By Busuyi Mekusi

If not for the timelessness of art, one would have sorely missed Ras Kimono, just like many other Nigerian singers whose artistic interventions through music continually reverberate in Nigeria socio-political and economic situations, and the world. Fela Anikulapo saw several years into the future, and lampooned all forms of political rascality, thievery, religious hypocrisy, postcolonial deceptions and citizens’ gullibility, among others. As Elemure Ogunyemi’s ‘Ogun lila ti Gbepolo'(a big war has led to fuel scarcity) has characterised Nigerians’ experience for a long time in relation to protracted instability in the petroleum industry, Fela’s “Suffering and Smiling” similarly continues to satirise the happy people of Nigeria, who have consistently moved from the frying pan to the fire of politico-economic turbulence.

Kimono’s ‘Under Pressure’, led by the Rum-Bar Styleé was a watershed in Nigeria musical space, starting from 1984 till date. The Delta State-born Oseloke Onwubuya did not just heavily weave Rastafarian jargons into his songs but “I just kumo, kumo, merry, mema” scintillated the pressure being discussed in a rather paradoxical manner. Kimono listed people that are under pressure in this hit-track, first, to include: black people, Nigerians, Africans, and later; Europeans, black and white and everybody. The gradual gradable listing done from the specific of black people to the generalisation of everybody, no doubt, speaks to the standard distinctive categorisation usually attained using underdevelopment and poverty indexes by international bodies and agencies. It is no longer new that blackness has been equated to backwardness and whiteness to superiority, but within humanity that vulnerability to life-taking devices is not responsive to colour pigmentation. 

Pressure, among others, could mean a pressing, a force, distress, or urgency. Kimono identifies some of the reasons people are under pressure to include lack of food in the belly, no money in the pocket, even though banking that is a postmodern institution has been made less attractive lately by Godwin Emefiele, no bed to lay, leading to suffering. Lack of food would deny the people the needed energy, which is the ability to do work. Lack of money would vitiate people’s economic capacity to engage, and absence of bed, symbolically referencing shelter, would make someone homeless. 

Another important dimension in the song is the naming of the locations where the suffering people could be found; from the socially-formed and defined ghetto, to the bustling ambiguous city, to other places that are accommodated within the collective adverb of place, everywhere. While ghettos are prisons of a sort for the oppressed lowly in the society, they have also bred recalcitrant elements that later transgressed the circumscribing lines of the cities. Even though cities could be disadvantageously stultifying, they offer limitless possibilities of socio-economic ladders that could be climbed up by relentless restless members of the masses. 

As a result of the multiple pressures the people are subjected to in the song, Kimono gives the consequential emotional reflections of the people as; crying, dying, weeping and wailing. Crying, wailing and weeping are majorly used to express loss, pains and anguish whereas dying is an elevated end to the pains of a vulnerable person. Dying could also be physical, spiritual or metaphorical. As arguable as it is that sickness and death are two complementary elements at the heart of mortality, all shades of poverty are man-made and, therefore, malleable as a weapon of oppression. Therefore, with the NBS report that 133 million Nigerians were multidimensionally poor during the regime of PMB, and Nigeria pigeonholed as the poverty capital of the world, the attributive notions of crying, weeping, wailing and dying that Kimono foregrounded in his song predictably found expression in the socio-economic panes of Nigeria. 

It would be a great disservice to think that Tinubu did not inherit these pressured spaces and people, as the first glaring liability he had to deal with was the amorphous fuel subsidy. Although some wicked shylocks paid and collected subsidies on fuel for the last eight months of the Buhari regime, Nigerians were under very serious pressure of fuel scarcity, during which they bought it at highly deregulated prices. Emefiele’s naira swap policy came like thunder in a dry season, killing businesses and maiming people across the country. Tinubu’s acerbic political tale in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he called the new note mere colouring indicated that members of the political class are always conspiring against the poor. Emefiele’s suspension as the CBN Governor suddenly led to his demystification as a superman under the old regime, and new revelations started unfolding, characteristic of how Nigerians do find their voices when the sledge hammer is no longer dangling on their heads. 

While awaiting the various lifelines President Tinubu has promised poor Nigerians, the economic realities of fuel subsidy removal have evaporated the little money in the pockets of most Nigerians, with PMS plentifully available in fuel stations, without corresponding values in vehicle’s tanks of citizens. We are in for new necessities that would push out many inventions, hoping that the Student Loan initiative of the new regime would not be reduced to another national cake. 

One could not but be worried that not only are Nigerians under pressure, institutions in the country have been variously pressured out of shape and sequence. The avowed efforts of the new Governor of Kano State, Abba Kabir Yusuf, to restore sanity to Kano memory and space provoked the immediate predecessor, Ganduje, who threatened to slap Kwankwaso, the veteran Kano politicians, who he believed is behind the demolition of property linked to him and other heritages, in the precinct of Aso Rock. It was cheering that the Villa was not desecrated by the hooligan in Ganduje, but he and others in his shoes should purge themselves of tendencies that easily contaminate our collective memory. The valedictory session of the 9th Assembly was, by nature, close to the public sphere we need to convoke as a nation to confess guilt, seek forgiveness, attain pardon and achieve reconciliation, in the order of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). 

Two remarkable developments at the valedictory session were the attempt made by Orji Kalu to break the Guinness World Record for lamentation, as he pitiably recriminated over how he was made a criminal by old beneficiaries of his benevolence, while he was reduced to a criminal. Another scandalous revelatory confession was that made by Bulkachuwa who appreciated the tolerance of his wife, a Judge, to allow him get her to skew the law and judgement in favour of his politician friends. The fact that an arm of government that is supposed to be independent was roundly pressured shows that every Nigerian is under one pressure or another. With this expiation, it is evident that the blinded-woman symbolising the fairness of the judiciary has since been enjoying full viewing, thereby well-guided to apply the law with fear and favour. 

For Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the pressure he suffered during his swearing-in ceremony was not that of the cumulative horse-trading that delivered him a resounding overwhelming victory, but that put up by his visibly enraged wife who had to pressure his younger beautiful wife to oblivion on the world stage. The openly distracted Abbas suffered domestic pressure in public gaze, and reminded us that filial relations are some of the credentials touted in the past by an uninspiring legislator. The open arbitration of Hassan Doguwa to ease the pressure of Abbas’ senior wife on stage would definitely go a long way to earn him patronage and additional accreditations in future. 

The calls by Nigerians that Tinubu should ask questions about the mismanaged past of the country by transactional agents of government, who unnecessarily pressured the people for their selfish interest, would exert some pressure on him, not just because the immediate past government is of the same political stock but some of the concerned individuals might be his political friends as well. It is, however, expedient that PBAT should centralise the interest of the majority of Nigerians in relating to institutional matters with which the people were harangued and buffeted in the past. If anybody has inappropriately applied our commonwealth, such a person should be helped to divest the excess luggage that would be burdensome on the long run.  Whichever way Tinubu goes on some of the pressing issues before him, majority of Nigerians appear to be confident that the renewed hope he promised would come to fruition, if the vigour with which he assents to bills is anything to go by. 

Tinubu must; ensure Emefiele brings out the printed scarce new notes; send Sirika to Ethiopia to bring Nigeria Air back; make people who benefitted illegally from the huge subsidy payments refund their loots to the treasury, even as he continues to feel the pressure of making the lives of Nigerians better. Is it safe to opine that Nigeria would be better, now that Tinubu don hit our car! Do keep well, dear Arakunrin Akeredolu!

Credit: The Hope Newspaper

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