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The activist versus the cynic

-uh hu. Oh it is you, still your sneaking lazy self. What right do you have to break into my sweet reverie like that?

–I wasn’t sneaking around, unless you mean everyone that comes to visit you is sneaking around. Pity, you are in a foul mood this morning. And I find that strange, particularly at a time when Nigerians have won a major battle. When did you see your doctor last? It might be the onset of something, depression may be.

–God for bid! What right do you have coming here to wish me depression, whatever that is? I was merely sleeping and the next thing, you jump to conclusions about my sanity or is that not what they say your depression lead to? Oh, it is a crime now to sleep in the afternoon eh?

–Calm down, calm down…

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–Don’t patronize me. Doctor! If I were raving mad would you come here visiting? I suggest you steer clear of other people’s profession and stick to your own—which, if you ask me you are doing a poor job of anyway. At least, the last time I checked universities had been closed, including your own, for the umpteenth time.

–Now don’t go there. Now, I know how to kick start you like a car. Just like every middle -aged person, your adrenalin starts pumping on the mention of seeing a doctor. And you are not different; indeed you are worse because you go into tantrum and become hysterical. As for the closed universities, we are doing it for the public good.

–Ha! Tell that to the parents whose children and wards are back home, doing their best to keep them away from one mischief or the other. ‘’Public good’’ in your egg-headed sense, means making government earmark the stipulated UNESCO 25% of the budget to education. You know as well as I do that that is a pipedream that would come about only through a miracle. What you people are doing is beating your heads against the wall. There is no way the wall is going to budge because there simply is no money for it. The whole subsidy controversy and the strike that paralyzed the country for one week were all about government casting about for funds to run the country.

— Funds! They should stop the stealing going on in high places, it’s despicable and shameless. Every time they empty the national till, they resort to taking it on the people by conjuring up some phantom subsidy. We showed them this time around that the ploy was fraudulent and disingenuous.

— But as usual it failed. Goodluck Jonathan, Okonjo Iweala and Sanusi still had their way. Pump price is now 97 naira as against 65 naira—all your aggravations-chanting war songs, burning tyres and polluting the environment and all the disgraceful name callings were all a waste of everyone’s precious time that caused unquantifiable personal and national losses. You don’t embark on a battle you knew you couldn’t win. Bloody waste of time!

— Now, I am certain you have to see a doctor, urgently. No, a psychiatrist is what you need, in fact. You dare to underrate and pour scorn on the achievement of the national strike against the unconscionable, inhuman and anti – people policy of….

—Enough of those meaningless claptraps! I say we are paying more for fuel now than we did two weeks ago. Meanwhile people lost their lives in Kano, Ilorin and Lagos—for what? Yes, call me names if you like but I shall continue to hold that the strike was a huge dissipation of energy for nothing. Next time, make sure you have what it takes to see a struggle to its end before you embark on it.

— So Nigerians should have folded their hands and watched government push fuel price to 144 naira and ruin the people and the economy in one go? Think what you like but the strike forced government to back down, resulting in the 97 naira a litre at which petrol sells for now. If that is not agreeable to you then go jump into the ocean!

—But what is the point of it all if all the concession you could get was a drawdown of the price? The damage has already been done. Prices of goods and services have gone through the roof and in Nigeria prices don’t ever come down. What’s more, before the strike, there weren’t any queues at fuel stations, now they are back with a vengeance and if care is not taken they are going to become permanent fixtures of our cities and towns as we experienced not very long ago, because this government doesn’t have any clue as to how to make them go away.  Go to fuel stations, area boys, touts and all manner of layabouts have found a new vocation in selling fuel in jerry cans and fleecing desperate motorists in the process. You see what I mean when I say all your alluta continua, backward never, forward ever and solidarity forever was all hogwash?

—I am appalled at your inability to see any gains in the effort of the people to bring government to heel. For the first time in living memory, Nigerians rose as one, with one voice to tell their government it has stepped beyond the pale and that it has to retrace its steps.

— And I say, government did nothing of such. Rather, it fooled us all. Government never intended to take away the subsidy all at once. It did so knowing full well that there would be a hue and cry against it. And so when the strike ensued, government bore the whole nuisance with equanimity as every democratic government should and after one week, it brought down the price to the level it wanted in the first place and proceeded to bare it fangs, daring anyone to go into the streets to protest against it.

—Fangs, which fangs?

—That’s a metaphor, stupid! For the armoured tanks sent out to deal with trouble- makers like your type, whose bravado evaporate as soon as the leviathan shows a little bit of its power, which makes your type bolt away like frightened dogs with their tails between their legs.

—How dare you call my credentials as an activist to question? I was at Eagle square to join the protest. I saw El Rufai and a host of other people, including the fat cats at the national assembly who came to join the protest. But you were nowhere to be found. If I am a trouble- maker, then you are worse than a cynical arm -chair critic always railing against the society’s inadequacies but when it is time for action cower behind weird excuses. It is all a ploy to hide your pro- government inclinations with the hope you will be ‘’settled’’. In spite of people like you, the strike succeeded to show many encouraging aspect of the Nigerian. He is bold, courageous and could look power in the face to snatch some concessions as it did in this strike. Nigerians could be insufferably divisive but this time around they spoke with one voice as one people and got results. What else do you want? Indolent bigot!

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