As the male animals gathered in the cool of the shade, sipping their palmwine and engaging in the kind of talk that can only flow when the belly is filled with wine and the brain is no longer on active duty, Ekun, the Lion suddenly went: “guys, I have a problem. I have been bottling it up for a long time but my wife is a lioness. At the slightest disagreement, she attacks me. My relatives are now even scared to come to our house any more”. All the animals expressed their sympathy to Ekun, even though what he thought was a secret was common knowledge in the jungle but nobody had ever dared say it to his face. Afterall, he was the ‘King’. Who would dare suggest that he was scared of his wife. As they all adopted the appropriate disposition of kinship and sipped more wine, Ijapa, the Tortoise simply shook his head and said “is that all?” Next was Aja, the dog. “My own is worse o, Ekun. My wife is very promiscuous. It is so bad that when any other dog in the neighbourhood greets me and says ‘how is Madam’, I have to look into his eyes to see if he has already known Madam and he is just making fun of me”! All the animals declared their support for Aja while Ikooko, the Wolf helped him refill his calabash. This did not go unnoticed by the others as they all knew that even Ikooko had been there, done that! All Ijapa said was: “is that all?”
By now the wine was flowing freely. Elede, the Pig, was up next. “My brothers, I know I probably don’t have to tell you what my own problem is with my wife. She is dirty beyond belief. The home is untidy, she never takes a bath, she rolls in mud with the kids, and even serves me rotten food.” There was a universal chorus of “Eeyah!” even as the other guys still maintained social distancing from him because of his smell. Ijapa chipped in his customary “is that all?” Not to be outdone, Obo, the Monkey declared his own frustration: “my wife is a thief. She will win any stealing championship. I believe it is ancestral spirits from her village that are worrying her. Even when you buy her a gift, she steals it before you can give it to her. The other day, she prepared dinner, climbed into the kitchen through the window, stole it and brought it in through the front door.” This one was too much and it rendered all the guys speechless. Except for Ijapa who went “is that all?” Ekun exploded. He had heard enough from Ijapa. “You miserable little thing. We are all here pouring out our hearts and you keep repeating ‘is that all?’ You better tell us what is so grave about your wife that is worse than what we have all been saying or your scaly flesh will be the accompaniment for my palm wine in a minute”!
Ijapa sighed. “You all do not know how lucky you are. Yonribo, my love, has no shame. Nothing embarrasses her. She has long lost the capacity to feel shame, if she ever had it. A person without shame will steal her own pot of soup. It is a person without shame that sleeps with every one in the neighbourhood. Who refuses to clean their home if not a shameless person? Is it not a shameless person that fights the husband, the in-laws, and everyone around at the slightest provocation? Sadly, my sweetheart, Yonribo is devoid of shame.” He took a long swig of his palmwine. All the men fell silent and sobered up immediately. One after the other, they suddenly realised how much they loved their wives and, without even saying their goodbyes, they hurried off home, leaving the keg of palmwine to Ijapa. They all agreed he needed it more.
Nigeria is constantly being made to share similitude with Yonribo by both her citizens and her leaders. What is unimaginable in other climes is accepted here with a shrug of the shoulders. We normalise the abnormal and glorify the absurd. Nothing fazes us as a nation anymore. No matter how bizarre a situation is, it only detains our attention for a fleeting moment before we move on. We know something worse is around the corner. Last week, bandits released a video showing poor Nigerians kidnaped off a moving train several months ago being tortured. The bandits also promised to kidnap the President for good measure. This week, we have heard that the terrorists holding the country by the jugular have made it to the periphery of the nation’s capital, and schools including the Law School have had to be closed down. And we are not officially at war. This is not Ukraine. Still we hear more ultimatums being issued from the seat of power. Hollow reassurances that comfort no one and threats that frighten nobody. Save for the infantile display of juvenile radicalism by Senators of the opposition mid-week, we have seen nothing to suggest that anyone is being held accountable for the abysmal situation we have found ourselves. And that, to me is the crux of the matter and the primary reason why, like Yonribo, we have become a shameless behemoth, providing entertainment for lesser countries: the absence of consequences for wrongdoing.
Nobody is accountable for anything. Nobody pays the price for failure. Not the leaders, not the led. Impunity on steroids bestrides this land. There is practically anything that someone cannot get away with. And the people accept it. In fact, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Yet we want to make progress as a nation. It seems we are not serious people. That is why as we approach the next general elections, we are saddled with making a choice between three characters who would not have the temerity to put themselves forward for public office in a country of consequences. And there is so much excitement in the air. Like the whole country is giddy on some cheap drug. We are more enthralled by the clashing cymbals and flashing lights than asking hard questions and demanding answers. We are happy to mouth inanities like “may Nigeria not happen to you” than seeking to stop what is happening to Nigeria. We make other countries laugh.
And this week we gave them reason to laugh some more. In the same week when our own Tobi Amusan ‘buga’ on the world stage by emerging the best of 8 billion people on the planet, we went to Birmingham to disgrace ourselves at the Commonwealth Games. When I first saw the post on the wall of a rabid ‘anti-Nigerian’, my immediate thought was “there they go again. Always badmouthing the country”! Then I remembered my piece on Tobi’s outstanding feat and the fact that Nigeria’s name was wrongly spelt on the athletes’ kits. I decided to do a little check before dismissing the post. I discovered it was true: Nigeria had indeed gone for the games without kits. And my first thought was: AGAIN? Yes, again? Because, even though it was portrayed as another example of the ‘failure of Buhari’, he wasn’t in office when the Super Eagles had to cut their tracksuits to use as playing kit in an international football match. So it is nothing new. We had four years to prepare for the Games and we had to get to Birmingham to give a local manufacturer 5 DAYS to make the kits for our athletes. But guess what? It will happen again because, like Yonribo, we don’t feel shame.
– Bakare is a public commentator and analyst