The Tall and Huge fellow of the Waterfronts watched his kinsmen sitting quietly in the Parliamentary Hall, waiting for the appointed time to begin their deliberations. His heart was full of gratitude to his ancestors. He has just been to the City the previous day and he understood why the People of the City never keep to time. He felt that perhaps if the People of the Waterfronts were to pass through the City to attend the weekly Parliamentary sessions, then they must leave their houses a day earlier in order to be on time. However, the People of the Waterfronts do not pass through the City. With their little canoes they simply paddle to the Parliamentary Hall without stress.
When the previous day, the Tall and Huge fellow of the Waterfronts went to the City to visit a friend, he was amazed at what the People of the City suffer as they go about their businesses. He marveled at the chaotic situation of traffic and wondered how the People of the City could achieve any meaningful progress. No wonder, he thought, nothing works in the City. There was utter confusion and every inch of the roads blocked by cars. Perhaps just to appear busy, almost every road has been dug out in the name of repairs and provision of drainages in total disregard of other aspects of the economy. It was as if, because roads are being repaired, everything must cease, no movement, no other activity must take place.
As the Tall and Huge fellow of the Waterfronts sat in the taxi for hours on his way to Aggrey road from Borikiri, all in Port Harcourt, he could not understand why every road must be dug up at the same time. He wondered why one or two roads could not be fully repaired before another road is cut into two. He wondered why it will take the contractors few hours to dig up the road and then wait for a year to cover it up. Was it just to punish the masses? Was it to show that work is in progress? Apart from Aggrey road, every other road has been exhumed and left impassable, forcing thousands of cars to crawl through a single road. By the time the cramped passengers get to their offices, frustration and stress take over and they spend the rest of the day resting in the office, thinking of how to get back to their homes. Meanwhile, the rains would soon come to perform their duties and the government and contractors would transfer their lack of foresight on the rains. So why not take advantage of the dry season now to do most of the repairs? In fact, why not work day and night?
The Tall and Huge fellow of the Waterfronts was struggling with the painful thoughts of the chaotic traffic situation when another frustrating thought pushed itself into the forefront. When the price of fuel was only N65, one easily gets fuel from the filling stations. Now that it has been raised to almost N100 per litre, the filling stations suddenly dried up. Is it that, in consonance with the upside down ways of the People of the City, car owners suddenly increase their rate of purchases because of the increase in price? Is it that the importers of fuel are no more making profit because of the increase of the selling price of a litre of fuel? Or is it just to add to the sufferings of the masses? The ways of the People of the City are mysterious and you will never understand them?
Another frustrating thing is that the holders of power, I mean, electricity, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, have decided to impose darkness on the City, multiplying the pains of the masses. Many cannot use their phones again because their batteries have all run down. The owners of small scale businesses have been frustrated out of their businesses because they could not afford to buy fuel at the rate of N4000 for ten litres. Even if they could afford, it was difficult to see it and buy. The noise from the generators of those who could afford to buy the fuel would not allow their neighbours to have a good rest at night. Surely, the powers that be should know that the tolerance of the masses have a limit.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, distracting the Tall and Huge Fellow of the Waterfronts from his painful thoughts. The appointed time has come and the ancestors must be appeased to ensure fruitful deliberations. He stretched his left hand and picked up the bottle of the local white brew while his right hand went for the little glass cup. He filled it and began his call to the ancestors.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, we are about to begin deliberations on the silly ways of the People of the City. We acknowledge your presence. Take, drink and guide us accordingly.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens, take and drink. We need your assistance as we tackle the impossible knots of the People of the City. Their thinking defies understanding.
“Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts, sending them home to perform their duties, take and drink. The hour has come to try to unravel the riddle of the People of the City. We need your assistance.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts was brisk. He filled the little glass cup again and turned all into his mouth. He allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to move round the Parliamentary Hall and the People of the Waterfronts followed his footsteps.
“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you,” Okolobo, he of the Creeks, greeted, when the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup have returned to the table.
“People of the Waterfronts, We cannot over-emphasize the generosity of Odumodu, our great ancestor. You all know that at the time of his departure to the great beyond, he generously drained his blood and buried them in the mud which is his flesh, beneath the Mangroves, his bones. He knew his precious blood would be valuable and industries would not thrive without it. It is his precious blood that the ignorant People of the City nicknamed crude oil. I will not bore you with the history. You know it all. You also know how they have been crudely mismanaging the proceeds.
“However, I got up to tell you that our great ancestor has allowed his precious blood to flow through the underground to Anambra state, Aguleri Otu, to be precise. He knew what he is doing. He knew that they would soon start to exploit it and in the process, they would crudely spill it over their farm lands, just as it is spilled over the Niger Delta. They would have a first-hand taste of what the Niger Delta people pass through and they would appreciate why the youths have to take up arms at a point. When they have contaminated their farm lands the way our creeks have been contaminated, they would ask for the federal government assistance and then we would point to them the wasted Ogoni lands and several other areas. We would then insist that we must receive the federal government attention before them and they would agree. I think this is why Odumodu allowed his precious blood to flow into even the forests of Anambra.
“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you,” Okolobo concluded and sat down. Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts was the next to speak.
“People of the Waterfronts, our elders say the taciturnity of the child often leads him to jail. If you cannot defend yourself properly, you would be jailed even if you are innocent. In the same way if you cannot stand up for your rights, a usurper would take over your heritage. That was what happened to the bird, the hammerhead. It kept quiet until the snake took over its nest to lay eggs.
“The People of the City, I mean the labour leaders and the civil society organizations should not go to sleep until there is a price hike in fuel or some workers are sacked by government or multinational companies. If they want a better nation, they should mobilize just the way they did during the fuel price hike, against corruption in every sector. This N1.3tr fuel subsidy probe is a good point to start from. Let them insist on it and get to the root. What is the true figure of litres of fuel imported? What happened to the excess, if any?. Who are the beneficiaries? Let them not allow the legislators, House of Reps and Senate, bury the issue. Let them not allow EFFC to muddle up the probe. Let it not be another Bankole case of moral crime and not legal crime. If they could mobilize the people to ensure that justice is done and do it in other aspects, be it in the judiciary, the police and even companies, we will have a sane society. The ball is in their court.
“Another thing the People of the City must rise up against is this shameful habit of supporting your son or kinsman no matter the atrocities he must have committed. The other day, Mohammed al-Mustaphar, the former chief security officer of late General Sani Abacha was sentenced to death. Immediately his kinsmen shouted foul. Meanwhile, they never provided evidence that he never exceeded his bounds while carrying out his official duties. Now there is this case of Umar Farouk Abulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day in 2009.
“Instead of being happy that their son was not sentenced to death, but was given life sentence, we hear the family said the judgment was unfair and disagreed with the life sentence without parole. Why are we like this? Why can’t we condemn evil even if our son is involved?”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts picked up the bottle of the local white brew, filled the little glass cup and swallowed all. ####
By Kenneth Amabipi
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