In Nima, politics is the realization of foolishness

goodOnce upon a time, I wrote something about Nima on my Facebook wall. A man I give much reverence to and who I call “boss” commented. He stated that I have disturbed Nima a lot and that I should leave Nima alone. As funny as it was, I have always had it at the back of my head since then.

I can’t leave Nima alone. That is my hometown. In 2012, I went to the passport office to get myself a passport. When the interrogator enquired about my hometown, I told him “Nima”. This led to a back and forth with him.

I had wanted to school him with the fact that one’s hometown is where one grows up to find him or herself and not where his great grandparents whom probably, he had not seen before, hailed from. Nima indeed is my hometown.

That is where I found myself when I became conscious enough to. That is the part of the ecosystem where the Lord placed me. I don’t think I could breathe easily and enjoy life peacefully as I do if I grew up in another part of the world. Nima gave me an identity and a place to call my environment. It behooves on me therefore to brighten the corner where I am.

There is a political malady in Nima that I am not happy with. It is the politics I describe as “the realization of foolishness.” Nothing more, nothing less!

The political leaders of our community have times without number shown that we are not fit to live fully as human beings until we have another political leader from elsewhere coming to visit. That is when the community becomes heaven.

Everything becomes spick and span. The whole atmosphere is filled with untold sanity. When the visitor leaves, we return to our pathetic and pitiful state of affairs.

The most recent manifestation of this malady was the day the President of the land, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama came to visit and subsequently inspect the ongoing construction of the Nima-Maamobi Drainage.

Suddenly the street was cleared. Everything returned to normalcy. The ‘gutter’ junction that had defied all sophisticated traffic-regulation mechanism interestingly sprang to life. This particular junction has shown vehement ‘stubbornness’ to all road regulations and renovation such that conspiracy theorists have span wild theories to explain that. Some say there are spirits that will not allow for the ‘tampering’ with the state of the road.

Some say it is the meeting ground of witches and wizards hence they won’t allow for its ‘destruction’. All these theories were proven wrong on that particular day because the politician had stepped in.

There is this large waste container that is seen always overflown with rubbish. Most times, you find the heap of this rubbish on the floor. On other times, it even eats into the road. That container was not at site on that particular day and that area was clearly cleared.

One could tell that the sanity on the street that day was the ideal situation that we should be seeing every day. At Alaska, containers that are always on the street were nicely covered like the first meal of a new bride to her in-laws. At Maamobi market, the container was emptied and placed nicely.

Few days after the coming of the president, it was as if our minds as a people were rolled back into a catacomb. The heaven-like Nima Street became hellish.
The gutter-junction container returned with a heap of rubbish with an untold fury. At Alaska, the nicely and neatly covered container was uncovered, with rubbish sprouting along the street with no one concerned. The whole setting catapulted what could best be described as a climate of indiscipline. As I discussed this with a friend, he stated that “so John Mahama must come before we live fully as human beings.”?

If you are wondering why I am raising this issue then get it. The President should have been made to see the filth his representatives have supervised. Politicians in Nima are always ‘fighting’ to control waste containers and public toilets. All they are interested in is the monies generated from these places. No one has profound interest in how the containers are emptied and how sane the environment is. The President should have seen the rot the dereliction of duty of his appointees and representatives supervises. This is one of the several factors why African leaders get out of touch with the reality on the ground when in office. They are not made to see the everyday mess caused by the negligence of their representatives. Hence most come out to say things that are worlds-apart with the reality on the ground.

In 1983, the then Nigerian Head of State, Shehu Shagari was reported to have said that “there was corruption in Nigeria but that it had not yet reached alarming proportions.” This caused a media uproar in Nigeria and the West. Chinua Achebe wrote that in his essay The Trouble with Nigeria. He stated “Many Presidents, especially Third World Presidents, do not live in their country. One of the penalties of exalted power is loneliness. Harnessed to the trappings of protocol and blockaded by a buffer of grinning courtiers and sycophants, even a good and intelligent leader will gradually begin to forget what the real world looks like. When a President sets out to see things for himself, what does he actually see? Highways temporarily cleared of lunatic drivers by even more lunatic presidential escorts; hitherto impassable tracks freshly graded and even watered to keep down the dust; buildings dripping fresh paint; well-fed obsequious welcoming parties; garlands of colorful toilet paper hung round the neck by women leaders, troupes of ‘cultural dancers’ in the sun, and many other such scenes of contented citizenry.” And that is exactly what we saw the day the president visited.

In 2013, together with the current Assembly man of the Nima-East electoral area, we decided to air our grievances about the management of waste containers and public toilets in our area. Those in charge were (and are still) members of the ruling government and they consider it their birthright to be in charge. We made our quest known. Our quest was to know why the monies generated from these places are not used to champion the developmental cause of the community. The response we received was shocking if not only surprising. We were told how our mothers met our fathers and how our outdooring as babies was witnessed by them and how they were classmates with our parents and a whole lot of balderdash. I took the lion’s share of the insults because I was considered a traitor as a party-man then. But insults and calumnies have never shivered my heart. After all, what effect does a rain-coat have on a fish? I have developed a fervid dead-goat syndrome to insults. “A man who farms at the wayside”, our elders say “must respond to greetings.”

One of the things I find my resolve in is the hymn song by Ina D Odgon. It’s a song we used to sing as a marching song way back in St. Cecilia’s Preparatory School. It was an inspiration and a morning spur those days. I capture it here unedited. And if your voice is as good as that of Baaban Salmu, the late Nigerian Sage, you can sing along:

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Refrain:
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!
Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear,
Let not narrow self your way debar;
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are.
Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are.

 

By: Inusah Mohammed