He who sows ill-wind
Shall reap the whirlwind;
He who feeds with the bread of vanity
Shall reap the bounty of iniquity …
The vain glorious and the iniquitous
Shall harvest fruits of sorrow
In the kingdom of the shallow
Those who bakes the bread of sadness
Shall eat the cake of restlessness…
By ANDREW FADASON
Since May 2015, Kaduna State has become a laboratory in the study of, and experiment in, human whims and caprices on the one hand and what government is, or ought to and what government isn’t or ought not to be. Central to this are the roles of pride and prejudice in government and governance in the management of resources. The dominator of this is TIME.
Pride and prejudice are part of human nature. Generally speaking, self or national pride can be positive because it rouses a consciousness of worth, humanity and identity. Pride, when it is positively invoked, can lead to a valuation of human worth, or the worth of a nation. It thus strikes a chord of patriotism and or nationalism. The implication of pride in governance is that the individual or collective, wielding the instruments of power in the administration of human beings and resources put his/their interests above those of others. In a setting such as Kaduna State, dictatorial and autocratic approach to governance, even in a democratic dispensation, becomes the vogue.
But just as pride has positive sides, it also has negative sides. Whether at individual or collective (national) levels, pride can be dangerous and can lead to destruction. It can lead to self aggrandisement, greed, deprivation or caprice (s). To the victim of pride, he/she could be discriminated against; he/she could be rendered restlessness, etc. If this is displayed or acted out at collective/national level, then it becomes negative or retrogressive to the entire nation. Pride, then, can be harmful if not to individuals but to a union of people within a defined sphere. Like-wise, just as national pride can be positive; it can also be negative, destructive and dangerous to a nation.
Prejudice, on the other hand, is a manifestation of greed, arrogance and discrimination and stimulates negative and anti-communal or societal impulses. Prejudice, as a trait, is like cancer because it is negative and negatively impacts on society. At both individual and societal levels, prejudice diminishes, among other things, rational contemplation and or valuation of self, phenomena and or resources; at the same time it stimulates discriminatory tendencies. Prejudice beclouds rational reasoning with a veil of greed, self-righteousness and arrogance. This means that those at the helm of affairs in a state like Kaduna cannot govern in the general interest of the citizenry. They govern the state by and for themselves. Neither would the spirit of empathy be invoked in the interest of all.
Pride and prejudice are characterised by passion and or compassion. In Kaduna State, governance has been facilitated by both. In-between the two, time is always in oscillation. Passion titillates pride; it synergises pride, and it reinvigorates pride with a feeling of self worth and accomplishments. There has been an orgy of passion-driven pride that has become detrimental to the state. Initially, appointments into political offices were to be based on whether one graduated First Class. Fortunately, the impracticality of this odd, odious too quaint and quirky rationalisation was discarded at the last minute.
There has not been compassion in government policies so far in Kaduna State in the last 18 months. The state House of Assembly, rather than reversing this ugly trend, is complicit. In fact ALL Bills sent to the House have been passed into law with any resemblance of discussion on them. All the Bills promote marginalisation of the weak and the lowly by the strong/elite; the demolition of structures, imposition of slave-like taxes that only a colonial proconsul can institute; and the heightening of tension through mutual distrust among the different ethnic groups and faiths.
Compassion has never existed in the lexicon of the present administration. The Talakawa as a group have been targeted for the worst treatment. They have not only been subjected to all manner of intimidation, their very humanity is question almost on a daily basis. For example, beggars, almajirai, the disabled and hawkers were ordered off the streets in the first show of strength and power by the governor on assuming office. Government did not deem it necessary to first address their problems or plight before taking such inhuman action. For people whose source of livelihood is hawking and begging, that action of government was callous, to put it mildly. Eighteen months since assuming office, Governor Nasiru el-Rufai has not sent a single Bill that promotes, even remotely, even one of the gamut of problems that afflict the Talakawa, to Kaduna State House of Assembly for consideration.
Related to passion and compassion are impunity, vanity and iniquity. Whether good or bad; negative or positive; inclusive or exclusive, and destructive or constructive, the el-Rufai administration operates as it likes. Last year, the governor told the press at Gbagyi Villa village that he was going to act (that is, demolish the area) as he deems appropriate despite or in spite of what the court thought. Although the case has not been decided by the court, he has declared residents of the area ‘criminals.’ So, the governor is both judge and appellant and has the audacious temerity and power to sit on his own case and pass judgement, notwithstanding whether there is a court or not.
