• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Waiting for Noah’s Ark

Waiting for Noah’s Ark

When God could no longer stand the overthrow of the good order He established on earth, He stepped in with the Noah Ark solution. The upset Creator said since man had allowed his depravity to flush out His benignity, He would respond with a heavier rain flood to wash away man and his iniquity. But not all earthlings would go; some humans, along with pairs of the lower primates, would be sheltered in a huge vessel to be constructed by a good man called Noah. He and some members of his household together with the animals would take refuge in the boat during the deadly deluge. The storm did come, sweeping off evil men and women and the children and youth who took after them.

Today, more than 5000 years after that Divine Judgment, many in our midst worry that Nigeria has also slid into a satanic cul-de-sac which is bringing back pictures of the days of Noah that only a deus ex machina can address. My compatriots aver that there isn’t any difference between the spectacles of evil they encounter day by day now and what records say of the wickedness of Noah’s era. There was man’s inhumanity to man then. There is, also, today. There was animalistic cruelty that prompted the punitive tide. In the ‘civilized’ Nigeria of our time, there have also arisen stone-age vices and immorality several shades and grades higher than what Noah’s generation gave the world. Some are the stuff of surreal fiction.

Whole communities are overrun and torched by bandits for unexplained reasons. In the name of religion, tribe or politics, scores of men, women and children are killed in mindless bloodshed. Worship centres aren’t spared; when gunmen hit congregants, they leave apocalyptic scenes behind. Kidnappers rule the land, seizing the high and the low and becoming bewilderingly rich from humongous ransoms. How about ritual killings, aka yahoo-yahoo? Friends, business associates, relatives, neighbours, couples, students etc. are all active in the heinous trade of seeking instant prosperity through harvesting of body parts. So-called religious leaders defile their hands and offices with a craving for filthy lucre as they liaise with demons for mammon. Religion is merchandise for them. And like Pied Piper of Hamelin, these godless principals are breeding a huge followership of kindred spirits. Land disputes take on sanguinary turns and twists between families with a heavy human toll that has impoverished communities and aggravated our underdevelopment. So-termed unknown gunmen straddle the entire landscape, forming formidable parallel gangs dreaded by conventional troops. They strike at will.

Those who are expected to halt this light-speed crime trajectory, the security paraphernalia, are hapless, helpless and hamstrung. How? Sometimes the non-state felons outwit the state dramatis personae with superior firepower made possible by poor funding for the acquisition of sophisticated weapons for the latter. The factor of enfeebled morale in the ranks of our gallant security operatives must also be taken into account. At other times, we have fifth columnists who connive with the antisocial elements to wreak havoc on us. The education sector isn’t giving learning to uphold integrity; it is at its nadir as it releases products baked in the heat of sexcapades between pupils and teachers.

Finally, we have the political class and the elite contributing their quota to the crime and corruption scenes. They allocate to themselves the heavy weight of the wealth of the country. They have the resources to gift hundreds of legislators N160m plus SUVs each, all costing a princely N57.6b. There’s room to vote N21b palatial mansion for Nigeria’s Vice President in Abuja. But we don’t have the funds for a living wage for the producers of the nation’s wealth. We can also afford hefty ‘security vote’ for the president, his vice, and the chief executives in the states and their deputies. This is repeated in the council administration. Now, these are unconstitutional appropriations, according to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke. He declared in a newspaper interview in 2016: “…the question of security vote has no basis in law. When you look at the history of security vote in Nigeria you will not find anywhere in the 1999 Constitution that allows security vote to be enjoyed by anybody.’’

Together with their salaries, these political office holders inflict a heavy fiscal burden on the nation’s treasury, cueing Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to ask for a 50% cut in the salaries and allowances of Nigeria’s political office holders. The economist said: ‘’Despite the hardship…the country’s governance culture encourages extravagance among political leaders and appointees…We have to cut… salaries…It would make people a bit more sober. It would make them understand that we are in hard times… Nigeria’s governance culture puts self-service above people-service.’’

We can’t but blame deaths resulting from miserly-funded healthcare facilities and accidents on bad roads on rulers who embezzle monies meant for such projects. That was the shocking discovery of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings of Ghana when he seized power in 1979.

This deployment of the nation’s substantial wealth to service the extravagance of a few has prevented the economic development of the majority, triggering insecurity, instability and impoverishment. The vexatious levels of criminality, impunity and corruptibility are due to the nation’s inability to provide the basic needs of life to the overwhelming majority of the population. The oasis of the opulent few tells the others not to believe leaders who preach sacrifice and tightening of belts. They reason that something isn’t adding up. So they go into crime to, as it were, add things up, to help themselves. Of course, this line of reaction destabilizes the polity the same way the activities of the greedy and grabbing ruling class unseat good governance.

Recently, when fellow citizen Misbahu Ahmed and I discussed Nigeria’s sunken state of affairs with the egregious erection of a multibillion edifice for the vice president right in the midst of the penury of the people sparking our online chat, he was so miffed he suggested our entire climate had returned to the evil days of Noah. We need a waterfall, he proposed, to cleanse the stench of government insensitivity and corruption.

Misbahu wasn’t talking of a mammoth ship to save us from the floods taking over our land due to years of visionless demographic planning and graft. He meant a gale that would overpower and arrest those subduing the poor and denying them God’s gifts of basic right to education at all levels, access to sound healthcare, living wage, modern roads, potable water, modern housing, welfare benefits for the vulnerable and unemployed, security, adequate power supply nationwide, jobs for our teeming youth etc. The boat would be to preserve those who refuse to join the madding crowd who rape the land, for it must be expected that a just God would offer them due reward for their unflinching patriotism.

 

.Ojewale is a writer and journalist in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.