A nation living in delusion


Published in THE PUNCH on 10 November 2006 

Casmir Igbokwe

“One day when Chicken Licken was scratching among leaves, an acorn fell out of the sky and struck her on the tail. ‘Oh,’ said Chicken Licken, ‘the sky is falling! I am going to tell the king.’

“So she went along and went along until she met Henny Penny. ‘Good morning Chicken Licken, where are you going?’ ‘Oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling and I am going to tell the king.’ ‘How do you know the sky is falling?’ asked Henny Penny. ‘I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears, and a piece of it fell on my tail!’ said Chicken Licken. ‘Then I will go with you,’ said Henny Penny.” – Old Nursery Tale adapted from How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World by Francis Wheen.


Different seers, some years ago, had predicted the end of the world. Some of them were even sure that President Olusegun Obasanjo would not survive a particular year. Be it in their social, economic, religious or political lives, Nigerians have come to live with this kind of delusion. The tragedy is that they don’t seem to learn from history.


Recently, some young Nigerians gave testimonies in a Nigerian dominated Pentecostal church in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The kernel of their testimonies is that the miracle working God gave them British visa. The entire congregation clapped and danced. “Things are getting better,” they sang.


But, a Botswanan friend in the church was surprised. She said citizens of her country, until very recently, didn’t need any visa to visit Britain. Tell any of them that getting a British or American visa in Nigeria is a miracle, he will laugh and shrug his shoulders. In that tiny African country, British visa is no big deal because the country is relatively stable. And the citizens do not have any reason to leave in droves.


Poverty and hardship have so blindfolded us that we see every abnormal as normal and every normal as miraculous. If we are not running away from such fairy tales as missing genitals, we are scared stiff of receiving killer telephone calls.


Our leaders are not helping matters. They have rubbed delusion deep into our skins. On Sunday, October 29, an ADC operated aircraft crashed in Abuja. It was the fourth air disaster in a little over one year. As usual, the President expressed shock and ordered an investigation.


But, the then Minister of Aviation, Dr. Babalola Borishade, was sure the crash was the pilot’s mistake. He said the man did not heed the advice of the control tower not to take off for about 10 minutes because of bad weather. So, why set up a panel when the then minister in charge knew what happened? Delusion!


We witnessed a similar scenario last year when Bellview aircraft crashed at Lisa in

State, killing everyone on board. Officials confidently told the nation that many people survived. Some even raced to Kwara where it was erroneously reported to have crashed to see things for themselves.


As the BBC’s former Nigerian correspondent, Anna Borzello, put it, “It may seem astonishing to anyone who hasn’t visited Nigeria that a plane on a main commercial route can disappear, and for nearly a day no one knows where it has gone…How can officials confidently tell reporters there are survivors, when everyone is dead?”


Ironically, the African Independent Television, which discovered the truth about the crash, was promptly shut down. Tomorrow, if another crash occurs, the President will express deep shock and set up an investigative panel.


The delusion seems unending. About three days after Obasanjo visited Anambra State, the legislators commenced impeachment proceedings against the governor, Mr. Peter Obi. The President and his People’s Democratic Party expressed concern. They asked the assemblymen to backtrack. They even sent a delegation to appease the warring parties.


The delegation was still collating data when a faction of the assembly impeached the governor. Obi’s deputy, who went with him to see Ikemba Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, and who had earlier expressed solidarity with her boss, was sworn in as the governor by the state Chief Judge.


The Anambra saga suggests that our almighty president and the leadership of his party no longer have control over party members. Who is really fooling whom?


There is no need recalling the events in such places as Oyo, Plateau and

States. Or delving into such deceit a certain Salisu Buhari employed to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1999.


The year 2007 promises to produce more mumbo-jumbos – electoral manoeuvre, intra and inter-party scheming, religious manipulations and presidential/vice-presidential cheque bombs. If we continue like this, can we claim, in any way, to be better than Chicken Licken who went to tell the king that the sky was falling?





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