For any Nigerian, there are more than a thousand ways to die. The affluent may try to cheat, use or prolong death with horrible makeup but death cannot be sexualized. The bombs we planted in Abule-Ado are still in a festive mood. You look at the stagnated waters on our roads and death by malaria slaps you in the face. This is just one way. On the same roads, the dimples on the faces of the canal-like potholes invite you to see a portrait of the afterlife. A portrait you created. Don’t forget that.
You peep into the hospitals to meet hope but it is night-time and the ill and caregivers are roaming in the darkness. Who took the lights out? Who did we offend? Where the hell are the new gods and old gods? Have we lost the gift of life? On the streets, there are criminals dressed in police uniforms extorting money or life, mostly both, and even if you decide to stay in your room a gas pipe planted underneath your floor could be burgled and Nigerians gather to say a prayer for you even though you no longer need it.
There are more than a thousand ways to die in Nigeria and like I wrote in Another Building Will Collapse, if tomorrow you are shocked to hear that I died in one of these ways, then you are incapable of learning. We have been here too often. Abule-Ado is no longer a gory tale. We live here now. Abule-Ado is not one of the new estates. We build around this. Abule-Ado is just one of our structures. We have seen this scene before. Last year, it was a tanker explosion in Anambra roasting and turning beings to poorly prepared Suya.
We lamented then. We prayed then. Not for ourselves but for the souls of the dead and those of the loved ones they left behind. We prayed that the good lord never allow the same thing to happen to us again. We prayed against witches and warlocks but despite these prayers, despite the seemingly genuine show of compassion and rage at rudderless governance, we remained the same people. We went back to our circle and did what we have always done. We want back to our purgatory.
The tanker exploded in the crowded market for a reason but we paid lip service and ignored the loopholes. There was a reason it burned like the California fires but even when we try to find out why we ignore it and repeat history. Are we cursed? Looking at our reactions to the Onitsha fires and knowing our ways, I for one, as the doom Prophet you will wrongly call me (even though we all easily are), prophesy that another pipeline will explode and the burns wouldn’t discriminate. And don’t try to talk to me about the power of one man’s tongue/words/will because there is the will of over a hundred million people. To make it easy for you, in one of these next explosions this blogger could follow death to the other side. Now, how is that for doom prophecy?
We as a people share a lot in common with our Government. The Government is often a product of the people and then the people become a product of the Government. Don’t get it twisted. The Government is often the result of dual relationships: Mutualism and Parasitism. Together we push the leaders (criminals, as we have seen so far) but once up there, they eat our flesh for dinner. The process happens again and again and again and…The Parasite, like in the Oscar-winning movie offers the host some service (or an idea of it), then corrupts it, creates more room, corrupts the host further, and with the help of host’s imperfections takes full control of the environment. That was how we got here.
Can anyone explain how any landlord in his right senses will build along a pipeline or how any government will approve such land for residential buildings in the first place? Who approved the buildings in that area of Abule-Ado? What is the role of the DPR, Department of Petroleum Resources, in all these? Who is the reason this doom prophet predicted it will happen again? Who corrupted Abule-Ado?
I don’t think Reuben Abati saw the whole picture when he talked about those demons in the villa. He blamed the erratic behavior of our presidents once in the Aso Villa on witches but he forgot to tell his readers that these guys are also everywhere. Look around you! Who exactly has accepted responsibility for the state of Nigeria? Who exactly is guilty of creating these horrible scenes? Who planted the mines at Abule-Ado? Simple: ghosts, witches, and warlocks! Take these examples. A man stands on the road and collects stipends from the motorists he was supposed to watch and protect and while still donning the demonic cloak, he waxes eloquent on how corruption is the problem of Nigeria.
A young girl wiggles her waist to the lecturer in exchange for marks and while they are both at it, they talk about how dark forces in human form have prevented the university from building strong institutions. Even the annoying Admin officers in all the Government agencies littered across the country also blame the stupid guests for provoking and making them angry and irresponsible. The policeman does not see his actions, in any way, destroying Nigeria. To him, the big man in the office and not him is the killer of Nigeria. His ‘small’ sin cannot be responsible for this big mess floating in the Nigerian pool.
The lecturer and his lover do not see how their little fun, even though it is in exchange for marks, is affecting the educational system. Their deal is too insignificant to the state of education in Nigeria. It has to be the President and everyone at the upper echelon of power but never those with little power. The annoying clerk is just one person and his money-for-service policy is not in any way blocking Nigeria from seeing the light. They forget, or pretend, that the ocean is a product of droplets of water.
Rome was not built in a day and so our today’s Nigeria. It took us hard work to get to this point. We worked tirelessly to reinforce the negativities, the pessimisms and every stereotype we have today and thanks to our consistency we defeated every stumbling block on our way to the goal. The same dedication it takes to build any great country is also present, even if in reverse, in building a bad one. Someone said: ‘been poor is hard, been rich is hard, choose your ‘hard’. What this simply means is that the process of ‘becoming’ is always tough irrespective of the end product. So, why did we make such a horrible choice? Why did we work so hard to go back? If the process of becoming great is hard and underdevelopment is also hard, why choose the latter?
What are we (by we here, I mean the country) expected to do after such destruction of life in Abule-Ado? For a start, even if it is just for eye-service (just like anything they are doing now) relocate the residents of the area. While cleaning up the area, the C of O, Certificate of Occupancy and other forms of agreement given to the landlords and tenants should be reviewed and the team decides who moves and/or deserves compensation. Something has to give way. Someone has to be punished and the same checks ought to be implemented nationwide.
Who exactly allowed buildings to be erected along petroleum pipelines and who is responsible for the information he or she was working with? What is the role of DPR in all these? Which agencies are involved? Did the agencies advise against the buildings or did brown envelopes blind them as usual? Did the typical Nigerian bad spirit tell them to ignore it? What is the fate of the families affected? By now, even for a dead agency pretending change, checks should be done in every state of the federation with cooperation from the state government. Resolution to move the structures or the pipes should be reached and fuel stations should give homes reasonable space.
But, what the hell am I doing advising the government? Who am I talking to? This is more like speaking just for the sake of it, unfortunately. A blogger had to drop a post for the week so readers don’t get bored. A blogger had to churn out a post to make money through affiliate networks. What am I doing trying to advise a Government that knows exactly what to do? A Professor is the Vice President and what the hell can a blogger with MSc (in view) say to men who know better? What do I know to begin with? At least I know that if what happened in Abule-Ado fails to happen again, it is time to wake up from the dream.