Nigeria: Speedboat or Ocean Liner?

By: Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
West Indies

There is hardly a country, the Nigerian grade of good, bad and ugly . And what is ugly can be really ugly. The last government was sent packing not on account of what good it had done, but what it hadn’t. Add the good it hadn’t to the bad it did and the bad it inherited and you get to see why the people voted change. Buhari was flung at it, the new captain to steer the nation in new direction. But the more I watch Nigerians and the increasing impatience with the new captain , the more I’m tempted to think many may not know the difference between a speed boat and an ocean liner. By any account, Nigeria is far from being a speed boat ;

That is a nation, a huge ocean liner! Like any ocean liner, turning it around requires maneuvers far different from turning a speed boat . Give an average captain only few minutes he will flip a speed boat in any direction. …..not so an ocean liner….. particularly one with cruisers, the Nigerian brand . Turning the liner around as much depends on the skills of the captain as on the decisions of the passengers. Our particular liner is not only about a hundred million cruisers heavy, it is several times over laden ; the additional burden of riders’ baggages. When the ship is not sinking from the morbid weight of the millions, it is about keeling over from the burden of baggages brought on board .

And is there is any one baggage free of contrabands ; The poor captain is hard at it, steadfastly pressing the gas and turning the wheels, but like the hapless sailor ” I paddle here and I paddle there yet my canoe refuses to move” . Refuses to move cos the cargoes on board this boat…. Buhari’ s boat are a complex blend; nearly as complex as each of their million owners. And when the captain advises that each throws overboard any contrabands in his/her baggage so the sail gets faster and smoother, every one merely wishes compliance is for the other person , not them.

No one wishes to part with any contraband !! Tribalism, nepotism, greed, ostentation, laziness, dishonesty, electoral malpractices , antidemocratic practices, judicial corruption , misappropriation, land graft, examination frauds religious bigotry, contract inflations, forex fraud and wastes : each and more threatening to stall the ride. With an ocean liner this heavy in contrabands, why will anyone expect what is effectively a miracle from the captain ….any captain . Subtract these items, a feat that requires only the voluntary will power of each of the million cruisers and the surge in manouvrebility gets everyone quicker to desired destination. Each rider tied unrepentantly to his contrabands is but an albatross on the captain’s neck and a drag on the voyage.

Yet each unrepentant voyager wonders why Buhari’s boat is taking so long to right itself. A long while ago when Buhari was also the captain but in different dispensation he was determined to run the liner as one would a speed boat; He sought to forcefully part cruisers with their contrabands, razor sharp decrees his sunrise chisel, extrajudicial arrests, sunset. And when he sped the boat at a velocity approaching that of light, the giddiness and sea sickness to follow got a few cruisers to rise in anger chasing him off the cockpit …..his sin?!!! running too tight a ship.

Never mind that he got few valuable miles covered in as good a time, angling the boat in the right direction too. So what do people really want or should want ? …. a Buhari to make a speed boat of the liner ( I’m almost certain his gut choice) …. faster journey, greater manouvrebility but at the little price of sea sickness, a transient illness, so self limiting it is worth the risk for the gains ahead Or ……a Buhari cruising the boat as you would a floating palace or an elephant ride each cruiser left to his conscience; no whip cracking or drill seargents; Just a set of time consuming laws and lawyering even if meanwhile the national carrier drifts and keels.

Or a third choice still! …..each of the million cruisers on board electing to become more self-righting than self righteous ! Whoever is not confused about the best choice probably also doesn’t understand the complexity of the issues on board !!

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