Column Opinion

In Nigeria, Simple Things Are Boombocious, By Dr. Prince Charles Dickson

The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the axe because its handle was made of wood, and they thought it was one of them!

As a young child I marveled at an obvious contradiction in life: why do we have shops filled with food, and yet see hungry people on the streets? It was a question of enormous significance; but in time the question dissipated into the fog of moral ambivalence, as various explanations were used to obfuscate the clarity of the youthful mind. The most bewildering explanation is that hungry people cannot eat because they have no money, and somehow this absence of money – the most mystical of all human creations – is enough reason to let people starve. Since there is ample food to eat, and since a lot of people do not have enough money to buy food, the food must be protected from the hungry people.

To that end, we – as human beings – allow for the creation of a police force and for the use of violence to defend food against the hungry. In one of his earliest journalistic reports, Karl Marx wrote of the violence used against the peasants of the Rhineland who collected fallen wood to feed their fires. The peasants, Marx wrote, know the punishment – including death – but they simply do not know the crime. For what reason are they being beaten and killed? The collection of wood that has fallen on the forest floor cannot be seen as an act of criminality, nor can the basic human need for hungry people to forage for food. And yet, social wealth in a society in which the hierarchies of class are entrenched is sluiced off to build larger and larger repressive institutions, from the police to the military.

You would think that amid a pandemic, when employment figures are as scary as those from a bad scientific calculator, hunger has risen and security both social and otherwise has collapsed, common sense would return, especially in my motherland Nigeria, sadly no, because everything is still boombocious–Never mind, you won’t know the meaning of the word, even if you checked the dictionary, until I am done with this admonishment.

But so you don’t weary your curiosity, boombocious has it’s origins in Bauchi…don’t prey further.

So let’s leave all the big things, the boombocious things, the complex grammar, the sweet sounding Patrick Obahiagbon vocabulary and talk about the small things, it is not about the National Bureau of Statistics, let us leave all that drama involving El-Rufai and the Nigerian Bar…after all how many Nigerians have any form of legal representation, the matter ‘sef’ has turned religious as usual; boombocious Nigeria, and boombocious people. Is it not boombocious that we are worried about Igbo presidency 2023 like it is one magic wand, while we have not finished the simple matter of even 2020.

People have lost their jobs, sources of livelihood gone, pains, and pangs of hunger bite, and crime sours to the roof, and we want to solve boombocious problems.

Let’s ask for starters, what’s the boombocious issue or rocket science in NEPA, DISCo or GENCo doing something as simple as sending cluster SMS to customers or consumers about daily electricity supply. Just let your consumers know when they would have light, for how long, and leave it at that. Dear consumer you would have electricity supply from xyz time to abc time today; simple, forget all that boombocious wahala about increased megawatts or lack of gas, or too much water in the dam, no water in the dam, just give simple notice.

The consumer can plan, knows what to expect and how to go about their business…

How about for starters, police men and women (SARS inclusive) learn to greet Nigerians…good morning ma’am, how’s your day been, where are you heading to, I hope you have a nice day. Good morning sir, your papers look set to expire next week, do remember to get them renewed.

All that boombocious, I suspect you, why are you smiling, my mind tells me you did it, l go shoot you, give me your phone, anything for the boys, and the abnormal questions would look like a once upon a time.

Imagine the impact of the doctor in a public hospital telling you, Sir…your wife would be fine in shaa Allah, we will do our best, when you have the money, do get across to our accounts section. Let us do our job, rather than that boombocious attitude of killing patients before the patient dies because simple things like blood isn’t available, doctors are on strike, the hospital has been cut off from power.

Do you know less than 5% of Nigerians would ever get the experience of seeing their Governor at even a social distance? The governor is boombociously stealing, (my error) is boombociously working hard, and so does not have time for such simple frivolities. Imagine a governor visits a random citizen, one per week, ask of his/her welfare, don’t give anything, make no promises just hold their hands and tell them they are appreciated. It’s the little things that matter, that citizen in turn will feel boombocious at least for once.

We are paying stamp duties, taxes of various types, yet the average Nigerian, don’t ask me who that is, will not pay taxes, and the average government will also not provide services even with monies from those who paid.

We are a ‘boombocious’ people. That is why we won’t win the World Cup because we can’t get the simple things right in all of our sports, simple stadiums we cannot maintain, a boombocious people will not create employment and will not allow for a conducive environment for others to create. We make having a world class hospital look boombocious, and wonder why the best hospitals are privately owned and the public ones funded by billions, run by political selected CMDs cannot do well.

Try getting a public document, you will understand the difference between six and half a dozen, whether it is the Nigerian passport, or National ID card, or National Population Commission Birth, you must put grease and engine oil on several hands. A simple matter becomes so hard.

So wait with me till Nigeria Makes N7bn annually from foreign students in ABU, UI and Unijos…that certainly is not just a future impossible tense but equally a boombocious figure of speech, when universities are no longer ivory towers but cold rooms, people have made a highly medical act of fainting a boombocious art.

The impact of our boombocious nature on starvation is dramatic, with government policies to shield the population from hunger being minimal. Instead of the Chinese loans and pills that serve only the elite, government to simply work with local structures to do simple things. This is where things are confusing: the protection of elite boombociousness is far more important for our leaders than the protection of precious life, which is too simple a thing to do.

They tell us, that they are on top of the situation, or when they are not, they are shocked, the perpetrators would be brought to book, they confuse the populace and we end up like the forest, we are shrinking, but we keep defending them, voting for them because we are mostly no different from them, until we ask for the simple things that we deserve, they will continue to rattle us boombociously, for how long—Only time will tell.

Contact the writer: pcdbooks@gmail.com

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