• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Who failed the North?

ojemie_new

“Who failed the North?”

“No sah, not me!”

“Don’t play with me. I say who failed the North?”

“How would I know? I was not even there!”

“You were there! Don’t deny it, O. J. In your hundred years of teaching you failed enough people to fill a Boko Haram hunting party plus an ISIS brigade.”

“Now, that’s not funny.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“I think you’re confusing me with WAEC.”

“Na wah for WAEC. All they do is pepper people. They collect

mobilization fees. . .”

“Then they fail everybody so they can collect more fees next

year.”

“Not true. They fail only those who fail to do their homework.”

“Why then did they fail the North. . . ?”

Thus began my strange conversation with Africa-Man, the mad genius, touching base from his hide-out in Vladivostok.

“Do you remember, O. J., back in 1980/82 or so, it was announced that $2.8 billion was missing from the public treasury.”

“Yes, I remember.”

“You called me and three other friends together. We organized a search party and bought a hurricane lamp, a magnifying glass and tarpaulin raincoats and set out to look for the $2.8 billion.”

“What happened next?”

“We didn’t get very far. Government announced that no money was missing after all.”

“Did we believe it?”

“No one believed it. But our search party fell to pieces all the same.”

“Africa-Man, your mind is a cobweb. You retain the most esoteric little facts.”

“Some months ago a whistleblower announced that $20 billion of petroleum funds was missing. I waited to hear from you but you were strangely silent.”

“What sort of fool do you take me for? Don’t you remember that government immediately denied it and said they were preparing to prosecute the whistleblower? Do you want them to prosecute me too?”

“Anyway, $20 billion is nothing compared with the question in the air now. It is a centennial question . . . . Who failed the North? And, O. J., this time I don’t think you can avoid rustling up a search party.”

“That question is not for search but research, and you know I’m no good at research.”

“Yeah, you always did prefer simple answers, you simpleton.”

“I can’t help it. I was born that way. Why complicate the uncomplicated? Why pretend there’s a mystery where there is none? People should be bold and honest enough to look reality in the face and call a spade a spade.”

“I hear you. My people, the Emperor is not wearing new clothes. The Emperor is naked! Full stop.”

“That’s right. Life is simpler that way. Then we can ask how and why it happened, decide what is to be done about it, and set about doing it. If redress is possible, obtain redress, with appropriate punishment for wrongdoers; but keep pushing forward always. That’s my notion of how things should be done.”

“Well, if I read the swirlings in the wind correctly from faraway Vladivostok, the consensus seems to be that the Northern leadership are to blame for the state of affairs in the region.”

“According to the media, their own people are saying so more and more.”

“What is there to show for their 38 years at the helm of national affairs?” asked Africa-Man. “The Northern masses are as ignorant and wretched as they were at independence. No improvement. Not even universal primary education. No jobs. No agro industries. No manufacturing. Just plenty of empty space.”

“But I’m told the leaders usually feed them.”

“They give them fish. They should have taught them to fish.”

“But Boko Haram say Western education is useless.”

“Can’t you see why?”

“I suppose because their leaders have Western education and

they don’t.”

“Ironically, Western education has been good for their leaders.

Good also for Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam.”

“Profitable for the leaders in every way, as far as I can see.

They are well washed, well fed, well dressed, polished and urbane.”

“Western education certainly hasn’t stopped them from being

good Moslems.”

“Not at all. And as educated world citizens they compare with

the best anywhere.”

“Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that the lower classes, the talakawa, have been made asses of.”

“Jackasses. Worse than the Arab and his camel.”

“So where did all the money go?”

“The leaders ought to answer that.”

“Could that be why Boko Haram strike indiscriminately even at the political leadership of the region? They attack the governor’s entourage, the emir’s palace, army depots, police headquarters, United Nations offices, schools and school children. Looting burning destroying!”

“The masses were deliberately kept in the dark. The propaganda machinery messed them up thoroughly. They don’t know what they are missing, and they don’t know what they should be looking for.”

“They hate Moslems, they hate Christians, they hate women, they hate children, they probably hate themselves.”

“They claim their version of Islam is pure and authentic and all other versions are bogus.”

“That claim, unfortunately, is in the tradition of Moslem jihads or holy wars. Holy warriors attacking their fellow Moslems always claim they are doing it to purify Islam.”

“But when they attack non-Moslems?”

“Then their goal is to Islamize the world. The Christians also tried it. Conversion at the point of the sword!”

“And they call it a religion of peace?”

“You mean Islam—or Christianity? . . . .”

Onwuchekwa-Jemie