel, but then have you ever heard of honour amongst thieves? Which is why we are all upset and refusing to take his word for it that Baba has no intention of inflicting himself on us for a further four years! Did you say inflict? Well, quite a lot of people say they have endured him for eight and would not want him for another eig. Er I mean four. Slip of thought actually. Baba has spoken himself hoarse saying he is not interested in another term. I find it amusing and strange, even alarming that we have collectively decided on selective hearing and choose not to accept what he says. My grandmother used to say if you know someone is a liar wait until you catch him out in the lie then….. A friend of mine gave a yowl of pain when I said that. I understood him. He was a member of the last rat pack in my state and ate himself obese! These days his NAFDAC registered neck is beginning to look the worse for wear! Why do we really find it so hard to accept Baba’s word when he said in as many interviews that he was not interested in a third term? We have been carrying the burden of the fear of a third term almost from the day, he started his second term. Is it because somehow, we suddenly looked round and were not so sure of who we could choose from the pack that lined up? Could it be we saw how Baba took time to help us wash some of our tattered linen in the eyes of the rest of the world and we really are slow to allow him to remain a hero? I have wondered why we are called the happiest people on Earth. We have never been known to have living heroes! I have never seen the Nigerian who respects his leaders, agrees with its policies unless he happens to be stealing from the pot! Not once since we started our democracy, independence or whatever we chose to do. We did not like the first republic, we made so much noise and called in the boys who made short shrift of everything and everybody and then we went on howling that the boys should go back to the barracks. Never mind that the boys became bad apples because some of us took them to the backyard and taught them a few tricks on how to cheat. So the boys left, we said we could handle it, we tried, the boys weren’t so sure. They came back and gave us such a belting that we whimpered. Then Baba came back, we looked at him with a lot of skepticism, shrugged and said oh well, we can watch. He succeeded. Let us tell the truth at least in the secrecy of our hearts and bedroom, we know. I could call my mum if I knew her celestial number. I could call myself a Nigerian again outside the shores of the country. I could do legitimate business. He sent Ngozi to collect the loot and she came back with success. Dora made it easy for me to go into a drug store and blithely buy some drugs without fear. I became proudly Nigerian. It was easy to ask him to do the magic a second time. I know as much as he knows he was in for the last round. He told me so, I believe him. There is no one on the horizon to do the tricks he has done? Amongst the honourable thieves on the line now we are having a hard time choosing and so in the darkest part of our heart we sigh and wonder… what if. We could make him stay? What if we make an overture to a tired old man to continue the torture for another term? Lead a country that kills her heroes before they die? Some of the lynxes smelt blood and bayed. They changed the story.. it is Baba who wants another term! They thought.. maybe if we sprayed enough mud on him, the people will thus see us as saints and welcome our thieving agenda with open arms. That is the Nigerian style. It is politics. We kill the one we meet in order to be able to sit across his carcass. Baba keeps his promises. He kept one with Murtala. He speaks his own language and understands himself. Sacrifice is not new to him. He is on first name basis with the virtues and a sprinkling of vices. He is a man. He misses home, his heart, his love. He would stay for as long as his heart and loyalty will allow but please stop the language of the Sphinx. Let the day be sufficient unto itself!