Once, a roman general brought peace to a rebellious province; by killing all its citizens. Even his fellow Romans were shocked, one of them wrote, “Scer atulunum fasciet, pescent apellant”, which means, “they create desolation and call it peace.”
I do not want to tread the path of this general but rather unmuzzle the buccal cavity of truth and permit reality to transmit the lights of freedom. Please, do not have me misconstrued for a sadistic writer simply because I chose to say it as it is. Events unfolding towards the eve of this year’s Christmas leave me with no choice but that of profound objectivity, nay, sharp prognosis of the myriads of maladies and malaise bedevilling this country, Nigeria, unbecoming of such a time as this, indeed of such a time as this Christmas.
Does it, therefore, call me to banqueting, wining and dining? Or to take a bold step out of the norm to quieten the thrills and frills of such a pleasurable season so that true peace can be ours and not a masqueraded desolation that, with effrontery, stares us in the face?
As the Christmas eve rushed in with its characteristic throng of people who, like children, scamper for hampers, gift boxes and their likes, I had embarked on a mini – travel to honour an appointment with a high profile clergyman on the outskirts of Lagos, a metropolis in Nigeria.
As I shuttled the densely populated town of Ipaja, I decided to have a detour, hopefully, to ease the stress of such a tortuous journey. Then, as if to add salt to injury, the threadlike organisms responsible for filtering eaten food in the human sac of food relentlessly bit me with reckless acrimony for depriving them of their breakfast allocation. Little did I know that awaiting me was a gory event with its gargantuan propensity to cause me to forget my personal misery and much more than that wane the anticipated joys of a Christmas which was just four days away.
Pandemonium had broken out, but my fragile heart was pacing with lightning speed like a jackal that had spotted a ready prey atop a faraway mountain. Had the worst happened? I could not tell as I witnessed a mammoth crowd of ‘Lagos lookers’ with many having both hands on their heads; a sign that a great ill had befallen another son of Adam. I summoned courage to approach the scene of the tragedy but guess my greatest undoing for the day was the elongating of my neck to catch a glance. No sooner had I taken this peep than a series of vibrations and shivers of immeasurable magnitude went down my spine; shaking the entirety of my homo – sapienic being. No! I could not have made a good medical doctor as was advised just before I sat for the university matriculation examinations and consequently admitted into a first choice university.
My principal had muttered, “You have it, Josh. Go for medicine” but I had stood my ground like the biblical rock of Gibraltar to study anything but medicine because of my aversion for hospitals and their operations. Back to the tragic drama! Sprouting from the left leg of a middle aged man was the naked length of his femur bone, completely broken from the knee and exposed for all to see! He was a commercial motorcycle rider who had been caught in both his recklessness and that of another commercial bus driver. To put it mildly, he would automatically join the number of amputees if he survives the loss of blood till he gets medical attention. Handicapped for the rest of life just four days from this Christmas!
Over the years, this time of the year has consistently witnessed an increased rate of deaths and severe casualties on Nigerian roads, as families travel home en-masse to spend the festive period with loved ones, owing to the poor, dilapidated state of our roads and the confirmed inaction of the government. Motorists and other road users have also contributed immensely to the abrupt termination of lives with their utter recklessness and over speeding. Superstitious as many Nigerians are, we believe these events are machinations of evil spirits who crave human blood for their celebrations but with the killings and bombings in the northern part of the country orchestrated by members of the dreaded Boko – Haram sect, this Christmas is definitely an odd one in recent times. This compels one to muse over the rhetoric, what does ‘this Christmas’ portend?.
I am obliged to take responsibility for describing our federal government as being almost irredeemably destitute of human milk and sympathy. You may quiz me over this assertion but have you heard of the phrase “conscienceless consciencelessness” or “directionless directionlessness”? You do not require a lexicon to decode these phrases as they are the words of a former member of the Nigeria House of Representatives used in describing the exhibition of gross high handedness by our politicians, no, I prefer to say, ‘politricksters’. But terribly appalling is the fact that like a noiseless putrid fart that lingers on, the current nation – wide strike of the academic staff union of universities has crept into ‘this Christmas’ period.
As I write on this sweltering afternoon, from home, after a disappointed hope of a call – off two weeks into the industrial action, I cannot decipher the hand-writing on the wall about the future of my country, but it sure depicts catastrophe. According to the popular maxim, “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers”, our undergraduates are the ones caught in this cross fire as the indignant ASUU engages the non–challant federal government in a fight to finish over elongation of active service time of senior academics, improved welfare and standardization of our institutions.
This total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action has successfully paralyzed all forms of learning and research in all our tertiary institutions, further allowing the nation’s future to wallow in the mire of uncertainty, dimming, or worse still, putting off the lights of advancement. This quagmire of national shamelessness leaves me wondering what hope is left for the entire black race if the world’s largest black nation suffers intermittent crippling of learning processes in its ivory towers. This thought is sickening enough to erode any bliss associated with ‘this Christmas’.
After all said and done, this legion of problems that has besieged us, like a malignant cancer which defies the best efforts of chemo-therapists, shall be subdued and I shall sit round the family table to enjoy the thrilling moment and merriment of ‘this Christmas’ season. In exercise, these are my submissions of creative ingenuity and intellectual ascendancy, almost bereft of the average undergraduate, like I am, to correct the anomalies that plague our nation with its tendency to depriving us of the true joys and experience of ’this Christmas’ – the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Saviour of the world. I, hereby, rest my case.