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The Theatre of Absurdity in Abuja, By Tola Adeniyi

By News Express on 12/04/2014

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Much as I welcomed the idea of holding a National Sovereign Conference which all patriotic citizens of this country had canvassed since the past 54 years to resolve the National Question, I never for once thought that what would eventually present itself as a National Conference would be glorified clowning at the country’s centre.

For starters, the organisers of the Conference chose their disused wardrobes to pick out the oldest and in some cases the most soiled of their apparels. True, old wine tastes better, and in some cases, old wines are more enriching and invigorating. But some old wines packaged in new bottles may demean the brightness of the new bottles and offend both the eyes and the taste of the patrons in the market place.

It turned out that the worn out apparels assembled in the dead woods that were paraded were as placid as their ages and disuse could make them. The only evidence of the deadness of the participants was the cacophony of the snoring noises oozing out of their nostrils. While their bodies registered for the Conference and were indeed physically present, their aged minds were settled on the gateway to heaven!

Technology, that modern-day thief that can pry into the innermost recesses of happenings, has been exposing the tomfoolery going on at Abuja.

At first, the participants did not know that in all issues of taking a vote, it is generally two thirds of voters that are considered a comfortable majority. In the Nigerian experience, it had to take days to settle a simple issue of what constituted a majority. In the end, after several days of bickering and horse trading, a magic formula of 70% was agreed to.

Thereafter came the address of Mr President to the gathering. And true to type, the President dusted up the cupboards of generations of past rulers of the land and regurgitated what and what were said and retold since 1804! A most uninspiring speech, but nonetheless gleefully applauded by the largeness of government contractors and wheeler-dealers in the Conference Hall.

The President announced to the gathering that he was going to give out his daughter in marriage in the backwoods of Otueke, the village where the President claimed he was denied shoes while growing up. Pronto, the Conference Hall was emptied and nearly all the contractor-participants and favour seekers scurried to Otueke. Meanwhile, they would collect their pay taken from the impoverished tax payers for their truancy!

Three weeks into the so-called Conference, there has not been any statement of substance made. Of course, all sorts of funny costumes have been on display. Some members have been showing off their masquerade attires in a way to convince onlookers that the delegates to the Abuja Confab were actually the newly recruited members to the National Cultural Troope!

It has been all theatre and theatricalities. When points of order were raised, those affected routinely ignored such orders. Some of the delegates have been behaving as if the country was their fiefdom while other participants were props men in their theatre of the absurd.

Last week, the dramatis personae were consumed by debates on how much food they should consume per day and how much a plate of eba, or tuwo, or edikaikon, or pounded yam or rice should cost. People almost went physical over such a pedestrian matter like how much should be deducted for a plate of food from their N4 million per quarter largesse.

The real reasons why Nigerians have been clamouring for Conference for decades had been overshadowed by melodrama of the worst order. The Conference had been taken over by slap-stick comedy, and the actors and actresses were displaying wobbled interpretations of improvised plots and themes. The only thing they got right was the funny costumes appropriate for zanies.

Nigerians wanted and still demand the immediate reversal of the constitutional disasters heaped on them by the military. Presidential system with all its pathological corruption imposed by the military must go. Nigeria must be returned to the well practised, less expensive and most inclusive parliamentary system. Nigerians want real fiscal democracy and resource control. Nigerians want real devolution of powers and elimination of the corruption-laden arrogance of the power at the centre. Nigerians want regionalism and less dependence on the centre.

Nigerians want a federation or confederation of six or eight geopolitical zones entrenched in the Constitution and the near-sovereignty of federating regional or zonal units.

Nigerians want a permanent RESTRUCTING of the polity. Human population census figures should no longer be manipulated for political gains.

Gross injustice, inequities in the sharing of the commonwealth and arrant mismanagement of national assets must stop.

Most of the items on the exclusive list must be removed and Nigeria must practice true federal system. As of a fact, most Nigerians want a loose federation as obtained in the United States of America, Canada, Britain, and other multi-national, multi-ethnic and multi-lingua communities.

These are some of the salient issues that had been in the forefront of national agitations before Mr President woke up one morning and announced to a very forgiving citizenry that he was organising a National Confab. What he did not tell the eager compatriots at that time was that he was setting up a theatre company that would receive their tutelage from Baba Sala, the doyen of comedy in Nigeria.

As things stand, it is almost certain that Nigerians would merely have wasted billions of Naira to watch a very uninspiring melodrama.

Perhaps I should show some charity and admit that there are some lone stars in the assemblage of sleepy old men, and those stars, though negligible may turn out to be the saving grace for the Play Producer/Directors at the Circus show.

If care is not taken and tired men and women in Abuja do not quickly wake up from their slumber and appreciate why they were sent to Abuja, we might resign ourselves to the dreadful option of having the creators of the woes in our formless structure to step in and clear the mess. And that, with their boots!

•Chief Tola Adeniyi (shown in photo) is a former Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria. He can be reached via

Source News Express

Posted 12/04/2014 6:47:24 PM


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