By Nseabasi King
Is one question we are all too familiar with. It is one question in a series of others that we are quick to ask, more often than not, especially when things go wrong and often times, we ask helplessly.
Are we really helpless?
Someone once said the following prayer, “…Oh God, help me to accept the things I cannot change.” And a cheeky fellow suggested that what he just said is, “…help me to be helpless.”
Once upon a time, a bird watcher was so thrilled by the speed and beauty of the gliding and sliding birds in the sky, that he turned and said, “What if we fly too?”
As we know, the human mind is full of wild imagination, especially that of the ordinary man who cannot afford his daily bread. He is the owner of those wishes that never rides the horse and the beggar whom we gossip about in that figure of speech.
So to many a scholar and philosopher then, what if we fly too was only a wish and nothing more than a flight of fancy.
“…that we have hands and not wings, makes it all too obvious that we are not made to fly. It was never the intention of the Creator for humans to fly,” was the conclusion drawn by a respected thinker given to logic and driven by only that which persuades the logical mind.
We-are-not-meant-to-fly was considered fait accompli, just like the Nigerian phrase, nigeria happened.
In Nigeria, with the open subscription for our PayPolice in street corners and checkpoints, many Nigerians do not even bother to seek police help when in trouble.
If you get robbed. Nigeria happened to you. And if I get shot. Nigeria happened to me. This is how we live it out and resign to fate. In Aisha Yesufu’s voice, “…today’s survivor is tomorrow’s victim.”
Seated in church or riding a commuter bus, working on your farm or reading in the classroom, we are all Nigeria’s next breaking news waiting to happen. And we wait on helplessly.
Are we really that helpless?
In 2016, a poor Nigerian father went to a market in Kano and took his little son along, he reportedly left him behind as a temporary collateral for a bag of rice and never returned for the child.
And in 2018, Nigeria was declared the poverty capital of the world by the Brookings Institution.
And yet in 2019, more than fifty three (53) million poor Nigerians armed with their Voters Card stayed away from the polls and would not cast a single ballot in an attempt to halt the drift and change the ugly narrative. And a million more might do so in 2023.
We cut a sorry picture of a scare witless prisoner, who will not make an attempt at escape even when the prison doors are thrown wide open every four (4) years and the key to his chains left in his care.
I say so, because as I write this, there are Nigerians who believe and wrongly so, that the same Atiku who has been serially defeated in five (5) straight presidential aspirations cannot be stopped in 2023.
And many more who want Tinubu out of the way and out of their lives still doubt it, even when it is clear that Tinubu himself believes Tinubu can be dislodged, after he unwittingly betrayed his self-confidence in Abeokuta and left a crack in the wall of his presumed invincibility with his now infamous e mi lokan tantrum.
I mean, who ever imagined seeing the majestic Jagaban of the Universe any time soon in an orubebe skit, crying over the sharing of biscuits like a flustered school pupil? Truth be told, many of us did not.
Except for the likes of us who allow their imagination a free rein, like the disruptive thinker who countered, “I think we can fly too, though we have hands and not wings. Do we not swim, when we want to, though we have hands and not fins like the fishes?” And years after, the first airplane flew.
He had said, “…when we want to,” and I add, “…if we want to.”
If we want, Peter Gregory Obi of the Labour Party, can dislodge the old guard and save us from its jugular. So can Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party and Prince Malik Ado-Ibrahim of the Young Progressives Party.
We can call Nigeria’s political third force whatever names that allay our fears of an impending ballot revolution, but the fact remains that when the four (4) lepers from the failed state of Samaria took the bold step forward in search of food, all the odds were against them.
They did not know how somewhere along the line, a tremor would make all the difference, unsettle every well thought out plot and throw the enemies camp in disarray and turn the page for a dying nation. All they knew and did was refusing to be helpless.
Again, if we want, we can swim out of this cesspool where we wake up everyday to count mangled bodies and compare casualty figures between Jonathan’s PDP led administration and Buhari’s APC led government. Femi Adesina owes us that apology for insulting our sensibilities every time. And we shall demand it someday.
If indeed, governance is a Social Contract as espoused by Hobbes and many other authorities, then what we have in our hands is a failed contract. And doing nothing about it is nothing short of staying back in a toxic relationship or an abusive marriage.
If truly we know, as we all claim in our many tweets and comments, what was right for Osinachi to do in her circumstance, what then are we still doing with a certain Mr. Tinubu who is reportedly linked with LCC, after the many tears from the #EndSars protest and the live bullets that snuffed life out of our younger ones at Lekki tollgate?
Why are we now helpless?
Why are we now helpless to practice what we preach? Why are we not walking away? Now that we can. October 20? LCC? Lekki tollgate? How can we forget too soon. What in the world is BATified? Did we die for nothing?
Are we really this helpless?
Yes, the many agitations of the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr for a just society looked a far cry from the then US reality of segregation and class wars, and the collective advocacy for a liberated nation seemed far fetched at the time, but he kept at it. And so did others after him.
It might interest us to know, that this is the same US that we gladly japa today and gloat all over people’s timeline, as if we were in our mother’s kitchen and bragging about how she cooks the best meals. It is the same United States that once could not stomach the audacity of King to confront the status quo.
For the records and to whom it may concern, the YPP ballot revolution is not going anywhere anytime soon. We will keep at it. We will continue to question stereotypes and confront the status quo. And won’t stop at it, until we disrupt the old order and bring down the old guard.
And WHY do we think we can do this? It is because it can be done. It has been done before. And we can do it again.
Nseabasi S. J. King is a local farmer and the CEO of Water Farm Ltd, Atamong Hills, Akwa Ibom State. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org.