There is politics everywhere – in schools, churches, the work-place; and, indeed, in every aspect of human existence; and more so in the family.
This friend of ours was brutally frank the other day when he delivered a lecture on the politics in the family. He took his text from the experiences of his father and himself. He told us that his father who was a professed polygamist once told him that if a man had seven wives, he would have to have eight minds – one for each wife and one for himself. The wheeling and dealing in politics call for that.
Based on his father’s experience, our friend knew that his own family required serious restructuring. He has, therefore, chosen the path of a progressive sequential monogamist – a wife at a time. He has been married seven times and divorced six times. The seventh wife is not even guaranteed a permanent tenure, except that since our friend is gradually approaching the octogenarian level, he may be slowing down and graduating into retirement.
Each of our friend’s vehicles has dropped engine at least three times. His full football team – including officials – is assured any day.
Of course, government is the natural habitat of politics. Our government’s macabre dance around the Covid-19 vaccination deserves a special study.
It is already some four months since the Federal government announced the arrival into Nigeria some droppings of the Covid-19 vaccines. Although the quantity fritters into microscopic insignificance, at least we saw what looked like a good beginning point. We were consoled that the moment you start descending a high hill, you are assured that the river is no longer far off.
We were sure that the quantity that came in could not get to 5% of the country’s population. But we must wait. Who gets what when not everyone can get everything?
While we wait, the original promise was that Nigeria was going to vaccinate 100% of its population.
But as expected, they must start with the front line health workers, including high government Officials. Next, they would come to senior citizens and those above 50 years.
And while we are still waiting, the new imported empty noise has consumed the original arrangement. Instead of telling us of the procurement of more vaccines and where the next level should go and get vaccinated, their loud noise is that people should not reject the vaccines. The campaign here is high-pitched. It is much on a higher decibel than what you hear at a Presidential campaign flag-off!
They speak in a tone that suggest that the vaccines are there but people do not want to be vaccinated. The voice here is very faint – much lower than what you hear at a councillorship election campaign.
Ostensibly, it is in fulfillment of all righteousness – what a height of duplicity!
Where there is doubt, there is confusion. The people’s imagination is running full riot. After waiting in vain for this long, many people, including some otherwise enlightened despots, are now preaching to some people that they should not take the vaccines – that they are dangerous.
Were it possible to vaccinate the entire people in Nigeria, we would need more than 50 years to vaccinate all, more so, the population implosion brought about by the excess of birth-rate over death-rate.
Meanwhile, Nigeria is struggling to swim a little above water – with no money to buy more vaccines.
Rather than tell the people the truth, Nigeria must hide behind all the defensive lies to get on. There is a consolation ahead – no matter what we do, not everyone will be inoculated like in the case of yellow fever and other ailments before it, it will soon be that those not travelling out of Nigeria may not need to vaccinate. Inoculation will only be for the purpose of getting the Yellow Card.
Throughout the world the Yellow Card ‘is’ important. India is one place you must avoid like plague if there is any coma on your Yellow Card. We remember the Late Hon. Frank Iyayi (UPN/Okpebho Fed. Constituency/Bendel State). He was a gentleman to the core; and one man who would test positive for incorruption, any day. He was a Retired Permanent Secretary from the Public Service of the defunct Bendel State.
In 1979, he won election to the House of Representatives where he was assigned to the Committee on Transport. This writer was the Secretary to that Committee.
In the summer of 1981, we embarked on what could pass for a world tour, except that for convenience, we left out the far-off countries like Australia, New Zealand and others from our itinerary.
We were about 18 on that trip. Except Hon. Iyayi, the rest of us had our inoculation at the Ports Authority Health Centre, in Lagos Island – a stone throw from the Parliament Buildings at Tafawa Balawa Square. Iyayi had reason to obtain his at the Health Centre in Yaba.
The Yaba stamp was different from that of the Ports Authority. This was the beginning of Iyayi’s travails. To the Indian Authorities, his Yellow Card was fake. All entreaties to the contrary fell on deaf ears. They threw Iyayi into quarantine and kept him there for the one week duration that we were in India. They got hold of his estacode and fed him from there throughout the period. We were on our way out when they brought out Iyayi to go with us.
At the Nigeria High Commission, we were told of the case of a former country’s Prime Minister who travelled out a few days to the expiration of his Yellow Card. He was still abroad when it finally expired. On arrival back home, he was quarantined at the Airport for as long as it took for the Ministry of Health Officials to come and inoculate him. It is that important! This is highly instructive. Back to Nigeria.
While the Nigerian imbroglio persists, we hear that Ghanaian Scientists have lately virtually been sleeping in their laboratories, trying to discover the remedy to the Covid-19 pandemic currently ravaging the world. Two different vaccines are now at an advanced level of testing. Major breakthroughs will soon be announced.
This development does not bother us a flip. It also does not bother us that our Universities and Scientists are on strike for 9 months every year.
We think we are too poor to put enough budgetary outlays into Research but we are running from pillar to post, borrowing apparently to finance fraud in the name of infrastructural development. It still doesn’t bother us that very soon, 90% of our annual appropriations will go into debt servicing! What a way to mortgage our future generation – born into heavy debt burdens!
We are too pre-occupied, tracing the cattle routes from Kauranamoda to Calabar; and from Birninkudu to Obinomba. We were told the routes once existed but no one is telling us that they might have since been obliterated.
At inauguration, we swore to uphold the Constitution and to always listen to the voice of the people. The people are singing songs of restructuring and we are telling them there is nothing to restructure.
Nigeria has suddenly become a metaphor for The Observer. In the mid-1960s, the Nigerian Observer was the paper to read. It was the paper to buy. It had integrity. If it was in the Observer, it was true! Elsewhere in Nigeria, you could hear people proclaim, “It is true. I saw it in the Observer”.
This was the mind frame we took to the U.S. in the early 1970s, hence we travelled from Up-State New York to Mid-town Manhattan to read the Nigerian Observer at the Nigerian Consulate. It did not make any difference that at the time of reading, the paper was already one month old. It was the Observer! It had world-wide acclaim. But today it is doubtful if the paper still circulates beyond Oba Ovonramwen Square.
Nigeria once had its acts together and things went well. But in all this, where did the bottom fall off? And, we are not even listening!
Whatever the political mix, full disclosure and transparency will always triumph over lies and cop-outs. Let us, therefore, stop lying and start living.