By Dele Farotimi
I have an affliction that has assured that only the diligent can truly understand my literary output. I might mull a subject for years in some cases, and minutes in some, and speak with such finality on the subject, that I am compelled to offer explanations to the incredulous listener or readers, or as I have become increasingly irascible, I simply drop my opinion in a single sentence and allow the receiver to make of it, whatever they care.
I really don’t care if you understand me any more. I am not writing for you again. I write with the verdict of history in mind.
Since COVID has assured that we are mostly spared the vacuous religiosity that Nigerian Christianity truly is, and we are all at home with ourselves, and forced to examine the content of our faith, without the pastors and G.Os to interpret and limit Him for us, within the limits of their own narrow perspectives, of the awesome dimensions of God, which the Christian, or any other religious person, should seek on their own.
I have a sermon to preach. I promise not to take as much of your time as your pastors would have. And I shall not be asking for any offerings. It is however my intention to take away the scales from your eyes.
The butterfly is a very ambitious creature. It was made so by the Almighty God of creation. It is genetically wired to be aspirational and incurably ambitious. Think about it. It metamorphoses from one stage to the other, and then in one of nature’s most spectacular show of God’s awesome majesty, it takes to the skies in spurts of colours, and few things in nature compare to the beauties arrayed at the flight of this ambitious creatures.
The Nigerian citizen is the butterfly.
There is a presumption of citizenship that endures when a man is born within the territory of a state, and this presumption has for long deluded Nigerians into self hypnotizing themselves into holding their presumed citizenship as given. Yes, you are a member of the Nigerian state, but you are not a citizen of the Nigerian nation.
Citizenship presumes a fundamental pillar upon which the state is established, and the absence of this singular pillar renders the state incapable of delivering citizenship to the members of the state and makes the emergence of the nation impossible. The rule of law is that singular pillar upon which every true nation is found, and without which only mutations of feudalism might be found.
In the absence of the law as the foundation and basis for the exertions of the Nigerian state, what has ruled its impulses and governance systems, has been the corruptible discretions of men. Barely literate, uneducated, nihilistic philistines.
When power is unyoked to law, its sole purpose becomes the service of transient interests. Nigeria has been ruled, designed, and misdirected by these always conflicting, and ever transient interests. In only one thing have our rulers ever been in agreement. The Nigerian peoples must never be citizens. The Nigerian constitution is designed to tear the Nigerian peoples apart. The Nigerian state is designed to be indestructible; but the Nigerian citizen can never emerge, for as long as the 1999 constitution endure.
Who is a Nigerian citizen? Is the Abia man the same as the Lagos man? Are they the same, as the Kaduna man? And is every Nigerian citizen, of Kaduna origin, equal before the laws of Kaduna state? What determines where I am from? How come I am free to brew and sell alcohol in Lagos, cannot distribute the product in Kano, but the tax from my businesses are spent in Kano, to criminalize my business?
How come I have never come across any Fulani cab driver in my preregistrations outside Nigeria, nor found any, engaged in the demeaning tasks that I have seen my southern brethren busy at? How do I then reconcile the presumed advantages claimed in the names of the tribes, with the inhuman levels of poverty that the entire northern part of Nigeria illustrates? It is about class, above all other considerations.
The Ruling Class. That is the true aspiration of the Nigerian subject. He has to be a member of the ruling class, and the conflict is always about remaining a member of the ruling class.
We are members of the Nigerian state. The Nigerian state is a feudal empire. Look again. Why would we be spending so much on our governance, if the purpose of government is service? Why is it so hard for our rulers to obey court orders? Why is it so difficult, if not almost impossible, to get justice in any of our courts? Why? Oh, why? Why do you not see, that the Nigerian state offers multiple levels of membership to the peoples trapped within her borders? This is why the law cannot rule! This is why the law cannot be allowed to apply to some people, and why it must be employed as an instrument of oppression against another.
Tinubu is not Fulani. The last time I checked, the Orji crew running Abia remains knights of the Christian realm. St’ Matthew of Owu is not a Muslim, but they are all beneficiaries of the feudalistic systems, that governs Nigeria, and in each and every Nigerian state, you will find these feudal hegemonies, in and out of office, wielding powers unrestrained by any laws. Powers unto themselves, barely accountable to anyone. They are the ruling class.
Come with me to Kogi, where a commissioner allegedly believes himself the law, abducts a young mother under the force of arms, had her stripped naked and electronic recordings made of her nudity. Kept her overnight against her will, and then proceeded to rape her thereafter. He did so in the knowledge of the fact that laws do not apply to the like of him. Try to imagine what he witnessed during the last elections in Kogi State? He knows that her life isn’t any more valuable than the several that were lost to bring his ogas back to power. Common abduction, assault, and rape? He is a member of the ruling class, and nothing of substance is likely to happen to him.
Kogi made the news. What about Dadiyata? Where is he? How come he has such zero value, that the Nigerian state cannot even be bothered to address the fact of his disappearance? The Nigerian Delta nko? Who’s in charge there?
Nigeria has been subdivided into feudal hegemonies. Each gang runs its turf as it sees fit, and at election time, the reality is that the faction with its hands on the superior levers of coercive powers, is the winner. It is always a battle between the feudal hegemons and the coalitions that they have managed to cobble together to take power.
You are not a citizen. You are subjects of the Nigerian ruling class. Your interests are not the same as their own. They are not divided by any of the hate that they have fostered in you. Religion has never divided them. Ethnicity means absolutely nothing to them. Power is their god. The Nigerian peoples are their estates, and the only path to freedom lies in our quick recognition of our true state, in order that we might properly direct our exertions. Pastor Osibajo’s daughter can marry a Muslim Northerner, but you, oga Deacon, tufiakwa! It cannot happen to you. Gandollar and Constituted Authority are in-laws, but you are shouting Amotekun. Open your eyes, will you?
The absence of citizenship, is at the root of the Nigerian crisis of nationhood, but it can never be resolved without a national admission of the problem, and an equally nationalistic consensus to rebuild our country. Nigeria is going to die soon if it does not urgently reform and reinvent. The butterfly that presumes to be a bird, shall eventually feed the birds.
“Labalaba pe ra re le’ye: we le si ‘se eiye”. Even though the butterfly thinks itself a bird, it can never morph into a bird.