Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, marveled at the thought patterns of the People of the City. They are like the proverbial man who would leave his house burning, to pursue a rat that tried to escape. They leave the things they should do and concentrate on irrelevances, distractions, retrogressive ideas and destructive thoughts. Just imagine, at this time that the city is on fire, with Boko Haram stoking the fire of destruction, poverty everywhere, unemployment and talks of dismembering the nation are on the air, someone has the temerity to announce that the priority of the nation should be the printing of N5,000 notes. This Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is he not the one that proposed a cashless society? Or are the N5000 notes meant to be kept in the vaults?
Like a frustrated child asking for his share of his father’s property, the nation is facing several agitations. This is sequel to widespread corruption, insecurity, poverty, unemployment and feelings of marginalization. The Ogonis in Rivers State are asking for political autonomy. They felt marginalized, neglected and impoverished despite the oily blessings on their land. The Islamist sect, Boko Haram, is asking for an Islamic state and has killed several people in the process. The Yorubas are asking for a change and restructuring of the nation. The nation, they said, should have a federal government with six regional governments and should return to the Parliamentary system of government.
At the Eastern side of the nation, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has been agitating for Biafra republic. The Niger Delta youths who, some people alleged, have only simmered down because of the amnesty programme, have begun to find fault in the implementation of the programme. A group, Niger Delta Awareness Coalition led by Amadi Wonodi has found fault in the programme. “What will happen when the tons of so-called ex-militants that have been sent out for training return to Nigeria, especially those with worthless training certificates from institutions that have no value even in their own countries?” They asked.
Finding more faults in the implementation of the programme, they went further to state, “Not too long ago, a batch of untrainable so-called trainees were shipped off to a third-rated university in the United Kingdom. More than 70% of these trainees barely have the educational ability to pass their first foundation exams and so they failed. Millions of dollars have been so wasted because the selection of these people was not meticulously made. Mr. President, millions of dollars are being spent to train ex-militants on how to fly air-planes in South Africa. The question Mr. President is, what planes will they fly when they return to Nigeria? Who will employ them to fly aircraft? How many airlines operate in Nigeria? Who will allow someone labeled with the tag “ex-militant” fly his aircraft?” The questions are many and deserve scrutiny and answers provided, yet all we think of is printing of N5000 notes.
The current state of the nation has given rise to the issue of state police. With several unsolved deaths and insecurity, every state wants to control its on police. If the police were doing their duties efficiently, this would not have arisen. There are so many issues that should agitate the minds of the ruling class but they choose to look the other way. It is the same way many states now want to build airports while they pass through dilapidated roads and owe civil servants for months. All they want to do is to fly over everyone as they move from one place to other like people inflicted with ‘sokugo’, “that charm of the Fulani cattlemen that turned studious men into wanderers, that led husbands to desert their wives, chiefs their people and sane men their reasons,” according to Cyprian Ekwensi in his novel, “Burning Grass”.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, interrupting the thoughts of Angaladikibo. The appointed time has come and so all thoughts must cease. The ancestors must be given attention before any other activity. The People of the Waterfronts obey this simple rule and so they flow along with life, unlike the People of the City. Follow whatever you believe in strictly. It will help you and if you are on the wrong side, you will be delivered to the right path. It is like someone who had answered all his questions correctly in a class in an examination. He or she would be elevated and taken to a higher class.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts stretched his left hand and picked up the bottle of the local white brew. His right hand picked up the little glass cup, permanent companion of the bottle of the local white brew. He began his libations.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, dweller at the domain between the land and the sea, take and drink. We will always call on you because these are strange times. It is time for everyone to hold fast to what he believes in. If you believe in your ancestors hold fast to it. If you are a Christian, hold fast to it. Even if you do not believe in anything, hold fast to it and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel and come out refreshed, changed. Odumodu, we hold on to you. See us through the foibles of the People of the City.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens, detecting the unfaithful ones and exposing them as they perform their nightly ablutions, take and drink. How do we know the secret evil plot of the Maidens without you? A man gets set to take home an un-spoilt virgin, only to find out he was just a fool. Take, drink and assist us in keeping our Maidens safe.
“Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts, reminding them of their domestic obligations, take, drink and join your co-ancestors to seek for solutions to the problems of the People of the City.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts refilled the little glass cup and swallowed all and allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to move round the Parliamentary Hall. As they returned to the table, Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, raised up his right hand to speak. He was allowed.
“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you all. From the People of the City I have learnt that what matters is not loyalty to your country or friends or even families. What matters is how to provide bread for yourself and your families. Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs is an example of this. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo once employed him during his time as spokesman. We never heard that Obasanjo was a mere mortal, an ordinary man that might just be tolerated to have his say in a democracy. No, we never heard that. Today, Dr. Okupe is an employee of Dr. Jonathan and suddenly, his former employer, Obasanjo has turned to an ordinary man whose voice could only be heard but not hearkened unto. “Obasanjo is an ordinary citizen. He has the right to speak on issues of national importance, but his views are not sacrosanct,” he exploded, as Obasanjo said in a forum in Lagos recently that the N5000 denominations would kill production and affect small businesses negatively. Okupe, a medical doctor turned politician has suddenly metamorphosed into an economic guru who has investigated and discussed with experts that the best thing to happen to Nigerian is the printing of N5000 notes.
“People of the Waterfronts, let me give you a short history of currency in the country. In 1912, the West African Currency Board, issued currency notes after cowries and manila have been used. In 1959 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued its first note and coins, replacing that of the West African Currency Board. In 1962, it changed as the country gained independence. Due to the civil war, in 1968 the currency changed and in 1973, naira and kobo came in. In 1977, N20, came in while in 1979 currency notes of N1, N5, N10, were introduced. 1991 saw 50 kobo and N1 notes coined and in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 respectively, N100, N200, N500 and N1000 entered the arena. In 2007, N50, N20, N10 and N5 bank notes, N1 and 50k coins, were reissued with new designs and new N20 coins.
“People of the Waterfronts, how have these several changes helped the country? If you are given N5000 note, can you enter a taxi or bus with it if for example, the fare is N50? Will N5000 notes reduce the exchange rate of N160 to one dollar? I understand that politicians would be able to carry up to four bundles of it which translates to two million naira in their packets. Pray how does this assist the cashless society of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi? Just imagine how many roads the about 40billion naira or so that would be used to print it, could build!
“Grandpa, my throat is dry?”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts filled the little glass cup, swallowed all before allowing the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to move to Angaladikibo the Watcher of the Mangroves. ###
By Kenneth Amabipi
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