Vanity is being arrogantly displayed in Kaduna State with more reckless abandon than government cares to address the welfare of citizens. Conceit and deceit have been integrated into governance. These have been devaluing the humanity of citizens of Kaduna state by the day. The worth of human life in Kaduna, following the inhuman policies and programmes introduced by government, has been in a free-fall like the naira. Illusion and delusion, vagrancy and lack of vibrancy are a common sight in the state today. The people of Kaduna State are suffering from the viral infection of infatuation, arrogance, greed and wickedness as a result of lack of compassion and a spirit of empathy. People wonder why they have been rendered wanderers in their state. They wonder why government is more interested in raining pain on them than creating conditions that would impact positively on their lives. People wonder why they have been rendered onlookers, rather than stakeholders, as if the state has become a personal estate being appropriated daily by a property crazy zealot.
For the citizens of Kaduna State, it is unfortunate that they are gripped with a paroxysm of viral idealism by a government that has turned the state into a patch land of proliferating poverty amidst potential wealth and prosperity. Land rush and land grab have become a catchword of governance and a daily way of life. In Kaduna State, vanity, iniquity, pride and prejudice blind public office holders from the humanity of others. Such office holders arrogantly believe that they know. In fact, they erroneously believe that they know everything and can solve all problems. What they know is only a microcosm of the gamut of ideas and issues associated with phenomena or governance. Rather than widen the space for participation and overall development, they narrow it to a strip of their imagination. Such narrow strip—pride, prejudice—creates problems and endanger as well as undermine the overall collective interests. Because the strip is just a strip and not a peninsula, it means it is miniscule and debilitating as well as outmanoeuvring common sense, rationality, ingenuity and creativity. It downplays the essence and place of history in the overall scheme.
Office holders in Kaduna State, who believe, act and or pretend they know more than everyone else and own today and tomorrow; have a profound proclivity for iniquity, vanity, pride and prejudice. In fact, they seem to be a motley group of incurable iconoclasts ambushed by irony and a song of history.
History is a walking stick for the wise and discerning; it is torchlight and pathfinder to the future; it tells us about yesterday and guides us as we seek to navigate today, before mentoring tomorrow. In a way, history is a saving grace because it reminds us of the errors and or terrors of the past and cautions us on how to avoid such errors. History creates the space for rational and critical evaluation of phenomena for use by the wise for optimal achievement and or success.
History is about people, events and places in time and space. It puts pride, vanity and prejudice, passion and compassion on the scale of time and space. History teaches us to avoid the narrow strip of Adolf Hitler, Augusto Pinochet, Pahlavi Reza, Hosni Mubarak, Idi Amin and even our ‘own’ Sani Abacha. History tells us about hell-holes such as Guantanamo, the late Shah’s Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and apartheid South Africa, the killing fields of Zaire and Uganda, and the gulags of Siberia. Unfortunately, pride and prejudice emasculate history, or wrongly interprets it, to justify the strip of those enamoured to vanity and iniquity.
History tells us that the evil that men do lives after them. Evil is like a seed, what you sow is what exactly you reap. Those who sow iniquity reap iniquity; vanity bequeaths vanity; while goodness and mercy follows those who, given the exceptional privilege of being leaders, extended goodness and mercy to the less privileged. We may as well ask: which of these relates to the government of Kaduna State?
The lesson of history is that pride dies. Prejudice dies. Vanity dies. Iniquity dies. Passion dies. Compassion dies. They all die with their progenitors and persona. They eat their entrails in the Hades; conjure eternities of the Trojans on mountains of the infallible in utopias. They sensualise their purloined and puerile essences and the crass that eggs them on and on. Then, too, their egos die: the blades of their suasions cool off. Their consuming passions whither and summersault down to earth. A new reality is born in the manger of whims and wiles. They die as vermin of history.
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Iniquity of iniquities, all is iniquity.
Fortunately, time and space last into the threshold of eternity. The tribulations that the people of Kaduna State are currently experiencing, the impending ones the scale of which can only be imagined, are heart rending. However, the good thing about it is that there is an end to everything human. Only time, space and history are permanent.
In his philosophical chant, the reggae man has told us that,
One bright morning
When my job is done
I shall fly away home
Fly away home
Yes, I will fly away home.
For Governor Nasir el-Rufai, when will his job be done? Where will he fly to?
I agree with the reggae man. But in addition to his expectations, I would like to paraphrase the wise saying of Qoheleth as a reminder to the icons of disaster, pain and trauma in Kaduna State, that
To everything there is a time,
and a time to every purpose
A time to be born,
and a time to die
A time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted
A time to love,
and time to hate,
A time to weep,
and a time to laugh …
To pride and prejudice,
there is a time for retribution
To passion and compassion,
there is time for harvest
To impunity, vanity and iniquity,
there is a day of reckoning.
Needless for us, citizens of Kaduna State, to be forced to be children of innocence and to endure the unendurable; suffer the insufferable because we have been forced to be angry, desperate, and mad; illusional and delusional—the stuff of tragedy. Only time, space and history last forever. Only they have the audacity to endure, to tell.
Fadason is former editor of New Nigerian Weekly and can be reached on 08091634680