WHEN UMARU WAKES UP
Wednesday, July 29, 2009.
By Salisu Suleiman
When Umaru wakes up from his soulless, shackled sleep, say to him that the ship of state is on fire and that he should scamper for dear life. Tell him that for two years, the alarm bells have been blaring, the voices of 140 million compatriots screaming, and the entire world joining to shake him awake, but only got the stony silence of indifference.
As soon as Umaru wakes up, tell him that for the secluded seasons he slept, the ship of state has sailed scarily close to a shattering devastation. From creeks of the Delta to the plains of the Savannah, heavens burst and poor earth is dazed, as bullets, bombs and battalions go blasting; body parts and bones blackened and burning; women and children wailing and weeping; everywhere death and destruction, pealing and reeling.
Inform Umaru that while he slept the sleep of the blind and the deaf, his smugness buried the bonds of brotherhood and interred our national fabric in the hell holes of hatred. Tell him our liberties are blinded and bonded to the banks of a brooding bay. Everywhere is darkness, hunger, unemployment and mass nibbling by the mice in the Master Cabin.
When he wakes from his languid, lethargic lapse, tell him that while he laid, buccaneers made away with two of his daughters and that his household is about to be further depleted by another marauder. Tell him about our angst at the wedding that cost billions, and that all states had to rake in gifts that will not be racked in a lifetime.
The moment Umaru wakes up from his two-year siesta, tell him that the electoral reforms he promised in his inaugural address have been shown to be just another pledge of unredeemed promises; his state of emergency in power an optical illusion; his 7 point agenda, the biggest joke in pepper-soup joints.
When slow-motion Umaru drags himself up from his snooze, tell him that the corruption war, if selectively pursued by his predecessor has been completely abandoned. Tell him that for daring to reject a mountain of dollars 15 million high, one of the champions of our times has been chased out of the police, and run out of the country. Shame on them who slight all semblance of simple sense.
Don’t forget to tell him when he awakes from his chartless, careless catnap that his rule of law mantra has been found to be the biggest ruse in the country’s political history. All those who believed it have been terribly short-changed, and now rue the ruse in the rule. Tell Umaru that the brigandage in Ekiti demonstrated that though sound asleep, his signature was stamped all over the entire sham that took ten thousand police to steal a hundred thousand votes.
Just as soon as the Recluse awakens from his sightless slumber, inform him that the strong-willed one that made Abuja livable for his buccaneer friends and fiends who cannot travel abroad for fear of Interpol, and who cannot go back to their states for fear of lynching is facing trumped-up charges under the ruse of law. Tell him justice is for the highest bidder. Bulkiest, so to say.
Tell the Slumberer-in- Chief that while he was dizzy, madam has been busy; the enormous appetite she is said to possess and consequently, the colossal capital she is claimed to have cornered. Mention also about the vast killing she is said to have made on naira devaluation with a drowned pirate who held fort at the central vaults. Remind him that prodigal nature will take us all away and the billions will of no use to the dead.
Do not forget to mention to Umaru when he wakes up from the sleep the unhearing, the unseeing and the unfeeling that the entire public university system has shut down. Inform him that even as this was going on, his fifty-something year old minister of education broke MC Hammer’s record on gyrations. As an aside, ask him if he has children in public schools.
Tell Umaru that everyday, the blood of our countrymen drain our highways, as body parts are hacked out of vehicles from accidents that occur because roads do not exist. Tell him that the craters he met have changed to crevasses. Wonder aloud about the whereabouts of a certain Mr. Fix It. We hear he has been handsomely re-armed to fix the ports.
If Umaru raises even an eyelid, tell him that his sheep have abandoned ship, and that he is all on his own in this phantom ship. Tell him that hiding his head like the ostrich in the ground and pretending to sleep will not make the challenges go away.
Tell him that his Seven Points resemble the Seven Voyages of Captain Sinbad – interesting, intriguing, engaging, and a voucher to human aspirations for struggle and self improvement - but ultimately, a work of fiction.
Tell him that unlike the great adventurer, he has not been at the helm of the Nigerian voyage, just a tired, seasick deck-hand. Energy, agriculture, education, wealth creation (whatever that means), land reforms, health and transport; all we see is a badly written work of fiction. But tell him that the pain we feel, the poverty we see, the misery and the tragedy we live with are not fictional, but real.
Tell him that since he has no clues about governance, no courage to accept failure and no visions about our future, he should stop pretending to be asleep. Just tell him to carry his sleeping mat and leave the Villa. Then perhaps, Nigeria might awaken from the unending nightmare.
Salisu Suleiman is a Nigerian journalist and writer. He can be reached at email@example.com