Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Only this time, they returned to their barracks…
Same way the story goes? That sinking feeling at the guts; the bewildered, vacant stare- helpless surrender in the face of that granite wall that demarcates mere possibility from the stings of reality.
Yet another charade? Played out far above the heads of the ignorant masses?
And at the end of it all? A return to the familiar rat-race, and working vigorously to atone for the losses from a diversionary timeout so early in the new year.
Same winners? Another humbling reminder: The boss runs this station!
The story ends here. But there are a few post-scripts.
The people stormed the streets, alarmed at basic calculations which heralded certain starvation. They figured out government’s strident permutations and promises for what they really were: The Orwellian Sugar Candy Mountain, a place where one might eventually berth…after death.
Labour eventually joined the fray, and made it official, and the throngs grew from strength, to numerical strength.
In that massive crowd that built across the states, one saw different things depending on one’s perspective. A nationalist would see the formidable force which Nigerians posed, assembled as a single, united entity. A revolutionary would feel the initial droplets converging to stir up a turbulent sub-Saharan spring.
From the eyes of the Government of the day, one could see the glorious sight of ambushing one’s enemies in a single ascertainable unit, thus making it easier to decimate them. A strategy well appreciated by Emperor Nero, “Would it that the people had one neck, that I may cut it off!”
The rest is recent history, and the gains and losses lie where they fell.
To all who gave voice to their protests, I say- straighten up your shoulders. Do not slouch in disgrace. You gave life to your inner strength by stepping beyond silent murmurs. Sadly, you are only empowered to vote the government in. The ballots do not vote out, and any dissatisfaction in the interim is at best expressed informally. Protests are therefore destined to wither out in the long run, faced with a borderline legal perception as sedition or treasonable uprising.
To the starry-eyed optimists who may have been blessed with the necessary clairvoyance to predict that government would keep its word, despite these years of betrayals and falsehood. I say, congratulations, and I heartily hope you read the cards correctly this time.
The real losers are the cynics who merely dismissed the dissenting voices: “We have seen it happen before, nothing will come of it”. Yes, they may have been proven right once again, but they cannot even afford the luxury of a victory smile. Their faces remain a crisscross of bitter lines which curl their lips further downwards in a permanent grimace of rationalized despair. And every stirring for change is dead in their subdued loins.
One thing we will not forgive though, is viewing the Nigerian people as a mere bandwagon of ‘sheepish followers’. The impression was sold that a few people hijacked a sentiment and planted it in the minds of the masses. This view insults the Nigerian citizenry as a pack of clueless imbeciles and only time will tell how this will play out in our future dealings as a nation.
For once, it was not convenient for government to label a protest ‘the idle work of political enemies’. The protests took a more enlightened shade beyond the normal whimpering of a disgruntled minority. This crop of political enemies seemed to have struck a rare harmony with both logic and public support.
Logic and public support. These are Democratic concepts. But insincere leaders cannot contend with them. Thus, the opposition had to be quelled by a show of incumbent superiority.
And out poured the Soldiers!
Soldiers, an impressive band. They do not talk much, their uniforms do. They herald grim promises like the black raven, and exert sudden quietness to the uneasy skies.
The people’s voices died in their throats.
Once again, the soldiers saved the polity. Only this time, they returned to their barracks.
God Bless Nigeria!