By Busuyi Mekusi

Growing up, we were socialised to know that mummies normally have more weights than living humans. The logic is as simple as knowing that organs in the body are biologically enliven by blood, with the relaxed and oxidised coagulated parts gaining weight in immobility. Notwithstanding whether a dead body is light or heavy-weight matters less than the imperative to safely dispose it off, to avoid epidemics. However, the canonisation of the dead through Christian and Islamic ritualised processes has added another level of burden to the sense of loss that one should feel at the departure of a loved one. As a result, apart from the body weight of the dead, the relations are subjected to socio-economic burdens that may linger, far beyond the period of loss. At any rate, the over-decorated clothed and perfumed body of the dead would add no value to it beyond the perception and orientation of the decorators!  

Leadership is one of the attributes of a regulated society. Group and societal leaderships are very challenging because of complicated social engineering. As a result, there have been leadership and developmental challenges across ages and times, with altered spatio-temporal order. For Africa, and particularly Nigeria, the post-colonial era, initially envisaged as a redemptive curve in the country’s histories, has largely given rise to lacklustre leaderships; from military-induced strangulations to over-bloated democratic epilepsies. Each time Nigerians feel the heat of democratic rascality, some of them are quick to remind themselves of how a past military government stands better than some democratic dispensations, because the past, most times, is always comparatively but relatively better than the present. A watcher called this impatience of Nigerians who are always looking for a quick fix to their problems. With the resurgence of military interruptions in the West Africa sub-region, there has been implied popularised invitation for military intervention in Nigeria, as Nigerians are also reminded that the best of military regime is an aberration. Democracy may be expensive; military rule is costly! 

As the argumentation about which form of regime is better has become flamboyantly redundant, there are unquestionable evidences to suggest leadership recession in Nigeria, manifesting as dwindling economy, collapsed educational sector, evaporating industries, agricultural depletion, etc. Given battered economy and the bastardisation of the factors that usually define locations of industries, companies have closed, and therefore one-time productive spaces have been turned to warehouses for imported commodities. The struggling educational sector has precipitated the urge for foreign trainings; deplorable agricultural activities have been used as excuses to justify the greed of some rich for imported pizza. While the under-cultivated agrarian lands across the country continue to yield bountifully, products and materials extracted are ferried outside the country without any value added. From timbers to animal products; solid minerals to blue economic elements, etc., are exported to developed countries for processing, and returned to Nigeria to be purchased at exorbitant prices. 

The debilitating effects of low foreign exchange on the naira have impoverished majority Nigerians that are left to buy goods and commodities imported with the ‘prestigious dollar’ or those manufactured locally with expensive production materials sourced overseas. For the umpteenth time, I have decried the proclivity of Nigerians for the dollar to acquire different ambitions that are mostly propelled by gluttonous consumerism. I have thought that the best way to get out of economic quagmire was for a people to eat what they grow, use what they produce, and drink what would kill their thirst very uniquely. The groping of Nigeria on the path of development over the years have been daunting, and successive governments have paraded the mastery of promise-making and lamentation of failed promises, after the head would have been off the neck. This absence of systematic approach of making Nigeria better has left some Nigerians disillusioned, while others have chosen the path of escape. 

With governance reduced to gambling and experimentation, the search for the appropriate model for development has been overshadowed by nepotism, ethnic tokenism, religious bigotry, and political patronage. The recent confessions of two major Nigerian political players about the complexity of governance in Nigeria were disturbingly instructive. One was the statement credited to former President Buhari that leading Nigeria is hard, and the second being the one made by the Chief of Staff to PBAT,  Gbajabiamila, that ‘Nigeria’s weight not what any ordinary human can carry’. The hardness recognised in Buhari’s opinion equates the weight in Gbajabiamila’s view, thereby suggesting that a super human would be needed to unlock the nuts that set the country backwards. Even though the notion of ‘ordinary’ is relative and ambivalent, it is understandably clear that what was intended in his statement was the requisite knowledge and capacity that must be brought to the table in governance. 

In the build-up to the 2023 presidential election, Tinubu was very clear that the job he was seeking for in Aso Rock was neither that of a boxer or sprinter, and that he was fit enough to discharge his duties as president. True to his words, he has, thus far, three months into his presidency, apparently demonstrated the agility demanded by the office. Although he warned Nigerians not to pity him because of the herculean task of fixing a debilitated nation, he found himself a victim of economic ambush as he had to inevitably announce the removal of the albatross fuel subsidy that was a huge drain in the nation’s economy. The high price of PMS plunged Nigerians to sorrow and tears, as we wish that blood would be spared. Between the symbolisms of; hard realities of industrialisation in Charles Dickens’ _Hard Times_ ; quest for divine intervention for amelioration in Bayo Adegboyega’s ‘Ilu Le Koko’; and no-money palaver in Victor Olaiya’s ‘Ilu Le O’, Nigerians are groaning under the weight of economic recession that is goading many to depression. 

Amidst the excruciating economic pains, Nigerians are yet to feel the effect of the various palliatives contemplated by the different layers of government. The slow and trickling effects of these interventions have been inadequate to arrest the haemorrhage in socio-economic lives of the people. The incessant lamentations by Nigerians, in the face of economic inequalities, remind one of the oxymoronic applications of the thrust of Alan Paton’s __Cry, the Beloved Country._ As members of the political class struggle to maintain their minimum comfort, the anguish of the poor is disproportionally oppositional to what the latter consider to be ostentatious living. Some of the young ‘kidnapped generation’ face the damning realities around them so casually but pugnaciously, as they, like the one being fed but nursing a bushy beard, revel in ill-gotten resources and hanker over whether girls should wear bras and pants to school, as seen in the recent overboard at Ilaro Polytechnic.

The cries of ordinary Nigerians under the crushing weight of Nigeria would have been disadvantageously predated by the case of Tembu Ebere, who was sometime ago allegedly reported partially blind for 45 minutes while attempting to set a Guinness World Record for crying for seven days, non-stop. It is no longer news that heaven broke loose after Hilda Baci broke the record for longest cooking period, with Nigerians disruptively and obstructively setting new standards in different spheres. The craze to break new records exemplifies Nigerians’ abusive attitudes to things, and the predilection to invest in the same type of business per time. The business place in Nigeria is mostly a space for contestations, as envious sellers try to outwit one another in the art, act and tactics of business. The opinion that the sky is big enough for different birds to fly is not always centralised by the unhealthy competitors. 

Nigeria’s weight is suffocating for common Nigerians and not burdensome for the political class that, even though feeling the heat of the abrasive economy, have the shoulder-pads to bear the strenuous weights. It is hoped that the creative application of the ingenuity of the PBAT’s newly appointed ministers, now that they have been assigned portfolios, would help distribute the crushing weights Nigerians are bearing, with the possibility of relief soon. Let it not be lost on us that we do not need a superman to develop Nigeria, but ordinary people that are competent, committed, sincere and honest.  

Therefore, rather than looking for extra-ordinary personalities to carry the weight of Nigeria, and tame the ‘hardness’ in the country, we urgently need fiscal federalism, taming of marauding bandits, rejuvenation of the productive sector, reengineering of the agricultural and blue economy, as we think and act local, instead of continuing to use foreignness as a yardstick for our existence. 

Professor Felix Olurankinse, we are pained that heaven gained you prematurely. Do travel safe, dear friend, brother and colleague!

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