REMINISCE: A Nation Of Idiots – By Tola Adeniyi

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We are all damned stupid. Stupendously stupid. Stupid to the point of stupor. Stinking stupid swine. That’s what we all are.

Not what we had always, been though. Not until 1979 anyway when this columnist cried out in the Nigerian Tribune that Nigeria harboured the largest collection of stupid men and women in the world.

And that stupid sting had stayed with us ever since. I mean ever since some stupid men imposed some stupid men on all the stupid people of this country in 1979. If you want to remember, it was that year that the leader of the stupid men announced to the larger community of stupid men that the best man would not be fit enough to lead the nation of Africa ’s most enlightened people. And the best man was rigged out of contest and was made to bow at the feet of the cabal of stupid men.

That idiocy which captured the body and soul of the nation has refused to go, and I am told it will never go voluntarily.

You wonder how a nation can continue to stomach the horrible things that assail it every day. How a people have become so helpless that they allow themselves to be bedraggled by less than 3,000 heartless men. Those who hold this country by the jugular are less than 3000 nationwide. All former political [mis]rulers and their collaborators. And the present crop of day light robbers who have infected Abuja with a plague.

Every day, newspapers and television screens and radio airwaves are awash with news of billions of Naira ‘missing’, ‘misappropriated’, ‘embezzled’, ‘stolen’, and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, all of us idiots merely leave our mouths ajar, mumble some curses at beer parlour joints and resign ourselves to suffering unending.

Roads were meant to be built, contracts were awarded, adequate fees paid, and all we get in return are the death traps on Ibadan-Lagos expressway, *Lagos-Benin human body-parts supermarket,* gorges on motor ways across the land. In some cases whole vehicles are swallowed up by deep gaps in the middle of the road.

And how do the idiots who populate the country react? They rain curses and move on. And their tormentors are grinning from ear to ear in their ill-gotten military contraption called Hummer.

You see councillors who were mere truck pushers yesterday now donating brand new jeeps to their wives or girl friends as birthday gifts and no questions are asked. Why? In a nation of idiots, everything goes. Idiots all over the world are known to be timid people. Nigerian brand of idiots are worse than timid. They are zombies made worse by collective spell heaped on them by the day-light robbers who have imposed themselves on them.

But this nation had not always been like this. This had been a country of brave men and women who fought the colonial masters to a standstill. This was the country of Queen Amina. This was the land of Jaja of Opobo. This was the territory of Bashorun Ogunmola Olodogbo-keri-keri. The land of Lisabi Ogbongbo-akala. The land of Queen Orisamuro Eriwo . This was the country of Herbert Macaulay. The land of Raji Abdllah . The land of Aminu Kano . This was the country of Joseph Sarwuan Tarka. The land of Isaac Adaka Boro. The land of fiery Josiah Olawoyin. This land produced the great Nnamdi Azikiwe. The legendary Sir Ahmadu Bello came, saw and conquered. The Kiniwun Onibudo, the Olumoko, Agbola’ya bi aara Obafemi Awolowo was a nationalist of this same country now overgrown with timid weeds.

Perhaps all of us idiots now suffering in inexplicable silence are waiting for the one-man suicide squad Tai Solarin, Bala Usman, Omorogie Ohonbamu, Bros Kanmi Ishola Osobu, SLB Labanji Bolaji, Comrade Ola Oni, Comrade Niyi Oniororo, Wahab Goodluck, Pa Imoudu, Genius Ayodele Awojobi to come from their current places of abode to free us from this suffocating slavery on our soil.

It was in this country that the inimitable Fela Anikulapo Kuti carried coffin to harass Obasanjo at Dodan Barracks. The same Fela carried loads of ‘shit’ to block MKO Abiola’s house to protest ‘unfair treatment’ by Decca. Dr Beko Ransom Kuti led hundreds of thousands in protest to confront the fierce military tanks of Abacha in protest against the annulment of June 12 elections.

Now the generation suffering the most are still waiting for Ebenezer Babatope, Yemi Farounmbi, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Felix Adenaike, Arthur Nwankwo, Haroun Adamu, Tola Adeniyi, Rasheed Gbadamosi, our revered Dr Frederick Fasehun, our respected Gani Fawehimi, literary icons Soyinka and Achebe….men in their late sixties and mid seventies already shopping for travel agents for the best ticket out of planet earth, to fight for them.*

I should remind the people in their 20s and 30s that they are the ones whose present and future are being trampled upon. It is they, more than any other idiots in the idiots’ country, that are having their lives and the lives of their children ruined by the massive stealing going on in the country today. And they should know that throughout history it is only people under age 35 who initiate and lead revolutions.

How is a country the size of Nigeria with all her resources not able to supply ordinary electricity to her citizens? Imagine the billions of Naira lost daily because of lack of power. Imagine the number of industries that have closed down. Imagine the multiplying effects of lack of electricity on the nation’s security and social/economic well being. How is a country with all God has given her unable to provide drinking water? Why should Nigeria fail in providing gainful employment to her teeming population? Why should over 20 million children be out of school nationwide?

And yet all of us idiots watch in helpless resignation the men who led us into this mess living in vulgar opulence, feeding fat on our stolen money, sentencing our daughters to prostitution, and we do nothing.

This nonsense cannot continue.

Imprisonment is not the answer. Imprisonment did not work in Ghana . It did not work in China . It did not solve the problem in Louis X1V’s France . It did not solve the problem in Russia before the Bolsheviks came with their chopping axe. No, Romania did not yield to imprisonment. Ask them in Ethiopia ; Meriam Mengistu led all to the chopping block.

If I am one of the 3,000 men who have brought Nigeria into this mess, come for me today, take me to the Bar Beach and chop my head off.


First Published on Monday, 25 May 2009 in Nigerian Compass Newspaper

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