Frankly, we don’t care much about the political skulduggery that parades up on down the pages of Nigerian newspapers because, fuck politics, that’s why. Most of what you see is the same old news: ass licking, back stabbing and fifty shades of public masturbation. Even more importantly, there are world-shaking current events that requires our immediate attention, if not even outright demonstrations.
But, now and then, some gem of an ironic cock-up comes along, grabs you by the throat and tickles you hard in the ribs till you want to seize your office-issued laptop and throw it across the room in annoyance.(Which would be totally cool if you tried it right now.)
Now, this particular issue isn’t a shiny new story, it’s the same old crap, with a touched up tissue paper. And no, it isn’t the particular scandal you’re thinking: you know, that pile of wank about the Sanusi-Boko Haram conspiracy theory; that story circulated (allegedly, allegedly—this is for the damn lawyers) by a presidential aide who has to be the most interesting man in the Nigerian social media circle right now.
We’ll get back to Sanusi. But, for now, let’s focus on the ringleader of the president’s batshit crazy media circus, our erstwhile tutor and rebel leader, Mr Reuben Abati. See, back in 2009, before the mischievous gods took a hand in his affairs, Abati wrote this thoughtful article where he advised Nigerians to reflect before celebrating independence anniversaries. Not one to be intimidated by a few lines of hyperbole, Abati proclaimed that: “The world is passing us by. At 49, we are a nation of malcontents. When last did anyone tell a happy national story made on Nigerian soil?”
A fair enough observation, especially from a bright and hardworking intellectual who had had to face the hard knocks of working class reality in a country consistently administered by rouges since 1914. Life as an everyday Nigerian isn’t sexy–and damned if Reuben Abati didn’t know that shit. There was nothing to celebrate in 2009, and he looked ahead to proclaim that there was nothing to celebrate in 2010–and by extension, 2014. But Abati, hot and brilliant writer that he was, sucked hard in the prophecy department, for, as we all know, his personal life became a happy national story. The deadbeat jalopy gave way to presidential jets, and our previously angry discontent turned into a contented philosopher.
So, great, Abati discovered financial orgasm and renounced his activism. But the hunger-inspired words he wrote some four years ago still require some serious consideration. Especially after the Sanusi debacle. Especially after the Boko Haram debacle. Especially now that our government has gone bonkers with a centenary celebration which good old Soyinka frankly refers to as a “canonisation of terror“.
Of course, hard as his PR team may try to deny it, we all know that President Jonathan is quite the connoisseur of wine, women and the good life. Which are all fine things for the modern gentleman. But with a terrorist takeover of the North East, allegations of financial misconduct, and several other shenanigans, the dude needs to connect with the current atmosphere of the country—and then, you know, maybe take a break from one or two delicious female members of the cabinet.
We don’t begrudge celebrations. But the current socio-political mood is just as important as a sense of history, and neither of the these two point to the need for a jamboree today. Think of this: Abati wrote years ago that there was nothing worth celebrating; Sanusi, former member of that same government, says things are even worse than they were years ago. But Sanusi is what happens when you have an activist in the government, and Abati is what happens when you have the government in an activist. Somewhere in between these two is some common sense, but common sense doesn’t receive centenary awards. And if you still don’t get the point, then get the fuck outta this blog.
The funny news is this: this Sunday morning in Lagos, President Jonathan genuinely baffled us with the statement that, without the backup activity of prayer warriors, Nigeria’s security status would have been even more screwed up than it currently is. Now, we know that you, our readers, are prayer-addicts and good luck—no pun—with that! But when a democratically elected President makes such a statement on public safety, you have to—as they say in England—shine your eyes well-well. Although, on the bright side: at least you know the President has a security plan in place.
Now, reliance on prayer is not so shabby a security blueprint, (although we consider it totally ass-fucked), considering that it seems to work well enough for the Vatican. The problem is, while the Vatican has Angel Michael on speed dial, someone in the Ministry of Defense forgot to obtain VIP pass for final approval from God—or whatever witchery you have to perform to get your prayers working—for, no sooner had the President finished his statement than Boko Haram flipped him a finger and pulled another dick move—in what has to be the most astonishing case of conflicting reliance on divine instructions.
Now, of course, Boko Haram isn’t a new issue in the country. In fact, every well bred Nigerian—unlike us—knows that a situation stops being a “pressing issue” after three days of non-resolution by the government. And, after two weeks it stops being an issue altogether. And accordingly, the most successful public policy of Nigerian governments has been: “Hang on guys, let’s allow this one to blow off by itself.” And if the particular public official ranks high on the asshole scale—they may even pass it off as an unsolvable spiritual problem.
