President Buhari, you better start singing or…

With less than three years left for this administration, we are heading in the wrong direction. My beloved President had better start singing, it is time for him to take full charge of his government…if not two things will happen – 1. He will have a very negative legacy or 2. Even worst – the threat of military intervention again. On the latter I almost whispered impossible, but in Nigeria, tell me what is impossible, and this is not inciting, and I mean no harm, so let me quickly quip in, “Allah forbid”.

Whether the President was attacked in Kebbi state or fifth columnists twisted the video, whether SLS and El-Rufai are best of friends, friends in need or deed, whether the deposed Emir is on his way to Lagos to see Jagaban or his family, whether this is about 2023, or a prep coup targeted at the cabal, another cabal cometh.

And the irrefutable fact is that this is not about the ordinary Nigerian, because whether it is Ganduje or Sanusi, these are elite men, their drama takes centre stage pushing even the coronavirus in Nigeria to second place, their dog fight is more important than the ASUU warning strike, their elephant tango; the grass suffers drama, makes film trick of Obasanjo’s weighty letter.

We refuse to notice how in just a few days state resources have just been thrown away, in all the theatrics of moving former Emir Sanusi to Nasawara state, all the security details, helicopter movements, our lack of rule of law and respect for human rights.

As up till writing this, no one has owned up to who was responsible for the banishment of the Emir, so I dare ask, if it wasn’t a Sanusi would an ordinary Nigerian be able to muster an assemblage of lawyers to regain freedom, would he have the resources available to the Prince, would he get the expedited court order SLS was availed, all these are pointers to the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the constitution and the state of our democracy, and the further pointers to how all these theatrics are crafted to further push citizenry from the real issues.

So you ever had an encounter with the Nigerian Police, they have this favourite phrase, “has the suspect started singing?”

To Mr. President, this is it. These are miserable times. The statistics of deprivation and death are gruesome. Far too many people struggle with hunger, deprivation and insecurity than when you took over, the gimmicks of your administration strains the successes it has recorded.

Many journalists, writers and us development practitioners have become actuaries of suffering. The general mood is despair; the general conditions of life are bare. The gap between the rhetoric of hope and the condition of despair is vast. There is no bridge between them. We live in the wound. This is a letter from that wound.

Everywhere you look, the news is startling. The keywords for the present are fairly straightforward: Insecurity in all shades, COVID-19, financial crisis, climate change, No great depth is needed to be terrified by what is happening as the great wound spreads across the planet. Panic is a natural reaction, hastened by the general demise of social bonds. Nigeria is not immune, as we may want to think.

The idea of social bonds or even of society is so compelling in our time. It is getting harder and harder to experience society civilly: political discourse seems to have emerged from the sewers, and general compassion for suffering seems to have evaporated as neo-fascists propagate the hard steel of toxic machismo with all sorts of Oshimole APC induced fictions and Sanusi factions to distract us from the painful songs of reality.

The above is not merely a problem of the political class – it is a problem associated with the erosion of State and social institutions that would otherwise make individual lives richer. If people have a hard time getting a job, if jobs themselves are more stressful, if commute times increase, if medical care is hard to attain if pensions deteriorate before higher expenditures (including taxes), and if it just gets harder and harder to deal with everyday life – well, then it is easy to expect tempers to fray, anger to rise, and general social misery to be on display. And in all these the people don’t hear songs of freedom, hope and belief…Nigerians are angry and stressed.

The song, Mr. Integrity, and anti-corruption is lacking rhythm, all that corona civility is fast losing a beat. Civility is not just a matter of attitude. Civility is also a matter of resources. If we used our considerable social treasure to ensure a decent livelihood for each other, to ensure medical and elder care, to ensure that we collectively tackle our pressing problems, well, then there would be the leisure time to rest amongst friends, to volunteer in our communities, to get to know one another and to be less stressed and angry. Neither is ‘hope’ an individual feeling; it has to be produced by people doing things together, building communities, fighting for their values.

Mr. President, let me end this way…Are birds born knowing how to sing? Actually, no. Unlike cats that are born knowing how to meow and dogs that know how to bark, birds have to learn their songs. They learn by listening to their mom, dad, and other birds. And it takes a lot of practice. Some of their songs are pretty complicated!

So why do birds sing? It’s not really for conversation. Birds use single “words,” or calls, for things like warning other birds of danger, telling where to find food, and simply saying hello. But when it comes to their full songs, it turns out birds sing for a lot of reasons! If you hear a bird singing in North America and Europe, it’s probably a boy bird — and he’s usually singing to impress a girl (or maybe warn another guy to stay away). But if you live in Australia or the tropics, that bird you hear singing is probably a girl, and she’s usually putting on a show. But sometimes birds sing when they’re all alone.

And in most of Africa are those with the most complex songs. Species with flashy plumage didn’t sing much in Africa, but those that are dull in colour – and, hence, for whom singing plays a bigger role in attracting a mate – did sing a lot. This suggests that birds sing in Africa to improve their singing and develop more complex songs ahead of the breeding season.

For species with complex songs, we would expect that song complexity is very important for reproductive success in those species. “But for species with very simple one or two-note songs, perhaps song doesn’t matter so much, and it could be more about plumage characteristics.

My President, you said recently that you found out that Nigerians are difficult people to govern, and I do agree with you, but like the birds in Africa, you have just three years, you need to start singing and sing hard too, will you sing and sing great songs that you will be remembered for—Only time would tell

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