2015 or Not, Power Must Change Hands (Part 1)

Domestic black rats (Rattus rattus) are a mischievous species. They will always find their way wherever a hole can be made and they will breed. And when they breed indoors, they are good at shredding up papers to make a nest. To them, any paper is just a nest-building material – whether it is your birth certificate, college degree, employment letter, or even cash. They do not tear up your important documents because they are trying to be wicked, they only want to make their own children comfortable. But here, I have a different species of black rats in focus; the giant, two-legged, cloth-wearing African species – Rattus humanus.

Don’t look into your biology textbooks for Rattus humanus – that’s not the usual scientific name. They have shredded up every useful piece of wealth on our continent to build fluffy nests for their own children. They have shredded petroleum refineries and depots, they have shredded educational systems, they have shredded roads and hospitals, they have shredded pension funds and fuel subsidy cash, and having successfully shredded the past, they are now shredding the future. Just to make luxurious nests for their own children. How shall we get rid of them?

I happen to be conversant with many churches. There is a fast-growing church brand in Nigeria. On a certain day every month, they hold an early morning prayer meeting tagged “Power Must Change Hands”. The prayers they render there are marvellous. Although not in these exact words, the pattern is usually like this:

“Every black rat, shredding the important documents in my house; what are you waiting for? By fire, dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Whether that is the best method to get rid of document-shredding Rattus rattus, I cannot tell. As for me, I prepare to “do something” about the rats when they come my way. I feed them the kind of food that will be their last. They won’t be able to eat another meal after that. However, Rattus rattus could be easier to deal with. We can’t use the same “do-something” method for Rattus humanus, else we will become criminals like them. But would it suffice to simply pray and not do anything?

“Every pot-belly, swallowing our collective wealth, what are you waiting for? By fire . .. …………………………………………………………..!”

This morning, I read the transcript of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s TEDex speech on “vested interests”. He was urging youths to use the 2015 elections to get rid of the vested interests that are holding our economic and social well-being to ransom. Well, he spoke well. Only that he did not grasp the full scope of the infestation. In the first place, he saw the vested interests are Homo Sapiens rather than Rattus Humanus.

In the late 80s and early 90s, we thought that the military were our problems. If only the military would go away from politics, we thought, Nigeria would be free from her owes. Well, ole gbe, ole gba – I don’t know how to interpret that one. Ask your Yoruba friends what it means.

It has been fifteen years of democracy and relative oil boom. Oil prices have risen well above what they were in the late 90s. In January 1999, oil was $17 a barrel. It’s presently above $100. What has happened to the increased oil revenue between 1999 and now? Yes, indeed, some progresses were made. Some major projects were embarked upon. We have managed to keep the country moving, though it could have been kept running. We have managed to keep the country together and avoided civil war.

(to be continued)

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