24th September, 2012
By Dimeji Daniels
I no longer have time for theories, neither do I have time to criticise President Jonathan which of course has become the past-time of most of us. Though Jonathan sure has his own share of the blame for where we are at present, it is the graveyard peace that we still enjoy that allows for Jonathan’s or any other public officer’s criticism at that. Should there be no Nigeria, which I earnestly pray against, Patience or Goodluck Jonathan will be too small an issue to talk about.
The revolt in Libya did not start in a day, neither, in my opinion, was it a revolt against Ghaddafi. It was a revolt against an establishment which was a result of the greed of the ruling class, of which Ghaddafi was just a single unit. The kind of greed that thrives unabashedly in surplus amidst want and gruelling poverty. This is the kind we currently experience in Nigeria, made far worse by the stinking arrogance of the ruling class which believes that Nigerians are too timid to take their destiny in their hands.
This arrogance makes them look like gods and the rest of us slaves or less humans who must lose our dignity in kneeling to lick from the floor the crumbs that fall from their tables. This arrogance has so blinded them that whatever they ‘generously’ dole out to us from our commonwealth is considered a favour for which we must grope and grapple, bow and beg, while once in a while, the soles of their oyibo-made shoes pin and paw our begging hands. Even now, our hands drip blood from the wounds of yesteryears and the present, while they shrink in fear of the wounds of coming years.
“Press them! Press them until they resist no more!” “Don’t empower them lest they gain their freedom,”shouts the ruling class among themselves. After all, a hungry man sooner or later loses his dignity and a man with no dignity will gladly open his mouth to down any clinging ‘shit’ from the sole of his master’s shoes. Our fathers have served their fathers; they want us and our kids to serve their children. To ensure this, they empower their own while they dehumanise us, stripping us all of all fragments of self-determination left in us.
There is a saying that humans are to be valued while things are to be used. Unfortunately, the Nigerian ruling class value things they are to use and use humans they are to value and love. Houses and cars are of more value to them than humans. In their eyes, there is no drop of mercy. Their hearts and conscience are seared. Our existence or death draws no joy or pity from them. After all, we are all just statistics: more than 70% living below the poverty line, 23.9 percent unemployment rate etc. Statistics We are and statistics we remain while they continue in their acquisitive nature.
What Nigeria’s politicians, however, forget is that the poor man with no dignity has got nothing to lose. It is the rich who build empires and if the empires crumble, definitely their health and hearts crumble with them. The man who has for years been pressed down will someday find his voice and stand to his feet from his master’s table with his wounded and bloodied hands to demand justice. In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself…Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.”
Professor Femi Osofisan’s book “Red is the Freedom Road” best describes the situation. The poor man with bloodied hands has felt ceaseless pain from the soles of his master’s shoes so much so that pain now has its gains for him: it hardens and makes him heartless like his master. The mental picture of a heartless man (men) demanding freedom can be sickening to the point of vomit for the lily-livered.
Freedom will sure be gained, but not without pain. As for the already dehumanised poor man, he has felt and mastered pain, but the spoilt rich man and his kids will feel it more and probably never survive it.
•Daniels wrote from Ado in Ekiti State.