The “Stand Up Comedy” Called The Nigerian Government, By Ayobami Oyalowo

Ayobami Oyalowo
Ayobami Oyalowo

Wise men speak because They have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. ~ Plato

Since the advent of the Jonathanian era in the governance of the Nigerian State, government and the entire government apparatchik has been turned into one huge theater of comical absurdities, where those closest to the “man in charge” are vying to outdo themselves in absurdities and baloney. The soundbites coming out of the Federal and various State governments is comical at best. But on a closer examination, it is more tragi-comedic than saner citizens could wish for, especially for a country which parades great minds such as past Nobel laureate, winners of Pulitzer Prizes at various times, intelligentsia in various fields of human endeavours etc.

Nigerians have cried out severally against various heists either organized or superintended over by top government officials. Where do we start from? Is it the N2.6 trillion heist in the guise of fuel subsidy, the moribund yet drain pipe surreptitiously named SURE-P, the Maina led barefaced grab of about N194 billion pension fund, to the payment of billions to some militant leaders as a reward for their “heroic actions” of terrorism against their country, to the claim by Punch editorial indicting the government of outright looting of N5 trillion since inception? These and many more stealing and banditry by the federal government have been the reasons why poverty and unemployment have been growing exponentially in the past few years.

Probably due to the hue and cry of the citizens, it appears that the government has decided to respond by ameliorating the suffering of the mass of the citizenry by unleashing comical characters on Nigerians who are hell bent on putting the Alibabas and Basket-mouths of this world, out of business. These characters in and within the apparatchik of the Jonathan government have been on a struggle to out do each other lately, on who can say or do the ‘darndest’ things.

Let’s begin with the president himself. Nigerians were understandably over the moon when the senior national football team won the latest edition of the African Cup of Nations. It was a moment of pride. The team had been promised the sum of $15,000 each as match bonus, if they Won, which they eventually did. But as soon as they came back to Nigeria, the comedy began. President Jonathan immediately told whoever cared to listen that the Super Eagles win was as a result of the “transformation agenda” of his government And he proceeded to shower the team with plots of land in Abuja, the federal capital and N150million in cash gifts (aside the $15,000 bonus already paid). Meanwhile he conveniently forgot that the Olympic team didn’t get a SINGLE MEDAL for the first time in years at the last olympics. Apparently that should also be a part of the transformation agenda!

Enter the choir boys and fellow jesters and comics. Beginning from the Governor of Delta State who splashed N80 million of Delta state funds on the same Eagles and Lagos State following closely behind with the sum of N54million. Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Rivers States have all signified interests in continuing the culture of wastage in March when the Eagles would be assembled for another international game.

I have gone into this details to highlight the hypocrisy and self serving nature of the government. When the disabled athletes restored us some pride after the fiasco that was the London 2012 Olympic games for Nigeria, not only were they not feted like the footballers, they were initially dumped at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. It took our hue and cry before they were grudgingly hosted at the OJEZ restaurant inside the same national stadium. My question is: are they less humans than the footballers?

As if the government does not provide enough entertainment, few so-called “rich men who loved football” joined in the orgy of waste. Meanwhile the Falcons (Nigerian female national football team) is moribund as we speak. The local league is without a recognized sponsor and the few football academies where young ones can be developed, are comatose. But in our character, who cares? Let’s celebrate the winners today, tomorrow will sort itself out. How jejune! I am aware that Newcastle football club in England is owned by Mike Ashley, a local millionaire. One would expect our government made billionaires, since they love football so much, to invest in local teams of their choice, the way the late MKO Abiola did with Abiola Babes. But not these ones. They will rather join the FG train and dance their macabre dance of waste and avarice to the detriment of TRUE sports Development.

The comedy in government continued with the minister of (mis)Information, LieBaran Maku embarking on a strange and unheard of national junketing, shamelessly tagged “good governance tour”. He has with him an entourage of over 120 people. I wondered why we needed a minister and his merry band of journeymen to tell Nigerians about good governance. It was still a mystery to many right thinking Nigerians, Why the minister needed this tour until the comrade Governor of Edo state, Adams Oshiomhole exposed the fraud inherent in Maku and his merry band of tourists. Maku had demanded the government of Edo state to fund the feeding, accommodation and miscellaneous expenses of himself and his co-jesters on the senseless tour. Of course, the Governor of Edo State did the most sensible thing– he declined the proposal flatly.

But the mother of all comedies was unleashed when the first lady, aptly nicknamed Patience “the Lazarene” Jonathan, regaled Nigerians with her tale of how she died for seven days and MIRACULOUSLY rose again after nine surgeries. She forgot to tell us how heaven looked like, though. Hopefully she will do so in her first lady “memoir” at the end of her “tenure” of OFFICE.

In case you are wondering why the indentation, she has been given an official seal of office.

Meanwhile, upon her initial return to Nigeria, she had denied been ill and in fact rained curses on some unknown “enemies spreading false rumours concerning her health”. The saddest part of the tragic comedy of the first lady is not about her ill conceived and wasteful testimony time, which cost tax payers N500 million, it is watching full grown men and women, including so called MEN OF GOD clapping and nodding shamelessly. I wonder what was on the minds of the privileged members of that August congregation.

Plato had opined: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”.

The tragedy of the current state of governance in Nigeria is captured in this short quote. The current federal government is not only moribund and inept, the protagonist is equally surrounded by men with flexible morality and characters. Men who would rather the darkness remain pervasive as long as its persistence is to their shallow benefits. Same reason why men of God will sit and clap through such baloney and dance with corn cobs tied to their waists, as long as their jets are fuelled.

Recently, we were regaled with how inflation in Nigeria has been pruned down to a single digit. One wonders which Nigeria is being talked about? Reno Omokri the special assistant to Jonathan on twitter affairs, was so happy to share this “lovely” piece of information. Although he forgot to tell Nigerians that he was twitting from California. I challenge him to join me on a road tour of selected Nigerian cities to test his single digit inflation theory.

While the government proudly celebrates “YOUTHS” by splashing millions on the Super Eagles, millions of graduate youths are roaming the streets jobless. They created a “cartoon” called YOUWIN to provide jobs for 120,000 youths out of over 40 million unemployed youths, yet those 120,000 are yet to get the funds they were promised by the government. But the same government nonetheless, embarked on a naira rain for the footballers. How else do you define ‘janus-face’? I have no qualms if the Super Eagles got half the federal budgets, I only wish they would extend same magnanimity to the poor man who recently built an air-plane or the indigent but brilliant first-class youths idling away due to lack of opportunities.

Although we seem to have found some comic relief out of the sheer bunkum and baloney daily served to us by the court clowns and palace jesters milling around in Aso Rock, but it appears that the business of governance in Nigeria has become inherently too comical, which if unchecked might end up as a tragi-comedy.

I am also on twitter @Ayourb