Rex, a play in Greek mythology by Sophocles, Oedipus’ father and king of Thebes, Laius, was told by the oracle of Apollo in Delphi that his son
would kill him and marry his mother. In a bid to prevent the ill fate, the king
had to do the inevitable. He tied the little baby with a rope and dumped him in
what could be called the evil forest in Nigerian home video. But the little
boy, destined to fulfil destiny, was rescued by another king, Polybus of Corinth, who gave him the
name Oedipus, meaning “swollen foot”
and adopted him. But Oedipus had to flee
Corinth to prevent his misfortune after another oracle had announced that he
would kill his father and marry his mother (again?). Oedipus’ first instalment of fulfilling his fate was the
“accidental” killing of king Laius.
Then, one way or the other, he found himself on the throne of Thebes with the
vintage wife of the ex-king, Jocasta (his
mother) beside him as his wife. These the Thebans did in appreciation of his putting
an end to the torment of the monster,
Sphinx. The play ended tragically: Jocasta committed suicide, Oedipus plucked his own eyes and his
generation was wiped out of Thebes.
In the adaptation of Oedipus Rex by Ola Rotimi in The
Gods Are not to Blame, Odewale,
the Oedipus here, also escaped every
attempt at terminating his life just to fulfil the bigger destiny of killing
his father and marrying his mother. In both cases, there were “middle men” who
the gods used to foil every ‘unpremeditated’ plan to prevent the bigger
picture. Ultimately, the tragic lead characters drew closer to fulfilling their
destiny with each attempt to escape it.
Destiny year for Nigeria is 2015. That
date, significant globally as the target year for meeting the eight Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) by developing and poor countries, has, in addition, an
impending fatal implication on Nigeria’s history: It is in the same 2015 that
an American study predicted that this nation would cease to be one entity. When
Ambassador John Campbell re-echoed the sour prognosis, all the people in
government could do was cry foul. Between laughing off the bitter truth by
dispelling it and fuming strong but empty threats against perceived “enemies of
our unity”, Nigeria lost hold of a golden moment for sober decisive reflection.
Those of us who took the 2015 doomsday seriously were termed unpatriotic, as if
patriotism could stand the test of truth.
Like Oedipus and Odewale in Oedipus Rex and The Gods Are
not to Blame, Character Nigeria draws closer to fulfilling Doomsday 2015
with every step of self-denial and false optimism taken away from the American
oracles. But unlike the characters above, Nigeria has never needed an American
Ambassador nor its intelligence report or the Arab spring to infer
that we are towing, inattentively but steadily, the path of separation—or, at
least, an attempt; a fierce one at that.
Ibrahim Bature couldn’t have put it more aptly when he said in his article “Is
Nigeria A Sick Nation?” that, “Our country is slightly, but dangerously moving to
the precipice. The problem with Nigerians is that we have a rather
paternalistic view of our country’s ability to remain as an indivisible entity,
despite the reality on the ground. We often take too much for granted. In the
last twenty five years of its rowdy existence as a nation, Nigeria has known no
peace. The list of crisis we have witnessed in the recent past is endless. Our
history within that period is replete with tribal sentiment, hatred,
intolerance and bloodbath... As
Nigerians, we have every cause to worry because the country which we all claim
we love very dearly is falling apart like pack of cards. We are endowed with
leaders at the helm of affairs that are, by every estimation, insensitive to
the yearning and aspiration of the people who voted them into power. We have
greedy, self-centred and highly insensitive men as leaders. This small coterie
of powerful but egoistic men has been living fat on our docility. They live in
opulence while the rest of us are daily being faced with excruciating economic
conditions. Their administrative ineptitude has turned most of us, especially in
the villages and towns, ordinary hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
Call me by whatever
name, our first crucial step towards fulfilling Doomsday 2015 was the last general
election. Didn’t the voting pattern reveal a glaring ethno-religious split?
(Why does Azazi's statement keep reoccurring?) What then did the “winners” and “losers” of the election do to put the country
back on track as one true nation? Rather than responding to the dangerous
development by re-uniting the nation, all the government could do was deny a
visitor an entry visa into the country for telling the truth. And this – the
act of channelling much energy into trivialities – is the second crucial step
towards Doomsday 2015!
The final step towards Doomsday 2015 is the
present government’s uninformed choice when faced with two seemingly similar
(in degree) decisions. And because the choice is wrong all the times, a twist is
added to the already complicated tangle: our sense of what is right has been
impaired. For instance, Nigeria could have chosen the other equally big event
of 2015, (meeting the MDGs) rather than working for her own disintegration. If the MDGs were
pursued with the same vigour with which our disintegration is chased, most of
the complementary triggers of our division would have been suppressed.
Unfortunately, our leaders have, through their selfish thirst and desperation
for power, neglected that which is good.
Let me say,
finally, that the recent bombings of media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, as well as the attacks on worshippers in Kano and police convoy in Taraba, will not usher in Doomsday 2015. Rather, it is the foundation
upon which the doomsday will thrive. I will neither re-echo the goofy comments
of President Goodluck Jonathan regarding how terrorism “is a global trend”, nor
harp on the incompetence of his many aides; the president will not
stop goofing and his corrupt, yet incompetent officers will not resign. It is the uncivilised
world we, not find ourselves in, but built for ourselves.
Today, the biggest business in Nigeria is selling security devices. Politicians and do not realise the psychological impact of surrounding their children by stern-looking armed body guards. Half of Abuja roads have been blocked and military personnel brandish their AK47s everywhere. And, if the foreign media are looking for horrible news these days, Nigeria helps out! Because our image will be so badly
affected, the much-desired direct foreign investment should be kissed bye-bye.
A now-confirmed terrorist Nigeria would then be confronted with the challenge
of taming its impoverished 160 million people.
That is the day of Armageddon!
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