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Random musings

By Rotimi Fasan
TODAY my mind roves around. My mind seems suddenly on exile. In my thoughts I have traversed regions and cannot find a place of rest. I move as if without purpose, without a sense of direction.

There is so much happening around me. So much to think about. Perhaps even more important, so much to talk about. But hardly anything new. The irony of all this is that in the apparent hyperactivity of my, our remote and immediate surroundings, lurks death.

We seem consumed with action but beneath the flowing current of our every action is the awareness that we are heading nowhere. It is this sense, that our most deliberate action lacks purpose, lies the explanation for my restless mind which does not, cannot find a thing to settle on.

Much of my angst I know is a reflection of our national malaise, banished as we are into purgatory. Looking around one cannot help thinking that we, as a people, are in limbo; we continue to hover between the world of the living and that of the dead.

We are not dead. But neither are we alive. And in line with this morbid feeling that seems to hover in the air, I find me reflecting on the state of our nation- if we can, for a moment, forget that which stares us in the face and call our rickety polity that exhibits every sign of premature senility- if we can but pretend for the moment and allow ourselves the pleasure of calling this delicate state that continually threatens to burst at the seams, daily showing itself for the contraption that it is- wonder if we can just grant ourselves the  momentary pleasure to call it a nation.

What immediately comes up is the inherent contradiction of granting ourselves such pleasure. Where and when is a nation where every little statement is combed through for the tiniest shred of ethnic colouration?

Where or when one cannot dare say what one thinks without first thinking in what terms such statement would be interpreted by others of different ethnic background, where is the nation? And so it is that one of the things I find myself musing about is that which has got Nigerians all talking, screaming and thinking aloud.

And that is the health of our president who, as I write this, lies somewhere in a hospital in Saudi Arabia.

The fact that I have to go back to the issue of the president’s health despite the avalanche of commentaries from Nigerians of whatever calling or training who have an opinion on the matter- the fact we are, all of us, forced to go back to and are yet to get to the root of a matter that first surfaced just after Umaru Yar’Adua’s candidacy was announced for the president says so much of how we continue to progress into regression.

This polarising matter that has got Nigerians speaking from all and every sides of the mouth is a reflection of our entrapment in what Soyinka, in a different context, once called an endless ‘cycle of doom’.

That Yar’Adua could vault the hurdles to Aso Villa despite what seemed then and now a heavy health baggage may after all not be the worst that could come of his health matters.

The worst, it is becoming clear, is the readiness to have an ailing President permanently on the saddle, the vexing failure to have a common voice among those of the Nigerian ruling class to get the president to do that which is ultimately in his own interest following his dogged refusal and/or failure to follow constitutional prescriptions on the matter.

Until we summon the courage to speak with one voice and advise the President (rather than offering self-serving prayers) accordingly, without fear or favour, we must be prepared to continue our march backwards while jerking seemingly forwards in fits and starts.

Leaving the matter of the President’s health one is confronted again with thoughts about Nasir el- Rufai, this time, his plan to return home as he concludes his studies abroad.

Malam el-Rufai served notice to this end just over a week ago. Prior to this, he had been declared, first, a persona non grata, and, thereafter, a fugitive offender with a warrant of arrest allegedly issued on him. ‘Allegedly’ because while government officials continued to act as if they had compiled sure-fire dossier to keep el-Rufai permanently behind bars, they somehow seemed reluctant to execute their plan to arrest him.

Which would explain why the same officials were behind the attempt to deny both el-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu opportunity to renew travel documents that would facilitate their movement around the world, including their return home. Except the plan was to have the two men crated Dikko-style, there is no way to explain these officials’ action.

Talk of a government talking from both sides of the mouth. But el- Rufai, like Ribadu during his brief visit to the Gani Fawehinmi family, seems poised to take the battle to his adversaries by announcing his imminent return home. This seems to have woken the Police from their deep slumber for suddenly they have declared both el-Rufai and Ribadu wanted persons.

After many months of inactivity, one wonders what the fuss is about to arrest a man who is on his way home anyway. Between Zacchaeus and el-Rufai, I don’t know who is taller.

But I hope IG Ogbonnaya Onovo and his men won’t make a hash of this rare opportunity to play OO7. Let them open their eyes well so nobody comes to demand pictorial evidence that el-Rufai, like Ribadu, had been here.

What else is there to talk about? Is it the case of the Police erecting illegal blocks and shooting innocent Nigerians over N20 tolls, or the tragic case of the Assistant Commissioner of Police gruesomely hacked to death in the line of duty in Ijebu-Ife? What have we learnt from the past, what really is new about all this?

Is it the double-sided predictions of soothsayers about people being in power without winning elections as had been predicted about Chukwuma Soludo and the 2010 elections in Anambra? Same old songs, same old pain and we get by- somehow..


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