I write to the powerful Nigerian politicians and men of money especially. What is life? What do you think it is? How did we get here? Where shall we go afterwards when we are done? Are you sure you have the answer? What does your religion say life is all about? What if it turns out differently? Why do you think you can cheat your God? Who do you think you are? Who? Why do you think you can deceive God? You say something and do another. You act as if you are the be-all-and-end-all. You watch your people wallow in suffering and want. You leave your country to rot in backwardness. You have no pity whatsoever for the vulnerable; the poor, the young, the old, the unlucky, the infirm, the disadvantaged, the unlucky, the underprivileged. You use them for your campaign and politics. And leave them in their misery shortly afterwards.
Dear Nigerian politicians, especially the men among you. I write to you because you display your weaknesses all too often, through your penchant for acquisitions. The women in politics are merely learning from you. It is you, who go on an acquisition spree, like a hunter-gatherer, of things you would never need just because in your fickle mind you wish to impress others. You wish to show the women in your lives how great you are. And the people in your village just how valiant and rich you have become. That is why you mistake opportunities to serve, for opportunities to steal. What do you think the opportunity for leadership is about? Oh, do you think you are in a position of power because you are the brightest, the smartest, the fastest talker, the most cunning, the greatest deceiver and liar? If you shall depart this world today, what will you tell your God? Do you really believe in God? Or all your appearances in mosques and churches are just a charade? Really, is life all about the acquisition of things – chattel, clothes, properties, women, influence, friends in high places, cars, bank accounts full of dollars, even children? When you are about to doze off into slumber each night, into the realm of half-death, what courses through your mind? Does it occur to you that you may not wake up? Would you say all your worldly acquisitions are enough justification for the opportunity that this life has afforded you? Is this the best you can do?
How many times have you seen dead people; from among your friends and families? How many funerals have you attended? What do you think when you see lifeless bodies? How did you feel when the lifeless bodies of great men and women were interred, sometimes with the most expensive coffins, sometimes in ordinary mats or white linen? What do you think about the finality of it all; the fact that the dead – no matter how rich, how powerful, how famous, how beautiful, how influential, how connected, how endowed – will never speak or act again. The very finality of it all; the deafening silence of the dead, the helplessness and nothingness?
I write to the male politician, who rides roughshod over Nigeria, and bestrides our cosmos like a Colossus. I write to him because he has shown the most feeble of minds. I write to him so that lesser mortals; other men, women, and female politicians who think they are learning anything of value from these men of power would wake up and see the futility. I write to aspiring administrators of men, who intend to perfect the Machiavellianism with which the typical, male Nigerian politician has oppressed his people, and dehumanised them over decades. I write to engage their minds, in the hope that we shall have a rethink. For no one came to this beautiful world with anything. No one departs with anything.
Nigerian men of power have shown the youth the wrong examples. They have sold their souls and the soul of the country. The emphasis is on who is the richest, who gets invited to what exclusive party, who dates which beautiful woman, who orders the latest and most exotic cars first, who buys up whole cities, who travels first class or exclusive classes, who gathers the most money in their account. Have we not seen how asinine it all is; the things we aspire to? Why are we not learning from life and death? Why do funerals turn into the Carnivals of the Unthinking, rather than opportunities for somber reflection? Why is the emphasis, at our funerals, on who hires the longest marquees and how many cartons of champagne were guzzled? Can we not see that it is our non-appreciation of life and death that has become responsible for our underdevelopment? For a people with no contemplation of the future, who don’t spare moments to ponder and grapple with life’s difficult questions, how on earth will they find their ways to the future? Lugard said as much. But we learn not from history.
The irony of life is the reason why Ocholi had to depart this way. By now I guess his colleagues – and the other men of power – are back to their addictions, pursuing self-aggrandisement and building for themselves illusions that they are God on earth. They want it all. They can destroy anyone who gets in their ways. That is the Nigerian man of power for you. He is totally self-obsessed, there is no amount of money too little for him to commandeer for his image project. Why did death have to take Mr. James Eneojo Ocholi, a quintessential gentleman if ever there was one? Why him? Why in such a gruesome manner? With wife and son? Just why? If God had asked those of us who to take and who to allow remain on earth, we may have recommended many villains for such fate. But He did not! God did as he would. Ocholi, a soft-spoken gentleman, who had remained in the vanguard of change for too long, who stuck to his guns and maintained that the old order had to be toppled; Ocholi, that man who hit the limelight when he answered questions on the Senate floor so intelligently and with great command and diction? Ocholi? Why him?
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I decided long ago to view life differently. Of late, given the disappointments I am seeing from politicians whom I trusted, even more so, I am now seeing the beauty of life afresh; appreciating the little things. I love every morning like there will not be another. I rush out to breathe the fresh air. I stare a the skies; white, blue or grey. I cherish all the people around me. I just cannot wait to do good wherever I can. My outlet is in my writings, and that is why I may sound sad when I rail against the callousness of our politicians, because this country, nay this continent can be a lot better than it is. I get angry and sad at the way our administrators take the piss while we all waste the time and resource that God has entrusted us with. Otherwise, I’m the happiest person in the world. Happy; for the gift of life, and for the gift of time.
How lucky does one hope to be? In a country like Nigeria there are way too many ways to die: road crashes, diseases, misdiagnoses, incompetent hospitals, negligence, freak accidents, drunk drivers, crazy drivers, big men’s convoys, fake tyres, fake break-pads, political crises, religious crises, badly-built houses, fire outbreaks, no fire service, bad rescue systems, stupid ways of thinking, selfishness, corruption-induced inefficiencies. It’s a wonder anyone lives to be an adult! Nothing is worth hoarding, bragging about, showing off with to make others feel less, or getting angry over if someone should touch it, take a little of it or spoil it; not money, not houses, not cars, not clothes, not power, not friends in high places, not beauty, certainly not knowledge.
I hope President Buhari takes a lesson from Ocholi’s departure, so that he can do that which he wants to do very quickly. He should not ask Nigerians to suffer more. That is not the mandate God has given him for Nigeria’s downtrodden. He should learn to make great haste, in saving the lives of the innocent.
‘Tope Fasua, an economist, author, blogger and entrepreneur, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.