By Sunny Awhefeada
Not too long ago, I think it was during the regime of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a directive banning the “spraying” of Naira notes in Nigeria. The directive carried with it a string of sanctions that await offenders. Many Nigerians were elated about the directive saying that “yes, sanity is about to be restored to how we handle the Nigerian currency and bring a modicum of decency to parties and allied celebrations”. How wrong were they? The very Saturday after that pronouncement tabooing the “spraying: of money was made saw a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria giving out his daughter in marriage. And what did one see? Wads and wads of Naira notes were ripped apart and thrown into the air. It was a case of what the Urhobo call osio igho which means the rain of money. The event was beamed on national television and by Monday morning the group photograph of the newlyweds and both families graced the cover of many a national newspaper. All those who appeared in the picture, many as they were, including the Minister, stood on Naira notes! Lawless!
Lawlessness is the norm in Nigeria. To insist on doing the right thing, to insist on obeying regulations, to insist on acting lawfully is often considered to be against the grain. To be lawless in Nigeria is to be smart. To be lawless in Nigeria is to get things done quickly. To be lawless in Nigeria is to be “successful”. Lawlessness comes with a medal which is roundly applauded. Lawlessness lives with us. It is a character on our road. It is with us in our workplaces. It struts about in our markets. It looms in places of worship. It resides in our neighbourhood and rears its head in our homes. Lawlessness is a Nigerian.
The tragedy that has entrenched lawlessness inheres in the ugly reality that those who should combat and stem lawlessness have become its arch-promoters.Military men, police and road safety officers take delight in driving against traffic. Babatunde Fashola, as Governor of Lagos State some years ago, arrested a Colonel of the Nigerian Army for violating a traffic regulation. Such violations happen daily if not hourly.
Governors, lawmakers and judges are also complicit in this act of lawlessness. Two Saturdays ago, a long almost interminable convoy of cars driving against traffic led to a lot of confusion in one of the South-South states. The hapless citizens could do nothing, but pronounce imprecations on the powerbroker riding roughshod over them. That can only happen in Nigeria where men of power and authority who should live by example constitute themselves into violators of decent norms. Lawless!
The recent display of indecency at Oba in Anambra State is in sync with the lawlessness that has become the mainstay of our country. Not many Nigerians have heard of an Obi Cubana. The name could have been taken out of a poorly written Nollywood script. The fellow buried his seventy-five year old mother in a manner that will alter the sociology of funeral ceremonies in Nigeria.
The burial made nonsense of money. The event which was abuzz in the social media depicts the worst of what Nigeria really is! In a country where over 100 million people daily go to bed hungry, where schools are no schools and hospitals are no hospitals, such a display of unbridled financial rascality was not only uncalled for, but unconscionable and condemnable. The ceremony signaled a descent into the abyss of moral degeneration the kind of which will need a season of expiation to redeem. Shamefully, those who should have been role models for our youths were at the event falling over themselves for photo opportunities. One cringes to describe the imagery that attended the event.
It was obscene! And Nigeria’s fertile social media has spurn episodes out of it. A notable actor was thrown up telling the world that he has been seeing his mother in dreams since Cubana buried his. Another item shows Vice President Yemi Osinbajo asking President Buhari if the Federal Government could go to Anambra to borrow money. Lawless!
A lot is upside down in Nigeria. What happened in Oba can be viewed in a multiplicity of ways. To some, it was a celebration of life, friendship and getting paid back for a previous kindness. This is a rather simplistic way of viewing it. Unfortunately, that has been the dominant narrative in the ubiquitous social media. A new frontier, menacing and deadly is likely going to be opened in the competition if not desperation to give one’s parents such a morally reprehensible burial. Nigeria’s yahoo tribe is just about to emulate such a crass act. In a country where nobody asks about the source of wealth, we should be rest assured that so much will be amiss spiritually and existentially. The prevalence of ritual wealth, coupled with the brazenness of yahoo boys, is creating a major social crisis for Nigeria. The show at Oba will worsen this menace. Lawless!
Our country is assaulted on all fronts, yet there seems to be no genuine attempts at confronting our problems. A looming social malaise that is likely to plunge Nigeria into chaos is rapidly unfolding. We are all besieged by a new generation of delinquents, the yahoo boys, who do anything and everything to subvert moral and normal order of things. They are everywhere and their tribe is growing. The event at Oba will provoke them to increase their stock and outdo Cubana. Some of them might even kill their parents in order to give them a cubanalike funeral.
Nigeria must wake up. And this moral awakening should begin from the home. Homes make up the society but many homes are no longer homes. They are dysfunctional and as such throw dysfunctional youths into the society.
That is where the Law comes in. But the law is a big ass in Nigeria. Many of those throwing and desecrating the Naira at Oba were protected by law enforcement agents who should be arresting them for such infractions in the first place. But this is Nigeria. Lawless! But things will not continue like this. Those who mean well for our country will someday rise to the occasion and reorder our priorities. Let that reordering begin now.