Common sense says Boko Haram isn’t going to blow off by itself, and an offering-load of prayers will not resurrect one dead victim. But this is Nigeria, and we love to screw around with vital situations, and that’s why the government is committed to investing prayer into public issues—and that’s why religious leaders have tried to re-brand the president as some Old Testament king.
And as long as the Nigerian government continue to muddle personal spiritual issues with public policy issues they will continue to screw the job they are given. But, naturally, the government has always responded to social criticism by mistaking unhappiness with discontent: but Nigerians are not merely discontent with the half-assed attitude a government that relies on magic—miracles, if you wish—they are truly unhappy about it.
But GEJ is a sly dog. Instead of facing his critics on the continued Boko Haram insurgency, it is plain easier for him to file the problem away as a “God vs Satan” affair, and leave Oritsejafor and his book club members to sort it out. Afterall, no “sane” Nigerian really expects Goodluck Jonathan, Mortal, to do all the work when it comes to waging war against the damn Devil.
And when the majority of Nigerians are wired to think this way, then the government wins the lottery. And here’s the lesson for today: the Nigerian government counts on your approval to a spiritual argument. Even more, it counts on your inability to detect when your brain is being messed with. You see, GEJ isn’t just appreciative of your prayers, he’s also appreciative of your tendency to forget the underlying issues by the time you are done reading this line.
Here’s the good news: we’re bringing you an Idlemindset article. The bad news? We’re still assholes—and not the good type either. We’re the evil kind of asshole—the ones who just won’t give a fuck. Not even after you’ve set it up all oiled and ready to go, eventually driving you to mocking insanity for your inability to get that anal you’ve always fantasied about…. Wait. How did we get here?
Okay, let’s just focus. Especially on the positive aspects of what you’re doing right now—using your employer’s time to read this absolutely work-unrelated post, and getting paid for it at the end of the month. Think about that. Wow, right? A life of free money.
We’ll that’s why we have unions, democracy and traffic lights: so we can protect the weak elements of society against the caprices of the stronger ones. Especially if by “weak”, you mean “poor, struggling, downtrodden masses” and by “strong” you mean “rich as fuck.” And so today, you can do absolutely nothing at all and still get paid like hell for that nothing. And this works very well, generally, because some people fought for your right to wank during office hours a long time ago. And that recognition of human rights is part of why more countries are shifting towards some form of democratic government.
Democratic ideals are good for political business: you see, when the people are happy with their lives, families and jobs (or at least, when they think they are happy: which is also generally acceptable) then the government is happy. But, democracy can be just as terrible as a dictatorship when mishandled by the people and their government. And more so when the people forget the whole point of the democratic process: freedom. And that’s why Socrates had to call out the fuck-ups of democracy by distinguishing between democracy for the purpose of dealing with “shallow issues” and democracy for the purpose of dealing with “urgent human questions”.
Now, we’re not saying Socrates is the smartest of the bunch—afterall, he chose to die by drinking poison rather than lose what was essentially, a twit-fight—but, the dude had a fair point. You see, democracy as a game of numbers is good for making decisions about the allocation of communal goods and resources: these are, ultimately, “shallow issues”. But when it comes to decisions affecting rights, justice, fairness and equity—aka “urgent human questions”—you just can’t leave it to a game of numbers and the will of the people. Especially when those numbers are out to kill you.
Rights—however defined—transcend numbers. But when some clever politician argues that the “will of the majority” in a democratic setting makes an action okay, then this fallacy is certain to get a fair number of people confused. But anyone who has ever seen a violent “majority” mob knows that the argument is absolute nonsense. A mob, whether legalised or not, doesn’t care about “urgent human issues”.
But by definition, a mob is irrational. Democracy is not—and shouldn’t be—a license for the majority to destroy the opinion of the minority. Or vice-versa. No matter how reprehensible the other side of the argument is to you.
It’s a simple idea, really, but most people fail to see it—because humans are essentially wired to be assholes. And here’s the moral for today: if the discussion is about roads, airports and election timetables, democracy works fine; but when the debate shifts to the repression of the minority, then the fact that the majority are all for it still doesn’t make it right. And if you’re really convinced that everyone has to compulsorily share your opinion—then get an island.