By Donu Kogbara

I HAVE on this page expressed, more than once, the view that this government is crushing the average Nigerian’s spirit in two ways:Firstly, government has a penchant for managing its practical responsibilities ineptly; and, thanks to rampant insecurity and chronic socio-economic stress, we live with constant, spirit-crushing fear of being killed or kidnapped or raped or robbed or bankrupted.

Secondly, arrogant and insensitive government officials have a habit of further crushing the spirits of an already demoralised population by responding condescendingly or aggressively if we dare complain. In 1957, Stevie Smith, a British writer, wrote a famous poem entitled Not Waving But Drowning.

Mistaken arms gestures

It is about a drowning man who is floundering in a dangerous sea; but his frantic “please rescue me” arm gestures are mistaken for waving by onlookers who are watching him from a distant shore.

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One of this powerful, beautifully crafted poem’s messages is that an individual can appear to be buoyant when he or she is actually sinking. And that terrifying and sobering truth has stayed with me – haunted me! – since I read the poem at school half a century ago.

Most Nigerians are skilled actors and proud, determined wannabee survivors who are excellent at putting a brave face on things.

They know how to wave when there is a very real risk that they will drown.

 They know how to look/sound cheerful and confront tough challenges enthusiastically, even when they are extremely anxious about the present and future…and desperately need help.

But there are exceptions to every rule; and I must confess that I am not an admirable Stoic who is made of the sternest stuff.

I am simply not into suffering and smiling and have been so depressed in recent months – about the state of the nation and the personal problems I’m having because of the state of the nation – that I’ve been miserably moping around in a deep funk, whingeing interminably to anyone who will listen and barely able to summon up the physical, emotional or mental energy to get through each day.

And then, yesterday, a friend told me that a business plan she’s been working on for ages is finally about to leave the drawing board and become a lucrative reality that will generate wealth at a grassroots level and provide training and jobs for several impoverished villagers. And my spirit suddenly rose from the doldrums. And soared.

I can’t reveal any details about the project at the moment because the formalities haven’t been concluded. All I can say is that I’m thrilled, at a time when good news is super-scarce, that something positive is happening to at least some of the millions of Nigerians who urgently need a break from grinding deprivation and psychological trauma.

The moral of this story is that it really doesn’t take much to lift the spirits of people who yearn for decent, dynamic leadership and want to be citizens of a thriving country that is going places and isn’t stuck in a toxic rut or being swallowed up by various quagmires.

Dear President Buhari: It won’t take much to make us happy!!! All we need is evidence that you genuinely care, plus a sense of hope and concrete moves that will guarantee security and promote prosperity.

What is Southern Nigeria’s plan?

THE following paragraphs from an article written by David Hundeyin are very interesting. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he makes and asks some very pertinent points and questions:

While the recent communique issued after a meeting of the Southern Governors Forum has predictably generated headlines and animated Twitter spaces conversations about the ostensible political conflict between North and South, the reality is that there is no conflict between North and South.

A conflict occurs when two opponents have a fight. In this case, one of the parties has a clearly defined goal of exterminating the other and a well-publicised strategy for doing so while the other spends their time on Clubhouse debating whether the knife sticking out of their neck was stabbed in there on purpose.

To call it a political conflict between North and South would be to exaggerate the South’s position. It is total emasculation; an evisceration; a blowout; a massacre; a flawless and comprehensive victory. A cursory examination of Nigeria’s history tells even the most uninformed observer that only between 1999 and 2015 has the South ever held any real power in Nigeria.

That period unsurprisingly, coincides with the biggest accumulation of wealth and the strongest non-oil economic growth in Nigeria’s history. And then in 2015, the South’s political illiteracy – a consequence of its venal ignorance, hubris and intellectual laziness – ushered in a regime which has openly attacked everything that built Southern wealth for 16 years.

Telecoms. Banking and financial services. Trade. Manufacturing. Outsourcing. Internet businesses. Even remittances. All of these contributed to building and maintaining Southern Nigeria’s shrinking-but-still-immense middle class for 16 years.

The Buhari regime has shut down SIM registration, made remittances all but impossible, actively sabotaged Nigeria’s busiest port, shut down Nigeria’s southern borders to trade, banned Twitter and threatened to hobble all social media, gone after internet freedoms, and used legislation to steal customer money from the banking sector to fund itself.

Again, the Northern plan is open, unhidden and unapologetic – so where is the Southern plan or counter-plan? Is the idea to have many more high-level meetings and release nicely-worded communiques…or is there an actual strategy to ensure the economic and material survival of the south in the face of Northern Nigeria’s openly genocidal onslaught?

What is the plan to deal with the unhidden and unbridled hostility…from a strong political formation…from Borno to Sokoto? Where is Southern Nigeria’s plan? We are waiting.


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