Read Time: 5 minutes
By John Segun Odeyemi
The first time I heard the African American expression, “there ain’t no cure for stupid,” it made me laugh because I could immediately relate it to one Yoruba proverbial saying; won ni omo eni go, eni ko sa ma ku, kini yo pa bi ki ba se ago!? Loosely translated thus, “If one has a nitwit as a child and you pray for the child not to die, you make a mistake because the child’s stupidity will eventually lead to his/her demise.” As I continue to follow the epic and unbelievable monumental levels of the absurd and out rightly foolishness of Nigeria’s ruling political class, I continue to shake my head in anguish and utter disbelieve. It is as if these government officials try to outdo each other in stupidity.
Nigeria seems to thrive on moving from one disaster in government to another. The entire country seems like a ship under the direction of a drunken sailor and crew. Some of the events reported in the news media are not only mind-boggling, they seem like stuff made for a stage production of absurd comedy. I wonder if these men and women, currently handling the affairs of the nation have the ability to think rationally before even imagining that they will behave rationally. This state of affairs has been a part of the history of the development of the nation from its first military coup to date. Unfortunately, the lunacy has gone stratospheric in the last three to four decades.
It is only in my country that billions of dollars of public funds disappear without trace, and after some noise, life continues as usual. Sometimes billions of dollars of public funds are found illicitly in one person’s possession, and we enter into a dialogue as to how much they wish to return to the nation. In our country, Nigeria, we have politicians who are paid for sitting on their grotesquely fat behinds, all day, figures that go beyond comprehension, for doing nothing. While honest civil servants are owed salaries for months unend. They are actively in a current position in government and receive retirement benefits from previous positions. Amounting to small fortunes that could setup small scale industries that will better the citizens’ lives but not our politicians; they have neither fear of God nor respect for man. They do not care one hoot if retirees survive or die. No, they will rather syphon the money into septic tanks, graves, private apartments or neighboring African countries for their own selfish use. In Nigeria, we have comedians who are legislators. My favorite is the clown from Edo State who string big sounding words in English, French, Latin and some of his own creation together, he is not only celebrated, there are nincompoops like himself who take him seriously. We have another one popularly known as ajeku’ya ni o je who has more degrees than what conceivably could be achieved in the entire numerical number of years he was ever in school. These include degrees from internationally acclaimed university where they have no record of him as ever being registered as a student.
He is still legislating in my country. In our country, it is not unusual for governors to create ministries that are so outlandish an elementary school student can see through the farcity simply as an avenue to embezzle and defraud the state. We have a brilliant governor in the East more concerned with erecting statues than taking care of the welfare of his people. It is only in my country that the number one source of national income, crude oil is drilled, refined elsewhere, brought back and sold at exorbitant rates to the citizen that is even if it is available. Within the same stroke, it is ok for the ruling class to share oil blocks among themselves. Worse still, no one knows for sure how much oil we drill or how much was sold, or the exact amount that was made on the sales. In Nigeria, the president is sick and flown abroad for months, and he and his cohorts do not see how this speaks to the health care situation in the country. It is only in Nigeria that the president appoints dead people into ministerial positions! It is now part of our history to have puppet masters behind the scene orchestrating how power is recycled among their clones so that what you see is a different actor running the same old script. Either sitting in a villa on a hill top in Minna, running a farm in Abeokuta or busy buying out Lagos, it is all the same.
One could go on and on, and the list of absurdities will flow into many pages, and it will seem to justify the aphorism; there ain’t no cure for stupid. This saying will seem to have some potency because in all of these, Nigerians are the happiest people on earth. Nigerians are happy as long as we are entertained. It doesn’t matter whether it is a comedy show, in church, on the streets; we live for laughter and a merry good time. A bag of rice, a few naira notes, and Nigerians immediately become oblivious of the immediate past and the possibility of danger in the future. We therefore are unable to fight the oppression of those who have no time for comedy because they are busy looting the treasury. And here is the crux of the matter; a citizenry unable to unite and free their fatherland from the hands of ravenous politicians.
On a further introspection and reflection, perhaps, there is actually a cure for stupid? I came to the conclusion that proper education is the cure for stupidity. There and then I stumbled on the truth. Nigeria is the way it is because the political class does not have the required education in civility and statecraft. Both the ijoba Ologun (military) and alagbada (politicians) are not equipped intellectually and morally to assume the positions they occupy by hook or crook. Since the government took over schools from the missionaries after the civil war, Nigeria mass produced people who attended all sorts of educational institutions but were not at any time educated or educable. Nigeria unwittingly created a dystopia, a failed nation where forthrightness, justice and truth have no home.
A nation where the constitution has no power, too many citizens are above the laws of the land, and no clear demarcation between religious laws and the constitution. Culturally, the true fathers and mothers of the nation are all dead. All we have left are people interested in power and controlling the destiny of an entire nation as long as it yields monetary gains for them. In this case, the aphorism applies: there ain’t no cure for stupid! Stupid is stupid!
Rev. Odeyemi wrote from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.