Nigeria is a wonderful country, no doubt.
And I am not concerned about its abundant mineral resources or climatic condition. Of course, in that regard, we are spared the horrors of rampaging anthropomorphised disasters: Hurricane Katrina, Cyclone Andrew, Whirlwind Marino, Tornado Alley, Blizzard Brutus, Snowstorm Anaconda, and so on. Quaint, isn’t it? If these disasters were to have Nigerian counterparts, the result would be, well, hilarious in spite of the consequences: Cyclone Umoru, Hurricane Titi, Blizzard Akindele, Tornado Sule, Windstorm Boko, Sunstroke Asaroyoma! I told you it’s hilarious.
I am not interested in natural disasters. Nigeria is a wonderful country for another reason: We are a country with a unique national problem solving dynamics. The problems that other nations break their back and strain their brains to crack are easily resolved here.
Consider this: The Nigerian ruling elites expunged History from the curriculum of its secondary schools. Wait for it! Of course, your normal and most immediate reaction would be outrage and vituperation. But then, think: History is a wicked reminder of obnoxious pasts, and who wants that? Why should we as a people be burdened by terrible and dusty tomes of terrible and dusty events gone bad and by?
Even the students intuitively understand this needlessness, and so refused to take history in school! Of course, there are better subjects—the colonialists, out of the goodness of their hearts, left the global English language. Then there is Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and the almighty Mathematics. Even the Chinese language is about to make an appearance, as the counterpart of French, in a manner that further buries the primitive vernaculars (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulfude and those others).
Aren’t the Chinese constructing our roads now? Don’t we owe them the courtsey of learning their language as a mark of gratitude?
So, no serious nation on earth gives attention to history. To achieve progress in development terms, we face forward, not backward. Even Professor Ernest Renan counsels that we can actually become a nation when we collectively immolate ourselves in forgetfulness. Nigerians certainly should not be reminded about the horrors of the ugly Civil War, the primitive antics of ‘heroes’ and ‘sheroes’ (apologies to Professor Pius Adesanmi), and countless other irrelevant mistakes that are best forgotten. Master strokes! The Nigerian ruling elites know their onions!
The same brilliant foresight has been applied to the employment logjam. Nigeria’s unemployment predicament is accelerating at a geometrical proportion. And hence, we need solid reflection and strategic action plans that make Nigeria an employment haven in a global world breaking at the seams with countless youths flooding the unemployment market. Have you not seen Obama’s grey hairs? The guy has been trying to increase the employment profile of the United States since the global economic meltdown (do you still remember that term that burst on us some years back?) Well, Obama will do well to learn from Nigerians. We are the masters of shortcuts, quick fixes, intuitive foresights and strokes of genius!
This genius is actually simplistic…oh, I mean simple, in its brilliance: Use death as a strategy for employment! What better method to replenish life and stoke the fire of patriotism in Nigerians? At the recently concluded employment exercise, conducted by the Nigerian Immigration Services, several people—numbering around 520,000—were caught within the crush of a mighty jostling to fill less than 5000 vacancies. And some people lost their lives.
Well, we sympathise with those who lost their lives. But then, government is just trying to fulfil its promise to close up the employment gap that has continued to grow yawningly. And what better way to do this than to throw the opportunity open to eager Nigerians to avail themselves of a wonderful, orderly and logistically fine-tuned exercise that would have made history but for the forces of darkness and of the opposition bent on pulling down the Federal Government.
Government is the employer of choice in Nigeria. When Government employs you, then you get a life time chance to realise your potential! I have heard of a staff member—just one among countless unknown and smart others—in the NIS who comes to work for a week and take a month off to attend to other significant business outside of work.
This self-actualisation strategy is honed to perfection in the various local governments scattered all over the country where government staff utilise government time and monies to develop themselves. Government usually doesn’t have much to do; so the public office is a government-approved space to display your smart initiatives.
This was the thinking behind the NIS employment exercise: Give as many unemployed Nigerians as possible the opportunity to stand in the hot sun to fill the vacancies released from the goodness of the heart of government. And you are paying a token of a thousand naira for a lifetime—well, almost a life time—of engaged bliss. That’s a small sacrifice to pay, don’t you think? And when the forces of darkness and of the opposition came with their spoiler job, government was ready with foresighted alacrity: for those who died, there will be three slots of instant employment each.
Do a quick math: Assume 30 people died, multiplied by three. That gives 90 people. Not good enough. But assume the mori implicare principle (meaning ‘death as employment’) is applied to the over 4000 people murdered by Boko Haram, what do we have? 12000 employed! Pure genius! What other way to honour the memory of those gone than by bringing those still suffering on board the employment train? Moro has trumped Diezani as the star protagonist in Jonathan’s administration.
But we aren’t dying enough. There is actually a sacrificial component in the principle that makes it a divine one. A family can sacrifice one of theirs to redeem three others who are currently unemployed. The NIS ought to organise more employment exercises that would be deliberately illogical and logistically challenged. This will ensure that many more will throng the various venues. And we should hope that many more than 30 will give their lives for others to get employment. That cannot be a tragedy. It is like saying the death of Jesus Christ is a tragedy.
Our Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro is a hero! But he needs to do more. For instance, as a reward, he should be made to supervise the as yet unrewarded deaths caused by the Boko Haram insurgents. Centres should be set up all over the North for those who have lost people to come forward. And Boko Haram should also be contacted to extend its tentacles into a national spread for the sake of the Federal Character.
The target we should set in employment profile is 1.5 million people employed. And that translates into just 500,000 deaths. A modest achievement, if you ask me. Thanks to Comrade Moro and his brilliant strategy. Arise O Compatriots…Nigeria’s call obey!
Dr. Afolayan teaches philosophy at the University of Ibadan.
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