By Muyiwa Adetiba
I have this pair of shoes that I covet a lot and has a pride of place in my wardrobe. It is dark brown. It comes out only on special occasions since I have other pairs of shoes of the same colour. It got noticed the last time I wore it out. It was at a private get together.
A lady walked up to me to say she liked what I was wearing. ‘It must have cost a pretty penny’. She said. My head swelled as I thanked her for the compliment. In answer to my question, she explained she used to have a fashion shop that specialised in men’s wear. So she knew a thing or two about men’s shoes.
Last month, another occasion presented itself and the pair of shoes came out from its bag. This was at least six months after the last wear. As I was cleaning, before putting the shoes back after use, I noticed the heel of one of them was separating from the sole. Was I devastated? Everything else still looked good. The sole did not show any discernible sign of wear.
But when shoes are giving up on you, they usually start from the glue. That is the earliest but by no means the only sign of expiration. The ‘leather’ can also show signs of tiny cracks depending possibly on storage. I have picked up shoes during these Covid19 forced and unforced lockdowns only to find small, but unsightly peels. Or very slight, tiny cracks along the surface. They can get dated even without being used.
I have a black belt with my initials engraved on it which I got on a trip to Italy shortly before the lockdown – oh, the vanity of life. It stayed curled up in the wardrobe while I use less showy belts. I took it out recently to find its black surface defaced with white spots – a possible indication of mildew. Meanwhile, the ones I use regularly were shining with use. It shows that Leather like life, is not meant to be stored in a dark corner. Both are to be exposed and burnished with use. (‘Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your father in heaven’ says the Bible). When expiry dates come as they do to all things animate or inanimate, let it be said that whatever was put in our care has been well cared for as well as thoroughly used. Hoarding, whether it is of life or leather, is not the way of nature. The sun does hoard its light only for itself. Rain falls on all of creation. Plants take what they need from nature and give back the rest to other users. But humans take and hoard. They forget that everything has a shelf life.
However, when Supermarkets and Pharmacies put a shelf life on a product, it does not mean the product would become useless a day after its sell by date. It just means its potency could wane thereafter. If our politicians were products, many of them would have long been past their sell by date. Almost all of those who were active at the inception of the Third Republic are still very active today. Their potency has waned but they are the last to be aware of it. They practise politics the way they have always practised it and loathe any form of reform. They mount the soap box to promise roads, schools and a general better life if they are voted in. They don’t even have the ingenuity to change their campaign slogans. The world has moved on since 1999 but many of these politicians are still stuck in the past. They boast of models of governance that are riddled with corruption. We are in the electronic age but our politicians still want to do manual counting. They are afraid of a bill that takes power off electoral colleges and puts it in the hands of the people. They still rely on the decades old system of vote rigging and manipulation. They call themselves grass-root politicians but in reality, their power lies in the ‘enforcers’ who do their bidding for them. They are yet to recognise the power of the social media to mobilise, organise, expose and hold accountable. I hope these expired politicians are taught a lesson they will never forget in 2023.
Our President granted an interview a couple of weeks ago. I hope the handlers got what they wanted from the interview. If it was to tell us the President is not aloof or that he understands our pains or that he has a solution to the myriads of problems facing the country, then I don’t think the message got across. Nothing in that hour long interview gave me the assurance that he understands the socio/economic situation in the country or where the ship of State is heading as a result. Instead, I got the sinking feeling the President actually believes he has done well. That the country is better off than it was six years ago despite figures and data to the contrary. A pastor called it the ‘arrogance of failure’. I will be more generous and call it a denial of reality. I was one of those who voted for him in 2015 because I thought the country needed a firm hand to deal with the issues of security and corruption. But I was thinking of the firm, steady hands of 1984 when he was the Head of State and not the weak, feeble hands of today. Age catches up on all of us just as it has caught up with him. Just as it had caught on with my once prized shoes. And when the President talked about the rigours of working six hours a day, I had to shake my head. No young CEO would put in anything less than eight, nine hours a day unless he is a government appointee. I know I regularly put in more when I was a Publisher. And the job of a President is way more demanding.
The President we want in 2023 is one who has a world view and is prepared to put in the shift necessary to get us there. A ten hour shift per day is the least required for someone who wants to be on top of things. We don’t want a sick man who needs to be propped up. We need someone who understands the digital age and is prepared to use it to transform the country and not a person who is afraid of it. We need someone who sees the potential in every Nigerian and not their tribe or religion. We certainly don’t need or want, another leader who has reached their sell by date.