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Subsidy? What subsidy?

Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts was puzzled. Of course, the ways of the People of the City have always puzzled him. Being just an ordinary fisherman, he finds the sophisticated reasoning of the People of the City puzzling. In his native intelligence, he has always known that sophistication is the best method to portray lies as truths. The dexterity with which the People of the City present lies as facts has always puzzled his un-sophisticated simple mind.

Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, sat down with others waiting for the appointed time to begin the deliberation. The Parliamentary sessions of the People of the Waterfronts never start a minute before or after the appointed time. They are sticklers to time; unlike the People of the City who felt time must stop for them. However, as he waits for the appointed time his mind was tortured by a familiar absurdity. Why is it that people in government think differently from the ordinary masses, even when they know that their tenure is temporary? And why is it that they do an about-turn thinking when they leave government? What is it that makes them to hold a different opinion when they are in power, and suddenly change once they are out of power? Do they take an oath like cult members to be loyal and obedient? His fisherman’s mind raced from the north to the south, from the west to the east, searching for answers to this seemingly impossible puzzle. He was still deep in his thoughts when the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, stretched his left hand, picking up the bottle of the local white brew, while his right  hand went for the little glass cup, an indication that the appointed time has come and the Parliamentary session must begin.

“Odumodu, the Oldman of the Waterfronts called out, after filling the little glass cup and holding it aloft. Sometimes, the way he calls out the name and the way he holds the little glass cup and keeps his face, would make you feel he was actually seeing the ancestor and interacting with him.

“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, dweller at the domain between the land and the sea, take and drink. You promised to meet us always at the seventh promontory, revealing your presence to us, and you have never failed. It only takes a drop of the local white brew to compel you to fulfill your promise. Take and keep your watch over us. The wily ways of the People of the City can only be understood by you. They have come again with another intriguing word, called subsidy. If a mother plugs vegetables from her backyard and slaughters her domestic fowl to make soup for her children, effectively assisted by them, does that amount to subsidy? Pray, what is the meaning of subsidy when the children even paid for the garri and soup they ate? When the children virtually pay for everything without commensurate value for what they paid for, does it amount to subsidy? They pay for electricity without enjoying it and pass through dilapidated roads even after paying taxes. Is that what subsidy is all about? Odumodu, it is only you that can give satisfactory answers to our questions. Take and drink

“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens as they perform their ablution at the Waterfronts, co-ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, take and drink and let us have an inkling of the ways of the People of the City.

 

“Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts, we beseech you to join your ancestors to find ways to unravel the sophisticated minds of the People of the City. Here is your drink, take and assist us”.

The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation, filled the little glass cup again and swallowed all. He allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to go round the hall and the People of the Waterfronts took a glassful, each.

It was Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts that got up to speak, immediately the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup returned to the table.

“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you all. First of all, let me correct the wrong impression the People of the City have about the Waterfronts. The water has front, back and sides. Just as we are the People of the Waterfronts, there are the People of the Watersides and the People of the Waterbacks. The People of the City should know that the Waterfronts are indestructible. Although the People of the City have made attempts to destroy the Watersides, not the Waterfronts, we of the People of the Waterfronts are in solidarity with the People of the Watersides.

Talking about solidarity reminds one of the labour unions in this great nation. There pastime is now to make a lot of noise about armagedon and other heavy words and retreat to their shells when offered peanuts and pleasantries. We have known them to be part of the People of the City, the unadulterated persecutors of the masses. This is why the People of the City are muting the idea of removing subsidy on oil. What subsidy? You may ask.  Borikiri, an axis ofPort Harcourt, capital ofRiversState, has only one road leading into it and out of it. Traffic hold ups now start as early as 7am in the morning. Has anything been done about it? Is it because of subsidy? Is it impossible to have an alternative road from Nembe Waterside to new road area of Borikiri? There is no electricity, there is no pipe borne water in the City. Is it because of subsidy? Is it removal of subsidy that madeGhanato have uninterrupted power supply? Or are they richer because we have subsidy? Why is this talk of subsidy now? Of what value will it be to the masses? Is it a question of, “kill them at once, since they refuse to die despite the untold hardship they are facing”? Do they realize the spiral effect of a rise in the pump price of fuel? Do they think of the cost of “pure water”, transportation, food and every other item? Do they forget that they would be out of government someday and the free food they are enjoying now, the free fuel and free everything would come to a halt when they leave government? Or that even if they still enjoy it, their friends and relations would be so stressed that there would be upheaval and the centre may not hold again? Why are they deliberately asking for crisis and confusion? Tell me, People of the Waterfronts, what is wrong with the People of the City?”

Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts stopped talking, but still stood shaking like an unprotected leaf in a gale of wind. The Oldman of the Waterfronts quickly rushed the bottle of the local white brew to him. He took a glassful and became normal.

Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, got up to speak when Injibabo calmed down.

“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you. The People of the City are demanding for a minimum wage of N18.000, now that even twice that, cannot feed them for a month. Are they so poor in spirit that they have to settle for a pittance? Governor Rotimi Amaechi ofRiversStatehas been busy scattering wherever poor traders settle to sell their wares without providing alternative places for them. He wants to turnPort HarcourttoOyinboCity, forgetting that he said his parents were poor and perhaps were selling “akara” at the road sides to train him. He has forgotten that when he was in elementary school, the pumps were running, the roads were good and electricity not a problem. Now, the masses buy ‘pure water’, buy fuel, in the case of those with “I pass my neighbour” generators. Yet he does not want to see hawkers or roadside traders? Is he waiting for fuel subsidy also to provide what will alleviate the suffering of the masses? President Goodluck Obele Jonathan said he could not afford to wear shoes when he went to school. Can’t he realize that even with the so-called subsidy, some children cannot go to school because of school fees or books or transport, even without shoes? He was able to go to school or even university, he should know that millions of people have no hope for that. Didn’t the panel he set up to look into the Boko Haram uprising tell him that the failure of government to meet the expectations of the people contributed to this strange phenonon of bombings in the nation?

“The president should know that governments are not set up for profit reasons. They are set up to manage the resources of the People for their benefit. He buys no fuel, no food, pays no transport, pays no rent. Let him remember the days he said he went to school without shoes and know that there are people facing worse conditions now”.

Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, was about going on, but the Tall and Huge Fellow of the Waterfronts, the unelected but unanimously accepted provost of the People of the Waterfronts, had to stop him when he saw the rising temper in the Parliamentary Hall.

The Oldman of the Waterfronts involuntarily filled the little glass cup with the local white brew and swallowed all. ####

 

Kenneth Amabipi

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