Nigeria's comedians are making us to laugh away our sorrows
Nigeria is an interesting country. Despite her many problems, the inhabitants are refusing to budge; a vast majority of them. Many are frustrated but they still survive. They have no choice.
It was the late Nollywood actor, Enebeli Elebuwa, a.k.a. Andrew, who decided to ''check'' out from the country in the eighties or so after he had had enough of the frustrations the country offered to him on a daily basis. He however ran into a friend at the airport who on learning why he wanted to leave, succeeded in making him see reason to stay back and help make the country work.
Well, it is many years after Andrew wanted to check out, but I tell you, those frustrations are far from abating. If anything, they have multiplied in their hundreds, a development that has led to the many agitations, unrests and all manner of complaints in the country today.
But despite that, Nigerians seem to have developed a thick skin to their many frustrations. The majority, that is. Those who haven't are those jumping into lagoons, hanging themselves and shooting themselves. However, this is Naija and life must go on.
Among those who have been venting their frustrations of the country on the country include the members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB; the Oodua People's Congress, OPC; the Niger Delta Militants; and lately the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB; among others.
The result is that their agitations or complaints have provided a steady source of discourse for the rest of their compatriots. Perhaps, such pastime has helped many to forget the sappy times. Even the agitators have been helped by their agitation. For instance, those ardent Biafra protagonists can swear by any name that Biafra will be actualized. Some will even go ahead to give a deadline.
Because of the fanatical way they talk about it, the rest of us are amply given opportunity to talk about them and subject their agitation to all manner of analyses such as we do today. Strangely, but pleasantly, though, a lot of people have been enlightened by those discourses. Take the current one that is on the front burner today; the issue of the restructuring of the country.
This is a lexicon that has creeped into the consciousness of some people who were hitherto unaware of its meaning. It is something that the Biafra agitators are however against. They are bent on just being allowed to realize their Biafra. To them, it is Biafra or nothing.
But the Igbo elders and those from other parts of the country, except the core North, are inclined to it. Is it then that those against it do not understand its meaning?
Perhaps, it will be good at this juncture to explain it in lay man's terms. Restructuring means addressing those issues in the country that tend to divide us, make us unhappy, unwanted, cheated, maligned or marginalised – the very reasons that triggered the agitations.
Those in support of restructuring believe that once we can sit down and genuinely talk about those problems and proffer solutions, everyone will be happy. But those against believe that Nigeria has crossed the Rubicorn or point of no return, meaning that nothing can save the country from her current mess.
But the arguments for or against haven't stopped me and you from talking. For us that write, these opportunities are like manna from heaven.
Still talking about talking, who can forget the issues generated by the fiery Catholic priest, Rev Fr Ejike Mbaka? His opinion on the government of erstwhile president, Goodluck Jonathan, elicited all manner of reactions. Many queried his right to criticize the government of the then president the way he did which made it look like a campaign for Jonathan's opponent, Muhammadu Buhari. Two musical albums were waxed for and against Fr Mbaka, with the one titled, ''Mbaka Why?'' being the more popular.
Well, Buhari eventually emerged winner of that election. But rather than address the ills of the Jonathan regime, the present government appears to have caught those same ills. And now all those who listened as Mbaka condemned Jonathan are now wondering why he hasn't spoken against Buhari who has obviously increased their yoke. They are still waiting for him to come out openly to attack Buhari. But at least, it was one more opportunity to talk.
What about the killer Fulani herdsmen? Those people spreading terror across many farms and homesteads from the North through the West to the South South and Southeast. After they carried out massacres in Agatu, Benue State, and Nimbo in Enugu State, Nigerians got talking again. The security agencies promised to arrest the culprits but till today, we have neither seen nor heard about any arrests. The time wasted in talking about the gory saga apparently became wasted.
Boko Haram is one topic that has trended the longest and one which drew international attention – no thanks to the abduction of some schoolgirls. This topic is one that while you're still talking about the recent one, another happens by way of suicide bombings and/or abductions.
But the one that won the Oscar was the abduction. Even oyibo people carried placards for the release of the girls, including world leaders. But beyond the placard carrying were the doubts surrounding the authenticity of the abduction story. Was there really an abduction? Were the girls real? Was there a political motive to the entire saga? Was it a story churned out to discredit Jonathan and cause his downfall? See why I love Naija? They will always talk, doubt, and believe.
Even after the release of some of the girls, people wondered why the girls that were released straight from supposedly harrowing conditions looked more robust and healthy than those girls staying with their parents and being fed at tax payers' expense at Internally Displaced Persons Camps? No one has yet been able to answer this question, a very good question, if you ask me.
The removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government and the pegging of the price of petrol to 145 per litre provided plenty of opportunity for talk. We talked and talked and while we had our say, the government had its way. And so today, everybody has been grudgingly managing the situation. The talk has stopped, anyway.
We are still talking about the quit notice to Ndigbo in the North. As in the case of the herdsmen's killings, the police are yet to make any arrests despite appearing to rave and rant against the culprits.
We also talked about the arrest, detention and release of Ifeanyi Ubah by the DSS. We talked about the Buhari certificate saga. We talked about the killing of the four students of UNIPORT in Aluu, Port Harcourt. We talked about the missing and padded budget. Indeed, nothing happens without the usual yakking by us.
That's perhaps what makes us unique as a country. No matter the gravity of anything, we have a way of making light of it. That may be the reason why many Nigerians have managed to keep breathing and not dying. Is it any surprise then that some of the richest Nigerians today are jesters? Those guys who make us pay heavily to come watch them joke and make us to laugh away our sorrows?
The other day I was in Abuja and I was privileged to attend one such show. I laughed and laughed and I actually forgot my problems albeit temporarily. But sadly, when I left the hall, my sorrows returned.
I remembered the excruciating times occasioned by bad leadership. I remembered the high cost of goods, food, fuel, rent, clothing, and, indeed, everything. Perhaps, the hours happily spent laughing may have helped me to cushion the harsh effects of the reality of our national life.
Despite our ups and downs however, we remain a largely creative and happy people. We are, without doubt, some of the happiest folks on earth and the strongest too. If in doubt, ask those who live in saner climes their experience when they visited here.
To all my compatriots who suffer and smile, I urge you to take a bow. This is Naija, a country of talk and laughter.
Nigeria, Oh, what a country!