(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, May 5, 2023)
I possess neither the intellect of Albert Einstein nor the anointing of Apostle Matthew, the tax collector and Jesus’ disciple. I’m only a Lagos-born hunter from Igbajo, the Citadel of the Brave — an inheritance of Osun State. Unlike Einstein and Matthew, I’m no Jew, no scholar, no philosopher.
Never can I hold a candle to Einstein’s erudition and groundbreaking theories even if creation imbued me with a dozen brains plus the durability of Methuselah. Even if I spoke in a thousand tongues, I’d be unworthy to touch the hem of Apostle Matthew’s garment. One of the mouth-gaping miracles, aka ‘ise iyanu’ in Yoruba, that I know how to perform lies in the ability of my mouth to refrigerate frying-hot chicken or steaming ‘isi ewu’ goat pepper soup without flinching. I also blink and breathe – a complete trinity of miracles.
Despite my dwarfness when compared with the personae of Einstein, and Matthew, who was also known as Levi, I wish to use the privilege of my penmanship to comment on an issue these two great men had written about many years ago. The issue is i-n-s-a-n-i-t-y.
Einstein says, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” while Matthew preaches that the rich shall get richer and the poor shall get poorer, and I add: if both continue to do the same thing.
But I would rather be Einstein than be Matthew. Why? The Lord commanded, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” Genesis 1:28. Me, I’m not Mathias; I cannot ‘come and die’ like Matthew, the martyr did.
Joking apart, Einstein is matchless. His panoply of works are groundbreaking. At just 26, his innovations such as Quantum Theory of Light, Special Theory of Relativity, Brownian Motion etc planted the seeds of global advancement in the soil of boundless possibilities by providing the templates for nuclear power, Google Maps, laser invention that revolutionised agriculture, manufacturing, exploration, security and medicine, just to mention a few. Whereas taking out the gospel of Matthew from the Bible won’t render the Holy Book incomplete as the gospels of Mark, Luke and John contain almost the same essence as Matthew’s.
Insanity in Nigeria tick-tocks with the two hands of the clock counting kidnapping, unknown gunmen, Boko Haram, banditry, barbarous herdsmen, militancy and ritualism as heritages of the outgoing All Progressives Congress presidency.
Insanity is treating insecurity with levity, the way the outgoing Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has done in eight years, and expecting peace, law and order to abound. Another apostle, Paul, says, ‘God forbid’ the abundance of grace in the plantation of sin, a synonym for heaven helps those who help themselves.
Before Buhari’s tragic years, insecurity was a shy ogre booming behind the cloud, jumping out to wreak havoc, and running back into the cloud. In Buhari’s time, however, insecurity abandoned the cloud, took up permanent residency in Nigeria, physically attacking Aso Rock, violating the Nigerian Defence Academy, taking kings hostage, killing soldiers and policemen for sport, trampling on the skulls of the poor.
President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, made Buhari possible. With the èkù-idà hilt of the sword firmly in his grip after coronation, however, the king unsheathed the I’m-for-nobody sword, sending the kingmaker scampering, lest the power-drunk king walked on Iragbiji blood into the palace as rite of passage.
One hundred and two (102) international trips in a period of eight years make Buhari a top contender in the race for World Itinerant President trophy. Statistically speaking, 102 overseas travels mean that Buhari nestled abroad more than once every month with, economically speaking, nothing to show for the numerous roaming about.
When talking about the insanity of doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result, Nigeria’s political class needs a cure. President Olusegun Obasanjo had his time in the air. His godson, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, shared airspace with birds of passage in his time.
The three leading candidates in the 2023 presidential election, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Mr Peter Obi, held many meetings with ex-president(s), governors, ministers, senators, and other politicians in foreign city capitals, yet Nigeria laments dwindling foreign exchange earnings.
A statement by the media team of the President-elect said a few weeks ago, “After a very exhaustive campaign and election season, President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has travelled abroad to REST and PLAN his transition programme ahead of May 29, 2023 inauguration.”
Who made Nigeria unsafe to rest and plan if not the political elite? Do leaders of sane nations go abroad to rest and plan? Our dead-from-the-neck-up leaders proudly run to doctors in foreign lands for old-age surgeries; their ostrich buries its head in the sand at home while its fantastically corrupt rump is on exhibition abroad.
Nigeria’s currencies, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines, military hardware and software, telephony, and other strategic equipment are sourced from foreign lands, opening up the country’s security to manipulation and attack. Is the country going to continue in this insane direction under the incoming Tinubu government, and expect development to fall from the sky?
That the retired Major General Buhari failed woefully in the simple task of policing Nigeria adequately is a sad fact. How the country, nevertheless, expected a unidimensional soldier with a contentious school certificate to effectively inspire the military and provide national security beggars sanity.
The primary and secondary school claims of the incoming President came out smeared under searchlight. Is Nigeria, again, not doing the same thing, and expecting a different result?
Recently, the outgoing president asked for forgiveness from Nigerians, without stating which of his countless sins he wants Nigerians to forgive.
I’ll pick just one sin here, and that’s the Nigeria Police. If Buhari acknowledges his failure in this regard, and sincerely asks for forgiveness, I think many Nigerians will forgive him, knowing full well that the police represent just a tip in his iceberg of sins even as this sin-and-forgiveness exercise is capable of bringing to closure the horror of the last eight years.
If Buhari was a conscious President, he ought to know that the country’s underfunded, understaffed, unmotivated police serve only the rich. When you need police service in Nigeria, you pay money to private accounts of police chiefs, who assign to you the number of police officers the weight of your money can procure.
The Nigeria Mobile Police Unit is the most bastardised in this respect. Mobile policemen are now posted to churches, mosques, schools, and filling stations for various amounts of money.
Policemen and policewomen who should be guarding the citizenry are now sentries in private homes across the country in Money-for-Mopol deals between moneybags and police chiefs who swindle officers on duty by giving little or nothing to the men in the sun, despite receiving money on their behalf.
The racketeering within the police is now so rampant that regular and mobile policemen are secretly and unofficially drafted from state to state to do guard duty by some members of the police hierarchy who collect money for the service provided.
This is the reason why police response in times of emergency is lethargic in many states of the federation as policemen, especially MOPOL, would have been posted out unofficially to guard fat dogs in other states – for money that ends up in private pockets.
It doesn’t take rocket science or juju to unravel this security information I lay bare; it only needs a responsible President to put his ears to the ground, and do the needful. The first of the needful here is a total reformation of the police by ensuring adequate staffing, good salary, training and retraining, enticing retirement packages, housing etc.
The role of the police in ensuring security, law and order in a democracy cannot be overemphasised. The incoming President, with his foreign exposure and university education, should know this. Failure of the police is one of the sins of Buhari. Aare Tinubu should take note.
Giving ill-trained, hungry and angry men guns and expecting them to act sanely is like setting a beggar on horseback – he’ll ride to the devil!